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A Dog's Purpose Crashes Hard At The Box Office As M. Night Shyamalan's Split Keeps The Top Spot!

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What could have been a cute movie tugging at your heart strings has turned into a controversial little flick that just isn't connecting with viewers at the box office.

A Dog's Purpose, mired in controversy over the film's mistreatment of dogs on set while shooting, came in far behind expectations this weekend at the box office, debuting to just $18.3 million from a little more than 3,000 theaters across North America.

Related: PETA Wants You To 'Grab A Pussy'… But Not A Dog!

In its place, Split — a sleeper hit directed by M. Night Shyamalan — came in first for the second straight weekend, taking in $26.3 million over the last three days and rising up to a two-week domestic total of about $78 million.

It's a good winner for Split, even if the other films opening this week were fairly light, but the real story here centers on A Dog's Purpose (pictured, above), and the Gavin Polone-produced flick that has been rocked after animal abuse allegations.

From a financial standpoint, A Dog's Purpose cost just $22 million to make, so it's still on track to get its money back and the financials are good — but the social damage done to what should have been a very popular, family-friendly feature film, cannot be understated.

Nevertheless, Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou, citing the demographics (56% female viewers) and the high number of families that bought tickets, believes the film will end up doing just fine over the next few weeks:

"I'm very optimistic about [A Dog's Purpose] playing for weeks and weeks, especially in heartland and smaller markets."

We'll see about that!

And as for other new releases, the only big news to report is Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which came in fourth at the box office (Hidden Figures stuck around — again — in third), and took in about $13.8 million from just over 3,000 theaters.

What do U think, Perezcious readers — did you see A Dog's Purpose or any other film this weekend?? Will U ever be going to see A Dog's Purpose??

Let us know in the comments (below)!

[Image via Universal Pictures.]

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