It was a competitive weekend with many new releases battling the strong holdovers.
As summer is about to wind down studios are hoping to get some last moment releases out to get some business before schools open and the box office takes its usual late August-September downturn. This made for a busy slate of new releases doing battle with the strong established titles, and plenty of questions coming into the weekend.
Part of the question was that some of the new films were original concepts based on established properties from other media, and the carry-over of those audiences was not assured. It led to plenty of speculation and a surprise in the end, which was a reasonable reaction; the top four films are separated by only $8 million. So here is what the kids were interested in before heading back to classes.
HOBBS & SHAW – $25.4 Million
Last week’s physics-defying champ (which we covered on our filmcast this week) did about as well as expected, but it was no assured as things opened. On Friday it was actually the #2 earner and looked like it may be toppled, but a decent Saturday showed recovery and provided a decent weekend overall. This comes in as a drop of about -58%, slightly better than anticipated with it strong open last week. The high-octane duo of The Rock and Jason Statham have already pulled in $100 million by now. This return means that for 16 consecutive weeks the #1 film has been based on an established intellectual property.
2. SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK – $20.8m
This is a surprising return as the teen horror tale based on the book series from the 1990s was expected to be an also-ran in this weekend’s mix. On Friday it was the top earner and it played stronger than expected, beating most estimates by about 25%. The surprising aspect is that this is one of the last titles to be released by CBS Films (it is being dissolved in a merger) so you wonder if better marketing could have brought in an even better result.
3. THE LION KING – $20.0m
One month out and the pride from Disney is still making an impact. It is well on it way to making $500 million domestically (the second-highest earner for the year as swell), and well over $1 billion worldwide already.
4. DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD – $17.1m
As much of a surprise as “Scary Stories” was this one saw a bit of an equal amount of disappointment. The very famous “Dora The Explorer” kids program was adapted with an older Dora and there was a mystery as to how well it would be received. Making this surprising is that leading up to the weekend indicators were healthy, with decent social media presence, and critics actually favoring the film, at a 75% rate on Rotten Tomatoes. Those who went out liked the film, with a CinemaScore of “A”, so there is a chance at some longer term interest. It will maybe need a large boost in the home market to see if this becomes a franchise for Paramount.
5. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – $11.6m
A true smash for Quentin Tarantino this will easily move past his “Inglorious Basterds” to become his second-highest grossing film. Time is needed to tell if it has a chance of reaching “Django Unchained”. Here is the most notable piece of trivia: This weekend sees the film crossing over the $100 million mark, and that means it becomes the ONLY film in the entire summer based on an original concept to reach that plateau.
6. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN – $8.1m
A respectable film by many measures it had a number of challenges facing it, the crowded marketplace being one. This was a product of the Fox 2000 division, which is closing down amid the Disney/Fox merger. This meant the marketing was possibly not as enthusiastic. Critics did the film no favors, with just under a 50% approval on RT. Audiences who did go scored it with a decent “A-”, so you get the sense the studio could have targeted the film a little better. It also was the third dog-based drama this year, so interest was a bit sapped.
7. THE KITCHEN – $5.51m
A female heist drama that has a number of names attached but little in the way of sustaining any interest. Part of the issue? Having two comedic actresses – Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish – taking on dramatic roles proved to repel audiences. This is the lowest debut for both actresses. This total is almost half as much as McCarthy’s fiasco from last summer, “The Happytime Murders”
8. SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME – $5.3m
A genuine smash hit for Sony, it has passed “Aladdin” for the fifth-best return of the summer. After six weeks it is still managing to play on over 2,600 screens.
9. TOY STORY 4 – $4.4m
Recall back when it debuted and some felt it was a bit of a disappointing opening because it was not setting records? Two months later it still lands in the top-ten, and has just become the highest-grossing title in the franchise. This also places it as the third-highest in the Pixar library (sixth-best when adjusted for inflation).
10. THE FAREWELL – $2.29m
The Chinese drama has been an arthouse hit. The studio A24 expanded it once again, adding almost 300 more screens (700 in total now) in a move that few anticipated. It has managed to take in $10 million on the meager release platform, a deeply impressive return for this micro-import.
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