Box Office: M. Night Shyamalan's 'Split' Is a Hit; Vin Diesel's 'xXx: Xander Cage' Not So Much

By Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Horror and split personalities ruled the inauguration weekend box office.

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest horror-thriller, Split, easily topped the chart after trumping the competition with a far better-than-expected $40.2 million from 3,015 theaters for Blumhouse and Universal.

Split, starring James McAvoy as a kidnapper with 24 personalities, was fueled by younger moviegoers. The film, earning a B+ CinemaScore, is rated PG-13. Shyamalan made Split for less than $10 million and self-financed it in order to retain creative control, similar to 2015’s The Visit, likewise from Universal and Blumhouse.

Vin Diesel’s extreme action pic xXx: The Return of Xander Cage came in No. 2 with a $20 million from 3,600 locations, including Imax runs.

Paramount and Revolution Studio hope to revive the long-dormant series with Xander Cage but it will need to be a strong player overseas in order to achieve that goal. So far, it has earned $50.5 million offshore for a global total of $70.5 million.

Directed by D.J. Caruso, the story sees Diesel’s character, an extreme athlete turned government operative, come out of self-imposed exile to recover a sinister weapon known as Pandora’s Box. The film earned an A- CinemaScore. Paramount put up roughly 50 percent of the $85 million budget, with the rest coming from outside partners, including former investors in Revolution partners.

The outcome wasn’t so bright for the weekend’s other new offerings, Michael Keaton’s The Founder and Christian dramedy The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.

The Founder, a biopic about McDonald’s impresario Ray Kroc, took in $3.8 million from 1,100 theaters. The Weinstein Co., which is distributing the FilmNation movie in the U.S., is hopeful that the pic will nab Oscar nominations on Jan. 24 following an awards qualifying run in December. The Founder earned generally strong reviews and has an 83 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

From Walden Media — which also co-produced A Dog’s Purpose — WWE Studio’s, Gavin Stone bombed with $1.4 million from 1,000 theaters. (The movie is being distributed by BH Tilt, Blumhouse’s releasing label.) The faith-based film stars Brett Dalton as a washed-up child star who returns to his hometown, where he pretends to be a Christian in order to land the role of Jesus in a play being produced by a nearby megachurch.

Among holdovers, Fox’s Hidden Figures and Lionsgate’s La La Land both remained strong. Hidden Figures, which had won the past two weekends, came in No. 3 with $16.2 million from 3,416 theaters for a domestic total of $84 million.

Universal’s animated hit Sing followed at No. 4 with with $9 million from 2,494 locations for a domestic total of $239.4 million and global haul of $428 million.

La La Land danced at No. 5 with $8.4 million from 1,865 cinemas, putting its domestic total at roughly $90 million. Overseas, the awards darling also continues to shine with a foreign gross of $83.7 million and global total of $173.7 million. La La Land will expand again on Friday following Oscar noms.

Lucasfilm and Disney’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story followed with $7 million for a domestic total of $512.2 million and global total of $1.011 billion.

A trio of movies that bombed last weekend, including Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, failed to make up much ground. Live by Night tumbled 65 percent to $1.8 million for a domestic total of just $9.5 million.

At the specialty box office, A24 and Annapurna Pictures’ awards hopeful 20th Century Womenmade a major major push, upping its theater count from 20 locations to more than 600 in advance of the noms. The specialty film grossed $1.4 million for an early total of $2.3 million.