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AP
'The Lego Movie 2' opens No. 1 but everything is not awesome

NEW YORK — "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part" was easily the top ticket-seller in theaters over the weekend, but the film's $35 million opening failed to stack up to its expected haul, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The animated sequel had been forecast to draw around $50 million. Instead, it debuted with half of the $69 million the 2014 original did, despite good reviews and an A-minus CinemaScore.

With about a $100 million budget, Warner Bros.' "The Lego Movie 2" had been pegged as a dependable, star-studded franchise release sure to kick-start a moribund box office. But after record ticket sales last year, Hollywood's 2019 has gotten off to such a bad beginning that the movie's tagline of "Everything is not awesome" is looking more like accurate industry analysis.

"The expectations were certainly much higher for 'The Lego Movie 2' considering the success of the first installment," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. "We were all hoping that this would be the weekend that got the momentum of the box office going in the right direction. We're still waiting."

Every weekend this year has been down from the same weekend a year ago. That's a streak sure to continue. Next weekend, the new releases include "Happy Death Day 2U" and "Alita: Battle Angel." "Black Panther" opened the same weekend last year.

"Momentum is everything at the box office," Dergarabedian said. "And we've sort of lost that."

Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell and others reprises their voice roles in "The Lego Movie 2," while Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph joined the cast. Mike Mitchell directed the movie, written by original writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Oversaturation could be to blame. Since the 2014 original, which grossed $469 million worldwide, Warner Bros. released two spinoffs: "The Lego Batman Movie" in 2017 and "The Lego Ninjago Movie" later the same year.

Until now, 2019's sluggish box office was partly blamed on lack of quality releases, with only a handful of highly promoted films from major studios. This weekend saw a relatively robust slate of releases, including Taraji P. Henson's "What Men Want" and the Liam Neeson thriller "Cold Pursuit." Both did solid if not spectacular business.

Paramount's "What Men Want," a loose remake of the 2000 Mel Gibson comedy, debuted with $19 million. Henson plays a sports agent with the ability to hear men's thoughts in Adam Shankman's film, a kind of gender flip from the original. The film got poor reviews (47 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences gave it an A-minus CinemaScore.

Lionsgate's "Cold Pursuit" debuted with $10.8 million, a result in line with expectations despite the controversy that surrounded its star in the week leading up to release. Neeson drew heavy criticism after he acknowledged in an interview published last Monday that he wanted to kill a random black person when a close friend told him she had been raped by a black man.

Neeson later appeared on "Good Morning America" to say he's not a racist. Organizers for the New York premiere of "Cold Pursuit" canceled the film's red carpet.

Orion Pictures' horror thriller "The Prodigy" also debuted, with $6 million.


Lifestyles
Dear Abby: Genetic disorder forces confession of affair

DEAR ABBY: Ten years ago, I had an affair with a married man that resulted in a pregnancy and then a miscarriage. I was also married at the time. Pathology testing revealed that the child had a rare genetic disorder inherited on the paternal side. My husband's genetic test indicated that he was not a carrier. The revelation led to my admission of the affair and our divorce.

I didn't tell the other man. His wife was unable to have children, so I didn't think it would impact him. I recently found out he is divorced and remarried to a younger woman. I have no idea whether they plan to have children, but I'm torn about telling him he is a carrier for that life-threatening disorder.

Selfishly, I do not want to reopen this shameful period of my life, so my instinct is to leave it alone, but I feel morally obligated to let him know. Should I contact him and tell him he was the father of the child and that he is a carrier of this genetic abnormality? -- TORN IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR TORN: The kind thing to do would be to contact your former lover privately. Explain that you do not mean to intrude, but he needs to know something important. Then inform him that it could save him and his wife a world of heartache if they have genetic testing done before planning to have a child, and why. You would be doing them both an enormous favor if you disclose it.

DEAR ABBY: Decades ago, while I was a college student, a friend took the time and interest to help me through a severe bout of depression. She likely saved my life. She had no special training, just a kind heart and a willing ear. At the time, I didn't realize the profound impact she had made. Our lives diverged, and I never heard from her again.

Recently, I finally decided to reach out and thank her, but unfortunately, an online search revealed her 10-year-old obituary. From the notes in the guest book, I discovered she had suffered many personal hardships throughout her adult life, which contributed to her early death.

Because I was not able to help her as she helped me, I want to pass along two important lessons I learned: (1) Thank people and tell them you care before it is too late, and (2) be willing to lend a hand and an ear to someone in need, because you may be that one person who affects their life. She had a saying I would like to share, which has guided my life: "Just open your 'I' and LIVE becomes LOVE." -- WITH LOVE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR WITH LOVE: I'm sorry for the loss of your caring and compassionate friend. I'm glad you took the time to write and share what a meaningful role she had in your life. That she made herself available to listen when you needed it is something more people should do because we live in a stressful society in which many individuals feel lost and alone. And I love her "motto"!

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.