With a ten-day cume of $120 million domestic and $215 million worldwide (and a second-weekend drop closer to Mission: Impossible: Fallout than Hobbs & Shaw or John Wick: Chapter 3, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s Bad Boys for Life is about to become the biggest “new” January release of all time.
Bad Boys For Life earned another $34 million (-46%) in its second domestic weekend, bringing its domestic cume up to $120 million in ten days of domestic release. In terms of legs, it’s actually better than the 46% second-weekend drop of Ride Along, a film that eventually earned 2.79x its $48 million Fri-Sun MLK weekend debut. At this rate, and with little in the way of competition next weekend, it should pass the unadjusted $133 million domestic cume of Bad Boys II (in 2003) by next weekend. It could be, by next Sunday, just over the unadjusted domestic total of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which earned $146 million domestic from a $39 million Fri-Mon MLK weekend launch in 2009. That’ll make it, sans inflation, the biggest-grossing “new” January release (not counting Oscar season expansions) of all time.
If Bad Boys 3 continues to hold the line, it may pass $200 million domestic in the end. That’s highly speculative, if not hyperbolic, as Birds of Prey is opening in two weeks. Nonetheless, a cume above $192 million would put it above the inflation-adjusted gross of Bad Boys II and well past the inflation-adjusted $177 million gross of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And with a new global total of $215 million in just under two weeks, it will easily pass the $273 million global cume of Bad Boys II in a week or so. For reference, the biggest worldwide gross for a “new” January release is Kung Fu Panda 3, which earned $141 million domestic and $517 million worldwide in early 2016. We’ll see If the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence film can get anywhere near that global cume.
However, thanks to a mere $90 million budget, it absolutely doesn’t have to. Bad Boys 3 joins Jumanji 2 ($962 million on a $90 million budget), Jumanji 3 ($715 million-and-counting on a $120 million budget), Venom ($854 million/$90 million) and Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood ($375 million/$90 million) as comparatively huge global hits with comparatively frugal budgets. I’m assuming Peter Rabbit 2, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Morbius and Venom 2 will keep up this promising trend. And, yeah, this one joins Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as a franchise revival done right. I’m not sure the world needs a “reboot” of Anaconda, but A) I guess they will just make a “giant snake” flick and use the brand name for whatever value that holds and B) Sony does have the benefit of the doubt at the moment.
Rush Hour starred Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker while Anaconda starred Jennifer Lopez (fresh off scene-stealing turns in Money Train and Jack and weeks after Selena) and Ice Cube alongside Eric Stolz (who spends most of the movie in a coma) and Jon Voight valiantly trying to win an Oscar and a Razzie for the same performance. Both films existed in a time when audiences would show up for something original and unique, and they both stood out both due to the comparative inclusivity of their casts and their existence as PG-13 movies back when almost all of their ilk were violent and profane R-rated entertainments. Rush Hour and Anaconda essentially invented the “R-13.” Getting the original stars back is crucial, as is making sure that the movie is at least as “big” as the 1997 original.
Sadly, the onscreen diversity of Anaconda, Rush Hour and, yes, Bad Boys, is as “aspirational” in 2020 as it was in the mid-1990’s. The potential lessons learned from those films alongside the likes of Waiting to Exhale, The Birdcage and In and Out were washed away as Hollywood’s early-2000’s obsession with four-quadrant, global-friendly action fantasy blockbusters put the emphasis on white guys becoming the special. Recent movies like Love, Simon, Black and Blue, Blockers and Hustlers are essentially what Hollywood probably would have given us in the early 2000’s had Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean not completely upended the status quo in terms of studio slates and theatrical offerings. Bad Boys For Life is still a “big deal” in terms of conventional wisdom even 25 years later.
It’s also “different” in that the kind of R-rated, grounded, star-and-character-driven action movie that used to be par for the course is now enough of a rarity that Bad Boys for Life offers nostalgia for the pre-Transformers Michael Bay movie or the pre-Pirates of the Caribbean Jerry Bruckheimer action blockbuster. There was such a long period without “big” R-rated action movies, give or take flash-in-the-pan flicks like American Sniper ($350 million in 2015), that a Bad Boys For Life that gets anywhere near the $173 million domestic cume of John Wick: Chapter 3 will be among the biggest such R-rated action movies in a generation. Its $117 million ten-day cume is right between Hobbs & Shaw ($108 million from a $59 million debut) and Mission: Impossible Fallout ($124 million from a $62 million launch).
It’s holding better thus far than John Wick 3 ($101 million in ten days after a $56 million debut and a 56% second-weekend drop), which didn’t regain its footing until weekend four. Weekend four for Bad Boys 3 will be weekend one for DC Films’ (also R-rated) Birds of Prey. Bad Boys 3 is still playing in the A-level action movie sandbox. With at least 14 more days to rule the roost, we’ll see if it ends its run closer to Hobbs & Shaw ($175 million) or Mission: Impossible: Fallout ($220 million). And for those developing that Anaconda movie, take what worked from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (a new hook) and Bad Boys For Life (returning cast members and production values at least on par with its predecessors) and good luck.