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Spielberg’s nostalgia trip scores at U.S. box office

Apr 03,2018
LOS ANGELES - Steven Spielberg found his way back to the top of the box office in the United States with the action-adventure “Ready Player One,” while Tyler Perry scored again with “Acrimony.”

Studio estimates on Sunday say Spielberg’s virtual reality-focused film earned a solid $53.2 million in its first four days in theaters from 4,234 locations since opening Wednesday night, with $41.2 million of that coming from the three-day weekend.

Not adjusted for inflation, it is Spielberg’s best opening in a decade following “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which launched with $100.1 million in 2008. Aside from “The BFG,” Spielberg has lately favored smaller historical dramas instead of the big-scale blockbusters of his heyday.

Based on Ernest Cline’s popular novel and chock-full of references to 1980s pop culture, including some nods to Spielberg’s own films, “Ready Player One” is a return to the popcorn filmmaking that he became known for. That includes a reportedly hefty $175 million price tag, which does not account for marketing costs.

“It’s great to be in the Steven Spielberg business,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Brothers president of domestic distribution. “We always believed that this movie itself would carry the day and that’s really what happened. We’ve seen around the globe that the word of mouth is really propelling it.”

Internationally, the film exceeded the studio’s expectations with $128 million from 62 territories, including $61.7 million from China (the biggest-ever opening in the country for Warner Brothers). Globally, it grossed $181.3 million.

ComScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the performance of “Ready Player One” should be judged in the context of the marketplace, which is down significantly (24.1%) from last March and has seen nearly every film since “Black Panther” open in the “middling to good range.”

“None of them have set the world on fire,” Dergarabedian said. “We’re living in a world where a $52.3 million gross for the first four days is a really good number.”

Tyler Perry’s “Acrimony” took second place. Driven by an overwhelmingly female audience, the film starring Taraji P. Henson grossed $17.1 million over the three-day weekend, followed by “Black Panther” in third place with $11.3 million.

With $650.7 million in domestic sales, “Black Panther” is poised to pass “Jurassic World’s” $652 million to become the fourth highest grossing domestic release of all time.

AP