‘War Room’ surprises in an otherwise poor weekend

2015 as a whole is doing fantastically well as far as its box-office numbers are concerned. Till date, it is a solid 5.6% above last year’s YTD figures, and even 0.3% above the record-breaking year of 2013. Those have to do only with box-office figures in North America. Globally, Hollywood has recorded some massive blockbusters with as many as four movies earning more than $1 billion (yep, Minions has crossed over the line too!). With films like Spectre and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens yet to release, 2015 truly looks set to be a massive record-breaking year for Hollywood. But if one were to go by the figures that August has thrown up, well, you might have been mistaken in believing that things are in a decline. While Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation gave solid numbers in the initial week of the month and Straight Outta Compton is doing its best at the end, there has been a lack of quality throughout the month which is no doubt coming across in the box-office numbers. This weekend the top 12 movies in North America recorded the lowest earnings tally for the year, pretty much summing up the story of August. The biopic Straight Outta Compton, in its third weekend, still stays at the top of the box-office charts with $13.2 million earnings. The movie has been a strong hit for Universal Pictures with $141 million earned worldwide till now. Remember, the production budget for the film was only $28 million!

Earnings_Straight Outta Compton

Among the new releases, the surprise came in the form of Sony’s War Room. The movie released in only 1,135 theatres but stole the thunder with a fantastic $11 million weekend earnings which makes for an unexpected average of $9,692 per theatre. This faith-based movie has been made on a modest production budget of $3 million and by the time its theatrical run ends, it could have earned upto 10 times that figure! Even though reviews for the film aren’t too good, the demand for faith-based movies is not being properly met by the studios. Releasing one during the summer period with no competition from a similar-themed film has turned into a masterstroke. The Kendrick brothers (Alex & Stephen) have a reputation of generating high returns from low budget movies, and that reputation will remain solidly intact after War Room.

Earnings_War Room

There is nothing exemplary about the other two wide releases of the weekend. The thriller No Escape with Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan managed only $8.3 million; just for comparison, that translates into an average of $3,355 per theatre. The budget of this film is again modest at $5 million, so that is a saving grace of some kind. But with well-known actors on board, much more would have been expected of No Escape. Things are far worse for the Zac Efron starrer We Are Your Friends which barely managed $1.8 million earnings at the box-office in North America. Its production budget of only $6 million now looks miles away to recover. Efron is finding it hard to establish himself as a lead actor post his High School Musical days, and that point has been made once again.

Earnings_No Escape

Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation has earned $480 million globally so far, but the release in China is pending, which should significantly bolster the movie’s earnings. As for last week’s disappointments, Sinister 2, Hitman: Agent 47 & American Ultra, the second weekend falls were as per expectations at 56%, 54% & 49% respectively. None of the three movies have any great results to boast of. Oh September, do save us from this melancholy!

Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):

1. Straight Outta Compton ($13.2 million; third weekend)

2. War Room ($11.0 million)

3. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($8.3 million; fifth weekend)

4. No Escape ($8.3 million)

5. Sinister 2 ($4.7 million; second weekend)

 


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