You know you’ve reached the summer box office doldrums when not a single new wide release is able to break $7 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Such was the case this weekend, when the top 12 movies grossed a cumulative $83.4 million, which makes this the least attended frame at the box office since December 9-11, 2011, when the top 12 films earned just $67.8 million.
Once again, The Expendables 2 led the chart, dropping 53 percent from its opening frame to $13.5 million — the lowest total for a No. 1 movie since that aforementioned December frame when New Year’s Eve topped the chart with a sad $13.0 million.
After ten days, The Expendables 2, which carries a reported $100 million budget, has grossed $52.3 million and is running well behind the total of the original Expendables, which had grossed $65.4 million at the same point in its run. The Lionsgate action entry may finish with just under $80 million.
In second place, Universal’s $125 million sequel The Bourne Legacy slid by 46 percent in its third weekend to $9.3 million, which lifted its total to $85.5 million. The spy thriller, which has Jeremy Renner taking over leading man duties from Matt Damon, will not be able to match the $121.7 million domestic cume of the original Bourne Identity, which debuted in June 2002. Legacy looks like it will have to settle for about $105 million.
Focus Features’ ParaNorman finished in third place with $8.6 million. The creepy stop-motion ‘toon dipped 39 percent and has now earned $28.3 million after two weekends. The 2009 flick Coraline, which, like ParaNorman, was also produced by Laika Entertainment, had earned $35 million at the same point in its run, and that film finished with $75.3 million domestically. ParaNorman, for which Focus did not provide budget information (though it likely cost about the same as Coraline — $60 million) may climb to about $60-65 million.
Warner Bros.’ political comedy The Campaign held solid in its third weekend, declining 43 percent to $7.4 million. The Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis collaboration has earned $64.5 million total. Two other holdovers finished close behind. The Dark Knight Rises fell 35 percent to $7.2 million, which lifts its total to $422.2 million. It will surpass The Lion King to become the tenth highest-grossing film of all time this week. Close behind this week, The Odd Life of Timothy Green dropped 34 percent to $7.1 million, giving Disney’s $25 million family drama a 12-day total of $27.1 million.
Way back in seventh place was the first of this weekend’s new releases, the Joseph Gordon-Levitt bike messenger thriller Premium Rush, which could only pedal $6.3 million worth of tickets from 2,225 theaters. Sony’s $32 million action film, which was moved from January to August late last year earned a “B” CinemaScore grade.
The misfire still did better than its fellow newcomers. Open Road’s aggressively marketed comedy Hit & Run, which stars Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, and Bradley Cooper, bombed in tenth place with $4.7 million from a whopping 2,870 theaters. Audiences issued the film a dismal “C+” CinemaScore grade. Warner Bros.’ $17 million horror entry The Apparition found just $3 million (enough for 12th place) despite the presence of two mega-franchise stars: Twilight‘s Ashley Greene and Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton. This performance was expected, as the film was given almost no promotion and played in only 810 theaters.
On a frame filled with lackluster holdovers and fizzling newcomers, the biggest story this weekend is certainly the breakout performance of conservative documentary 2016: Obama’s America, which expanded from 169 to 1,091 theaters and grossed an impressive $6.2 million — a 401 percent increase from its previous frame.
The $2.5 million indie, distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures, has enjoyed increasing per theater averages over the last two weekends (read a more in-depth analysis about the film here), and although its per-theater average decreased slightly from $7,365 to $5,718 this weekend (this was all but expected given the massive jump in theaters), it still notched the highest per-theater average in the Top 20.
2016 has earned $9.1 million after seven weekends, making it the highest grossing conservative documentary ever, above Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which grossed $7.7 million in 2008. While the film has already earned more than most documentaries could ever dream of earning (The Weinstein Company’s much-publicized doc Bully grossed $3.5 million), its gross doesn’t yet compare to Michael Moore’s liberal doc Fahrenheit 9/11, which grossed $119.2 million in 2004, George W. Bush’s re-election year. Keep in mind that film had a major studio (Lionsgate) and marketing campaign behind it, and it opened in 868 theaters. 2016 opened in one theater — in Houston — and had to rely on word-of-mouth and talk radio promotions before its national ad campaign kicked off two weeks ago.
With the Republican National Convention right around the corner, and the heightened awareness of 2016 thanks to its box office performance this weekend, it’s likely that the anti-Obama documentary will stick around as word-of-mouth continues to spread. While it would be downright shocking for the film to climb as high as Fahrenheit 9/11 — and, to be clear, I think that scenario is very unlikely — at this point, there’s no telling how much it will earn. Stay tuned.
Two other tidbits: Last weekend’s runner-up, Sparkle, plummeted 64 percent to 11th place with $4.2 million. After 10 days, the Whitney Houston drama has grossed a paltry $18.9 million. In limited release, Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me broke the house record at the IFC Center, pulling in $65,000. A press release for the film boasts that this is a “Record Breaking Opening Weekend.” What record did it break, you ask? According to the release, the film scored “the highest per-screen debut for an American non-animated film from a first-time filmmaker.” Of course.
1. The Expendables 2 – $13.5 million
2. The Bourne Legacy – $9.3 million
3. ParaNorman – $8.6 million
4. The Campaign – $7.4 million
5. The Dark Knight Rises – $7.2 million
6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green – $7.1 million
7. Premium Rush – $6.3 million
8. 2016: Obama’s America – $6.2 million
9. Hope Springs – $6.0 million
10. Hit and Run – $4.7 million
11. Sparkle – $4.2 million
12. The Apparition – $3.0 million
Check back next weekend for full box office reports on Lawless, The Possession, and Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure, as well as continued coverage on 2016: Obama’s America, and follow me on Twitter for more analysis and up-to-the-minute box office updates.