Friday Report: 'Compton' Straight Up Hit
Universal's historic year just keeps on rolling with Straight Outta Compton, which grossed $4,957,000 at late night shows, on its way to a predicted $40M weekend. The well-reviewed bio-pic of the group N.W.A., the ground-breaking rap artists that was fronted by Ice Cube and included now-billionaire and impresario Dr. Dre and the late Easy-E, was in 2,264 theaters. It adds another 493 for a final weekend screen count of 2,757.

If it has a little more gas in the box office tank, and it probably does (it sits with an 87% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), Compton will be Ice Cube's best opening ever, beating Ride Along ($41.5M last year). Sure he's essentially a producer, but it's part of his amazing, inspiring story, It's also a family affair as Ice Cube's son, O'Shea Jackson, plays his father in the film.

Compton would also be the best opening for a musical bio-pic, leaping over the current leaders, 2005's Johnny Cash flick, Walk the Line ($22.3M, $28.3M adjusted) and 2009's Notorious B.I.G. pic, Notorious ($20.5M, $22.3M adjusted).

In what also feels like a reward for loyalty and longevity Compton will be director F. Gary Gray's best opening ever with a filmography that includes 2005's Be Cool ($23.5M, $29.7M adjusted), 2003's The Italian Job ($19.5M, $26.2M adjusted), and, most interestingly, 1995's Friday ($6.6M, $12.3M adjusted).

That was the first feature film collaboration between frequent, longtime collaborators, Gray and Ice Cube, though Gray had directed Cube's music videos previously. That first Friday, released 20 years ago, led to two more in the series which starred Ice Cube, and solidified his career as an actor and lead, but were directed by Steve Carr.

That Friday connection ups the already-high nostalgia factor for Straight Outta Compton, another Universal hit.

Nostalgia has not been a friend to The Man from U.N.C.L.E, a reboot of the 1964-1968 TV show, which isn't faring nearly as well. The charming and sleek film, directed by Guy Ritchie and showing off the comedic ranges of its three winning leads, Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander, only banked $900K in its Thursday premieres. Estimates range from $15M - $20M but this film may have legs, regardless of its so-so 68% on the Tomato-meter.

U.N.C.L.E. really can't defend itself by saying it's based on a TV show that few preferred-demographic audience members remember. The equally acronym-y S.W.A.T., for example, made $37M ($49.9M adjusted) in 2003, also in the dog days of August. At least U.N.C.L.E. should do better than another '60s spy-themed reboot, 2002's I Spy, an Eddie Murphy/Owen Wilson bomb, that opened with $12.8M ($17.8M adjusted).

Dark Places, the Charlize Theron starrer based upon the book by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), continues on 151 screens. Its cume to date is $161K.

Forecast (August 14 - Aug. 16)

1. Straight Outta Compton - $45M

2. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - $19M

3. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - $14M

4. Fantastic Four - $11M

5. The Gift - $5.5M

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