By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
August 30, 2015
A lackluster weekend at the box office finished with no changes at the top, but a three-time champion isn’t the story this weekend. Instead, it’s the return of faith-based cinema to the upper parts of the box office charts. For much more famous actors, however, this weekend offered no escape.
One of the oddest quirks of August box office is its penchant for repeat champions. We witnessed it in the past with films such as Tropic Thunder and The Sixth Sense, and it’s happened the past two years with Guardians of the Galaxy and now Straight Outta Compton. The biopic about the inflammatory gangsta rap band, N.W.A., continues to toy with the competition.
The latest Universal blockbuster earned another $13.2 million, down a modest 50% from last weekend. After three straight weekends as the number one film in North America, Straight Outta Compton has grossed a massive $134.1 million, making it one of the most successful music-based stories of all time. The only remaining question is whether the film can entice consumers outside of North America to take a shot on this anti-establishment opus.
Despite the dominance of Straight Outta Compton, something shocking almost transpired this weekend. God almost beat gangsta rap in a heads up match-up of faith-based cinema versus basically the opposite of that. War Room, the fifth religious release from Alex and Stephen Kendrick, became the latest godly title that box office analysts woefully underestimated. BOP chronicled the dazzling 2014 triumphs of such titles in our Top Film Industry Stories of 2014, but 2015 hadn’t been as strong for faith-based cinema until now.
War Room changed that behavior by opening to $3.9 million on Friday, which ended the 14-day streak of Straight Outta Compton as the number one film in North America. Since the Kendrick brothers have a reputation for their work on such films as Facing the Giants and Fireproof, there was a bit of front-loading to their film. That’s all that stopped it from winning the weekend. As it stands, the $3 million production under the Sony umbrella debuted to $11 million in only 1,135 exhibitions, a per-location average of $9,692. During an otherwise sleepy August, War Room stands out as one of the most pleasant surprises.
As is so often the case with religious cinema, movie critics didn’t give it much of a chance. War Room is only 18% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, and only five top critics even bothered to offer a review of it. In terms of preaching to the choir, however, the film did as well as any religious project to date. It earned an amazing A+ Cinemascore, which means its target audience enjoyed it more than anything else this summer. That’s a better Cinemascore than Inside Out, for God’s sake. Err, you know what we mean.
Because we have such a weak slate of new releases, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is our third place film. It continues to hold remarkably well thanks to its stellar reviews and word-of-mouth, falling just 28% to a fifth weekend total of $8.3 million. The Tom Cruise-led spy film has now amassed $170.4 million domestically, which exceeds the estimated $150 million budget. With $280 million plus from international venues, the Paramount release is now chugging along toward $500 million worldwide.