Historically, the weekend after Labor Day can be a death zone at the box office. But that’s only if distributors fail to push out intriguing titles.
However, in recent years, the majors have come to realize that moviegoers are yearning to get back to the cinema after taking a rest over Labor Day, whether it’s to indulge in potential awards-season adult titles or fresh genre pics. This year, distributors are going full throttle with four wide entries, led by Warner Bros and Village Roadshow’s Clint Eastwood feature Sully which is looking to make between $24 million-$25 million fueled by great reviews out of the Telluride Film Festival.
Tom Hanks portrays Chesley Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who managed an emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009 after his aircraft struck a flock of Canadian geese. Given the film’s critical momentum with an 83% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score and climbing, some trackers believeSully has a shot to go even higher at 3,505 theaters (that includes 375 Imax locations). Pic cost an estimated $60M before P&A. The last time Eastwood put a movie up on the screen, it wound up being the filmmaker’s highest-grossing title of his career, with last year’s American Sniper notching a global take of $547.4M, domestic B.O. of $350.1M, and an all-time MLK-opening record of $107.2M. Sully debuts on Thursday night in 2,900 locations and is currently outselling Hanks’ previous dramas Bridge Of Spies and Captain Phillips in advanced ticket sales, Fandango reports.
At this point during September, Sony/Screen Gems has hit No. 1 with drama thrillers targeting African American crowds like last year’s The Perfect Guy ($25.9M opening), 2014’s No Good Deed ($24.2M) and 2008’s Lakeview Terrace. This year, Screen Gems has When The Bough Breaks, which headlines Perfect Guy‘s Morris Chestnut. At play in an estimated 2,200 venues, Bough could bank between $20M-$23M according to some industry estimates, though Sony is playing it modest with a $10M-$12M estimate for this thriller which carries a $10M production cost. Bough‘s logline reads similar to the 1992 thriller hit The Hand That Rocks The Cradle: the new Jon Cassar-directed feature follows a young couple (Chestnut, Regina Hall) who desperately want a baby and are terrorized by their psychotic surrogate (Jaz Sinclair). There won’t be any Thursday night previews for Bough.
Don’t be shocked if Bough steals No. 1 away from Sully. However, most trackers show the first Hanks film of the fall (his second is Inferno on October 28 ) having the edge.
Lionsgate has the family animated film The Wild Life from StudioCanal, Illuminata and nWave Pictures. At an estimated 2,400 theaters, Wild Life should kick up an estimated $5M per industry projections. The pic tells the story of a group of island animals whose lives are impacted by the arrival of Robinson Crusoe. Note: Whenever Lionsgate handles these features toons, they’re built to be thrifty investments. In the case of last January’s Norm Of The North, that pic was fully financed by third parties with Lionsgate only on the hook for P&A (which iSpotTV estimated at $13.5M). Norm opened to $9.4M over the four-day MLK and finaled at $17M. No Thursday previews because it’s a school night.
Relativity is returning to the distribution biz this frame after surviving bankruptcy last year with the D.J. Caruso-directed haunted house movie The Disappointments Room which starts Kate Beckinsale. Typically with a director like Caruso and a genre star like Beckinsale, there’s an audience for this combination. However, this $15M title has been on the shelf for quite some time. The R-rated movie looks horrible on tracking: In unaided awareness, Disappointments Room isn’t registering among guys over 25 with a low total awareness among females in the high-30 percentile. Weekend projection? $1M-$2M according to industry observers. Says one tracker, “This is a straight to video title as we saw in the old days.”
Besides, if anyone is going to see a horror movie this weekend, it’s Screen Gems’ third weekend of Don’t Breathe which should drop another 50% for $7M-$8M. Don’t Breathe‘s total running cume stands at $56.7M through yesterday.