Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Scary Stories’ Tops New Releases With ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ at No. 1

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” crosses $100 million, but the weekend’s box-office performance is down 12 percent from 2018.
"Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" CBS Films
"Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark"
George Kraychyk / CBS Films

This week saw Disney execs proclaim that the core value in its acquisition of 20th Century Fox was the fresh retread possibilities; this weekend’s box office bears out that vision. With five new wide-release films, four of which were in over 2,700 theaters, the total gross comes to about $54 million. In the same weekend last year, four new titles took in $70 million. The 2019 year-to-date totals remain over $500 million short, or around 6.5 percent.

The remaining three summer weeks see 10 further shots at glory. Sony has “The Angry Birds Movie 2” opening Wednesday, and if it dominates in a field of mostly minor performers, the sequels-first lesson of the summer will continue.

“Hobbs & Shaw” repeated as No. 1 in its second weekend. With a gross of $25 million, its drop of 58 percent actually is slightly better than the two most recent “Fast & Furious” entries. But it sold fewer tickets than any second August weekend No. 1 title, either new or holdover, this century.

With likely strong grosses ahead from China and South Korea, “Hobbs & Shaw,” with $100 million as its domestic share so far, is at $333 million total worldwide. With those new countries, it looks like the offshoot from this huge franchise could hit at least $600 million. That would be enough of a theatrical haul to justify the $200 million production cost before marketing, though it will take post-theater revenues to put it into profit. But this is a franchise whose two previous outings grossed far in excess of $1 billion worldwide.

The Guillermo del Toro co-produced “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” led new releases. The PG-13 adaptation of the 1968-set popular children’s stories is mid-level budget ($28 million). To give it its very due credit, it opened ahead of other horror and similar titles this summer (R-rated, two in familiar franchises).

$20 million isn’t a spectacular number. But compared to other recent original horror titles, most of which didn’t open as well, it is standout. And its differences — its rating, the caliber of its creative team (director Andre Ovredal first gained attention for “Trollhunter”), middling to favorable reviews — all suggest it was a smart bet. In the future, however, it’s likely that CBS Films productions will go to streaming.

Paramount has been more original than most studios this year. All three of their summer releases have been non-franchise, with “Rocket Man” having a respectable run ($96 million domestic) and the lower-budget “Crawl” seeing a respectable response.

The Australian-made “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” though hardly big budget at $49 million, is their most expensive release. This adaptation of the popular animated series scored well with its Cinemascore (A) and with Latinos; per Paramount, that group comprised 47 percent of the audience. But with $17 million as an opening number, unless this has an above-average multiple and scores well overseas, this film still has its fate up in the air. It placed No. 4 overall.

"The Art of Racing in the Rain"
“The Art of Racing in the Rain”Fox

“The Art of Racing in the Rain,” the third studio heartwarming dog-centered feature of the year, scored only $8 million. Its A- Cinemascore suggests those who saw the film liked it well enough. Its $19 million budget makes it one of Disney’s lesser concerns among the 20th Century Fox titles it inherited. But it’s a result that suggests that any similar titles will be made for Disney+.

The shock of the weekend, though, is the ghastly performance of “The Kitchen,” with usually surefire Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish (with Elisabeth Moss also in the stellar cast) only bringing in $5.5 million. A case of defying audience expectations, this women-in-mob-families drama is clearly not what fans of its stars wanted. Gone are the days when top stars could overcome bad reviews in something different.

Just making the top 10 was “Bring the Soul,” a K-Pop concert event film that had limited showings in 873 theaters with a $2.3 million total (one-day grosses during the week bring its total to $4.4 million). Expect this sort of non-traditional programming to become more in demand in the future.

The final new release, in 1,240 theaters, was “Brian Banks,” a retelling of the plight of a star athlete falsely accused of rape. It managed a little over $2.1 million, not enough to reach the top 10.

Once Upon a Time in HollywoodSony Pictures

Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” won’t be the year’s top original (“Us” holds the position so far), but it has crossed $100 million in its third weekend. And its drop of 42 percent was less than anticipated. With $11.6 million more in, this looks to reach around $130 million domestic. That would make it the director’s fourth-biggest domestic hit adjusted (No. 3 “Inglourious Basterds” stands at $145 million). A good showing,  given the overall challenge for non-franchise releases.

The key for its profit remains foreign. Russia became the first territory, the biggest ever for the director. Figure the star power is key overseas, where this will perform as a mid-range Leonardo DiCaprio performer.

The other three longer-run films in the top 10 — “The Lion King” No. 3/-48 percent, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” No. 8/-33 percent, and “Toy Story 4” No. 9/-40% — all have already taken in $370 million or more domestic and over $1 billion each worldwide. That’s the core of the business, which this summer has reinforced more strongly than ever.

The Top 10

1. Hobbs & Shaw (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$25,400,000 (-58%) in 4,334 theaters (+91); PTA (per theater average): $5,847; Cumulative: $108,514,000

2. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 62; est. budget: $28 million

$20,800,000 in 3,135 theaters; PTA: $6,635; Cumulative: $20,800,000

3. The Lion King (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$20,000,000 (-48%) in 4,220 theaters (-582); PTA: $4,739; Cumulative: $473,104,000

4. Dora and the Lost City of Gold (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 63; est. budget: $49 million

$17,000,000 in 3,735 theaters; PTA: $4,552; Cumulative: $17,000,000

5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$11,600,000 (-42%) in 3,507 theaters (-152); PTA: $3,308; Cumulative: $100,331,000

6. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Disney) NEW – CInemascore: A-; Metacritic: 43; est. budget: $19 million

$8,100,000 in 2,765 theaters; PTA: $2,929; Cumulative: $8,100,000

7. The Kitchen (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 35; est. budget: $37 million

$5,510,000 in 2,745 theaters; PTA: $2,007; Cumulative: $5,510,000

8. Spider-Man: Far from Home (Sony) Week 6; Last weekend #4

$5,300,000 (-33%) in 2,678 theaters (-768); PTA: $1,979; Cumulative: $370,972,000

9. Toy Story 4 (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #5

$4,400,000 (-40%) in 2,295 theaters (-930); PTA: $1,917; Cumulative: $419,578,000

10. Bring the Soul: The Movie (Trafalagar)

$2,296,000 in 873 theaters; PTA: $2,631; Cumulative: $4,417,000

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