Downton Abbey’s Triumphant Return

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Brad Pitt, Sylvester Stallone and a PBS period-piece drama duked it out on the big screen this weekend.

And the PBS adaptation won. Handily.

Fans of PBS’s hit TV drama Downton Abbey are no doubt nodding knowingly. Even though the character-driven soap opera about the goings-on at a regal British estate wrapped up four years ago, the appetite for Downton obviously remains strong: The cinematic sequel to PBS’ most successful series ever filled its coffers with an estimated $31 million in its debut, the biggest launch ever for a movie from Focus Features.

That was also a bigger figure than either Pitt or Stallone could muster. Brad Pitt’s quest to find his long-lost astronaut father in Ad Astra managed a fairly meager $19.2 million, according to the early tally. Meanwhile, Sly Stallone’s brutal testosterone-and-blood fueled reprise Rambo: Last Blood earned just $19 million. (And numbers like those for Stallone’s latest turn as John Rambo suggest that this film might indeed be the last time audiences see him spill blood, which would be just fine, given how much of it he managed to spill this time around.)

Two R-rated holdovers filled out the top five (and nearly eclipsed the newcomers, I might add). It: Chapter Two continued to scare up big business at the box office in its third weekend, with moviegoers tossing another $17.2 million at Pennywise’s bloody battle with the now-adult members of the Losers’ Club. Jennifer Lopez’s strippers-turned-thieves drama Hustlers, meanwhile, was right behind at $17 million.

This coming week sees the arrival of just one new wide-release film, the animated kids’ flick Abominable (aka, the Abominable Snow Man), as well as the limited-release biopic Judy (a PG-13 drama starring Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland). Be sure to check back on Thursday for Plugged In’s reviews of both films.