Despite bringing in a rather meager sum of money over the weekend, The Hitman’s Bodyguard was able to hold on to the top spot due to the complete absence of any serious competition. Indeed, estimates peg the action-comedy as having brought in just a little over $10 million, although some have claimed the actual figure could fall into single digits. It is rare for a film to have such a lackluster box office performance and still be declared number one, drawing to a close a summer that has been similarly sluggish and painting a dire picture for the next week.
The North American box office is often said to be in a precarious position, so much so that it’s easy to become desensitized to the industry pundits who speak of the doomsday of cinema on a near-weekly basis. It is clear that certain cases are exaggerated for the good of click-bait headlines, but this past weekend can be seen as genuinely concerning.
In total, the top twelve films made only $49 million, the lowest-grossing August weekend in over twenty years, and the lowest-grossing weekend all-round since September 23rd 2001. This August is also set to be the fifth month of the year to show a marked decline on last year’s box office takings, with only February, March and June showing signs of life, due largely to the success of Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman.
Of course, the blame has to be laid at the feet of the Hollywood studios at least partly, for failing to schedule any exciting releases in the late-August to early-September period. This space of time is often left alone when the major studios decide release dates for their biggest pictures, but in an August which has seen not a single breakout hit, things are looking particularly desolate. Indeed, there is no Guardians of the Galaxy or Suicide Squad-style surprise hit to distract from the empty release calendar. In fact, the only contender for such a role was The Dark Tower, which was essentially dead-on-arrival.
Nonetheless, if nothing else this weekend will lend some good publicity to The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which can now boast being number one for two weeks in a row (although you will notice exact numbers being left out of any press releases). The action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson had a budget of $30 million, and is on-track to becoming a modest success with a $39 million domestic haul so far. The film will ideally want a global total in the realm of $90-100 million, which would place it in the same box office bracket as similarly priced action movie, John Wick. Failing to hit such a number would all but quash any sequel hopes, barring exceptional popularity on home media.
The mini-budget horror movie Annabelle: Creation stayed put at number two in its third week of release, the latest in a long line of cheaply-produced horror films bringing in big returns ($215 million globally on a $15 million production budget).
Falling in behind the Conjuring spin-off was the first of last weekend’s under-the-radar new releases; a French animated movie called Leap! which opened with just five million dollars. The film has performed adequately in France and Canada, but failed to find an audience in North America, despite bringing in new voices for the U.S. version of the film. Notably, Dane DeHaan’s voice work was re-dubbed by Nat Wolff, possibly in response to DeHaan’s disastrous year at the box office which has included two major flops: Valerian and A Cure For Wellness.
The only other new release to make it into the top ten was Birth of the Dragon, a fictional retelling of Bruce Lee’s early years which received a mauling from critics. The film brought in just $2.5 million, settling for the number nine position. The martial arts flick was out-grossed by the highly anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, which was shown in 532 locations.
Taking advantage of the lack of new releases, Warner Bros. and Sony expanded the theater-count of two of their most successful summer movies: Wonder Woman and Baby Driver respectively. Both films received a nice boost from this, but neither could claw their way back to the top ten.
Next week is unlikely to improve on the already underwhelming numbers seen here, given that there isn’t a single wide release hitting screens. Instead, the industry is resting all their hopes on Pennywise The Clown, as the remake of IT creeps into cinemas on September 8th and is expected to be a strong performer.
Here’s the top ten in full:
- (1) The Hitman’s Bodyguard – $10 million
- (2) Annabelle: Creation – $7.3 million
- (-) Leap! – $5 million
- (10) Wind River – $4.4 million
- (3) Logan Lucky – $4.3 million
- (4) Dunkirk – $3.9 million
- (7) Spider-Man: Homecoming – $2.7 million
- (-) Mayweather v. McGregor – $2.59 million
- (-) Birth of the Dragon – $2.5 million
- (6) The Emoji Movie – $2.3 million