‘Ocean’s 8’ opens with franchise-best $41.5M to top weekend

NEW YORK — “Ocean’s 8,” the female-fronted overhaul of the starry heist franchise, opened with an estimated $41.5 million at the box office, taking the weekend’s top spot from the fast-falling “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

At a lower price point and in less fanboy-guarded franchise, “Ocean’s 8” — despite ho-hum reviews — found nothing like the stormy reception than the female-led “Ghostbusters” reboot did on the same weekend two years ago.

Made for approximately $70 million, “Ocean’s 8” and its cast featuring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, set an opening-weekend best for the franchise, not accounting for inflation. The three previous “Ocean’s” films — starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon, and based on the 1960 original “Ocean’s 11,” with Frank Sinatra — all debuted with between $36-39 million in the last decade.

“Ocean’s 8,” also starring Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter, drew a largely female audience — 69 per cent — for a result that slightly surpassed expectations.

“We thought we’d come in in the $35-40 (million) range,” said Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein. “Number one, it’s fun. Number two, it hits an underserved audience. Unfortunately, there is just a lack of stories that are aimed right at women.”

Yet the weekend’s three new wide releases were all female fronted.

The horror thriller “Hereditary,” starring Toni Collette, debuted with $13 million, setting a new company record for A24, the indie distributor behind releases like “The Witch” and “Moonlight.” The feature-film directing debut of Ari Aster, “Hereditary” has received rave reviews and been hailed as the year’s scariest movie since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. Either from disappointment or simply because they were stunned from fear, audiences gave “Hereditary” — about a family cursed after the death of its matriarch — a D-plus CinemaScore.

Less successful was “Hotel Artemis,” starring Jodie Foster. The Global Road release, also starring Sterling K. Brown, Dave Bautista and Charlie Day, flopped with $3.2 million in 2,407 theatres. Set in a near-future Los Angeles, “Hotel Artemis” is about a members-only hospital for criminals.

Coming between more massive blockbusters like the recent “Solo” and the upcoming “Incredibles 2” and “Jurassic World,” the weekend was down about 20 per cent from last year, according to comScore, when “Wonder Woman” was setting box-office records. But some of the story was still the same.

“There’s a lot of women-powered revenue at the box office in the heat of the summer season,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “Films featuring female leads are killing it at the box office, but that’s been going on for quite a while.”

One of the early summer’s more breakout hits has been the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG,” which has made $9.1 million in six weeks of release through Sunday.

Opening this weekend was another documentary that may prove a similar sensation: the Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbour.” The Focus Features release grossed $470,000 in 29 theatres for a per-theatre average of about $16,000. The film, 99 per cent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, has been acclaimed for its portrait of the man behind “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Focus said two thirds of the documentary’s audience was under the age of 45.

Meanwhile, the troubled “Solo” slid to second place with $15.2 million on its third weekend. It has now grossed $176.1 million, well off its expected pace.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” began its international rollout in 48 overseas markets with an estimated $151.1 million, said Universal Pictures. That’s a predictably strong start for a film expected to be one of the biggest of the summer. It opens Friday in China, and on June 22 in North America.

Initial reviews, which came out this week, were mixed for J.A. Bayona’s sequel. But critics were also less thrilled with 2015’s “Jurassic World,” which grossed more than $1.6 billion worldwide.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Ocean’s 8,” $41.5 million ($12.2 million international).

2. “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” $15.2 million.

3. “Deadpool 2,” $13.7 million ($18.5 million international).

4. “Hereditary,” $13 million ($3.5 million international).

5. “Avengers: Infinity War,” $6.8 million ($10.9 million international).

6. “Adrift,” $5.1 million.

7. “Book Club,” $4.2 million.

8. “Hotel Artemis,” $3.2 million.

9. “Upgrade,” $2.2 million.

10. “Life of the Party,” $2.1 million.

___

1. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” $151.1 million.

2. “Deadpool 2,” $18.5 million.

3. “Ocean’s 8,” $12.2 million.

4. “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” $11.3 million.

5. “Avengers: Infinity War,” $10.9 million.

6. “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha,” $9 million.

7. “How Long Will I Love U,” $8.4 million.

8. “Happiness Is Coming,” $6.9 million.

9. “Black Water,” $6.2 million.

10. “Believer,” $3.9 million.

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