Summer Slows to a Crawl as 'Hitman's Bodyguard' and 'Logan Lucky' Debut
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $8 million, Lionsgate and Summit's The Hitman's Bodyguard topped Friday's box office and is looking to top the weekend with a $20+ million three-day opening. This puts it ahead of Annabelle: Creation's second Friday, which came in at an estimated $5 million, heading toward a three-day just a bit shy of $15 million.

Bleecker's Logan Lucky managed a third place finish on Friday with an estimated $2.8 million, heading toward a soft $7.5-8 million opening weekend.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a complete look at the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: The Hitman's Bodyguard did a solid $1.65 million from preview screenings last night, which took place at ~2,600 locations beginning at 7 PM. This compares favorably to War Dogs, which brought in $1.25 million from preview screenings at 2,800 locations before opening with $14.6 million. It's also an improvement on 2013's 2 Guns, which brought in $1.28 million from preview screenings and opened with $27 million. It's also just a shade below the preview grosses for Valerian ($1.7m) and Ghost in the Shell ($1.8m), which opened with $17 million and $18.6 million respectively. As far as R-rated films are concerned, however, this is a very solid showing as no R-rated film has opened with less than $16.5 million after bringing in more than $1.5 million in Thursday night previews, the lowest of the bunch being Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates which brought in $1.6 million from previews and opened with $16.6 million last July.

Bleecker's Logan Lucky played in ~2,500 theaters on Thursday night with previews starting at 7PM shows where it grossed an estimated $525,000. This is on par with Detroit, which ended up debuting with $7.1 million just a couple weekends ago. It's also similar to Nightcrawler, which brought in $520k from preview showings before opening with $10.4 million.

We'll take a closer look at things tomorrow morning once Friday estimates come in. For now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: The downward trend continues this weekend. Two new releases arrive in theaters and neither will debut with enough to even marginally turn the summer box office tide. In fact, we may be looking at the worst weekend at the box office this year with a top twelve that could struggle to generate a combined $80 million. As for the new releases, Lionsgate's release of The Hitman's Bodyguard will do what it can to challenge Annabelle: Creation for the weekend's top spot while Bleecker Street's release of Logan Lucky is a fascinating study in and of itself and whether it pushes higher than $10 million will be something to watch.

At the top of the weekend box office it's looking like a competitive race between last weekend's strong opening performance for WB and New Line's Annabelle: Creation and Lionsgate and Summit's The Hitman's Bodyguard. Annabelle delivered a $35 million opening, which is just a couple million behind the 2014 opening for the first film, and throughout the week it has significantly outperformed the original, suggesting it could have a better hold than the 57% second weekend drop Annabelle experienced. Of course, one could also argue a strong performance throughout the week could also mean a larger drop over the weekend, but a look at the daily comparison of The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 doesn't support that logic. That being said, we're anticipating a drop around 55% and a second weekend that could reach $16 million. Whether that's enough to take the top spot is the question.

Debuting in nearly 3,400 theaters, Lionsgate and Summit's action comedy The Hitman's Bodyguard stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and industry expectations are for an opening in the mid-to-high teens. Looking at historical precedence, an opening of this size would mean a debut over $20 million, but to look at IMDb page view performance leading up to release shows it pacing behind the likes of The Nice Guys ($11.2m opening), RED 2 ($18m opening) and War Dogs ($14.6m opening). The most telling aspect of the film's IMDb performance is the lack of any real spike in interest over the last 90 days. It should be said, however, Lionsgate debuted the film's first red band trailer in mid-April, which begs the question, Did they release it too soon?

All told, we're anticipating an opening on the lower end of expectations, looking at a weekend around $13-16 million putting it in a very tight race with Annabelle: Creation, but it should be more than enough to top the weekend's other new wide release.

Much has been written about Steven Soderbergh's Logan Lucky, which sees Soderbergh returning to theaters for the first time since 2013's Side Effects after which he "retired" from filmmaking and spent a few years on the TV series "The Knick". The Wrap reports Soderbergh raised $29 million to make the film "by personally selling its international distribution rights" and raised another $20 million for marketing "partly by the sale of the film's streaming-on-demand rights to Amazon". After an attempt to reach out to the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), exploring the possibility of distributing the movie on his own, Soderbergh eventually teamed with Bleecker in a deal outlined by The New York Times in which it is written "a modest $15 million opening would be a win". Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that threshold will be reached.

With a film such as this, debuting in just over 3,000 theaters, we would initially like to turn to our historical averages, but just as those appeared to be a little off for Hitman's Bodyguard they appear even farther off when it comes to Logan Lucky. Turning to IMDb page view data, however, there are a few promising signals such as the film playing neck-and-neck with War Dogs leading up to release while playing relatively similar to 2016's Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and to Soderbergh's Side Effects. Whiskey Tango opened with $7.5 million while Side Effects debuted with $9.3 million. A key to all these comparisons, however, is these films had studios backing their marketing effort, while Logan Lucky has taken a different approach.

The marketing strategy employed for Logan Lucky could render tracking and Mojo's current methods for forecasting useless. As the New York Times piece illustrates, Soderbergh required approval of the film's marketing plan along the way and, as of two weeks ago, only 15% of the aforementioned marketing budget had been spent versus the typical 40% a studio marketing campaign would have spent by that time. Additionally, much of the outdoor ads for the film are "concentrated in the Midwest and South" versus the traditional New York and Los Angeles markets. Whether it pays off will be interesting to watch. For now we're anticipating an opening right around $10 million if not a bit below, and we'll be keeping a very close eye on how it performs throughout the weekend and beyond.

Landing in fourth is Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, which is looking at its fifth weekend in the top five heading toward a weekend right around $7 million, which would likely have the film finish Sunday evening over $165 million domestically.

Spider-Man: Homecoming should round out the top five with $4.7 million, resulting in a domestic cume at or near $315 million. The film recently topped $700 million worldwide and is less than $6 million away from topping the worldwide gross for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with a September 8 release in China still upcoming.

Elsewhere, keep an eye on The Weinstein Co.'s Wind River, which is expanding into 694 theaters this weekend (+649) and could be looking at a weekend anywhere from $1.5-2 million.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight is releasing Patti Cake$ into 14 theaters and IFC will release Amazon's Crown Heights into three locations.

All told, the summer slowdown continues as the season is almost 13% behind last year and, to date, is the worst summer at the box office in over ten years with the current season-to-date at $3.47 billion.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Annabelle: Creation (3,542 theaters) - $15.8 M
  • The Hitman's Bodyguard (3,377 theaters) - $15.5 M
  • Logan Lucky (3,031 theaters) - $10.0 M
  • Dunkirk (3,271 theaters) - $6.9 M
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2,341 theaters) - $4.7 M
  • Girls Trip (2,007 theaters) - $4.0 M
  • The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (4,003 theaters) - $4.0 M
  • The Dark Tower (3,143 theaters) - $4.0 M
  • The Emoji Movie (2,791 theaters) - $3.9 M
  • Kidnap (2,345 theaters) - $2.8 M

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