September is traditionally the month of box office quiet after the summer movie season concludes, a chance for studios to unload movies that wouldn’t find their audience elsewhere in the year and an opportunity for everyone to recharge their batteries before the big movies return in October. But nobody told Sully, which is a bigger hit than most of the summer fare released in 2016. And now, nobody told The Magnificent Seven, which leapt into the number one spot with a very strong debut.
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Despite new challengers of all genres, budgets and backgrounds, Sully remained number one at the box office this week, fending off the likes of Blair Witch, Bridget Jones’s Baby, and Snowden. In a month not traditionally known for producing many financial juggernauts, Clint Eastwood’s drama has emerged as something of a surprise smash, surpassing most expectations and showing no signs of slowing down quite yet.
Just when you thought September was going to be a slow month at the box office, Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks show up with Sully and make things interesting all over again. The feature film adaptation of the “Miracle on the Hudson” opened with huge numbers, benefiting from the pedigree of the talent involved and the lack of direct competition in the middle of a not-so-busy month.
September has arrived and this notoriously slow month at the movies often spells instant death for new releases. It certainly meant on a dead-on-arrival start for The Light Between Oceans and it spelled total disaster for Morgan, which debuted at number 17 on the box office charts despite being released into more than 2,000 theaters. But this week isn’t all doom and gloom! This slow week gave some much-needed breathing room to a few August releases while allowing Don’t Breathe to have a strong second weekend at the box office.
In a summer filled with misfires and box office disappointments, the horror genre has kept its head above the water. The Conjuring 2 crossed the $100 million mark. Lights Out was a gigantic sleeper hit. And now, Don’t Breathe has closed out August with a surprising bang, dethroning Suicide Squad with a very strong opening weekend.
And thus the 2016 summer movie season ended in a manner that reflected these past few months as a whole : with a whimper. Despite three new releases, the rapidly tumbling Suicide Squad clung to the top spot, with last week’s runner-up, the raunchy animated film Sausage Party, once again coming in second place. It was a tough weekend for War Dogs, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Ben-Hur, each of which limped into the top 10 with unspectacular numbers.
There are two big stories to lead with in this edition of the Weekend Box Office Report and both of them are equally interesting in their own little ways. Let’s start with the positive: Sausage Party now inexplicably holds the record for biggest opening for an animated movie released in August. And now the negative: Suicide Squad dropped a staggering 67% in its second weekend, which…isn’t good.
Despite receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews, Suicide Squad opened with record-smashing numbers, obliterating the record set by Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014. And yet, the box office of summer 2016 has taught us one thing: anything can happen after that opening weekend and it probably will. This certainly looks like a huge victory for Warner Bros. and their DC Extended Universe right now, but who knows what next week will bring?
As expected, Jason Bourne topped the box office in its opening weekend, but like so many of the sequels released this summer, the initial numbers aren’t quite what everyone was hoping for. This doesn’t mean we should count out Matt Damon’s return to his most popular character just yet, but it does add more fuel to the “audiences are getting a little picky with the sequels they will pay to see” narrative that has been forming over the past few months.
This has been one of the strangest summers in recent memory when it comes to box office analysis, not because so many high profile movies have disappointed (although that has certainly been interesting), but because so many new releases are hanging out in the grey zone between hit and misfire. In an era where the success of so many movies is determined purely by opening weekend numbers, we’ve spent the past few months watching as movies has defied expectations after a weak opening or rode a solid opening into oblivion. The cut-and-dried successes can be counted on one hand.