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Weekend B.O. Aug 14-16 (‘Straight Outta Compton’ Is One for the History Books)

Weekend B.O. Aug 14-16 ('Straight Outta Compton' Is One for the History Books)

What did I tell you? But did anyone believe me? Maybe one or two did, but some of you thought I had lost my cotton-picking mind. 

I’m referring to my prediction two weeks ago when I said that F. Gary Gray’s “the-making-of-NWA” movie “Straight Outta Compton” would gross $40 million in its opening weekend.

Judging from the comments I got, there were those who thought that amount was highly doubtful, and that the film would gross half that much, if it all. You just didn’t see what interest there would be for the film. Well, I saw it, and it was HUGE. People were even texting and posting pictures on their Facebook pages of the tickets for the movie that they bought in advance. How often does that happen for any film?

Well, it seems that I underestimated what the film would do,as it turns out that “Compton” grossed an astounding $56 million this weekend. Furthermore, not only will it go past the $100 million domestic gross I predicted, but with that huge opening, even bigger than “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” that means “Compton” has achieved something that has never been done before. 

That $56 million makes it the biggest opening ever for any film with a black cast and a black director, and it’s set to become the biggest grossing black cast/black director film as well. It’s the perfect triangulation of the right film at the right time for the right audience. 

And depending on the following week’s percentage drop, the film looks headed for possibly $140-150 million, easily topping Gray’s previous biggest hit, his 2003 remake of “The Italian Job,” which grossed $106 million, and was a crossover mainstream movie.

As I predicted, “Compton” is a film that would have broad appeal for audiences – young and middle aged men and women (except for feminists who are boycotting the film), those who think it’s cutting edge, along with those who look it as a nostalgia trip. It plays very well for people who grew up and became immersed in West Coast gangsta rap, and people like me who can’t tell NWA from the NRA, but like the film simply because it tells a dramatic and compelling story very well. And there’s no real major competition against it that could attract the same audience – at least, not for the next four weeks. It’s all by itself

The film also benefited greatly by solid marketing by Universal Pictures. Sometimes (actually more like a lot of times) studios blow the marketing for black films, like Open Road did this summer with “Dope.” But other times they get it right, and in “Compton’s” case, Universal’s marketing was near brilliant – as good as Paramount’s world wide marketing strategy for “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.”

Universal cleverly used both traditional and social media networking to get people hyped up for the film. For example, I’m sure that anyone who regularly uses Facebook has noticed all the “Straight Outta…” image postings all over. Everything on FB was “Straight Outta… [wherever each person was from]”.

You think that was just a coincidence? Believe me, that was all part of Universal’s marketing strategy – in effect getting you to promote the film for them, while you’re thinking that you’re so hip and “with it.” And they didn’t even have to pay you for doing it. You guys work real cheap.

Of course the question is, what will this mean for black films in general? Not much, I’m guessing. If you think that Hollywood is all of a sudden going to start greenlighting a whole  bunch of black films – well I hate to tell you this – but you’re dreaming. “Compton” will be seen as an anomaly, one of the fluke things that happens every once in a while, which no one can explain. It will be business as usual.

On the other end of the spectrum, the other big release this weekend, Warner’s “The Man from UNCLE,” looks headed to be the last major b.o. bomb of the summer, joining, among other films, “Fantastic Four,” “Pixels” and “Tomorrowland.”

When I was a mere tot, “Man from UNCLE” was simply the coolest TV show on the air, with one of the coolest TV music themes ever (Listen HERE). The idea of turning it into a feature film for an audience that, for one thing, has never heard of the show, which was popular decades before they were born (and with two of the blandest, most charisma-challenged, most white bread actors imaginable, Arnie Hammer and Henry Cavill), was brain dead from the beginning.

It is true that, at one time, both Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino tried to develop their own “UNCLE” features, and one can easily imagine them doing something really special with it – especially Tarantino, who originally planned to make an “UNCLE” film after “Pulp Fiction,” but made “Jackie Brown” instead. And Soderbergh dropped his “UNCLE” project after falling out with Warners over the budget. But instead of either of them, we get Madonna’s ex-husband, Guy Richie. It was doomed to fail from the beginning.

And not surprisingly, it tanked this weekend, grossing only $13.5 million, meaning that it will be gone by next week in most theaters. As for that other huge bomb, “Fantastic Four,” it dropped a whopping 68% from last week, meaning that it’ll be gone too, leaving Fox to wonder what to do with the property; although, believe or not, there were reports earlier this week that the studio was considering yet another reboot of the film. Give it up already!
Meanwhile, “Rogue Nation” is still holding up in second place, with over $400 million worldwide to date. And the late summer surprise b.o. sleeper, “The Gift,” is doing for well, with almost $24 million, against it’s very modest $5 production budget.

1) Straight Outta Compton  Uni.  $56,100,000 
2) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation  Par.  $17,300,000  Total: $138,437,000 
3) The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  WB  $13,535,000 
4) Fantastic Four  Fox  $8,000,000  Total $41,961,000 
5) The Gift  STX  $6,500,000  Total $23,577,000 
6) Ant-Man  BV  $5,517,000  Total $157,568,000 
7) Vacation  WB (NL)  $5,330,000  Total $46,852,000 
8) Minions  Uni.  $5,200,000  Total $312,969,000 
9) Ricki and the Flash  TriS  $4,570,000  Total $14,656,000 
10) Trainwreck  Uni.  $3,800,000  Total $97,919,000 
11) Pixels  Sony  $3,415,000  Total  $64,533,000 
12) Shaun the Sheep Movie  LGF  $2,850,000  Total $11,117,000 

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