Many expected last weekend to be the second most lackluster of 2016, with no title exceeding $20M at the box office.
Scratch that – it’s actually this coming weekend.
Unlike the weekend of Jan. 22-24, when ticket sales bottomed to a 2016 low of $66.2M due to a brutal snowstorm that closed Northeast theaters, this weekend just won’t have enough intriguing product to distract folks from summer’s final huzzah, the four-day Labor Day holiday. With moviegoers shelling out $4.3B at the box office this summer per ComScore -+3% over the same 115 days last year – they’ll likely give their wallets a rest this weekend.
Last weekend, Sony/Screen Gems/Stage 6’s horror title Don’t Breathe wound up surprising the town by beating its midweek projections by 120% with a $26.2M opening. The film will continue to take moviegoers’ breath, and the No. 1 spot as well with $15M-$16M as two new titles enter the marketplace: 20th Century Fox’s R-rated horror thriller Morgan which is registering among the under 25 crowd, and DreamWorks’ final title at Disney, the Derek Cianfrance feature adaptation of the M.L. Stedman novel The Light Between Oceans which is showing the strongest interest among older females. Because of this week’s sluggish weekend, neither studio will hold Thursday night previews for either title, but Light Between Oceans will make its world premiere that night at the Venice Film Festival.
Tomorrow, Weinstein Co.’s Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone ups its theater count from 810 to 1,500 with a further expansion on Friday to 2,000. The film, which received an A CinemaScore, has cashed in $1.9M through yesterday and non-TWC projections have the title making $2M over the Labor Day stretch as it makes a bigger play for Hispanic, African America and adult audiences.
Both Morgan and Light Between Oceans will have a hard time getting past the fifth session of Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad which is expected to draw $11M-$12M in second place over the Friday to Monday frame.
Rated PG-13, The Light Between Oceans looks to trump Morgan with an opening between $5.5M-$9M over four days. Pic reportedly cost $20M and was co-financed by Reliance Entertainment. Light has had a long journey to the screen, commencing production in Sept. 2014 and getting moved out of last year’s awards season because its stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander had stronger titles in the mix with, respectively, Steve Jobs and The Danish Girl (the latter won the Swedish actress a best supporting Oscar). Oceans follows a World War I veteran who is a lighthouse keeper (Fassbender) on Janus Rock, a remote island off western Australia. He falls for and marries the local schoolmaster’s daughter (Vikander). Unable to start a family, hope arrives when a rowboat washes ashore with a young girl…and a dead man. Stedman’s novel has been likened to Thomas Hardy’s work. Ladies, bring your Kleenexes.
Morgan follows a corporate troubleshooter (Kate Mara) sent to a top-secret location where an artificially-created humanoid has created a ruckus. She must decide whether to kill it or not. Morgan touts a well-known ensemble including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh, Paul Giamatti, Brian Cox, and Toby Jones. Industry projections lie between $6M-$7.5M over four-days for the Luke Scott-directed movie which reportedly cost under $10M.
Lionsgate’s Pantelion label, which always mines a big Hispanic family draw over Labor Day, has the comedy No Manches Frida about a bank robber who poses as a substitute teacher to recover loot buried underneath a high school gymnasium. The film, directed by Nacho G. Velilla, is booked at approximately 350 sites and industry estimates have it making under $2M over four days.