‘War Room’ trounces ‘Compton’ for No. 1

7 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘War Room’ trounces ‘Compton’ for No. 1.

The Christian drama topped the four-day Labor Day weekend with $12.6 million in just over 1,500 theaters, according to box-office tracking firm Rentrak. Two new releases, Redford’s big-screen return in “A Walk in the Woods” and “The Transporter Refueled,” opened in third and fifth place over the long Friday-to-Monday weekend. Superheroes — a la Avengers: Age of Ultron — rang in summer 2015 with one of the biggest openings in history, but the season ended on a decidedly quiet note as EuropaCorp’s The Transporter Refueled failed to ignite audiences.

The low-budget family drama about the healing power of prayer, whose success has been hailed as an example of the growing power of filmgoers with faith in North America, defeated competition from a trio of weakly performing newcomers, as well as enduring hip-hop biopic Straight Outta Compton. War Room, about a crumbling marriage redeemed by prayer, is the highest-grossing faith-based film since When the Game Stands Tall opened to $8.4 million last August (netting $30.1 million total).

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, reports the budget of “War Room” was just $3.5 million, which makes its nearly $25 million North American gross all the more impressive. “ ‘War Room’ continues to benefit from filling a void in the marketplace for the largely underserved faith-based audience. Although last year had a number of hits with Christian themes — including Son of God ($59.7 million), God’s Not Dead ($60.8 million) and Heaven Is for Real ($91.4 million) — there have been fewer faith-based offerings this year, which may have contributed to War’s success, according to Rentrak senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “It’s weird, because last year was called the ‘year of the Bible’ at the box office. Rentrak’s PostTrak audience survey shows that 60 percent of the audience for ‘War Room’ is female and 85 percent of the overall audience is over 25.” All those did well and that was a really underserved audience this year,” Dergarabedian says. “There is a huge market for faith-based movies and Sony took perfect advantage of the date, so they didn’t get lost in the summer shuffle. If this came out a week or two within Jurassic World, it might be a different story.” War is the latest smash for director Alex Kendrick, whose religious movies Courageous in 2011 and Fireproof in 2008 both produced healthy returns ($34.5 million and $33.5 million, respectively).

Also debuting, this time in fifth spot, was the action reboot The Transporter Refuelled, with Ed Skein doing his best to step into the shoes of Jason Statham as glorified courier Frank Martin. War’s box-office might is made all the impressive by the fact that it includes no stars and received a weak critical reception (just 36% positive reviews on aggregate site RottenTomatoes.com, compared to a striking 90% approval rating from audiences).

Matters take an unexpected turn when the mother, played by Priscilla Shirer, meets a woman who challenges her to create a prayer-based battle plan for her family. The top five was rounded out by the Tom Cruise-led spy sequel Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which racked up another sixth-week haul of $7.15m in fourth place for a total of $180.3m. The N.W.A. hip-hop drama has amassed $150 million since its record-breaking debut to the tune of $60.2 million in early August (the highest ever for a music biopic). In fifth place,“The Transporter Refueled,” from EuropaCorp, Ed Skrein plays Frank Martin, a retired mercenary who has become a transporter for hire. So weak was this week’s box office that the unheralded Mexican animation Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos also landed in the top 10 at No 8 with just $3.4m on debut.

Co-starring Emma Thompson, Nick Nolte and Kristen Schaal, the hiking comedy brought in a mostly older audience, with 91% of moviegoers over the age of 25. After leading for three consecutive weeks, “Straight Outta Compton” took in $11.1 million for Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, falling to second place. Overseas, the film grossed another $7.9 million from 13 markets this weekend, for an early foreign total of $18.1 million and global cume of $168.1 million. A reboot of the Jason Statham franchise, with newcomer Ed Skrein in the driver’s seat, the $22 million action movie was unable to speed past lousy reviews (17% positive rating from critics and 35% approval from audiences, according to Rotten Tomatoes).

Broad Green acquired the film out of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and later pacted with AARP for a screening program, in addition to partnering with outdoor retailer REI. It has yet to open in China, where fellow Paramount and Skydance release Terminator: Genisys has made big gains, grossing $108.8 at the Chinese box office and lifting its worldwide cume to $435.9 million. In Mexico, it grossed $6 million in its first two weeks of play and is expected to pass up A la Mala to become the year’s top-grossing Mexican release to date. Sundance hit Dope tried to use the weekend to up its gross, expanding from 11 theaters into more than 1,023 locations (AMC theaters offered a two-for-one ticket deal), but the move didn’t seem to pay off for Open Road Films. New titles at the specialty box office include Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which Magnolia debuted day and date in 68 theaters and on VOD.

The Magnolia release, earning an estimated $181,000 for the four days, opened just as Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs feature biopic Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, makes its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.

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