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BO Sept 30-2

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Many studios will probably be glad to see the back of September as it threw up a few nasty surprises for some films (Blair Witch, Bridget Jones’ Baby, etc) and overall the month was down 43% on the same time last year. In fact, September 2016 had the lowest total domestic gross for the month in 12 years. Even without taking inflation into account and given that most theaters have nearly doubled their ticket prices over the last decade, last month’s total domestic gross of $399 million makes for grim reading for the US cinema industry and it wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say that it had the lowest theater attendance for any month this century. And September 2016 thrifty trend continued over the weekend with the two new releases…

While Fox’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children may have claimed the top spot by a clear $8 million, its $29 million take was still a little short of what was expected of it and isn’t really revenue that constitutes franchise fertilizer. However, internationally it fared better by taking $36 million and still has some key markets to open in -particularly France and Germany, where Tim Burton still has a considerable draw- so Miss Peregrine may well fly again one day. Its holdover performance next weekend will be crucial in determining its overall domestic run but right now it’s unlikely to top $100 million.

Last week’s other new release, Lionsgate’s Deepwater Horizon, likewise came up somewhat short of what was considered a conservative projection. A $20 million opening for a film with a production budget over $150 million isn’t welcome news but this kind of testosterone-fuelled drama tends to have a long shelf life -particularly on home entertainment- so Lionsgate won’t be too concerned by it underperforming at this stage. Also, it had to share an audience with two holdovers that are still faring well.

The first of those being Sony’s The Magnificent Seven which took a hefty, but expected, 54% drop off to finish comfortably in third with $15 million. The western remake has been by no means a disaster but it’s far from the silver bullet needed to disprove audiences’ remake fatigue and that star power is enough to bring in serious money these days.

The holdover competing for the older male market was WB’s Sully, which has been one of the few success stories over the last month. It looks clear now that Clint Eastwood’s film will finish somewhere around the $130 million mark making it tidy business all round given its modest production budget of $60 million. However, it will be some way short of Eastwood’s last effort, American Sniper, which took an enormous $350 million domestically.

Warner’s Storks only took a minor drop off to finish in fourth but snatching the animation headlines this weekend was Pixar’s Finding Dory that now looks certain to break the $1 billion mark and give its distributors, Disney, a hattrick of billionaire titles this year alongside Captain America: Civil War and Zootopia.

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