As summer weekend box office grosses begin to ratchet down, it’s clear that kids are heading back to school.

According to ComScore’s school calendar, 58% of K-12 schools will be on break Friday, which is down from the 77% off at the same point in time last weekend. By Friday, Aug. 26, only 36% of K-12 schools will be off in the U.S.

After dropping -67% in its second weekend, Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad is expected to become the fifth title this year to hold the No. 1 spot at the box office for three weekends in a row after Deadpool, Zootopia, The Jungle Book and Finding Dory. Industry projections expect Suicide Squad to take a -50% drop, putting them between $20M-$22M. Through yesterday, Suicide Squad, which continues to be No. 1 throughout the week, currently counts $234M.

SAUSAGE PARTY

Sony/Annapurna’s R-rated Sausage Party is maintaining solid business throughout the week. After making $4.4M on Monday, it grew 11% on Tuesday with $4.9M taking its five-day take to $43.6M. The Point Grey picture is expected to ease 45% this weekend with $18.8M in second.

Currently, Fandango shows Suicide Squad leading daily ticket sales, however, in regards to the weekend, Sausage Party has the edge.

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Both pics tower over three wide entries, the best of which is expected to be Warner Bros.’ Todd Phillips R-rated action comedy War Dogs which is looking to pull in between $12M-$15M. Pic, based on a true story, stars Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as by-the-seat-of-their-pants middle-men arms dealers during the Iraq War when the U.S. government permitted arms bids from small and mid-sized companies. Similar to how Adam McKay graduated from broad comedies to smart ones with the Oscar winner The Big Short, War Dogs is another cinematic level for Phillips. Off 24 reviews, the current Rotten Tomatoes for War Dogs is 58%.  Thursday previews start at 7PM at 2,300 sites before expanding Friday to about 3,100. The comedy carries a production cost in the mid $40M range, which isn’t as bad as MGM/Paramount’s sword and sandal remake Ben-Hur which hits the marquee with a price tag close to $100M before P&A.  

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Both studios, of which MGM carries a bulk of the bill, are hoping for a $20M opening for the Timur Bekmambetov epic, however, many industry reports have this one debuting between $10M-$13M. That’s not a good sign for the staying power of the sword and sandal genre which has failed to impress stateside moviegoers in recent times with Sony’s Risen ($36.9M domestic B.O.), Lionsgate’s Gods of Egypt ($31.1M) and 20th Century Fox’s Exodus: Gods and Kings ($65M). Foreign is typically the savior for this genre with Exodus making 76% of its global ticket sales abroad with $203.2M and Gods of Egypt earning 79% of worldwide with international sales of $114.5M. As such, Paramount stoked audiences in Brazil and Mexico with premieres of Ben-Hur before its U.S. red carpet at the TCL Mann’s Chinese last night. Those two territories are key in the pic’s 19-country launch, which will rep 30% of Ben-Hur‘s footprint.  Ben-Hur will play in approximately 3,100 venues boosted by 3D and about a dozen Imax locations. Thursday previews start at 7PM. Reviews are still being filed on Rotten Tomatoes with 12 showing a current 33% rotten score. While there’s been a move to hook the faith-based with the marketing talents of Grace Hill Media and Motive Entertainment, as well as executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett on board, it doesn’t look like the parish busloads are filling up.

kubo

Focus Features has their Laika movie Kubo and the Two Stringswhich despite having the best reviews of this weekend’s openers at 91% fresh, is only expected to bring in $13M-$14M. That’s less than 2009’s Coraline ($16.8M) and The Boxtrolls ($17.3M)but right about where ParaNorman debuted in 2012 with $14M. That movie had a 4x multiple and ended its U.S./Canada run with $56M. There’s a Thursday preview at 6PM for Kubo given Laika’s adult fanbase with total weekend bookings at 3,260 theaters coupled with 3D showtimes. Kubo and the Two Strings follows the adventures of a young boy in Japan who seeks to reunite his family. Those providing voiceovers includes Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Rooney Mara and Matthew McConaughey. To date, Laika has racked up four Oscar nominations in the animated feature category with Corpse Bride, Coraline, Boxtrolls and ParaNorman.

CBS/Lionsgate is expanding Hell or High Water from 32 sites to 472 for the weekend. Comparisons at this level are being made to the first weekends of such films as A24’s  Green Room (470 theaters, $926K), Roadside Attractions’ A Hologram for the King (401 theaters, $1.1M) and Bleecker Street’s Anthropoid (452 theaters, $1.2M).  The David Mackenzie-directed movie will expand again on Friday, Aug. 26.