Box Office Report: No Challenges For 'It' As Audiences Expectedly Reject 'mother!'

Box Office Report: No Challenges For 'It' As Audiences Expectedly Reject 'mother!'

Sep 18, 2017

ItHere's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. It - $60.0 million ($218.7 million total)

2. American Assassin - $14.8 million ($14.8 million total)

3. mother! - $7.5 million ($7.5 million total)

4. Home Again - $5.3 million ($17.1 million total)

5. The Hitman’s Bodyguard - $3.5 million ($70.3 million total)

6. Annabelle: Creation - $2.6 million ($99.9 million total)

7. Wind River - $2.5 million ($29.1 million total)

8. Leap! - $2.1 million ($18.6 million total)

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming - $1.8 million ($330.2 million total)

10. Dunkirk - $1.3 million ($185.1 million total)

 

The Big Stories

There are virtually no surprises at the box office this weekend. Nothing was going to challenge the latest incarnation of Stephen King’s It, which became the highest-grossing film ever to be released in September and now has its sights on besting October as well. Darren Aronofsky’s mother! premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this past week and every professional critic (always an important distinction) who saw it (and even loved it) knew that moviegoers were going to hate it. The only people who may hate it more are the folks over at Paramount, who really should be hating themselves a little for their strategic shuffling to close out their year.

 

Mother of God!

Darren Aronofsky may be considered an eclectic and challenging filmmaker who’s not for everyone, but he was coming off two back-to-back $100 million domestic grossers. Oscar-winning Black Swan is the third highest-grossing film ever for Fox Searchlight ($106 million) behind just Juno and Slumdog Millionaire. Say what you will about Noah, but thanks to an additional $261 million on top of its domestic $101 million, it was a minor success for Paramount. So they gave him $30 million. He got Jennifer Lawrence, who has only had one wide release (Joy) gross less than $100 million since House at the End of the Street back in 2012. mother! now looks like it won’t even surpass that.

There is some divide amongst critics about mother!, as it’s received a 68% at Rotten Tomatoes. (Noah got a 76%.) But this is not a case of “blame” or some blight on Jennifer Lawrence’s starpower because this is her weakest opening ever. mother! is one nutty film, in a great way for some, a maddening one for others and a WTF for everyone. Try and argue that Passengers is a better movie (30% RT / $100 million domestic.) Paramount had to know what they had and were counting on critics to come to their rescue, which many will continue to do. Except Paramount moved the film up from October 13 to September 15, which normally would seem like a sign of confidence, but in this case was the equivalent of burying it.

One of the reasons for the shift was to apparently stretch out their auteurist efforts over the upcoming awards season. mother! was likely never going to be a major contender (save for maybe a shot for Michelle Pfeiffer’s supporting turn), but they had high hopes for their Matt Damon vehicles, George Clooney’s Suburbicon and Alexander Payne’s Downsizing. The former died on the table at Toronto and the latter will slowly die up to the point audiences reject it as well.

But even if they paid attention to the lowball tracking on It, they should have known that opening another nightmarish film in its wake was a bad idea. They could have left it alone a few weeks removed from Halloween and its opening weekend of $7.5 million could have jumped 50% or even doubled.

The dropoff was going to be huge either way, but more people complaining could have only created more curiosity as well. They would have had a showdown with a Blumhouse film (Happy Death Day) with no stars and two weeks before Jigsaw invades theaters. Unless the international audience is more sophisticated about a horror film with both religious and environmental connotations (and it has made $6 million so far), mother! is going to be Paramount’s fourth straight loser with two more on the way. Daddy’s Home 2 may be all they have left to hold on to until 2018.

 

First a Sniper, Now an Assassin

Aside from The Big Sick and John Wick: Chapter Two, Lionsgate has not released a film wide this year to crack the 50% mark at Rotten Tomatoes. American Assassin’s 35% is their third-worst, ahead of just The Shack (21%) and All Eyez On Me (16%). But that’s of minor consequence when it opened to a $14.8 million this weekend. Not great but maybe OK for a $33 million production. That puts it in the middle of these September openers:

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Dolphin Tale 2, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Zoolander, The Tuxedo, In & Out, Lakeview Terrace, Surrogates, Gridiron Gang, When the Bough Breaks.

The average multiple of the films on the “rotten” side of the critical spectrum was 2.79, which would leave American Assassin somewhere around $42 million; approximately what The Big Sick did. Meanwhile The Hitman’s Bodyguard has grossed a rather impressive $70 million. The Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson action-comedy still needs about another $47 million to break even but it has not been released internationally yet.

 

Tales of the Top Ten

Warner Bros. can just about put the disaster of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword behind them. For even though they own the biggest financial disaster of 2017, four of their last five films (Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, Annabelle: Creation and now It) should be over $100 million in profit. That’s good enough to own four of the 13 most profitable films of the year. It is now only third behind both Gravity and The Martian on the list of the highest-grossing domestic titles to be released in September or October. And it will pass Ridley Scott’s film later this week. It is just ahead of the pace of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which went on to gross over $337 million. By next weekend it will be the fifth highest domestic grosser of the year. It is over $352 million worldwide. Annabelle: Creation should be over $300 million worldwide by next week. Warner Bros.’ Dunkirk is over $508 million.

Spider-Man: Homecoming has passed Wonder Woman on the worldwide chart with over $861 million vs. $817 million. It’s the third comic book film (along with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) to pass the milestone this summer. Home Again is looking as if it will become the latest Open Road release to fail to gross $30 million domestic. The last film of theirs to do so was last year’s Mother’s Day. Even the Weinstein’s Sundance pickup, Wind River, is going to pass that amount this week.


- 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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