Shyamalan's 'Split' and Diesel's 'xXx 3' Look to Deliver $20+ Million Openings
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Universal's release of M. Night Shyamalan's Split delivered strong right out of the gates. Including an impressive $2 million in Thursday night previews, the thriller's Friday estimate is $14.6 million with the studio anticipating a $34.1 million opening weekend while other industry estimates peg it around $36-38 million. Opening day audiences scored it with a "B+" CinemaScore.

Paramount's xXx: Return of Xander Cage brought in an estimated $7.15 million and is looking at a three-day within industry expectations, right around $18-20 million. Opening day audiences gave it an "A-" CinemaScore.

Weinstein's The Founder brought in an estimated $1 million and is looking at a three-day around $2.8-3 million.

Finally, High Top Releasing's The Resurrection of Gavin Stone brought in an estimated $380,000 and is looking at a three-day weekend around $1.1 million.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back on Sunday morning with a complete wrap-up.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Universal's Split got off to a strong start last night, pulling in $2 million in Thursday night previews from 2,295 theaters with showings that began at 7 PM. That is more than the $1.875 million Don't Breathe brought in last year before opening with $26.4 million. Also, to look at some of the films used in our forecast, it's better than 10 Cloverfield Lane's $1.8 million in Thursday previews and almost double the $1.02 million The Visit brought in.

Paramount's xXx: Return of Xander Cage pulled in $1.2 million from 2,536 locations (IMAX and 3D). This improves on the $850,000 London Has Fallen brought in from Thursday previews as well as the $900,000 brought in by Riddick.

You can check out our weekend preview below and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a look at Friday estimates.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: While last weekend's new releases failed to energize the box office, two of this week's new titles will top the weekend chart. M. Night Shyamalan's latest thriller, Split, and the return of Vin Diesel in the title role of xXx: Return of Xander Cage are both looking to score $20+ million openings while Hidden Figures and La La Land look to continue to capture audience attention amid their already-strong domestic runs. Additionally, this weekend features the release of The Founder into just over one thousand theaters and High Top releasing brings The Resurrection of Gavin Stone into 887 theaters as it hopes to attract the attention of the faith-based audience.

At the top of the weekend box office expect to find M. Night Shyamalan's Split. Shyamalan's career has featured plenty of ups and downs, but following the performance of The Visit in 2015 and the solid early reviews for Split, we would appear to be in the midst of an "up" moment. The film, which stars James McAvoy as a man with 24 distinct personalities who kidnaps three girls, is receiving solid reviews—79% on RottenTomatoes and 65 on MetaCritic—as it prepares to open in 3,037 theaters this weekend.

Earlier this week industry expectations pegged Split's opening in the high-teens, but since then an opening in the low twenties has seemed to become all but a guarantee. Online ticket retailer reports it is currently outpacing last year's 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Visit at the same point in the site's sales cycle. We're seeing similar results when looking at IMDb page views, though it just recently dipped ever-so-slightly behind 10 Cloverfield while still pacing ahead of The Visit and 2013's Mama, which opened with $28.4 million. Therefore, an opening around $24 million doesn't seem at all a risky call and it could possibly even surge higher, which would mean the film will more than double its reported $10 million budget this weekend alone.

Looking at a second place finish is Paramount's release of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. The film arrives 14 years after the first film opened with $44.5 million in August of 2002 and went on to gross over $140 million domestically. Three years later star Vin Diesel didn't return for the sequel, xXx: State of the Union, as Ice Cube stepped into the lead role and the film could only manage a $12.7 million opening and a worldwide run half of the original film's domestic haul. Question now is whether Diesel's return to the franchise all these years later will deliver at the box office?

Outside of the Fast & Furious franchise Diesel's appeal has been hit and miss. The first xXx definitely showed his burgeoning star power as it was the first film to hit theaters following the first Fast and Furious. Subsequent films however, such as Knockaround Guys and A Man Apart, struggled. Additionally, his Riddick franchise never managed to totally take off (though 2013's Riddick performed well enough against a small, $38 million budget) and 2015's The Last Witch Hunter wasn't able to live up to its $90 million budget. With xXx 3, the franchise moves to Paramount after Sony distributed the first two films and given it carries an $85 million budget the hope is to not only see it succeed domestically, which is where Last Witch Hunter struggled, but internationally, where Last Witch Hunter generated nearly $120 million (81.4% of its overall worldwide gross).

Return of Xander Cage will debut in a whopping 3,651 theaters where it will be playing in 3-D and IMAX. Earlier this week industry expectations anticipated an opening anywhere from $18-20 million while at this point an opening at or over $21 million seems a very strong possibility. Looking at IMDb page view data, the film's performance compares favorably against titles such as London Has Fallen and Riddick. In addition to its domestic bow, xXx 3 will also open in 53 international markets this weekend including UK, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and India (representing 54% of the ultimate international footprint) plus a February opening in China.

In third we have the fourth weekend for Hidden Figures and after topping the weekend charts for two straight weeks in a row with $20+ million performances we're anticipating a slight, 18% drop for a $17 million weekend from 3,416 theaters (+130). Come Sunday the film will pushing over $80 million domestically on a $25 million budget. Behind it we also expect a small drop for awards season frontrunner La La Land, which is adding 17 theaters this weekend ahead of next week's Oscar nominations. This is the film's seventh overall weekend during which we're expecting a three-day performance around $12.5 million.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story should round out the top five in its sixth weekend in release, pulling in around $8.5 million as it became the only 2016 release to top $500 million domestically this past weekend.

Last weekend's top new release was The Bye Bye Man, which smartly got out ahead of this weekend's release of Split as it is likely to drop a little heavier as a result of the competition. We're expecting a drop around 55% and a $6 million second weekend as it not only has Split to contend with but that "C" CinemaScore.

One slight question mark is to wonder how Monster Trucks will perform in its second weekend. The film received an "A" CinemaScore from opening day audiences and is still playing in 3,119 theaters. The Martin Luther King holiday last weekend does mean a few more folks went to see it on Monday than otherwise normally would on a standard Monday, but a 43% drop doesn't seem terribly unlikely for a second weekend around $6.2 million.

Look for Open Road's Sleepless to round out the top ten, dropping around 46% in its second weekend for a three-day around $4.5 million.

Outside the top ten it will be interesting to see where Martin Scorsese's Silence falls as it didn't have a breakout expansion last weekend, yet Paramount is adding another 833 theaters this weekend. Can it top $4 million in the process?

This weekend also sees the release of Weinstein's The Founder into ~1,100 theaters. There isn't a lot to compare this release to, though we are anticipating a $4 million opening for the film which finds Michael Keaton playing Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's, John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks) directs.

Also this weekend A24 will be expanding 20th Century Women nationwide, though the studio has not yet responded to requests for a theater count so we won't be making a forecast. A24 will also be releasing Trespass Against Us into limited theaters and Sony Classics will release The Red Turtle into a small number of theaters.

Finally, High Top is releasing the faith-based feature The Resurrection of Gavin Stone into 887 theaters. Distributed under the BH Tilt banner from Blumhouse, the theaters in which the film is being released have been chosen as they are historically frequented by faith based audiences as the studio hopes to do with faith-based material what they have attempted with horror titles such as Incarnate and The Green Inferno. It's a tactic that has proven to be hit and miss and in looking at comparative releases and their performance on IMDb leading up to release a debut around $1.6 million seems as good a forecast as any.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Split (3,037 theaters) - $24.0 M
  • xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (3,651 theaters) - $21.0 M
  • Hidden Figures (3,416 theaters) - $17.0 M
  • La La Land (1,865 theaters) - $12.5 M
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2,603 theaters) - $8.5 M
  • Patriots Day (3,120 theaters) - $7.9 M
  • Sing (3,180 theaters) - $7.4 M
  • Monster Trucks (3,119 theaters) - $6.2 M
  • The Bye Bye Man (2,253 theaters) - $6.1 M
  • Sleepless (1,803 theaters) - $4.5 M

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.