Weekend Report: ‘Star Trek’ Takes Off, ‘Lights Out’ Shatters Expectations

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It was a very busy weekend at the box office, and moviegoers decided to spread the wealth, with five different films all making over $20 million this weekend. Among the newcomers, Star Trek Beyond took in a solid if unspectacular $59 million, but the real story was newcomer horror film Lights Out, which was able to make more than fellow newcomer Ice Age: Collision Course, which flopped in fifth place with just $20 million.

Star Trek Beyond is the third film in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, and took in an estimated $59.6 million in its opening weekend. Among its predecessors, Star Trek Into Darkness opened about $10 million higher, but it also opened on Thursday instead of Friday. Overall, this wasn’t a great start, but it was enough to avoid being labeled a disappointment. With a steady stream of competition in the next few weeks, look for Star Trek to finish with around $160 million.

In second, The Secret Life of Pets continued to do well, bringing in an additional $29 million. Despite being in its third week of release, that’s $9 million higher than Ice Age did in its opening weekend.

Third and fourth place were too close to tell; literally. Both Ghostbusters and Lights Out were estimated to take in the exact same amount, $21.6 million. This is extremely unusual, but my guess is that Lights Out edges out Ghostbusters by just a hair.

Regardless of which place it came in, Lights Out still did phenomenally well in its opening weekend. Carrying a production budget of just $4.9 million, the film pulled in a whopping $21.6 million, a fantastic start for a PG-13 horror film with no brand recognition or recognizable stars attached. This great start can be attributed to the films fantastic marketing, which did a great job of making the simple yet effective premise known in the first 30 seconds, in which a woman walking around an eerie textile factory sees some sort of figure that can only appear in the dark. Often times the most successful horror films are ones with some sort of simple, easily marketable premise. That isn’t everything, however; the film genuinely looked scary, and an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes likely convinced any skeptics to check it out. Director David Sandberg has already been picked up to helm Annabelle 2, set for release next may.

Continuing in the trend of disappointing sequels, Ice Age: Collision Course bombed with just $20 million all the way down in fifth place. Considering the $105 million production budget and recognizable franchise, this is a terrible start. Even with competition from Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets, there’s really no reason as to why any animated film from a major studio should open with less than $30 million. Even The Angry Birds Movie managed to pull in nearly double this, despite being based on a phone game that peaked in popularity years ago. This could wind up being another Warcraft, grossing over $400 million worldwide with only around 10% of which coming from the domestic market.

Several new noteworthy releases came out in the specialty market, including the British comedy Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which took in a solid $1.88 million from 313 theaters. Indian film Kabali grossed $4 million from 236 theaters since its excellent start on Wednesday. The only problem is that it was absurdly front loaded, making nearly half of that just from Wednesday alone, when it opened in third place. Hillary’s America expanded into nationwide release, making a solid $3.7 million from over 1,200 theaters. That’s a solid start for a documentary, and was likely aided by the Wikileaks release of over 20,000 DNC emails. That’s just lucky timing, but it will still probably gross over $10 million by the end of its run. Don’t Think Twice opened exclusively in one theater, and pulled in a phenomenal $90K. Given that the film is about a sketch comedy show, and New York is obviously the filming location of Saturday Night Live, the connection makes sense.

Among various holdovers, The Purge: Election Year became the highest grossing film in the series domestically, with an excellent $76 million and counting. Independence Day: Resurgence finally topped $100 million, but that’s really nothing to celebrate given that the first film did that in a matter of about 4 days when adjusted for inflation.

Weekend Report: ‘Ghostbusters’ Fizzles Out, ‘Pets’ Repeats in First

Melissa McCarthy;Kristen Wiig;Kate McKinnon;Leslie Jones

It wasn’t a great start, but thanks to a built in fanbase and plenty of media attention, Ghostbusters avoided being labeled a bomb with a $46 million opening weekend. That wasn’t enough to take first place, however, which instead went to The Secret Life of Pets, which took in $50 million over its second weekend. Meanwhile, Cafe Society got off to a fantastic start in limited release, while The Infiltrator flopped.

Ghostbusters had predictions all over the board in the weeks leading up to its release, with many claiming the film would be dead on arrival with a weekend of under $30 million, while others said that it would pull in over $70 million. Turns out neither of those were right, but the film still wound up on the lower end of those expectations. The controversy and nostalgia likely pushed it to a much higher opening then it would have otherwise, meaning that a potential sequel would have a difficult time recreating this number. A similar result happened with this summer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which made less than half of its predecessor despite better reviews and a slew of fan favorite characters. While it certainly wasn’t a flop, this will probably result in a drastically scaled back or even cancelled “cinematic universe”.

Director Paul Feig stated in an interview recently that the film would need to take in around $500 million worldwide just to break even, but there is the idea that Sony may be willing to take a small loss on this film if it means they can have a reliable franchise and kickstart their other plans, such as a male-oriented spinoff and several sequels. These plans are further evidenced by the “Ghost Corps” logo on both the poster and in the beginning of the film. However, that plan seems less likely now that the film failed to generate the opening that it really needed.

So where can Ghostbusters go from here? Well, there are some rumors that Sony has artificually inflated the numbers for this opening, and that when the actuals come in it could be notably lower. Take this with a grain of salt, of course, but it wouldn’t be terribly surprising. Between a rush of fans and curious moviegoers wanting to see the film as soon as possible, combined with a mediocre B+ Cinemascore and a slew of competition on the horizon (Star Trek BeyondIce Age: Collision Course, Lights OutJason Bourne and Suicide Squad) it’s looking like Ghostbusters is going to play less like a Paul Feig movie and more like a traditional blockbuster. If the $46 million number holds, it will likely wind up somewhere around $120-$130 million. If it’s lower, then perhaps around $110 million, but only time will tell.

In first place, The Secret Life of Pets was down 52% to $50.5 million. That’s not a great hold, but the film is doing so well that it doesn’t really mean all that much. Illumination Entertainment’s releases tend to be a bit more front loaded than other studios, but it can still likely wind up with over $300 million. In fact, there’s a decent chance that it winds up outgrossing Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which would bump the DC tentpole down to 7th place. With several other contenders that could potentially do the same (Fantastic BeastsSuicide SquadMoana and Rogue One) there is a small but very real chance that Batman V Superman winds up outside of the top 10 for the year.

All the way down in 8th place, Broad Green Pictures’ The Infiltrator bombed with just $6.7 million since Wednesday. This is by far the biggest release yet for the new distributor, whose only other three releases are Knight of CupsThe Dark Horse and The Neon Demon, which bombed in wide release just a few weeks ago. With a budget of $47.5 million and a questionable release in just 1,600 theaters, it doesn’t look like The Infiltrator will be able to top $20 million domestically.

Among other holdovers, The Legend of Tarzan finally crossed the century mark with $11 million in its third weekend. This is easily one of the biggest surprises of the year, and could wind up with more than $120 million domestically. The Purge: Election Year is just days away from crossing the total gross of The Purge: Anarchy to become the highest grossing film in the series. With $6 million this weekend, it looks like the surprise horror hit will wind up close to $80 million, far more than originally expected.

Playing in just five theaters, Cafe Society got off to an excellent $355K, with a per theater average of $71K. That’s much higher than Irrational Man from the same weekend last year, but notably lower than Blue Jasmine from 2013, which took in over $100K average in 6 theaters. Still, this is an excellent start, and the film seems widely appealing enough to get some sort of nationwide expansion over the next few weeks. Elsewhere in the limited release market, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party grossed a solid $82.5K from just 3 theaters. That’s a similar number to 2016: Obama’s America from 2012, which grossed around $33K from 1 theater back in 2012. Hillary’s America is expanding into 1,200 theaters next weekend, but hasn’t gotten anywhere near the amount of media attention that 2016 did. The latter ended up grossing over $33 million domestically, making it the second highest grossing political documentary ever, only behind Fahrenheit 9/11 from 2004.