It looks like the general public reacted to one of the most stressful weeks in living memory by flocking to the movies for a few hours of escape. Both Doctor Strange and Trolls, which debuted to solid numbers last week, held on strong. Arrival, the biggest newcomer of the bunch, also opened well, proving that it’s entirely possible to open in third place and still be a winner at the box office.
The trend of more adult-oriented films commanding the box office continued this week with the success of The Accountant, which effortlessly snagged the number one spot. But like The Girl on the Train and The Magnificent Seven before it, Ben Affleck’s latest was strong without being enormous, meaning that word of mouth in the weeks ahead will prove vital to it being a proper hit.
Six months ago, this looked like a very different weekend at the box office. While the strong start for The Girl on the Train isn’t surprising, the weak opening for The Birth of a Nation reflects how the film, once seen as a surefire Oscar-contender, has been affected by a series of real world controversies. There’s an alternate timeline out there where it’s a sizable hit. Instead, the adaptation of a popular mystery novel starring Emily Blunt gets its picture at the top of this article.
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.
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.
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.
How much does the new Ghostbusters need to make if it wants to be a bonafide, genuine hit? The opening weekend for director Paul Feig’s reboot of the beloved franchise raises more questions than answers and the second and third weekend will ultimately prove more telling. However, here’s what we can say right now: it opened with solid numbers in second place behind last week’s massive champion, The Secret Life of Pets.
It took a movie about adorable talking dogs and cats to dethrone the movie about the adorable talking fish. The Secret Life of Pets dominated the box office this weekend, making it the third 2016 family movie about chatty animals to make a huge splash. If this concept wasn’t as old as the animation medium itself, we could call this a trend.
Although the holiday weekend brought out a slew of new releases to compete for the top spot at the box office, this week’s top 10 was, once again, dominated by Finding Dory. The Legend of Tarzan, The Purge: Election Year and The BFG ultimately couldn’t quite match up to Pixar’s forgetful fish, but the final results were all over the place. This chart is very much a roller coaster of expectations being met and missed.
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