Weekend Box Office: ‘Squad’ Tops Tepid Box Office Frame

The North America box office began its annual late summer siesta this weekend, as ticket buyers did pretty much anything else but go to the movies. Warner’s Suicide Squad remained box office champ while three new films – War Dogs, Kubo and the Two Strings and a costly new version of the classic tale Ben-Hur– all stumbled right out of the gate.

Suicide Squad has faced little to no competition this month, which explains why it is still the number one film in the country. The Joker and Harley Quinn earned an estimated $20.7 million from 3,924 screens in its third round, a business decrease of 52% from its sophomore session. With $262 million in the bank, the film shouldn’t have much of an issue clearing the $300 million milestone by the end of its run. Overseas, the DC Comics movie has cleared $310 million so far.

Sony’s animated hit Sausage Party sizzled approximately 55% less in its second weekend on 3,103 screens, earning an estimated $15.3 million. After ten days, Seth Rogen’s R-rated cartoon has earned $65.3 million and should join the $100 million club before long.

In third place with $14.3 million from 3,258 theaters was the Todd Phillips feature War Dogs. The Iraqi war comedy/drama starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller earned mixed notices from critics -59% on Rotten Tomatoes and 58/100 Metacritic- while failing to entice many ticket buyers. It may have been wiser for Warner Brothers to not mention Phillips’ The Hangover Parts Two and Three in the ads.

In fourth place with disappointing results was Focus Features’ Kubo and the Two Strings with an estimated $12.6 million from 3,260 theaters. Despite a 96% Rotten Tomatoes approval rating and an 83/100 Metacritic score, the film faced an uphill battle right out of the gate thanks to the studio dumping it into one of the worst possible places for a family feature: mid-to-late August. With kids getting ready to head back to school, it’s only going to get tougher for the film to attract business in the weeks ahead.

The disappointing numbers on Kubo were nothing compared to the embarrassing figures posted by Paramount’s $100 million remake of Ben-Hur. The latest version of the epic religious tale –this one from the director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter– was DOA with an estimated $11.3 million from 3,084 screens. Critics hated the film, which stars Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman. They gave it a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 37/100 on Metacritic. Paramount courted the church crowd, but even they know a dud when they see one.

While Paramount will undoubtedly lose money on the project, their loss won’t be as bad as the other studio that helped produce the feature: MGM. Paramount covered approximately 20% of the film’s costs as well as marketing, while MGM paid for the remaining 80%. Should the film score in overseas markets such as Mexico; there is a chance that Ben-Hur could bring in close to $100 million in foreign sales. Still, it won’t be enough.

The remainder of the top ten:

  1.  Pete’s Dragon (Disney) $11.3 million (-47%); $43 million
  1.  Bad Moms (STX) $8 million (-29%); $86 million
  1.  Jason Bourne (Universal) $8 million (-42%); $141 million
  1.  The Secret Life of Pets (Universal) $5.7 million (-36%); $347 million
  1.  Florence Foster Jenkins (Paramount) $4.3 million (-35%); $14.4 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Don’t Breathe, Hands of Stone and the sequel we have all been waiting for, Mechanic: Resurrection.

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