August 29, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “War Room” Attacks, “We Are Your Friends” Has None


On one of the slowest weekends of the year, it took some holy help to raise the box office from the dead.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, WAR ROOM (Affirm/TriStar/Sony) is edging into Friday’s top slot with $3.8M.  Christian films, when they hit, tend to hold well over the course of the weekend with particular strength, not surprisingly, on Sundays, so this could mean an $11M weekend for War Room, which probably won’t be quite enough to keep it in 1st place–but it could be close.  War Room is also in just 1135 theatres, which gives it plenty of room to expand over the next few sleepy weekends.  While the film is unlikely to reach the heavenly heights of Heaven Is For Real ($91.4M) or God’s Not Dead ($60.8M), it could well match the $35M level of Fireproof and Courageous, both of which came from War Room‘s creative team.  On a $5M production budget and with relatively tiny marketing costs, that could prove very profitable.  (Christian movies, by the way, much like films aimed at African-American, female and family audiences, are often under-projected in pre-release predictions, because the polling metrics are much better at reflecting films with wide, multi-quadrant appeal than those with a narrower but extremely intense audience.)

War Room will duke it out with the far more secular STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Legendary/Universal) for the day and weekend trophies.  At the moment, Compton is estimated at a sliver behind War Room with $3.7M on Friday, but should get to around $12M for the weekend.  It’s continuing to drop fairly heavily, considering the insignificant competition, but is still a huge hit that should reach $150-160M in the US before it’s done.

NO ESCAPE (Bold/Weinstein) is drifting about as expected, with a $2.3M Friday that should mean $8M for the weekend and $10M since its Wednesday opening.  Escape was a $5M acquisition for Weinstein, which didn’t put much marketing muscle behind it, so it’s on the road to being an OK piece of business for the studio.

The weekend’s true disaster is WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS (Alcon/Warners), which earned a horrifying $700K on Friday and probably won’t get to $2M for the weekend.  Warners, seeing trouble ahead, seems to have been putting some of its marketing commitments into early ads for Black Mass (which doesn’t open until September 18), taking some of the costs off Friends‘ books, but this is still going to lose real money despite its moderate budget.  It’s a lousy end to Warners’ meager summer, and Zac Efron is lucky he has Neighbors 2 coming up next year.

Last week’s openings found no footing.  SINISTER 2 (Blumhouse/Gramercy/Focus/Universal) was frontloaded as cheapie horror usually is, plunging 73% from last Friday to $1.2M, and with a $3.5M weekend in sight and little chance of passing $25M at the US box office.  The results were similar for the more expensive HITMAN: AGENT 47 (20th), down 65% from last Friday to $1.1M, on its way to a $3.5M weekend and a $25M total.  AMERICAN ULTRA (Lionsgate) started out lower and stayed that way, down 66% to $700K on Friday and a weekend around $2M, probably flopping at $15M in the US.

Among longer holdovers, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (Skydance/China Film Channel/Alibaba/Paramount) should only be down around 35% for the weekend to $7.5M after a $2.1M Friday, which will put it in sight of $185M in the US.  THE MAN FROM UNCLE (Rat Pac/Warners) declined 43% from last Friday to $1.2M, and should have a $4M weekend, still not likely to get much past $40M in the US.  THE GIFT (STX), ANT-MAN (Marvel/Disney) and a newly re-expanded JURASSIC WORLD (Legendary/Universal) with a return to IMAX screens, should all have $2.5-3M weekends.

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."