BESPOKE VIOLENCE is far more durable than cinematic plastic.
In the battle of new action-packed sequels during the weekend, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” bested the domestic debut of that franchise’s 2015 original film, while “Ninjago” continued the diminishing returns for the Lego film series.
The second “Kingsman” opened to $39 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, meeting industry expectations and topping the $36.2 million opening for the first film, “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”
The trick now is for the sequel, adapted from the Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons comics, to hold as well as the first film did. “Secret Service” ultimately grossed $128 million domestically and $414 million worldwide on a reported $81 million production budget.
As with “Deadpool,” “Kingsman” gives Fox another R-rated, comics-adapted franchise that laces bloody CG action with cheeky humor. This year’s more dramatic, violent “Logan” also gave the studio yet another hit. Marvel and DC may own the PG-13 realm, but Fox has become the go-to studio for providing comic-book characters that carry out highly graphic action.
Unlike those other two franchises, though, “Kingsman” received a less glowing critical response, getting a mere 51 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 45 average score on Metacritic.com.
Given the stable initial commercial response, however, “Kingsman” might be more critically bulletproof than some franchises, as Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Mark Strong help carry off Matthew Vaughn’s action with a certain 007 panache. Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and a supercharged Elton John join the scene-chewing fun this time.
“Kingsman,” as a harder version of Bond, stands out in the marketplace, even if it’s relying more on overseas receipts so far with its second outing.
After its third outing, by contrast, the Lego franchise is having trouble sustaining the ineffable comedic magic that buoyed the first film, 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” to $258 million domestically and $469 million worldwide.
In February, the franchise slipped as “The Lego Batman Movie” grossed $176 million domestically and $312 million worldwide.
Both of those films debuted north of the $50 million mark domestically. “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” on the other hand, opened to just $21.2 million — below expectations. (That was far behind the $30 million weekend for WB/New Line’s Stephen King hit “It,” which, at $266 million, is already North America’s fifth-biggest film of the year.)
So while Fox’s “Kingsman” is well-positioned to find a strong audience for a third installment, the question for Warner Bros. becomes: Is it worth it to try for a fourth outing rendered in Lego?