Box Office: 'War Room' Wins Labor Day; 'Walk in the Woods' Trumps 'Transporter Refueled'
The Christian drama ushers out summer, which was the second best on record in terms of North American box office revenue, despite the worst Labor Day weekend in recent memory.
Superheroes — a la Avengers: Age of Ultron — rang in summer 2015 with one of the biggest openings in history, but the season ended on a decidedly quiet note as EuropaCorp's The Transporter Refueled failed to ignite audiences.
Instead, the race for No. 1 was between holdovers War Room, a Christian drama from Sony's TriStar/Affirm label, and Straight Outta Compton. In a needed win for Sony, War Room prevailed, topping the long holiday weekend with $12.6 million for a domestic total of $27.9 million.
Summer 2015 was a volatile ride at the box office overall, despite being the second-best ever in terms of North American revenue, with an estimated $4.48 billion, according to Rentrak predictions. Universal soared, enjoying a record run capped by Compton. Disney was the other big winner, and between them, the two studios accounted for 60 percent of all revenue. Other studios suffered big misses, however. Another low point was Labor Day weekend, one of the worst in recent memory in terms of revenue.
Straight Outta Compton, which had ruled the box office for three consecutive weekends, grossed $8.6 million from 3,097 theaters for the three days and $11.1 million for the four, putting it squarely at No. 2. Through Monday, the N.W.A biopic has earned a massive $150 million domestically. Overseas, the film grossed another $7.9 million from 13 markets this weekend, for an early foreign total of $18.1 million and global cume of $168.1 million. It debuted No. 1 in Australia ($3.3 million), as well staying No. 1 for the second consecutive weekend in the U.K. and Germany.
In a surprise upset, the weekend's other new nationwide offering in North America, A Walk in the Woods, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, is beating Transporter Refueled. The film, one of the first releases from Broad Green Pictures, took in $8.2 million from 1,960 locations for the three days and $10.3 million for the four. Launching on Wednesday, the film's six-day debut is $12.2 million.
Walk in the Woods, placing No. 3, overperformed thanks to keen interest from older adults.
Directed by Ken Kwapis, Walk in the Woods is based on travel writer Bill Bryson's book about hiking the Appalachian Trail with a friend. Broad Green acquired the film out of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and later pacted with AARP for a screening program, in addition to partnering with outdoor retailer REI. Emma Thompson also stars.
Transporter Refueled — hoping to reboot the franchise sans Jason Statham — opened to a disappointing $7.2 million for the three days and $9 million for the four, despite getting the second-widest release ever for a Labor Day title. It is playing in 3,434 locations, including Imax and premium large format theaters.
Refueled, placing No. 5 for the long holiday weekend, hopes to be a sizable player overseas, where it launched in 27 foreign markets this weekend. Rentrak is reporting that it only took in $4 million, a poor showing, but EuropaCorp has yet to release official figures. Insiders put the number at $10 million or more.
Ed Skrein replaces Statham as the lead character Frank Martin in the fourth installment. In North America, the actioner is going out through RED, the joint distribution venture between EuropaCorp and Relativity Media (RED is not part of the Relativity bankruptcy proceedings). Camille Delamarre directed the film based on a script by Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and EuropaCorp's Luc Besson.
The last film in the Transporter franchise opened to $12.1 million in November 2008, while the second installment took in $20.1 million over Labor Day weekend in 2005. Transporter Refueled, targeting younger males, is getting a wide berth in Imax theaters and premium format locations.
Refueled was edged out by Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, which remains a vibrant player in its sixth weekend, earning $9.3 million for the four days domestically and crossing $500 million globally for Paramount and Skydance.
While a success, Rogue Nation will have a hard time matching the last installment, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol ($694.7 million). It has yet to open in China, where fellow Paramount and Skydance release Terminator: Genisys has made big gains, grossing $108.8 at the Chinese box office and lifting its worldwide cume to $435.9 million.
As with the domestic box office, the international marketplace was likewise quiet. Terminator topped the foreign chart again with $11.5 million, edging out Hitman: Agent 47 ($11.4 million), pending numbers for Transporter Refueled.
Among films making a more limited play in North America, versus a nationwide rollout, Mexican animated film Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos (A Rooster with Many Eggs) all but tied with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for No. 8 with $4.42 million from 395 locations.
The movie, earning a rare A+ CinemaScore, is being handled in the U.S. by Lionsgate and Televisa's Pantelion label. In Mexico, it grossed $6 million in its first two weeks of play and is expected to pass up A la Mala to become the year's top-grossing Mexican release to date.
Sundance hit Dope tried to use the weekend to up its gross, expanding from 11 theaters into more than 1,023 locations (AMC theaters offered a two-for-one ticket deal), but the move didn't seem to pay off for Open Road Films. The film is projected to gross $464,000-$500,000 for the long holiday weekend, putting its domestic total north of $17.2 million.
New titles at the specialty box office include Alex Gibney's Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which Magnolia debuted day and date in 68 theaters and on VOD. The Magnolia release, earning an estimated $181,000 for the four days, opened just as Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs feature biopic Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, makes its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.
Chris Evans' directorial debut, Before We Go, opened in 21 theaters after launching on VOD last month, where it has been a solid earner. Starring Evans opposite Alice Eve, the film took in an estimated $23,000 theatrical, pushing its total cume to $1.6 million for Radius-TWC.
Sept. 7, 8 a.m. Updated with four-day weekend numbers.