Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds and a haunted doll named Annabelle are providing the only good news at an otherwise dismal Labor Day weekend box office.
The Jackson-Reynolds actioner “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” will easily win the crown for the third straight weekend with about $10 million, early estimates showed Friday. The fourth weekend “Annabelle: Creation” should finish second with about $7 million — giving the New Line sequel around $88 million, making it by far the top August, 2017, grosser.
That’s pretty much the extent of the good news for the four-day period, which the major studios have large abandoned because of lack of enthusiasm for spending the requisite marketing dollars at a time when moviegoers’ attention is supposedly focused on football and end-of-summer barbecues.
Sony’s release of the restored “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” should finish the weekend with a modest $2 million at 901 sites. That’s enough to out-distance The Weinstein Company’s opening of its long-stalled “Tulip Fever,” which is heading for $1.8 million at 765 locations. Set in 17th century Netherlands, “Tulip Fever” was filmed three years ago and stars Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Judi Dench, and Cara Delevingne.
With no new major releases, overall revenues are expected to total under $60 million — one of the worst results during the past decades, according to comScore. Total box office will be down at least 50% from the 2016 Labor Day period, which was led by the second weekend of “Don’t Breathe” with $19.7 million and the fifth weekend of “Suicide Squad” with $12.7 million.
August business was down 35% from a year ago, when “Suicide Squad” dazzled the business with a $133 million opening weekend in North America on its way to an impressive $325 million domestic gross. During this year’s late summer, the biggest performer by far was Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” which has amassed $174 million in six weeks in North America since its July 21 launch.
TWC’s animated comedy “Leap!” is heading for a third place finish over the holiday weekend with about $6 million at 2,705, followed by its fifth weekend of “Wind River” with about $5 million at 2,602 locations and Bleecker Street’s third weekend of “Logan Lucky” with $4 million at 2,975 venues.
“Close Encounters,” which initially launched in 1977, is showing at 400 premium large format locations as a 4K restoration of the sci-fi classic, pegged to its 40th anniversary. The original “Close Encounters” was a critical and commercial success, earning $303.8 million worldwide and eight Academy Award nominations.