With a $24 million opening, “The Predator” easily took the top spot this weekend after “The Nun” proved to be no contest with a 66 percent fall. An unusual total of four new wide releases made the Top 10, with the female-oriented “A Simple Favor” doing a decent $16 million, while “White Boy Rick” (Sony) managed only a little more than half that. Faith-based sequel “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” managed about $2.3 million. Last year saw a 10 percent higher overall box office, led by the $60 million second weekend of “It.” However, the other films that weekend were much weaker, making this weekend one case where lower results look more positive overall.
All that said, “The Predator” — which cost $88 million before marketing and received a very weak C+ Cinemascore — isn’t impressive. The sixth in the overall series, among the series in adjusted grosses it ranks fourth best, about $5.5 million less than the most recent, “Predators,” in 2010.
The lack of distinctiveness in these titles might contribute to a sense of staleness in the project, which director Shane Black meant to be a bit more humorous than its predecessors. It also saw an unusual marketing ploy with its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, in the Midnight Madness section. September studio releases premiering there aren’t uncommon, but they are usually higher-profile Gala presentations like “Magnificent Seven” or “The Town.”
“The Nun” was also the sixth entry in a series, but cost one quarter of “The Predator” and opened to double the initial result. This suggests how important it is to draw a nearly equal female audience these days (“Predator” skewed 64-36 percent male).
Better news for “The Predator” is its $30 million initial foreign take. However, most territories have opened (France and Italy still ahead; China not currently set). This is the sort of film that needs to draw strongly overseas, with a $200 million+ worldwide gross to have a chance at breakeven. Initial results suggest it could be a close call.
“A Simple Favor” opening to $16 million looks good when the initial cost was $20 million, and better still when Saturday increased six percent from its Thursday/Friday combined opening (“The Predator” fell 19 percent). The draw for this was two-thirds female, skewing over 25. A mystery with a suburban blogger (Anna Kendrick) using her social media platform to find her missing friend (Blake Lively) is the kind of mid-level title original Lionsgate often maximizes (“Wonder” being a high-end example). Another possible comparison is “Book Club,” which rode a wave of adult female interest into a five-times multiple from its opening weekend of over $13 million.
Its Cinemascore was B+, not great. But the Saturday uptick is a better indication of initial response. Don’t be surprised if this grosses over “The Predator” this weekend.
“White Boy Rick,” the second Toronto premiere to go wide, is more of a typical festival-premiered studio title. (It actually debuted at the more rarefied Telluride.) The first American film from French director Yann Demange, best known for the Northern Ireland-set “71,” it recounts the story of a teen undercover informant who later was imprisoned for his own drug activity.
Those festival starts, in what has become a very strong year, might not have done it a lot of favors. Its consensus reviews ended up at the high end of mixed at best. The biggest name is Matthew McConaughey, who continues to favor more challenging projects.
But none of this, with strong backing by Sony for its partner Studio 8, translated into box office success. The under-$9 million result for a 2,504 theater release isn’t encouraging, nor is its nine percent second-day drop. This cost $30 million before marketing.
The final opener, “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” is unrelated in creative elements to Angelina Jolie’s film. It does continue the story of its prisoner-of-war hero as he returns to civilian life, with a heavy emphasis on his strong religious faith. Its director made the hit “God’s Not Dead,” but he response this time was marginal with a weak $2.35 million. Jolie’s film grossed over $115 million.
Both of last week’s openers had unimpressive holds. “The Nun” dropped 66 percent. That’s high, even for a genre that sees its sequels often have a short shelf life. “Peppermint” fell 55 percent, a bit surprising with an initial sense that the Jennifer Garner revenge thriller had gotten some positive reaction.
“Crazy Rich Asians” kept its fifth weekend drop to 34 percent. It now is at just under $150 million, on track to end up now at somewhere in the $185 million-$190 million domestic mark.
The Top Ten
1. The Predator (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 49; Est. budget: $88 million
$24,000,000 in 4,037 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $4,037; Cumulative: $24,000,000
2. The Nun (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend #1
$18,200,000 (-66%) in 3,876 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,696; Cumulative: $85,076,000
3. A Simple Favor (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 68; Est. budget: $20 million
$16,050,000 in 3,102 theaters; PTA: $5,174; Cumulative: $16,050,000
4. White Boy Rick (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 60; Est. budget: $30 million
$8,800,000 in 2,504 theaters; PTA: $3,514; Cumulative: $8,800,000
5. Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) Week 5 – Last weekend #3
$8,700,000 (-34%) in 3,385 theaters (-480); PTA: $2,570; Cumulative: $149,552,000
6. Peppermint (STX) Week 2 – Last weekend #2
$6,070,000 (-55%) in 2,980 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,037; Cumulative: $24,246,000
7. The Meg (Warner Bros.) Week 6 – Last weekend #4
$3,805,000 (-38%) in 2,851 theaters (-660); PTA: $1,335; Cumulative: $137,087,000
8. Searching (Sony) Week 4 – Last weekend #5
$3,200,000 (-30%) in 2,009 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,593; Cumulative: $19,621,000
9. Unbroken: Path to Redemption (PureFlix) NEW – Metacritic: 38; Est. budget: $6
$2,350,000 in 1,620 theaters; PTA: $1,431; Cumulative: $2,350,000
10. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Paramount) Week 8 – Last weekend #6
$2,315,000 (-40%) in 1,761 theaters (-573); PTA: $1,761; Cumulative: $216,125,000