Warner Bros.' over-the-top sci-fi thriller "The Meg" took an unexpectedly massive chomp out of the North American box office with $44.5 million in ticket sales, according to figures from measurement firm ComScore.
The PG-13 film, about a giant prehistoric shark that terrorizes beachgoers, more than doubled analysts' projections of $18 million to $22 million and is the biggest August opening since “Suicide Squad” two years ago. Released simultaneously in the U.S. and China, it earned $96.8 million internationally (including $50.3 million in China) for a global cumulative of $141.3 million.
“It just really speaks to the fun-ness of the movie,” said Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s distribution chief. Goldstein added that the “marketing campaign that didn’t take itself seriously and really played into the popcorn nature of the film. It’s a little bit on the campy side, a little bit cheesy, but in a fun way.”
Goldstein noted the timing for the film was also right. “I think the date really stands out. A shark movie, you want to see it at the end of the summer.”
Starring action vet Jason Statham as a deep-sea rescue driver who is the only man capable of defeating the 70-foot carnivore, "The Meg" cost at least $130 million to produce, according to estimates, and is based on an obscure 1997 pulp novel. It earned a B+ rating on CinemaScore and a 49% "rotten" rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
In second place, Paramount's "Mission: Impossible - Fallout," now in its third weekend, added $20 million in earnings for a cumulative $162 million.
Disney's "Christoper Robin" came in third place, adding an additional $12.4 million in its second weekend for a cumulative $50 million.
Sony Screen Gems' horror movie "Slender Man" debuted at No. 4 with $11.3 million. The film earned a rare D- score on CinemaScore and a 15% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rounding out the top five, Focus Features' drama "BlacKkKlansman" opened with $10.8 million, director Spike Lee's third best debut.
Based on true events, "BlacKkKlansman" tells the story of an undercover black detective who manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. It earned positive reviews from audiences and critics with an A- rating on CinemaScore and a 97% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
LD Entertainment's comedy "Dog Days" opened outside of the top 10 with $2.6 million. It earned mixed reviews among audiences and critics with an A- rating on CinemaScore and a 60% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In other notable box office action, Universal's "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" crossed the $100-million mark this weekend with $103.8 million in four weeks and Disney's "Ant-Man and the Wasp" crossed the $200-million mark in its sixth week with $203.5 million, becoming the 16th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to do so.
Next week, Warner Bros.' reveals the romantic comedy "Crazy Rich Asians," Studio 8 opens the action thriller "Alpha" and STX Entertainment debuts the action flick "Mile 22." The Orchard premieres the drama "We the Animals" in limited release.