It was a peculiarly unimpressive weekend at the Box Office as this dry September season of films we seem to be experience delivered yet again another set of newcomers with subpar performances and less than exciting debuts.
That's right, even though two out of our three new releases this weekend took the top two spots on the box office charts, their financial performance left something to be desired. Both Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Deepwater Horizon finished with a combined total of just under $50 million. Yes, Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine did end up reigning as the champ at theatres this weekend, but a $28.8 million dollar opening for a film carrying a $110 million budget is a far cry from a success. And unfortunately for Burton this is yet another less than fantastic opening performance of some of his more recent work.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the story of a young man, Jake, who stumbles through a timeloop and upon a school that his grandfather always told him stories of when he was a little boy. Once there Jake quickly discovers for himself much of the wonderment and mystique of Miss Peregrine and her wards just before things turn dark and Jake has to lead the children in protecting themselves and their kidnapped caretaker.
The film is a classic Burton movie, filled with gorgeous, imaginative production design, poignant and intriguing characters, and an off-beat vibe that anyone who has wrestled with being different can instantly relate to. However, the film has been largely criticized for its messy and less than structured plot. It feels like the mistake with this movie was that Burton spent too much time trying to establish this world for us rather than allowing us to discover it for ourselves. Which is honestly a pitfall that a lot of book to film adaptations encounter in their first installment. The question now is whether or not the film will ever see a sequel? The film received a B+ from audiences overall, but did manage an A- from its 25 and under crowd. And since we don’t have any new PG-13 movies coming out next weekend it’s possible Miss Peregrine could deliver a strong second weekend hold which could help its overall domestic cume to reach over $80 million by time it leaves theatres. Coupled with the fact that the film did bring in $36.5 million internationally giving it a global opening of $65 million, I would say chances are likely Fox could take this performance, workshop the story a bit, make it tighter, and release a 2nd chapter in this trilogy to a much better performance.
Finishing in 2nd this weekend, and with an even more disappointing run was Lionsgate’s Deepwater Horizon which carried the same production budget of $110 million but only brought in just over $20 million domestically opening weekend. I’m actually surprised that Deepwater only took spot number two as I expected it to get a boost in viewership given its overly awe-inspiring story of an American hero in a time when America seems as though it could really use some hope of a hero like character emerging from all the calamity that is on the horizon for us in the real world. However, this film, just like Snowden, is a bit out of its elements as Deepwater is another prime January title that is months ahead of itself.
Our final newcomer this weekend, which as predicted did not crack the top 5, was Relativity’s Masterminds which opened to #6 with $6.5 million. The new PG-13 film definitely didn’t have a masterful debut, but given its neuromas release reschedules and its other more traditional competition, Masterminds looks like it’ll fall into the category of cult classic and less mainstream success in comparison to some of Jared Hess’s other work. Overall this weekend wasn’t a great one for the Box Office, not even for a September/October weekend which are already historically less than awesome revenue wise. But we’ll have to wait and see just how long this movie depression continues.
Which brings us to next weekend as we have Fox Searchlights’s remake/debut Oscar hopeful The Birth of a Nation opening against Universal’s R-rated The Girl on The Train, and Lionsgate's Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.
Middle School will be interesting to see how it performs the PG film doesn’t look like it’s going to be able to attract too many of the 17 and younger crowd as most high school students aren’t going to be sold on seeing this over the top Kids-take-on-the-school-authorities flix, and most parents aren’t going to be tripping over themselves to take the family out to see it either. But really what I find so interesting is that if this film doesn’t do even decently well for itself it’ll be yet another flop for the studio just this year. Almost over half of the films Lionsgate has released since January have been respective flops and Middle School might just help add to this being Lionsgate’s worst year of its life.
Universal’s The Girl on The Train starring Emily Blunt, however, looks like it’s going to be the perfect early October psychological thriller that fans of films such as Gone Girl have been waiting for since Gone Girl released back two years ago at this same time. Girl on the Train looks to be filled with edgy, cold, and calculated characters that promise to take its audience on a bit of a mental trip down into the psyche of a woman who may not be as innocent as she herself might think she is.
And our third newcomer for the coming weekend, sure to take the top of the box office is the highly anticipated Birth of a Nation. For me personally Birth of a Nation has been at the top of my need to watch list literally ever since I saw it had officially gotten picked up for national distribution - which if you haven’t heard the story on that record breaking deal you need to go read up on that right now - This film does have a lot of hype and potential to live up to, but if it does bring home even just half of the power and importance of racial injustice that the trailer stirs up this film will easily be one of my favorite ones yet this year. It's such a critically important story in the midst of not just national racial unrest, but global racial injustice as a whole. With an R-rating Birth of a Nation doesn’t look like it’ll pull any punches, and while that may hurt it a bit losing out on that 17 and under crowd, I have next to no doubts this film will claim the number one spot next weekend.
But time will tell, and for now, that’s it for this week. We still have a pretty great set of diverse films for audiences to go enjoy so make sure to take some time this weekend, grab a friend, grab some popcorn and head out to your local movie theatre so that you can join the conversation with us on making Dollars and Sense!