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Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile topped Super Bowl weekend at the domestic box office with a subdued $12.8 million amid ongoing reluctance among older moviegoers to return to theaters, and particularly older females.
Super Bowl weekend is always a challenge for Hollywood studios. This year, the ongoing pandemic compounded matters.
Universal opted to abandon an exclusive theatrical release and launch its Valentine’s Day offering Marry Me, starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, simultaneously in cinemas and on sister streaming service Peacock.
Marry Me, which opened to an estimated $8 million at the box office, came in No. 3 after being edged out by holdover Jackass Forever ($8.1 million).
Both new films opened on the lower end of already tempered expectations, just as each skewed notably older.
Of those turning out to see 20th Century/Disney’s Death on the Nile, 77 percent of ticket buyers were over 25, including 47 percent over 35 and 28 percent over 45.
Branagh both directed and stars in the Agatha Christie adaptation, which is a follow-up to his successful Murder on the Orient Express.
The movie’s ensemble cast includes Branagh, Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman and Letitia Wright alongside embattled actor Armie Hammer. (Branagh is also in the news this week for his film, Belfast, which is up for a number of top Oscars, including best picture and best director.)
Overseas, Death on the Nile debuted to $20.7 million for a global start of $34 million.
Marry Me — featuring original songs by Lopez and global Latin music sensation Maluma — stars Lopez as musical superstar Kat Valdez and Wilson as Charlie Gilbert, a nerdy math teacher. The two are total strangers who agree to marry each other in a tale of modern romance in the age of social media.
Older females fueled the film, which hopes to see a nice boost on Valentine’s Day, which falls on Monday this year. Overall, 70 percent of ticket buyers were female, while 48 percent of the audience was over the age of 25 and 27 percent over the age of 45. Throughout the pandemic, older females have been the most reluctant to resume their moviegoing habits.
Marry Me opened to $8.5 million internationally for a worldwide start of $16.5 million.
Spider-Man: No Way Home stayed high up on the chart to place No. 4 with $7.2 million for a domestic tally of $759 million and global haul of $1.8 billion (the Sony and Marvel superhero pic is now the No. 6 film of all time on the global chart, not adjusted for inflation).
The new Liam Neeson action pic Blacklight opened in fifth with just $3.6 million.
Overseas, Sony opened video game adaptation Uncharted in its first 15 markets. The movie, which opens domestically next week, took in a promising $21.5 million. Uncharted is directed by Ruben Fleischer and stars Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. Hopes are high for the film since its target audience — younger males — have returned to the multiplex in full force.
At the specialty box office, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza expanded nationwide following top Oscar nominations, including for best picture. The film earned $923,000 for a domestic total of $13.4 million.
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