- “Bad Boys for Life,” the third “Bad Boys” movie, exceeded expectations at the box office with $US73 million over the four-day holiday weekend.
- A fourth “Bad Boys” movie is already in the works at Sony.
- The movie attracted moviegoers with positive reviews, a smart January release, and the chemistry of returning stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, according to experts.
- The key to future sequels will be tight production budgets, according to Shawn Robbins, the Boxoffice.com chief analyst.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The “Bad Boys” franchise is here to stay if the latest movie’s box office is any indication.
The third movie, “Bad Boys for Life,” exceeded studio and analyst expectations, earning $US73 million domestically and $US112 million worldwide over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend for the studio, Sony’s, biggest R-rated opening ever. Sony is already developing a fourth movie.
The movie was buoyed by solid critical reception and word-of-mouth. It has a respectable 75% Rotten Tomatoes critic score and a 97% audience score, the best of the series (the first two movies have “rotten” critic scores and both have a 78% audience score). It also has an A grade on Cinemascore, which surveys an audience on a movie’s opening night.
“After a holiday season filled with family-driven franchise events, ‘Bad Boys for Life’ offered up a sequel for adults,” Shawn Robbins, the Boxoffice.com chief analyst, told Business Insider.
The “Bad Boys for Life” success caps off a hot streak for Sony after its Quentin Tarantino movie, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” earned 10 Oscar nominations and “Jumanji: The Next Level” also excelled at the box office. It’s all good news for the studio, which was dealt a box-office blow over the summer with another attempt at a franchise revival: “Men in Black: International.”
The success wasn’t guaranteed for the new “Bad Boys” movie. Initial industry projections had the movie “in the low $US40 million range,” according to Boxoffice.com. The first two movies, directed by “Transformers” helmer Michael Bay, were successful but not box-office sensations, earning $US141 million and $US273 million worldwide, respectively (before adjusting for inflation). It’s been 17 years since 2003’s “Bad Boys II” and other long-gestating sequels, like last year’s “Terminator: Dark Fate” and the “Shining” sequel, “Doctor Sleep,” didn’t fare well with audiences.
“Given the number of unwanted, unneeded, and undesired reboots and franchise revivals in recent years, it’s no wonder that the initial response to the prospects for a new ‘Bad Boys’ film was met with indifference and scepticism,” Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider.
It was also directed by two Belgian filmmakers, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who had never made a Hollywood movie before.
But the work of those directors, combined might of returning stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and an otherwise slow January, helped “Bad Boys for Life” attract moviegoers.
“‘Bad Boys For Life’ avoided the usual pitfalls by offering up all the qualities of the original films, including and most importantly the combined star power and chemistry of Smith and Lawrence, an outside-the-box January release date, and of course great reviews, which are a bit of a unicorn in the world of reboots,” Dergarabedian said.
For future sequels, Robbins said that it’s “all about keeping the budget in control.”
“Bad Boys II” was one of the top 10 movies at the box office in 2003, a fact that was overlooked because of the movie’s high $US130 million budget, according to Robbins. “Bad Boys for Life” was made for $US90 million.
“We’ve seen more recent examples of ageing franchises going back to the well with big budgets and failing to connect with moviegoers,” Robbins said. The aforementioned “Dark Fate” was made for $US185 million and grossed a disappointing $US261 million globally.
He added that Smith and Lawrence’s chemistry will be essential going forward.
“Audiences will know the difference between a genuinely entertaining progression of their story and a cash-grab attempt to piggyback off a surprise success,” Robbins said.
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