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Box office win is 'Mission: Impossible' for Winnie-the-Pooh and 'Christopher Robin'

"Christopher Robin" has been denied a release in China, locking it out of the world's second-largest film market.
by Associated Press /
Piglet, Pooh, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga, Tigger and Eeyore in Disney's live-action adventure Christopher Robin.
Piglet, Pooh, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga, Tigger and Eeyore in Disney's live-action adventure 'Christopher Robin.'Courtesy of Disney

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NEW YORK — Tom Cruise speeded past Winnie-the-Pooh at the box office to lead all films for the second straight week, with an estimated $35 million in ticket sales for "Mission Impossible — Fallout."

The success of Paramount Pictures' sixth stunt-filled "Mission: Impossible" installment, along with muted enthusiasm for Walt Disney Co.'s "Christopher Robin," made for a seldom-seen result: a Disney movie debuting in second place.

In a year in which the studio has already notched three $1 billion films worldwide ("Black Panther," "Avengers: Infinity War" and, as of last week, "Incredibles 2"), the more modest Winnie-the-Pooh live-action revival opened with a relatively ho-hum $25 million. As a reminder that "Christopher Robin" was a minor release for Disney, "Black Panther" on Sunday became the third film to cross $700 million domestically, a feat previously accomplished only by "Avatar" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Made for an estimated $75 million, Marc Forster's "Christopher Robin" stars Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Christopher Robin reunited with the beloved characters of the Hundred Acre Wood: Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the rest (who are rendered digitally but convincingly felt-like). While reviews were mixed, audiences gave it an "A" CinemaScore.

Cathleen Taff, head of distribution for Disney, said there's room for non-tentpole releases in the Disney slate.

"It's one of our smaller films, and it's really focused on character and emotion," Taff said. "We're happy with where it's at, and we think it's got some runway being one of the only family options going forward."

Taff confirmed that "Christopher Robin" has been denied a release in China, locking it out of the world's second-largest film market. While China provides no reason for blocking films from its theaters, government censors have recently been blocking images of Winnie-the-Pooh after bloggers began using him to parody President Xi Jinping.

The late-summer success of "Mission: Impossible" — which has made $124.5 million thus far, along with $205 million internationally — is helping to solidify a comeback summer for Hollywood. The summer box office is up by 10.6 percent from last year's record-low season, according to comScore, and year-to-date ticket sales are up by 8 percent.

"As we head into what is almost always the slowest month at the summer box office, we have some nice momentum going," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "With a 10.6 percent increase over the summer last year, we're going to maintain a solid advantage when we get to the end of the month."

Not all of the news was great. Comedy continues to struggle at the box office. The R-rated action-comedy "The Spy Who Dumped Me," starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, debuted in third, with $12.4 million for Lionsgate.

And a pair of poorly reviewed releases sputtered in nationwide release. Fox's young-adult dystopian thriller "The Darkest Minds" (19 percent "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) opened with $5.7 million on 3,127 screens. And right-wing filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza's "Death of a Nation" (0 percent "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) debuted with $2.3 million on 1,032 screens.

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. "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," $35 million ($76 million international)
  2. "Christopher Robin," $25 million ($4.8 million international)
  3. "The Spy Who Dumped Me," $12.4 million
  4. "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," $9.1 million ($19.3 million international)
  5. "The Equalizer 2," $8.8 million
  6. "Hotel Transylvania 3," $8.8 million ($18 million international)
  7. "Ant-Man and the Wasp," $6.2 million ($11.2 million international)
  8. "The Darkest Minds," $5.8 million ($4.1 million international)
  9. "Incredibles 2," $5 million ($19 million international)
  10. "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies," $4.9 million

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