August 30, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 8/30/15


OPENINGS:  Every time a Christian movie sells some tickets, the pundits treat it as though they’ve seen… well, a miracle.  But at this point there have been plenty of these “miracles,” and people should just accept that the films fill a sizable niche.  (And that because of their narrow-yet-intense audience, they’re nearly always underestimated in pre-release tracking.)  The $11M opening for WAR ROOM (Affirm/TriStar/Sony) is firmly in the territory of the $9.1M opening for Courageous in 2011 and last year’s $9.2M for God’s Not Dead, especially since War Room had the added advantage of opening in the most moribund part of the studio calendar.  (Courageous opened against the moderate but still viable competition of 50/50, What’s Your Number and Dream House, and God’s Not Dead had to open against Divergent and Muppets Most Wanted.)  With its tiny costs, War Room is going to make plenty of profit, but it’s not close to the $22.5M opening of Heaven Is For Real or the $25.6M start of Son of God.

NO ESCAPE (Bold/Weinstein) played out as expected, adding a $8.3M weekend to its Wed-Thurs numbers for a $10.3M 5-day start.  That’s slightly better than the $9.6M 5-day opening for last year’s The November Man, which reached $25M, about as high as this small Weinstein Company acquisition is likely to get.

The hideous $1.8M opening for WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS (Alcon/Warners) can take some solace from being historic:  in cinema history, no major studio release in over 2000 theatres has ever been as low.  Anyone with an EDM movie in development should probably move on to something else.

Only its studio knows why THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (Sony Classics) expanded to 795 theatres, with the marketing costs that entailed, even though it was already underperforming in limited release.  But Sony spent the money, and the results couldn’t have been worse:  a $535 per-theatre average that made We Are Your Friends‘ $772 look positively healthy.  The moral is an old one:  Sundance praise means nothing at the box office.

HOLDOVERS:  The weekend was won by the 3rd stanza of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Legendary/Universal), but considering the nonexistent competition, a 50% drop to $13.2M isn’t all that impressive.  That’s not to quibble, however, with the huge profit Compton is going to earn with $134.1M in the US so far, and still some gas in its tank.  In addition, Compton has slowly begun its overseas run, with $6.5M in a few territories.

The rest of this weekend’s holdovers came in two varieties:  last week’s openings, which fell steeply, and longer runs, which held extremely well.  The first category included SINISTER 2 (Blumhouse/Gramercy/Focus/Universal), down 56% to $4.7M; HITMAN: AGENT 47 (20th), down 54% to $3.9M (plus $13.1M in 60 overseas markets for a paltry $25M international total); and AMERICAN ULTRA (Lionsgate), down 49% to $2.8M.  Sinister 2 will peter out before it gets to $30M, and that’ll still make it a smash compared to the other two.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (Skydance/China Film Channel/Alibaba/Paramount) continues to reap the benefit of being the only viable action movie around, down just 28% to $8.3M, which puts it at $170.4M in the US, and (after a $15.3M weekend) $309M overseas, with China still to come.  THE MAN FROM UNCLE (Rat Pac/Warners) slipped by 40% in the US to $4.4M, and also earned $5.6M in 46 overseas markets–but that only puts it at $70.7M worldwide, still drowning in red ink.  THE GIFT (STX), ANT-MAN (Marvel/Disney) and MINIONS (Illumination/Universal) declined by 27% (to $3.1M), 25% (to $3.1M), and 24% (to $2.9M).  Minions is now over the $1B mark worldwide, and its $694.1M international total (after a $14.9M weekend) makes it the #3 animated film in history outside the US.  Ant-Man is at a more modest $200M overseas ($1.5M for this weekend), and its worldwide $369M–with China and Japan pending–will put it ahead of the first Captain America by next week.

A few more international notes:  TERMINATOR: GENISYS was the highest-grossing title outside the US with a $23.6M weekend that was almost entirely from China, but even there the movie is hugely frontloaded, considered that it made $27M from its opening day alone last week.  At $409.5M worldwide, it should nose into profit despite its huge costs, but it’s not clear whether that’s enough to justify another sequel.  INSIDE OUT (Pixar/Disney) has hit $715.6M worldwide (after a $10.9M weekend), with China and Germany yet to open.  And PIXELS (Columbia/Sony) has incredibly become Adam Sandler’s most popular movie outside the US, with $114.8M (after a $5.2M weekend) compared to its skimpy $71M US result.  That still may not be enough for a profit on the expensive comedy, but it’s saved Sandler and Sony from a mega-flop.

LIMITED RELEASE:  GRANDMA (Sony Classics) widened well, with a $16K average at 19 theatres.  LEARNING TO DRIVE (Broad Green) had an OK expansion, averaging $8K at 15.  PHOENIX (IFC) averaged $2500 after going to 142 theatres.  THE SECOND MOTHER (Oscilloscope) started with a $9K average at 3.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Things don’t get any better over the traditionally ice-cold Labor Day weekend.  The elderly audience will be served by A WALK IN THE WOODS (Broad Green), which arrives on Wednesday, and THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED (RED) is the sole Friday arrival.


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."