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World War II movie Midway surprise winner at US box office

Patrick Wilson plays naval intelligence officer Edwin Layton in Midway. Reviews for Midway, revolving around the pivotal 1942 air and sea battle that gives the movie its name, were relatively lacklustre.

Above: Ewan McGregor plays the leading role in horror movie Doctor Sleep which was caught napping, allowing Midway to take the top spot.

New York

THE World War II action movie Midway was an unexpected winner at the US box office last weekend, swooping into the lead as the horror movie that had seemed poised to take the top spot, Doctor Sleep, instead took a snooze.

Midway opened to an estimated US$17.5 million in domestic ticket sales from Friday through Sunday. The movie, distributed by Lionsgate, was expected to make about US$2.1 million more in sales during the Veterans Day holiday on Monday.

Midway revolves around the pivotal 1942 air and sea battle that gives the movie its name. It re-creates that fight with the help of some famous figures: Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson and Nick Jonas are among the members of its ensemble cast.

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Reviews for Midway, however, were relatively lacklustre. It currently holds a 41 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The fact that Midway topped the box office is largely a product of the humdrum response ticket buyers gave to Doctor Sleep, a Stephen King adaptation from Warner Bros that inadvertently lived up to its own name.

The film is based on the 2013 sequel to The Shining novel. Doctor Sleep sold an estimated US$14.1 million in tickets from Friday to Sunday. Doctor Sleep follows Dan, the child of the troubled couple at the centre of The Shining, who in the sequel is shown as an adult dealing with the continued fallout of the first novel's events. Ewan McGregor plays Dan in the film, which was directed by Mike Flanagan.

That the new film lives in the shadow of Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1980 version of The Shining made it a tricky movie to market because the studio had two distinct fan bases to handle: King's and Kubrick's.

Doctor Sleep currently holds a 73 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In third place was Playing With Fire, a Paramount Pictures comedy with Keegan-Michael Key, professional wrestler John Cena and Judy Greer that opened the weekend to around US$12.8 million in sales according to Comscore, which compiles box office data.

Universal's Last Christmas, a romantic comedy directed by Paul Feig that pairs Crazy Rich Asians breakout actor Henry Golding and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, opened in fourth place with US$11.6 million.

Paramount's Terminator: Dark Fate rounded out the top five. But its anemic US$10.8 million second weekend failed to reverse its fate after a bomb of an opening. NYTIMES