If there were any questions about Kevin Hart’s box office might, they were put to rest this weekend when his new film The Upside dethroned Aquaman.
Despite getting poor reviews from critics, and going head-to-head with the mighty Aquaman, the dramedy starring Hart and Bryan Cranston debuted at the top of the domestic box office with an estimated $19.5 million, according to Comscore.
That was more than enough to take down Aquaman, which previously held onto the top spot in North America for three straight weeks.
The Upside, which features Cranston as a paralyzed billionaire who hires an ex-convict, played by Hart, opened in 3,080 locations for a per theater average of $6,360.
The film’s performance is even more impressive, when you factor in the many roadblocks it had to navigate to find success.
The STX Films release, originally set to arrive in theaters last year, was one of the last movies made by the Weinstein Company before it imploded amid a series of sexual abuse allegations against co-founder Harvey Weinstein.
STX picked up the project through a distribution deal with Lantern Entertainment, a new company created with assets bought from The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy.
As the The Upside neared its release date, it only scored a 39 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes with critics.
Analysts only expected the film to make around $10 million dollars. But Hart went into overdrive, heavily promoting the movie on talk shows and late-night TV, while facing questions about his now-unlikely Oscars hosting gig and the backlash over his resurfaced homophobic tweets.
Despite all of those challenges, The Upside topped the box office this weekend.
Warner Bros.’ mega-hit Aquaman slipped to second place with $17.2 million, bringing its four-week domestic total to $287.8 million. Sony family film, A Dog’s Way Home, opened in third place with $11.3 million.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse took fourth with $9 million, and Escape Room rounded out the top five with a very close $8.9 million.