Movie houses across the globe had a pretty ridiculous amount of different personalities given this past weekend. You could either go see a super over the top Action B-movie, a historical gender and race equal rights film, or a movie literally about a man with multiple personalities.

Leading the pack this weekend was the latest from cult classic director M. Night Shyamalan, Split, which well exceeded expectations and led to a $40 million dollar domestic opening. This effectively quadrupled its production budget making it already a huge success, but that’s not even the half of it. Split now is the 5th largest January opening of all time and it’s the fourth largest opening for any Shyamalan film. Its international performance wasn’t too astounding, but it still has to expand into over 40 more markets in the coming months.

Split received a B+ from opening day audiences on Cinemascore and it seems pretty obvious to me why this film did so well. First Shyamalan has a pretty devoted following that loves his work even at its worst. Second, his The Visit from 2015 was very much a game changer for a lot of movie goers that were still on the fence about him. And third, this is a thriller that is more than just a jump scare, keep you on the edge of your seat, throw some cheap gags at you type of film. It’s a film that has layers upon layers underneath the surface in part to the ridiculous talent that is James McAvoy and Anya Taylor Joy. I mean, I dare say this is one of McAvoy’s most challenging and yet still brilliant roles yet. All three of these things make it a thriller horror contender well worth it’s merit and can stand the cold competition of January Oscar hopefuls and all the other pitiful dread that seems to descend upon us this time of year.

But the real surprise, at least for myself this weekend comes in the form of xXx: Revenge of Xander Cage which actually, despite every prediction I made and read took second place this weekend. The third in the triple X series brought in $20.1 million dollars opening weekend and while that is a little less than a quarter of its budget, the film absolutely dominated the international box office. In the 53 markets it opened in it finished first place in 32 of them and it pulled in $50.5 million dollars, leading to a global cume of $70.6 million in its first three days. For a film expected to be crashing hard this weekend, the film was clearly successful to resurrect what felt like a dead franchise and was able to secure a pretty safe bet that Paramount will probably be pushing yet another sequel from this franchise on us in the near future.

Hidden Figures also had a successful third weekend in national release as it did hold over pretty well all things considered. The 20th Century Fox film and now Oscar nominee (woot!) only saw a 24.6% decline in ticket sales, leading to a $15.7 million finish which won third place. Yes, would I have liked to have seen this film take second and beat out an over the top Action B-Movie? Obviously, but now that Hidden Figures has scored some Oscar nominations I have hope that it’ll continue to pull in movie goers interested in checking out the film for a first, second, or in my case, fourth times.

Falling just outside the top ten this weekend was Michael Keaton’s The Founder which finished 11th with $3.4 million dollars. Having only opened in 1,115 theatres this isn’t the worst performance of an Oscar hopeful film opening in a smaller nationwide release, but given that it did not in fact snag any nominations after Tuesday mornings’ announcement of them, I don’t think this film is going to be climbing the charts too much more.

The final film which opened even narrower was The Resurrection of Gavin Stone which debuted in 890 theatres and pulled in $1.2 million dollars. Yes, this places it at #19 this weekend, but given that the budget is rumored to only be $2 million dollars its opening weekend wasn’t too shabby. The film has a 90% approval rating from Google Users, a 7.3 out of 10 on IMDb, and has a 42% on Rotten Tomatoes so to say opinions and reviews have been mixed is an understatement. And if you’re looking for an understated film this coming weekend even, this is your go to.

Looking ahead to next weekend we have three newcomers which look like again, a mix of kinda intriguing looking to just utterly filler content soley designed to run as weak counter Oscar programing.

The first, and maybe the most intriguing of the three is Weinstein Company’s Gold starring Matthew McConaughey. It’s based on the true story of Kenny Wells, played by McConaughey, who is a businessman down on his luck who teams up with geologist Michael Acosta to strike it pick on rumored gold mines deep within the uncharted jungles of Indonesia. But once discovering the gold the adventure only then begins as the duo’s biggest challenge will be keeping it as they go up against some powerful Wall Street figure heads. This doesn’t look to be McConaughey’s best performance by a long shot, but I do respect that he’s taking on a physically less appealing role than he has in recent years. I don’t expect greatness from this film given a 38% and 51% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritique respectively, though.

The film that actually stands the best chance of doing descent this weekend is the latest in the Resident Evil franchise, The Final Chapter. This will mark the 6th release in the Resident Evil franchise and is the first in nearly 5 years. I don’t think it’ll crack $25 million, but if it does, this may not in fact end up being the final chapter afterall. The film has already brought in $35 million internationally going into this coming weekend so anything north of $20 to 25 million would give Sony and Screen Gems a successful enough reason to keep going with the series.

And the last new comer this weekend, and the one I am least interested in seeing is A Dog’s Purpose starring Dennis Quaid. It’s the story of a devoted dog’s journey to discovering the meaning of its own existence through the lives of the multiple humans it comes in contact with and those it helps teach to laugh and love. This is the strangest existential movie I’ve ever seen and it’s about a dog. Plus, the film has a lot of controversy surrounding it given some leaked behind the scenes footage of the crew forcing one of the dogs on set into a simulated rushing river which it is clearly not comfortable getting into. I completely agree that there was wrong doing and understand PETA’s urging of movie goers not to go and support this film, but really, there are so many other reasons that I could think of why you shouldn’t waste your time with this movie.

But on a more positive note, Oscar nominations just came out so you can be guaranteed to see some of your favorite films from last year making a reprise in theatres soon. So this weekend head out to your local film house to catch any one of those Oscar nominated films, or any of the new comers we have coming out this weekend!

-Matthew Miller

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