Nobody likes to see a Box Office bomb, but on a summer weekend of 5 wide releases, it’s no surprise to see over half of the entrants in this particular window fail to catch the eye upon release. Luckily for Lionsgate/CBS and Paramount, ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ and ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ were the lucky pair chosen, opening to an impressive $38m combined to trouble the holdovers from previous weekends. That left ‘The Kitchen’, ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’, and ‘Brian Banks’ as the unfortunate flops – causing further headaches for Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, and Bleecker Street, in what’s rapidly becoming a forgettable year for the trio of studios.
How did the new releases get on?
‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’, the horror movie based off of the popular 1980s book of the same name, was the surprise of the weekend, earning $20.9m to blow our pre-release $14m forecast out the water. In hindsight, it’s no surprise to see the film end the weekend only behind ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ in the Box Office charts, and as the 5th biggest horror opening of the year (behind ‘Pet Sematary’, ‘The Curse of La Llarona’, ‘Glass’, and ‘Us’); many factors worked in director André Øvredal’s favour here, such as having a pre-existing fanbase originating from the books.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean a strong start is guaranteed. The film’s opening success also hinged on its quality, with critics alike heapng praise on the adaptation, showcased by its 80% on Cinemascore. The most pressing factor, though, is ‘Scary Stories’ being the 1st horror release in a month, after Paramount’s ‘Crawl’ back in mid-July. There’s always an audience for the creepy, scary, and thrilling, and in this case the cinemagoers were mainly older (54% were over-25) and female (57%).
This same audience could however be the film’s stumbling block. Although the film opened to over $20m, viewers gave it a paltry C Cinemascore, which could prove disastrous in coming weeks, especially as ‘Scary Stories’ reported $28m budget is a far cry from the cheaper horrors we usually see in the market. With horrors releasing in 3 of the next 4 weekends before the granddaddy of them all in ‘It: Chapter 2’ enters the fray, Lionsgate and CBS may’ve wished they exorcised (get it?) some Blumhouse-like frugality.
While ‘Scary Stories’ over-delivered, it was a muted $17.4m opening for Paramount and ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’, but not one of major concern. Produced on a $49m budget and released with a month to go before the back-to-school rush, ‘Dora’ also has an A on Cinemascore in its arsenal to truly leg out until September, where families no longer will have the weekdays to enjoy the cinema.
The only thing standing in its way of a longer Box Office run is the same barrier that restricted its opening this weekend: ‘The Lion King’. The Disney flick caters to the exact same audience, utilises a more popular IP and, unlike ‘Dora’, and has a clearer target market. ‘Dora’ finds itself stuck trying to appeal to the original fans of the show who would’ve watched it during its original 2000 to 2006 run (placing their current ages anywhere between 25 and 18), while also opening themselves up for the younger audience it should’ve focused on. Still, things could’ve been worse than a muddled target audience; the film could’ve been ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’.
Mark Bomback’s ‘The Art…’ may’ve been based off of a 2008 NYT best-seller, but the film was anything but, earning just $8.1m domestically off an $18m+ budget. If there was ever a clear indication of audiences voting with their wallets, it’d be found in the diminishing openings of dog-related movies, as the 3rd of 2019 so far after ‘A Dog’s Way Home’ ($11.3m opening) and ‘A Dog’s Journey’ ($8m) is surely a sign of a waning interest. Of course, the competition and underwhelming critical reception plays a part too in ‘The Art’s failure at the Box Office, but I don’t think we’re barking up the wrong by hoping for a tight leash on the genre.
That leaves 2 films left, Warner Bros’ ‘The Kitchen’ and Bleecker Street’s ‘Brian Banks’. ‘The Kitchen’, boasting possibly the most star-studded cast of the weekend with Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson and others, opened to just $5.5m – a career low for McCarthy and Haddish. Drama ‘Brian Banks’, based on a true story, couldn’t even reach the top 10 this weekend, earning $2.2m for an 11th-placed finish.
The 10th place finish went to the surprise package ‘Bring the Soul’, a concert-movie around the K-Pop sensation BTS. The film hit all the right tones, earning $2.4m from just 873 cinemas.
How did the others do?
‘Hobbs & Shaw’ impressed this weekend with a sub-60% drop, posting $25.3m for a domestic running total of $108.3m. Granted, it doesn’t compare to ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ (which earned an entire $10m more in its 2nd weekend), but it at least marks a major improvement against the 2nd weekend drops of ‘Furious 7’ (-59.5%) and ‘Fate of the Furious’ (-61.1%), boding well for a potential $150m+ finish.
Internationally, the film earned an extra $61m, giving it a global gross of $332m, without the juggernaut markets of China and South Korea, which are to come in the next 2 weeks. Whisper it quietly folks, but Universal may just have a cinematic universe on their hands here.
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