Weekend Box Office: 'Split' Scaring Off 'xXx: Xander Cage' With $30M-Plus Debut

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Courtesy of Universal Pictures
'xXx: The Return of Xander Cage,' 'Split'

Elsewhere, Michael Keaton's 'The Founder' and Christian dramedy 'The Resurrection of Gavin Stone' are doing minimal buisness in their debuts.

M. Night Shyamalan's latest horror-thriller, Split, earned a pleasing $14.6 million from 3,015 theaters to top the Friday box office, easily scaring off  Vin Diesel's xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

Xander Cage, hoping to revive the long-dormant extreme action franchise, took in an estimated $7 million from 3,600 locations, including Imax runs.

At this pace, Split, starring James McAvoy as a kidnapper with 24 personalities, is projected to gross $34 million-plus over inauguration weekend, well ahead of expectations and thanks to a teen-friendly PG-13 rating. Jason Blum's Blumhouse and Universal partnered on the film, which earned a B+ CinemaScore, a good grade for a horror title.

Shyamalan made Split for less than $10 million and self-financed it in order to retain creative control, similar to 2015's The Visit.

Paramount's Xander Cage, directed by D.J. Caruso and costing $85 million to make, is tipped to earn $19 million-$20 million for the weekend. The story sees Diesel's character, an extreme athlete turned government operative, come out of self-imposed exile to recover a sinister weapon known as Pandora's Box. The film earned an A- CinemaScore.

Diesel sat out the last installment, XXX: State of the Union, which debuted to $12.7 million in April 2005. The first film, XXX, opened to a rousing $44.5 million in August 2002 and starred Diesel opposite Samuel L. Jackson. In the latest rendition, Diesel stars opposite Jackson and franchise newcomers Donnie Yen and Kris Wu of China and India's Deepika Padukone, among others.

Xander Cage opens in 53 foreign markets after earning a stellar $4.2 million in India last weekend, although it won't land in China until Feb. 10.

Prospects are grim for the weekend's other new offerings, Michael Keaton's The Founder and Christian dramedy The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.

The Founder, a biopic about McDonald's impresario Ray Kroc, is opening in roughly 1,100 theaters and is projected to gross under $3 million for the weekend. The Weinstein Co., which is distributing the FilmNation movie in the U.S., is hopeful that the pic will nab Oscar nominations on Jan. 24 following an awards qualifying run in December. The Founder earned generally strong reviews and has an 83 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

From Walden Media — which also co-produced A Dog's Purpose — Pure Entertainment and WWE Studio's, Gavin Stone is projected to open in the $1.1 million range from 1,000 theaters. (The movie is being distributed by BH Tilt, Blumhouse's releasing label.) The faith-based film stars Brett Dalton as a washed-up child star who returns to his hometown, where he pretends to be a Christian in order to land the role of Jesus in a play being produced by a nearby megachurch.

Gavin Stone and The Founder open one week after a trio of movies bombed at the box office: Monster Trucks, Martin Scorsese's Silence and Ben Affleck's Live by Night.

Box-office observers don't expect President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration to impact the box office, since he will be sworn in on Friday during the day.

Among holdovers, Hidden Figures and La La Land both remain strong. Hidden Figures, which had won the past two weekends, is tipped to earn nearly $15 million for the weekend, a narrow 30 percent decline. La La Land should earn a projected $8 million, putting its domestic tally at nearly $90 million on even of Oscar noms.

At the specialty box office, A24 and Annapurna Pictures' awards hopeful 20th Century Women is making a major push, upping its theater count from 20 locations to more than 600 in advance of the noms. The specialty film looks to earn roughly $1.2 million for the weekend.

Jan. 21, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend projections.

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