Box Office Report: Straight Outta Compton reigns on Mid-August Weekend

Universal is back. For the millionth time. Straight Outta Compton opened big this past weekend, continuing Universal’s streak of making us assume that their films are totally going to open much lower than their actual figures. Either that or Universal is really good at cranking up boatloads of attention. Or their films simply ring a bell. Pardon me once again, but as I’ll do from now on every time a Universal Pictures film arrives at theaters, I’m gonna go talk about how record breaking their year has been up to this point in time. Yeah, with that you can check back soon, since I’m going to be talking about their 2016 and 2017 slate really soon, since their streak this year has raised several eyebrows on the previously known as ‘No Franchise, Low Earnings’ major studio, hence warranting an article. Lets not forget, too, that The Man From U.N.C.L.E opened this weekend, but with really tepid numbers.

straight outta compton

Straight Outta Compton is Universal’s latest wild card, which still turned out to be a massive hit anyway and just kept pumping out money throughout the weekend. Strangely, people assumed this film was going to over perform, but as with most Universal Studios’ films this year, they just went beyond even the boldest of expectations. Straight Outta Compton continues Universal’s hot streak this year. Pitch Perfect 2 started their summer with a high, earning $183.8 million in its lifetime run, after a $69.2 million opening, which if you recall is greater than the $65 million Pitch Perfect made in its lifetime run back in fall 2012. Pitch Perfect 2’s opening was even greater since it wasn’t typical blockbuster fare- it was a college comedy musical, that was coming on the heels of a very modest original when it comes to the box office. (It was driven mainly by word of mouth coming from post-theater life on home media). It had a mostly female cast and crew, and it was in theaters when Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road were still selling tickets like hotcakes. The half-comedy, half-music genre hasn’t really been a proven reliable source of earnings, with School of Rock back in 2003 being the biggest the sub-genre has seen with $81.3 million. However, all such notions were disproved as soon as the film entered theaters. In terms of the musical genre, Pitch Perfect 2 had the second highest lifetime gross for a musical film ever, just behind the $188.8 million earned by Grease all the way back in the 70s. It also had the third biggest opening ever for a female-directed film, which is a remarkable achievement in an otherwise male-dominated Hollywood. Of course, that wasn’t their only hit, it was just one in a long string- Furious 7 over performed pre-summer, probably driven by people curious about Paul Walker’s last role and the increasingly popular franchise in general. After all, the Fast and Furious franchise has been seeing an uptick in grosses domestically with each installment since the fourth, with fourth, fifth and sixth installment earning $155 million, $209.8 million and $238.7 million domestically respectively. Of course, Furious 7 made it seem like beating records was as simple as a stroll, blasting out $147.2 million in revenue over its opening weekend, for a final domestic gross of $351 million. Minions earned $312.9 million, despite being a ‘spin-off’ of Despicable Me. Of course, one can argue that Despicable Me was popular to the mainstream in the first place because of the minions, and not because of Gru (Sorry, Gru), but with its unknown title which people weren’t familiar with, it seems like Minions was going to fall short. Nope, Minions just earned $115.7 million over its opening weekend, for a $316.3 million cumulative gross to date. If it doesn’t beat Despicable Me 2’s $368 million, you can’t really attribute it to its dip in popularity- its just that this film wasn’t really attracting lots of word of mouth to begin with, unlike the previous two films in the franchise. Regardless, people were aware of this commodity, since it opened well ahead of the $83.5 million Despicable Me 2 made. Had this film just been a whole level better (in terms of quality), I wouldn’t have been surprised if this film earned $400 million domestically. Of course, there was also Inside Out. You can’t deny, though, that this franchise and its likable minions are one of the most popular characters in Hollywood these days. Big didn’t have to be really big either, as long as the film was a hit in its own rights- take Trainwreck, for example, which became Judd Apatow’s second biggest opening ever, with $30.1 million over its opening weekend, and a cumulative gross of $99.9 million (as of time of writing). It might have to settle for third in the list of top ‘Judd Apatow in director’s capacity’ films so far, just a bit behind The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, but you can’t deny that this film was a hit. Earlier this year, Fifty Shades of Grey was massive too, earning $166.2 million, but that was probably due to its prime Valentine’s Day release, as well as buzz and an established fanbase who loved the books. Now, lets go back to the main point- Straight Outta Compton. Straight Outta Compton earned $60.2 million this weekend, far above the $30-40 million range many were looking forward to. Thank that to its racial subtext, which is still highly applicable in today’s society, as well as it being based on the history of the NWA, a group who was really significant back in the late 20th Century. Then there was viral marketing, and regular promotion from its various members, including Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, both who have rabid fanbases. Also backing this film would be its critical acclaim, and the well-timed debut of the album ‘Compton’, by Dr. Dre. It is ahead of the $51.2 million opening of 8 Mile, and when comparing the music biopic genre, its well ahead of second place, Walk the Line, which had an opening of $22.3 million in 2005 before holding on really well to end off with $119.5 million at the end of its run. This film will probably surpass that in its second weekend, so don’t expect this film to fall like a rock, especially since its driven by rock-solid word of mouth by moviegoers.

Okay, there was a lack of paragraphing earlier, so here’s one.

Back to the subject on Compton, Straight Outta Compton had the fifth biggest opening weekend gross the month of August has seen, behind Guardians of the Galaxy ($94.3 million), The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.3 million), Rush Hour 2 ($67.4 million) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($65.6 million). Its just slightly ahead of Signs ($60.1 million), thanks to the actuals, which were about $4 million higher than the estimates provided by Universal Studios. Of course, all those films above Straight Outta Compton’s opening were franchise material or sequels, making Straight Outta Compton’s opening all the more surprising. Expect this to hold up well throughout the rest of August, and into September, since we don’t have any particular film that’s going to garner much attention anyways. On the statistics front, the film earned 40.0% of its opening weekend figures on Friday (AKA Friday to Weekend Ratio of 1:2.50), and has an A cinemascore at the moment. On the demographics front, 52% of moviegoers were female, 51% were above 30, 46% of moviegoers were African-American, and 23% were Caucasian.

the man from uncle

The only other wide opener this weekend, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, was the sole sufferer this weekend, and underperformed. I had previously presumed that this would be a fun escapade for those who love the spy genre,
and had pegged it for an opening of just over $20 million, but I guess sometimes its best to be modest in your expectations. This opening continues Warner Bros. really sour summer thus far, in which apart from San Andreas, has been filled with underperformers and film which simply didn’t hit with moviegoers, as Warner Bros. struggles to find the next big thing, after Harry Potter and The Dark Knight franchise are now things of the past. Of course, its really soft opening could be attributed to all the attention this weekend being sucked up by Straight Outta Compton, but they weren’t really eyeing for the same moviegoers to begin with. Also, a lack of great reviews (67% being only decent), and a lack of star power (Elizabeth Debicki, Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill don’t really qualify as bankable stars). The presence of Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation, yet another spy movie but one which has been critically acclaimed and has been given a seal of approval by moviegoers(more about this later). It was disappointing, though, since it was based on a source material (the TV series from the 60s? Anyone remembers?). It earned $13.42 million this weekend, of which 35.8% came from Friday (AKA Friday to Weekend Ratio of 1:2.79), and has a B Cinemascore, which became worse as the age group increases (C+ from moviegoers above 50, AKA those who watched the original, and A- from those under 18) 52% of moviegoers were male.

In holdover news, Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation finally gave up its spot at the top, earning $17.2 million this past weekend, representing a dip of 39.7%, for a cumulative gross of $138.3 million. When all is said and done, this film should probably end up being the fourth biggest Mission: Impossible film to date, just behind the original, with $181.0 million without accounting for inflation (and a ridiculously high $324.5 million if we talk about inflation). That’s particularly disappointing, since this is widely regarded as the best/second-best Mission: Impossible film to date, and as my review has more less mentioned, a fantastic movie once again proving that Tom Cruise has what it makes to continue being an A-List action star all the way to his 60s. When comparing third weekend performances, Mission: Impossible 3 dipped 54.6% to $11.3 million over its third weekend, all thanks to Da Vinci Code and Over the Hedge (this weekend had Straight Outta Compton, but there was no audience overlap). Mission: Impossible 2 dipped 36.2% to $17.2 million and Mission: Impossible dipped 32.2% to $14.6 million on their respective third weekends, but it can be argued that they opened in an era where revenue was less opening weekend, and more word of mouth from subsequent weekends- the broad reach of what we now term a necessity, the web, had barely extended its grasp back then. One shouldn’t smirk at that figure though, since Paramount’s other film this summer, Terminator: Genisys, was beyond disastrous.

Next time, are you gonna fly to space?
Next time, are you gonna fly to space?

Fantastic Four had a 68.2% dip, despite being in 4004 theaters, which is definitely bigger than the 66.1% dip Green Lantern saw back in 2011, despite an opening over two times bigger with $53.2 million. Fantastic Four barely earned $8.2 million this weekend, for a cumulative gross of $42.1 million. That’s also bigger than the 59.4% dip of the original Fantastic Four, and the 65.5% dip of the subsequent one. People definitely hated this one as much as critics, with a 3.9 score on IMDB, and a 8% score on Rotten Tomatoes (alongside the fact that only 21% of moviegoers loved it, once again from Rotten Tomatoes). This film will probably miss the $60 million mark, which is really a sign of distress for Fox, which has no other choice but 1)reboot the franchise once or 2)return the franchise back to Marvel. Well, I guess they still have X-Men (Deadpool!!!).

The Gift settled at fifth this weekend, with $6.5 million. That’s decent, considering it had fabulous reviews last weekend. It encountered a dip of 45.1% from last weekend, for a cumulative gross of $23.6 million. Not bad for a directorial debut, as well as the first film from new production house STX, which had a bright start with The Gift (no more Relativity or Summit or FilmDistrict, please).

The reminder of the top 10 will be shown in the table below. Meanwhile, this weekend last year, all new openers underwhelmed, with Let’s Be Cops tops among new openers, with $17.8 million. The Expendables 3 couldn’t reach the heights of past installments, despite being even more star-studded and even more kid friendly (probably why older people didn’t bother turning up, it looked too non-R rated). The Giver was fifth, with $12.3 million. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Guardians of the Galaxy, once again, extended their streak at the top 2 positions, with $28.5 million and $25.1 million respectively. The top 12 last year earned $128.96 million, which is beaten this time round, due to Straight Outta Compton. The top 12 this weekend earned $135.95 million, or 5.4% ahead of last year’s bunch. Let’s see how next weekend’s bunch of new openers do, though we might probably have yet another down weekend. After all, we are finally bidding summer a warm farewell, with the films next weekend- American Ultra, Hitman: Agent 47 and Sinister 2- having little or no audience appeal whatsoever, instead trying to earn whatever amount of money moviegoers are still willing to spend at the theaters before fall begins.

Regardless, here’s the top 10:
(NOTE: New films are bolded)

Rank Last Week Rank Film Weekend Gross Change Total Gross Per-Theater Average Week
1 Straight Outta Compton $60,200,180 $60,200,180 $21,835 1
2 1 Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation $17,186,540 -39.7% $138,323,095 $4,645 3
3 The Man From U.N.C.L.E $13,421,036 $13,421,036 $3,689 1
4 2 Fantastic Four $8,168,756 -68.2% $42,129,974 $2,040 2
5 3 The Gift $6,509,604 -45.1% $23,586,927 $2,601 2
6 5 Ant-Man $5,493,417 -30.6% $157,543,670 $2,382 5
7 4 Vacation $5,184,137 -42.1% $46,706,202 $1,679 3
8 6 Minions $5,148,125 -30.9% $312,916,835 $1,950 6
9 7 Ricki and the Flash $4,556,254 -31.1% $14,641,971 $2,207 2
10 8 Trainwreck $3,836,160 -37.6% $97,955,120 $1,920 5

Check back next weekend for Sinister 2, American Ultra and Hitman: Agent 47.

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