It has been slow-going at the box office as of late. This past four-day, Labor Day weekend haul came in at just $85.7 million for the top twelve, the worst Labor Day weekend result since 2004 where films such as Paparazzi, Wicker Park, Vanity Fair and The Cookout all cracked the top ten. Remember them?
Things actually got worse the following weekend back in 2004, and it looks as if this year won't be any different, despite the efforts of new releases such as M. Night Shyamalan's micro-budget horror The Visit and Screen Gems' The Perfect Guy, led by Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut and "True Blood" star Rutina Wesley. Overall the top twelve is looking to end up around $75.8 million, a $10 million drop from a week ago.
Between The Visit and The Perfect Guy it will be interesting to see which film comes out on top. For starters, during this same frame last year, Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson lit up the weekend with No Good Deed delivering the 15th highest September opening of $24.2 million. This was a sub-genre Elba enjoyed similar success in before, when he co-starred with Beyonce in Obsessed in April 2009, which opened to $28.6 million. The question is, do Ealy and Lathan carry the same weight as Elba and Henson or Elba and Bey? Hard to place expectations that high, though Ealy is no stranger to $20+ million openings with both About Last Night and Think Like a Man Too topping $25 and $29 million respectively on their opening weekends last year.
But neither Ealy nor Lathan carry the same name recognition as Elba, Henson or Beyonce. Nevertheless, Perfect Guy should deliver some solid numbers somewhere in the $18 million range with a chance for the #1 spot this weekend. That's mostly due to the competition, which will be tight at the top opposite Shyamalan's new film, produced by low budget horror maestro Jason Blum.
Shyamalan, more than fifteen years removed from The Sixth Sense and now more closely associated with the likes of The Last Airbender and After Earth, comes to the table with The Visit in 3,068 theaters. Originally titled Sundowning, this reportedly $5 million budgeted thriller tells the story of two grandchildren and a frightening visit to their grandparents' house. Early reviews are a bit more positive than the Shyamalan-produced thriller Devil, which opened in September 2010 to the tune of $12.2 million. It seems a safe bet to go a little higher with a prediction on this one, following a solid marketing campaign, not to mention it seems to be working in a similar wheelhouse to what audiences expect from their PG-13 horrors these days. The question is "How much higher is a little higher?"
Insidious Chapter 2 (another Blum production) opened in 3,049 theaters in 2013 and grossed $40.2 million, but that's a sequel on the heels of a successful first installment. A more appropriate comparison is 2012's The Possession, which opened in 2,816 theaters and brought in $17.7 million. Expect The Visit to go a whisper higher.
It very well could be neck-and-neck between The Visit and Perfect Guy at #1 and #2 as I expect both to finish around $18 million with a +/- in the $2 million range. Admittedly that's an incredibly high margin of error, but it's not as much a question of whether or not either of these films will draw an audience, it's a question of whether or not anything will.
Last weekend's #1 title, TriStar's War Room, only dropped 16.5%, but it might fall a bit steeper this weekend with the entrance of 90 Minutes in Heaven starring Kate Bosworth and Hayden Christensen, a similarly faith-based feature. Screen counts for Heaven haven't been forthcoming, however, from Samuel Goldwyn.
If Heaven gets enough theaters, it could easily crack the top ten, but is Samuel Goldwyn going to give it that much of a push? The widest opening release for the studio in the last ten was 839 theaters for Fireproof back in 2008, which worked out incredibly well as it was also their largest opening ever ($6.8 million). The next largest Goldwyn opening in the last decade was 2012's October Baby with $1.6 million and an 8th place finish from 390 theaters, and a $4,352 per theater average. It seems a safe bet Heaven might hover right around that number should it get a similar theater count.
When you begin looking at holdovers, there are a few interesting items on the board.
First off, no idea yet what Disney plans on doing with Inside Out. Last weekend the studio added 2,204 theaters to the release, which was coming close to running its course domestically. An impressive three-day total of $3.2 million in the film's twelfth week of release leaves it only $1.32 million behind Furious 7 for a position as the third highest domestic gross of 2015. How important is the record to Disney? We'll find out once this weekend's official theater counts are released.
Speaking of milestones, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is slowly creeping toward the $200 million mark domestically as the film sits $16.3 million shy of that accomplishment, though it needs another $26.2 million if it plans on catching Ghost Protocol. By the end of the weekend it should be about $10 million shy of $200m or thereabouts, which means it's going to need a bit of a push to cross that finish line.
Below are updated predictions for this weekend and should the penny drop as predicted it's going to be a tight race for that #1 slot.
- The Visit (3068 theaters) - $18,408,000
- The Perfect Guy (2,100 theaters) - $18,375,000
- War Room (1,647 theaters) - $7,367,031
- Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2,649 theaters) - $4,709,922
- A Walk in the Woods (2,139 theaters) - $4,680,132
- Straight Outta Compton (2,806 theaters) - $4,548,526
- Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos (616 theaters) - $3,471,776
- The Transporter Refueled (3,434 theaters) - $3,162,714
- No Escape (3,022 theaters) - $2,810,460
- Ant-Man (1,354 theaters) - $2,541,458
- The Visit - $18,408,000
- The Perfect Guy - $18,375,000
- War Room - $6,825,798
- Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - $5,065,522
- Straight Outta Compton - $5,015,374
- A Walk in the Woods - $4,288,480
- Inside Out - $3,236,997
- No Escape - $3,175,950
- The Transporter Refueled - $3,162,714
- Minions - $2,968,203
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