School is back in session, and studios are crowding theaters with everything they couldn’t fit into the traditional parameters of summer. With four new movies hitting wide release this Friday, audiences have a variety of titles to choose from, including festival favorites (Southside with You) and action-heavy sequels (Mechanic: Resurrection). Horror fans have the chance to make some noise over what is traditionally a quiet weekend as summer fades away, however, as Don’t Breathe could scare up huge numbers by the week’s end.
Check out our box office predictions for the Aug 26-28 weekend below.1. Don’t Breathe – $23.5 million
Amid a summer of unreliable blockbusters and disappointing sequels, one genre has consistently surpassed box office expectations: horror.
With The Conjuring 2 raking in $319 million worldwide and both The Purge: Election Year and Lights Out bagging $79 million and $64.5 million respectively, audiences have spoken (with their wallets) quite decisively. More surprising than the box office performance of those films are their critical reviews. Critics took a liking to The Conjuring sequel and Lights Out, and Don’t Breathe is no exception. The film (an original story, not a sequel or remake) currently stands at 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes as it hits approximately 2,900 screens, making it one of the best-reviewed wide releases in quite some time.
In test screenings, Don’t Breathe is reportedly playing well across several demographics, and its Fandango pre-sales are currently pacing ahead of Lights Out, which premiered to $21.7 million in July, and M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller The Visit, which debuted with $25.4 million in 2015.
Screen Gems and Stage 6 remain cautious in their projections, which hover around the mid-teens. Recent history has shown, however, that efficiently marketed, quality horror films will scare up big business across their opening weekend, so don’t be surprised if Don’t Breathe crosses the $20 million mark by Sunday’s end.2. Suicide Squad – $10 million
Erosion has been the name of the game for Suicide Squad since it opened to the biggest August debut in box office history. After shedding over 60 percent its second week, the DC Comics adaptation tumbled another 50 percent the following weekend. The film still managed to remain North America’s top-grossing film for three frames in a row. As it heads into its fourth go-around, Suicide Squad will finally relinquish the top spot to another film.
Though it opened strong thanks to fan anticipation and enormous pre-release buzz, as is the case with most summer blockbusters, Suicide Squad is old news after 21 days in theaters, and its box office numbers should correspond appropriately this weekend. Look for the film to finish the weekend in the $10-$12 million range.3. Sausage Party – $7.7 million
Despite taking a bigger-than-expected tumble over its sophomore frame, Sausage Party’s run at the domestic box office is one of the most impressive of the year thus far. No one could have predicted the $34.3 million the film would take in over its opening weekend, and its total gross was largely expected to be less than half of the $69.6 million (as of Thursday) it’s made after two weeks in wide release.
Though it’ll likely lose around 50 percent of its audience (to around $6-$8 million) again this weekend, Sausage Party, with its inherently ridiculous (but also hilarious) story following a band of personified food objects as they evade the stomachs of their human captors, remains one of the most satisfying success stories for an adult-oriented film of 2016.4. Kubo and the Two Strings – $7.5 million
Animated titles have ruled the box office this year, though LAIKA’s latest stop-action title failed to generate much interest over its debut weekend. Heading into frame No. 2, Kubo, as most animated films do, should hold on a bit stronger than movies like War Dogs and Ben-Hur, which opened alongside it last week. Still, the fact remains that most American schools are back in session, something that could put a dent in the family-oriented film’s Friday numbers. Expect Kubo to finish its second weekend about 40-50 percent under its debut number.5. War Dogs – $7 million
Jonah Hill and Miles Teller make an alluring pair in War Dogs, Warner Bros.’ action-comedy that scored a No. 3 finish last weekend with a decent $14.7 million. Hill and Teller have yet to carry major movies on their own, and War Dogs doesn’t make a strong case for either one doing just that any time soon. The modestly budgeted ($40 million) flick benefits from a lack of similar titles crowding the market, meaning a drop in the 45-55 percent range is likely.
Outside the top five, Jason Statham headlines the action sequel Mechanic: Resurrection, a continuation of a 2011 remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson film. The modern reimagining of The Mechanic didn’t make much of a splash during its run, barely cracking the $29 million domestic mark five years ago. Resurrection, which hits 2,258 screens Friday, was an acquisition from Lionsgate’s Summit Premiere label, so an opening in the $6-$8 million range positions the studio for a profitable run.
Additionally, Roadside Attractions’ buzzy Barack and Michelle Obama love story, Southside with You, might pull in around $3-$4 million as it opens in around 800 locations. The film generated favorable reviews out of the Sundance Film Festival in January, giving it a sturdy foundation to stand upon as it heads into the fall awards season race.
Lastly, Hands of Stone, Weinstein Co.’s Edgar Ramirez/Robert De Niro sports drama, opens in around 810 theaters this weekend. Weinstein plans to build the film over time, expanding the picture to around 2,500 locations next Wednesday, getting a head start on the holiday weekend. Look for Hands of Stone to debut in the $2-$4 million range.