Two new star-studded action/comedies opened this weekend with one prevailing well over the other. Lionsgate’s ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ took number one, but with a less-than-explosive $21.6M. In this slow market, it doesn’t take much to capture the #1 spot, like last week when ‘Annabelle: Creation’ came out on top with $35M. But last year, ‘Suicide Squad’ took that same weekend with $135M. After this crummy summer, down roughly 10% from last year, it might have been a good idea for ONE studio to shift one of its tentpoles to later in the summer to avoid the stiff competition. (I can’t help but think that ‘Atomic Blonde’ might have done better in the last two weeks, with no other action movies to face off against, rather than opening the same weekend as ‘Dunkirk’.)
That’s no guarantee, of course. Lionsgate held ‘The Dark Tower’ until later and it still flopped, so… it really is all a dice roll. But ‘The Dark Tower’ was also crippled by the fact that this year Franchise Fatigue finally became an undeniable “thing.” Audiences realized that ‘The Dark Tower’ was just a set up for a series of movies and people are tired of shelling out the bucks for something that’s just Part One of a several movie series and not a complete story unto itself.
Back to ‘Annabelle: Creation’, with a $15.3M haul this weekend, New Line boasts that ‘The Conjuring’ franchise has now crossed the $1 billion mark. What’s especially noteworthy is that all of the movies in this shared universe are dirt cheap to make. They ALWAYS make more in their opening weekend than it cost to produce the movie in the first place, not counting marketing and promotion. Cost/percentage-wise, these films make a much bigger profit than some of the splashier big budget hits out there.
The other big action/comedy to premiere this weekend, Steven Soderburgh’s NASCAR heist flick ‘Logan Lucky’ hit the wall, despite attempts to market toward the NASCAR crowd and a heavy push in the southern states. It’s very obvious that audiences, in addition to being worn out on franchises old and new, are no longer enticed to see a movie just because of who starred in or directed it. Channing Tatum made a special appearance at a NASCAR race to drum up interest, but the Youtube clip posted has only gotten 5K views. Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Hilary Swank and Katie Holmes also starred in this flick which made a measly $8M on a budget of $29M with an additional $20M in promotional costs.
It didn’t do ‘Logan Lucky’ any favors that its target audience was the exact same as that of ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’, males over 25. ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ spent more on promotion, $30M, and started pushing earlier in the year, first screening this past winter. ‘Logan Lucky’ director Soderburgh oversaw the $20M promotional campaign and chose to hold off until just before the film opened to really start pushing and like I said, chose to target a specific geographic demographic. It obviously didn’t work.
Ironically, ‘Logan Lucky’ has a fantastic 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ has a terrible 39%. The studios have been grousing about the immense sway that Rotten Tomatoes has appeared to have over audience interest, but this result could debunk that theory entirely. Then again, it was an incredibly slow weekend period, so these results could be seen as an anomaly. Audience reaction was pretty even and not bad for either. Moviegoers gave ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ a solid B+ and ‘Logan Lucky’ a B.
- The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $21.6M
- Annabelle: Creation (New Line/Warner Bros.) – $15.5M
- Logan Lucky (Bleecker Street) – $8M
- Dunkirk (Warner Bros.) – $6.7M
- The Nut Job 2 (Open Road) – $5.1M
What’s really bizarre is that while neither ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ nor ‘Logan Lucky’ had particularly huge budgets, they were still moderately-priced large studio wide releases. But next weekend? There is literally NOTHING coming out in terms of major wide releases. Talk about no contest!
The only movie I can see that might make some waves is the faith-based ‘All Saints’, based on “an inspiring true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), the tiny church he was ordered to shut down, and a group of refugees from Southeast Asia. Together, they risked everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all.” I’ve never heard of it, but quiet, low-budget faith-based movies aren’t marketed to mainstream audiences. The studios go right for churches and religious organizations and their followers. Every few months, one of these pops up out of nowhere and like low-budget horror movies, they usually make back their budget and possibly more in the first weekend and while critics hate them (single digit Rotten Tomatoes-hate), the under-served Christian audience always showers them with A+ CinemaScores.
Check back next weekend to see how things go.