Weekend Wrap-Up
Don't Breathe - Rare Horror Two-Peat
By John Hamann
September 4, 2016

I think he's breaking several horror movie tropes right there.

It must be Labor Day weekend – a Screen Gems horror flick repeats at number one.

Yes, it’s that weekend. Labor Day Weekend is a powerful antidote for summer. Last year, no film earned more than $10 million over the three-day portion of Labor Day weekend, and the last time a film earned more than $20 million over the long weekend was way back in 2010, when Screen Gems’ Takers opened to $20.5 million. Screen Gems is back this year, but not with an opener, as Don’t Breathe has an opportunity to be the first repeat horror film at number one since Ouija repeated over Halloween in 2014. Challenging Don’t Breathe for top spot are two films that never had a chance – the drama Light Between Oceans with Michael Fassbender, and Morgan, a poorly made and poorly advertised sci-fi thriller with Kate Mara.

Our number one film this weekend is Don’t Breathe, the very well-reviewed horror flick from Sony and Screen Gems. Last weekend, this little film that could picked up more than two and a half times its production budget in three days, earning $26.4 million versus its production budget of only $9.9 million. Everything earned now is gravy for the savvy Screen Gems, a company that knows how turn low budget horror into hits. Normally, we would expect a horror flick like Don’t Breathe to drop 60% in its second weekend, but this one is different. With excellent reviews (86% fresh) and hot Cinemascore (B+), Don’t Breathe had an opportunity to buck the usual horror trend, and it did, starting its second weekend with $4.2 million on Friday.

While the Friday-to-Friday drop for Don’t Breathe was high at 58%, one has to remember that the movie accumulated almost $2 million from Thursday previews last week, which skews the percentage drop higher. Over the weekend, Don’t Breathe managed a weekend take of $15.7 million, a drop of only 41%. I really mean "only" – it’s an awesome drop for a horror flick, as it could have been as high as 60%. That puts the domestic total for Don’t Breathe at $51.1 million, keeping in mind that against a $9.9 million budget. Lights Out, the other highly successful low budget horror original released this summer, had taken in $42.9 million over the same time period, but cost $5 million less to make. There is some horror competition coming next weekend, but The Disappointments Room seems more like a Don’t Breathe speed bump than a challenger.

Finishing second this weekend is Suicide Squad, which is enjoying that late summer slide with virtually zero competition. This weekend, its fifth, Suicide Squad found another $10 million and declined 18%. The total for the Warner Bros. blockbuster has reached $297.4 million domestically, and the Warner Bros. release has crossed the $350 million mark overseas, all against a $175 million budget.

Pete’s Dragon moves up the chart to third after finishing sixth in the previous frame, another sign that it must be Labor Day weekend. The Disney remake pulled in another $6.5 million this weekend, giving it an excellent hold of 13%, but it’s too little too late, at least on the domestic side. Pete’s Dragon cost $65 million to make, and has a domestic total to date of $64.2 million. Overseas hasn’t supported this one enough so far, though, as it has amassed $28 million overseas.

Fourth is Kubo and the Two Strings, which also holds nicely this weekend. Kubo earned another $6.5 million and fell a slim 17%. While the hold is good, it’s not going to be enough. Kubo cost $60 million to make, and so far, has a domestic gross to date of $34.3 million. It’s only hope is overseas. Currently, it’s out in handful of smaller markets and has picked up $5 million so far. It hits a few more smaller markets this weekend before going into some bigger areas the following frame.

Sausage Party is fifth, but is one of the real success stories of the summer. This weekend, the Seth Rogen comedy earned another $5.3 million, giving it a drop of 29%, but the good news has already come for this one. The R-rated, animated film has now earned $88.4 million, a decent take; however, it cost only $19 million to make, which means it will easily earn five times its production budget – and that’s only stateside. Overseas, it’s approaching $10 million and is only out to handful of countries. This is another example of a smaller film finding a profit in summer, where many of the $100 million plus blockbusters failed.

Sixth is new release The Light Between Oceans. With Michael Fassbender, Alicia Viklander and Rachel Weisz, this one had the star power to succeed, but with a dense plot and only so-so reviews, the climb for this drama was going to be significant. Audiences gave collective shrug to The Light Between Oceans, as it earned only $5 million this weekend, albeit from only 1,500 venues. Disney must have had Oscar hopes for this one, as on paper this looks like a winner. The finished product split critics, with 66 finding something to like at RottenTomatoes, and 42 feeling underwhelmed, for a fresh rating of 61%. Made for $20 million, Light will need to have some legs domestically, and then match that domestic gross overseas.

Bad Moms is seventh and is another example of sometimes smaller is better. The STX release has been in release for six weekends now, and its overall take continues to grow. This weekend, it earned another $4.7 million and declined 15% compared to last weekend. That brings the total for Bad Moms up and over the $100 million mark, joining an overseas gross that is approaching $30 million. Bad Moms will finish with $150 million in worldwide sales against a budget of only $20 million.

Eighth is War Dogs, the Todd Phillips flick that didn’t quite work. The Jonah Hill/Miles Teller release earned $4.7 million this weekend and fell 33% compared to the previous frame. The domestic total for War Dogs has come up to $35.2 million, and the overseas total sits at $15 million. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for a film that cost $45 million to make.

Ninth is Hell or High Water, the Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine action flick that has been messing around in limited release the last few weekends. This weekend, the venue count goes up to 1,303 venues, and the gross for this $12 million Lionsgate film continues to climb. It earned $4.5 million this time around, growing its weekend gross by 27% compared to last weekend. The total has now risen to a solid $14.7 million, but is going to need more to be the first outright Lionsgate success in a long time.

Tenth is Mechanic: Resurrection as the Jason Statham release takes a tumble. After opening to $7.5 million last weekend, the bottom falls out in weekend two, as the Mechanic sequel could only muster $4.3 million. That equals a drop of 43%, so the Lionsgate film will need all it can get from overseas and home video, as the cost here was $40 million before marketing.

In other box office news this weekend, Robert DeNiro’s Hands of Stone expanded from 810 venues last weekend to 2,011 venues this weekend, but failed to hold. After earning $1.8 million in what was basically limited release last weekend, it still fell 25%, earning only $1.3 million – you can cross it off your list of Oscar hopefuls. Disney expanded Finding Dory back out to 2,075 venues (from 345 screens), and saw its gross rise from $632,000 last weekend to $1.9 million this weekend. Its domestic total has risen to $481.8 million.

Overall, the box office was up compared to last year, as the top 12 this year managed $74.8 million, where last year, the top 12 could only find $65.9 million. Next weekend, Screen Gems is back with When the Bough Breaks, Tom Hanks returns with the well-reviewed Sully, Relativity opens The Disappointments Room, and Lionsgate will try and open The Wild Life, one of those low budget animated releases that should have gone straight-to-video. Don’t worry, September will be over before we know it.