Weekend Box Office: Guardians of the Lackluster Box Office

The start of the NFL season, the return to school. Tired theatrical holdovers and new arrivals no one cares about.

Welcome to the Dog Days…of September.

The post-Labor Day weekend at the North American box office is always a dead zone rife with summer leftovers on their last legs and new arrivals looking for a very quick buck. This year only one film arrived in theaters in wide release and couldn’t even make it into the top ten, the religious rock drama The Identical. Overall business was down a steep 42% from last weekend’s numbers and 22% from last year at this time when Riddick debuted to $19 million.

Sitting in the number one spot for the third weekend in a row was Marvel’s sci-fi smash Guardians of the Galaxy with an estimated $10.1 million from 3,221 theaters. It was the only film this weekend that earned more than $6 million for the weekend. Down 40% from its Labor Day weekend haul, the James Gunn blockbuster has earned $294.6 million after six weeks of release and should cross the $300 million mark by next Sunday. Overseas, the film has earned $292 million and could work its way to $400 million once the movie arrives in markets such as Japan and China.

With school back in session, Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles found its box office luck reduced but it still managed to stay in second place thanks to continued strength from weekend matinee crowds. The film was down 45% from its previous weekend to earn $6.5 million from 3,273 screens. After five weeks, the turtles have earned a big $174 million and should head off to home video with $185-190 million in the bank.

Third place belonged to Warner’s teen drama If I Stay. The Chloe Grace Moretz feature was down 38% in its third weekend on 3,157 screens to earn $5.75 million. Its total now stands at $39.3 million. The film should finish between $47-50 million. In fourth was Fox’s comedy hit Let’s Be Cops with $5.4 million from 2,932 theaters. Off 35%, the comedy has earned $66.5 million and should finish between $77-80 million. Rounding out the top five was Relativity Picture’s espionage thriller The November Man with $4.2 million on 2,776 screens. Off 47%, the Pierce Brosnan feature has earned $17.8 to date. A $25 million final haul is possible.

Freestyle Releasing took advantage of the dormant box office to launch its latest faith-based feature, the musical drama The Identical, which proved to be tone-deaf with an awful $1.9 million from 1,956 theaters in its first three days. The story of identical twins separated at birth that look a lot like Elvis Presley was torn apart by critics (4% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) and all but ignored by everyone else. Freestyle had better success with this past spring’s God’s Not Dead, which earned a solid $60 million. The Identical should consider itself lucky enough to earn $5.5 million –the amount earned by God’s Not Dead in its fourth weekend- for its entire theatrical run.

Paramount also took advantage of the down time to give Forrest Gump a one-week IMAX reissue to celebrate the film’s 20th Anniversary. Given the lousy $405,000 earned from 337 screens, you have to wonder why they bothered. It probably didn’t help matters much that the movie was showing on ABC Family HD Saturday night. Making Gump’s return to the theaters look even worse was the fact that the Best Picture winner was beaten this weekend by another anniversary reissue, Sony’s Ghostbusters. The Ivan Reitman comedy added $635,000 to its reissue total, which stands at $3.3 million.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

  1. As Above/So Below (Universal) $3.7 million (-57%); $15.5 million
  2. When the Game Stands Tall (Sony) $3.7 million (-38%); $23.4 million
  3. The Giver (Weinstein) $3.5 million (-32%); $37.8 million
  4. The Hundred-Foot Journey (Disney) $3.2 million (-33%) $45.6 million
  5. Lucy (Universal) $1.95 million (-29%); $121.2 million


Next weekend sees the arrival of Warner’s Dolphin Tale 2 and Sony’s No Good Deed. Warner’s family sequel should be the film to knock Guardians of the Galaxy off of the top spot for the first time in a month.

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