Potential Donald Trump supporter (and supporter of… racism?) Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks kick off Hollywood’s awards season this week with the hotly-anticipated bio pic “Sully.” Can they pull in “American Sniper” numbers with another true tale of a national hero?
Weekend: September 9th-11th, 2016
Big New Releases: “Sully,” “The Wild Life,” “When the Bough Breaks,” “The Disappointments Room”
Big Holdovers: “Suicide Squad,” “Don’t Breathe,” “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Pete’s Dragon”
1. “Sully” (PG-13, 3,525 theaters) – $35 million opening weekend, $150 million final
This is a shoo-in for the top spot. Let the record show that I have not looked at last night’s preview release numbers, which can often be a good indicator of a movie’s upcoming weekend performance. But I’m sure it did great. People who aren’t 14 year-old boys have generally had a rough 2016, and must be frothing at the mouth for something decent. Unfortunately for “Sully,” it has a much lower ceiling than “American Sniper” did, Eastwood’s Bradley Cooper unexpected smash. That movie pulled in $89.3 million during its first weekend of wide release in January of 2014 and brought in a fantastic $350.1 million stateside (contributing to the majority of its $547.4 worldwide take) off a $59 million budget. The $60 million-budgeted story of one bad-ass pilot will face its stiffest competition not from any other movie in the marketplace this weekend, but from TV. NFL football returns this weekend, and the eyeballs of men everywhere will be glued to their television sets come Sunday. That will surely temper how high this baby can go.
That being said, “Sully” is rocking a hooky concept, a great trailer, really good reviews (76% on Metacritic thus far) for a Hollywood picture, and two big stars in Hanks and Eastwood (granted, Clint is only behind the camera this time, but he is a draw no matter which side of the camera he’s on). Hanks’s drawing power isn’t at its ’90s peak anymore, but with the right material (fall awards fodder) he still can bring in an ample audience. His last three movies in wide release were all adult-oriented hits: last year’s “Bridge of Spies” brought in a solid respectable $72.3 million stateside (off a $40 million budget), and 2013’s one-two punch of “Saving Mr. Banks” (off a $35 million budget) and “Captain Phillips” (off a $55 million price tag) pulled in $83.3 million and $107.1 million, respectively. “Sully” is going to run laps around those figures, though, since it’s basically “Captain Phillips” with way bigger source material. Depending on how audiences respond, its final gross could go much higher than $150 million, but, again, football could really hurt it. “Sully” will be the modern Jimmy Stewart’s biggest hit since “Toy Story 3” in 2010, and his biggest live action hit (unadjusted) since “The Da Vinci Code” a decade ago. I’m sure Chet Haze is very excited.
2. “When the Bough Breaks” (PG-13, 2,246 theaters) – $22 million opening weekend, $60 million final
The Sony/Screen Gems thriller team that brought you the #1 champ of the last two weeks strikes again! They are modestly pegging “When the Bough Breaks” to gross $10-12 million. This figure sounds really conservative, considering “Bough” serves an audience desperate for content, folks who have been proven to show up when catered to so directly — plus it stars Morris Chestnut, a proven star in these African American-targeting adult sex thrillers. Whatever happens, “Bough” is guaranteed to best its reported $10 million production budget within its first three days. This same weekend last year, Chestnut’s last soapy sex thriller “The Perfect Guy” opened to a gangbusters $25.9 million from just 2,221 theaters. Flicks like “Guy,” 2014’s “No Good Deed,” starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson (which made $24.3 million during its opening weekend), 2009’s “Obsessed” (which took in a $28.6 million opening weekend, and starred Elba again — plus some rando named Beyonce) all surpassed industry expectations with great opening weekends, but fell off quickly thereafter (all made between $52 and $69 million — a typically solid finish indicating audience approval is at least triple the movie’s opening weekend). I suppose there is a risk of this performing more like last year’s “The Gift,” written and directed by and starring one of the least charismatic actors in the world, Joel Edgerton. “Gift” made just $11.9 million from 2,503 theaters, which is more in line with what one would expect a movie to bring in from a sort of tempered wide release (anything beneath 3K is a bit on the slight side). Again, nobody cares about Joel Edgerton though. Edgerton must have been a more compelling behind-the-camera talent though, because “Gift” persevered in the weeks thereafter, making a solid $43.8 million (off a $5 million budget!). Outside of “The Gift” (which came out in August and had two other movies’ $25 million+ weekends to contend with), none of the other flicks had to contend with a blockbuster-in-waiting at the level of “Sully.” “When The Bough Breaks” should still open strong. Let’s say $20 million and better holds than Chestnut’s last… chestnut.
3. “The Wild Life” (PG, 2,493 theaters) – $12 million opening weekend, $50 million final
Lionsgate and Summit’s animated feature film adaptation of the classic Wings album of the same name, starring the voice over talents of nobody you’ve ever heard of, looks to carve out a spot for itself in the weekend top 5. I think $14 million is its ceiling, and its floor could be as low as $6 million. So really, I should just pencil it in for a $10 million opening weekend. But I’m selling high on this one, let’s say $12 million for its initial three-day take, and soft holds after that since it’s a kiddie flick and those typically hold well (unless they’re “Ice Age 5”). I can’t wait to watch what they do with “Bip Bop Link.”
4. “Don’t Breathe” (R, 3,384 theaters) – $10 million (-37%) third weekend, $85 million final
Sony/Screen Gems’ other top 5 movie this weekend will definitely lose its spot at the top this weekend. But that’s okay, because it should still make double-digit figures during its third go-round, and continue to hold up surprisingly well for a horror flick. After its success last weekend, Sony was able to add an additional 333 theaters to its total. Here’s hoping “Don’t Breathe” boosts the cache of Raimi/Tapert/Alvarez and Stephen Lang in Hollywood circles, it’s great to see those guys have another hit. It should bring in $9-$12 million during its third go-round at the domestic box office. I’m going to say it makes $10 million, which would be a very reasonable % decline from its three-day take last weekend. That would bring its total to around $70 million, with an $85 million finish over even higher now very much in play.
5. “Suicide Squad” (PG-13, 3,103 theaters) –
$7 million (-29%) sixth weekend, $320 million final
WHEN WILL THIS MOVIE DIE? Warner/DC’s horribly-reviewed mega-hit boasted a terrific hold during Labor Day weekend. Even its three-day total was just a 19.1% weekend-to-weekend drop, a surprise given so much initially negative fan crowing. “Squad” will have brought in roughly $302 million heading into the weekend, and will get into the $310 million range with another slim decline. I’m not sure it will be able to surpass the $330.4 million domestic take of “Batman v Superman,” but it should definitely cross the $320 million mark in the US. It’s made $679.4 million worldwide to date, and could finish its run with $750 million all told. That number could be way higher, because there are two wild cards: China (the world’s second-biggest movie market) and Mexico have yet to come to terms on release dates for the movie. That could be as much as $200 million on the table. Warner Brothers desperately wants this movie to have a better showing than “Batman v Superman,” which underwhelmed with $872.7 million (beforehand, internal hopes were for at least $1 billion).