Weekend Box Office (September 22 - 24, 2017)
THIS WEEKEND Some fresh new blood entered the top ten as four films opened to varying results at the North American box office. Leading the way with a top spot debut was the action sequel Kingsman The Golden Circle which opened to an estimated $39M from 4,003 locations for a stellar $9,743 average. That was an 8% improvement on the $36.2M launch of the first Kingsman movie which opened during the busy Presidents Day holiday frame in 2015. Golden Circle was released in the traditionally slower period of September, but did have 800 more theaters.
Reviews were mixed for the R-rated film which brought back some main cast members from the original and added in plenty of extra starpower with Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges joining the fun. Moviegoers have been satisfied with the entertainment as the new Kingsman earned a B+ grade from CinemaScore polling. The audience was 58% male, 65% over 25, and half of the business came from non-white audiences.
In terms of how September live-action movies perform, Golden Circle was almost as good as it gets. The only live-action films to open better during this month have been the anomaly It at $123.4M and the horror sequel Insidious: Chapter 2 at $40.3M. Recent star-driven titles opening at this time of year like Sully, The Magnificent Seven, and The Equalizer all debuted in the $34-35M range and were anchored by bigger actors. The box office has now been ruled by R-rated films for seven consecutive weeks.
Kingsman The Golden Circle made a big splash internationally too as the opening weekend pulled in an estimated $61.2M from 64 markets making for a global start of $100.2M. Leading the way by a mile was the U.K. with $11.1M followed by Russia at $6M.
Cracking the quarter billion mark in only its third weekend of play, the horror megahit It settled for second place but still amassed an impressive $30M according to estimates. That catapulted the domestic cume to $266.3M with the weekend decline being 50%, a good figure for this genre. The Warner Bros. title is already the fifth highest grossing domestic blockbuster of 2017.
Overseas audiences are still lining up big time as the Stephen King story grossed an estimated $38.3M for a new international cume of $211.7M with global up to $478M. The U.K. and Mexico have been leading the way. It now looks on track to end up in the $320M range in North America with the worldwide tally likely to finish north of $650M, and that's with no China release.
The studio also took third place, but this time with an underperforming result for its latest toon The LEGO Ninjago Movie which took in an estimated $21.2M in its debut weekend. That represented a troubling 60% fall from the $53M opening of The LEGO Batman Movie from earlier this year and a sharp 69% tumble from the $69.1M bow of 2014's The LEGO Movie. Both of those released in early February.
Ninjago was basically even with the $21.3M opening last September of the studio's animated film Storks which was not part of a brand with a built-in audience of fans. Plus competition was not tough as most films in the top ten right now are aimed at adults or older teens. Eight of these ten are rated R. The PG-rated LEGO pic averaged $5,250 from 4,047 theaters. Reviews were mixed and audiences were generally happy with what they got. A sequel to the original LEGO flick is slated for February 2019.
The action title American Assassin suffered the biggest drop in the top ten falling 58% to an estimated $6.3M giving Lionsgate $26.2M to date. Off 36% was the Reese Witherspoon comedy Home Again with an estimated $3.3M and $22.3M total for Open Road. Paying audiences did not get what they expected with Paramount's mother! which fell 57% to an estimated $3.3M this weekend for a weak $13.4M sum.
With fright fans having spent an eye-popping $367M on horror hits over the past two months, there was little need for the new thriller Friend Request which flopped in its opening weekend grossing only $2.4M, according to estimates. Released by Entertainment Studios, the R-rated pic averaged a poor $933 from 2,573 locations. Reviews were bad and audience scores were not much better.
Lionsgate followed with three-time box office champ The Hitman's Bodyguard which pulled in an estimated $1.9M in its sixth frame lifting the cume to $73.6M. The acclaimed Jake Gyllenhaal drama Stronger debuted in moderate national play and landed in ninth with an estimated $1.75M from 574 sites for a lukewarm $3,045 average. Rounding out the top ten was Wind River with an estimated $1.3M, down 51%, for a $31.7M total for The Weinstein Co.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $110.3M which was up 19% from last year when The Magnificent Seven opened at number one with $34.7M; but down 12% from 2015 when Hotel Transylvania 2 debuted in the top spot with a then-record $48.5M.
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Compared to projections, Kingsman The Golden Circle opened ahead of my $34M forecast while The LEGO Ninjago Movie came in below my $29M prediction. Friend Request debuted with half of my $5M projection.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when American Made and Flatliners 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 24, 2017 at 3:00PM ET
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