‘Bad Boys for Life’ opens strong with 2nd largest MLK Jr. weekend gross ever

Originally posted Sunday, January 19, 2020 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc. com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Georgia is a very popular home for reboots and sequels. “Bad Boys for Life,” which was largely shot in Atlanta but set in Miami, was one that hit it big this MLK Jr. weekend. 

Box office projections have “Bad Boys for Life” opening with close to $70 million since opening domestically and enough overseas numbers to break $100 million worldwide.

This is far above pundit and studio expectations closer to $40 to $50 million.

Domestic box office estimates for “Bad Boys for Life” over its entire theatrical life could easily hit $180 million. The film was budgeted at $90 million. 

The stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence spent several months last year in metro Atlanta, camping out at OFS Studios in Norcross. The film’s most public moment? A big explosion over the 17th Street bridge

Only about a week’s worth of shooting was done in Miami itself. Florida does not have generous film and TV production tax credits the way Georgia does. 

>>RELATED: OSHA fines “Bad Boys for Life” for on-set injuries in Norcross

Critics gave the sequel a 76% percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, far higher than the original (43%) or first sequel (23%). Viewers so far like it, too, with a 7.5/10 on imdb.com and 97% positive ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. 

According to Deadline.com, the audiences were diverse at 42% African American, 30% Caucasian, 18% Hispanic, and 10% Asian/Other.

This will likely be the second biggest opening ever (non-inflation adjusted) for an MLK Jr. weekend behind only “American Sniper” from 2014. 

Another film shot in part in Georgia “Jumanji: The Next Level” finished at No. 4 in its sixth weekend and has now amassed $270 million domestically. The sequel was also shot in New Mexico ( which also has big-time tax incentives) and Hawaii. 

“Like a Boss,” a comedy starring Tiffany Haddish, Salma Hayek and Rose Byrne set and shot in Atlanta, dropped to No. 10 from No. 4 in its second weekend and has built up about $17 million in box office so far on a budget of $29 million. Critics generally hated it (19% Rotten Tomatoes) but viewers (66%) were more generous. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.