A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of James’ sister who many believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods, but as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.
The first Tuesday of the year is deceptively busy. There are a ton of romantic films being re-released on DVD, and a few on Blu-ray that I mention below, with Fandango money for Fifty Shades Darker. Most cost between $8 and $10, so if you really wanted one of these movies and were planning on buying tickets for Fifty Shades Darker, then it is a bargain. However, most of the movies that are part of this deal are not good. Strip those out of the mix and the week is really slow. The best of the week is Denial on Blu-ray, while Best and Most Beautiful Things on DVD and The Librarians: Season Two on DVD are also worth grabbing.
Is it time to panic? Not yet, but we are definitely getting concerned. The overall box office was soft due to the weaker than expected openings of The Magnificent Seven and Storks. Neither bombed exactly, but they weren’t particular strong either. The overall box office rose 16% from last weekend, but was down 25% from this weekend last year. Ouch. You usually only see that large a change in the year-over-year comparison when there is a misalignment in holidays. Year-to-date, 2016’s lead over 2015 dropped to 6.3% or $490 million at $8.35 billion to $7.86 billion.
It is a perfect weekend at the box office, as there are only two wide releases and there are almost no crossover audiences between them. The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a remake and its solid, but not spectacular. Storks is a digitally animated kids movie that is earning mixed reviews, but that’s fine for a kids movie. Those two movies will likely earn more than the rest of the box office combined pulls in. This is both good news and bad news, as it is a combination of their strength and the rest of the box office’s weakness that is the cause. This weekend last year, Hotel Transylvania 2 debuted with $48 million, which is the record for a September weekend. I think The Magnificent Seven will top that, while Storks will double the second place film, The Intern. Unfortunately, last year there were three other films that earned more than $10 million, while this year there will be only one. 2016 is better on top, but 2015 had better depth. Perhaps 2016 will still come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison, but I don't think it will quite make it.
As expected, this weekend’s three new wide releases couldn’t budge Sully from the top of the chart with the Tom Hanks/Clint Eastwood drama down a very respectable 37% in its second weekend to $22 million, for a total of $70.5 million to date. Two films, Blair Witch and Bridget Jones’s Baby both had aspirations to challenge Sully for the title, but had to settle for second and third place.
Blair Witch led the way during Thursday’s previews with $765,000. This is well short of the horror films we had during the summer, including The Shallows at $1.33 million and Lights Out at $1.8 million. Then again, it isn’t really fair to compare previews during summer when a lot of the target audience doesn’t have to go to school the next day. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of horror films that come out in September and previews like this have only been ubiquitous for the past few years. I think it is a good sign, but I’m not sure. Maybe if moviegoers like it more than critics do, the film will be a hit.
There are three wide releases this week, plus another that could sneak into the top ten. Two of the three new releases, Blair Witch and Bridget Jones’s Baby, are expected to do well. On the other hand, Snowden is only going to reach the top five due to the lack of competition. Meanwhile, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is a faith-based concert film. It could reach the top five, or it could miss the Mendoza Line. There’s no way to predict its box office potential. Despite the number of new releases, Sully is expected to remain in top spot thanks to its reviews and target demographic. This weekend last year, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials led the way with just over $30 million. It is likely no film will make that this year, while the depth is a mixed bag, so it looks like 2016 will lose in the year-over-year comparison.
Like this week, there are four wide releases coming out next week, but not all are expected to open truly wide. Of these film, Blair Witch is the only one that is expected to do well during the weekend, although Bridget Jones’s Baby should have better legs. Since we care about opening weekends more than end results, Blair Witch is clearly the better choice for the target film in this week's Box Office Prediction contest. In order to win, one must simply predict the opening weekend box office number for Blair Witch.
Whoever comes the closest to predicting the film's opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going over, will win a Frankenprize consisting of a previously reviewed full-season TV on DVD release, two previously reviewed movies, or three single-disc kids DVDs.
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 consisting of a previously reviewed full-season TV on DVD release, two previously reviewed movies, or three single-disc kids DVDs.
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!
August continued to pad 2016’s lead over 2015 in the year-over-year comparison. It managed this feat almost entirely due to Suicide Squad, which is on pace to hit $300 million. The next best film was Sausage Party, which might make $100 million, if it gets a push over the top. September won’t be as strong as that. This is no surprise, as the month is one of the biggest dumping grounds on the calendar. That said, studios have been working to make the end of the month a lot more productive and there are a few potential hits. The biggest of these is The Magnificent Seven, which is expected to crack $100 million, maybe even $150 million. Meanwhile, Sully and Storks both have a limited chance at $100 million. Last September, the biggest release of the month was Hotel Transylvania 2 with pulled in $169.70 million. I don’t think The Magnificent Seven will match that, so we might need a surprise $100 million hit for 2016 to come out on top.
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