Weekend Box Office: 'Bridget Jones's Baby' Bombs in U.S. With $8M; 'Sully' Stays No. 1 With $22M
Conversely, 'Bridget Jones' wins the overseas race after opening to record numbers in the U.K.; back in the U.S, 'Blair Witch' also disappoints, while 'Snowden' marks the lowest opening for an Oliver Stone film rolling out in more than 2,000 theaters.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's biographical drama Sully continued to fly high in its second weekend at the U.S. box office, while moviegoers grounded new offerings Blair Witch and Bridget Jones's Baby, both of which came in well behind predictions with $9.7 million and $8.2 million, respectively.
Oliver Stone's Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as infamous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, wasn't as much of a disappointment in debuting to $8 million, since it hadn't been expected to do much beyond $10 million. Still, it's the lowest opening of Stone's career for a movie opening in more than 2,000 theaters.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Sully fell a scant 37 percent to $22 million for a domestic total of $70.5 million, according to weekend results. Tom Hanks stars in the film as Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who made a forced water landing on the Hudson River when his US Airways jet was disabled. Overseas, the pic cruised to another $7 million from 44 markets for a foreign total of $23.4 million and global cume of $93.9 million.
Sully easily came in No. 1 domestically, followed by Lionsgate's Blair Witch, playing in 3,202 locations. Heading into the weekend, the direct sequel to the 1999 found-footage classic horror film had been expected to earn in the mid- to high-teen millions. While it isn't unusual for horror films to be slapped with some variation of a C-grade CinemaScore, Blair Witch earned a rare D+ from Friday moviegoers.
Blair Witch certainly isn't a financial disaster, having cost only $5 million to make. Directed by Adam Wingard, the movie stars James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry. For months, the movie was given the fake title The Woods to obscure its connection to the Blair Witch franchise.
Bridget Jones's Baby, reuniting Renee Zellweger with Colin Firth and introducing Patrick Dempsey to the series, opened in 2,927 locations domestically. The filmmakers had hoped the threequel would match My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which opened to $17.8 million domestically earlier this year.
The female-skewing film (79 percent) bows 15 years after Bridget Jones's Diary became a cultural phenomenon. Sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason followed in 2004. The latest outing was once again produced by the British-based Working Title Films, with StudioCanal and Miramax (distributor of the first film) partnering with Universal.
The British-made film cost a relatively modest $35 million to make and should end up in the black thanks to the overseas box office, where it opened to a rousing $30 million from 38 markets, enough to top the foreign weekend chart during a relatively quiet weekend.
Bridget Jones's Baby, debuting to $38.1 million globally, did bang-up business in the U.K. with a record-breaking $11.3 million, the biggest launch ever for a romantic comedy and the biggest opening to date for Working Title. Australia followed with $4.2 million, while the film also did well in Spain ($1.7 million) and a raft of Eastern European markets.
"Opening No. 1 in 24 markets internationally is a really big deal and a record-setter in the U.K. Obviously globally there is interest in Bridget and a well-beloved character, going back to the book," said Universal domestic distribution Nick Carpou.
(One clear win for Universal over the weekend was Illumination Entertainment's The Secret Life of Pets, which passed the $800 million mark globally to become the sixth top-grossing film of 2016 to date.)
In North America, Bridget Jones's Baby earned a B+ CinemaScore. Carpou said it was a "challenging weekend for newcomers" overall.
Close attention will be paid to the ongoing performance of Stone's Snowden. Toplined by Gordon-Levitt, the film — which also stars Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Melissa Leo and Tom Wilkinson — cost $40 million to make, a pricey number for an independent film. While it certainly fared better than Julian Assange biopic The Fifth Estate, which tanked with a $1.7 million debut in fall 2013, Snowden is a big question mark, although it did earn an A CinemaScore.
Stone's movie, playing in 2,443 theaters, is being distributed in the U.S. by Open Road Films. It hopes to be an awards-season player and recently made a stop at the Toronto International Film Festival (as did Blair Witch). Open Road distributed last year's Oscar-winning Spotlight.
"Snowden is a smart and provocative thriller that connected strongly with audiences. While we'd like to have seen a slightly bigger number for the opening weekend, we are very encouraged by the A Cinemascore and exit polls and we expect the movie to thrive for several more weeks," Open Road marketing president Jonathan Helfgot said Sunday in a statement.
Opening in far fewer theaters (816 locations) was the faith-based documentary Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, which chronicles the popular Australia-based Christian band. The film opened to $1.3 million, likewise behind expectations.
New offerings at the specialty box office included Ron Howard's The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years. The documentary debuted in 85 theaters with a weekend gross of $615,632 and location average of $7,243 at the same time it is being made available on Hulu. Including special Thursday-night screenings, the doc has collected a cume of $772,467.
Mr. Church, marking Eddie Murphy's first turn on the big screen since 2012, opened to $407,151 from 354 theaters for a paltry location average of $1,150.
Sept. 18, 11:30 a.m. Updated with foreign numbers.