August 13, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Sausage Party” Feasts, “Suicide Squad” Dives, “Pete’s Dragon” OK


After a summer of fizzled franchise movies, audiences were–pardon the expression–hungry for something new, and the unquestionably unique, hard-R existential talking food cartoon SAUSAGE PARTY (Annapurna/Columbia/Sony) is satisfying that appetite.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, Sausage is going to win Friday with $13.3M ($3.3M from Thursday night shows), although it’s likely to be somewhat frontloaded and will slip into 2d place for the weekend with $30M+.  That’s still a terrific number for a movie that reportedly cost under $20M to produce (This Is the End, another oddball Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg comedy that found a niche, had a $24.6M weekend after a Wednesday opening and made it to $101.5M in the US), and if word of mouth is positive and there’s some international interest, Sausage should be solidly profitable, a good rebound for the Rogen/Goldberg team after the disappointing response to Neighbors 2.

It was a sad deja vu for SUICIDE SQUAD (RatPac/DC/Warners), which despite the week-long protestations of Warners and its media stand-ins that this time would be different (the young people, they love us!) is following almost exactly the flame-out trajectory of Batman v SupermanSuicide plunged 80% from last Friday (the Friday-to-Friday was down 81% for BvS) to $13M, and its likely $42M weekend will match BvS‘s 69% Weekend 2 drop.  By way of comparison, Guardians of the Galaxy fell just 55% in its 2d weekend (down 68% Friday-to-Friday), Captain America: Civil War dropped 60%, and Deadpool was down 57%.  As with BvS, Suicide Squad will be profitable, with $275-300M in the US and $600M or so worldwide, but the DC movie brand is becoming seriously damaged, a fact that wasn’t helped when an online post this week supposedly from an ex-WB employee claimed the upcoming Wonder Woman is “a mess,” which the movie’s director was forced to publicly deny.

PETE’S DRAGON (Disney) had a very mild start with $7.3M on Friday, which should give it a $23M weekend.  However, it’s a relatively inexpensive product by Disney standards, with a $65M production cost (less than half what The BFG cost) and a restrained marketing campaign, so word of mouth might sustain it, although it faces direct competition from the animated Kubo and the 2 Strings next weekend.

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (Paramount) had a mid-level opening in 1528 theatres with $2M on Friday for a probable $6M weekend.  That’s not much compared to other August openings for Meryl Streep like the $20M opening for Julie & Julia, or the $14M for Hope Springs, and puts it in a category with Rikki and the Flash, which opened to $6.6M and ended up at $26.8M.  However, word of mouth may be stronger for Florence, which has low costs and hardly any competition for the older audience over the next several weeks.

As is often the case when there isn’t a blockbuster at the top of the box office, holdovers were fairly strong.  JASON BOURNE (Perfect World/Universal) stabilized to a 36% Friday-to-Friday drop to $4.2M, which should give it a $14M weekend, putting it on track for a still-underwhelming $155M in the US.

BAD MOMS (H Brothers/Tang/STX) wasn’t hurt at all by the arrival of Sausage Party, which is aimed at a younger and more male R-rated comedy audience, and dipped just 22% from last Friday to $3.5M.  That should put its weekend at $12M, and it now seems as though it can go above $90M in the US.

Parents were aware that Sausage Party wasn’t the cartoon they were looking for, and THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (Illumination/Universal) was down just 19% from last Friday to $2.7M, for a $10M weekend on its way to $350M+ in the US.  The reviled NINE LIVES (Europa) was less popular, down 48% Friday-to-Friday to $1.2M, for a $4.3M weekend.

Despite positive reviews, ANTHROPOID (Bleecker Street) showed little strength in a nearly-wide 452-theatre opening, with $335K on Friday and a possible $1M weekend that would barely get its per-theatre average above $2000.  HELL OR HIGH WATER (Lionsgate) was more promising, with a possible $15K per-theatre average for the weekend in 32 theatres.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."