Box Office: ANGEL HAS FALLEN surpasses expectations and avoids the late August pitfalls

Welcome to the Beat’s weekly Weekend Box Office Recap!

The estimated $21.2 million made by Gerard Butler‘s Angel Has Fallen was just below the $21.6 million opening for 2016’s London Has Fallen, and it might not seem great, but it’s also only the FOURTH movie to open with more than $20 million in the weekend before Labor Day IN 20 YEARS!

Yes, this weekend in late August has become renowned for being a studio dumping ground so when a studio like Lionsgate takes a chance with the third installment of the “Fallen” franchise — the first one it distributed — it sometimes pays off.

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh and co-starring Morgan FreemanJada Pinkett-SmithNick Nolte and Danny Huston, Angel Has Fallen came into the weekend with $1.5 million in Thursday previews before officially opening in 3,286 theaters nationwide Friday. It was well ahead of the pack on Friday with $7.9 million (twice what the #2 movie made) and then held well through the weekend with much of the strongest competition (like Hobbs and Shaw) having already been out for weeks. The movie’s CinemaScore was a solid “A-” which means that audiences liked it more than critics. The movie opened higher than my prediction as well.

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Universal’s R-rated comedy Good Boys took second place with $11.8 million, down just 45% from its opening weekend, which shows that word-of-mouth is paying off. It has grossed $42 million domestically so far, more than twice its $20 million production budget, so another bonafide hit for producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

Sony/Affirm’s faith-based sports film Overcomer, directed and starring Alex Kendrick, opened in third place with $8.2 million in 1,723 theaters, averaging $4,759. That’s a weaker opening than Kendrick’s last two movies, 2015’s War Room ($11.3 million opening) and 2011’s Courageous ($9.1 million), despite Overcomer opening in 600 more theaters than those two films. On the other hand, Overcomer received a rare “A+” CinemaScore, which means that audiences liked it more than the handful of critics assigned to review it. (As usual, there were no press screenings in advance.)

Kendrick’s third place standing might be tentative, as he has two returning films nipping at his heels, Disney’s The Lion King with $8.15 million and right behind that Universal’s Hobbs and Shaw with $8.14 million. With estimates that close, things can change when Sunday actuals come in later today and The Lion King might be third again, or Hobbs and Shaw.

Either way, Disney has another global blockbuster with the Jon Favreau-helmed live action remake, as it crossed $500 million domestic last weekend, making it Walt Disney Studios’ ninth movie to reach that benchmark and second this year. With overseas money, The Lion King has grossed $1.5 billion since opening just over a month ago.

The “Fast and Furious” spin-off movie, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, has grossed just under $150 million domestic but is approaching $600 million worldwide with a significantly larger number ($441 million) internationally.

The weekend’s “Little Engine That Could” is the Fox Searchlight horror film Ready or Not, directed by Radio Silence and starring Samara Weaving. Fox Searchlight opened the darkly comic movie in 2,270 theaters on Wednesday where it grossed $1.9 million (including Thursday previews), and then it dipped a little on Thursday to $1.1 million. On Friday, Searchlight expanded it into 2,855 theaters, which is the widest release EVER for the Disney/Fox offshoot, and it grossed $7.6 million to take sixth place, slightly better than my prediction. It grossed $10.6 million in its first five days, so it should be able to make back its $6 million production budget with ease.

Other returning movies benefitted from the lack of particularly strong newer fare this weekend as the weekend-to-weekend drops were smaller than usual.

Sony’s The Angry Birds Movie 2 dropped to seventh place with $6.4 million, off just 38% from its opening weekend. That was followed in eighth by the CBS Films horror film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark with $6 million, down 40%.

Paramount’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold also benefitted from the lack of new family fare, remaining in the top 10 with $5.2 million, just ahead of Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood with $5 million. Of those four movies, Tarantino’s is well-ahead with $123.2 million with Scary Stories behind it with a total of $50.4 million. The odd thing is that the other two movies were expected to make $100 million but probably will never get there.

Roadside Attractions expanded its road comedy The Peanut Butter Falcon, starring Shia Labeouf and Dakota Johnson, into 991 theaters on Friday where it grossed $3 million over the weekend, bringing its total to $3.7 million.

Amazon Studio’s Brittany Runs a Marathon, starring Jillian Bell, opened solidly in five theaters in New York and L.A. with $175,969, just over $35,000 per venue, which is decent considering it has a couple weeks to build word-of-mouth before its planned nationwide release on Sept. 13.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Angel Has Fallen Lionsgate $21.3 million N/A $21.3 million
2 1 Good Boys Universal $11.8 million -45% $42.1 million
3 New Overcomer Sony/Affirm $8.2 million N/A $8.2 million
4 3 The Lion King Disney $8.15 million -34% $510.6 million
5 2 Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw Universal $8.14 million -43% $147.7 million
6 New Ready or Not Fox Searchlight $7.6 million N/A $10.6 million
7 4 The Angry Birds Movie 2 Sony $6.4 million -39% $27.1 million
8 5 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark CBS Films $6 million -40%
$50.5 million
9 6 Dora and the Lost City of Gold Paramount $5.2 million -39% $43.1 million
10 8 Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood Sony $5 million  -35% $123.2 million

Just to give you an example of how bad this weekend tends to be, last year’s biggest release was STX’s The Happytime Murders, opening in third place with just $9.5 million. The other new releases, A.X.L. and the remake of Papillon, opened with $2.8 and $1.1 million, respectively, the latter outside the top 10. Even so, New Line’s Crazy Rich Asians was #1 again with almost $25 million. Because of that, this weekend’s top 10 is only a few million higher than the same weekend last year.

Taking off this week from the usual weekly Box Office Preview but I will have a summer box office recap either Wednesday or Thursday.

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