Box Office Report: Labor Day Brings Summer Box Office to Its Final Whimper

Box Office Report: Labor Day Brings Summer Box Office to Its Final Whimper

Sep 05, 2017

The Hitman's BodyguardHere's your estimated 4-day box office returns:

1. The Hitman’s Bodyguard - $13.3 million ($58.0 million total)

2. Annabelle: Creation - $9.3 million ($90.9 million total)

3. Wind River - $7.9 million ($20.3 million total)

4. Leap! - $6.5 million ($13.0 million total)

5. Logan Lucky - $5.64 million ($22.6 million total)

6. Dunkirk - $5.62 million ($180.2 million total)

7. Spider-Man: Homecoming - $4.7 million ($325.1 million total)

8. The Emoji Movie - $3.35 million ($81.2 million total)

9. Despicable Me 3 - $3.30 million ($258.8 million total)

10. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature - $2.9 million ($26.7 million total)

 

The Big Stories

The headlines for next week’s box office will be far more interesting than what we have to work with over the Labor Day holiday. Though certain films like Birth of a Dragon, Leap! and Tulip Fever have been labeled as “not major releases,” they are indeed part of the dumping ground hoping to scrounge together a few leftover dollars after a well-documented dip at the domestic box office this summer.

Anything to distract from the worst domestic box office season since 2006 will be welcome; the last time the summer box office failed to reach $4 billion. In fact the biggest news of the week is that a 40 year-old film nearly made it into the Top Ten and as critical consensus goes you will find likely unanimous support for it being the best film playing in theaters this week.

 

No One Caught the Fever

What can one say about the Weinstein Co.? Any astute industry watcher knows their playbook by now in how there is more interest in awards than actual releases. Certainly they have to go hand-in-hand, and if some money can be made, all the better. But where does that money eventually go? First-hand sources have adamantly stated that they have been nearly a year behind in paying theaters for playing their films. Perhaps that is one reason they are having issues finding bookings.

Then again, money makes the world go round and if theaters found potential windfalls in their titles they would play them. Look at Wind River. Amongst Sundance pickups this year it is number two with a bullet in grosses behind just the success of The Big Sick this summer. Earning $20 million estimated and counting through Monday makes it their third highest-grosser since the opening of The Hateful Eight ($54.1 million.) Last year’s Oscar-nominee, Lion, became a word-of-mouth hit with $51.7 million while its other wannabes, The Founder and Gold, barely made $20 million between them.

To suggest that Tulip Fever is some kind of disappointment that will be the lynchpin of Weinstein’s failings is a bit overstated. A 10% rating at Rotten Tomatoes is pretty telling that this was never going to be an Oscar player no matter when it was released. All the stories written about the film’s delays and shifting release dates should be met with more shrugged shouldes than raised eyebrows.

The Weinstein’s handling of Amityville: The Awakening is more baffling, given how easy it can be to pull in a horror crowd, especially with a recognizable entity. Produced by Jason Blum, whose horror releases are a pinnacle of low-budget success, Amityville 19 was supposed to be released in January 2015. It may be garbage but it probably would have made more than Hands of Stone ($4.7 million / 45%), Gold ($7.2 million / 43% RT) and Burnt ($13.6 million / 27% RT). In that timem there have even been a string of straight-to-video titles such as The Amityville Haunting, Amityville Terror, Amityville Exorcism and Amityvlle: No Escape.

Back to Tulip Fever, though, a $1.4 million four-day opening is more than it would have made just sitting on a shelf, but anyone expecting more than that at this point was just deluding themselves. If you really want to see the new Amityville film, it is available on some hotel pay-per-views. Have a nice vacation.

 

Tales of the Top Ten (and Beyond)

It was reported late last week that the broadcast of the Mayweather/McGregor fight in theaters (tagline: “Whoever wins, we lose”) grabbed $2.6 million and actually made the Top Ten. This week there were a couple other challengers to that anomaly. Steven Spielberg’s 1977 masterpiece, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, is playing a one-week engagement of its new 4K transfer before its new Blu-ray release and it grossed $2.3 million over the four-day weekend. When Sony did a 30th Anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters in 2014, it opened to $1.7 million in the last week of August and over three weeks grossed $3.5 million. The upgrade of Terminator 2 to 3-D grossed $753,812 in its first week. Also, Marvel’s Inhumans (coming to ABC) put its first two episodes into theaters and its fans gave $1.36 million to a TV show they can see for free in four weeks. (Or, at least, a fraction of whatever cable package they have.)

Beyond that we have The Hitman’s Bodyguard taking advantage of a two-week dead zone in releases to become the only film this summer to win the box office for three straight weeks. We cannot fully label it a success until its international dollars come in, but a final domestic gross in the $75 million region will go a long way to securing that. WB’s Annabelle: Creation, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. The film is $15 million ahead of the pace of Don’t Breathe pace last year and now $100 million appears to be a certainty. With over $255 million worldwide, the $15 million production is a smash success. The studio’s Dunkirk is starting to pick up a little steam overseas with a solid launch in China and is now over $460 million worldwide.

Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky is no smash by any stretch, but it too has managed to pick up some change from the lack of releases. Despite what I said last week, the film will at least surpass Sex, Lies and Videotape, even if barely outgrossing a 1988 film responsible for the new indie movement is hardly a major victory. People can point to Spider-Man: Homecoming making a run at Spider-Man 3’s final domestic gross as an upswing for the character. They can also praise Malcolm D. Lee’s Girls Trip for outgrossing Bad Moms (which it should do by next weekend.)

But the little-reported success story of the summer is the one that found its way back into the Top Ten this weekend. Universal and Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 might not seem like the smashes that Minions or even the second film were, but it is over $994 million worldwide and is on the verge of becoming the only billion dollar release this summer. That is a milestone that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or even Wonder Woman can point to.


- Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[Box office figures via Box Office Mojo.]

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