August 23, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 8/23/15


OPENINGS:  With a $10M production budget (and tens of millions in marketing on top), the $10.6M weekend for SINISTER 2 (Blumhouse/Gramercy/Focus/Universal) will test Blumhouse’s ability to make money out of just about anything.  The opening is far below the $18M start for 2012’s Sinister, and its US total won’t be near the $48.1M gross for its predecessor.  Meanwhile, here’s an interesting factoid:  in 2015, there have been 9 horror movies in wide release–and Blumhouse has produced 6 of them, making it a virtual major studio unto itself in the genre.

HITMAN: AGENT 87 (20th) couldn’t even manage the $13.2M opening of the 2007 version of Hitman, earning just $8.2M–and even that number assumes a stronger Sunday than reality may provide.  Things were slightly more promising overseas, where the would-be franchise launched at $8.5M in 20 relatively small markets.  The international footprint will more than double next week, which will be the make-or-break weekend for the effort.

AMERICAN ULTRA (Lionsgate) cost the studio $7M (it only acquired US rights), which again doesn’t include marketing, and the worse than lackluster $5.5M weekend means it’s unlikely to earn its keep.  (This studio estimate also assumes a more enthusiastic Sunday than may actually be the case.)  Ultra wasn’t able to reach the $5.7M opening of 2009’s indie Adventureland, the first Jesse Eisenberg/Kristen Stewart pairing, and the new project was supposed to be far more commercial.

HOLDOVERS:  In the context of such weak competition, the 56% Weekend 2 drop for STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Legendary/Universal) to $26.8M was only OK.  Nevertheless, the moderately-budgeted hip-hop showbiz bio is a huge hit, with $111.5M in the US to date, and a likely trajectory that will take it past $150M.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (Skydance/China Film Channel/Alibaba/Paramount) is enjoying the fact that it’s the only A-level action movie around, and it declined just 32% from last week to $11.7M.  That puts it on track for $180M+ in the US, which will give it a slot in the year’s top 10 (to date)–although it will still rank below the 2d and 4th chapters of the franchise in the US.  The movie continues to thrive internationally as well, with $280.8M after a $25.2M weekend, and its China opening still almost 3 weeks away.  (Because of its part-Chinese financing, Rogue Nation should be able to retain more of its box office revenue than most US productions, which is why more and more Hollywood movies will be in the market for Chinese financing.)

THE MAN FROM UNCLE (Rat Pac/Warners) held well, down 45% to $7.4M, but it’s academic, as even a $50M total is still far away.  (It’s currently at $26.6M.)  Overseas, the picture remained in 39 markets, and its $8M weekend gave it a relatively tiny $26M to date.

THE GIFT (STX), ANT-MAN (Marvel/Disney), MINIONS (Illumination/Universal) and FANTASTIC FOUR (20th) were all within $600K of each other this weekend, with Gift‘s $4.3M on the high end and Four‘s $3.7M on the low.  However, the first 3 were down a mild 34%, 26% and 28% for the weekend, while Fantastic Four continued its collapse with a 55% plunge.  Nor will overseas release bail Four out:  it’s at $80.8M after a $16.2M weekend that included most of the world (but not yet China).

TRAINWRECK (Universal) crossed a milestone this week, after its $2.5M weekend gave it a US total of $102.4M.

TERMINATOR: GENISYS (Skydance/Paramount) is long done in the US (an extremely disappointing $89.1M total), but it’s off to a giant start in China, where it’s the first Hollywood movie to open after weeks of “blackout,” which are designed to promote local productions.  Genisys earned $27.4M in its first day of release, the #4 day for a US production in China box office history. (To give some idea of the scale of the Chinese box office, Genisys is in 25,000 theatres–6x the biggest US releases.)  Will that be enough to save the current incarnation of the franchise?  Too early to tell.

LIMITED RELEASE:  GRANDMA (Sony Classics) had a solid $30K per-theatre average in 4 NY/LA arthouses, and the studio will hope to keep it afloat long enough for Lily Tomlin to figure into Oscar campaign season.  LEARNING TO DRIVE (Broadgreen) also opened nicely with a $17K average at 4.  (Both new releases used in-theatre Q&As to boost their starts.)  DIGGING FOR FIRE (Orchard) is mostly a VOD play, but had an OK $8K average at 3.  Quite a few indies used the quiet late-summer period for expansions.  THE END OF THE TOUR (A24) nearly tripled to 355 theatres but with a flat $1500 average.  PHOENIX (IFC) doubled to 108 and averaged $3200.  MISTRESS AMERICA (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 32 with a $7400 average.  (That was half the average that While We’re Young had at 34 theatres, and below the $9200 average Frances Ha had when it was at 60.)  THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (Sony Classics) widened to 69 with a $2600 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  No relief from the Hollywood blahs, as NO ESCAPE (Weinstein) opens on Wednesday, and the Zac Efron vehicle WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS (Warners) arrives on Friday.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."