Box Office: West Coast wins as ‘Straight Outta Compton’ takes $56.1 million for no. 1

“Straight Outta Compton” is a big, big hit. The F. Gary Gray directed biopic hit a button in the cultural zeitgeist and debuted to an impressive $56.1 million over the weekend.  That easily made it the no. 1 movie in America and the sixth topper for Universal Studios this year.  It's an even more remarkable once you dive into the numbers.

“Compton” opened on just 2,757 screens for a $20,348 per screen average.  Comparatively, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” opened at no. 1 in 3,959 theaters with a $14,034 per screen. The previous no. 1, “Ant-Man,” also earned a similar $57 million, but with just a $14,841 per screen.  The only other opening films to hit $20,000 per this summer have been”Minions,” “Jurassic World” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”  That's pretty impressive company since each one of those films opened to over $100 million respectively.  

While many might have assumed “Compton” could be a $20 million plus opener thanks to its subject matter (the rise of famed hip hop group N.W.A.) it surprised thanks to a strong marketing campaign, positive reviews (71 grade on Metacritic, 88% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and great word of mouth (an A Cinemascore grade).  The studio has reportedly committed to an Oscar campaign and even screened the film at the AMPAS theater in Beverly Hills on Saturday.  That might be slightly wishful thinking (the reviews are good, but not that good), but the more “Compton” makes in theaters the better it chances of major awards recognition.

Dropping to no. 2 was “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” with another $17 million and $138.1 million so far.  The fifth installment in the “Mission” franchise has already earned $373.4 million globally, but its unclear whether it can come close to the $694.7 million worldwide tally of the previous chapter, “Ghost Protocol.”  “Rogue Nation's” performance in China, where it opens Sept. 8, is the key market for Paramount Pictures and majority financier Skydance.

Guy Ritchie's “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” arrived in third with just $13.5 million.  That's a major disappoint for Warner Bros. who may have miscalculated opening the thriller in the summer season.  Based on its reported $75 million budget, the action flick will have to earn significantly more overseas to make up the difference.

It just keeps getting worse for Josh Trank's “Fantastic Four.”  The 20th Century Fox production dropped a dramatic 68.9% from its opening weekend to earn just $8 million over the three-day and $41.9 million in its first 10 days.  It's likely going to be an even lower gross on Monday as the flat $8 million seems slightly optimistic on Fox's end.  The critically lambasted superhero flick has made another $60 million internationally, but it's hard to see Fox ever breaking even on “Four's” reported $120 million production budget let alone the massive marketing costs.

On the flip side, STX Entertainment's “The Gift” fell only 45.2% from its first frame taking in $6.5 million for a 10-day gross of $23.5 million.  Considering the film cost just $5 million to make that's a huge success for the fledgling studio.

New films opening on Friday include “American Ultra,” “Hitman: Agent 47” and “Sinister 2.”

Box office actuals are released on Monday.

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