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.
Okay, so it was one of the worst summer movie seasons in recent memory. Trying to find the good blockbusters amongst the last four months releases sometimes felt like trying to find a needle in a stack of s---. But even this year there were diamonds in the rough. Today we’re celebrating the ten best, the summer movies of 2016 that didn’t make us weep for the future of cinema — and note that this list is just movies that got wide releases in at least 500 theaters. We’ll have a separate piece on under-the-radar summer films you might have missed next week on ScreenCrush. In the meantime, let’s celebrate the highlights from a depressing summer before we clear the decks and get ready for the fall.
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.
This has been an underwhelming summer (to say the least), but there’s still hope that August will end this movie season on a positive note. One of our most anticipated releases of the month is Pete’s Dragon, which our own Erin Whitney calls a “worthy remake” and “one of the most stunning live-action animation hybrids Disney has made in years.” That’s the sort of praise that could really get you excited for Disney’s latest reimagining, but just in case you needed a little extra convincing, this new trailer is pretty persuasive.
Disney’s 1977 musical ‘Pete’s Dragon’ was my favorite movie as a kid, one I watched obsessively on VHS. In retrospect, I can now look back on it as an adult and admit it was a pretty awful movie — it was about an orphan whose adoptive family chased him while gleefully singing songs about abusing him. The songs were bad (though my 6-year-old self enjoyed them), the acting was as campy and mawkish, and the shoddy animation looks laughable today. But as much as the movie was a dated element of its time, it still told an emotionally relatable story that, when handled by Disney, can become timeless. It only makes sense that the studio remade ‘Pete’s Dragon,’ keeping that same sentiment, but without the hokey songs and with more impressive visual effects.
It’s been decades since I saw the original Pete’s Dragon, but from what I remember, I don’t get a lot of it in this trailer for David Lowery’s remake of the 1977 Disney film. Instead, it feels a lot more like The Iron Giant mixed with E.T., How to Train Your Dragon, and even the recent live-action Jungle Book directed by Jon Favreau. There’s not much in the way of wacky mischief and wild antics from an invisible dragon, and much more wonder and melancholy about the tender relationship between a boy and his amazing dragon, and the close-minded adults who want to destroy him.
The first poster merely hinted at the titular star of Pete’s Dragon (no, not Pete – the other thing), shown bashfully hiding behind a tree. The first trailer for the upcoming remake from director David Lowery similarly exercised some restraint in showing the friendly dragon, with Disney presumably hoping to hold back on the reveal for a little while longer. The time has officially come for our first look at the dragon of Pete’s Dragon, whose name is Elliott, by the way.