Disney can't always open to No. 1.
Paramount's Mission: Impossible — Fallout fell just 43 percent in its sophomore outing to $35 million from 4,395 North American theaters over the weekend. That's well ahead of the $25 million earned by Disney's Winnie the Pooh live-action/CGI effort Christopher Robin from 3,602 locations in its launch.
Fallout is a major victory for Paramount and its star, Tom Cruise. The sixth outing in the spy action franchise posted the lowest decline of any film in the series besides Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, which debuted over Christmas in 2011. The latest installment also topped the overseas chart with another $76 million for a global cume of $329.5 million.
It's only the second time so far this year that a Disney release hasn't placed No. 1 in its debut. In March, A Wrinkle in Time ($33.1 million) came in No. 2 behind fellow Disney blockbuster Black Panther.
It's also the lowest nationwide opening for any Disney title since summer 2016, excluding nature documentaries. In early July 2016, Steven Spielberg's The BFG posted a three-day opening of $18.8 million, while Pete's Dragon launched to $21.5 million.
Christopher Robin is hardly a major blunder, although prerelease tracking had suggested it would open to $28 million or more. The film cost $70 million to produce before marketing. Overseas, it pulled in $5 million from its first 18 markets, many of them smaller, for a global bow of $30 million (it is rolling out slowly offshore). Disney is expecting big business in such markets as the U.K., Australia and Japan, where Winnie the Pooh is enormously popular.
"For us, this is a solid start. It's a smaller-scale title, and we are thrilled that people are finding and rating it highly," says Disney distribution chief Cathleen Taff, noting the movie's A CinemaScore. "It’s a perfect family film that’s grounded in the real world but is full of fantasy and humor. From a competitive standpoint, we have a clear runway throughout August."
Directed by Marc Forster, the pic stars Ewan McGregor as an overworked and stressed-out adult Christopher Robin, who has lost touch with his imagination. All that changes when his childhood friends — Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the rest of the gang — magically emerge from the Hundred Acre Wood. Families made up 60 percent of ticket buyers.
It is the second film in two years to focus on the titular character as an adult. Last year, Fox Searchlight's Goodbye Christopher Robin fared dismally at the box office, topping out at $1.7 million.
In other Disney news, the studio announced Saturday that Black Panther crossed the $700 million mark in North America this weekend, becoming only the third film to achieve the milestone behind fellow Disney pic Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Fox's Avatar, not adjusted for inflation.
Among other new entries, Lionsgate and Imagine Entertainment's female-fronted The Spy Who Dumped Me opened in third place with $12.3 million from 3,111 locations. Directed by Susanna Fogel, the R-rated action-comedy starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon couldn't overcome the ongoing comedy slump at the box office. The movie cost $40 million to produce.
The story follows two friends who become entangled in an international conspiracy when one of the women discovers that her ex-boyfriend is a spy. Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson, Hasan Minhaj, Ivanna Sakhno and Sam Heughan co-star.
Fox saw minimal returns for the YA film adaptation The Darkest Minds, which opened in eighth place with $5.8 million from 3,127 theaters. Helmed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the $34 million film follows a group of teens who mysteriously develop new abilities and are detained and declared a threat by the government. Sixteen-year-old Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) escapes and joins a growing resistance with other teens.
Both The Spy Who Dumped Me and Darkest Minds earned a mediocre B CinemaScore and were spurned by critics.
The fourth pic opening nationwide over the weekend was the pro-Trump documentary Death of a Nation from controversial conservative filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, who was pardoned earlier this year by President Donald Trump after pleading guilty to violating campaign finance laws. The documentary — a screed against Democrats — opened to $2.3 million from 1,005 theaters, behind the $4 million earned by D'Souza's last doc, Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, in its nationwide expansion in summer 2016.
Death of a Nation earned an A CinemaScore — the filmmakers paid the polling service, since it only surveys films playing in a certain number of locations — but currently sports a zero rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film placed No. 13.
Among holdovers, Universal's Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again placed No. 3 with $9.1 million in its third outing for a cume of $91.3 million. Overseas, the sequel sang its way to another $19.3 million from 53 markets for a foreign tally of $139.2 million and $230.5 million globally. One sore spot was China, where the pic bombed in its opening with $323,000.
A pair of Sony films, The Equalizer 2 and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, placed No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, with $8.8 million and $8.2 million. Internationally, Equalizer 2 grossed $940,000 from 11 markets for a foreign total of $7.7 million and $87.6 million globally. Hotel Transylvania 3 checked in with another $18 million for a foreign cume of $202.3 million and $338.8 million worldwide.
Disney and Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp finished its fifth weekend with a global tally of $426 million. Weekend highlights included a U.K. debut of $6.2 million. The superhero sequel has yet to open in China and Japan.
At the specialty box office, Desiree Akhavan's sophomore feature, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, scored the top location average of any film, or $26,500, upon debuting in two theaters. The dramedy stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a teenager sent to a Christian conversion camp to "cure her" of her lesbian tendencies. Filmrise is handling the indie movie in the U.S.
Among holdovers, A24's acclaimed coming-of-age film Eighth Grade expanded nationwide to mixed results. The film, earning $2.6 million from 1,084 theaters, performed exceptionally well in cities on both coasts, including San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, but struggled to establish a foothold in many parts of the country (it has pulled in big numbers in Austin, Texas).
Aug. 5, 10:30 a.m. Updated with grosses for The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Eighth Grade.