Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ Opens Strong

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Spike Lee
Spike Lee arrives at the premiere of “BlacKkKlansman” on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Lee’s critically acclaimed “BlacKkKlansman” opened strongly with $10.8 million in 1,512 theaters. The Focus Features release, which took the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May, was timed to the anniversary of the violent clashes between white nationalists and anti-racism counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lee’s film, produced by Jordan Peele (“Get Out”), is a true-life tale of African-American police detective Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington, son of Denzel), who in 1979 infiltrated a Colorado Springs, Colorado, cell of the Ku Klux Klan.

“The anniversary of Charlottesville was something that was very key to Spike,” said Lisa Bunnell, Focus’ president of distribution. “It’s obviously a very emotional film that reflects the times. When audiences respond to that, it’s what cinema is all about. The state of the country is such that we’re all feeling really conflicted and alone. This movie is a call to action, and a movie that brings people together.”

It’s Lee’s best debut since 2006’s “Inside Man.”

Sony Screen Gem’s PG-13-rated “Slender Man” didn’t catch on the way some horror releases have this year. The film’s 15 percent “rotten” Rotten Tomatoes rating probably didn’t help. Audiences also gave it a seldom seen D-minus CinemaScore. But with a $10 million budget, the tale of an internet-famous boogeyman has a quick path to profitability for Sony.

The overall box office continues to be a roll, one that could continue next week with the landmark “Crazy Rich Asians,”

“People are loving going to the movies right now, and I think the diversity of the content is really fueling a lot of enthusiasm,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “There are so many different types of movies that you can see from every genre, for every audience.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “The Meg,” $44.5 million ($96.8 million international).

2. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” $20 million.

3. “Christopher Robin,” $12.4 million.

4. “Slender Man,” $11.3 million.

5. “BlacKkKlansman,” $10.8 million.

6. “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” $6.6 million.

7. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” $5.8 million.

8. “The Equalizer 2,” $5.5 million.

9. “Hotel Transylvania 3,” $5.1 million.

10. “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” $4 million.

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