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Psychological horror-thriller Don’t Breathe is fending off the dog days of August at the North American box office, scaring up $10 million Friday from 3,501 theaters Friday for a $22 million weekend, according to predictions.
That’s easily enough to place No. 1 as summer winds down. Suicide Squad, which has ruled the box office for the past three weekends, will come in No. 2 with an estimated $12 million to finish Sunday with a domestic total north of $282 million for Warner Bros.
Don’t Breathe‘s Friday haul included $1.9 million earned in Thursday-night previews. Costing under $10 million to make, the film, from Sony’s Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films, is the latest horror title to come in ahead of expectations at the summer box office, which has seen other genres suffer.
The R-rated movie, directed by Fede Alvarez, 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.
The late-August weekend includes three other new releases: Obama first-date drama Southside With You, action film Mechanic: Resurrection and the Roberto Duran boxing biopic Hands of Stone. (Southside and Hands of Stone are opening in far fewer locations, however.)
Mechanic: Resurrection, a follow-up to the 2011 film The Mechanic starring Jason Statham, earned $2.6 million Friday for a $6 million-$7 million weekend. Lionsgate is releasing the film on behalf of Millennium Films, which put up much of the financing. Ben Foster and Jessica Alba star opposite Statham.
Southside With You, which follows a young President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson) on their first date in 1989 when they were young lawyers at the same Chicago firm, looks to open to $3 million-plus from 811 locations, according to projections.
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.
Miramax and Roadside initially planned a limited release but decided for a somewhat wider footprint based on a successful screening program and glowing reviews.
Southside looks to beat the Weinstein Co.’s Hands of Stone starring Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez, which looks to earn $1.8 million-$2 million from 811 theaters. The film, which debuted out of competition in 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 the film earned an A CinemaScore, which could bode well for the film’s major expansion into as many as 2,500 theaters on Wednesday, Aug. 31, the eve of the long Labor Day weekend.
At the specialty box office, CBS Films and Lionsgate’s Hell or High Water — one of the best reviewed films of the year — continues to prosper as it expands into a total of 909 theaters. The modern-day Western, a heist film starring Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster, will out-gross both Southside and Hands of Stone with an estimated $3.5 million, pushing its domestic total to $8.5 million, one of the strongest showings of the year for a film getting a platform release.
Aug. 27, 7:45 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers and revised weekend predictions.
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Jon M. Chu