Weekend Box Office (September 23 - 25, 2016)
THIS WEEKEND One of Hollywood's most bankable stars, Denzel Washington seized the number one spot with his new Western remake The Magnificent Seven which opened to an estimated $35M to lead the North American marketplace. Among wide releases opening in 1,500+ theaters, it was his 13th consecutive $20M+ debut with a streak that stretches over the past 12 years. And none of those were sequels.
The PG-13 film averaged a stellar $9,526 from 3,674 theaters and performed just like the Tom Hanks hit Sully which debuted to the exact same amount just two weeks earlier while also playing to older adults. Reviews were mixed for Seven, but generally upbeat. Moviegoers were drawn in by starpower from Washington as well as co-stars Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.
Denzel's last film was The Equalizer, also from director Antoine Fuqua, and opened to a similar $34.1M this same weekend two years ago so fans were excited to see the A-list actor again. The new shoot-em-up period film played to a 56% male crowd while 67% were 25 and older according to studio data from Sony. MGM co-produced the $90M film.
An A- CinemaScore grade bodes well for the coming weeks. Equalizer had the same grade and declined by 45% in its second weekend while facing formidable competition for adult audiences. The Magnificent Seven ranks as the third best opening of Washington's career after American Gangster ($43.6M in 2007) and Safe House ($40.2M in 2012) and may become his sixth film to break $100M domestic.
Warner Bros. saw a decent debut for its animated comedy Storks which grossed an estimated $21.8M from 3,922 sites for a $5,560 average. The PG-rated pic did not come close to the openings of many of this year's big animated offerings, but with no rival toons until November, it may continue to bring in kids over the weeks ahead.
Tom Hanks followed in third with his latest hit Sully which had spent two weeks at number one. The Warner Bros. release dropped 36%, quite reasonable considering a new star-driven film aimed at older adults opened. With an estimated $13.8M weekend, Sully upped its cume to $92.4M and should join the century club by Saturday on its way to a finish in the $125M neighborhood.
Leftovers rounded out the top ten including September losers and August winners. The Universal comedy Bridget Jones's Baby fell 47% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.5M putting the total at just $16.5M. Off 48% was fellow sophomore Snowden with an estimated $4.1M for Open Road and a mild $15.1M sum.
The largest decline in the top ten was for horror sequel Blair Witch which took a 59% nosedive to an estimated $4M putting Lionsgate at $16.1M. Fright hit Don't Breathe enjoyed a 33% slide to an estimated $3.8M in its fifth weekend giving Sony a solid $81.1M with a shot at reaching $90M - nine times its production cost.
The villain blockbuster Suicide Squad dipped 34% to an estimated $3.1M pushing the total up to $318.1M. It has now tied Deadpool with eight consecutive weeks in the top ten - most among all comic book movies this year. The Warner Bros. smash is now on course to join the all-time domestic Top 50, possibly on Wednesday, and will bump off Iron Man from that list in the process. Worldwide, Suicide Squad has now amassed a hefty $731.7M without any release in China.
Sony's thriller When the Bough Breaks fell 54% to an estimated $2.5M while the Focus toon Kubo and the Two Strings dropped 57% to an estimated $1.1M. Totals are now $26.6M and $46M, respectively.
Disney's Queen of Katwe, which generated buzz from its Toronto International Film Festival screening, opened in limited release and grossed an estimated $305,000 from 52 locations for a $5,865 average. The uplifting chess story directed by Mira Nair earned a rare A+ CinemaScore grade and will expand nationwide on Friday to over 1,500 locations.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $93.8M which was down 25% from last year when Hotel Transylvania 2 debuted at number one with a September record $48.5M; and off 2% from 2014 when The Equalizer opened in the top spot with $34.1M.
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Watch the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Compared to projections, The Magnificent Seven opened a little below my $38M forecast while Storks came in under my $26M prediction.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Deepwater Horizon, and Masterminds all open.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: September 25, 2016 at 5:15PM ET
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