Sully Leads Again; Blair Witch Scares Nobody
By Tim Briody
September 18, 2016
Two previously thought moribund franchises returned to theater this weekend, along with Oliver Stone in his first film in four years, and, um, nobody really noticed. Sully won its second straight weekend with incredible ease.
The Clint Eastwood/Tom Hanks collaboration Sully earned $22 million on the weekend, down a very solid 37% from last weekend. It’s the right combination of star power that’s playing well with older viewers and turning Sully into a solid hit. It’s got $70.5 million after just 10 days and is well on its way to the $100 million mark.
In a distant second place on the weekend is the top opener, Blair Witch, earning $9.6 million. Believed to be a generic horror entry filmed under the working title The Woods until a Comic-Con trailer premiere revealed it to be a third Blair Witch film, continuing the franchise that launched the found-footage genre and had been dormant since 2000’s absolutely awful Book of Shadows.
Blair Witch was met with generally poor reviews (37% at Rotten Tomatoes) and with this opening, it’s showing that audiences would much prefer the next big thing when it comes to the horror genre (see: Don’t Breathe) rather than a found-footage retread. The good news despite the soft under $10 million opening is that it cost just $5 million to make but I don’t think we have to worry about this franchise any longer.
Continuing that trend, third place goes to Bridget Jones’s Baby, with $8.2 million. It’s been 12 years since Bridge Jones: The Edge of Reason, a film with a weird release pattern that I remember discussing on this site back then about how badly it backfired (It was released in just 530 theaters in November 2004, earning $8.6 million, then expanded to 2,450 theaters the following weekend and earned $10 million) and killed off the franchise (even though there weren’t any other Bridget Jones books at that point).
Bridget Jones’s Baby is also Renee Zellweger’s first acting role in about six years, so it’s hard to blame her for falling back on an old reliable to reintroduce yourself. The film is actually the best reviewed new release of the weekend by a wide margin, but audiences couldn’t bring themselves to care about it anymore. Not that the Bridget Jones franchise was ever really a barnburner, even Bridget Jones’ Diary earned just $71.5 million domestically and The Edge of Reason took in just $40 million, a figure that Bridget Jones’s Baby won’t match (the first two films earned $281 and $263 million worldwide respectively, which also explains why they eventually made a third).