By Maureen Lee Lenker
June 09, 2019 at 01:59 PM EDT
Doane Gregory/Fox; Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures

Dark Phoenix was meant to rise from the ashes of the critically reviled 2016 X-Men: Apocalypse to send the X-Men franchise on a high note — but it failed to catch fire at the box office.

The superhero film came in second this weekend, opening to only an estimated $33 million across 3,721 theaters, the lowest ever opening for a film in the X-Men franchise. The previously mentioned X-Men: Apocalypse opened to $65.8 million (a step down from predecessor X-Men: Days of Future Past’s $90.8 million opening), and the previous lowest opening in the 19-year franchise was 2013’s The Wolverine with a $53.1 million debut.

Instead of another super-powered weekend, it is something a little closer to home that takes the box office crown — animated sequel The Secret Life of Pets 2. Universal’s family-friendly franchise claims the top spot with an estimated $47.1 million across 4,561 theaters. From Universal’s frequent animation partner Illumination Entertainment, the movie is a follow-up to 2016’s The Secret Life of Pets, which boasted an impressive opening haul of $104.3 million. It’s difficult to compare the projects, however, given that the first The Secret Life of Pets holds the record for the biggest-ever opening for an original film.

Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures

The Secret Life of Pets 2 returns to the world of our domesticated animals, asking what our pets do when their owners aren’t at home. The film is stacked with vocal talent with Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford, Eric Stonestreet, Dana Carvey, Garth Jennings, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Pete Holmes, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Tiffany Haddish all lending their voice-over skills to the project. It earned a solid A- Cinemascore from audiences, and critics mostly gave it a lukewarm response.

The animated flick is the tenth partnership between Universal and Illumination Entertainment, but it fell short of their previous outing, last winter’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, which opened to $67.6 million and went on to gross $270.6 million.

Twentieth Century Fox

Dark Phoenix stumbled domestically with its disappointing $33 million second place opening, but it fared better overseas. Its international debut is an estimated $107 million in ticket sales, making it the number one worldwide release with a global debut of $140 million. Critical response has not been glowing and audiences don’t seem to have a much higher opinion, giving it a dismal B- CinemaScore.

It stars Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner as Jean Grey as she evolves into the titular Dark Phoenix. During a mission to space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants around. Many of the rebooted franchise’s regulars return for what has been announced as a finale of sorts, including James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tye Sheridan, and Alexandra Shipp. Jessica Chastain also joins the cast, and frequent X-Men scribe Simon Kinberg makes his directorial debut with the project.

Emily Aragones/Amazon Studios

The weekend also saw the release of two films in limited release, Mindy Kaling’s Late Night and Ron Howard’s documentary Pavarotti. The R-rated comedy Late Night opened in only four locations in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and showed a solid debut of $249,654. It opens wide next weekend. The film, which marks Kaling’s first feature script, opened at Sundance Film Festival early this year and sold to Amazon for $13 million.

Mindy Kaling also stars as Molly, a woman who becomes the only female star writer on a late night television series struggling to stay relevant. Emma Thompson also stars as legendary late night host Katherine Newbury. Katherine struggles to keep control of her show, while forming a reluctant bond with Molly. John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Denis O’Hare, Amy Ryan, Reid Scott, Max Casella, Ike Barinholtz, Paul Walter Hauser, and John Early also star, while Nisha Ganatra directs.

CBS Films

Ron Howard’s third outing as a documentarian, Pavarotti, also opened in limited release this weekend at 19 screens across the U.S. and Canada. In this platform release, the CBS Films documentary took in an estimated $142,500. The documentary uses the opera music Pavarotti made famous to tell the story of this great performer, voice, and humanitarian.

Box office holdovers round out the top five with Disney’s live action Aladdin taking the third place spot in its third weekend with an estimated $24.5 million across 3,805 theaters. Aladdin now boasts a domestic total of $232.4 million in its three weekends out. Godzilla: King of the Monsters fell by a whopping 67 percent in its second weekend out, taking fourth place with an estimated $15.5 million across 4,108 theaters. The monster epic is grossly underperforming at the box office, which could affect the status of planned franchise entry Godzilla vs. Kong.

Musical biopic Rocketman completes the top five for the weekend with an estimated $14 million in ticket sales across 3,610 theaters. The film’s domestic total is now an estimated $50.5 million, and sits far behind the two-week cumulative gross of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which boasted $112.1 million in ticket sales by this same stage in its release.

Overall box office is down 5.9 percent to date, according to Comscore, a number which is steadily improving compared to double digit gaps earlier in 2019. Check out the June 7-9 numbers below.

1. The Secret Life of Pets 2— $47.1 million
2. Dark Phoenix— $33 million
3. Aladdin— $24.5 million
4. Godzilla: King of the Monsters— $15.5 million
5. Rocketman— $14 million
6. Ma— $7.8 million
7. John Wick: Chapter Three–Parabellum — $7.4 million
8. Avengers: Endgame— $4.8 million
9. Pokemon Detective Pikachu— $3 million
10. Booksmart— $1.6 million

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