Psycho-Thriller ‘Split’ Debuts as No. 1 in Win for Universal

  • Star Wars prequel ‘Rogue One’ crosses $1 billion threshold
  • Vin Diesel action-thriller ‘xXx’ arrives in second place

“Split,” a psychological thriller from the director of “The Sixth Sense,” opened as the No. 1 film in North American theaters this weekend, outdrawing Vin Diesel in his return as Xander Cage in the sequel “xXx.”

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan and produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, “Split” collected an estimated $40 million in U.S and Canadian theaters, ComScore Inc. said Monday in an e-mailed statement. The movie, distributed by Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, beat the rebooted action feature “xXx,” which took in $20.1 million and placed second. “The Founder,” about McDonald’s Ray Kroc, placed 11th with $3.4 million.

Moviegoers expect the unexpected from Shyamalan, Nick Carpou, president of domestic distribution at Universal Pictures, said in a telephone interview Sunday. “He’s a master at it and it makes for a very entertaining time at the theater.”

Shyamalan wrote, directed and financed “Split” himself, as he did with his previous feature, the 2015 release “The Visit,” after earlier, more expensive projects like “After Earth” faltered at the box office. His biggest hit remains 1999’s “The Sixth Sense,” which propelled him to fame.

James McAvoy features as a man with 24 different personalities who kidnaps three girls. His victims must deal with the different personalities while plotting an escape. The movie scored 76 percent positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com. It cost under $10 million to make, the publication Variety reported, and was expected to generate $24 million this weekend, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” reached $1 billion in worldwide sales over the weekend, making it the fourth Walt Disney Co. film released in 2016 to cross that threshold, ComScore said. The movie placed sixth in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, the sixth since its debut.

“xXx” was expected to produce sales of $21 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The $85 million action movie is a reboot of the series for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, after two installments from Sony Corp. Diesel returns as extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage, back after being left for dead, to take on a new tough assignment that sees him enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy. It scored 41 percent positive reviews.

The Weinstein Co. drama “The Founder” features Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ fast-food restaurant into one of the biggest companies in the world. It had an estimated budget of $7 million, according to Imdb.com, and was estimated by BoxOfficePro.com to place 11th with $3.5 million. The film received 82 percent positive reviews, Rottentomatoes said.

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