Weekend Box Office: A Small-Budget, ‘Faith-Based’ Drama Knocked ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Out Of The Number 1 Spot

Straight Outta Compton has been the number one movie for three weeks in a row, and nothing Hollywood threw at it until now could take it down. That included Man From UNCLE, American Ultra, Hitman: Agent 47, Sinister 2, No Escape, We Are Your Friends, A Walk In The Woods, and The Transporter: Refueled.

It’s finally been knocked out of the number one spot, and the culprit was War Room, a faith-based marriage drama from a pair of Baptist-preacher brothers (Alex and Stephen Kendrick) that advocates prayer as a cure for domestic abuse (sample dialogue, “learn to duck so God can hit him.”). It had no stars and cost just $3.5 million to make, but earned $9.5 million for the weekend and $12.5 for the three-day, this in its second weekend of release.

[War Room] will pass Alex Kendrick’s Courageous ($34 million) sometime next week. If it drops like a “normal” movie from here on out, it’s still looking like a $55m+ grosser. And if it ends up being genuinely leggy, then a $50m+ cume is now the bottom end of expectations for a final gross. [Forbes]

War Room had a few things going for it, chief among them being lack of competition, and the fact that it was a faith-based film with a mostly black cast, thus combining two underserved audiences. It also comes from the team behind Facing the Giants and Kirk Cameron’s Fireproof, and manages to feel like a home-grown Bible belt movie, even if it’s actually the second of the Kendrick brothers’ movies to be distributed by Sony/TriStar. Goes to show, Hollywood is only Godless until Godliness starts looking profitable. In related news, 90 Minutes In Heaven opens in theaters everywhere this weekend.

Speaking of weak competition, this weekend’s new films included A Walk In The Woods and The Transporter Refueled. A Walk In The Woods, a Bill Bryson adaptation a decade-plus in the making starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, fared the better of the two, earning $10.5 million for the three-day weekend on 1,960 screens – ahead of expectations, despite being pretty terrible. The book was published in 1998, when Bill Bryson was 47, and the movie starred Robert Redford, who just turned 79. Nonetheless, the film’s gross is said to have been partly the result of a successful partnership with AARP and REI, so perhaps that worked in its favor.

According to Rentrak, 91 percent of [A Walk In The Woods’] audience was over 25. [EntertainmentWeekly]

The Transporter Refueled, meanwhile, opened on 3,434 screens (the second largest release ever for Labor Day), and earned only $9 million for the three-day. This installment traded Jason Statham for Ed Skrein, and even I didn’t know who that was until I Googled him just now. He’s easier to remember if we just call him “Old Daario.” Hopefully there are some other, better movies coming that he left Game of Thrones for. At the very least, he’s still my favorite Daario.

Overall, this Labor Day was one of the worst ever, though it didn’t matter much since Summer 2015 was the second-best Summer box office ever (not adjusted for inflation). Most of that (60%) went to Universal and Disney. Uh… yay?

The good news is, now that summer is over, the studios will start releasing their good movies. …But not quite yet, as this weekend brings us 90 Minutes in Heaven, M. Night Shyamalan’s found-footage horror film The Visit, and The Perfect Guy, starring Morris Chestnut. I really wish The Visit‘s financiers had had to tell just five people that they were bankrolling “a found-footage horror film from M. Night Shyamalan” just so they’d have to see the looks on peoples’ faces.