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The Meg bites off $44.5 million in US debut to land top spot

The Meg

Story by Jack Foley

SHARK thriller The Meg has bitten off a healthy $44.5 million on its opening weekend in the US to comfortably land top spot.

The film performed well above expectations to boast the biggest opening of all time for a live-action shark movie — not adjusted for inflation.

What’s more, in a much needed win for distributing studio Warner Bros, the film marked its biggest opening of the year to date, supplanting Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One ($41.8 million) and the female-fronted Ocean’s 8 ($41.6 million).

The big-budget movie (which is estimated to have cost $130 million) is also showing strength overseas. In China, where some of the co-financing came from, the movie debuted to $50.3 million for a total foreign opening of $96.8 million and global bite of $141.3 million.

This means that the film is well on course to justify its large production costs – although it still has a lot of work to do (thanks to a big marketing budget too) and needs to retain audience appreciation.

By way of comparison with other shark films, the gauntlet was first laid down in the summer of 1975 when Steven Spielberg made history with the classic shark film Jaws, which remains the top-grossing live-action shark film in the US, adjusted or not.

Close behind, The Shallows, starring Blake Lively, revived the genre in 2016 by grossing $119 million globally against a modest $25 million budget. That was followed by 47 Meters Down last summer, which garnered $44.3 million against a $5.5 million budget.

Nevertheless, The Meg‘s impressive start has been celebrated by Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’s head of domestic distribution, who attributed the over-performance to the studio’s marketing campaign, along with a non-competitive August debut.

“It’s just good popcorn entertainment that didn’t take itself too seriously,” he said. “It’s silly, it’s fun, and it let’s audiences have a good time.”

Elsewhere at the US box office, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout fell to second spot in its third weekend with $20 million for a US total of $162 million.

The sixth film in the franchise took in another $38.4 million overseas for a foreign tally of $275.6 million and a global haul of $427.6 million, meaning that it will soon catch up with the last film in the series, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.

Disney holdover Christopher Robin placed third in its second weekend with $12.4 million for a US tally of $50 million and $62.1 million globally.

Of the other new releases, low-budget horror film Slender Man came in fourth with $11.3 million, while Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman rounded out the top five with $10.8 million, a solid start for a specialty film launching in summer as opposed to during awards season.

The latter film follows the true story of two Colorado cops, one black (John David Washington) and one Jewish (Adam Driver), who infiltrated their local KKK chapter in the early 1970s. It received a standing ovation when it premiered at Cannes earlier this year.