There’s an extra day for most people to spend at the movies this weekend, as Labor Day quickly approaches. Traditionally, the weekend is the weakest of the year’s holiday frames, as, according to Box Office Pro, only three films in history have ever grossed more than $20 million over the four-day period.
Neither of the week’s new wide releases, the prestige weeper The Light Between Oceans and the sci-fi thriller Morgan, seem poised to pull in even half of that number. They face competition (however weak it is) from holdovers (Don’t Breathe, Kubo and the Two Strings) and platform titles expanding nationwide (Hell or High Water, Hands of Stone). With only two somewhat muted titles opening wide, expect lesser-than-average drops across the board.
Take a look at our Sept. 1-3 weekend box office predictions (with four-day estimates in parenthesis) below:1. Don’t Breathe – $14 million ($16.5 million)
As the week’s girthiest holdover (it commanded an impressive $26.4 million last weekend), Don’t Breathe will reap the benefits of strong word-of-mouth heading into its sophomore weekend, where it looks to claim the box office throne for the second frame in a row.
Collectively, horror films have performed well throughout 2016 (The Conjuring 2 grossed more than $100 million earlier this summer, while Lights Out and The Purge: Election Year made $65.6 and $79 million, respectively), and Don’t Breathe is no exception, having already made back more than three times its reported production cost of $10 million.
Strong word-of-mouth (on top of overwhelmingly positive critical reviews) should carry Don’t Breathe to another winning weekend at the box office.2. Suicide Squad – $7 million ($8.5 million)
Come Monday, Suicide Squad should still be hanging on to its No. 2 placement on the domestic box office chart, where it also finished last week. The Warner Bros. DC Comics adaptation shattered records when it opened in early August, pulling in $133.7 million despite scathing reviews. Audiences, however, responded with their wallets, sticking it to the critics as they help the film glide past the $640 million mark (and counting) worldwide to date, making it one of the biggest films of the year so far.3. Morgan – $5.5 million ($7.2 million)
Perhaps the most generally appealing new wide release of the week at 2,000 theaters, 20th Century Fox’s Morgan, a sci-fi thriller starring Kate Mara and directed by Ridley Scott’s son Luke, revolves around a humanesque robot who grows increasingly violent under the supervision of a team of scientists.
Though the film’s various trailers have aligned the film, at least aesthetically, with last year’s Ex Machina, Morgan will be considerably lucky to break even with the Alex Garland flick’s $25 million gross by the end of its run. With poor reviews (it currently stands at 41 percent on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 4.9/10) and light buzz on social media (its Facebook page has generated a mere 25,000 likes thus far), Morgan should end up with a four-day finish in the $5-$8 million range.4. Kubo and the Two Strings – $5.3 million ($7.1 million)
Kubo and the Two Strings proved it has staying power last weekend when it dipped a mere 38 percent after opening to $12.6 million in late August. The critically-lauded LAIKA creation will shed a similarly minuscule number as it looks to add around $7 million after the holiday weekend. Potential for the film to gross back its $60 million production budget looks grim at this point, despite its status as a strong holdover. Still, Kubo can look ahead to being a contender for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, as each of its studio brethren (Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Corpse Bride) have earned a nomination in the category in years past.
Alicia Vikander already has one blockbuster hit on her hands this year with Jason Bourne. Her next theatrical outing, The Light Between Oceans, is a smaller prestige drama from acclaimed director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) in which she stars opposite Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz. With subject matter that’s been called “emotional masochism” by EW’s Leah Greenblatt in her B+ review, it’s difficult to imagine the film catching on with mainstream audiences, though the older, mature crowd might turn up in solid numbers to give the film a healthy (for its size) start to its domestic run.
CBS Films is also expanding Hell or High Water to 1,303 theaters this weekend. It’s one of the best-reviewed films of the year (it sits pretty at 99% on RottenTomatoes and an A- on CinemaScore) and has the benefit of being the only film of its type (gritty western crime drama) in wide release. It averaged a so-so $3,908 from 909 theaters last weekend, and the boost in location count should be enough to vault the film into the $4-$6 million range over the four-day.
Additionally, look out for STX’s Bad Moms, the modestly-budgeted $20 million comedy released in July, to finally rise above the $100 million domestic mark by Sunday’s end.