‘Men in Black: International’ and ‘Shaft’ Bomb at Box Office

Men in Black International and Shaft (Credit: Sony and Warner Bros.)

Shaft is his name, unfortunately he has no game.

Shaft and Men in Black: International both came up short this weekend at the box office. International opened in the top spot with an estimated $28.5 million debut from 4,224 theaters, according to Comscore.

The Sony action film starring Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth is the latest installment in the franchise. But it trailed far behind the opening weekend numbers of the previous three entries featuring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, all of which debuted in the $50-million range.

The spin-off centers on Agent H and Agent M from a secret alien-wrangling agency charged with protecting Earth. The film co-stars Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani and Davina Sitaram, and is directed by F. Gary Gray.

It suffered without Smith and Jones’ star power. Lousy reviews didn’t help either, with critics only giving the film a 24 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Critics also panned Shaft, handing it a slightly better, but still bad, 35 percent rating.

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The sequel starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher and Richard Roundtree promised three generations of Shaft, although that promise failed to muster much interest. Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Matt Lauria and Luna Lauren Velez co-star in the film.

The action comedy collapsed on arrival, only managing a sixth place finish with $8.3 million from 2,952 locations. The Warner Bros./New Line Cinema release had been projected to earn $18-20 million.

Tim Story directed from a script by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow. The film is a sequel to the 2000 release of the same name, which was helmed by the late John Singleton. Both are remakes of Gordon Parks’ original 1971 movie.

In comparison, Singleton’s 2000 installment opened with $21.7 million, on its way to earning $70 million in North America.

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The weekend’s other newish entry, Amazon Studios’ Late Night, fared even worse.

The comedy, about a talk show host (Emma Thompson) who tries to become more current with the help of a female writer (Mindy Kaling), earned just $5.1 million at 2,220 locations. This was the film’s second weekend after playing in New York and Los Angeles.

Kaling wrote the script and Nisha Ganatra directed the film, which landed in a disastrous ninth place.

Elsewhere, Universal’s Secret Life of Pets 2 came in second place this weekend with $23.8 million. Disney’s Aladdin earned $16.7 million for a third place finish after four weeks in theaters.

Fox/Marvel’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix took fourth with $9 million, and Rocketman rounded out the top five with $8.8 million.

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