Uncharted And Dog Make For A Very Encouraging Weekend At The Box Office

While the box office has been on uncertain footing, leaving some (including myself) to have a cynical view of the future for the theatrical marketplace, this weekend provided a glimmer of hope. Not one, but two brand new movies — the video game adaptation "Uncharted," starring Tom Holland, and "Dog," which serves as Channing Tatum's directorial debut — both hit theaters and both found their audience over the long President's Day weekend. Plus, several other movies had better-than-expected holds, making for a weekend the likes of which we haven't seen in quite some time. The only real arguably loser this weekend was the horror flick "The Cursed," but even that might not be an outright disaster. Let's dig in.

Uncharted does better than expected

Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Sony's "Uncharted" handily won the weekend, taking in a healthy $44 million, and with an expected $51 million over the Friday to Monday stretch, according to Box Office Mojo. That extra day is proving to be extremely beneficial here. Fleischer, who also directed 2018's "Venom," is quickly asserting himself as a guy who makes big blockbusters that critics don't much care for, yet audiences like quite a bit. To that end, the latest from "Spider-Man" star Tom Holland has earned $139 million worldwide already, collecting a solid $88 million overseas. What's more, it will actually be getting a release in China next month, which is becoming a rarity for Hollywood films, meaning it stands an even better chance of recouping its $120 million production budget.

This cements video games as perhaps the next big franchise gold rush and makes Sony look smart for casting a younger actor as Nathan Drake while making this movie almost serve as a prequel to the games. Now, if all goes well, "Uncharted" can develop into a franchise that can run for a long time. I must also eat some crow, as I previously predicted this movie would flop hard. It's good to be wrong. Holland, after pushing "Spider-Man: No Way Home" to such great heights (more on that in a minute), has absolutely proven his status as a huge box office draw and now has a whole lot of negotiating power for his potential return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for more web-slinging.

Dog proves to be a good boy

The weekend's other new high-profile release couldn't be more different. "Dog" stars Channing Tatum, who also co-directs with Reid Carolin, in a "man and his pooch" story. And yet, it turns out there was room for this and a big action/adventure flick, as the movie earned a super solid $15.1 million, with an expected $18 million including Monday's take. Given that the movie comes with a reported $15 million budget, that is an excellent start. It also makes a strong case for the idea that mid-budget movies should be looked at by every studio attempting to stay in the theatrical game, since they absolutely can work. "Dog" serves as further proof of that. $200 million blockbusters are going to be almost impossible to make anymore. Mid-budget crowd-pleasers, on the other hand? Audiences are interested, as we're coming to discover.

The Cursed can't scare up an audience

Over the past year or so, horror movies like "Scream" and "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" have been helping to prop up the box office alongside the house that Marvel built. Horror is one of the only reliable things around right now. Unfortunately for director Sean Ellis' critically acclaimed werewolf picture "The Cursed," it didn't work out this time. The movie came in at number ten on the charts in its opening weekend with just $1.7 million. There are not many ways to sugarcoat that — it's not a good start. Plain and simple.

The silver lining here is that the movie probably didn't cost a fortune, even though it was reportedly re-edited and given some new effects following its debut at Sundance 2021. It can make a few million at the box office over the coming weeks, then likely find its way to greener pastures on VOD come March, while possibly making some money overseas. The nice thing about horror is it's not terribly expensive (generally speaking), which offers far less opportunity for an outright financial disaster. Buzz could still carry this one to profitability over time, and that wouldn't be the case for a $100 million blockbuster.

And the rest...

In its 10th (!) weekend, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" earned $7.65 million, which is 1.7% more than it did last weekend, good enough for the number three spot. Just genuinely stunning stuff. It now stands at $1.83 billion globally and passed "Avatar" domestically last week. It's not new that this movie continues to make bank, but it does further prove that Holland is a bonafide star, given that he is in two of the weekend's top three movies.

Coming in at number four was "Death on the Nile," which actually only dropped 51.5% for a $6.2 million second weekend take. It's still going to be tough to recoup the $90 million budget on this one, but it didn't fall off a cliff in its second frame and now stands at $75 million worldwide. There is at least a chance it could approach less-than-catastrophe territory by the end of its run. Unfortunately, China was little help, where it earned just $5.9 million this weekend. That's especially sad given how few American movies are playing there now.

"Jackass Forever" rounded out the top five with $5.2 million, putting the modestly budgeted $10 million comedy at $61 million worldwide, with $47 million of that coming from North America. These movies have never been big overseas, but thankfully this one already counts as a win for Paramount. It should be able to round out its run with between $70 and $80 million.

Looking ahead, this week sees the period-set love story "Cyrano" hitting theaters alongside the Foo Fighters' horror flick "Studio 666."