The Upside Box Office: Bryan Cranston And Kevin Hart Steal The Top Spot From Aquaman

Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston during feeding time in The Upside

Last week, without a hint of doubt, I predicted that James Wan's Aquaman would easily win its fourth box office crown given perceived limited competition - but I must admit that I was totally wrong. While the DC Extended Universe hit still did quite well (something I'll get into later), Neil Burger's The Upside managed to make enough in its surprising debut to steal the number one spot. You can witness the results of the race below, as well as the rest of this weekend's Top 10, and join me after for analysis!

Weekend Box Office CinemaBlend January 11-13, 2019 The Upside

Early predictions suggested that The Upside would only make somewhere in the range of $9-12 million in its first three days, which would have let Aquaman reign again, but the dramedy remake instead actually made nearly double the median of the prognostication with a haul of $19.6 million domestically. The movie didn't exactly ride into theaters of a huge wave of buzz, with Rotten Tomatoes showcasing a 40% for the title, but the "A" on CinemaScore definitely suggests that the crowds buying the tickets are enjoying what they are seeing. It looks like the star power of Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston gave it a boost, perhaps with the film notably featuring Hart's most dramatic work to date.

With a reported budget of $37.5 million, The Upside still has some distance to go before it can call itself totally profitable, but at the same time the results must certainly be earning celebration over at STX Entertainment. While the film isn't their biggest debut of all time, as Bad Moms brought in $23.8 million when it came out in the summer of 2016, it is a different kind of number one for the studio: it's their first feature to debut at the top spot at the box office. The indie company hasn't been around all that long, releasing 25 movies since late 2015, and this definitely has to be seen as a milestone.

The film definitely won't be number one next week (of this I'm 10,000% sure), but it could wind up with some interesting legs as we get deeper into the winter thanks to that impressive welcome by audiences. Word of mouth could wind up keeping the feature in the middle of the Top 10 for at least a few extra weeks, allowing it the opportunity to make a profit.

Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston during feeding time in The Upside

The Upside was up against two other wide releases and an expansion this weekend, but neither one ended up proving to be much of an adversary. Predictions suggested that Charles Martin Smith's A Dogs Way Home would put up similar numbers to the range suggested for the Hart-Cranston team-up mentioned above, but the big difference proved to be that The Upside exceeded expectations, while A Dogs Way home matched them. As a result, the canine-centric adventure had to settle for third place.

In comparison to the third new release of the weekend, however, A Dog's Way Home's debut looks absolutely magical. I'm referring to the performance by Jeffrey Nachmanoff's Replicas - which you'll note isn't featured on the chart above. An unfortunate new low for Keanu Reeves, the film wasn't even able to beat out Bryan Singer's Bohemian Rhapsody in its eleventh week, making only $2.5 million. The whole situation probably didn't benefit from a limited marketing campaign, and the fact that it has a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. Fortunately, one can assume that any memory of this flop will be totally erased from our brains later this year when Reeves return to play the titular role in Chad Stahelski's John Wick: Chapter 3.

Perhaps boosted by the good news about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on Friday, Mimi Leder's On The Basis Of Sex also put on a modest performance this weekend, going from 16th place to eighth place after being released in nearly 2,000 more theaters. This isn't a feature that was ever really expected to make blockbuster money, and is instead probably primarily looking to receive more attention during award season, so it's performance so far gets a modest thumbs up.

As alluded to earlier, while Aquaman can no longer call itself "The Number One Movie In America," there is some very good news that comes with this weekend's box office results. Thanks to the $17.3 million made domestically, as well as all of the money made from all the various foreign markets, the blockbuster is now the first DC Extended Universe film to make over $1 billion at the box office. It's still making its way up the franchise rankings here at home, as it still needs to make another $4 million to surpass Zack Snyder' Man Of Steel, but it still has plenty of time to take down David Ayer's Suicide Squad and perhaps Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The only untouchable title is Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, which made an amazing $412.6 million before it was done in American theaters.

Aquaman is one of five 2018 movies to have made $1 billion at the box office, joining a club that includes Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Infinity War, Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, J.A. Bayona's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Brad Bird's Incredibles 2. What separates James Wan's blockbuster from the pack, though, is that it is the only one that has domestic theaters contributing less than 30% of the total. It speaks to the impressive wide appeal of the film, which offers sights never before seen on the big screen - specifically an epic live-action underwater kingdom, and all of the unique and badass action opportunities that come with it.

Finally, I'll throw some credit to Adam Robitel's Escape Room for doing a nice job holding on and adding another nice total to its box office earnings. Sure, it fell a few spots, but it only fell a little over 50 percent, and still made basically its entire reported budget again in three days.

Next weekend we will see a new box office champion crowned, as the only "blockbuster" release of January 2019 is arriving in the form of M. Night Shyamalan's Glass - but question remains regarding exactly how big a splash it will make. We will be back next Sunday to see how everything shakes out, so tune in then!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.