By Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter
Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven galloped to a domestic debut of $35 million from 3,674 theaters, placing No. 1 in North America and corralling one of the top openings of all time for a Western, not accounting for inflation.
Magnificent Seven benefited from a star-studded cast led by Denzel Washington, solid reviews and an a A- CinemaScore from audiences. Pre-release tracking had suggested the movie might hit $40 million, but Westerns are a tough sell. The current record-holder for a live-action Western is Cowboys & Aliens ($36.4 million), but if including animated offerings, Rango is the champ with $38.1 million.
From Sony and MGM, Magnificent Seven is a remake of the classic 1960 movie, which in turn was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Village Roadshow and LStar Capital helped co-finance the $90 million film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.
The movie stars Washington opposite Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio. Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard. Magnificent Seven’s is a career best for Fuqua; his previous top opening was The Equalizer ($34.1 million), also starring Washington. To date, Washington’s biggest opening is 2007’s American Gangster ($43.6 million) followed by 2012’s Safe House ($40.2 million).
Warner Bros.’ animated family film Storks, the weekend’s other new nationwide offering, came in No. 2 with a modest $21.8 million from 3,922 theaters. Overseas, Storks opened to $18.3 million from 33 markets — including a tiny China debut of $5.2 million — for a worldwide bow of $40.1 million.
Storks, produced for roughly $70 million by Warner Animation Group, was directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland. The voice cast includes Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell and Danny Trejo. It also earned an A- CinemaScore.
In recent decades, Warners hasn’t been a big player in the animation space, although 2014’s The Lego Movie was a box-office sensation.
Warners also claimed the No. 3 spot with Clint Eastwood’s box-office hit Sully, the adult drama starring Tom Hanks. The movie declined just 36 percent in its third weekend to $13.8 million for a domestic total through Sunday of $92.4 million. Village Roadshow is a partner on the film.
Universal and Working Title’s Bridget Jones’s Baby placed No. 4 in its second outing, declining 47 percent to $4.5 million for a disappointing 10-day North American cume of $16.5 million. The romantic comedy is doing far better overseas, where it took in another $21.9 million for a 10-day foreign total of $67.1 million and global take of of $83.6 million. It has earned a dazzling $21.9 million in the U.K.
Open Road Films and Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden biopic Snowden declined 48 percent to $4.1 million for a muted domestic total of $15 million. Blair Witch tumbled 59 percent to $3.9 million in its second outing for a domestic total of $16.1 million for Lionsgate.
New offerings at the specialty box office included Disney’s Queen of Katwe, directed by Mira Nair and starring Madina Nalwanga as real-life Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi. David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'o also star.
Queen of Katwe premiered at TIFF is only opening in 52 theaters this weekend before expanding nationwide Sept. 30. Disney partnered with ESPN on the film, which hopes to be an awards contender. Katwe earned an estimated $305,000 for a location average of $5,865. The inspirational drama skewed female (54 percent), while nearly 30 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 50.
Amazon Studios and Broad Green’s The Dressmaker, an adult drama starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis and Liam Hemsworth opened in 33 theaters in North America, including several in Canada, grossing $180,522 for a location average of $5,015.
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