Weekend Box Office: 'Kingsman 2' Targets $40M Bow; 'It' Trounces 'Ninjago'

Giles Keyte/Twentieth Century Fox; Courtesy of Warner Bros.
'Kingsman: The Golden Circle,' 'The Lego Ninjago Movie'

Indie horror pic 'Friend Request' finds few pals, while award hopefuls 'Battle of the Sexes' and 'Victoria and Abdul' serve up strong numbers at the specialty box office.

Director Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Golden Circle is easily lording over the competition at the North American box office, where the cheeky action-comedy delivered $15.3 million on Friday from 4,003 theaters for projected $40 million opening.

The weekend is turning out to be a tad slower than anticipated for Kingsman 2. And new offering, The Lego Ninjago Movie, is coming in notably behind expectations with a projected $21 million weekend. (In a surprise upset, Ninjago is losing to horror blockbuster It.)

From 20th Century Fox and Vaughn's Marv Films, Kingsman 2 looks to come in ahead of Kingsman: The Secret Service ($36.2 million), no small feat in the age of sequelitis.

Vaughn's sequel reteams the British filmmaker with his Secret Service stars Taron Egerton and Colin Firth. Newcomers to the budding franchise include Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal and Jeff Bridges. The story follows the Kingsmen as they head to Kentucky after their U.K. headquarters is destroyed. They must seek help from some U.S. counterparts (the Statesmen), who also have a still-alive Harry (Firth).

It continues to scare up impressive business in its third weekend, taking in $9.8 million Friday for a projected $29 million weekend and a massive domestic total of roughly $265 million through Sunday. The New Line and Warners release is now the biggest R-rated horror film of all time domestically, not adjusting for inflation, if not the top-grossing horror title in history, no matter what the rating.

Warner Bros. Animations' The Lego Ninjago Movie, is looking at third-place finish after earning $5.8 million on Friday from 4,047 locations. The film, based on the toy line popular with young boys, is considered a smaller property than The Lego Batman Movie, which launched to $53 million earlier this year, and The Lego Movie (2014), which opened to an even bigger $69.1 million. Still, Ninago had been widely expected to clear $30 million.

Both Ninjago and Kingsman 2 earned a B+ CinemaScore.

The weekend's third new nationwide player, Friend Request, is falling flat with a projected $1.7 million debut from 2,569 theaters for an eighth-place finish. Byron Allen's new Entertainment Studios, distributor of summer sleeper hit, 47 Meters Down, is handling the film.

Back in the top five, action-thriller American Assassin is coming in No. 4 with an estimated $6.2 million in its second weekend for a domestic total of $26 million through Sunday. Facing competition from Kingsman 2, The CBS Films and Lionsgate is looking at a 58 percent drop.

Darren Aronofky's controversial film mother!, receiving a rare F CinemaScore, isn't finding much redemption in its sophomore outing. The psychological horror-thriller film, starring Jennifer Lawrence, is on course to gross $3.3 million, a 56 percent drop. From Paramount, the $35 million film will finish Sunday with a muted domestic cume of roughly $13.5 million.

At the specialty box office, awards season is kicking off in earnest. Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight) and  Victoria and Abdul (Focus Features) are both serving up strong numbers, while Stronger (Roadside Attractions) is softer.

Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as real-life tennis players Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, is projected to gross $460,000 from its 21 theaters for a strong screen average of $21,904.

Royal biopic Victoria and Abdul, starring Judi Dench, is on course to earn as much as $200,000 from four theaters for an opening screen average of $50,000.

Jake Gyllenhaal's Boston marathon drama Stronger opted for a more aggressive rollout. The film looks to earn $1.6 million in its debut.

Sept. 22, 12:30 p.m. Updated with revised estimates.
Sept. 23, 7:35 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers and revised estimates.