Box Office: ‘The Meg’ Bites Off Strong $44.5 Million Debut

“The Meg” devoured the competition at the domestic box office.

Warner Bros.’ big-budget shark thriller opened well above expectations, biting off $44.5 million when it opened in 4,118 North American locations. That was easily enough to nab the No. 1 slot over “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” which picked up $20 million in its third outing for a domestic tally of $162 million.

“The Meg,” which is a co-production with China, will still have to secure big returns overseas to justify its expensive $130 million production budget. It’s not quite in the black yet, but it’s off to a good start given a $96.8 million start internationally.

With $44.5 million, “The Meg” secured the best opening of the year for Warner Bros., ahead of “Ready Player One” ($41.7 million) and “Ocean’s 8” ($41.6 million).

Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’s head of domestic distribution, attributes the better-than-expected opening 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.”

Fellow newcomer “BlacKkKlansman” debut in fifth place with $10.8 million in 1,500 locations, earning director Spike Lee his best opening in over a decade. Lee’s Cannes Grand Prix winning crime drama, which debuted on the first anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville rally, has maintained enthusiasm with a promising 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating and A- CinemaScore.

Horror auteurs Jason Blum and Jordan Peele co-produced the Focus Features title, which tells the true story of black detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who goes undercover — with the help of Jewish cop Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) — to infiltrate the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

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