Along with the Super Bowl Sunday, Labor Day Weekend is considered an annual box-office nadir. And with no new films opening in more than 1,000 theaters, this year looked self-fulfilling prophecy. Even so, and without a hit on the level of last year’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” the falloff looks like only a little more than 10% from last year.
That’s surprising on a weekend that, on paper, looked to be the worst of 2019 — especially with the projected hurricane preparation damage in the Southeast. Instead, it was about $88 million, far from terrible; the worst was around $60 million, early this century.
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This leaves the summer season essentially flat from last year — up or down 1%-2% from last year, depending on whether one includes the last week of April when, like last year, a huge Marvel hit opened. That leaves annual grosses about 6.5%, or $530 million, below last year.
Eight of the top 10 titles dropped 30% or less. The average falloff — yes, the holiday helped — was only about 24% (not including the jump for the greatly expanded run Sony pushed for the added footage “Spider-Man: Far from Home”). That’s a respectable result for a weekend with little new to offer.
Last week’s “Angel Has Fallen” had a better second-weekend hold than its two predecessors, which didn’t benefit from a holiday boost. Still, for a three-quel of a mid-level franchise in a box-office dead zone, Lionsgate has to be pleased with the results so far.
“Angel” projects to a $55 million-$60 million domestic total, with the international results ahead (if similar to past entries) much bigger. Of note is the boost for Gerald Butler, an action star who ran the risk of falling into disinterest. Here’s how tough it is: Lost in the shuffle this weekend was Liam Hemsworth’s crime thriller “Killerman,” which opened to $150,000 in 320 theaters.
“Good Boys,” a second R-rated film, came in at #2 with a third-weekend drop of only 21%. The comedy is one of the few sleepers of the summer, and looks like it will place behind only “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Rocketman” as the biggest original film of the season (a little ahead of “Yesterday”). The biggest news here is that, along with its non-franchise, no-star status, it cost only $20 million.
Foreign is a challenge for American contemporary-set comedies, and the take likely will be less than domestic, though still not negligible. Still, the success has been impressive enough to encourage most studios to take a look at their potential low-budget R-rated comedy projects.
The other two second-week titles both dropped 30%, but the numbers have different meanings for “Ready or Not” and “Overcomer.” Searchlight’s horror title (which added theaters to extend the record for the distributor) held far better than most similar genre films.
In a summer when A24 saw “Midsommar,” another horror film, do decent business (the low budget makes the difference), “Ready or Not” is likely to come close to its total. Is that enough to impress new owner Disney? That remains to be seen. But it is a respectable result that shows how an original title of any genre can benefit from other than the one-size-fits-most franchise model. (“Midsommar” had some dates this week with new and extended scenes, but grosses for those dates among the full ongoing figure were not provided.)
Faith-based “Overcomer” fell the same, but its 30% drop is better by about 10 points than “Breakthrough,” the most recent studio religious-themed title, though this has grossed less from the start. On the other hand, this had a rare A+ Cinemascore. That normally leads to great holds, particularly for films that open at a sub-$10 million level. In context, this suggests a limit to the film’s appeal.
After “Avengers: Endgame” and now “Spider-Man: Far from Home” had late-run returns with a few minutes of extra footage, expect this gimmick to be a new normal. It added $4.26 million to the sequel’s already enormous total (now $385 million). It will end of #4 adjusted among all “Spider-Man” titles for Sony, but significantly substantially ahead of the previous “Homecoming.”
With this and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” leading its slate, Sony will end up as second (at a great distance) behind Disney for summer share. With the industry veering to a sense of a big three (Warner Bros. and Universal with Disney), Sony having this success during the all-important summer season is a major achievement.
The best holdover came from “Scary Stories Told in the Dark,” with the CBS Films horror title down only 15%. Another lower-budget original, this should hit around $70 million. Paramount’s “Dora & the Lost City of Gold” (off 22%) and “The Angry Birds Movie 2” down 35%, edging out in initial estimates Tarantino’s film, which was only off 19%. The order could change when final numbers are tallied.
The Top 10
1. Angel Has Fallen (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$11,575,000 (-46%) in 3,336 theaters (+50); PTA (per theater average): $3,470; Cumulative: $40,689,000
2. Good Boys (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$9,190,000 (-21%) in 3,458 theaters (+105); PTA: $2,658; Cumulative: $56,198,000
3. The Lion King (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #5
$6,708,000 (-17%) in 3,190 theaters (-110); PTA: $2,103; Cumulative: $520,938,000
4. Hobbs & Shaw (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #4
$6,280,000 (-22%) in 2,972 theaters (-340); PTA: $2,113; Cumulative: $157,092,000
5. Overcomer (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$5,700,000 (-30%) in 1,827 theaters (+104); PTA: $3,120; Cumulative: $17.247,000
6. Ready or Not (Fox Searchlight) Week 2; Last weekend #6
$5,616,000 (-30%) in 2,998 theaters (+143); PTA: $1,873; Cumulative: $20,093,000
7. Stories to Tell in the Dark (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #7
$5,000,000 (-15%) in 2,747 theaters (-180); PTA: $1,820; Cumulative: $57,620,000
8. Spider-Man: Far from Home (Sony) Week 9; Last weekend #15
$4,260,000 (+153%) in 3,162 theaters (+2,154); PTA: $1,347; Cumulative: $384,713,000
9. Dora and the Lost City of Gold (Paramount) Week 4; Last weekend #9
$4,140,000 (-22%) in 2,447 theaters (-216); PTA: $1,671; Cumulative: $49,598,000
10. The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #8
$4,115,000 (-35%) in 3,311 (-558); PTA: $1,243; Cumulative: $33,905,000