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Box Office: ‘Lego Batman’ Tops as Matt Damon’s ‘Great Wall,’ ‘Cure for Wellness’ Flop

Variety logo Variety 2/20/2017 Brent Lang

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Two mysterious billionaires, one of the toy variety, the other with a penchant for sex games, triumphed at the box office over a trio of new film releases during a muted Presidents Day Weekend. 

Once again, “The Lego Batman Movie” loomed large at the multiplexes, picking up $42.5 million to take first place on the charts for the second consecutive weekend. The Warner Bros. release has now earned $107.1 million stateside. It focuses on a one-percenter who dons a bat costume in order to rescue Gotham City from the Joker. This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, in a scene from "The LEGO Batman Movie." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, in a scene from "The LEGO Batman Movie." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)  Universal’s “Fifty Shades Darker,” a look at the bedroom habits of a titan of industry, came in second, picking up $24 million at 3,714 sites. The erotic drama has helped bring BDSM into the mainstream, while earning roughly $92 million. That’s a solid result, although it trails its predecessor, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which had made $131 million at a similar point in its run. One more sequel, “Fifty Shades Freed” is due out next year. 

In third place, Universal and Legendary Entertainment’s “The Great Wall” got bulldozed, taking in a sallow $21.7 million at 3,325 locations. That’s a paltry result given its $150 million price tag. The film has done well in China, where it was shot, earning $171 million, and in other markets. The movie centers on a European mercenary (Matt Damon) who battles monsters during the Song Dynasty.  © Provided by Variety Legendary is undergoing a major shakeup. Last month, the company’s founder, Thomas Tull, was forced out after a series of film losses. He sold Legendary, which has produced “Blackhat,” “Godzilla,” and “Warcraft,” to China’s Dalian Wanda Group for $3.5 billion in 2016. Legendary is now searching for a new corporate leader, who must do a better job of creating hits that play in both the States and the Middle Kingdom, a role that might fall to former Fox chief Jim Gianopulos. 

Lionsgate’s second weekend of “John Wick: Chapter 2” is finishing in a solid fourth place with roughly $19.5 million at 3,113 venues. Unlike “Fifty Shades,” the action franchise about a vengeful hit man (Keanu Reeves) appears to be growing in popularity. It has earned $61 million, eclipsing the entire run of 2014’s “John Wick,” which hit $43 million.

New Line’s opening of high school comedy “Fist Fight” lacked much punch, picking up $14.5 million at 3,185 locations. The film cost $20 million to make and stars Ice Cube and Charlie Day as feuding teachers.

Fox’s horror-thriller “A Cure for Wellness” fared much worse, earning a deadly $5 million at 2,704 screens. The look at a sinister spa in the Swiss Alps was directed by Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) and stars Dane DeHaan as an executive sent to retrieve his boss from the tony retreat. With a $40 million budget, this one’s a bomb. “A Cure for Wellness” did create a minor scandal. The film was criticized for using a “fake news” campaign that trumpeted reports that President Donald Trump was meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, among other claims. The studio was forced to apologize for the promotions, and the publicity failed to translate into ticket sales.

With the new arrivals falling flat, this celebration of White House occupants lacked the spark of previous holidays. It was only the eighth largest Presidents Day weekend of all time and the worst in four years. Overall business was projected by comScore to hit $178 million for the four days — a full $100 million below the same weekend a year ago, when “Deadpool” and “Kung Fu Panda” led the way.

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