Well, we had to hit the bottom of summer at some point. Might as well be right at the end.
Box Office Finally Passes After Slow Death
By John Hamann
August 27, 2017
After 16 weekends of box office pain (with a few off to avoid Guantanamo), the summer movie season is finally put out of its misery this weekend. New films were brought in by dump truck and smelled of the stuff that gets dumped on Biff and his friends in a couple of Back to the Future movies. Yes, there were two major things that, at the very least, wouldn’t have helped the box office - a longer than expected Mayweather/McGregor fight on Saturday night, and that nasty hurricane in Texas that took a lot of the country’s attention.
While these items would have caused some box office pain, we can’t blame the nasty weekend box office on anything except the movies put out in release this weekend. Openers included Leap from The Weinstein Company, a low dollar pick up from Europe, and Birth of the Dragon, a story about the battle between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man, a Kung Fu master. These films are certainly not going to tick all the demographic boxes, and I am actually surprised that they both got theatrical releases – they were really just sent out to die.
I still firmly believe that a good movie, built and marketed right, can open on any weekend of the year – including late August. Neither of openers this weekend were good or marketed right, so they end up earning $5 million or less over opening weekend.
That means The Hitman’s Bodyguard, a film that is meh at best but marketed very well, repeats at number one at the weekend box office. The Sam Jackson/Ryan Reynolds starrer picked up another $10.1 million this weekend after taking in $21.4 million over its opening frame. Yes, that is a drop of 53%, but maker Millennium Films doesn’t care, and likely neither does Lionsgate, who distributes. This $30 million dollar affair already has $39.6 million in the kitty and will hit the wire as top movie in North America for the second straight weekend. That’s only going to help when it opens in Europe next week, as everyone wants to see a winner. Lionsgate picked the right date for this not-very-good movie, and late August is going to make it a winner… eventually.
Second goes to Annabelle: Creation, which again shows what a quiet weekend it is, as a horror flick – in its third weekend – finishes in second. After a $15.6 million sophomore frame last weekend (and 55% drop), Creation manages a $7.4 million third frame, this time down 53%. The $15 million New Line release is going to out-earn the previous flick in the series (Annabelle earned $84.3 million domestic), as it has $77.9 million in the kitty already. Where it's lagging, though, is overseas. That total has hit $137 million, which may seem like a lot, but Annabelle did $173 million away from home, and the current one is running out of markets. Still, it’s hard to complain when your film cost $15 million before marketing and should make $200 million worldwide. New Line has another winner in The Conjuring franchise, so I think we can expect more soon.
Leap!, a Canadian film once titled Ballerina, is third. The animated film about dancers had been pushed back by the Weinsteins a couple of times, and would appear to be dumped this weekend. TWC put it out with little fanfare, and it earned only $5 million this weekend. The good news for this kids flick is that it had already earned $60 million worldwide before hitting the States, so it’s only the Weinstein’s feeling the pinch on this one. Reviews weren’t great at 37% fresh, but only 41 critics saw it. The Cinemascore is the better news, as it came in at an A, but the opening weekend is too small for it to do any good in terms of legs. Still, if it can get out North America with $15 million, it should be considered a success.
Wind River, another film from The Weinstein Company in release this weekend, expanded from 694 theaters last weekend, to 2,095 this weekend. Unfortunately, the gross moved from $3 million last weekend to just $4.4 million this weekend, despite being on three times as many screens. Wind River, with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson, is an 85% fresh movie. The stars pushed it hard, but it needed a larger marketing push to go out to this many screens. The $11 million film has picked up $9.8 million at the North American box office, so something pretty amazing will have to happen for this one to make money.
Logan Lucky is Steven Soderbergh’s latest (and one of his greatest) and drops from an opening weekend third spot to fifth this weekend. While the $7 million opening seemed decent, it was his lowest earning wide debut since Solaris in 2002. In its second weekend, Logan Lucky fell a decent 43% and earned $4.4 million. Unfortunately, with a budget at $29 million, it still has a long, long way to go for upstart distributor Bleecker Street, whose biggest film to date is Eye in the Sky, the Helen Mirren flick that earned $18.7 million.
The six-weekend-old Dunkirk is sixth this weekend, as new product opens above it, and then slides on by. This weekend, the Christopher Nolan film earned another $4 million and declined 40%. It hit a big milestone this weekend, as the $100 million film crossed the $400 million worldwide mark, with a healthy $172.5 million coming from the United States and Canada.
Spider-Man Homecoming is seventh, and has been out for eight weekends – two months. Again, that shows how weak the overall box office is – Wonder Woman stayed in the top ten for nine weekends, and Spider-Man is going to beat it. This weekend, the webslinger earned $2.7 million and dropped 36%. The domestic total has hit $318.8 million, and the worldwide is moving beyond $735 million.
Eighth is our other new release, the dead on arrival Birth of the Dragon, released by BH Tilt in North America. This one earned only $2.5 million this weekend, as its target is so small it didn’t have much of a chance. Add to that almost zero marketing, a 27% fresh rating and a B Cinemascore, and this is dead on arrival. There is no budget data available for this one, but if it cost $10 million to make, shirts will be lost.
The Emoji Movie is ninth – good riddance to bad rubbish. This weekend it earns $2.4 million and falls 47%. The animated Sony flick has hit $76.4 million domestically, but gets bailed out overseas with an international gross of $68 million, which means we could possibly see another one of these depending on how many lunch boxes are sold at Christmas.
Girls Trip is tenth, as the party movie continues to roll. The comedy earned another $2.3 million and declined 42%. One of the big successes of the summer has now earned $108.1 million against a budget of only $19 million. Unfortunately for Universal, it has only made a little over $10 million overseas.
Overall, we get the absolute low point of the year, one that will likely stand until December 31st. The top 12 earned only $48.9 million. Only a month ago, Dunkirk, with its $50 million open, helped the top 12 to pull in $176 million over the July 21st weekend. A year ago, the top 12 earned $98.7 million and was led by Don’t Breathe, which opened to $26.4 million, which really shows that good films can open at any time. Openers next weekend include the re-release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and another release from the Weinstein Company, Tulip Fever.