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'Mortal Engines' Sputters@
LOS ANGELES, Dec 16 (Variety.com) - "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is the new box office king, collecting a solid $35.4 million during its first three days of release.
That's hardly the biggest opening for an animated film this year, but it does rank as the best start for a cartoon in the month of December. Illumination's "Sing" previously held that title, debuting with $35 million in 2016.
Another weekend release, Warner Bros.' "The Mule," snagged second place with $17 million. Clint Eastwood directed and stars in the R-rated crime drama about a nonagenarian who gets caught smuggling drugs for the cartel. "The Mule," Eastwood's first acting gig since 2012's "Trouble With the Curve," brought out a much older crowd. Moviegoers over the age of 35 accounted for 78 percent of audiences. In addition to Eastwood, "The Mule" cast includes Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Pena, and Dianne Wiest.
Not all newcomers were able to stick the landing. Universal's "Mortal Engines" launched with a disastrous $7.5 million when it debuted in 3,103 venues. That could be catastrophic for the sci-fi saga that cost over $100 million to make. The post-apocalyptic steampunk adventure has fared slightly better overseas, picking up $34.8 million from 54 international territories, but "Mortal Engines" looks like it could still lose a sizable chunk of change. Peter Jackson produced the CGI spectacle, adapted from Philip Reeve's YA novel. The middling reviews haven't helped build momentum, and it carries a paltry 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. It'll be an uphill battle for "Mortal Engines" to break through a crowded holiday frame and attract the kind of audience it needs to justify its expensive price tag.
"Spider-Verse," based on Sony's catalog of Marvel heroes, is resonating with a slightly older audience than most animated adventures. It also has plenty of time to make up ground during a holiday frame that's otherwise free of cartoons, though Warner Bros.' "Aquaman" might cannibalize a bit of the superhero crowd.
Philip Lord and Christopher Miller produced "Spider-Verse," which cost $90 million and takes place in a universe where more than one Spider-Man exists. Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a Brooklynite with a Puerto Rican mom and an African American dad, puts on the Lycra-tights for this rendition. Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, and John Mulaney round out the voice cast.
"Spider-Verse" has already racked up plaudits, including a Golden Globe nod for best animated feature, and boasts an impressive 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Weeks before "Spider-Verse" opens in theaters, Sony announced the development of a sequel and spinoffs set in the shared multiverse.