By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
August 23, 2015
Across North America, many children are back in school. As the educational years grow longer, late August box office diminishes that much more. Last weekend featured a rare breath of fresh air when a musical biopic became one of the five largest August debuts ever. This weekend, three new movies tried to knock it from its perch. All of them failed comically. Maybe if they’d had better memes…
Swirling controversy has been a staple of the rap business since its inception. Negative headlines correlate with an outsider persona that resonates with the anti-hero fans across the globe. No musical era better reflects this behavior than the ascension of gangsta rap, which spawned cross-coastal rivalries and splashy media headlines. Oftentimes, the splash was blood.
NWA, the greater Los Angeles band with an attitude so seminal to their makeup that they used it as part of the acronym, defined this culture. Their seminal debut, Straight Outta Compton, solidified their status as the It band of animus. Today, a couple of founding members of the band have personal wealth of nine figures, and one of them is approaching ten figures thanks to a marketable line of headphones.
Before they became titans of industry, however, they were just a bunch of hungry 20-somethings trying to make their mark in the music business. Straight Outta Compton the movie chronicles the combative resistance they faced in achieving greatness. And just as was the case with their music, the subject of the movie also includes its fair share of controversy thanks to the nature of the storytelling.
Since the most successful members of the band were involved with the making of the film, they chose not to highlight some of their worst moments, something that isn’t rare with biopics. Given the opening weekend popularity of the film, its critics wanted to make their voices heard with regards to what the film didn’t show. Unsurprisingly, that’s sustained interest in what could have been a one-weekend wonder. After opening to a spectacular $60.2 million last weekend, it falls only 56% to $26.8 million during its second frame.
How strong is this result? BOP has compared Straight Outta Compton to 8 Mile for many months now. The latter film fell 62% in its second weekend and was already under $20 million by this time in its release. 8 Mile earned $116.7 million during its entire domestic run in 2002. Compare that to Straight Outta Compton, which held better in an era of much stronger box office depreciation, earned roughly 40% more in its second weekend, and now has a running total of $111.5 million. Yes, there’s 13 years of box office inflation in play, but the numbers demonstrate that people love biopics about controversial rap stars. Straight Outta Compton will surpass 8 Mile by the middle of the week to become the most successful rap biopic ever.
The Tom Cruise Redemption Project’s latest output, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, couch jumps its way into second place for the second straight weekend after a pair of weekends at the top of the charts. No Cruise project has stayed in the top two for this long since Tropic Thunder in 2008. If we isolate the stat to films where Tom Cruise was the star, this hadn’t happened since Jerry Maguire in 1996.