Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday's Headlines - Weekend Box Office

There’s no getting around it: this weekend’s domestic box office is a catastrophe.

In the grand scheme, it can seem like a small issue when compared with Hurricane Harvey — the deadly natural disaster that tore through the Gulf Coast of Texas on Friday, dumping more than 20 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. But Harvey also had at least some impact on the business, forcing theater closures in South Texas. Still, the degree to which the storm hurt the bottom line of moviegoing is up for debate.

Another factor under inspection is Saturday evening’s UFC match which saw Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor with a 10th-round TKO. The fight was estimated to reap as much as $1 billion in revenues, and among the biggest pay-per-view draws in history. Numbers regarding the amount of viewers will be released later in the week, but some analysts predicted the highly-anticipated brawl could keep those who would ordinarily see a movie, out of theaters.

All that said, no amount of outside factors can excuse the reality that no major releases this weekend managed to connect with audiences in a significant way. The overall box office this weekend is not expected to pass $65 million, and the top 12 films will gross less than $50 million. Those figures are the lowest is more than 15 years.

There have been lulls around this time in recent years. In 2014, the first weekend in September made $66 million overall. Two years before that, the Sept. 7-9 frame made $67 million overall and $51.9 from the top 12. 2008 saw a similar slump in the Sep. 5–7 frame.

But not since late September in 2001 have they dropped quite so low.* The Sept. 21-23 frame in 2001 earned $59 million overall and the top 12 made $43.5 million. The year before, Sept. 15-17 fell to $53.7 million for the weekend and $37.9 for the top 12.

Back to the current day, once again, “Hitman’s Bodyguard” and “Annabelle: Creation” will top the charts for Lionsgate and Warner Bros., respectively. “Bodyguard” is expected to earn $10.1 million from 3,377 theaters — combined with last weekend, its total domestic gross should be $39.6 million. And “Annabelle” will make $7.4 million from 3,565 locations, raising its current domestic cume to $77.9 million.

“We expect it to continue to perform well right into September,” said Lionsgate’s distribution president David Spitz.

Otherwise, TWC made two of the weekend’s biggest plays with the animated feature “Leap!” and the expansion of Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River.” The former opened at 2,575 locations in North America, and is expected to take in $5 million. The film was acquired for a low cost of $3 million, and under its title in every market outside of the U.S., “Ballerina,” has already picked up $58.2 million from foreign locations. It’s billed as a musical adventure comedy about an orphan girl who aspires to become a dancer. The voice cast is led by Elle Fanning, and also includes Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen, Nat Wolff, Kate McKinnon, and Mel Brooks. Critics smushed it to 37 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences earned the film an A CinemaScore.

“It’s a tough weekend out there in the marketplace when a $5 million movie is ranked third,” remarked Laurent Ouaknine, distribution boss at TWC. “On our side, we have a film that audiences love,” he said, adding that, while the audience is predominantly young and female, they’re seeing that boys “that are coming with their family like it too.”

“Wind River,” meanwhile should make an additional $4.4 million this weekend from 2,095 locations. The film, now in its fourth week of release, is intended as the conclusion of a trilogy that includes “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water.” During its first weekend at four theaters, the thriller scored one of the year’s best per-screen averages, but its mass appeal seems more questionable. “Hell or High Water,” which earned a best picture nomination at the Oscars, also made $4.4 million during its fourth weekend, but from fewer locations (1,303).