BOX OFFICE: ‘The Nun’ takes the competition to church

Commentary pieces are made of pumpkin-spice and smiles and two heaping spoonfuls of snark and a bitter resentment of the passage of time. They can and will take many forms, are randomly organized, and are pretty much the only thing I write for this website anymore.

Apologies for the late box office report. It’s hurricane season on the American East coast, and preparations have been underway for Hurricane Florence’s arrival over the last few days. Sandbags have been piled around my back door to divert the inevitable torrent of water from collecting on my patio, dry food has been purchased and prematurely eaten, and every grocery store within one hundred miles has run out of bottled water. But, there’s some good news to be had.

The Summer movie season is officially over and, according to box office stat-daddy Brad Brevet, shattered records every step of the way. August 2018 was up almost 30% from 2017, and the Summer as a whole was up 15% from last year. Leading the studio pack was, predictably, Disney and their ignominious brand of filmmaking by committee. They were the only studio to top $1 billion in domestic receipts during the three-month window – Incredibles II alone brought in over $600 million at the domestic box office to become the highest grossing animated feature in North America. It’s an eye-rolling shame about Solo: A Star Wars Story.

[I’ll address the diminishing returns of the Star Wars franchise in a future article, it’s just really hard to do so considering the wacky climate surrounding The Last Jedi and the people fighting over it.]

Other hits that bolstered the Summer box office were Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (petergriffinvomiting.gif), a little movie called Crazy Rich Asians, Jason Statham’s shark thriller The Meg, Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool 2, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and carryover from numerous other early-year hits.

The year’s current top domestic grossing studios as of the end of August:

  • Disney: $2.74 Billion, 95.6% over this point last year.
  • Warner Bros.: $1.1 billion, 19.4 below this point last year.
  • Universal: $1.089 billion, 18.5% below this point last year.
  • Sony: $801.5 million, 4% over this point last year.
  • 20th Century Fox: $745.9 million, 24.5% below this point last year.

Brevet also mentions a stand-out year for Paramount Pictures, which is pulling in 43% more cash than last year thanks primarily to John Krasinski’s thrilling A Quiet Place and Cruise-bruiser Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

A deluge of films left theaters at close of business August 31, chief among them was Black Panther, which ended its historic 175-day domestic run with $700.06 million. Now can we stop bothering Chadwick Boseman to do the Wakanda Forever pose?

Moving on.

This past weekend, September 7 – 9, saw The Nun and Peppermint – a pair of darker, more Autumn-appropriate films – wrestle the box office lead away from the Summery silliness of Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg. The Conjuring franchise is far from dead, it seems.

Before we get to the weekend’s results, let’s have Steve Harvey remind the audience of my predictions and put twenty-five seconds on the clock:

  • The Nun will open to $20-25 million.
  • Peppermint will open to $8-12 million.
  • God Bless the Broken Road will open to $4 million.
  • Crazy Rich Asians drops 15% for $16-18 million.
  • The Meg earns another $8 million.
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout earns another $5 million.
  • Searching and Operation Finale both earn around $4-5 million.
  • Christopher Robin earns another $4 million.
  • Alpha earns $3.2 million.
  • The Happytime Murders was all a sick joke and never actually happened, we were dreaming.
  • BlacKkKlansman earns another $3.5 million.
  • Mile 22 earns $2 million.
  • Incredibles II earns $1.5 million.
  • Kin crashes down to $1.5 million.

Now, let’s look at the latest numbers, courtesy of

The Numbers

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Overall the weekend of September 7 – 9 is up 21.9% over the previous weekend – though it does lag behind the four-day total with Labor Day totals added in. Total box office receipts on Monday showed, with The Nun leading the pack, that North Americans spent $120,615,604 at the box office Friday to Sunday, $8 million shy of Labor Day weekend. That’s a healthy bump in numbers, one that major studios hope continues throughout the rest of the year.

Here’s the top ten and some honorable mentions:

  1. The Nun debuts with $53.8 million, more than enough to recoup its $22 million budget. It had a $13,882 average across 3,876 theaters. Solid numbers showing that the Conjuring franchise is by no means dead. I haven’t seen a single one of these movies and have no intention of doing so, but if the people are happy with their spooky movies, let them be spooked. As of Sep 12 it’s earned $64.6 million domestic and $109.1 million international for a $173.7 million worldwide total.
  2. Jennifer Garner’s revenge flick, Peppermint, debuted to $13.4 million over the weekend. It held a $4,504 average across 2,980 screens. That’s barely over half the film’s modest $25 million budget. Jennifer Garner deserves more than what looks like a clich├ęd, dog-whistle-racist, insipid excuse of a revenge flick. As of Sep 12 it’s earned $17.3 million domestic and *cough* $1.4 million international for an $18.7 million worldwide total.
  3. The prodigal film has fallen two spots and 40% – proving that it is indeed fallible. Sort of. Crazy Rich Asians pulled in $13.1 million over the weekend across a still massive 3,865 theaters (expect that to drop). This is the first weekend it’s dropped over 20%, but that may be due more to the aforementioned Autumn-esque competition. As of Sep 12 it’s domestic sits at $139.7 million, international at $31 million, and worldwide at $170.7 million. $140 million over the film’s initial operating budget.
  4. Another top-five mainstay has dropped over 40%. Though it lost 250 screens, The Meg held strong through its fifth weekend, though, adding another $6.09 million to its domestic earnings. As of Sep 12 it has a domestic of $133 million, foreign of $364 million, and worldwide at $497.2 million. It’ll cross that half-billion mark soon enough – don’t you worry Jon Turteltaub.
  5. In fifth is inventive social media thriller, Searching, which dropped only 24.7% after 802 theaters were added to its run. It earned $4.5 million in its second weekend of wide-release. With a $2,275 theater-average, that’s not bad at all. It’s domestic now sits at $16.01 million, international at $18.1 million, and worldwide at $34.1 million.
  6. Finally ejected from the top five is Tom Cruise’s shattered ankle in IMAX, Mission: Impossible – Fallout. It lost 305 theaters and dropped 44.7% as a result, but still earned $3.8 million on the weekend. That’s enough for a $213.5 million domestic, a China-boosted $522.2 million international, and a series-high $735.8 million worldwide. But none of that matters, because the film still hasn’t passed Mission: Impossible II in North America. It’s only two million away from passing it. Oh, but don’t look at the franchise grosses adjusted for inflation – J.J. Abrams is the only loser on that list.
  7. Disney’s Christopher Robin is still a thing. People just can’t get enough of either Ewan McGregor or Winnie the Pooh. Or both. It earned another $3.4 million domestic after losing 407 theaters and dropping 35.5%. As of Sep 12 it has earned $92.8 million domestic, $51.4 million foreign, and $144.2 million worldwide. This is a solid performance, hampered only by the prevalence of Summer blockbusters on the roster.
  8. Operation Finale, the WWII movie, dropped 52.3% for $2.5 million dollars. So far its domestic total is $14.9 million, about ten million shy of its $25 million budget.
  9. Spike Lee’s leggy BlacKkKlansman only dropped 37.9%, letting it haul in another $2.6 million. Sep 12 domestic total is $44.4 million, $22.2 millon international, and $66.6 million worldwide. John David Washington may not be a household name yet, but he will be.
  10. Rounding out the top ten is Alpha, the boy-meets-wolf doggy movie. It dropped 44.6%, losing 360 theaters, but managed to add another $2.5 million to the bank. As of Sep 12 it’s earned $33.1 million domestic, $28.09 million international, and $61 million worldwide. Tack on marketing costs to its $51 million production budget and it looks shaky as to whether or not Alpha is breaking even or squeaking out a profit.

Some honorable mentions.

God Bless the Broken Road, of which I still know absolutely nothing, debuted to $1.3 million domestic. Which is . . . good?

Incredibles II, Mile 22, Hotel Adam Sandler 3, and The Happytime Murders all earned between $1-1.3 million. Incredibles II continues its historic run, Adam Sandler 3 is still there, and Happytime Puppet Fucking dropped 75.3% and won’t come close to breaking even on its $40 million budget. Melissa McCarthy, please do better. You’re better than this post – Hangover shock-comedy. Bridesmaids may have followed the Apatow formula a bit too religiously, and modern comedies may all be light action/dramas starring half the cast of SNL, and I know Paul Feig is directing thrillers now, but . . . fuck it. Movie comedies are in remission.

As far as my predictions go, I underestimated or overestimated everything. The Nun doubled my estimate; Peppermint came in a million over my high estimate; God Bless the Broken Road made $2.5 million less than my guess; the one time I figure Crazy Rich Asians drops 15% or less, I’m wrong; The Meg earned two million less; M:I – 6 didn’t pass M:I-II; and everything else earned about a million less than my estimate – which would be fine if that didn’t constitute a 25% margin of error with these low-earners.

Alright, enough of that. Let’s speculate on this coming weekend’s numbers – if it isn’t too late to do so.


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The Nun kicked off the Fall movie-season well enough, but we have a slate of anticipated movies dropping on Friday (today). Most notable among them are Shane Black’s controversial The Predator, Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively picture A Simple Favor, Matthew McConaughey’s latest White Boy Rick, and Unbroken: Path to Redemption – the sequel to director Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film, Unbroken with added religious pandering.

So, some predictions.

  • The Predator plays like Alien: Covenant and earns $30-35 million. A respectable R-rated opening.
  • The Nun stays at number two and pulls in $20-25 million.
  • I like Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, so let’s say A Simple Favor opens to a third-place $15-20 million?
  • I don’t expect Crazy Rich Asians to leave the top five. It will drop to fourth place and earn $10 million.
  • Apparently Studio 8 expects McConaughey to draw in $8-10 million for White Boy Rick. I’m saying no. Give me “The Renaissance is Over” for $5-8 million, Alex.
  • Christian movies may be infuriating, they may be propaganda made to proselytize rather than to tell a story, but they make money. I assume Unbroken: Path to Redemption to earn between $4-6 million.
  • Peppermint has one or two more solid weekends ahead – probably earning $6-7 million.
  • The Meg will drop further from all this new competition, probably earning only $3 million.
  • Searching will hang tight with another $3 million.
  • And closing out the top ten will be Mission: Impossible – Fallout. It will pass M:I-II, it doesn’t have a choice. Physical ticket-sales and inflation don’t matter to me, just the numbers. And here’s hoping China keeps shoving it toward the big billion. Can’t have this franchise losing steam. Expect a $1.5-2.5 million domestic weekend, though.

And that’s all I care to talk about.

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Until next time!

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