Labor Day Weekend, that scourge of the box office charts, has possibly a little better prospects for its films than previous year's editions, but still leaves us with a weekend full of also rans and forgettable projects.
Weekend Forecast for September 4-6, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
September 3, 2015
Getting a jumpstart on the weekend by opening on Wednesday was A Walk in the Woods, the adaptation of humorist Bill Bryson's memoir (in which I am reminded of the definition of humorist: “n. Unfunny comedian”). He and a friend decide to hike the Appalachian Trail (and not in the Governor Sandford sense) in order to reconnect with nature and have an adventure. When the two men's ideas of adventure start to rapidly diverge, the mildly amusing shenanigans begin!
Robert Redford plays Bryson's character (doing him a gigantic favor – can I request that I be played in my memoirs by Terry Crews?), with Nick Nolte playing his boozy, lecherous friend. Both stars basically play off their public perceptions and don't do anything too challenging, with director Ken Kwapis there to make sure nothing untoward happens (despite the R rating). Also in the cast are Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman and Kristen Schaal – so names, but not really drawing power names. With $1.2 million on Wednesday, this looks headed for about $7 million on the weekend, after which you will not hear of it until the next time your parents recommend a movie to you.
A few weeks after an apathetic reboot of the Hitman series, we get the reboot of the non-video game version of exactly the same thing with The Transporter Refueled. After not meeting Jason Statham's price tag, Ed Skrein (“Who?” you say. Exactly) has been tapped to inhabit the role of a special “courier” who delivers anything, no questions asked and beats up a lot of people along the way. This film deviates a bit from the original scenario to the point of irrelevancy as it just has him fighting to get back his kidnapped father (Ray Stevenson) from a group of femme fatales warring with a Russian gangster. Any of that make sense? No? OK, whatever, let's just go with it – generic action for all!
This seems like a weird series to try and capitalize on with a new star, considering that it was never all that popular to begin with in North America – with the Transporter 2 peaking at a $16 million open and $43 million final take. International business seems to be the real story here, with a little over $100 million from the third film, and that was seven years ago, before worldwide box office really exploded. One can look at the recent Hitman: Agent 47 film and see that its international take is double its domestic, then apply that reasoning here and you'll see why this film has been made. So if you're thinking this film isn't really for you, you're probably right. I'd expect about $7 million here this weekend as well, and the pure action genre dies a little bit more its slow death.
So, can Straight Outta Compton hang on for its fourth straight week at the top of the box office? It'll be close, but the N.W.A. biopic will likely fall short, with about $6 million, and bringing it just shy of the $150 million mark. It's a tremendous achievement and helps cap off the annus miraculous for Universal that's seen them crack the annual record for box office by a studio. They've got at least one, maybe two shots at blockbusters for the rest of the year with Steve Jobs and Crimson Peak, but at this point it's basically gravy.
Religiously themed film War Room surpassed expectations with an $11 million opening, but will likely fall off a fair bit this weekend. Previous heavily-religious films have been somewhat front loaded, as they draw from a pre-sold audience. It should drop to about $5 million this frame.
Mission: Impossible 5 should hang on to relevance for one more week with a little over $5 million, with about $185 million as a final total in sight. Internationally, it's done more than enough to secure a sixth edition, and it's probably a $600 million overall total it's going for. And... that's basically it for this weekend, as everything starts limping towards October box office.