Warner Bros.’ five-week run at the top of the box office came to an end this week as moviegoers moved from a nun to a predator. Ironically, this week’s faith-based effort fell to the bottom while the top film’s title is a reminder of its behind-the-scenes casting controversy and the studio’s subsequent failure at crisis management. That being said, Shane Black’s reboot of the iconic ‘80s alien bested Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 production, but will it suffer the same lack of interest going forward?
One of the film’s best running jokes is whether or not the title is appropriate. Ironically, The Predator only thrives on name recognition. Although some critics may have reacted in kind to the scandal (Black had cast his registered sex offender pal opposite Olivia Munn) which broke shortly before its opening night midnight premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last week, audiences still showed up for $24 million. That is less than 2010’s Predators which opened to $24.7 million against a 65% Tomatometer. The Predator currently sits at 34%, ahead of Predator 2 (27%) and the woeful Alien vs. Predator films (20% & 11%).
Predators fell an abysmal 71.1% in its second weekend and finished with a final multiple of its opening weekend of just 2.10. Only Bruno, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Sleepover had worse second week drops in July since 2000. The worst drops in September for films released in over 3,000 theaters (The Predator is in over 4,000) belong to Resident Evil: Retribution (-68.2%), Apollo 18 (-67.2%) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (-65.7%). The Predator does not have a lot of direct competition next week. However, don’t be too shocked if the drop-off looms large as its numbers from critics and audiences compute directly with last year’s Morgan (-74.9% drop in 2,020 theaters) and Retribution, films which finished with multiples of just 1.94 and 2.01, respectively. Even if The Predator stretches to $55 million, the production budget of $88 million is going to demand a lot from international sales, where it has made an additional $30.7 million thus far.
Paul Feig’s supposed trip into darker drama, A Simple Favor, was also a no-show at the late summer festivals and it seemed Lionsgate was being reserved in marketing. They even advertised it as a dark domestic mystery in the vein of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train rather than what it is – a Paul Feig goof on that very genre. Make no mistake, A Simple Favor is a comedy, not to mention the best-reviewed (82%) of this week’s wide releases and the studio’s second-best opening of the year after Tyler Perry’s Acrimony ($17.1 million.) It made $16 million — not too shabby if the word also spreads positively. It could surpass Overboard as Lionsgate’s highest-grossing film of 2018.
Sony did have White Boy Rick at the Toronto Film Festival last week and critics appear indifferent about it with a 63% rating. As did audiences who spent $8.8 million on it.
That’s the weakest 2500+ theater opening for Sony since last year’s back-to-back releases of Flatliners ($6.5 million/2.552 theaters) and Only the Brave ($6.0 million/2,577 theaters). Also, raise your hand if you knew there was a sequel to Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken this weekend with a whole new cast, director and studio. PureFlix’s Unbroken: Path to Redemption opened to $2.35 million, slightly less than their last release of pardoned felon Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary, Death of a Nation ($2.36 million).
Last week’s champion, The Nun, dropped 66.2% to second place. That is the fourth largest drop for a film opening between $50-60 million making the top five: Valentine’s Day (-70.4%), Watchmen (-67.7%), The Village (-67.5%), The Nun (-66.2%) Green Lantern (-66.1%). Except Warner Bros. is laughing all the way to the bank with a $228 million worldwide gross so far on just a $22 million budget. That’s even more than Crazy Rich Asians which remains on a path for somewhere around $180 million domestic. That has made $37.9 million internationally to date. Of course there is still The Meg, which crossed the half-billion mark this weekend. Conservatively, it still needs another $34 million to break even for the studio.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is well into profit for Paramount with over $760 million worldwide; the fifth highest-grossing film of 2018. Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 3 has also passed the half-billion mark; the first film in the series to reach that benchmark. Plus, their Searching is now the third highest-grossing film from Sundance this year and has become a nice little success overseas as well with an additional $26.2 million. That’s the same amount for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman which has grossed over $75 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film ever for the director after Inside Man.
Warner Bros. did actually rule this weekend last year as It continued its dominance with $60.1 million; a second weekend that is still higher than any other weekend in September including last week’s The Nun ($53.8 million). As for new challengers, Lionsgate’s American Assassin grossed $14.8 million making it pretty much D.O.A. as a potential franchise launch. That was still nearly double Darren Aronofsky’s polarizing mother! with Jennifer Lawrence which opened to $7.5 million and yet, for better or worse, will be remembered for years in ways that American Assassin won’t. The top ten films grossed $101.5 million and had an average critical score of 63.9%. This weekend’s grossed an estimated $93.4 million and averaged 57.2% with critics.
Eli Roth tries his hand with family horror in his first non-“R”-rated offering in The House With A Clock In Its Walls. This Is Us creator, Dan Fogelman, directs the already critically-lambasted Life Itself (20%), not to be confused in any way with the Roger Ebert documentary and memoir. Then there is Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9, which is making a splash with critics after its Toronto Fest premiere (92%). That will open wider than Fahrenheit 9/11 did in 2004 (over 1,500 theaters compared to 868,) which remains the highest-grossing documentary of all time. But is the choir Trumped-out at this point? If it can match the $23.9 opening of his 2004 post-Oscar success, it could just lead the box office.
1. The Predator – $24.0 million ($24.0 million total)
2. The Nun – $18.2 million ($85.0 million total)
3. A Simple Favor – $16.0 million ($16.0 million total)
4. White Boy Rick – $8.8 million ($8.8 million total)
5. Crazy Rich Asians – $8.7 million ($149.5 million total)
6. Peppermint – $6.0 million ($24.2 million total)
7. The Meg – $3.8 million ($137.0 million total)
8. Searching – $3.2 million ($19.6 million total)
9. Unbroken: Path to Redemption – $2.35 million ($2.35 million total)
10. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – $2.31 million ($216.1 million total)
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]