Weekend Box Office: “Dark Tower” Lords Over Dismal Box Office

It arrived a few weeks earlier than usual, but the summer doldrums have already settled into multiplexes nationwide. Leading the worst weekend for box office business since the Super Bowl, The Dark Tower made its long-awaited debut in first place to weak reviews and equally weak business. The fantasy/action flick had far better luck than the Halle Berry thriller Kidnap ­–which limped into fifth- and the first wide week of the acclaimed Kathryn Bigelow drama Detroit, which smoldered in eighth.

August is usually a box office wasteland but has seen a bit of an uptick in recent years thanks to event pics such as Suicide Squad and the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Alas, that is not the case this year. This week’s top ten was down 20% from the previous frame and a steep 51% lower in comparison with one year ago when Suicide Squad opened with a massive $133.5 million. That opening alone scored $27 million more than this weekend’s top ten combined, and its only going to get worse as we get deeper into summer’s final month.

The Dark Tower’s path to the silver screen has been a long and difficult one. It began back in 2007, when Lost writer Damon Lindelof purchased the movie rights from author Stephen King for $19. J.J. Abrams teamed up with Lindelof to begin an attempt to bring King’s epic book series to the big screen, but that effort came to a halt in 2009.

In 2010, Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman began their quest, envisioning screens both big and small to present their take on the vast material. After five years of development hell at various studios around Hollywood, The Dark Tower finally landed at Sony Pictures in 2015. With a completely revamped screenplay by Goldsman and a brand new director, Nikolaj Arcel, calling the shots -Howard stayed on as a producer-, filming finally began in April of 2016.

Given the weak $19.5 million scored from 3,451 screens this weekend, it appears that the decade-long efforts were for naught. Arriving under a cloud of a troubled production – poor test screenings led to $6 million worth of reshoots and a six-month delay-, the feedback from both public and the press seemed to confirm that the 88-minute film is a dog. The $66 million production scored a 18% on Rotten Tomatoes and 35/100 from Metacritic while the public branded The Gunslinger’s first big screen appearance with a mediocre “B” rating.

The negative feedback seems to be already taking its toll on the film. The three-week old Dunkirk outgrossed The Dark Tower on both Friday and Saturday. With Dark Tower tanking in the States, it will be up to overseas markets to save the pic. The film opened in a handful of international markets this weekend where it grossed an estimated $8 million.

Speaking of Dunkirk, the Warner hit is still attracting decent-sized crowds in its third weekend on 4,014 screens where it earned an estimated $17.6 million. Off only 34%, the Christopher Nolan war epic has scored a solid $133.5 million so far. Given the film’s staying power at the box office, Dunkirk could fly as high as $190-200 million domestically by Labor Day. Overseas, the film has powered its way to $181 million so far.

In third place was Sony’s The Emoji Movie with $12.3 million from 4,075 theaters. Off 50% from its debut numbers, Emoji has earned $49.4 million so far. The Poop Pic has also earned $12.7 million overseas.

Universal’s hit comedy Girls Trip continued its winning ways in fourth place with an estimated $11.4 million from 2,582 theaters. Off 42%, the $19 million production has brought in $85.4 million to date and should clear the $100 million mark shortly.

Rounding out the top five with a moderate $10.2 million debut was the Halle Berry feature Kidnap. Originally scheduled for release in October of 2015, Kidnap was the victim of Relativity Media –the film’s original distributor- going bankrupt. Aviron Films purchased the rights for Kidnap for $3 million. The studio apparently spent another $13 million to market the film. Reviews were lukewarm at best. Kidnap scored a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 45/100 on Metacritic and a “B+” on CinemaScore.

  1.  Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony) $8.8 million (-33%); $294 million
  2.  Atomic Blonde (Focus) $7.25 million (-55%); $34.1 million
  3.  Detroit (Annapurna) $7.2 million; $7.7 million

Kathryn Bigelow’s acclaimed drama about the 1967 Algiers hotel massacre certainly had the critical backing it needed to connect with audiences. But a lacking promotional campaign and an ill-advised release date –this is not a movie you simply unload on 3,000+ screens in the late summer-     prevented it from really taking off.

  1.  War for the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $6 million (-43%); $130.2 million
  2.  Despicable Me 3 (Universal) $5.3 million (-30%); $241 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Annabelle: Creation and The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature (no, I am not making that title up). Annabelle: Creation should take the top spot without much effort.

TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.