September 18, 2016

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 9/18/16


OPENINGS:  None of the studio releasing new films this weekend had much to be happy about.  BLAIR WITCH (Lionsgate) was the top of the newcomers in the US, but with a $9.7M start, it’s low-end even by the standards of cheap horror movies, and while its $5M production budget isn’t a problem, its $40-50M worldwide marketing costs definitely are.  Things were no better overseas, where Blair earned a scant $4.9M in 27 territories.

BRIDGET JONES’S BABY (Universal), another resurrected franchise, managed just $8.2M in the US, a dismal number that wasn’t even as high as the $8.6M for the flop Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason in 2004, which killed the franchise in the first place.  Edge of Reason made it to $40.2M in the US, but the business was less front-loaded 12 years ago, and Baby will probably end up at $25-30M.  At first glance, things were happier overseas, with a $29.9M weekend, and indeed, if Baby has any chance of finding profit, it will be internationally.  But that $29.9M covered 29 markets, almost 2/3 of the territories where the film plans to open, and was dominated by the $11.3M UK opening, a number that still leaves it a very long way from the $60.3M/$68.2M earned there by the other two movies, let alone the $200M+ each of the other Bridget movies earned in total outside the US.  Still, it Baby can leg its way to $150M worldwide, it might make its way out of red ink.

Even Big Brother didn’t buy a ticket to SNOWDEN (Open Road), the most expensive of the weekend’s openings ($50M production cost) and lowest-grossing at $8M–and even that number is optimistic, since it assumes an extremely strong Sunday.  Oliver Stone’s biography hasn’t opened overseas yet, but international appeal seems dubious with little on-screen action and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead, making the overall prospects dim.

The quasi-wide release of the Christian rock-doc HILLSONG: LET HOPE RISE (Pure Flix), which at one time was supposed to be released by Warners, attracted only the truest of believers with $1.3M in 816 theatres.  Despite opening in far fewer theatres than the weekend’s other arrivals, it had the lowest per-theatre average of the quartet.

HOLDOVERS:  As is usually the case when a weekend’s openings are weak, the holdovers (with one notable exception) thrived.  SULLY (Village Roadshow/RatPac/Warners) won its 2d weekend in a row, down 37% to $22M.  That number, however, isn’t quite as good as it looks.  Captain Phillips, which faced much more competition from Gravity, declined just 36% in its 2d weekend, while Bridge of Spies dipped 26% and Argo was down 16%.  Sully will probably end up around $140M in the US, and opened so early in Oscar season that it may not be strongly remembered by the end of the year.  The film’s overseas appeal is weak:  it’s now in 44 markets, and has a total of $23.4M after a $7M weekend.  The moderately-priced film will be profitable, but not a smash.

The horror sleeper DON’T BREATHE (Screen Gems/Sony) is at $75.3M in the US after a 32% slide to $5.6M, and it’s also earned $31.7M overseas, after a $7.2M weekend in 32 markets.

Things were not as good for stablemate WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS (Screen Gems/Sony), down an ugly 61% to $5.5M, for a $22.7M US total.

SUICIDE SQUAD (RatPac/DC/Warners), the only action spectacle in the market, eased off by just 18% in its 7th weekend to $4.7M and a $313.8M US total.  That number is surprisingly close to the $330.4M US total for Batman vs Superman, considering that Suicide opened $33M behind.  (Suicide wasn’t given a China opening, so its overseas $405.1M after a $5.8M weekend is farther behind BvS‘s $542.9M.)

A trio of family movies were closely packed, although with differing totals.  THE WILD LIFE (Lionsgate) was down 21% from last week’s premiere, but at $2.7M for the weekend and a $6.7M US total, it’s still in oblivion.  KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (Laika/Focus/Universal) declined 24% to $2.5M, for a middling $44.2M US total that may or may not reach the $50.8M of Laika’s The Boxtrolls.  In early overseas release, it’s at $10.4M. PETE’S DRAGON (Disney) was down 34% to $2M and has a US total of $72.8M, plus $40.2M overseas after a $5.2M weekend.

HELL OR HIGH WATER (CBS/Lionsgate) continues to hold well, down 22% to $1.9M for a $22.7M US total, as it pushes toward $30M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Ron Howard’s documentary THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK (Abramaroma), which is also available on Hulu, nevertheless averaged a fair $7200 at 85 theatres.  Eddie Murphy’s dramatic vehicle MR. CHURCH (Freestyle), however, bombed with a $1200 average at 354.  THE HOLLARS (Sony Classics) widened to 97 theatres with a low $1200 average.  WHITE GIRL (FilmRise) doubled to 16 theatres with a $1700 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (Village Roadshow/MGM/Columbia/Sony) got no discernible buzz off of its Toronto Film Festival premiere, but will have no competition from the weekend’s other wide opening, the animated STORKS (Warners).  Limited release is led by another Toronto title, QUEEN OF KATWE (Disney), as well as 2015 Toronto entry THE DRESSMAKER (Amazon/Broad Green). 

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."