Four new movies hit theaters this weekend, yet none of them were able to stop Clint Eastwood from claiming box office victory for a second week. All four failed to make waves, but a notable documentary found success in the wake of the aviation drama’s success.
Eastwood’s true story drama ‘Sully‘ stayed at the top of the charts. The Tom Hanks vehicle slipped just 37% and drew an additional $22 million. After ten days, the $60 million film has grossed $70.5 million domestically and $23.4 million overseas, giving it a $93.9 million worldwide total. There’s no way that it will come near or top the $547.4 million earned by Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper,’ but ‘Sully’ has already outgrossed his two films released prior to that: ‘Jersey Boys‘ ($67.9 million) and ‘J. Edgar‘ ($84.6 million).
The strongest of the new releases finished in second place far behind weekend estimates. ‘Blair Witch‘ was predicted to debut in the high teens, but only managed to scare up $9.6 million domestically. When you think about it, 1999’s ‘The Blair Witch Project‘ had a great deal of hype and buzz before it opened that drove it to box office success, but the film ultimately disappointed with its anti-climactic ending. This follow-up had none of the hype. And considering that the original isn’t looked back upon with much fondness, it’s no surprise that ‘Blair Witch’ didn’t perform well from its 3,121 screens. Overseas, it drew $4.9 million. Having said all that, despite its poor opening, ‘Blair Witch’ is hardly a failure. Produced with a $5 million budget, the $14.5 million worldwide debut already makes it profitable – just not as profitable as the original.
‘Bridget Jones’s Baby‘ also opened far below expectations. The sequel was predicted to have the franchise’s biggest debut, but it’s actually the lowest-grossing of the series. Its $8.2 million start resulted in a third place opening, but the film is playing much stronger in international markets. To date, the $35 million rom-com has claimed $29.9 million overseas, for a $38.1 million worldwide total.
The only of the weekend’s four wide releases to open right along with expectations (although those expectations weren’t high) was Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden‘. The $40 million whistle-blowing drama snuck away with $8.2 million and a #4 rank in the Top 10. The film has received mixed-to-positive reviews, but strong word-of-mouth among viewers who saw it this weekend. Unfortunately, with polarizing controversial films like this, it’s difficult to draw moviegoers who don’t already side with the protagonist. Because of that, ‘Snowden’ is likely to struggle over the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see how less-invested international moviegoers turn out when the overseas roll-out begins.
Rounding out the Top 5 was the long-lasting horror flick ‘Don’t Breathe‘. Despite new horror entries opening each week since its debut (including this weekend’s ‘Blair Witch’), none have dented its run. The movie’s fourth week came with $5.6 million and a low 32% drop in attendance. This slow-and-steady $10 million movie has now grossed $75.3 million domestically and $31.7 million overseas.
The faith-based musical documentary ‘Hillsong: Let Hope Rise‘ rolled out to 816 screens and also opened below predictions. Expected to crack the Top 10, it only earned $1.3 million and a #13 debut. Distributor Pure Flix’s model excludes a marketing campaign by relying on churchgoers’ word-of-mouth to promote the film. This lets the studio recoup production costs at a much faster pace. However, produced on a $10 million budget, the movie’s going to need a strong international response to become profitable. ‘Hillsong’ has yet to open overseas.
Meanwhile, competitor rock-doc ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years‘ saw great returns from 85 locations. The Ron Howard film collected $615,632 – the best per-screen average ($7,243) out of any film playing in theaters this weekend. For subscribers, ‘Eight Days a Week’ also debuted on the streaming service Hulu, making its theatrical accomplishments look even stronger considering that many viewers could have watched it from the confines of their own home theaters.
1. ‘Sully’ (Warner Bros.) – $22,000,000
2. ‘Blair Witch’ (Lionsgate) – $9,650,000
3. ‘Bidget Jones’s Baby’ (Universal) – $8,240,715
4. ‘Snowden’ (Open Road) – $8,023,329
5. ‘Don’t Breathe’ (Screen Gems) – $5,600,000
6. ‘When the Bough Breaks’ (Screen Gems) – $5,525,000
7. ‘Suicide Squad’ (Warner Bros.) – $4,710,000
8. ‘The Wild Life’ (Summit) – $2,650,000
9. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (Focus) – $2,509,000
10. ‘Pete’s Dragon’ (Buena Vista) – $2,041,000