M Night Shyamalan's Glass topped the Friday box office with $16 million, putting the picture on course for a domestic debut of $48 million from 3,841 theatres over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr weekend.
Friday's gross included $3.7 million in Thursday previews.
The supernatural thriller is coming in behind expectations after earning poor reviews and less-than-stellar audience scores. Heading into the holiday frame, tracking showed the film — a superhero thriller starring Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis and James McAvoy — debuting in the $60 million-$70 million range from 3,841 theatres.
Universal was more conservative in suggesting $50 million-$55 million, which would represent the second-best MLK weekend debut behind Clint Eastwood's 2015 film American Sniper ($107.2 million), not adjusted for inflation. The buddy-cop comedy Ride Along turned in the next-biggest gross for the holiday frame with a four-day bow of $48.6 million in 2014.
Costing a modest $20 million to produce, the film is the final title in Shyamalan's trilogy that began 19 years ago with Disney's Unbreakable, starring Willis and Jackson, and was followed by Universal's Split, a surprise 2015 box office hit starring McAvoy, whose final scene linked Split to the 2000 film.
Split posted a three-day debut of $40 million, while Unbreakable started off with $30 million, adjusted. At this pace, Glass' three-day gross will match that.
Shyamalan financed Glass himself. Universal is handling the movie domestically, while Disney has international distribution duties.
Glass currently has a 36 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 76 per cent for Split and 69 per cent for Unbreakable.
The story follows vigilante David Dunn (Willis) as he hunts down The Beast (McAvoy), a man inhabited by numerous identities. Jackson reprises his role as Elijah Price, a mysterious, comic book-obsessed villain. Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Anya Taylor-Joy and Charlayne Woodard co-star.
MLK weekend usually boasts several new Hollywood offerings. This year, rival studios stayed away because of Glass.
The one exception is the Japanese anime Dragon Ball Super: Broly, a fantasy martial arts pic that stunned and surprised on Wednesday when opening to No. 1 with $7 million. The movie, playing in roughly 1,250 theatres, is in a close race with holdovers Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and A Dog's Way Home with a four-day gross of $10 million, putting its five-day debut at $20 million-plus, according to early estimates.
Dragon Ball Super's opening-day number was the best showing in the history of Funimation Films, which specialises in distributing anime fare and foreign-language titles (Sony Pictures Television owns the company). Overseas, 20th Century Fox International is a partner on Dragon Ball, which has earned north of $51 million, including nearly $32 million in Japan, according to Hollywood Reporter.
The Upside, starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, is enjoying an impressive hold in its second outing. The Lantern Entertainment dramedy, released by STXfilms, is projected to gross $17.5 million for the four days, putting its 10-day domestic total at nearly $46 million. The film is looking at a decline of just 27 per cent.
Aquaman will follow in third place with an estimated $12 million as it jumps the $300 mark domestically after finishing Friday with a North American total of $306.3 million on Saturday or Sunday (globally, it jumped the $1 billion mark last weekend).
Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is also celebrating a milestone this weekend as it sings past the $200 million mark domestically. To date, the film has earned $780.4 million globally to become the most successful music biopic of all time.
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