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‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ Is the New #1, and ‘I Can Only Imagine’ Continues to Soar

While there's a few success stories beyond "Black Panther," 2018 is on the verge of box office decline.

Pacific Rim Uprising

“Pacific Rim Uprising”

Finally, we have a new top-grossing film as “Pacific Rim: Uprising” made $28 million and took the reins from “Black Panther.” It’s the first weekend since early February that Disney hasn’t been #1. “Pacific Rim: Uprising” did a little better than anticipated, but that’s damning with faint praise.

Worldwide it made $150 million (led by China), which means domestic represents less than 20 percent. And the film has a reported budget of $190 million, before marketing.

Total tickets sold were down by more than a third from the original “Pacific Rim” in 2013. That isn’t terrible for a sequel, but this rendition had some original elements (including the addition of “Star Wars” lead John Boyega) to broaden appeal, and opened in an environment hungry for new product. 

We are now 13 weeks through 2018, and the only films to open over $30 million are “Black Panther,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and “Fifty Shades Freed.” Last year by this point, there had been nine, including “Power Rangers” at $40 million on the equivalent date.

One of those over-$30 million openings was another Legendary Entertainment-Universal partnership, “Kong: Skull Island,” which opened to over $60 million — more than double the total here. Its failure was further highlighted by a reported audience breakdown of 62 percent male. In a time when women are driving domestic box office, that’s a sign of failure.

Those factors — along with other, much weaker openings — created a $70-million drop over the same late-March weekend last year. The rising tide of “Black Panther” raised only its own ship.

Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER..L to R: Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba)..Photo: Matt Kennedy..©Marvel Studios 2018

“Black Panther”

“Black Panther” is up to $631 million domestic and should come close to $700 million, although at this point its chances of equaling “Avengers” in adjusted grosses have fallen a bit. (It needs $706 million.) None of that lessens its massive success, even before adding $600 million in foreign receipts.

There’s also good news also in the small, 19 percent fall for the faith-based “I Can Only Imagine,” which is now in 2,253 theaters. Still in third place, it’s made $38 million. That’s the widest release ever for distributor Roadside Attractions (with ties to the larger Lionsgate, but autonomous); soon it will be its biggest-ever, outgrossing “Manchester by the Sea.”

Its totals must be the envy of four other films that opened wide this weekend. Another faith-based title, “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” managed only $5 million — about half of what the top Affirm titles (Sony’s Christian film partner) managed, despite the presence of “Passion of the Christ” star Jim Cavaziel. “Sherlock Gnomes” a Paramount-MGM coproduction could only manage less than $11 million. That’s a sad gross for a reported $59 million production without much family-audience competition.

“Unsane”

Open Road’s delayed release of teen romance “Midnight Sun” could rustle up only a little over $4 million, despite showing at over 2,000 theaters. And “Unsane” (Bleecker Street), Steven Soderbergh’s latest independent production — shot on an iPhone and starring “The Crown” lead Claire Foy — fell short of the top 10 with only $3.8 million, despite having the best reviews of any new release.

Is the bottom falling out? Of course not, when “Black Panther” soars and sleepers like “I Can Only Imagine” find success. But they are the exceptions. We are back to looking for positive signs wherever they can be found, and the search is getting harder.

The Top 10

1. Pacific Rim: Uprising (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 44; Est. budget: $190 million

$28,003,000 in 3,708 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $7,552; Cumulative: $28,003,000

2. Black Panther (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #1

$16,658,000 (-37%) in 3,370 theaters (-464); PTA: $4,943; Cumulative: $630,916,000

3. I Can Only Imagine (Roadside Attractions) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$13,837,000 (-19%) in 2,253 theaters (+624); PTA: $6,142; Cumulative: $38,317,000

4. Sherlock Gnomes (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 41; Est. budget: $59 million

$10,600,000 in 3,662 theaters; PTA: $2,895; Cumulative: $10,600,000

5. Tomb Raider (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$10,430,000 (-56%) in 3,854 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,706; Cumulative: $41,748,000

6. A Wrinkle in Time (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$8,044,000 (-50%) in 3,423 theaters (-557); PTA: $2,350; Cumulative: $73,887,000

7. Love, Simon (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$7,800,000 (-34%) in 2,434 theaters (+32); PTA: $3,205; Cumulative: $23,696,000

8. Paul, Apostle of Christ (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 48; Est. budget: $5 million

$5,000,000 in 1,473 theaters; PTA: $3,394; Cumulative: $5,000,000

9. Game Night (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$4,160,000 (-26%) in 1,866 theaters (-820); PTA: $2,229; Cumulative: $60,814,000

10. Midnight Sun (Open Road) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 39; Est. budget: $ (unreported)

$4,119,000 in 2,173 theaters; PTA: $1,896; Cumulative: $4,119,000

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