It's been a long wait for the return of Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, but the Bad Boys are finally back in Bad Boys For Life. While Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back, the big question has always been, if they did return, would the audience be there to support them? While we'll have a better idea how things look for the new film over the weekend, the film's first screenings took place last night, and Bad Boys For Life brought in a respectable $6.36 million domestically.
Early screenings started at 4 PM in most markets, allowing for more showings on the first day than the average Thursday night, which tends to see films starting at 7 PM. The number was enough to win the night, as the other major wide release movie hitting screens this weekend, Robert Downey Jr.'s Dolittle, brought in less than $1 million in total according to The Wrap, though its screenings started later in the evening and it was shown on fewer screens nationally.
The Thursday night number will certainly give Bad Boys For Life a boost toward the $35-$40 million opening the weekend the movie is expecting to see. Thursday night screenings weren't really a thing 17 years ago when the last Bad Boys movie came out, so there are no numbers to compare, and even if they were, anything not adjusted for inflation would be difficult to put side-by-side. Having said that, Bad Boys For Life isn't expected to do quite as well out of the box as bad Boys II, which made $46 million on its opening weekend on the way to $273 million globally.
On the plus side, Bad Boys For Life was a cheaper movie to make, so a smaller box office isn't the end of the world. In addition, the critical response for the film has been strong, which might be enough to get those sitting on the fence to check it out. If that happens, we could see Bad Boys For Life out perform the projections.
On the other side, Dolittle was a much more expensive movie to make which is projected to lose its opening weekend to Bad Boys, especially following less than thrilling critical reviews. Having said that, the extremely low Thursday night numbers likely don't mean much for the film's opening weekend. Dolittle is designed to be a movie you take the kids to, and few probably took their kids to a 7 PM movie on a Thursday night. It's projected to make something around $20 million for its opening weekend.
The box office numbers for Bad Boys For Life are all the more important because, without giving away spoilers, there's more than just this movie's success riding on them. There are clearly plans for at least one more movie, and the success of this one will likely determine if that next movie actually happens.