The story of humble London businessman Quan, whose long-buried past erupts in a revenge-fueled vendetta when the only person left for him to love—his teenage daughter—is taken from him in a senseless act of politically-motivated terrorism. In his relentless search for the identity of the terrorists, Quan is forced into a cat-and-mouse conflict with a British government official, whose own past may hold clues to the identities of the elusive killers.
September 29th, 2017 (Wide)
R for violence, language and some sexual material. (Rating bulletin 2491 (Cert #50567), 8/30/2017)
Happy Death Day led the weekend, as expected, but did so with a surprisingly strong $26.04 million. The only other truly wide release of the week was The Foreigner, which also beat expectations, albeit by a smaller margin. The overall box office still fell from last weekend, down 4.2% to $100 million. This is 1.4% higher than the same weekend last year. On the one hand, this is not enough to compensate for inflation. On the other hand, at this point, any win is worth celebrating. Year-to-date, 2017 is still behind 2016 by a large margin, but at least it was able to close the gap by a little bit at $410 million / 4.7% at $8.34 billion to $8.75 billion.
This weekend will be another winner for horror movies, with Happy Death Day powering into first place with a projected $26.5 million, according to Universal’s Sunday morning numbers. That puts it miles ahead of Blade Runner 2049, which failed to broaden its audience this weekend, and is down 54% to $15.1 million, for $60.6 million in total.
Happy Death Day topped expectations by earning $14.3 million on Friday. Even with short legs, it will still make $25 million over the weekend, possibly a little more. This is likely more than it cost to make and advertise, at least initially. I suspect Universal will up their ad buy after this result and will also increase the initial print run for the DVDs / Blu-rays as well. The film’s reviews are 68% positive, while it earned a solid B from CinemaScore. Earning a B would be bad for most movies, but horror films routinely fall in the C range, as horror fans tend to be very negative. For example, gorehounds will hate anything without enough blood, but torture porn will turn off even more fans. Pleasing even half of the opening day audience is impressive.
I thought this would be a really busy weekend with Blade Runner 2049 repeating in first place and four wide releases competing for spots in the top five. However, last weekend, Blade Runner 2049 missed expectations, so it won’t dominate the chart this weekend. Meanwhile, two of the four wide releases are not going to open truly wide. This leaves Happy Death Day with a relatively easy path to first place. The Foreigner has almost made enough in China to pay for its production budget, so as long as it can cover its advertising budget here, it will break even before it reaches the home market. Meanwhile, Professor Marston & The Wonder Women is opening semi-wide and Marshall is opening nationwide. They may or may not open in the top ten. This weekend last year, The Accountant opened in first place with close to $25 million, while all three wide releases combined made $38 million. It is going to be tough for 2017 to match that.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle remained in first place on the international chart with $50.5 million in 77 markets for totals of $125.97 million internationally and $192.61 million worldwide. The film dominated the South Korean market with $11.89 million on 1,677 screens over the weekend for a total opening of $16.49 million there. It also debuted in first place in Mexico, with a less impressive $2.28 million. The film has yet to open in France, China, and Japan, so it should continue to rake in the money.
September destroyed the previous September monthly record for total box office take, with $800 million or so (we won’t know the exact figure until after the weekend), which tops 2016’s record of $616 million. Granted, this is almost entirely due to It’s record breaking run, and the rest of the month was merely average. Kingsman: The Golden Circle was the only other film to come close to $100 million. October doesn’t look any better, as far as depth is concerned. Blade Runner 2049 is widely expected to be the biggest hit of the month, but it is the only film expected to reach $100 million domestically. Boo 2 should be the second biggest hit of the month, while there are only a couple of other films that have a shot at $50 million. Part of the problem is the level of competition, as there are 16 films opening during the four October weekends. (Needless to say, some of the predictions below will be a little short, as there’s not much to say about a film that will barely open in the top ten and disappear two weeks later.) That’s way too many and most will be buried by the competition. Last October was a flop, as no film earned more than $100 million at the box office. There were a few films that came close, including the original Boo! movie. As long as Blade Runner 2049 matches expectations, 2017 should win the year-over-year comparison by a small margin. If we get one surprise hit, then 2017 has a real shot at closing the gap with 2016 by a significant margin. I choose to be cautiously optimistic.
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