The Meg takes a $44.5 million bite out of the box office

The Meg takes a $44.5 million bite out of the box office

Warner Bros. Pictures

Moviegoers are swimming with the shark this weekend.

Warner Bros’. summer thriller The Meg is on track to earn an estimated $44.5 million in ticket sales from 4,118 theaters in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday, exceeding expectations and unseating Mission: Impossible — Fallout for the No. 1 box office spot.

Heading into the weekend, The Meg had been expected to debut in the $18 million to $22 million range. Marking a high-profile collaboration between Warner Bros. and China’s Gravity Pictures, The Meg cost at least $130 million to produce and will have to perform well overseas to be considered a hit. It’s off to a solid start, grossing an estimated $96.8 million in international markets, including China, this weekend.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub and based on a novel by Steve Alten, The Meg stars Jason Statham as a rescue diver who faces off with a prehistoric shark — the titular megalodon — to save a research team. The cast also includes Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, and Ruby Rose.

Critics’ reviews have been underwhelming, but audiences gave The Meg a decent B-plus CinemaScore.

Taking second place this weekend is Mission: Impossible — Fallout, with an estimated $20 million. That brings the film’s domestic total to an estimated $162 million after 17 days in theaters, plus another $275.6 million overseas, for a worldwide total of about $437.6 million.

Disney’s live-action Winnie the Pooh movie Christopher Robin will take third place, with about $12.4 million. After 10 days, its North American total sits at an estimated $50 million.

David Lee/Focus Features

Rounding out the top five are two newcomers: Sony’s horror movie Slender Man, with an estimated $11.3 million from 2,358 theaters, and Focus Features’ BlacKkKlansman, with an estimated $10.8 million from 1,512 theaters. That’s a decent debut for Slender Man, which cost a modest $10 million to make, though the film’s D-minus CinemaScore suggests dreary word-of-mouth prospects.

As for BlacKkKlansman, the film represents the best opening in more than a decade for director and co-writer Spike Lee. Based on Ron Stallworth’s memoir, the film stars John David Washington as an African-American detective in 1972  Colorado who, with the help of a white partner (Adam Driver), goes undercover to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

BlacKkKlansman has received excellent reviews, with many critics hailing it as a return to form for Lee, while audiences gave it an A-minus CinemaScore.

According to ComScore, overall box office is up 8.4 percent year-to-date. Check out the Aug. 10-12 figures below.

1. The Meg — $44.5 million
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