Weekend Box Office: ‘Squad’ Stumbles While ‘Sausage’ Sizzles

Despite a drop of nearly 70% from its record opening, Warner’s Suicide Squad managed to hold on to the top spot at the North America box office this weekend. The comic book movie was given a run for its money by Sony’s R-rated cartoon Sausage Party, which scored a solid debut in second. Disney’s acclaimed remake of its 1977 feature Pete’s Dragon opened to mixed numbers while Paramount’s Florence Foster Jenkins was off-key in eighth place. Overall, the top ten was in decent shape this weekend as the box office was up a healthy 18% over one year ago at this time.

It was déjà vu all over again for Warner Brothers as their latest DC Comics offering Suicide Squad took a dangerous tumble in business on its second weekend of release. While the 67% plunge was quite as severe as the 69% encountered by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in its sophomore session last spring, it certainly was cause for concern for the film’s long-term prospects. In the meantime, the David Ayer action epic scored an estimated $43.8 million this weekend from 4,255 theaters. The ten-day domestic total for Suicide Squad stands at $223 million with international grosses just slightly ahead with $242.5 million.

It’s not out of the ordinary for films in the superhero genre to drop between 50-60% in their second weekends. It’s just the result of fan anticipation being satiated in the first week of a particular film’s release. But anything past the 60% mark tends to indicate bad word of mouth, which was the case with Dawn of Justice and now appears to be the case with Suicide Squad. The opening of Sausage Party may have taken a few extra Squad patrons away, but that can only account for so much. Should the movie continue to fade at the rate it is going, there is a good chance that it may not even hit the $300 million mark. This will put even more pressure on next year’s Wonder Woman and Justice League pics to really deliver the goods.

If you think Warner has had a bit of a rough go this year, try being Sony Pictures. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The 5th Wave and The Brothers Grimsby all bombed, while Miracles From Heaven, Money Monster, Angry Birds and The Shallows were mid-sized hits at best. Then there is their expensive Ghostbusters remake, which is reportedly looking at a loss north of $70 million thanks to indifference from the global box office.

While it may not reverse their financial woes, the $33.6 million earned on 3,103 screens this weekend from Sausage Party may allow the studio a small sigh of relief. The raunchy R-rated animated comedy, featuring the voice talents of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig and Edward Norton, met with a chorus of positive reviews from critics. The Rotten Tomatoes rating was 83% positive while the Metacritic rating was 67/100. Ticket buyers gave the film an okay “B” on CinemaScore, which was a bit lower than Rogen’s 2013 hit This is the End but higher than the “B-“ earned by a similar R-rated animated comedy, 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.

Landing in third place with solid reviews but middling numbers was Disney’s remake of its 1977 feature Pete’s Dragon with $21.5 million from 3,702 screens. The $65 million production starring Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas-Howard, Robert Redford and Karl Urban earned an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 72/100 Metacritic score and an “A” from viewers on CinemaScore.

Despite the general consensus being that this is one of the rare studio films this summer that doesn’t suck, Pete’s Dragon couldn’t overcome box office hurdles such as the mid-August release date –usually a death knell for a family feature-, back-to-school shopping and late-season vacations.

Still, Dragon could find itself overcoming those obstacles and on a path similar to another family feature released by Disney in mid-August: Planes. That film opened in August 2013 to $22 million and wound up earning a solid $90 million by the end of its run. And if word-of-mouth can help propel a piece of crap like that film into the hit category, imagine what it can do for a film that is actually good.

The final opener in the top ten was Paramount’s Florence Foster Jenkins with an estimated $6.6 million from 1,528 theaters, good enough for eighth place. The Stephen Frears comedy/drama starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant scored solid numbers with critics and viewers – 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, 71/100 Metacritic and an “A-“ on CinemaScore- but didn’t quite deliver at the multiplexes. Like Pete’s Dragon, word-of-mouth on Florence could help keep it afloat at the box office over the next few weeks.

Universal’s Jason Bourne fell to fourth place but leveled out a bit in its third round, easing 39% in business. JB scored an estimated $13.6 million from 3,528 theaters, which brought its domestic total to $127 million so far domestically. Foreign figures stand at $119 million and should pick up considerably once the Olympics wrap up.

Rounding out the top five was STX’s hit Bad Moms, which had the best hold of any film in the top ten. The Mila Kunis comedy eased a mere 18% in its third round on 3,188 screens to earn an estimated $11.4 million. To date, the $20 million production has earned a solid $71.4 million and could wind down its run between $90-95 million.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

6. The Secret Life of Pets (Universal) $8.8 million (-23%); $336 million

7. Star Trek Beyond (Paramount) $6.5 million (-32%); $139.6 million

9. Nine Lives (EuroCorp) $3.5 million (-44%); $13.5 million

10. Lights Out (Warner) $3.2 million (-46%); $61.1 million

Next weekend sees the release of the acclaimed animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings alongside Warner’s War Dogs and a new version of Ben-Hur.



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