Weekend Box Office: 'The Upside' Beats 'Aquaman' With $19.6M; 'Replicas' Bombs

David Lee/STXfilms
'The Upside'

'The Upside' — a leftover from Harvey Weinstein's defunct company — is a big win for Kevin Hart and STXfilms; 'Replicas' marks a career worst for Keanu Reeves.

Kevin Hart may not be hosting the Oscars this year, but he's proven his power at the box office once again with the better-than-expected launch of The Upside, co-starring Bryan Cranston.

The long-delayed dramedy — one of the last films made by Harvey Weinstein before the mogul's demise — beat Aquaman over the weekend with $19.6 million in a surprise victory. Heading into the frame, release tracking showed it opening to no more than $9 million to $12 million domestically.

The Upside is also a win for new Weinstein Co. owner Lantern Entertainment and STXfilms, which partnered with Lantern to distribute and market the movie. It's the first time a title from STX has opened at No. 1, as well as marking the second-biggest debut for STX behind 2016's Bad Moms ($23.8 million). The indie studio doesn't have an equity stake in the film, but will take a distribution fee.

Playing to an ethnically diverse audience, The Upside hits theaters following the high-profile tumult over whether or not Hart would host the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony after the actor's past homophobic comments resurfaced.

It was hardly the only controversy surrounding the film, which centers on a quadriplegic billionaire who hires an ex-con to care for him. The Upside, which cost about $35 million to produce before marketing, staged its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival but saw its intended March 2018 release shelved weeks later following Weinstein's downfall.

STX worked with director Neil Burger to recut the film — a remake of the 2011 French blockbuster The Intouchables — so that it could go out with a PG-13 rating, versus an R. The Upside earned an A CinemaScore and strong exits, making up for withering reviews. Nicole Kidman also stars.

Females (59 percent) turned out in force, while 48 percent of ticket buyers were Caucasian, followed by African-Americans (23 percent), Hispanics (19 percent) and Asian/Other (10 percent), according to PostTrak. The pic fared best in the West and South, as well as posting strong numbers in the Midwest.

The mighty Aquaman followed at No. 2 in its fourth weekend with another $17.3 million for a domestic total of $288 million. The Warner Bros. tentpole celebrated a major milestone on Saturday as it topped the $1 billion mark in worldwide ticket sales, becoming the first DC superhero pic to join the billion-dollar club since The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 and only the fifth Warners release ever to do so, not adjusted for inflation.

Through Sunday, Aquaman's worldwide total stands at $1.02 billion.

Sony's A Dog's Way Home bowed in third place with $11.3 million, in line with expectations.

The family-friendly film chronicles the adventures of a dog — voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard — who travels 400 miles to find her owner. Ashley Judd and Edward James Olmos co-star. The film, which received an A- CinemaScore, isn't a sequel to A Dog's Purpose; that honor belongs to A Dog's Journey, which is set for a May 17 release. All three films are based on books by W. Bruce Cameron.

The weekend's third new offering, the sci-fi thriller Replicas, bombed with $2.5 million to mark the worst wide start of Keanu Reeves' career. The Entertainment Studios release was slapped with a C CinemaScore after getting skewered by critics. It couldn't crack the top 10 and instead landed at No. 13.

Back in the top 10, Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stayed high up on the chart after its Golden Globes win for best animated feature on Jan. 6, dipping 31 percent to $9 million for a domestic tally of $147.8 million. Globally, Spider-Verse crossed the $300 million mark.

Sony's Escape Room rounded out the top five with $8.9 million for a 10-day domestic total of $32.4 million.

Disney's Mary Poppins Returns followed with $7.2 million for a domestic cume of $150.7 million. The pic has now passed up the lifetime grosses of Les Miserables ($148.8 million) and Mamma Mia! ($144.2 million) on its way to becoming the No. 5 musical of all time in North America, not adjusted for inflation. Globally, the sequel sits at $287.9 million, including $112 million from Europe to date.

Paramount's Bumblebee, placing No. 7 domestically with $6.8 million, topped the foreign chart for a second weekend in a row, earning another $35.6 million for a foreign tally of $256.3 million — including $105.7 million from China — and $364.8 million globally.

Participant Media and Focus Features' Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex, which stars Felicity Jones as a young Ginsburg, fared nicely as it expanded nationwide. The Mimi Leder-directed film placed No. 8 with $6.2 million from 1,923 cinemas for a domestic total of $10.6 million.

Annapurna and Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk also expanded nationwide, earning $2.4 million from 1,334 cinemas for a domestic total of $7.7 million. The drama is counting on an Oscar nomination to boost its box-office run.

Ditto for Annapurna's Vice, filmmaker Adam McKay's Dick Cheney biopic starring Christian Bale, who won the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy/musical. The film landed at No. 10 with $3.3 million for a North American cume of $35.9 million against a production budget of $60 million. The movie fell 43 percent.

Among the two top victors at last weekend's Golden Globes ceremony, best drama winner Bohemian Rhapsody saw a 35 percent uptick as it added about 250 theaters and offered special sing-along screenings. The Queen biopic earned $3.2 million from 1,334 locations for a North American tally of $198.5 million and a resounding $772.7 million worldwide.

Green Book, which was dogged by more controversy following its Globes win for best comedy or musical, earned an estimated $2.1 million from 742 cinemas for a domestic total of $38.6 million. The film was up 16 percent after adding 176 locations, but is waiting to expand in a major way until after Oscar noms are revealed on Jan. 22. Green Book is from Participant, DreamWorks and Universal.