Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Box Office: 'Nine Lives' is Dead on Arrival

Yesterday we discussed Suicide Squad's impressive opening weekend, and our projections for next week's box office results. Now though, it's time to take a closer look at the older films that aren't making so many headlines, but are still kicking around in the top ten.

For starters, there's Jason Bourne; the Matt Damon franchise revival opened relatively strong last week with just shy of $60 million, the second highest debut for this franchise just behind 2008's Bourne Ultimatum. Unfortunately, the story isn't quite so positive going into week two, as the release of Suicide Squad almost certainly took the wind out of Bourne's sails. The film suffered a 61% drop pulling in a little over $20 million in its sophomore weekend, not a  disaster by any means but perhaps an indication that this film won't have the legs of last year's Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

While you could put this down to Bourne's lukewarm critical reception, this is a recurring theme that has haunted the entire summer movie season this year thus far. WIth a new tentpole blockbuster hitting theaters almost every weekend, few films have been able to find their footing before losing the attention of movie-goers; Suicide Squad cannibalized Jason Bourne, just as Jason Bourne cannibalized Star Trek Beyond one week prior.

As we discussed yesterday, Suicide Squad seems to be one of the only films that will prove an exception to the rule. The film has relatively little competition on the horizon, and that should put it in the best position possible to hold steady in the face of bad reviews -- something March's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was not able to do.

One film that has been holding remarkably well is Mila Kunis comedy Bad Moms, which managed to hold its number three position following its solid debut last weekend. Falling just 41%, the $20 million picture now boasts a domestic haul of over $50 million. This is a real boost for Kunis who seemed to have lost some of her star power following the one-two punch of critical and commercial flop Jupiter Ascending and her surprising replacement in Seth MacFarlane's Ted 2 (although that can be seen as Kunis dodging a bullet, depending on how you look at it). Bad Moms can also be seen as a win for newbie distributor STX Entertainment, this being their highest grossing film to date by a significant margin (their previous record holder being Joel Edgerton's The Gift which reached $43 million domestic late last year).

Also holding well is Illumination Entertainment's animated offering The Secret Life of Pets, which is now up to a domestic total of nearly $320 million from a relatively small $75 million budget. A sequel to the film has recently been greenlit, giving the fairly young animation studio a third successful franchise after the Despicable Me and Dr. Seuss movies.

If the stories of Bad Moms and The Secret Life of Pets are evidence of anything, it's that keeping your budget reasonably low is in most cases a wise thing to do; this is a lesson those behind the latest Star Trek film should have learned sooner. Indeed, in spite of the fact that 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness was something of a financial under-performer, Paramount chose to invest a similarly colossal budget into the franchise's third entry: $185 million. After opening with the lowest debut to date since this rebooted series began, Beyond has seen its takings drop alarmingly quickly over the last two weeks. At this point its domestic total is unlikely to get above the $150 million mark, and worlwide the film is only at about $195 million.

If Into Darkness' disappointing performance wasn't enough for Paramount to reassess their investment in this franchise, this surely will be. At this point it wouldn't be surprising if the previously announced fourth entry in the franchise (which would see the return of Chris Hemsworth in a much larger role) was scrapped entirely, at the very least you can expect the film to be significantly cheaper than its precursors.

Bizarrely positioned against DC's juggernaut Suicide Squad movie was Europa Corp's utterly ridiculous Nine Lives, starring Kevin Spacey as a man who swaps bodies with his house cat. The first trailer was met with bewilderment and some outright disbelief by the people of the Internet a few months back, and after all hopes of the film achieving "so bad it's good" status were extinguished last week it's unsurprising that the feature failed to find an audience.

Debuting at number six with a minuscule haul of $6.2 million, the only comforting part of this whole situation is that at least the film won't be a hugely expensive flop with a budget of just $30 million -- which still seems surprisingly high in this reporter's opinion. In a world where the likes of The Secret Life of Pets and Finding Dory are currently in theaters, you can't blame most families for passing on Nine Lives. Europa Corp. should have seen this coming and pulled the plug on this picture before the cameras even started rolling.

The James Wan-produced micro-budget horror film Lights Out continues to impress, now holding a domestic total of $54 million from a budget of just under five. Less impressive are the three films rounding out the top ten, starting with the Emma Roberts/Dave Franco thriller Nerve which dropped 48.5% in week two sending it down to number eight. This isn't a terrible hold but as the film didn't open with very much to begin with it seems to paint a fairly dismal picture for the feature going forward.

Ghostbusters is next up at number nine, now heading into the closing weeks of its theatrical run the film has only managed to make $116 million domestically, with a worldwide total of $180 million. This is not a good sign for what was intended to be a new series of films, with director Paul Feig having said some weeks ago that the film would have to make it to $500 million to get a sequel. That isn't going to happen. Where the franchise goes from here is tough to call, with a direct follow-up to this reboot seemingly unlikely.

Finally, Ice Age: Collision Course is at number ten. The film's domestic box office numbers have been meager, but this is a franchise which for many years now has relied on overseas audiences to keep itself afloat. With just $54 million racked up in the States, the film is up to $288 million worldwide thanks to those foreign box office numbers, but still it's looking to be one of the weakest entries in the long-running series to date.

Here's the top ten in full:

1. (-) Suicide Squad - $135 million
2. (1) Jason Bourne - $22.7 million
3. (3) Bad Moms - $14.2 million
4. (4) The Secret Life of Pets - $11.5 million
5. (2) Star Trek Beyond - $10.2 million
6. (-) Nine Lives - $6.5 million
7. (6) Lights Out - $6 million
8. (8) Nerve - $4.9 million
9. (7) Ghostbusters - $4.8 million
10. (5) Ice Age: Collision Course - $4.3 million


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