‘The Meg’ makes a huge splash as it chomps box-office competition

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We’re gonna need a bigger boat for these box-office receipts.

The shark thriller “The Meg” blew away expectations and the competition in its opening weekend in theaters, grossing a surprising $44.5 million domestically, about twice what box-office experts had predicted.

Overseas, the joint American-Chinese production fared even better, racking up an estimated $96.8 million internationally, including $50 million in China. It was the biggest opening of the year for AT&T’s T, -0.71%   Warner Bros., topping the $41.7 million made by “Ready Player One” in its debut in March.

The studio said the time was right for a shark movie. “This was a fun, dumb popcorn movie that just looked interesting to the public everywhere around the world,” Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein told the Associated Press. “We dug our heels in and said: This is the right time to go. The last movie, as kids are going back to school, all the big blockbusters have played off. We’re in a space by ourselves.”

After two weeks at No. 1, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” from Viacom’s VIA, +1.56%   Paramount Pictures, dropped to second place, with $20 million. With a three-week global total of $427.6 million, it will likely pass 2015’s “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” as the franchise’s biggest hit.

Disney’s DIS, -1.30%   live-action “Christopher Robin” placed third, with $12.4 million, and a pair of newcomers rounded out the top five: The teen-focused horror “Slender Man” earned $11.3 million and Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” made $10.8 million — Lee’s biggest debut since 2006’s “Inside Man.”

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