“Don’t Breathe,” which blew competition away last weekend, is likely to be the only title that will top $10 million during the four-day holiday period. Disney’s launch of period drama “Oceans,” which premieres Thursday in competition at the Venice Film Festival, is heading for the $7 million to $9 million range at 1,500 locations while Fox’s sci-fi thriller “Morgan” will finish in the $6 million range at about 2,000 sites.
Disney’s also playing a wild card this weekend with an expansion of its blockbuster “Finding Dory” from 345 theaters to more than 2,900. “Dory” is already the top domestic grosser this year at $479 million and the highest-grossing animated film of all time.
The Weinstein Company is also expanding boxing biopic “Hands of Stone” by adding about 1,200 locations for its second weekend. The film has opened modestly with $2 million in its five five days.
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Studios usually avoid opening wide releases on the Labor Day weekend — so the period is often led by a holdover title. The second weekend of “War Room” won last year with $13.4 million; the fifth weekend of “Guardians of the Galaxy” led the pack two years ago with $22.9 million; and the third weekend of “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” won in 2013 with $20.2 million.
The 2015 Labor Day weekend was one of the slowest weekends of the year — even with the extra day — with a skimpy total of $117.9 million for the four days.
“Labor Day weekend is the Rodney Dangerfield of summer holiday weekends,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “Like so many other Labor Day weekends, this one will provide a fairly quiet denouement to this all-important 18-week period at the box office.”
The two newcomers and “Dory” will be battling with the fifth weekend Warner Bros.’ “Suicide Squad” for second place. The supervillain tentpole has topped $285 million in its first 26 days through Tuesday and should become the eighth title of the year to cross the $300 million mark by the end of business on Labor Day.
“‘Suicide Squad,’ ‘Don’t Breathe’ and ‘Sausage Party’ have helped to power one of the strongest overall months of August box office performances ever and helped push 2016 to surprisingly one of the highest-grossing summer movie seasons on record,” Dergarabedian said.
“The Light Between Oceans,” starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz, is the final DreamWorks title being distributed by Disney through its Touchstone label since 2011. DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One announced a deal last December that created Amblin Partners with a multi-year distribution deal through Universal.
“The Light Between Oceans,” which carries a $20 million production budget, is directed by Derek Cianfrance from his own script based on the M.L. Stedman novel. The story follows a young World War I veteran takes a job as a lighthouse keeper in Australia, marries the daughter of the school’s headmaster and is persuaded by his wife to raise an infant girl after she’s found in a rowboat that mysteriously washes ashore.
“Morgan,” directed by Luke Scott, centers on an intelligent robot — played by Anya Taylor-Joy — who attacks one of her creators. The ensemble cast includes Kate Mara, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Giamatti.
“Morgan” is a low-risk proposition for Fox with a skimpy $8 million budget. Scott is the son of Ridley Scott and has been a second-unit director on two of his father’s recent movies — “The Martian” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
Both new titles have received mixed reviews with “The Light Between Oceans” at 54% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and “Morgan” at 46%.
Horror-thriller “Don’t Breathe” has hit nearly $32 million in its first five days and is already in profit for Sony, thanks its price tag of less than $10 million.