Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s R-rated romantic caper Focus is easily winning the box-office race in North America ahead of ruling champion Fifty Shades of Grey, which has topped the box office since Presidents Day weekend.
The Warner Bros. film grossed $6.5 million Friday from 3,323 theaters for a projected $20 million debut. Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Focus would take in $22 million to $24 million.
Focus, earning a B CinemaScore, is the first test of Smith’s star power since Sony’s tentpole After Earth, which bombed in summer 2013 after opening to just $27.5 million. Focus is a much smaller film than a usual Smith tentpole, having cost $50 million to make after rebates.
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus is also opening in a number of markets overseas this weekend, boosting its bottom line.
The storyline revolves around a con man who introduces a young flame to the tricks of his trade before breaking off the relationship. Three years later, they meet again in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when they’re both trying to scam the same billionaire (Rodrigo Santoro).
The weekend’s other new nationwide offering is Relativity Studios’ The Lazarus Effect, the latest microbudget horror film from Blumhouse, which produced the movie with Mosaic. The movie grossed $3.8 million Friday from 2,666 locations to come in No. 2, but will finish the weekend in close race with Fifty Shades of Grey for the No. 3 spot.
Both films are tipped to earn in the $10 million range. Like Focus, Lazarus Effect is coming in behind predictions, having been expected to open in the $12 million to $14 million range. It received a C- CinemaScore, not unusual for a horror title.
David Gelb directed Lazarus Effect, which follows a group of researchers who try to achieve the unimaginable and bring the dead back to life. Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters and Donald Glover star.
Fox’s Kingsman: The Secret Service is expected to take the No. 2 spot in its third weekend, earning $3.1 million Friday from 3,282 theaters for a weekend haul of $10.8 million, and putting its domestic total at $84.7 million through Sunday.
Fifty Shades, which has ruled the box office for two consecutive weekends, grossed $3.5 Friday from 3,383 locations. By Sunday, its domestic cume should be a hefty $147 million for Universal, even as it continues to see a steep drop-off.
There are several high-profile titles opening at the specialty box office, including David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, whose ensemble cast includes Oscar-winner Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson. Focus Features opens the film, which earned decidedly mixed reviews, in 50 theaters.
Roadside Attractions rolls out the critically acclaimed war drama ’71 in select theaters. Set in Northern Ireland in 1971, the movie tells the story of a British soldier who becomes separated from his unit during a riot in Belfast. Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, David Wilmot, Richard Dormer and Paul Anderson star.