The M. Night Shymalan comeback reached a new peak at the box office this week.
Split, a thriller about three women kidnapped by a man who has 23 different personalities — and who hints that he is preparing for a 24th — topped the chart with an estimated $40.2 million between Thursday and Sunday nights.
If the estimates hold, Split will be virtually tied with The Last Airbender (2010, $40.3 million) for the third-best opening of any film directed by Shyamalan, behind Signs (2002, $60.1 million) and The Village (2004, $50.7 million).
Since The Village came out thirteen years ago, Shyamalan films such as Lady in the Water, The Happening and After Earth have suffered from bad reviews and poor box office. The Last Airbender, a big-budget film based on a popular cartoon, did better than the others financially at least, but it failed to launch a new franchise.
Things began to turn around for Shyamalan two years ago when he directed The Visit for microbudget horror producer Jason Blum. That film got good reviews and did okay at the box office, and now Split — which was also produced by Blum, and in fact has the top opening of any non-sequel produced by Blum (previous champ: The Purge, 2013, $34.1 million) — has continued Shyamalan’s upward trajectory.
Two other films did more poorly than expected this week.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage — the first film in the franchise since 2005, and the first to feature Vin Diesel since the original movie in 2002 — landed in second place with $20 million, or less than half of what the original movie opened to.
And The Founder, which tells the story of how a milkshake salesman named Ray Kroc took the McDonald’s fast-food company from the brothers who started it, landed in ninth place with $3.8 million — easily the lowest wide opening of any film directed by John Lee Hancock (previous lowest: The Alamo, 2004, $9.1 million).
Two films passed significant milestones this week.
Sing, which landed in fourth place in its fifth week with $9 million, raised its domestic cume to $249.4 million and passed 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding to become the top-grossing film of all time that was never #1 at the box office.
And Rogue One, which landed in sixth place in its sixth week with $7.04 million, became the 28th film of all time (and the fourth film of 2016) to gross a billion dollars worldwide ($512.2 million domestic + $499.1 million overseas = $1.01 billion).
Meanwhile, in other box-office news…
Hidden Figures earned $16.3 million and ranked third in its fifth week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $84.2 million. The film does not appear to have been released overseas yet.
La La Land earned $8.4 million and ranked fifth in its seventh week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $89.7 million. The film has earned another $83.7 million overseas, for a global total of $173.4 million.
Monster Trucks earned $7 million and ranked seventh in its second week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $22.6 million. The film has earned another $19.3 million overseas, for a global total of $41.9 million.
Patriots Day earned $6 million and ranked eighth in its fifth week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $23.6 million. The film has earned another $2.4 million overseas, for a global total of $26 million.
And Sleepless earned $3.7 million and ranked tenth in its second week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $15.2 million. The film has earned another $367,397 overseas, for a global total of $15.6 million.
Next week brings us A Dog’s Purpose, Gold and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.