Weekend Box Office (September 9 - 11, 2016)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers were in the mood for an inspiring movie about an American hero starring one of the country's most beloved actors as the Tom Hanks film Sully opened at number one with a terrific $35.5M, according to estimates. Directed by Clint Eastwood in his follow-up to the record-shattering American Sniper, the PG-13 film delivered the third best live-action debut ever in the month of September trailing just Insidious Chapter 2 and Sweet Home Alabama.

Older moviegoers powered the success as studio data from Warner Bros. showed that the crowd was 80% over 35. Females made up 56% of the audience. Averaging a muscular $10,072 from 3,525 theaters including 375 IMAX runs, Sully powered ahead of the $25.7M debut of Captain Phillips from just three years ago. That was also a fall release about a likable American man in peril and legged its way to a $107.1M final which was over four times its opening weekend tally.

Hanks also reached a new career milestone this weekend. With Sully, the double Oscar winner has now anchored number-one openings with his live-action movies across four straight decades. His only trip to the top so far this decade was with 2010's Toy Story 3 and some of his big Hollywood offerings were misfires at the box office in recent years. This new film put on display the Hanks box office muscles of old.

More awards contenders and star-driven films for adults will continue to roll out over the weeks ahead, but the road still looks bright for Sully. Reviews were fantastic and audiences agreed with critics giving the drama an A grade from CinemaScore. Plus older patrons do not rush out right away so there are plenty of people to still reach throughout this month.

The thriller When the Bough Breaks debuted in second place with an estimated $15M from 2,246 locations for a solid $6,679 average. It was a strong performance for the $10M-budgeted film, but below the levels of past offerings Sony released recently on this same weekend targeting the same audience of African-American adults. Last year, The Perfect Guy bowed to $25.9M while No Good Deed debuted to $24.3M a year earlier. Both opened at number one. Studio data indicated that the crowd was 62% female and 61% over 25. Reviews for the PG-13 film came out after the film released and were dreadful.

Scary movie sensation Don't Breathe was bumped from the number one spot after a two-week reign but still held up pretty well considering it was coming off of a holiday frame. The Sony hit fell 48% to an estimated $8.2M lifting the incredible cume to $66.8M. A domestic final in the $80-85M range seems likely for the low-cost $10M production.

After a stellar five-week run in the top two positions, Suicide Squad dropped to fourth with an estimated $5.7M. Off 43%, the DC bad guys raised the total up to $307.4M for Warner Bros on its way to a likely domestic final of roughly $320M.

Squad opened in its final international market this weekend with a $3.6M two-day Saturday-Sunday launch in Japan. That was 65% higher than the $2.1M two-day debut of Guardians of the Galaxy this same weekend two years ago. The studio also reported that the Squad debut was roughly on par with both Deadpool and Batman v Superman there, however those films opened on a Wednesday and a Friday respectively so it would not be apples-to-apples comparisons. Still, Suicide Squad has banked $392M overseas and a sturdy $699.4M worldwide and should shatter the $700M global mark on Monday - with $0 from China.

Picking up just a few morsels from the back-to-school crowd, the new animated adventure The Wild Life failed to make a dent debuting to an estimated $3.4M from 2,493 locations for a weak $1,364 average. Reviews were lousy and consumer interest was never there for the Lionsgate release.

More kidpics followed. Kubo and the Two Strings fell 49% to an estimated $3.2M pushing the cume to $40.8M for Focus. Disney's Pete's Dragon grossed an estimated $2.9M, off 54%, for a new sum of $70M.

Films for grown-ups rounded out the top ten. STX's sleeper comedy hit Bad Moms slipped 41% to an estimated $2.8M giving the raunchy ladies $107.5M to date. Dropping the same percentage was Hell or High Water with an estimated $2.6M and $19.8M to date. Sausage Party declined by 56% to an estimated $2.3M for a cume of $93.2M.

No jokes need to be made about the title of the new horror film The Disappointments Room and its box office performance. The low-profile release from Relativity saw an estimated $1.4M this weekend from 1,554 locations for a dismal $901 average. It followed a summer full of scary movie hits.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $81.7M which was identical to last year when The Perfect Guy debuted at number one with $25.9M; and up 11% from 2014 when No Good Deed opened in the top spot with $24.3M.

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Compared to projections, Sully soared higher than my $23M forecast and When the Bough Breaks came in below my $20M prediction. The Wild Life was on target with my $4M projection while The Disappointments Room fell below my $4M forecast.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Blair Witch, Bridget Jones's Baby, and Snowden all premiere.


Last Updated: September 11, 2016 at 2:20PM ET

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