January 14, 2017

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: MLK Weekend Goes Splat For “Patriots Day,” “Live By Night,” “Monster Trucks” and More


Half a dozen films entered wide release over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, and none of them is likely to chart higher than 5th place, most ranging from major disappointments to outright disasters.

The most unpleasant surprise may be PATRIOTS DAY (CBS/Lionsgate), a piece of populist history with Mark Wahlberg in the lead that received fair reviews and had performed well in limited release.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, it managed a dull $4.2M on Friday, and might reach $12M by Sunday and $14M with Monday added.  That Friday result is far worse than the $7.1M earned by Wahlberg and director Peter Berg’s flop Deepwater Horizon last fall, and although Patriots Day cost less to produce (reportedly around $40M, although that becomes $100M+ with marketing), it’s also likely to have little appeal overseas (Deepwater made almost half its $118.7M worldwide total outside the US), and suggests Wahlberg and Berg could use a vacation from each other.  (Wahlberg’s next release is the latest Transformers epic, so he has little to worry about in the short term.)

Remarkably, the low-budget horror quickie THE BYE BYE MAN (STX) is right on Patriots Day‘s heels.  It actually outgrossed Patriots Day on Friday with $5M, and should end up in roughly the same place with a $12M/$14M weekend on far lower costs.  Those aren’t big numbers even within the genre, but they look good compared to the rest of the weekend’s arrivals.

The least surprising result of the weekend belongs to MONSTER TRUCKS (Paramount), which the studio wrote off to the tune of $115M months ago.  The accountants knew what they were doing:  Monster had a terrible $2.5M Friday, and even with a family audience it won’t get beyond $10M/$13M for the weekend, deepening the hole the studio finds itself in.  Paramount, like Mark Wahlberg, is counting the days until the next Transformers opens.

The central mystery of SLEEPLESS (Open Road) is what in the name of all that’s Oscar winning Jamie Foxx is doing in it.  Even at his best, he’s not a star who opens movies in a big way (his high water mark is the $30.1M opening for Django Unchained, where he shared the spotlight with Leonardo DiCaprio and Quentin Tarantino), and Sleepless is the opposite end of his best.  It earned $2.8M on Friday and is looking at a $8M/$9M weekend and a fast exit.

Ben Affleck’s post-Argo career has been a series of question marks (donning a superhero suit?  playing an autistic action hero?), and that goes triple for LIVE BY NIGHT (RatPac/Warners), a gangster period piece that performed badly in limited release and is tanking even worse now.  It had a $2.1M Friday and will struggle to a $6M/$7M weekend, on costs that with the standard high-powered Warners marketing campaign will reach $150M+, leading to a flood of red ink.

There’s a reason why it took Martin Scorsese decades to find financing for his $40M passion project SILENCE (Paramount):  the 160-minute epic about tortured missionaries and crises of faith in medieval Japan was always a huge financial risk.  That risk won’t pay off, as Silence expanded to 747 theatres with $700K on Friday, and may have $2.5M by Monday.  This was a film that required unanimous critical acclaim and major awards to have a chance, and neither of those things have happened.

With all those new flops, the box office was led by a quartet of holdovers.  HIDDEN FIGURES (20th) is at the top, although its $6M Friday ($20M/$24M for the weekend) isn’t quite as strong as it looks because it increased its theatre count by about 1/3 from last week’s total.  Still, the film is headed for $100M at the US box office, and it’s a feel-good story for everyone involved, still with the possibility of a dark-horse awards win.

SING (Illumination/Universal) is starting to tail off, but managed $2.9M on Friday, and should have a $13M/$18M weekend that puts it on track for a total $260M at the US box office, about the same level as The LEGO Movie.

LA LA LAND (Summit/Lionsgate) boosted its theatre count by about 20% (including 100 IMAX theatres) to take advantage of its Golden Globe wins, and its Friday was actually up 25% from last week to $4M, with a $14M/$17M weekend ahead.  It now looks like a cinch to hit $100M+ in the US, and still has more than a month to run before the Oscars.

ROGUE ONE (Lucasfilm/Disney) should top $500M in the US by Monday, after $3.3M on Friday and a $13M/$17M weekend.  As we noted last week, it now seems likely to land at $525-530M in the US, not quite enough to unseat The Dark Knight from #6 on the all-time list.  It’s still struggling to hit a 50/50 split between its US and international gross, and we’ll see where that stands on Sunday.

Last weekend’s opening UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS (Screen Gems/Sony) plunged 65% from last Friday to $1.7M, and will have a $6M/$7M weekend, with a $35-40M destiny at the US box office that will put all the pressure on its international success or lack thereof.

MOONLIGHT (A24) inched back into wide release with an expansion to 582 theatres that should give it an additional $1M by Monday, putting it around $15M, still clearly the indie-est of the heavily indie Oscar frontrunners.

In addition, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN (A24) expanded to 29 theatres and continued to do OK, with a 3-day weekend per-theatre average that should graze $10K.

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."