'Sully' and 'When the Bough Breaks' Set to Kick Off Fall 2016 Movie Season

by Brad Brevet

September 8, 2016

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $12.2 million on Friday, Sully is off to a great start, looking at a three-day opening that could top $34 million. The film also took home an "A" CinemaScore from opening day audiences and with an opening this big we're looking at the third best live-action opener for Tom Hanks and possibly the fifth largest September opening ever.

Pulling in second with an estimated $5.28 million is Screen Gems' thriller When the Bough Breaks, which is looking at a three-day opening around $14.5 million if not a little higher.

Lionsgate's animated feature The Wild Life could only manage an estimated $700,000 from 2,493 theaters, headed toward an opening around $2.6 million.

And the last of the weekend's new wide releases is Relativity's The Disappointments Room, which managed a mere $475,000 from 1,554 theaters, anticipating an overall opening around $1.1 million.

You can check out our chart of Friday estimates here and we'll be back tomorrow with a look at the three-day weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Sully got things started last night with $1.35 million from ~2,900 locations. It's a strong number considering last night also featured the first NFL game of the regular season. This is also more than double the $600,000 Captain Phillips started off with and an $850,000 improvement over Bridge of Spies. Comparisons outside the titles mention in our weekend preview below are a little wishy-washy in terms of overall parity. You could look at the $1.4 million Black Mass brought in before opening with $22.6 million and the $1.5 million Southpaw started with before opening with $16.7 million.

None of the weekend's three other new wide releases—Screen Gems' When the Bough Breaks, Relativity's The Disappointments Room and Lionsgate's The Wild Life—held Thursday previews.

You can read our weekend preview below and we'll have Friday estimates for you tomorrow morning.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: The Fall movie season is upon us as last weekend brought the 2016 Summer movie season to a close, delivering a slight increase over 2015 with a calendar gross of nearly $4.5 billion led by Finding Dory's $482.9 million. Added to that, Summer 2016 concluded with only the second August to ever deliver calendar grosses eclipsing $1 billion, led by Suicide Squad's $286.4 million. All told, 2016 is currently showing a 4.9% increase over 2015, with a gross-to-date totaling $8.1 billion as of yesterday, compared to $7.7 billion at the same time last year. As for this weekend, it looks as if the top twelve should outperform the same weekend last year by a couple million with a pair of new releases doing the bulk of the heavy lifting.

With the fall film festival season in full swing, one of this weekend's four new wide releases has already seen its share of festival love, that being Clint Eastwood's Sully, which received a standing ovation after its Telluride screening and is now looking at a #1 finish at this weekend's box office. Also opening is the Screen Gems thriller When the Bough Breaks, Lionsgate's animated pick-up The Wild Life and Relativity's The Disappointments Room.

Following in the footsteps of films such as Captain Phillips and Flight, Warner Bros. will release the real-life drama Sully into over 3,500 theaters this weekend with the studio anticipating an opening around $25 million, a number that seems conservative given the comparative titles and theater count. Like Sully, Captain Phillips starred Tom Hanks in the title role and opened with $25.7 million in mid-October from just over 3,000 theaters and Flight, starring Denzel Washington, opened with $24.9 million in November 2012, playing in only 1,884 theaters. Of course, neither of the competitive titles just mentioned were September releases, and instead of making their splashes at the Telluride Film Festival, both premiered at the New York Film Festival, a fest with fewer films than both Telluride and TIFF jockeying for position in the limelight.

As far as critical reception is concerned, Sully is currently hovering right around 80% on RottenTomatoes, comparable to Flight's 78% and below Captain Phillips' 93%. That said, online ticket seller reports Sully is outselling Tom Hanks' previous dramas, Bridge of Spies and Captain Phillips, at the same point in the sales cycle. Similarly, when evaluating IMDb page view traffic, Sully is outpacing both of those titles as well as Flight at the same point in the release cycle.

All told, a safe bet for opening weekend would be to expect $25-28 million. What pushes Mojo's forecast to $31 million is the theater count and the film's positioning. While this is the first weekend of a new NFL season, coming on the heels of a summer movie season with few options for adult audiences, Sully seems well-timed to take advantage of its place on the calendar. Additionally, Sully will be the ninth largest September opening of all-time when it debuts in 3,525 theaters. That's 505 more theaters than Captain Phillips opened in and over 1,600 more than Flight debuted in.

Looking to finish second is Screen Gems' When the Bough Breaks starring Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall and Jaz Sinclair. The obvious comparisons are previous Screen Gems titles targeting the same audience, which include The Perfect Guy which opened with $25.8 million from 2,221 theaters over the same weekend last September and No Good Deed, which opened one year earlier with $24.2 million from 2,175 theaters.

With 2,246 theaters to its credit, When the Bough Breaks matches up well by comparison, which would suggest it would do similar business. However, looking at IMDb traffic data this one is pacing well below both competitive titles at the same point in the release cycle. The studio is anticipating an opening around $10-12 million based on tracking, which also lines up well with similar-sized September openers. That said, given the history of the genre and the success Screen Gems has found with similar films it stands to reason When the Bough Breaks should outperform both the studio's conservative expectations and the average for similarly-sized September openers, though perhaps not by as much as previous releases. Still staying on the somewhat conservative side, expect an opening anywhere from $15-18 million, though don't be too astonished if it manages to top $20 million.

Next is Lionsgate's animated pickup The Wild Life, a film that has been in release internationally since February where it goes by the title Robinson Crusoe and has grossed $20.8 million so far. This is a P&A deal for Lionsgate and to compare to the studio's previous animated release, Norm of the North, The Wild Life appears to be pacing a bit behind that picture which opened in January with $6.8 million. Wild Life is opening in 2,493 theaters and expectation is for it to finish right around $5 million, which would appear to be the ceiling at this time.

The last of the weekend's new wide releases is Relativity's The Disappointments Room starring Kate Beckinsale, which will debut in 1,554 theaters and is looking to pull in around $2 million for the weekend, finishing outside the top ten. Along with the forthcoming Masterminds, Disappointments Room is another pic from Relativity's previous regime. The film was shot in the Summer of 2014, has bounced around the release schedule and just recently shifted to this weekend after previously being slated for a mid-November release. The film carries a reported budget right around $15 million.

Looking at the weekend's holdovers, Screen Gems is going to have a pair of films in the top five as Don't Breathe continues its exceptional run after hauling in $15.8 million last weekend. Entering its third weekend in release, Don't Breathe isn't losing theaters, but instead gaining locations as it will play in 3,384 theaters (+333) where it is looking at a ~50% drop from the holiday weekend, likely finishing around $8 million for the three-day as its domestic gross-to-date pushes over $65 million.

Also look for Warner's Suicide Squad to enjoy another top five finish. The DC Comics adaptation should be looking at a drop right around 50% this weekend and a three-day around $5 million as it approaches $307 million domestically.

In limited release, Focus World will release Kicks into three theaters; The Orchard will release Demon in three theaters; IFC will debut Dancer in one theater; and Magnolia will be releasing the Amazon Studios documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story.

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.

  • Sully (3,525 theaters) - $31.0 M
  • When the Bough Breaks (2,246 theaters) - $16.0 M
  • Don't Breathe (3,384 theaters) - $8.0 M
  • Suicide Squad (3,103 theaters) - $5.1 M
  • The Wild Life (2,493 theaters) - $4.6 M
  • Kubo and the Two Strings (2,335 theaters) - $4.1 M
  • Pete's Dragon (2,685 theaters) - $3.4 M
  • Hell or High Water (1,445 theaters) - $3.3 M
  • Bad Moms (1,888 theaters) - $2.9 M
  • The Light Between Oceans (1,500 theaters) - $2.9 M

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.

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