Box Office: ‘Don’t Breathe’ Eyes $20 Million-Plus Opening Weekend

Sony’s horror-thriller “Don’t Breathe” is dominating moviegoing this weekend with more than $20 million at 3,051 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday.

Sony remained more cautious abut the forecasts, opting in the early afternoon for a projection in the mid-teens while other trackers offered forecasts as high as $24 million. Even at the lower level, “Don’t Breathe” is a profitable play for the studio, given the film’s price tag of less than $10 million.

“Don’t Breathe” will be well above the closest rival — the fourth frame of Warner Bros.’ “Suicide Squad,” which is expected to gross in the $10 million range. The supervillain tentpole should finish the weekend with more than $280 million in its first 24 days in the U.S.

Lionsgate’s “Mechanic: Resurrection” is heading for a mild launch in the $6 million to $7 million range at 2,258 sites and will trail Sony’s third weekend of “Sausage Party,” which will take in around $8 million to boost its total U.S. take past $78 million. Focus’ second weekend of animated “Kubo and the Two Strings” will finish with about $6 million.

Roadside Attractions-Miramax’s opening of “Southside with You,” depicting Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date, is projecting to finish above $3 million at 813 sites, and The Weinstein Co.’s launch of boxing biopic “Hands of Stone” at 810 screens will finish in the $2 million range.

Don’t Breathe,” directed by Fede Alvarez, centers on a group of teenagers who break into the home of a blind man in order to steal money, only to find themselves in a desperate fight to stay alive. The film, financed by Sony Pictures’ Stage 6 Films, has been building buzz for its core fan audience with screenings at Comic-Con and SXSW.

“Don’t Breathe” stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang. The film was produced by Ghost House Pictures and Good Universe. Reviews have been strong with a current 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“‘Don’t Breathe’ is poised to be yet the latest in a long line of successful and highly profitable horror movies released this season that include ‘The Conjuring 2,’ ‘The Shallows,’ ‘Lights Out’ and ‘The Purge: Election Year,'” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.

New Line’s “The Conjuring 2” made $320 million worldwide, while “Lights Out” generated $111 million worldwide. Universal’s “The Purge: Election Year” has hit $102 million and Sony’s “The Shallows” topped $86 million.

Meanwhile, “Mechanic: Resurrection” is yet another example of a summer sequel title under-performing. Jason Statham stars as an expert assassin forced out of retirement to commit a trio of killings in order to save the kidnapped love of his life.

Mechanic: Resurrection” is opening five years after “The Mechanic,” which grossed $62 million worldwide on a $40 million budget.

Hands of Stone” will add about 1,700 locations next weekend. Edgar Ramirez plays the durable Panamanian pugilist Roberto Duran and Robert De Niro portrays trainer Ray Arcel.

Roadside Attractions and Miramax bought domestic rights to “Southside With You” at Sundance and the film has received the benefit of stellar reviews at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes — and possibly the strong current approval ratings of President Obama. Parker Sawyers stars as the young Barack Obama while Tika Sumpter portrays Michelle Robinson on their first date in 1989.

ComScore statistics showed overall business has been solid in recent weeks with $852 million to date in August — just $15 million short of the record-setting pace in 2104 when “Guardians of the Galaxy” lifted the monthly grosses to $1.02 billion.

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