Weekend Wrap-Up

Don’t Breathe Chokes Out Competition

By John Hamann

August 28, 2016

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In a summer of blockbusters, it’s been the smaller, scarier films that have been hugely profitable, and this weekend, our last of the summer, is no different.

Horror is the shizzle again, and this summer has proved it. The Conjuring 2 cost $40 million and made $300 million worldwide, The Purge: Anarchy cost $10 million and made $100 million, and The Shallows earned $85 million against $17 million. The best is Lights Out, which cost only $4.9 million, and has earned $111 million worldwide to date, or more than 22 times its production budget. This weekend, Don’t Breathe closes it out, as we have a film that cost less than $10 million to make and has a ton of promise heading into its opening weekend. Oh – and Mechanic: Resurrection also debuted.

Our number one film of the weekend is Sony and Screen Gems' Don’t Breathe, the latest summer 2016 horror flick that has found grand success. The studio used an old fashioned way to get this to pop on opening weekend – they showed a good film to people with influence, and got word-of-mouth cooking. The advertising buy for Don’t Breathe wasn’t huge; it has no stars and none of the gloss that comes with a $150 million budget. Normally this would mean trouble for any film, but Don’t Breathe got started decently at Thursday previews, earning $1.9 million, a powerful amount for a film that was supposed to open between $10 and $12 million.


The combined Thursday/Friday for Don’t Breathe was huge at $10 million, a number that touched the low end of the tracking estimate. That’s also a very high single day for Screen Gems, which had an $11.3 million Friday for The Exorcism of Emily Rose ($30 million weekend) and an $8.6 million for Underworld. Instantly, Don’t Breathe was going to do very well amongst Screen Gems horror titles, many of which have been successful. Emily Rose, for example, cost Screen Gems $19 million to make (actually high for Screen Gems), and it made $144 million worldwide.

The weekend figure for Don’t Breathe came in at an excellent $26.1 million, awesome for this late into August, and proof again that any film can open successfully at any time – as long as all the elements are in the right place. It more than doubled its $9.9 million budget (a similar amount was likely spent on catering for Suicide Squad), and closes the summer out with a bang, drawing older audiences back to theaters (when they are usually empty). Why did Don’t Breathe go so nicely against the grain? It’s a good movie. Don’t Breathe is certified fresh at RottenTomatoes with a 87% fresh rating, and top critics – the ones who only usually like Victorian romances, came in at 94% fresh, with only two finding something not to like. The Cinemascore was out of hand for horror at a B+, better than Lights out (B) and just missing The Conjuring 2 (A-). Lights Out got to 3x its opening weekend with its Cinemascore, and there is no reason Don’t Breathe can’t do the same.

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