When the weekend box office is as close as it was this weekend (with the top three films separated by around $500K), we probably won’t know who really won the weekend until final Monday numbers come in. However, regardless of who actually won the weekend, it looks like Tom Cruise’s American Made will be the loser. It ends the weekend with approximately $17 million, and even if it comes out on top, it’s not exactly a box-office take worth crowing about. The anticipated $17 million gross for the film — based on the the life of Barry Seal, an airline pilot turned drug smuggler turned DEA informant — is the worst Tom Cruise opening since 2012’s Jack Reacher, although that movie did leg out $80 million domestic total and an eventual sequel.
Fortunately for Tom Cruise, he’s a bigger star overseas than in the United States, but this opening isn’t going to add much to the $60 million international take of American Made. Cruise will be lucky to cross $100 million worldwide on the film, which would fall short of profitable on the $50 million film once marketing and the exhibitors’ split is accounted for. It’s a shame, too, because American Made features Cruise’s best performance in years, and while it’s not quite as good as Cruise’s best film this decade, Edge of Tomorrow, the Doug Liman film is still very good (87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). Audiences often decry the lack of mid-budget films targeted toward adults, but this is exactly why studios are reluctant to make them: American Made is beloved by critics and audiences (a B+ Cinemascore) and features an A-list star in Cruise, and still it looks to fall short of profitable at the box office (it should do very well on home video, however).
Meanwhile, last week’s number one film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, took around a 55 percent dive, which is par for the course for a movie of this ilk. Studio estimates also put the film at $17 million, which is a virtual tie with American Made. Kingsman has now earned around $130 million internationally and $65 million domestically, but with a $104 million budget, it will also have a hard time breaking even. A third Kingsman movie seems almost out of the question, but then again, a sequel to The Golden Circle was greenlit largely on the success of Secret Service in the home digital market. The Golden Circle could yet find a bigger audience among home viewers, but I have doubts that it will be enough to generate yet another sequel.
As for IT and its estimated $17.5 million weekend? Whether it comes out on top or not, it’s still the big winner because $17 million is phenomenal for any movie — much less a horror movie — in its fourth weekend. What else can we say about the box-office performance of the Stephen King adaptation? It’s the highest grossing R-rated horror film of all time; it should pass The Sixth Sense to become the highest rated PG-13 movie of all time by midweek; and it has crossed $500 million worldwide, besting the 44-year record held by The Exorcist. For a horror movie, this is unheard of, all the more so when one considers that IT was made for a mere $35 million. In other words, IT basically turned a profit on its first day of release; the 21 days since have all been gravy.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie hung in there with $11.6 million. It’s a decent hold with only a 43 percent drop in its second weekend, but the film scored a disappointing $20 million in its first weekend. It’s earned $35 million or so stateside, plus $12 million internationally, meaning it is going to have to do big numbers with its remaining international countries if is going to even approach profitability. The future of the LEGO franchise now will ride on the success of The LEGO Movie Sequel set for release in 2019.
The weekend’s other new wide release was the remake of Flatliners, which is apparently being labeled a “sequel” rather than a remake due to the appearance of Kiefer Sutherland, who plays a character with an entirely different name from the original film. Flatliners didn’t muster any enthusiasm, however, ending the weekend with a paltry $5.5 million. Reviews clearly didn’t help (it is sporting a 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment), but there was never much buzz for the film in the first place, nor any real desire for a reboot/sequel to a middling original movie that only performed modestly at the box office in the first place. The biggest bummer here is that Ellen Page — who has been seldom seen in recent years — is wasted on a forgettable horror flick.
Meanwhile, Steve Carell and Emma Stone’s Battle of the Sexes doubled its theaters from 600 to 1200 and performed modestly, adding around $3.5 million this weekend, which is good only if it picks up some awards-season steam in the coming weeks. American Assassin finished at number 7 in its third week with $3.1 million and an OK $31 million overall. Home Again finishes at number eight with $1.7 million and a $25 million total. After three weeks, mother! has just about wrapped up its box-office run, too. It has netted a disappointing $16 million to date.
There were two other new releases, but neither really registered at the box office. Taye Diggs’ Til Death Due Us Part made $1.3 million in 500 theaters while the faith-based A Question of Faith mustered only $1.1 million in 600 theaters. In other bummer news, the phenomenal Stronger dropped below the $1 million mark in its second weekend, another blow to great mid-budget movies made for adults. Catch this one on home digital in a few months, it’s worth it.
Next week looks to break out of its post-IT slump with Blade Runner 2049. Elsewhere, My Little Pony will make a play for the kid audience, while Idris Elba’s The Mountains Between Us and the dog film The Stray will try and pick up the box-office scraps.
(Via Box Office Mojo and Deadline)