Box Office: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Leads Slowest Labor Day Weekend in About Two Decades

Hitman's Bodyguard
Summit/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

UPDATED 9/4: A disastrous domestic summer box office is ending on a low note.

Without any fresh competition in wide release, “Hitman’s Bodyguard” appears the be the holiday weekend’s movie of choice. The Lionsgate release with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson at the center should earn $13.4 million from 3,370 locations over the four-day weekend. Its seemingly imminent win would make “Hitman’s Bodyguard” the only flick this summer to retain the top spot on the domestic box office charts for three consecutive weekends. “Dunkirk,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” each stayed first for two frames.

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But while the action comedy is certainly profitable at this point, its threepeat is less due to the movie’s overwhelming popularity, and more attributable to the lack of alternatives. This — the first Labor Day weekend in recent history without a new wide release — is tracking to have the lowest four-day total for the holiday in nearly two decades. The 28 movies currently in release are tracking to bring in about $95.5 million, according to ComScore. Not since 1998 has the Labor Day domestic box office dropped below a $100 million four-day total. The last time there were no wide releases over Labor Day weekend was in 1992.

Of the weekend’s medium-sized launches, Sony’s re-release of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is faring best. The 40th anniversary theatrical event is set to take in $2.3 million for the four-day holiday weekend from 901 locations. Meanwhile, TWC’s long-delayed release “Tulip Fever” is not finding its audience. The historical drama starring Alicia Vikander is expected to earn $1.4 million from 765 locations.

A unique collaboration between Marvel Television and ABC Studios brought “Marvel’s Inhumans” to 393 Imax screens in North America, where it is expected to earn $1.5 million. And Pantellion’s “Do It Like an Hombre” is looking at about $1.4 million for the four days at 382 locations.

Otherwise, “Annabelle: Creation” should remain in the two slot for Warner Bros. The horror sequel has an estimated three-day tally of $7.3 million from 3,358 locations, and is tracking for $9.3 million with the extended holiday.

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While “Tulip Fever” might fail to crack the weekend’s top 20, TWC has the third and fourth highest-grossing movies of the weekend. “Wind River” is expecting an $8 million four-day total from 2,602 spots. The animated adventure “Leap!” should follow close behind with $6.6 million from 2,705 locations. “Logan Lucky” should round out the top five with a reported $4.4 million three-day and estimated $5.6 million for the entire holiday.

The summer box office, which ends after this coming Monday, is still on track to end with less than $4 billion in North America for the first time since 2006. Major flops including “King Arthur” and “Valerian,” as well as several big-budget sequels that underperformed should serve as a wake up call to studios that are used to splashy features with familiar faces equalling ticket sales.

While this Labor Day weekend is especially low for overall grosses, the frame has not historically been an especially huge source of revenue — August and September are traditionally thought of as a dumping ground for the industry between summer blockbusters and awards season contenders. Last year, for example, “Don’t Breathe” led the pack during its second weekend with just under $20 million. The year prior, “War Room” landed in first with $13.4 million.

Still, the month of August has been especially slow for the industry, especially with nothing to match last year’s record-breaking “Suicide Squad.” So the film business looks ahead to next weekend when “It” is expected to enter the scene with a bold statement, and potentially reignite what is a marketplace in a dire state.

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  1. Ari Manuel says:

    We’re rooting for a glorious double-down: “Slowest year in four decades” ..Come on now Hollywood
    cretins, you can do it ..

  2. we’ve been going to movie theaters for more than 50 years and probably watched almost 5000 films in that time. tastes vary in terms of what’s a good, what’s a mediocre film. but we no longer trust rotten tomatoes, possibly the film evaluation site most people rely on, in deciding what films to see–and whether to go to the movies in the first place.

    if 100 critics see a new, challenging film and all (hypothetically) are uncertain, torn, and would rate it two out of four stars, the film would receive a “zero” rotten tomatoes rating (all under 60). if 100 critics see another, original, less elliptical film, 50 rave and give it four stars and the other 50 give it two stars, that film would receive a “50” rotten tomatoes rating–ie., still “rotten” (this is the kind of film we tend to look for, sometimes even with lower r.t. ratings).

    of course this works the other way, too. if a bland film is given 2 1/2 out of four stars (above 60) by every critic, that film would receive an r.t. rating of “100”. there have been too many of this kind of film lately. and every critic’s rating “counts”, generally (yes, i understand, r.t. includes a separate rating category for more established reviewers only). since many critics are now younger, and write for internet sites, their taste may be inconsistent with that of older viewers like us. also, many critics don’t use a numerical rating, so r.t. editors must “interpret” and score the reviews. and then there’s the obvious “herd”/stampede effect among critics, conscious and subconscious.

    in short, as i wrote, we don’t trust r.t. in general anymore, although we do read carefully the details of what several “known”, reliable (to us) critics say about a film. of course, there are a number of reviewers for established publications that have agendas or conflicts–and their reviews need to be read very skeptically (for example, we regard only one critic for the n.y. times to be reliable for us). only after one actually sees the film can it be determined how objective the review is (i’ve read quite a few that get basic facts wrong; or just flatly criticize original performances without apparently understanding what they’ve criticized).

    the short of it is, with the relatively high in-theater ticket prices, many people refuse to invest money to see a film that lacks a sterling review or is not regarded as “must see.” but, on the other hand, audiences commonly “waste” money on films with very highly scored reviews but which are just “okay”–maybe given the benefit of the doubt by critics for unstated reasons. we’ve seen several of those this year.

    of the films mentioned in this article, we’ve seen two, “tulip fever” and “wind river”, and thought both were above average and enjoyed them. flawed but not bad, either. worth seeing.

  3. Jackson says:

    I was one of the suckers that saw the DREADFUL “Hitman’s Bodyguard.” Terrible movie and every other word is “m—–f——” no reason whatsoever. I wish the box office was $12.50 less and I could have my money back.

  4. Cecil B da Mill says:

    Conversely, people in California are going to movies to escape the heat just hoping not to be insulted for ten dollars

  5. Jimmy Green says:

    The hundreds of screens in the Houston area are closed due to the hurricane. That can explain some of this.

  6. Cath says:

    Honestly, if they had opened “It” there would have been a way bigger box office. Why didn’t they premiere anything much in the last two weeks? This was oddly deliberate.

  7. John Miller says:

    Good! It’s payback time to Hollywood for cranking out so many crappy movies that no one wants to see.

  8. There’s definitely something wrong this summer. No hit movies past June, no options other than DESPACITO, and not a long stretch of heatwaves taking place. And to top it off, I had to wear a coat to work last night on Labor Day weekend.

    • Jacen says:

      Dunkirk, new Apes 3, Hitman’s Bodyguard, Spider-man, the Emoji Movie, Girls Trip, Annabelle 2, Atomic Blonde, and Wind River are all post June and all hits, whether it be solely on domestic take or via global take. Not sure what you’re talking about…

      • It’s not a summer I’m accustomed to, that’s all I’m saying. And the global vs/and domestic part of things makes a whole lot of sense for every genre of entertainment, especially with music. We know movie theatres domestically did bad this summer. But there’s no reason for the music industry to do things on a global level domestically here in the US, unless the music offerings are that bad here statewide, and we consumers want no part in the choices we got.

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