‘Bad Boys’ Smith and Lawrence are breaking box-office

‘Bad Boys for Life’ takes in an estimated US$59.2 million for the start of a US holiday weekend. © Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

It took Sony 17 years, but the latest “Bad Boys” sequel appears to be paying off, taking in an estimated $59.2 million for the start of a US holiday weekend, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

“Bad Boys for Life” stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as wise-cracking detectives who reunite after years apart (“Bad Boys II” dates from 2003, eight years after the original “Bad Boys”) to take on a murderous Miami drug cartel.

Its North American ticket sales – estimated at US$68.1 million when Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr holiday is included – are nearly twice original predictions, according to Variety.com.

Another new release, Universal’s “Dolittle,” starring Robert Downey Jr, placed second with an estimated US$22.5 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period (US$30 million for the four days).

“Dolittle,” based on a beloved children’s book about a veterinarian who can talk to the animals, has been savaged by critics – who have called it “utterly lifeless,” “a quicksand of a movie,” and “shockingly unfunny.”

The presence of Downey, hugely popular in the Marvel superhero films, and of an all-star voice cast including Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Antonio Banderas, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer and Marion Cotillard, may have helped boost its fortunes.

In third was a film that has done rather better with the critics, last weekend’s box office leader, “1917,” also from Universal. The World War I drama has booked $22.1 million in ticket sales (US$27 million for four days).

One critic called the Sam Mendes movie, filmed as if in one long, continuous shot, a “protean display of virtuoso filmmaking.”

Despite a lack of big stars, it has won both the Golden Globe and the Producers Guild of America awards for best drama, and is now seen as a best-picture favourite at the Oscars.

Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level,” slid one spot from last weekend to fourth, taking in US$9.6 million (US$12.6 million). The action sequel stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart.

Fifth spot went to Disney’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” at US$8.4 million (US$10.6 million). Globally, the finale of the nine-film “Skywalker Saga” has now surpassed the US$1 billion mark.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“Just Mercy” (US$6 million; US$7.5 million for four days)

“Little Women” (US$5.9 million; US$7.4 million)

“Knives Out” (US$4.3 million; US$5.3 million)

“Like a Boss” (US$3.8 million; US$4.5 million)

“Frozen II” (US$3.7 million; US$5.1 million)