Weekend Box Office: Moviegoing Slows to a Standstill Amid Historic August Slump

Left, courtesy of James Dittiger, right, courtesy of The Weinstein Company
'Birth of a Dragon,' 'Leap!'

Hurricane Harvey is prompting theater closures in Texas, while Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight will be a big pay-per-view draw.

Mother Nature certainly isn't helping the dramatic downturn at the August box office, where revenue for the weekend could hit its lowest level in more than 15 years, in addition to being down nearly 50 percent from the same frame last year.

Hurricane Harvey has prompted theater closures in Corpus Christi and other locales along the Texas Gulf Coast. Inland, numerous cinemas have also shuttered in Houston.

Even without the storm, none of the weekend's new offerings were expected to earn more than $5 million, and that's proving to be the case.

Animated family film Leap!, from Harvey Weinstein's shop, is projected to do the best, earning an estimated $1.6 million Friday for a projected $4.8 million to $5 million debut from 2,575 theaters for a third-place finish behind holdovers The Hitman's Bodyguard ($9 million) and Annabelle: Creation ($7.5 million), respectively. Hitman's Bodyguard will join only a short list of films to ever win a weekend with less than $10 million, at least in modern times.

Leap!, earning an A CinemaScore, tells the story of an 11-year-old orphan, voiced by Elle Fanning, who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. She teams up with a young inventor named Victor, and together they pursue their passions in 19th century Paris, where the Eiffel Tower is still under construction. Along the way, they encounter such characters as a devious classmate (Maddie Ziegler) and a tough but encouraging mentor (Carly Rae Jepsen).

Birth of the Dragon, from Blumhouse's microbudget genre label BH Tilt, looks to open in the $3 million range after grossing $1.1 million Friday from 1,618 theaters. The film, directed by George Nolfi, is a fictionalized account of when Bruce Lee challenged kung fu master Wong Jack Man to a fight in the mid-1960s in San Francisco. Birth of the Dragon stars Hong Kong-born actor and martial artist Philip Ng, Xia Yu, Billy Magnussen, Qu Jingjing, Jin Xing and Simon Yin. The pic earned a B CinemaScore.

Box-office experts say an even bigger threat to moviegoing than Hurricane Harvey is Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, which is being carried on pay-per-view. It will also be beamed into roughly 500 theaters via Fathom and Mayweather Productions. (Another special offering this weekend is James Cameron's 4K 3D conversion of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which AMC Entertainment is releasing in select locations.)

Birth of the Dragon looks to place No. 7 behind Steven Soderbergh's troubled Logan Lucky, which looks to gross a projected $4 million in its sophomore outing.

The Weinstein Co.'s specialty film Wind River is expanding into a total of 2,095 locations after a successful limited run, and could do almost as much as Logan Lucky.

The weekend's third new nationwide offering is Steve Gomer's faith-based film All Saints, from Sony's Affirm label. The $2 million film is projected to come in at No. 13 with an estimated $1.6 million from 846 theaters.

All Saints is based on the real-life story of Michael Spurlock, a salesman-turned-pastor who, along with a group of refugees from Southeast Asia, risks everything to save his tiny church. John Corbett, Cara Buono, Myles Moore, Nelson Lee, Barry Corbin, David Keith, Angela Fox, Chonda Pierce and Greg Alan Williams star.

At the specialty box office, the critically acclaimed crime drama Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson, makes a major push into a total of 721 theaters. Directed by brothers Benny and Josh Safdie, the film made its world premiere in May at the Cannes Film Festival.

Aug. 25, 6:15 p.m. Updated with additional theater closures.
Aug. 26, 7 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers and revised weekend estimates.

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