World Box Office: Worst Labor Day Weekend Since 1998

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Hollywood capped off its historically slow summer with an already familiar tone, logging the worst Labor Day weekend since 1998. Four-day figures are being projected at a dismal $93 to $95 million. In the wake of this abysmal August for the industry no new films were put into wide release, and The Hitman’s Body Guard took first place for the third time in a row with a meager $10.5 million.

The biggest new arrival in US and Canadian theatres was Sony’s rerelease of Steven Spielberg’s 1977 classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s looking at a projected gross of $2.3 million, still not enough to crack the top ten in, 909 theatres. 40th anniversary edition DVD and Blu-Ray sets go on sale September 19 and will add a new revenue stream for this sci-fi totem.

Next among fresh offerings on the domestic market was The Weinstein Company’s Tulip Fever, a serious costume drama starring Alicia Vikander. An anticipated $1.5 million four day take out of 706 theaters is a far from promising start. Set in the midst of the tulip bulb economic bubble in late 17th century Amsterdam, the first recorded speculative financial bubble in history, Vikander plays the bought wife of a flower trader (Christoph Waltz) Waltz, expected to be the villain, turns out to be honest and supportive, while Vikander’s character earns less sympathy as she cheats on him with a second-rate painter played by Dane DeHaan. Budgeted at $25 million before advertising costs, this may turn out to be a big blow for the Weinstein brothers’ boutique studio.

Echoing last weekend’s odd success of non-film properties in domestic theatres, two TV shows made their mark on this frame’s box office panorama. HBO released the final two episodes Game of Thrones season 7 in 205 theatres, taking an estimated $1.5 million from IMAX screens over the four-day holiday. Marvel also offered the pilot for its upcoming ABC series Inhumans on large format screens, where it made $2 million in a week long run that began last Monday. It goes on air September 29.

Switching to holdovers, Weinstein’s highly acclaimed Wind River added six hundred screens and finished its second frame in wide release with $7.2 million over the holiday period. The irony here for Weinstein’s is that much of this came from the same mature demographic they’d hoped would shell out for Tulip Fever. Its domestic cume is set to reach $19.7 million, and is keeping pace with director Taylor Sheridan’s Hell or High Water, which ended its North American run last year at $27 million. International dates will begin in earnest next week with major territory the UK seeing the film for the first time on September 8.

As feeble as the US box office has been, China’s film sales this summer were stratospheric. PRC’s ticket sale revenue is up 224% for the season over last year, largely thanks to the shocking $848 million (and counting) run of local action phenomenon Wolf Warrior 2. Keeping with the trend of Hollywood needing to look East for good news, Dunkirk moved into Chinese theatres this frame, where it took $30 million. Total international sales were worth $36.5 million for the frame and Christopher Nolan’s feature has now reached a worldwide gross of $458.8 million.

Next weekend will have some interesting new offerings in cult horror remake It, from Newline and Warner Bros., and Reese Witherspoon rom-com Home Again, where the Golden Globe and Oscar winning actress plays a recently divorced cougar.

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