The good news: the Top Ten grosses dropped a bit over one third from the same weekend last year with a total of $97 million. That’s compared to last weekend, which was down more than half.
The bad news: despite a profitable showing for producer James Wan’s horror prequel “Annabelle: Creation” (Warner Bros.), August could wind up with the worst ticket sales in decades. Year-to-date grosses, which have been keeping pace with 2016 most of the year, are now over four per cent lower. The summer results will be much further down from last year, with the month likely to be off something like 40 per cent.
While this could be an aberration with an autumn rebound just ahead, it comes in the face of disconcerting news that “Wolf Warrior 2,” a Chinese-made period sequel, has grossed $681 million on its home turf. China has produced its own hits before, but lately has struggled with home product. If local audiences are increasingly happy with their own movies, it cuts into a huge market that has nourished Hollywood pictures (only a handful make the cut and not all thrive, despite the efforts studios make to cater to that audience). Hollywood’s focus on the foreign market has contributed to its own domestic decline.
“Annabelle: Creation” stands high among recent similar horror films, though historically not close to any records. Last summer’s “The Conjuring 2,” opening in June, managed a $41 million opening (against more competition from two other openers that topped $20 million). The first “Annabelle” did better in 2014, but as a followup “Creation” is credible and a clear positive on a weekend without much to cheer.
The two other openers were mediocre or worse. Open Road’s animated “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” in third place opened to less than half the initial go-round in January 2014. But it soared against family drama “The Glass Castle” (Lionsgate), the memoir adaptation starring Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson that crashed and burned with under $5 million in ninth place — around the same as “The Light Between Oceans.” But Disney released that during the Labor Day weekend dead zone.
Positive news: “Dunkirk” is holding strong at #2, with only a 33 per cent drop. At $153 million so far, it increasingly looks like its domestic haul will approach $200 million.
The only other holdover in the Top Ten, which is also gaining due to lesser competition, is “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which dropped only 31 per cent to get to a surprising $306 million. That makes it the third (and final) summer 2017 release to top $300 million domestic. That’s down from four the previous two years along with a decrease in movies topping $400 million.
The only summer 2017 film to pass that magic $400-million mark: “Wonder Woman.” (“Beauty and the Beast” is at $504 million.)
Falling off the Top Ten its second wide weekend, Kathryn Bigelow’s disappointing “Detroit” (Annapurna) fell 58 per cent to only $3 million and will fall short of $20 million.
The Top Ten
1. Annabelle: Creation (Warner Bros.) – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 62; Est. budget: $15 million
$35,040,000 in 3,502 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $10,006; Cumulative: $35,040,000
2. Dunkirk (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #2
$11,405,000 (-33%) in 3,762 theaters (+252); PTA: $3,032; Cumulative: $153,713,000
3. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (Open Road) – Cinemascore:; Metacritic: 38; Est. budget: $40 million
$8,935,000 in 4,003 theaters; PTA: $2,232; Cumulative: $8,934,000
4. The Dark Tower (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$7,875,000 (-59%) in 3,451 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,282; Cumulative: $34,306,000
5. The Emoji Movie (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #3
$6,605,000 (-45%) in 3,219 theaters (-856); PTA: $2,052; Cumulative: $63,592,000
6. Girls Trip (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #4
$6,521,000 (-43%) in 2,303 theaters (-279); PTA: $2,831; Cumulative: $97,194,000
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony) Week 6; Last weekend #6
$6,100,000 (-31%) in 2,607 theaters (-509); PTA: $2,340; Cumulative: $306,454,000
8. Kidnap (Aviron) Week 2; Last weekend #5
$5,225,000 (-48%) in 2,418 theaters (+40); PTA: $2,161; Cumulative: $19,394,000
9. The Glass Castle (Lionsgate) – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 56; Est. budget: $(unknown)
$4,875,000 in 3,502 theaters; PTA: $3,337; Cumulative: $4,8765,000
10. Atomic Blonde (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #7
$4,572,000 (-44%) in 2,093 theaters (-1,233); PTA: $2,185; Cumulative: $42,820,000