Holdovers & Re-Releases To Rule Quiet Labor Day Weekend
Last weekend was the third lowest grossing of the year, bringing the box office to lows not seen since January. The 40% drop was the largest of the year for a weekend not following the release of an MCU movie, and that was despite three new films going wide. With no new theatrical exclusives going wide this weekend, we can expect another dip at the box office, though the holiday and the high profile re-releases should keep the box office from dropping as much as it did last weekend. Nonetheless, barring 2020, this will be the weakest Labor Day weekend since the 1990s, and this comes a year after the fourth highest grossing Labor Day weekend of all time, led by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which broke the Labor Day Weekend record with its $94.7 million four-day gross. In contrast, nothing this weekend will even beat the top grosser of Labor Day weekend 2020 when Tenet grossed $11.6 million for the four day, and that was in the height of the pandemic before vaccines were available and theaters were still closed in many parts of the country.

The one new release going wide is Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul, which is getting a 1,879 theater release from Focus day-and-date with its Peacock streaming release. Daniel Kaluuya and Jordan Peele produced the comedy which stars Sterling K. Brown as a pastor and Regina Hall as the first lady of a massive Southern Baptist church with tens of thousands of congregants. After they lose it all in a scandal, a documentary team follows them as they attempt to stage and comeback and rebuild their congregation. The feature debut of writer/director Adamma Ebo was bought by Focus for $8.5 million after its Sundance premiere. The critical response is strong (80% on Rotten Tomatoes), but the audience may be a small one, especially since the film is also available at home.

The number one spot this weekend is a total toss up. Last weekend’s number one The Invitation will likely fall from the top spot and be overtaken by a number of holdovers. A good bet for first place is last weekend’s second place Bullet Train (which took the top spot in Tuesday’s box office), now going into its fifth weekend, and there is even the chance that Top Gun: Maverick (in fourth place last weekend) can jet back into first place in its 15th weekend. Saturday will be the 100th day of its release, and with a $692 million cume as of Tuesday, it is now roughly a week away from passing Black Panther ($700 million) to become the fifth biggest domestic grosser of all time, a milestone it may even cross by the end of the long weekend.

Another possibility for number one is the other box office phenomenon of the past year. Spider-Man: No Way Home swings back into 3,850+ theaters with 11 new minutes of footage in “The More Fun Stuff Version,” making it the biggest release of the weekend. If Spidey makes first place again, that would make it No Way Home’s seventh number-one weekend, tying it with Avatar for the most number one weekends in the 2000s, though Avatar could possibly pull ahead in its upcoming re-release in three weekends from now.

The other significant re-release of the weekend is Jaws, which once held the title of the highest grossing film of all time (it was dethroned within a few years by Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, and it remains the seventh highest grosser when adjusting for inflation). Steven Spielberg’s seminal 1975 shark blockbuster is hitting both IMAX screens and regular 3D screens for the first time. This follows the IMAX re-release of Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which grossed $2 million since its re-release in 389 theaters three weeks ago. IMAX also had a successful re-release of the more recent Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which grossed $1.2 million since it opened in 255 theaters last weekend. Audiences are clearly down to pay to see old favorites on the big screen, and Jaws may make a splash once again with its 1,200+ theater re-release.

In addition to the re-releases, another effort to lure audiences into theaters amidst a lack of new content is National Cinema Day on Saturday, September 3. Over 3,000 theaters nationwide, including major chains such as AMC, Cinemark, and Regal and smaller chains such as Alamo Drafthouse and Angelika, will be offering $3 movie tickets, even for premium large format screens such as IMAX and Dolby. This will leave money on the table on a per ticket basis, but the hope is that it will make up for it by drawing enough of an audience to keep the box office ball rolling through the current drought of major releases.