After last weekend, the summer domestic box office was down more than 8% from last year, and 1.3% behind 2016 for the year so far. Well, it gets worse.
This time last year “Suicide Squad” overcame a critical thrashing to break August records with a $133.7 million domestic opening. One year later, several mid-budgeted offerings don’t look to make such a splash.
Starting with Columbia Pictures and MRC’s “The Dark Tower,” which is poised to take in about $20 million to $25 million during its opening frame at 3,449 locations. The studio is being slightly more conservative with $19 million. It’s the widest new release of the weekend, from a film that cost $60 million to make. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in the adaptation from Stephen King’s series of novels. The action film, bridging multiple genres, centers on a boy (played by Tom Taylor) who discovers another dimension where he aligns himself with a Gunslinger (Elba) who is on a mission to save the world from various enemies, including the Man in Black (McConaughey). Reviews for the film are expected to drop on Wednesday evening, imposing a tight window between the critical consensus and the movie’s debut.
Meanwhile, Annapurna’s “Detroit” is aiming in the $10 million to $15 million range from 2,800 locations. That’s after picking up $365,455 last weekend from 20 locations. While it’s by no means a massive opening, Annapurna sees the film uniquely positioned to stand out in the marketplace in the coming weeks. Also, considering its makers — Kathryn Bigelow and her “Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” collaborator Mark Boal — an awards-season push could end up helping its bottom line as well. So far, critics are on board, earning the tale of the Motor City’s 1967 riots a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie is toplined by “Star Wars” breakout John Boyega, Will Poulter, and Algee Smith.
And finally, in the wide release category, “Kidnap” looks to chase down about $8 million. The Halle Berry-led action-thriller was originally slated for a 2015 release from Relativity, and was delayed several times until the company went under and lost the rights. “Kidnap” was then rescued by a new independent company Aviron, run by David Dinerstein. The distributor declined to say how much they acquired it for. But single digits can’t be considered a welcome start. With echoes of Liam Neeson, the film centers on Berry, who plays a mother attempting to rescue her son after he is kidnapped.
On the limited release side, Paramount Pictures and Participant Media’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” is expanding to 180 locations in its second frame. Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River” starring part-time “Avengers” Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen is hitting a handful of theaters courtesy of TWC. And “Columbus” — an indie drama written and directed by Kogonada and starring John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, and Parker Posey — is being self-distributed by the filmmakers with the aid of Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Fellowship.
As was the case last weekend with “The Emoji Movie” and “Atomic Blonde,” many of the releases are expected to perform well enough for their budgets, but won’t serve as the zap the summer box office desperately needs.