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Box office: The puppet wizardry of The Happytime Murders isn't enough for genre to retake top spot

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Aug 26, 2018, 10:23 AM EDT

Genre fare continues to struggle at the weekend box office, even with the release of two new sci-fi and fantasy films: The Happytime Murders and A.X.L.

The former, a Roger Rabbit-reminiscent genre-masher, was directed by Jim Henson's son Brian and centers around a murder mystery noir in the vein of the best hard-boiled noirs. A puppet private gumshoe, Phil Philips (Bill Barretta), teams up with LAPD Detective Connie Edwards (Connie Edwards) to find out who has been picking off members of the marginalized puppet population one by one.

Despite its gonzo premise and a hard R rating, The Happytime Murders fizzled with critics and only took in $3.9 million during Thursday previews and its wider Friday opening from 3,256 theaters, writes The Hollywood Reporter, also stating that this is the worst opening of McCarthy's entire career so far.

Given that the fantasy-comedy took $40-$47 million to make, it's gonna have a difficult battle uphill to make back its production budget. According to Variety, the movie will likely close out the weekend with an estimated $10.1 million. Still, this amount will nab it the third-place spot, behind Warner Bros.' Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg.

Even with summer beach days dwindling down, The Meg is still swimming strong during its third week, on course to take second place at the weekend box office with around $12 million, which will take it over $100 million within the North American market. 

Global Road's '80s throwback adventure, A.X.L., is expected to make an abysmal $2.4 million during its weekend debut. This doesn't bode well for the film studio, whose backers were forced to take over earlier this week after they discovered that there wasn't enough money to pay for upcoming projects. With a production budget of $10 million, it might not make its money back until a home release, and that's if it's lucky.  

Directed by Oliver Daly, A.X.L. (based on Daly's own short film titled Miles) follows a young boy's (Alex Neustaedter) budding friendship with a government-built mechanical canine. When the mean old feds decide they want their property back, it's up to the new friends to stand firm and fight back. 

Meanwhile, Mission: Impossible - Fallout will make an honest $8 million in its fifth week at the box office, bringing its domestic total to $188 million and its international total to $327 million, reports Variety

Over in China, Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and the Wasp is, despite its tiny cast of characters, bringing in large returns between $23-$24 million during its Friday debut in the East Asian country. 

And lastly, Disney's Christopher Robin took in $1.6 million on Friday, based on estimates from Box Office Mojo, and might take in $2 million or more by the weekend's end. So far, the family-friendly fantasy feature has made almost $73 million at the domestic box office and $23 million globally.