After trading in his corporate sales career to become a pastor, Michael’s first assignment is All Saints, a quaint country church with a dozen members. It comes with a catch: he has to close the church doors for good and sell the prime piece of land on which it sits. While developers eagerly eye the property and the congregation mourns the inevitable, Michael and his family look forward to moving on to an established church where they can put down roots. But when the church hesitantly begins welcoming Karen refugees from Burma—former farmers striving for a fresh start in America—Michael feels called to an improbable new mission. Toiling alongside the Karen people, the congregation attempts to turn their fertile land into a working farm to pay the church’s bills and feed its newest people. Jeopardizing his family’s future by ignoring his superiors, Michael must choose between completing what he was assigned to do—close the church and sell the property—or listening to a still, small voice challenging the people of All Saints to risk it all and provide much-needed hope to their new community.
September 1st, 2017 (Wide)
PG for thematic elements. (Rating bulletin 2471 (Cert #50191), 4/12/2017)
The last weekend of the summer had no new wide releases, so it made sense that the box office would drop even further. However, that was not the case. I think the combination of the last long weekend of the summer and terrible recent box office results led a lot of people to go to the movies one last time before school starts. After all, it is likely most moviegoers haven’t seen a movie in theaters for several weeks. The Hitman’s Bodyguard easily led the way with $10.54 million over three days and $13.27 million including Monday. It earned more over three days than any of its competitors earned over four. Overall, the box office rose 9.8% from last weekend to $76 million. Sadly, this is still 24% lower than the same weekend last year, but it could have been worse. Year-to-date, 2017 has pulled in $7.45 billion, which puts it 6.3% or $500 million behind last year’s pace.
There was only one film to earn more than $10,000 on the theater average chart. Beach Rats earned an average of $15,484 in three theaters, putting it heads and shoulders above the rest of the new releases.
Amazingly, the weekend box office was actually worse than expected, as every new release we talked about in our predictions missed the Mendoza Line*. This left The Hitman’s Bodyguard with an easy first place with $10.26 million during its second weekend of release, just avoiding the bottom ten worst number one films of the 21st century. It could break the record next weekend, as there are no new wide releases looking to take top spot. Overall, the box office plummeted 28% to just $69 million. This is in the bottom ten smallest domestic weekends of the 21st century, 13th worst including the year 2000. (Interestingly, the year 2000 produced 5 of the worst 7 weekends in that time frame and September 2000 alone has 4 of the 5 worst weekends.) Again, since there are no new wide releases next weekend, we could see this record fall. The $69 million weekend total is 41% lower than the same weekend last year, which is a decline you normally only see when there is a misalignment in holidays. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a similar decline several times in recent weeks. Year-to-date, 2017 has pulled in $7.32 billion, which is $490 million or 6.2% less than 2016’s pace. We really need 2017 to put up some wins soon, or we simply won’t be able to turn around the deficit before the end of the year.
Things are so bad at the box office this weekend that it’s hard to figure out just how bad. We’ve been tracking box office since 1997, and have researched weekend reports back to the beginning of the 1980s, and a diligent search of our database doesn’t offer a weekend that’s clearly been worse than this one. Based on current ticket sales, it’s the 9th-worst in terms of consumer spending since 2000, with $66.6 million reported so far. That number will go up a bit when numbers are announced for all movies on Monday, but most likely only fractionally (I think we have numbers for everything that made over $500,000). But that figure doesn’t account for ticket price inflation. If we do so, things look even more dire…
As expected, The Hitman’s Bodyguard earned first place on opening Friday, and better than average for the summer. It will likely finish with just under $10 million instead of just over $10 million. This isn’t a major issue for the film, but if it does earn first place with less than $10 million, it will be only the tenth film to do so in the 21st century. Being on this list isn’t necessarily a bad sign for the film and instead is a bad sign for the overall market. For example, Guardians of the Galaxy earned first place during its sixth weekend of release, with just $10.4 million, not because it was struggling, but because the competition was terrible. In this case, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is on pace to become a midlevel hit, while the new releases are all bombs. In fact, the film is on pace to earn enough domestically for Lionsgate’s share to cover its entire production budget and this is reason to celebrate.
This will likely be the worst weekend of the year at the box office, at least so far. There’s only one wide release, Leap!, while there are two other films opening “nationwide” that both have a real shot at the top ten, All Saints and Birth of the Dragon. All three films combined might not earn more than $10 million over the weekend. By comparison, this weekend last year, Don’t Breathe opened with $26.41 million. 2017 is going to lose in the year-over-year comparison yet again and we can hardly afford to fall further back.
There is one wide release coming out next weekend, Leap!, and it only has about a 50/50 chance of opening in more than 2,000 theaters. Birth of the Dragon and All Saints are opening in less, but both have a shot at the top five. In fact, All Saints could be the biggest new release of the weekend, as faith-based films are notoriously unpredictable. However, I’m going with Leap! as the target film in this week’s box office prediction contest, because All Saints is just too unpredictable. In order to win, one must simply predict the opening three-day weekend box office number for Leap!.
Whoever comes the closest to predicting the film’s opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going over, will win a Frankenprise consisting of their choice of either one TV on DVD release, two movies, or a kids package (could be a theatrical release, a couple of single-disc TV on DVD releases, or a full season TV on DVD release).
Whoever comes the closest to predicting the film’s opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going under, will also win a Frankenprize, as described above.
Finally, we will be choosing an entrant from the group of people who haven’t won, or haven’t won recently, and they will win the final Frankenprize, as described above.
Entries must be received by 10 a.m., Pacific Time on Friday to be eligible, so don’t delay!
July is over and we should all be happy about that. Granted, there were some positive results we can talk about. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a huge hit and Despicable Me 3 will pull in a sizable profit before it reaches the home market. There were also a couple of other $100 million hits and a midlevel hit or two; however, overall, 2017 wasn’t able to compete with 2016 and the box office finally lost its lead over last year. 2017 started the summer about $200 million ahead of 2016, but will finish July about $100 million behind last year’s pace. August doesn’t look any better. There are a couple of films that have a reasonable shot at $100 million, The Dark Tower and Annabelle: Creation, as well as a few that should be solid midlevel hits. However, last year we had Sausage Party and Don’t Breathe, both of which nearly hit $100 million, then we had midlevel hits like Pete’s Dragon, Kubo and the Two Strings, and War Dogs. I don’t know if 2017 will be able to compete with that. ... Now some of you are thinking I forgot about Suicide Squad. Trust me, I will never forget that movie. I ignored it to make a point. Even without Suicide Squad, I don’t think 2017 will make up the deficit it has with 2016. With Suicide Squad, it is going to be a disaster. I want to be optimistic, but there’s no evidence to suggest I should be.
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