Weekend Box Office: New Releases Live Under IT’s Shadow

J-Law and American patriotism can't beat evil clowns.

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This weekend saw two releases – Lionsgate/CBS Films’ American Assassin and Paramount’s Mother! – attempt to dethrone the reigning box office champion, Warner Bros./New Line’s IT.

Spoiler alert: they didn’t.

Coming in first, Andre Muschietti’s IT lured $60 million into its sewers, giving it a staggering $218.71m cume. Along with having a respectable -50% decline (relative to other films that open at its level), IT blasted past 1984’s Crocodile Dundee ($174.8m) to become the highest-grossing September release. For perspective, IT’s second frame beat the opening weekend of Ridley Scott’s Hannibal ($58m), which was once the #1 debut for a horror-centric film.

At this rate, IT has its eyes on a $300m+ domestic total and could become one of Warner Bros.’ top 10 films they have ever distributed. Internationally, IT snatched $60.3 million from 56 markets. Overseas and global tallies for the Stephen King adaptation are $152.6m and $371.3m, respectively (bear in mind this juggernaut cost just $35m to produce). Top markets for IT are the U.K. ($27.7m), Mexico ($13.85m), Russia ($13.8m), Australia ($11.8m), and Brazil ($10.9m).

Warner Bros./New Line Cinema

Opening in second, Michael Cuesta’s American Assassin wrangled $14.8 million from 3,154 hubs. Assassin’s opening is comparable to fellow Lionsgate actioner John Wick ($14.42m), though its reception is less so; whereas John Wick was met with acclaim from both critics and audiences, American Assassin has received a 35% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 4.7/10 from over 100 reviews) and a 6.8/10 score on IMDb from over 3,000 ratings.

Working more in Assassin’s favour, however, is its ‘B+’ CinemaScore. Marketing concentrated predominantly on Dylan O’Brien’s character, which paid off as it attracted his female fanbase (females over 25 made up 34% of Assassin’s audience) who may have otherwise been disinterested. That said, American Assassin carries a $33m production budget and this opening is merely “okay,” even as it opened above Lionsgate’s high-end prediction ($14m). Having Fox’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle launching this Thursday won’t help matters.

Lionsgate/CBS Films

Internationally, American Assassin opened with $6.2 million from 41 markets. Assassin’s taking a slow approach towards its overseas release, with openings all the way through November. With regards to major markets, Assassin drew $960k in the U.K. and $933k in Australia. The film has played well in the Middle East, where it has made $1.1m. Globally, the Dylan O’Brien/Michael Keaton-starrer has totalled $21 million.

In third place, Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! was nothing to scream about – the film grossed $7.5 million from 2,368 venues, ranking as the lowest debut in Jennifer Lawrence’s career (even below her once-shelved horror pic, House at the End of the Street ($12.29m)). What went wrong here? All eyes were on Mother!’s ‘F’ grade from CinemaScore polls, joining the likes of The Box, Killing Them Softly, Solaris, and several others.

Mother! is a high-art fever dream, the kind of film that pleases specialty houses and polarizes audiences. With Lawrence as the lead star and the worry that word-of-mouth would kill the movie, Paramount opened nationwide to rake in as much as they could ala The Devil Inside, which also received an ‘F’ CinemaScore but its marketing propelled it to a $33.73m debut. The Devil Inside, however, had the benefit of opening in a barren January marketplace (plus, January tends to be kind to horror flicks). When audiences found out Mother! wasn’t exactly the suspense/horror thriller they were anticipating, they fled to IT.

Critics have been kinder to Mother!, awarding it a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 6.5/10 from nearly 200 reviews). On IMDb, Mother! carries a 6.8/10 score from over 8,000 ratings. Regardless of the above, mainstream audiences have spoken and the movie isn’t for them. Not the news Paramount hoped for, I imagine, as Mother! cost $30m to produce and they’re in need of a hit.

Paramount Pictures

Overseas, Mother! nabbed $6 million from from 16 markets. Mother!’s top opening belonged to France ($1.3m), which is usually an arthouse-friendly territory. Mother!’s other top markets are the U.K. ($1.1m), Russia ($1.1m), Germany ($799k), and Australia ($584k). Thus far, Aronofsky’s latest has earned $13.5 million globally.

Falling to fourth, Open Road’s Home Again fell a modest -37.7% to gross $5.33 million. Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s rom-com, starring Reese Witherspoon, has tallied $17.14m – not a bad haul when you account for its $12m budget. It would be preemptive to say that Home Again is a leggy piece of counter-programming (it’s doubtful the movie will make more than $30m), but it’s performing fine. There are no international numbers to report for Home Again.

Rounding out the top 5, Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard added $3.55 million, declining -26.1% from last weekend. The $30m Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson-starrer has amassed $70.36m in North America, giving Lionsgate a healthy hit. International numbers have yet to be released, thus Hitman’s Bodyguard’s tentative overseas and global cumes are $53.3m and $123.66m.

 

HOLDOVERS

Warner Bros./New Line Cinema

6. Annabelle: Creation (Warner Bros./New Line) – $2.6 million (-35.1%), $99.9m cume
7. Wind River (Weinstein) – $2.55 million (-18.5%), $327.7m cume
8. Leap! (Weinstein) – $2.12 million (-13.3%), $18.66m cume
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony) – $1.88 million (-6.6%), $330.26m cume
10. Dunkirk (Warner Bros.) – $1.31 million (-29.9%), $185.14m cume

 

NOTABLES

War for the Planet of the Apes
20th Century Fox

– Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes opened with $62.3 million in China, the highest debut ever for Fox in the market. Global cume for Apes is $432m.
– Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3 crossed $200 million internationally, thanks to a $4.1m opening in Italy. Overseas total is $204.6m and global is $359.6m.

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