Director Ron Howard's "Inferno" — the third installment in Sony's franchise based on author Dan Brown's bestselling series that kicked off with "The Da Vinci Code" — came into this weekend with predictions it would easily claim the top spot at the box office. In the end, however, the film had all the spark of a soggy match, landing in second place after "Boo! A Madea Halloween."
With Tom Hanks returning as globe-trotting professor Robert Langdon, "Inferno" pulled in just $15 million in its domestic debut, well short of the $20 million to $30 million many had expected and a steep 68% drop from the $46-million opening weekend haul of the last film in the franchise, 2009's "Angels and Demons."
In its second weekend, director and star Tyler Perry's latest "Madea" film got a boost from the Halloween weekend, slipping just 41% from its opening to pull in $16.7 million, bringing its domestic total to $52 million.
Despite the dismal domestic opening of "Inferno," which was hampered by largely stinging reviews, the film has proven more appealing to audiences overseas. With a successful launch in China and Japan this weekend, the film is already approaching $150 million globally.
"We always knew that was our sweet spot, quite frankly, and the movie was actually built with the intent that internationally it would resonate well," said Rory Bruer, Sony's distribution chief. "It was a very good bet and it is paying off."
Though the film received a respectable B+ CinemaScore, its domestic opening showed a steep drop-off in interest from "The Da Vinci Code," which launched the franchise a decade ago with a $77-million debut. "Inferno" also underperformed Hanks' last outing, "Sully," which opened with $35 million just last month and has earned more than $122 million domestically so far.
"Certainly we got a few bad breaks," Bruer said. "Having this historic World Series was really tough on our audience in particular, which was 55% male and more than 60% over 25. That being said, we made a movie that we're proud of. And audiences are liking the film, so hopefully we'll be hanging around for a while."
On a brighter note, expanding to 36 theaters in its second weekend, director Barry Jenkins' critically acclaimed drama "Moonlight" earned $900,826, boasting an impressive per-theater average of $25,023 that bodes well for a film that is considered to have significant awards potential in the months ahead.
Rounding out the top five in the weekend box office derby were Tom Cruise's action sequel "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back," which earned $9.6 million; Ben Affleck's "The Accountant," which pulled in $8.5 million; and Universal's horror prequel "Ouija: Origin of Evil," with $7.1 million.
In all, it was a lackluster weekend at the box office, with the top 12 films down 32% compared to last weekend. But things should bounce back next weekend with Marvel's "Doctor Strange," Fox's animated "Trolls" and Mel Gibson's World War II film "Hacksaw Ridge," all opening in wide release.