Weekend Forecast: Efron and “Friends” Will Have “No Escape” from “Compton” Over Slow Summer Close

Another trio of films will lead summer to end more on a weak, fading spark than with a bang. We Are Your FriendsNo Escape and War Room are this weeks trio of newcomers, all of which are going to be crushed once again by Straight Outta Compton. One interesting note is that the biggest film of the summer, Jurassic World, is hitting IMAX and Large Format theaters for one last weekend to squeeze a bit more juice out of its stunning $640M run thusfar. This is certainly not a new trend, however; The Avengers did it in 2012 along with Pixar’s Brave, 2014 saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 and X-Men Days of Future Past back, and so on and so on. It’s actually quite a smart idea. Studios always avoid early September and late August by filling it with weak contenders, creating a self fulfilling prophecy. This trend doesn’t always have to happen, however. Create widely appealing choices and people will show up en masse no matter what time of the year it is. Insidious: Chapter 2 opened on September 13th, typically one of the slowest weekends on record, but thanks to a strong fanbase and great marketing made a whopping $40M in its opening weekend. Still, this weekend is reasonable to avoid. Almost all major colleges are starting this week, regular school begins again, sports seasons are gearing up and no one is really rushing out to see anything, meaning all three new releases will likely open well under $10M.

We Are Your Friends is the biggest of the new releases, and stars Zac Efron as an aspiring DJ struggling to find a career. Sounds decent enough, but its timing is simply bizarre. For one, the film is rated R, easily cutting out a majority of its young target audience. Two, the DJ crowd is largely college based, almost all of whom are going back to school right about now and likely aren’t going to go to a theater anytime soon. Look for Friends to open in the sub-$5M range.

No Escape stars Owen Wilson moving his family to a new country right before realizing that they’re in the midst of a civil war and must try and escape. Though, if the title is anything to go off of, they’ll have less than stellar results. Escape opened to $1.2M on Wednesday, putting it at a weekend of around $5M and a five day total of $7M or so. It just seems bizarre that this is actually getting a release in 3000+ theaters, as it seems more like something that would do decent business On Demand or Direct to DVD, but the fact that it’s getting a release in late August signifies the studio has very little faith in it, and based off of the Wednesday debut and Rotten Tomatoes score, they were right.

The final new release this weekend is War Room, a new Christian drama from the creators of Fireproof and Courageous, both of which did surprisingly strong business for the genre. Fireproof opened to nearly $7M and ended with over $33M on a budget of just $500K, and Courageous opened with over $9M en route to over $34M with a budget of just $2M. Clearly there is a strong brand recognition and audience for these films, though the question is whether or not they will show up for this third attempt. Marketing has been much lighter than expected, and, not to sound like a broken record, it seems as though it would also do better in late September or October rather than the release date it has been given. With a budget of just $3M it’ll be hard to call this a loss in any way since the majority of its profit will come through DVD sales. Hopefully War Room will be more Courageous and less The Identical this weekend with around $5M.

Predictions

  1. Straight Outta Compton – $16M
  2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – $7.2M
  3. No Escape – $6M ($8M Five Day)
  4. We Are Your Friends – $4.2M
  5. War Room – $3.8M

The Bottom Line

No Escape has a fairly interesting concept and star Owen Wilson behind it, so it should be getting to at least $10M by the end of its five day opening. We Are Your Friends has a niche audience but should also top $10M to get a pass. Finally, War Room is fine if it can hit high single digits.

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