The Dog Days of Summer Are Upon Us, So Can Any New Movie Break Out?

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard

$11 million

Annabelle: Creation

 $7.5 million

Leap!

$5 million

Logan Lucky

$4.5 million

Dunkirk

$4.4 million

The title above says it all, and if you’re one of the few people excited about this weekend’s offerings, then you’re already a step ahead of most film critics, many of whom won’t bother to see the three wide releases without an assignment or editorial edict. Either way, the sub-$50 million for the top 10 this weekend is verging on a record for all-time low… and next weekend might be worse.

Because of the weak offerings, ’s action-comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard will remain #1 with around $11 million, followed by New Line’s Annabelle: Creation with $7.5 million.

leapboxofficeThe Weinstein Co.

Getting the widest release this weekend is the Weinstein Company’s animated film Leap!, which like many TWC movies, has been shifted around the release schedule before settling on literally the worst possible time to release a family film. I haven’t seen the movie (formerly titled Ballerina), but I’ve heard it isn’t bad, and the studio has actually been screening it for critics going back to earlier in the year, when it was set for an April release. The movie also opened in many foreign regions last December and January, so it does feel a little old hat, though that’s not something kids will likely to care about, let alone know about.

Reviews have been mixed for this tale of a French orphan who wants to be a ballerina. The voice cast includes the ubiquitous Elle Fanning, Carly Rae Jepsen and Kate McKinnon, while Dane DeHaan was mysteriously replaced by Nat Wolff before the great Mel Brooks was added to juice things up.

The Weinstein Company has yet to have a single movie open to more than $4 million this year, which would be quite daunting for a lower-profile film like this, and while it could still follow suit, it might also make a push for $5 million. That would be enough to take third place this weekend, believe it or not.

If that happens, then Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk will battle for fourth place with between $4 million and $5 million each. Both films should finish close behind Leap!

Anyone expecting a movie called All Saints to be another holiday-based horror movie is likely to be disappointed. This PG-rated faith-based drama from Sony’s Affirm Films stars John Corbett (remember him from Sex and the City and My Big Fat Greek Wedding?) as a salesman-turned-pastor whose church was shut down (probably because he was trying to sell his congregation shoes?), prompting him to help a group of Southeast Asian refugees build their own church.

As we’ve discovered, there’s always an audience for a safe, bland drama like this, and two years ago on this weekend, TriStar had a substantial hit with War Room, which grossed $67 million following an $11 million opening. It took second place behind Straight Outta Compton in its third weekend, so maybe the studio is onto something with this late-August release.

Affirm Films’ biggest hits to date include 2011’s Soul Surfer ($43.8 million) and Courageous ($34.5 million), but this one is being released into just 800 theaters, and all of its marketing is focused on the Bible Belt states, so it’s harder to gauge interest. It’s likely to end up in the middle of the Top 10 with between $3 million and #4 million, sandwiched between the other PG-rated releases.

Opening Weekend Current Gross Total Facebook Likes Twitter Activity (Past Week) 
The Hitman’s Bodyguard $21.4m $27.9m 119,547  44,255
Annabelle: Creation  $35m $69.3m 15,728  68,698
Leap! N/A N/A 13,731  5,847
Logan Lucky $7.6m $10m 86,223  33,268
Dunkirk $50.5m $167.8m 610,531  49,568
Birth of the Dragon N/A N/A 176,682  1,305

birthofthedragonboBH Tilt

BH Tilt and WWE Films team up to release George Nolfi’s Birth of the Dragon, about one of Bruce Lee’s greatest off-screen battles. I’ve been told the movie’s changed a lot since its Toronto International Film Festival debut last year, which is good, because I wasn’t a fan of the version I saw. Of course, they’re barely screening the movie for critics that haven’t already seen it – most will be seeing it hours before it opens on Thursday night — which tells me that maybe there was only so much they could do with Nolfi’s weak action-drama.

One can assume there’s a lot of Bruce Lee and martial arts fans out there, as well as a number of Asian-Americans that might have given this a look, if not for the fact that it’s guilty of the type of whitewashing that community has been complaining about all year. Instead of being just about Bruce Lee, it’s actually about one of his students, played by Billy Magnussen, although he barely appears in the marketing for obvious reasons. Actual Hong Kong martial arts star Philip Ng plays Bruce Lee, and you can’t get much more whitewashing than focusing on the white American in a movie like this.

The late August release poses a challenge, but there’s a chance BH Tilt was looking at Harvey Weinstein’s decision to release the Oscar-nominated film Hero in late-August when the company made its decision. Like Leap!, that movie had also been released in most foreign markets by the time Miramax gave it a North American release. With a moderate release, Birth of the Dragon will be lucky to make more than $3 million this weekend, as martial arts fans will already be forewarned about the movie’s quality thanks to the internet. Also, male fight fans will be more likely to want to stay in on Saturday night to watch Mayweather vs. McGregor, so this one is really relying on Thursday and Friday to make money.

     
Rotten Tomatoes IMDb Metacritic
Critics Users Stars  
The Hitman’s Bodyguard 40 76  7.3 50
Annabelle: Creation 67 75 7.2  62
Leap! 40 N/A N/A 52
Logan Lucky 93 78 7.5 78
Dunkirk 93 82 8.4 94
Birth of the Dragon N/A N/A N/A N/A

Word has it that A24 will expand the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson, nationwide this weekend. It has grossed less than $350,000 after two weeks in limited release, so we’ll have to see how wide they’re willing to expand the release, though it’s doubtful the film can make much of a mark at the box office, even against the weak offerings above.

Similarly, Neon should expand Ingrid Goes West, which has grossed $440,000 since opening two weekends back. In theory, it should benefit from a wider release, depending on how wide the movie goes… and if they bother to advertise it.

t23dTriStar Pictures

Also hitting theaters Friday is Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D, James Cameron’s second movie to get the 3D re-release treatment after Titanic 3D in 2012. That box office juggernaut managed to add $58 million to its already impressive lifetime gross, but it also received a wide release, while T2 will probably be in 100 theaters or less.

From Bollywood comes A Gentleman, which is getting a decent release into 135 theaters from FIP, although that distributor has yet to have a solid hit in the States, with no movie opening over $1 million. This one is likely to follow suit.

From Korea comes Jung Byeong-Gil’s The Villainess, an excellent revenge action-thriller that premiered at Montreal’s Fantasia Fesr and the New York Asian Film Festival. It will be released by Well Go USA, which had success last year with the Korean thrillers Train to Busan and The Wailing. The interest in Bong Joon-ho’s Okja on Netflix this past summer should bring more eyeballs to this impressive action flick.

Yet another Sundance favorite, Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats, will be released into select cities by Tim League and Tom Quinn’s Neon, whose biggest hit to date was Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal starring Anne Hathaway, which grossed $3 million earlier this year. It’s a coming-of-age tale about a young Brooklynite exploring his sexuality, which won Hittman an award at Sundance for her thoughtful direction.

Staying in Brooklyn, and not to be confused with last week’s Crown Heights, Bushwick is a post-apocalyptic thriller from Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, directors of the horror-comedy Cooties. It stars Brittany Snow as a young woman who finds herself in the middle of a territory war for the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista as a warrior that gives her shelter. RLJ Entertainment will compliment its VOD/digital release with a limited theatrical run.

Fans of The Smiths may want to check out Mark Gill’s England is Mine, which is essentially a Morrissey origin story. It’s getting a nominal theatrical release from Cleopatra Entertainment, and frankly, Mr. Shankly, it ain’t great.

Other releases include Vertical Entertainment’s horror film Ghost House and Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj’s French drama Polina, which stars Juliette Binoche, and is being released by Oscilloscope in New York on Friday before it comes to Los Angeles on Sept. 1.

Again, if you don’t feel like leaving your house this weekend, Netflix is offering Adam Wingard’s Death Note remake, which I haven’t watched yet, but having suffered through his Blair Witch remake, I’m not sure whether I’ll bother to check it out.

That’s it for now. Check back on Saturday morning for an update on how the movies above are faring, and then I’ll have the full weekend box office report for you on Monday.

(Sources: boxofficemojo.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb.com, metacritic.com. Figures represent numbers at time of writing, and may have changed. Tracking Board does not report Rotten Tomatoes user ratings for movies that have not yet seen wide release.)

  | East Coast Editor
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