I’m convinced that Hollywood shouldn’t release any movies from the last two weeks of August through the first two weeks of September. Because seeing what gets a major theatrical release is the equivalent to watching pre-season NFL football. You still pay face value for a ticket, but the quality just isn’t the same. This past weekend was no different.
Here were the heavy hitters: No Escape (not to be confused with the Ray Liotta-starring action movie from the 1990s), We Are Your Friends and War Room. Having seen no advertisements I took to the Internet to see how they were marketed and the intended audience. Right from the start I suspected that War Room would be the big winner, despite playing on a little more than a thousand screens compared to the 2,000-plus for the other two. The reason: faith-based films tend to draw a crowd, especially on weekends where studios take a bath and release films they figure won’t obtain a strong per-screen average.
Alex Kendrick, the filmmaker behind the hit Christian films Fireproof and Courageous, got his largest debut yet with an $11 million opening on 1,135 screens. That was good enough to have it finish second. Still number one was Universal’s Straight Outta Compton. This is the third Universal release to retain a #1 finish for three consecutive weekends. The other two were Jurassic World and Furious 7. While Compton may not reach the billion-dollar heights of those franchise flicks, $134 million in three weeks for a musical biopic is definitely music to the ears of producers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.
No Escape, which opened Wednesday, went neck and neck with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation for third place. Ultimately, Tom Cruise and the fifth installment won out as the foreign thriller starring Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan and Lake Bell finished with $8.28 million.
Taking sizable drops in attendance in their second weekends of release were Sinister 2 and Hitman: Agent 47. Both movies saw their audiences decrease by more than 53%. One was a horror sequel, while the other was another 20th Century Fox misfire in trying to reboot a franchise. In that respect, Sinister 2 is the winner of the two as it has less overhead in terms of production than Fox’s attempt at making a film franchise out of a Ubisoft videogame property. Maybe the studio will have better luck with Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender (slated to open Dec. 21, 2016).
As for We Are Your Friends, it was DOA. Zac Efron’s aspirations to be a DJ weren’t enough to entice viewership as it finished outside of the top 10 in thirteenth place with a $1.8 million opening. That’s the lowest WB debut for a movie playing on more than 2,000 screens since 1998’s Major League: Back to the Minors ($2.08 million from 2,322 screens). Well, at least Efron has Neighbors 2 to look forward to in summer 2016 (likely to be another hit for Universal).
Other box office notes: Universal’s Minions has eclipsed one billion worldwide, making it the third Universal release of 2015 to achieve this feat. Pixar’s Inside Out has crossed $700 million worldwide. The film also recently overtook Finding Nemo to become the animation studio’s second-highest domestic earner behind Toy Story 3. Expansions of Lily Tomlin’s Grandma and Sony Pictures Classics’ The Diary of a Teenage Girl saw attendance spike, with more than a 145% increase for both. Roadside Attractions’ Z for Zachariah and EpicPics’ Turbo Kid made their debuts on less than 40 screens and finished with $58k and $50k, respectively.
On tap for the weekend we have The Transporter Refueled and Robert Redford starring in an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s non-fiction best seller, A Walk in the Woods. Judging by the title of the new Transporter movie, Jason Statham is out of the fold. Nonetheless, it would be a surprise if Refueled takes the weekend on viewer apathy alone, because, there is nothing out there to see, unless seeking out those in limited release.
Top 10 below.
01. Straight Outta Compton — $13.2 million ($134.1M)
02. War Room — $11 million
03. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation — $8.3 million ($170.4M)
04. No Escape — $8.29 million
05. Sinister 2 — $4.65 million ($18.5M)
06. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — $4.4 million ($34.1M)
07. Hitman: Agent 47 — $3.85 million ($15.3M)
08. The Gift — $3.13 million ($35.96M)
09. Jurassic World — $3.12 million ($643.1M)
10. Ant-Man — $3.05 million ($169.2M)
Tags: box office, Grandma, No Escape, Straight Outta Compton, War Room, We Are Your Friends