Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Scores Huge $23.5M Friday, 'Dolittle' Goes to the Dogs

Courtesy of Universal Pictures; Ben Rothstein/Sony Pictures
'Dolittle' (left), 'Bad Boys for Life'

Starring Robert Downey Jr., 'Dolittle' may only earn $30 million over the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

In another win for Sony Pictures, Bad Boys for Life is laughing much louder than expected in its North American box office debut, while Universal's Dolittle is going to the dogs.

Bad Boys for Life, which reteams Will Smith and Martin Lawrence after a 17-year-hiatus, grossed $23.5 million on Friday for a projected $66 million to $68 million bow over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, well ahead of expectations and successfully restarting the action-comedy franchise.

The threequel, which received solid reviews and an A CinemaScore from audiences, will have no trouble scoring the second-best showing ever for the MLK holiday frame behind American Sniper ($107 million), not adjusted for inflation. And there's already talk of a sequel.

Friday's audience was led by African-Americans (43 percent), males (56 percent) and ticket buyers under the age of 35 (57 percent), according to PostTrak.

Bad Boys 3 cost $90 million to produce before marketing. Years in the making, the R-rated pic was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.

Dolittle, which took in $6.3 million on Friday, is now looking at a projected four-day gross of $31 million. While that's somewhat ahead of tracking, it is still a dismal start for a film that cost $175 million to $200 million before marketing. The hope now is that family audiences give Dolittle long legs; it also could make up ground overseas.

The period pic, which stars Robert Downey Jr., hoped to reboot the franchise about the iconic vet who can communicate with animals. Directed and co-written by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana, Traffic), Dolittle was supposed to open last May, but its release was delayed twice after Universal rushed to rework parts of the story and complete reshoots.

The timing of Dolittle, produced by Team Downey, isn't ideal for the studio following the box office bomb Cats (both films rely heavily on VFX, not to mention animals).

Dolittle — savaged by critics and marking Downey's first turn on the big screen post-Iron Man — had been tracking for a four-day gross of $22 million to $28 million. On Friday, the pic skewed female (61 percent) and Caucasian (60 percent). Ticket buyers gave it a so-so B CinemaScore.

The last Dolittle movie, starring Eddie Murphy, hit the big screen 19 years ago and was set in contemporary times.

A much-needed balm for Universal is the early success of Sam Mendes and Amblin Entertainment's awards frontrunner 1917, which scored 10 Oscar nominations on Monday, including for best picture.

Now in its second weekend of wide release, 1917 isn't all that far behind Doolittle, having earned $6.2 million on Friday for a projected four-day weekend haul of $26.6 million.

1917 isn't the only best picture Oscar contender enjoying a post-nominations bump. Parasite, which added 496 theaters for a total location count of 843 — its widest footprint to date — is on course for a four-day weekend take of nearly $2 million, followed by a projected $1.6 million tally for Jojo Rabbit, which upped its theater count by 880 locations to 1,005 following the Oscar nominations.

Best picture Oscar nominee Ford v Ferrari also upped its screen count, and should gross roughly $1.3 million over the holiday frame. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Joker also tried to capitalize on their nominations by going back into theaters, but since both movies are available on home entertainment, their weekend box office results will be nominal at $360,000 and $430,000, respectively.