As you may have noticed, the fall film festival season has rendered our box-office report a little dormant, plus the Labor Day weekend and the first two weeks of September are usually unremarkable. However, this year that wasn’t quite the case. Low budget Christian drama “War Room,” made for a paltry $3 million, has grossed nearly $50 million in the U.S. thus far, a huge success that only serves to underscore that the underserved Christian audience will come out in droves if a movie is made “for them.”
Speaking of underserved audiences, African American viewers also came out in full force for the relationship thriller, “The Perfect Guy,” taking the number one spot last week with $25.8 million. M. Night Shyamalan also had a minor comeback with his found footage horror “The Visit,” which grossed $25.4 million in its opening bow a couple weeks back. It was the same range as the opening of “After Earth” and “The Sixth Sense,” the difference is this one only cost $5 million.
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On to this week, with finally some big, noteworthy releases in contention. Johnny Depp might be on the comeback trail and receiving the best reviews of his career in some time for the gangster drama “Black Mass,” but the Warner Bros. film was no match for come-from-behind Y.A. sci-fi/adventure series, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.” No one expected much from the original ‘Maze Runner” in 2014 — stars like Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster are nowhere near household names — but the movie clicked with the teen Y.A. audience and went on to gross $340 million worldwide, $60 million more than the gross of “Divergent,” the first film in the series that we were led to believe would be the heir apparent to “The Hunger Games.” So ‘The Maze Runner’ has suddenly found itself in the position of being the second biggest Y.A. franchise in the world after “The Hunger Games.” And in week one, sequel ‘Scorch Trials’ didn’t disappoint earning $108 million worldwide in its opening bow. Interestingly enough, as successful as the opening was in North America, the domestic figures were down -6.7% from the original film. However, if international audiences turn up the way they did last time, and they probably will, we could see the film nearing $400 million globally when its run is complete.
As for “Black Mass,” the drama opened up in the second place with a healthy $23.3 million, which is about the highest number you’ll see for a traditional, wide-release drama (unless you’re “Straight Outta Compton” and can position yourself as “The Avengers” of hip-hop and turn your release into an event). Made for $53 million, it’s going to have to stay in theaters all fall and winter if it wants to be seen as a financial success. And surely award season plaudits, if they come, will only help.
M. Night Shyamalan‘s “The Visit” fell 55% in week two for third place, but that’s still a better figure than your average throwaway horror which usually plummets at least 60% in its second week. “The Perfect Guy” dropped nearly 63% in its second week which feels much more standard.
In a limited IMAX release of only 545 screens, the star-studded “Everest” (starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley, and more) still managed to crack the top five and grossed $7.5 million in its opening weekend release. Right behind it was “War Room” posting one of the strongest holds of the year: in its fourth week of release the movie only fell -19.6%. It’s audience is currently going nowhere and the TriStar movie added almost another 300 screens to boot.
One of the most interesting indie success stories of the year has to be Broad Green Pictures‘ “A Walk In The Woods” with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. Poorly received at Sundance and poorly reviewed by critics in its week of release, it seemed unadvisable to open the movie on 1,960 screens. But with little in terms of new competition at the box-office, the movie cracked the top 5 with an incredible $8.2 million. Cut to three weeks of release, the movie is still only dropping week to week by about -42.% and its grossed a total of $24.7 domestically. Like “Grandma” (a movie we’ll get to in a second), it’s a reminder not to underestimate the plus forty five and older crowd.
It’s easy to forget, given how soft some of his films open — at least compared to other big blockbusters — but all pundits and armchair movie critics should remember that Tom Cruise always has legs and distance at the box-office. Much was made about the fact that “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” couldn’t match the opening weekend numbers of of Marvel‘s “Ant-Man” ($54 million to $57 million). But the long game is really where it matters. ‘Rogue Nation’ is closing in on the $200 million mark domestically and “Ant-Man” has pretty much ended its run around $177 million at home. And its important to never discount the international audience when it comes to Tom Cruise. The film has surpassed $120 million in China alone with the international haul for ‘Rogue Nation’ nearing $500 million (right now it’s the sixth highest grossing film of 2015 globally). That makes for a worldwide total of $654 million and climbing. At this point it should easily be able to reach $700 million, and only eight weeks into release (these kinds of blockbusters can do up to eighteen weeks or more) that would best the benchmark franchise high of ‘Ghost Protocol‘ at $694 million.
In its sixth week of release, “Straight Outta Compton” is still in the top 10 and closing in on $200 million worldwide. Sony Pictures Classics‘ “Grandma” isn’t as much as a runaway success as “A Walk In The Woods,” but for a slow, platforming release, $3.7 million domestically so far is not bad. The movie is finally opening wider too; this weekend it added 931 theaters to its 1,000+ total, cracked the top 10 and added $1.5 million to its total.
The other box-office narrative studios would do well to remember is that just because one genre of film is a hit doesn’t mean all films of that genre will be a hit. Paramount learned that the hard way with “Captive,” a faith-based thriller released on 900 screens, but couldn’t crack the top 10. In eleventh place, the new release could only gross $1.4 million and you really have to thank the expansion of “Grandma” for knocking it out of the top ten. The irony is, here’s the rare faith-based film with actually known and respected actors (David Oyelowo and Kate Mara), but it’s the one that its perceived audience didn’t come out for.
In limited release, Lionsgate, Denis Villeneuve and Emily Blunt had a fantastic weekend as “Sicario,” released on just six screens and grossing $390,000, scored the highest per screen average of 2015 so far with $65,000. That bodes well for its wide expansion next week. “Sicario” must have sucked up all the art house audiences as “Pawn Sacrifice” couldn’t even post a $7,000 PSA, earning only $206K from 33 screens. Cohen Media‘s “The New Girlfriend” had it even worse, only scoring a super low $3,158 PSA.
In box-office milestones, “Ant-Man” has crossed the $400 million mark worldwide and that sounds great, but its the third lowest grossing Marvel film both domestically and internationally. The good news is it hasn’t yet opened in China, so if it does connect there next month, the film could really take off and do some box-office damage. Perhaps the biggest milestone of note: Universal Studios crossed the $4 billion mark worldwide thanks to the collective success of “Jurassic World,” “Minions” and “Furious 7” (all three films have grossed more than $1 billion each). And while you were not really paying attention, Disney/Pixar‘s “Inside Out” has now grossed $767 million worldwide making for the second highest grossing Pixar film of all time domestically and third highest worldwide. It’s also now the fifth highest grossing film of 2015.
Isn’t it ironic that “Terminator: Genisys,” once one of the most maligned movies of the year has now become the tenth highest grossing movie of the year worldwide? ‘Genisys’ currently sits at $440.2 million and is the second highest grossing film in the franchise worldwide. Yep, you’re getting another sequel even if it won’t crack $100 million at home. “Fantastic Four” hasn’t been able to reverse its narrative in the same way that ‘Genisys’ did (it’s completely dead, stalled at $55 million in the U.S.), but at least worldwide it’s crawled up to $164 million. It will still be a big write-off for 20th Century Fox, but the studio has invested enough already, it’s probably not worth it for them to start over.
1. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials —$30,300,000
2. Black Mass — $23,360,000
3. The Visit — $11,350,000 ($42,348,320)
4 The Perfect Guy — $9,640,000 ($41,350,472)
5. Everest — $7,560,000
6. War Room — $6,250,000 ($49,088,662)
7. A Walk in the Woods — $2,732,730 ($24,792,245)
8. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation — $2,250,000 ($191,732,210)
9. Straight Outta Compton — $1,970,000 ($158,921,260)
10. Grandma — $1,595,820 ($3,789,539)