“The Dark Tower” Wins the Weekend… If You Consider a Sub-$20 Million Opening a Win

the box office-2

boxofficereport9417

Film  Weekend Opening Weekend Current Gross
The Dark Tower $19.1m $19.1m $19.5m
Dunkirk $17.1m $50.5m $133m
The Emoji Movie $12m $24.5m $49.1m
Girls Trip $11.4m $31.2m $85.4m
Kidnap $10m $10m $10m

darktowerboxofficeSony Pictures

It’s the summer, right? And the first weekend of August?

I’m just checking, because looking at this weekend’s box office numbers, it’s like looking at numbers we might normally see in one of the slower months of October or April. Basically, not a single movie made more than $20 million this weekend, and that’s troubling even for the last month of summer. Normally, at least the first half of August should do decently before people go on their summer vacations.

It looks like the infamous “Dog Days of Summer” have come early, because moviegoers have just had enough of the garbage being foisted upon them by the studios, and now seem more willing than ever to wait until the fall and holiday releases.

I think I’ve ranted enough. Let’s get to the actual figures.

The reason this weekend is such a big issue is because Sony’s The Dark Tower, a loose adaptation of Stephen King’s long-running series of novels starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and newcomer Tom Taylor, failed to make much of an impact, topping the box office with an estimated $19.1 million in 3,451 theaters.

As I mentioned in last Thursday’s report, knives seemed to be out for the movie even before most film critics had a chance to see it. Its 18% score on Rotten Tomatoes was better than the previous week’s The Emoji Movie, but that’s not saying much either.

The writing was on the wall when Dark Tower only brought in $1.8 million from Thursday night previews, when the fans of the books should have been out in force. The movie’s “B” CinemaScore and topping the box office with just $7 million on Friday also didn’t bode well.

To give some historic context on how disappointing The Dark Tower‘s opening was, the last time the first weekend of August fared so poorly was in 1998 when Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan was #1 for a third weekend in a row with $17.4 million over weaker fare like Nicolas Cage’s Snake Eyes. Granted, those were different times, as movie tickets cost substantially less money, there were significantly less movie theaters, and there wasn’t as much emphasis on opening weekend.

But we really need to move on…

In better news, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk continues to do well with an estimated $17.1 million in its own third weekend, down just 34% to bring its domestic total to $133 million. Sure, that’s $30 million more than Saving Private Ryan over the same period of time, but again, ticket prices — especially with IMAX — are much higher, too. In fact, Dunkirk has grossed $30 million from its IMAX screenings in North America alone, with another $24 million from IMAX overseas. The WWII epic also crossed the $300 million mark worldwide over the weekend.

the emoji movieSony Pictures

That takes us to third place, where Sony’s The Emoji Movie lost almost 50% of its opening business with $12 million over the weekend, and $49.1 million grossed so far. Maybe once it passes its $50 million production budget, Sony can rest easier.

Universal’s hit comedy Girls Trip made $11.4 million in its own third weekend and has grossed $85.4 million so far. Very nice, especially for director Malcolm D. Lee, who just signed a first-look deal with the studio.

This is where things get somewhat interesting, because the other two new wide releases on Friday were very different movies — one featuring star power in the form of Halle Berry, the other featuring star power in the form of Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow.

Berry’s high-concept thriller Kidnap had been sitting on the shelf for over two years after being caught up in the Relativity Studios bankruptcy. It was picked up by the fledgling Aviron Pictures for very little money, with the goal of launching David Dinerstein’s new distribution company.

In turn, Bigelow was launching Megan Allison’s new distribution arm of Annapurna Pictures with Detroit, a serious retelling of the Algiers Motel murders that took place during the 1967 riots. The film features rising stars John Boyega, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Will Poulter and Jason Mitchell. It fared well with film critics, ending up with 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and an “A-” CinemaScore. The Tracking Board’s chief film critic, Drew McWeeny, wasn’t as impressed.

Which do you think did better and took fifth place? Knowing that Detroit opened in 600 more theaters than Kidnap might not help — and it certainly didn’t help my own projection.

That’s right, the Halle Berry thriller ended up making an estimated $10 million over the weekend, enough for fifth place. Detroit, by comparison, ended up on the low end of the box office pole with $7.1 million in eighth place.

For all the talk over the past few weeks about how much reviews matter and how they frequently determine whether moviegoers go to see a movie or not, we have one movie that proves that theory in The Dark Tower, and one that goes completely against it with Detroit.

In other box office news, Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman didn’t quite hit the $400 million benchmark expected for the weekend, but it came damn close and should be there by the time you read this. Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming continues to be the studio’s most successful 2017 release as it inches closer to $300 million itself.

windriverbo
The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company’s fourth release of the year was Taylor Sheridan’s thriller Wind River, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, and it grossed $161,000 in four theaters in New York and L.A. With a nearly $41,000 per-theater average, we’ll see how that fares for its planned wide expansion.

For comparison, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel averaged less than that last weekend, and Paramount expanded it into 180 theaters on Friday where it grossed $961,000 for the weekend. The Weinstein Company could take advantage of the slower Labor Day weekend this year for a nationwide expansion then.

Fox Searchlight’s doc Step didn’t fare as well, making $146,000 in 29 theaters over the weekend, likely hurt by the amount of direct competition for its potential audience.

(Source: boxofficemojo.com. Figures represent estimated numbers at time of writing, and they may change.)

  | East Coast Editor
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Still quiet here.sas

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