×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Box Office: ‘Ben-Hur’ Trailing Rivals With Dismal $12 Million U.S. Weekend

Paramount-MGM’s costly remake of “Ben-Hur” is headed for a dismal fourth place domestic launch at about $12 million at 3,084 locations, early estimates showed Friday.

Warner Bros. third weekend of “Suicide Squad” will probably win a tight race for the top spot with as much as $20 million, followed by Warner Bros. launch of dark comedy “War Dogs” at $18 million and Sony’s second weekend of “Sausage Party” at $16 million.

Ben-Hur” is battling Focus’ launch of Laika’s animated adventure “Kubo and the Two Strings” for fourth.

Suicide Squad” is declining by about 59% and will wind up the weekend with about $260 million at the domestic box office. Warner Bros. announced earlier in the week that the supervillain tentpole had crossed the $500 million mark in worldwide box office.

It’s a decent start for “War Dogs,” starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as a pair of unlikely arms dealers in a project with a $45 million budget. The film had been forecast to take in around $12 million to $14 million at 3,258 locations amid mixed reviews with a 60% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“War Dogs,” helmed by “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips, carries an R rating and is based on the Guy Lawson book “Arms and the Dudes” about two young contractors obtaining a government contract to supply weapons for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It’s competing for the same demographic that supported Sony’s animated comedy “Sausage Party,” which will have hit $65 million by the end of the weekend.

Popular on Variety

“War Dogs” is heading for a $6.5 million opening day for Friday, while “Ben-Hur” is projected to trail badly with about $4.5 million on its first day — confirming fears that the $100 million Biblical epic will struggle to generate business this weekend. Paramount and MGM, which co-financed the film, had been hoping for a $20 million launch at 3,084 locations by appealing to faith-based customers but other trackers were accurate in forecasting a debut in the $10 million to $15 million range.

The reboot of the 1959 epic “Ben-Hur” — a box office sensation that won 11 Oscars — has been blistered by critics and carries a 29% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The remake is directed by Timur Bekmambetov and stars Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi, Haluk Bilginer and Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus.

“Ben-Hur” producers include Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who have ties to Christian groups and saw strong ratings from their 2013 mini-series “The Bible.”

“‘Ben-Hur’ is a unique property from the standpoint that you don’t see very many faith-based tentpole movies,” said Chris Stone of marketing specialist Faith Driven Entertainment. “We think that they did a good job of delivering a movie that appeals to both faith-based and secular audiences, which should lead to good word of mouth. But you have to get people into theaters in the first place.”

Paramount has seen a rough year so far with “Zoolander 2” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” both faltering and “Star Trek Beyond” under-performing. Studio parent Viacom has been distracted by a protracted battle for control between CEO Philippe Dauman (who wanted to sell a stake in Paramount) and majority stakeholder Sumner Redstone — a fight that appeared to conclude Thursday night with a preliminary legal settlement that ousted Dauman.

Paramount is opening “Ben-Hur” in 19 international markets this weekend, including Brazil and Mexico,  representing 30% of the film’s ultimate international footprint.

Kubo and the Two Strings,” which is opening at 3,260 locations, carries a $55 million budget, is set in ancient Japan and centered on a boy’s quest to reassemble a magical suit of armor. Reviewers have been strongly supportive of “Kubo” with a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said the current summer to date is nearly 3% ahead of last year’s summer at the same point with $3.92 billion.

“The good news is that despite a crop of films that have not been the most well-reviewed this summer (to put it kindly), the box office has been up 10 of the past 15 weekends and 7 of the last 8 weekends,” he added. “Depending on how you slice and dice the calendar, we are nearly neck and neck with last summer’s overall box office at this point in a squeaker that will give 2016 an unexpected and to many a surprising shot at surpassing last year’s season total.

More Film

  • Golden Globes Placeholder

    2020 Golden Globe Nominations: The Complete List (Updating Live)

    Nominations for the 77th Golden Globe Awards were announced early Monday morning by Tim Allen, Dakota Fanning and Susan Kelechi. The best of the year in both TV and film will be recognized at the Globes, with categories in drama and musical or comedy for each medium. Top contenders for best drama are “The Irishman,” [...]

  • Victoria Lacoste

    Brand Heiress Victoria Lacoste Sets New Projects With Her Banner Edelweiss Film Productions

    Edelweiss Film Productions, the one-year old company launched by Victoria Lacoste, the actress-turned-producer and heiress of the well-known Lacoste brand, is producing “La Methode,” a Paris-set short film starring Lizzie Brocheré (American Horror Story) and Roby Schinasi (Gossip Girl). Directed by Kelsey Bollig, “La Methode” shot last month at the Palais des Glaces in Paris. [...]

  • 'For Sama,' 'Blue Story' Nominated for

    BAFTA: 'For Sama,' 'Blue Story' on Short List for Outstanding Debut by British Talent

    Ahead of its full slate of nominations next month, BAFTA has unveiled the 10 short-listed films that will compete in the category of outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer. The nominated works include “For Sama,” a portrait of a Syrian mother’s experience of her country’s civil war, and “Blue Story,” the story [...]

  • Golden Globe statues appear on stage

    How to Watch the 2020 Golden Globe Nominations

    The Golden Globes annually award the year’s best TV shows and films and this year promises lots of possible surprises. TV shows like “The Crown,” “Fleabag,” and “Pose” are sure to make a splash this year, but will they steal the show with their nominations? This year’s nominations will be announced from the Beverly Hilton [...]

  • Jumanji The Next Level

    China Box Office: 'Jumanji: The Next Level' Leads, Lou Ye's 'Saturday Fiction' Disappears

    Hollywood films and local arthouse led the Chinese box office this weekend, with “Jumanji: The Next Level” taking the lead with a $24.7 million debut, while Lou Ye’s Venice title “Saturday Fiction” was abruptly yanked from the lineup of releases.  Remarkably, Diao Yinan’s stylish and bloody neo-noir “Wild Goose Lake” did almost as well as [...]

  • Li Shaohong

    Li Shaohong Revisits Macao and Chinese War Films

    Fifth generation director Li Shaohong’s career has spanned the entire length of the Chinese film market’s rise, from its days as a state-run industry churning out nothing but social realist films to its current stage of supporting ever more sophisticated and lucrative blockbusters and genre films. The current head of the China Film Directors’ Guild, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content