Weekend Box Office: 'Split' Beats Troubled 'Dog's Purpose' With $26M

Elsewhere, 'Gold' marks the worst wide opening of Matthew McConaughey's career in a leading role, while 'Hidden Figures' and 'La La Land' lead the pack of Oscar best-picture contenders enjoying a bump from nominations.

Lasse Hallstrom's A Dog's Purpose came in behind expectations over the weekend with a debut of $18.3 million from 3,058 theaters at the North American box office after being dogged by controversy over a leaked video showing a canine in distress on the set of the film.

M. Night Shyamalan's sleeper hit Split fell a scant 36 percent in its second weekend to $26.3 million for a domestic total of $78 million. The horror film easily stayed No. 1 for Blumhouse and Universal.

Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media partnered on A Dog's Purpose, with Universal handling distribution and marketing. The filmmakers and production companies, along with producer Gavin Polone, have said the video was highly edited and dispute allegations of abuse.

While the pic's debut is a solid opening in terms of financials — it cost a net $22 million to make — it had been tracking to open in the $24 million range before the video was published by TMZ, prompting calls of a boycott from PETA. Box-office observers believe A Dog's Purpose, rated PG, was hurt by the video, noting that major markets including New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., under-indexed.

The film, appealing to pet lovers of all ages, earned an A CinemaScore, fueling hopes for strong word of mouth. In terms of other animal-themed live-action movies, A Dog's Purpose opened not far behind 2006's Eight Below ($20.2 million), the 2000 pic 102 Dalmatians ($19.9 million) and 2011's Dolphin Tale ($19 million), not accounting for inflation. It opened ahead of 2002's Snow Dogs ($17.8 million) and 2009's Hotel for Dogs ($17 million). At the other end of the spectrum, box-office hit Marley and Me barked to a $36 million opening over Christmas 2008.

"I'm very optimistic about [A Dog's Purpose] playing for weeks and weeks, especially in heartland and smaller markets," said Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou.

The pic skewed female (56 percent), while 47 percent of ticket buyers were families. Overseas, it debuted to $5 million for a global launch of $23.4 million.

A number of films that scored top Oscar nominations on Tuesday saw a bump, led by best picture contenders Hidden Figures and La La Land, both of which passed the $100 million mark in North America over the weekend.

Hidden Figures, from Fox 2000 and Chernin Entertainment, came in No. 3 in its sixth weekend with roughly $14 million from 3,351 theaters for a domestic total of $104 million.

Sony and Screen Gems' new entry Resident Evil: The Final Chapter followed at No. 4 with a projected $13.8 million from 3,104 theaters. The sixth installment in the franchise expects to do the majority of its business overseas, where it won the weekend with $28.3 million from 44 markets for a foreign total of $64.5 million and a global cume of $78.3 million. (The Final Chapter opened offshore ahead of its domestic bow.)

"It's doing extraordinarily overseas, where it has earned north of $35 million in Japan alone," said Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer.

Rounding out the top five domestically was La La Land, which upped its theater count from 1,800 theaters to 3,136 after scoring a record-tying 14 Oscar noms. The Lionsgate musical earned $12.1 million for a North American haul of $106.5 million. Overseas, it earned another $23.4 million from 73 markets for a foreign tally of $117.1 million and a stellar global showing of $223.5 million.

Highlights included a French launch of $3.9 million and a screen average of $9,450, the best showing for a musical in 40 years, according to Lionsgate. Among holdover territories, the U.K. leads with an impressive $25.6 million after three weekends, followed by South Korea ($22.3 million).

Placing No. 10 in its North American debut, Stephen Gaghan's Gold bombed with $3.4 million from 2,166 theaters, marking the worst wide opening of Matthew McConaughey's career (that doesn't count 1993's My Boyfriend's Back, in which he played a minor role).

Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell and Craig T. Nelson co-star in Gold, which The Weinstein Co. originally planned to open Christmas Day before pushing its release.

"It's a crowded marketplace for adult-skewing films, and we still hope that the audience finds it," said TWC distribution head Laurent Ouakine.

A bright spot for TWC was best-picture contender Lion, which took in a hearty $2.4 million from only 575 theaters following Oscar nominations, the best showing of the crop behind Hidden Figures and La La Land. Next weekend, the movie will be playing in 1,700 to 1,800 locations. "Lion is really starting to roar," said Ouakine.

Lion has earned a total $19.8 million to date. Among other films landing a best picture nom, Manchester by the Sea (Amazon/Raodside) earned a pleasing $2 million from 1,168 theaters for a domestic total of $41.5 million, followed by Arrival (Paramount) with $1.5 million from 1,221 theaters for a total $97.3 million; Moonlight (A24) with $1.5 million from 1,104 theaters for a total $17 million; and Fences (Paramount) with $1.4 million from 808 theaters for a total $50.8 million.

At the specialty box office, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's Oscar nominated The Salesman scored the top location average of the weekend for any film when opening to $71,071 from three theaters for a location average of $23,690. The movie debuted in New York and Los Angeles just as the filmmaker said he wouldn't attend the Oscar ceremony because of President Donald Trump's travel ban.

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