It was the lowest grossing weekend at the box office so far in 2015, but Universal still had a reason to celebrate. For the third straight week, their breakout hip hop biopic “Straight Outta Compton” topped the box office with $13.2 million. This marks the third movie this year for Universal that has spent three straight weeks in the number one spot: the others were “Furious 7” and “Jurassic World.” While ‘Compton’ is unlikely to cross the billion dollar barrier like those films, with $134 million domestic and counting, the movie is going to make a nice healthy profit and then some.This weekend however, the foul-mouthed, R-rated ‘Compton’ had some competition from a family-friendly, God-fearing drama.
The early tracking suggested “War Room” might surprise, and indeed it did. The faith-based film, playing on two thousand fewer screens than ‘Compton,’ managed a very impressive $11 million. The latest from Alex Kendrick, who previously helmed church-approved pics like “Courageous” and “Fireproof,” managed an A+ CinemaScore, and 65% of its audiences were women. And while pundits will undoubtedly scratch their heads and pen missives this week about the “niche” of faith-based audiences, it’s arguable that it’s fully mainstream. “War Room” is actually distributed by Sony arm Affirm Films, who will next drop the resurrection story “Risen” in theaters in January. Clearly, not only do they know an audience is out there, they are choosing prime weekends that are considered “dead” at the box office, to bring out moviegoers searing for these kinds of movies. It’s smart stuff and given “War Room” was made on a dime (okay, $3 million) it’s the kind of profitable programmer studios dream of.
Meanwhile, both “We Are Your Friends” and “No Escape” represented major studios releasing movies people had zero interest in. The former, Warner Bros.‘ Zac Efron-starring movie about an ambitious DJ trying to rise in the electronic music scene not only missed its teenage demographic, but pretty much everybody else, opening to an abysmal $1.8 million — so low it didn’t even make the top ten. It’s the worst wide release, two-thousand plus screen opening for Warner Bros. since “Major League: Back To The Minors” took in $2 million in 1998. That said, WB didn’t finance this pic, just distributed it, so it won’t hurt the bottom line too much. As for Efron, good thing he has that “Neighbors” sequel next summer.
As for The Weinstein Company, their attempt to turn Owen Wilson into an action hero with “No Escape” failed. They paid $5 million for the distribution rights for the movie which will be battling for third place with “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” with about $8.3 million. Now add in marketing costs for “No Escape” and the studio will likely be taking a small bath on the picture.
Taking a bigger bath is 20th Century Fox who are seeing their flop “Fantastic Four” drop out of the top ten this weekend, and likely ending its domestic run under $60 million. Ouch. With the movie even failing to crack $100 million internationally, one has to wonder how long it will be until Fox decides on an executive shake up, particularly after a month that also saw “Hitman: Agent 47” tank pretty hard as well.
At the arthouse, everyone wanted to hang with “Grandma,” as the Lily Tomlin starring movie earned a great per-screen average of $16,423 marking a very healthy expansion. Elsewhere, debuts like “Queen Of Earth” and “Z For Zachariah” were mostly quiet, and probably will rely on VOD numbers to pad things out. Full top ten below.
1. “Straight Outta Compton” — $13.2 million ($134.1 mil)
2. “War Room” — $11 million
3. “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” — $8.3 million ($170.4 mil)
4. “No Escape” — $8.29 million
5. “Sinister 2” — $4.65 million ($18.5 mil.)
6. “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” — $4.4 million ($34.1 mil.)
7. “Hitman: Agent 47” — $3.85 million ($15.3 mil.)
8. “The Gift” — $3.13 million ($35.96 mil.)
9. “Jurassic World” — $3.12 million ($643.1 mil.)
10. “Ant-Man” — $3.05 million ($169.2 mil.)