Weekend Box Office: Zac Efron’s DJ Movie Didn’t Break $2 Million

The big story of the weekend was that War Room, a “faith-based” drama that apparently touts prayer as a cure for domestic violence, was the top new film of the weekend, grossing $11 million on a $3.5 million budget. It comes from Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the brothers behind Fireproof and Facing the Giants, and at the end, the now-no-longer-abusive-thanks-to-prayer husband apparently washes the wife’s stinky feet. There’s also jump rope contest. I am not making this up.

“War Room” stood out “amid a sea of R-rated fare,” Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior analyst, said in an email on Sunday. [NYTimes]

Jesus, do box office pundits ever discuss anything but rating? Keep in mind, we’re also dealing with a Christian movie with black leads, thus hitting two historically underserved fan bases, in addition to coming from guys who’ve now made four wildly successful “faith-based films” in a row. But sure, maybe it was too many R-rated movies.

Straight Outta Compton (rated R, cough, cough) repeated at number one for the third week in a row, and the next new release on the top ten was No Escape at number four, Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan’s odd Southeast Asian thriller (my review), which earned $8.3 million for the weekend, and $10.3 million since opening Wednesday. That one received a B+ Cinemascore, not great, but pretty good for a movie it felt like the studio was trying to hide from critics. Weinstein Company acquired it for $5 million at Cannes. I think this may be the first time a movie studio ever knowingly forfeited money to keep from being called “problematic” by bloggers.

Hey, didn’t a Zac Efron movie open this weekend? Oh yeah, that. We Are Your Friends only cost $2 million for Warner Bros to acquire, but its $1.8 million gross is almost majestically bad. Its per-screen average didn’t even break into four figures.

the film kinda flopped on a near-record level. The film earned $1.8 million on 2,333 screens. That’s the fourth-lowest debut ever for a film on over 2,000 screens, behind only The Oogieloves ($443k), Delgo ($511k), and the 10th anniversary reissue of Saw last October ($650k). If it had played on just 167 more screens, it would have clobbered the record for a low debut on 2,500 screens (Won’t Back Down with $2.6m). [Forbes]

Warner Bros. tried to cater to the college crowd with the Zac Efron drama We Are Your Friends. But that group was too busy getting oriented on campus as close to 70% of all colleges were back in session per Rentrak. Hence, We Are Your Friends was abandoned at the box office with an awful $1.8M at 2,333. This is the lowest opening for a Warner Bros. release at 2,000+ engagements. The previous low-balls were 1998’s Major League: Back to the Minors ($2.09M opening at 2,322 theaters) and 2002’s Adventures of Pluto ($2.18M at 2,320). [Deadline]

Right, because college students were the only possible demo for that movie. Universal, who made Straight Outta Compton, also passed on We Are Your Friends before Warner bought it, making them look even smarter in the midst of their record-smashing year. I bet the cocaine flows like wine at that office.

We Are Your Friends (which opened far worse than even Freddy Got Fingered, my favorite terrible movie of all time) even received a fairly brutal C+ Cinemascore from the few people who did see it, odd considering I thought it was pretty close to actually being good.

I think Warner thought they were going to tap into this hip cool bro world of dance music they didn’t know much about, only it turns out that almost everyone over 26 and half of people under 26 have a knee-jerk hatred of electronic music, and the people who do like it, if they ever heard of the movie at all, probably assumed they were being ham-fistedly pandered to (hamdered, say). Basically, it was a DJ movie for people who hate DJs, marketed like a DJ movie. Textbook mistake there.

It’s not a bummer for Zac Efron, who will continue to be beautiful and only just sub-average as an actor, or for the movie-going public, who will probably be spared some future DJ movies, but it’s a huge bummer for Wes Bentley, who I swear to you gave the performance of his life in that movie. Poor Futurebeard. Poor a futurebeer out for Futurebeard, everyone, and keep your fingers cross that we get to see him again. The problem with Futurebeard could be that he’s just too ahead of his time.

This weekend brings us A Walk in the Woods and The Transporter Refueled, the dregs of summer before the awards season movies hit.