Box Office Wrap Up: Dark Tower, Dark Weekend.
Sony’s The Dark Tower stands tall over a box office wasteland.
The summer slump continues. A cinema-wide doldrums has set in, sapping the box office of vitality. Two of the three wide release films this week performed at or above expectations, and several returning films had small declines, but the overall numbers are still abysmal. How can that be?
This Week in Box Office History.
The overall box office was down 20% from last week’s already poor performance. With a total of 121 million in ticket sales, this is the weakest beginning to August since 2005 (a year that keeps popping up in our benchmarks as a particularly dismal year for ticket sales.) Seeing as we just had the worst July for ticket sales since 2000, it is safe to say that we are in a dreary summer season, and Hollywood is probably not thrilled to see August getting off to such a poor start.
Over the last month, a trend has been emerging that I call “the summer without a hit.” The last film to open with more than 100 million dollars was Spider-Man Homecoming, way back at the start of July, and it was just barely over that mark. Other films that would normally be in that category such as Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, and Aliens, have all fallen on their faces and made around 50 million in sales on opening weekend (and notice each of those is the fifth or sixth entry in a series that has probably passed its expiration date.) That cuts 50% of the potential revenue for the weekend from the top end films.
There have been films with incredible longevity such as Dunkirk, Girls Trip, and Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, only Wonder Woman started with a big enough opening to make a gentle decline meaningful for the overall box office earnings. When films are opening at 30-50% of historical expectations, sticking around in the top ten for an extra week or two is easier to do and means a lot less.
Top Three Films.
Despite bad press, The Dark Tower took first place this weekend with just under 20 million dollars. As we said earlier, it wasn’t much of an honor since movie sales are so depressed at the moment. As anemic a start it was for the overall box office, it’s not that far off from studio projections. Two bright spots for Sony are that this film is already doing decently overseas and it had a much smaller budget than many would-be summer blockbusters. It’s going to have to do better than decent overseas, though, since there’s no amount of gentle decline that can turn a 20 million dollar opening into a 60 million dollar profit.
Second place went to Dunkirk, which continues to have a solid presence at the box office. The film added 18 million in dollars to its domestic take, falling a very modest 33% from last week. It has now topped 130 million dollars in the US against a 100 million dollar budget, making it bona fide success.
Third place went to The Emoji Movie. It has now made just shy of 50 million in dollars in US spending, ensuring that it at least made back its budget. As savage as the press was for this film (and by all accounts the film is horrible) it is assured to turn a profit. The only snag so far for this animated comedy is that it is no performing overseas, taking in just 12 million dollars so far.
The other wide release films fell into the bottom half of the top ten, though that result means very different things for each.
In fifth place, Halle Berry‘s chase thriller Kidnap took in 10 million dollars. That may seem like a bad opening, but the fact that this film got an opening at all is a minor miracle. Kidnap was part of the Relativity Media implosion and bankruptcy in 2015. By some accounts, the film is unfinished: there are re-used sequences, inserted dialogue from an actress who doesn’t sound like Berry, and odd cuts/fades to black that hint that scenes were not completed. Aviron Pictures bought the film for a song, 3 million, so most of the 20 million budget is marketing. For a film that may never have earned a dime, 10 million is probably just fine for Aviron.
In eighth place, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit stumbled out of the gate. Despite having a solid weekend in limited release, Detroit failed to find a wider audience upon expanding to 3000+ theaters. The film managed only 7 million dollars against a 34 million dollar budget. Safe to say a film about race riots in Detroit isn’t going to make a lot of money overseas, so this film needs to find a domestic audience or bide its time until awards season.
Top Ten Movies.
1. The Dark Tower (19.5)
2. Dunkirk (17.6)
3. The Emoji Movie (12.3)
4. Girls Trip (11.4)
5. Kidnap (10.2)
6. Spider-Man Homecoming (8.8)
7. Atomic Blonde (8.2)
8. Detroit (7.2)
9. War for the Planet of the Apes (6.0)
10. Despicable Me 3 (5.2)