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‘Ready Player One’ Is Spielberg’s Best Opener in a Decade, Even as the Box Office Falls Behind

"Ready Player One" is a return to form for Steven Spielberg, but the 2018 box office now trails behind last year's.

“Ready Player One”

Ready Player One” scored at home and abroad with $181 million worldwide, creating his biggest success since “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in 2008. Even so, the box-office slump of 2018 continues. The weekend dropped over 20 percent from the same date last year, bringing the year to over three percent lower through the first quarter of 2018.

Read More:  ‘Ready Player One’: Steven Spielberg Is the King of Blockbusters, and He Needs a Hit

Spielberg’s film is the second-best weekend opening of the year, and only the second over $40 million. By this time last year, eight films had better openings, with six of them higher than “Ready Player One.”

“Ready Player One”

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

If “Ready” has a three-time multiple of its first four days, it would total $170 million. That would be a strong achievement, although his 18th-biggest film overall. The never-certain China dominated the $128 million showing in most of the world (Japan and Germany still to debut). The film’s game-world setting looks to have struck a chord there, with their version of Cinemascore responding well and a better second day than usual in the country. Worldwide through the first weekend is $181 million.

Unlike some recent expensive openers like “Pacific Rim Uprising” and “Tomb Raider,” domestic could end up in the 30-35 percent range. That’s a healthy result, since monster films like “Black Panther” that do half or more of their business in North Anerica are anomalies. Even better is that a film this expensive, detached from any franchise, found its footing.

Acrimony,” the other studio wide release, did a credible $17 million. The thriller starring Taraji P. Henson is the first Tyler Perry drama in five years. “Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” in 2013 also opened at Easter to an adjusted $25 million. To the film’s credit, it debuted much better than Sony’s “Proud Mary” last January, also with Henson.

Weakness among other recent openers allowed “Black Panther” to claim third place for its seventh weekend, crossing the $650 million mark. It appears to be heading to a $700 million domestic total, establishing it as the film to beat in 2018. Worldwide, it’s creeping toward $1.3 billion — more than double any other 2018 release.

“I Can Only Imagine” continues its sleeper success in fourth place. Still adding theaters, it fell 21 percent and reached $55 million, which is the best ever for distributor Roadside Attractions. It will be the biggest faith-based commercial film since “Heaven Is for Real” in 2014 (adjusted $100 million). It is also an anomaly, with Sony’s historical “Paul, Apostle of Christ” barely holding on to 10th place in its second week. Similarly, “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness” debuted this weekend and flopped with $2.6 million.

At just over $9 million, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” dropped an awful 67 percent off its mediocre debut, falling to fifth place from its top spot last weekend. Sure, it’s done fine in China, but with the bulk of its gross already in at $231 million, this has a way to go before getting close to profit.

The best other hold among longer-run titles came from “Love, Simon,” 20th Century Fox’s gay coming-of-age story; with a modest 37 percent fall, it reached $32 million. With a modest budget ($17 million) and likely considerable post-theatrical business, the gamble here seems to have paid off.

The Top Ten

1. Ready Player One (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 64; Est. budget: $175 million

$41,210,000 in 4,234 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $9,733; Cumulative: $53,215,000

2. Acrimony (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 33; Est. budget: $20 million

$17,100,000 in 2,006 theaters; PTA: $8,524; Cumulative: $17,100,000

3. Black Panther (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #2

$11,263,000 (-34%) in 2,988 theaters (-382); PTA: $3,769; Cumulative: $650,670,000

4. I Can Only Imagine (Roadside Attractions) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$10,751,000 (-21%) in 2,648 theaters ($+395); PTA: $4,060; Cumulative: $55,576,000

5. Pacific Rim Uprising (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$9,205,000 (-67%) in 3,708 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,482; Cumulative: $45,671,000

6. Sherlock Gnomes (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$7,000,000 (-34%) in 3,662 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,912; Cumulative: $22,821,000

7. Love, Simon (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #7

$4,800,000 (-37%) in 2,024 theaters (-410); PTA: $2,372; Cumulative: $32,141,000

8. Tomb Raider (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$4,700,000 (-54%) in 2,788 theaters (-1,066); PTA: $1,686,000; Cumulative: $50,502,000

9. A Wrinkle in Time (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #6

$4,694,000 (-43%) in 2,367 theaters (-1,056); PTA: $1,983; Cumulative: $83,250,000

10. Paul, Apostle of Christ (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #8

$3,500,000 (-32%) in 1,473 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,376; Cumulative: $11,531,000

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