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Weekend Predictions: Dog Days of Summer are Here

August 18th, 2016

War Dogs

Summer is over, at least as far as the box office is concerned. There are three films opening wide and another expanding wide-ish, but none of them are expected to crack $20 million over the weekend. War Dogs should come the closest, but even then, it is only aiming at the midteens. Kubo and the Two Strings is the best of the new releases, but recent history isn’t kind to stop-motion animated films. The final wide release of the week is Ben-Hur. This film cost nearly $100 million to make and it is expected to bomb spectacularly. Hell or High Water is expected to expand semi-wide, perhaps wide enough to score a spot in the top ten. Suicide Squad will likely win the box office race, but this has less to do with the film’s strength and more to do with the weak competition. Speaking of weak competition, this weekend last year, Straight Outta Compton earned more than all three wide releases combined. 2016 won’t be able to match it at the top of the chart, but there’s much better depth this year than last year, so 2016 should win in the year-over-year comparison.

Suicide Squad fell 67% last weekend and while it will bounce back this weekend, it will still suffer a sizable decline. The over / under seems to be 55%, meaning the film is aiming for $20 million over the weekend. That will still be enough to win with relative ease, even if it just misses the $20 million mark.

War Dogs is the biggest new release of the week, but that’s not saying much. It’s a buddy comedy with a political bent to it and as long as they avoid talking about the political aspects in the ad campaign, it should do okay at the box office, as political comedies have been box office poison. The reviews have been floating around the overall positive mark and at the moment, it is 60% positive. The buzz is also good, but not great, but fine for this time of year. It could become a midlevel hit starting with an opening weekend of just over $16 million.

Sausage Party should be next with just under $16 million. This would be a better than average sophomore stint decline, at least for this season. The film’s reviews should help its legs, but the strange nature of the movie could result in a massive collapse. I’m hoping the reviews trump its high concept nature.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a stop-motion animated film from one of the masters of the medium, Laika. However, despite earning 94% positive reviews, it likely won’t be a serious hit, as stop-motions films rarely do much better than $50 million at the best of times. Mid-August is not the best of times. A $15 million opening is the most likely opening for the film, which is fine for this time of year.

Ben-Hur is the biggest release of the week and also the worst according to the critics. The film cost nearly $100 million to make, so it would need to open with $30 million to have a shot at breaking even. I read that the studio just wanted $20 million. They expect a loss, but they are just hoping to limit the losses at this point. Sadly, $20 million is very likely out of reach. In fact, there are some who think $10 million isn’t a sure thing. I’m not that pessimistic, but I think it will barely reach the teens with just over $13 million.

The final film of note is Hell or High Water, which was supposed to expand wide this week. However, “wide” in this case is under 500 theaters. It would need a theater average of $10,000 to reach the top ten. That’s possible, but very unlikely. An average of just over $6,000 for a weekend of $3 million is more likely.

- War Dogs Comparisons
- Kubo and the Two Strings Comparisons
- Ben-Hur Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Preview, Ben-Hur, Sausage Party, Suicide Squad, War Dogs, Kubo and the Two Strings, Hell or High Water