'Hidden Figures' earns big against 'Star Wars' as 'Underworld' tanks

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As expected, January’s first full weekend saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (total gross $477.2 million) extend its rule over the domestic box office to a full month. But the real story here belongs to Hidden Figures, which exceeded expectations to practically tie the big-budget space epic, earning $21.8 million to Rogue One’s $21.9 million. [Update: Things are even better for Hidden Figures than initially reported. After additional reports came in, it turns out Hidden Figures actually edged past Rogue One, earning $22.8 million over its opening weekend.] That puts Hidden Figures, which expanded to wide release after two weeks in limited, above holdover Sing (weekend gross $19.5 million, total gross $213.3 million), which was thought to have a virtual lock on second place. This despite the fact that Hidden Figures screened on 1,686 theatres fewer than Rouge One and 1,484 fewer than Sing. The film's powerhouse wide opening, combined with an A+ CinemaScore, heralds good things in the weeks to come.

By contrast, the weeks to come should see Underworld: Blood Wars, the fifth installment in Sony's Underworld franchise, quietly slink out of theatres. Despite showing in nearly 600 more theatres than Hidden Figures, it earned only $13.1 million to that film's $21.8 million. That’s by far the worst opening in the Underworld franchise, lower even than the Kate Beckinsale-less Underworld: Rise of the Lycans ($20.8 million). Still, with a worldwide cume of $55.2 million and counting, Blood Wars has already more than earned back its $35 million budget, the result of an international rollout that began around five weeks ago. Assuming the home video market comes through, there’s a chance, albeit a slim one, that the franchise might still get a pared-down sixth installment.

Rounding out the top five was La La Land, which earned $10 million on 1,515 screens. It had a good time at the Golden Globes last night, garnering seven awards, which should help matters when it expands further next week. Less successful in its expansion was Focus' A Monster Calls, which finished outside the top ten with a lackluster $2 million on 1,523 screens. Out in limited release, the Jackie Chan starrer Railroad Tigers earned $127,600 in 42 theatres