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The CG-animated sequel grossed a disappointing $8.5 million from 4,303 theaters on Friday for a projected $32 million opening, well behind tracking ($50 million-$55 million). At the same time, Lego Movie 2 will have no trouble winning a sluggish weekend. And if traffic is better than expected on Saturday, it could make up ground.
Mike Mitchell directed Lego Movie 2, with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller returning as writers and producers. The movie opens five years after The Lego Movie — directed by Lord and Miller — opened to a sensational $69 million, launching a new franchise and and spawning two spinoffs, The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie, both of which hit theaters in 2017.
Lego Batman scored to $53 million in its February launch, while Ninjago came in far lower with $20.4 million that September. The performance of the 2019 sequel continues the downward trend in a sign that moviegoers have grown weary of the franchise, despite generally good reviews for Lego Movie 2.
Set five years after construction worker Emmet Brickowski and company emerge victorious over the evil Lord Business, the sequel finds the decidedly more infantile DUPLO invaders making good on their previous threat to reduce their beloved Bricksburg to a pile of rubble, dubbed Apocalypseburg.
Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman and Will Ferrell reprise their roles, while new additions to the voice cast include Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz and Maya Rudolph.
Elsewhere, the Paramount and Will Packer-produced comedy What Men Want is opening in second place. The movie collected $6.6 million from 2,912 cinemas on Friday for a solid $18 million-plus opening, in line with expectations. Directed by Adam Shankman, the pic is a gender-bending reimagining of Nancy Meyer’s 2000 comedy What Women Want.
In the new iteration, Taraji P. Henson stars as a successful sports agent who is constantly sidelined by her male counterparts. When she suddenly can read the minds of men, she uses her newfound power to bench her colleagues and sign the next biggest basketball superstar. Aldis Hodge co-stars, with James Lopez producing alongside Packer.
Coming in third is the Liam Neeson-starrer Cold Pursuit, which grossed an estimated $3.6 million from 2,630 theaters on Friday for a projected $10 million-plus debut. While that’s in line with pre-release tracking, it’s a disappointing result for Neeson, and one of his lowest showings in recent years for an action pic.
The Lionsgate and StudioCanal release opens amid a firestorm of controversy surrounding Neeson. Earlier this week, the Irish actor found himself having to explain why he isn’t racist after his confession in an interview with The Independent that he once considered a “revenge” attack against a random black person.
The Hans Petter Moland-directed Cold Pursuit is an English-language remake of the filmmaker’s 2014 Norwegian vigilante film In Order of Disappearance. In the new pic, Neeson stars as a snowplow driver in a glitzy Colorado resort town who seeks revenge when his son dies of an overdose. Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, William Forsythe and Tom Bateman co-star.
Also opening nationwide this weekend is Nicholas McCarthy’s The Prodigy, a horror-thriller starring Taylor Schilling and Jackson Robert Scott. The story follows a disturbed young child who may be possessed by supernatural forces. Prodigy, from MGM’s Orion Pictures, grossed $2 million on Friday from 2,530 locations for a projected $5.3 million weekend.
Feb. 8, 2019, 1:15 p.m.: Updated with early Friday estimates.
Feb. 9, 2019, 7:30 a.m.: Updated with revised weekend estimates.
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Jon M. Chu