Weekend Box Office: 'Don't Breathe' Terrorizes Rivals With Winning $26.1M Debut

Elsewhere, Obama date movie 'Southside With You' opens to mediocre numbers overall, but knocks out boxing drama 'Hands of Stone'; 'Jason Bourne' is a hit in China.

Score another win for the horror genre.

Don't Breathe scared away the dog days of August at the North American box office, opening to $26.1 million from 3,501 theaters, well ahead of expectations and easily placing No. 1. The movie, from Sony's Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films, is sure to be profitable for the studio, considering it cost $10 million to make.

Overseas, however, it was Universal's Jason Bourne that likely ruled the late-summer roost with $56.8 million after opening to a stellar $50 million in China in its first six days, a series-best mark and already more than any previous Bourne film earned in the Middle Kingdom. Reuniting Matt Damon with director Paul Greengrass, Jason Bourne reached a worldwide total through Sunday of $347.9 million. (Foreign numbers weren't immediately available for Ice Age: Collision Course, which wasn't far behind Bourne internationally this weekend.)

In North America, Don't Breathe is the latest horror film to strike gold during an otherwise difficult summer, a crop that includes The Conjuring 2 and Lights Out, both from New Line/Warner Bros., and Universal and Blumhouse's The Purge: Election Year.

Writer-director Fede Alvarez's well-reviewed, R-rated movie follows a delinquent teenage girl and her boyfriend, along with another friend, whose attempt to rob a blind man's house takes a terrifying turn. Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang star in Don't Breathe, which earned a B+ CinemaScore, unusual for a horror title.

"To more than double your production budget on opening weekend is a fantastic result," said Sony worldwide president of marketing and distribution Josh Greenstein. "It's the latest in a string of low-budget movies that have been very profitable movies for Sony, including The Shallows and Sausage Party. And Fede is a master storyteller."

After ruling the box office for three consecutive weekends, David Ayer's anti-superhero tentpole Suicide Squad fell to No. 2 with $12.1 million from 3,582 theaters for a domestic total of $282.9 million. Offshore, the movie took in another $19.7 million from 65 territories for a foreign cume of $353.1 million and a global take of $636 million.

The late-August weekend included three other new nationwide releases: Obama biographical romance Southside With You, action film Mechanic: Resurrection and the Roberto Duran boxing biopic Hands of Stone, although Southside and Hands of Stone, both indie films, opened in far fewer theaters.

Jason Statham-starrer Mechanic: Resurrection debuted to $7.5 million from 3,246 theaters, below the $11.4 million opening of The Mechanic in 2011. Lionsgate's label Lionsgate Premiere is releasing Resurrection on behalf of Millennium Films, which put up much of the financing. The two partners are hoping for a strong afterlife in home entertainment.

Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh star opposite Statham in the male-fueled action film, which only managed a seventh-place finish.

Southside With You, which follows a young Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson) on their first date in 1989, when they were young lawyers at the same Chicago firm, opened to $3 million from 813 theaters. It came in No. 14.

Overall, Southside With You's opening is mediocre, although it did do decent business in certain cities, led by Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, New York and Los Angeles. (AMC's Magic Johnson Harlem 9 was the top-grossing theater in New York City, while Cinemark's Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza was the top earner among L.A. locations.) Overall, African-Americans, whom Roadside aggressively courted, made up 60 percent of the audience.

A passion project for first-time feature director Richard Tanne, Southside stars Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter and was fully financed by IM Global. Miramax and Roadside Attractions partnered in picking up U.S. rights to Southside out of the Sundance Film Festival, where the film was met with critical acclaim. However, it lagged in art house theaters this weekend.

Miramax and Roadside initially planned a limited release but decided for a somewhat wider footprint based on a successful screening program and glowing reviews.

"A hit at Sundance, Southside With You sports a superlative 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and will expand slightly for Labor Day weekend and play through the early fall as the country prepares to say goodbye to the Obamas at the end of their two terms in the White House," said Roadside co-president Howard Cohen.

Southside With You was able to knock out The Weinstein Co.'s Hands of Stone, starring Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez, which opened to $1.7 million from 810 locations. The film, which debuted out of competition at Cannes in May, tells the true story of famed Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran (Ramirez), who was coached to greatness in the 1970s by trainer Ray Arcel (De Niro).

TWC notes that Hands of Stone, placing No. 16, earned an A CinemaScore, which could bode well for the film's major expansion into as many as 2,500 theaters on Wednesday, the eve of the long Labor Day weekend. Also, the pic is playing well among younger moviegoers and Hispanic audiences (50 percent).

"It's a commercial movie. We came out strong enough to create a conversation and a desire to see a movie," said TWC president-COO David Glasser.

CBS Films and Lionsgate's specialty film Hell or High Water — one of the best-reviewed movies of the year — continued to make strides as it expanded into a total of 909 theaters in its third weekend. The modern-day Western, a heist film starring Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster, outgrossed both Southside and Hands of Stone with $3.7 million, pushing its domestic total to $8.6 million, one of the strongest showings of the year for a film first starting out in select theaters and then expanding.

Back in the top 10, Laika and Focus Features' animated family film Kubo and the Two Strings fell just 37 percent in its second weekend, coming in No. 3 with $7.9 million for a domestic total of $24.9 million.

Annapurna Pictures and Sony's R-rated animated offering Sausage Party continued to laugh loudly in its third weekend, placing No. 4 with $7.7 million for a domestic total of $80 million.

Todd Phillips' war dramedy War Dogs tumbled 51 percent in its second weekend to round out the top five, with $7.2 million for a 10-day domestic cume of $27.8 million.

The outlook remained grim for MGM and Paramount's Ben-Hur, which tumbled to No. 10 in its sophomore outing, declining 60 percent to $4.5 million for a domestic total of $19.6 million. Overseas, the epic historical action drama grossed $6.3 million from 35 markets for an early foreign cume of $21.8 million and worldwide total of $41.4 million.

Aug. 28, 8:20 a.m.: Updated with Jason Bourne numbers.

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