Box Office: Zac Efron, ‘No Escape’ No Match for ‘Straight Outta Compton’

Summer is ending with a whimper and not a bang.

Straight Outta Compton” will top the box office for a third consecutive week with roughly $15 million, but the N.W.A biopic’s endurance isn’t a massive accomplishment given that the competition is pretty docile. Three new films will enter the marketplace this weekend — political thriller “No Escape,” faith-based drama “War Room” and the disc jockey romance “We Are Your Friends” — but none of them is of the blockbuster ilk.

“No studio likes to open things at this time of year,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “People are on vacation or they’re doing things that don’t involve sitting inside a theater.”

We Are Your Friends” is firmly pegged at younger women given that it stars Zac Efron, he of the doe eyes, cherub cheeks and washboard abs, and unfolds against an electronic music backdrop. This “Pump Up the Volume” for the new millennium should pull in roughly $9 million from 2,333 locations, which would be a solid result given that Warner Bros. spent $2 million to acquire it out of the American Film Market.

The Weinstein Company’s “No Escape” got a jump start on the weekend, debuting in 3,007 theaters on Wednesday, before expanding to 3,350 venues on Friday. The picture will likely bring in $12 million over its first five days of release and $9 million for the weekend. It’s also an acquisition. The indie label picked up “No Escape” from Bold Films for roughly $5 million, which means even a modest debut could still line up the film to be profitable. The picture centers on an American engineer (Owen Wilson) who finds himself in a head-on collision with a political coup in a Southeast Asian nation. John Erick Dowdle co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Drew, and directs the film.

Advertising for the film has focused on a key scene that finds Wilson hurling his daughter from great heights. At a screening on Monday, he nodded to the ubiquity of the sequence by joking that instead of “No Escape,” the film should be entitled “throwing a child from roof to roof.”

The big question mark in a weekend that will be devoid of major drama is how high “War Room” will fly. The film is currently selling the most tickets of any of the new films, according to Fandango. Its Christian content could be resonating with church groups, who may be buying tickets in bulk, potentially skewing numbers. The film centers on a couple that find the solution to their crumbling marriage in prayer. It debuts across 1,100 locations and should take in between $4 million to $5 million, though that number could increase if Christian moviegoers embrace the picture in the way they did “God’s Not Dead” and “Heaven Is for Real.” Sony Pictures Entertainment’s TriStar Pictures label is distributing the film.

The overall box office will likely be down from the year-ago period, but that drop is somewhat deceptive, given that Labor Day took place during this weekend in 2014 and the holiday has been pushed back by a week this year.

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