Straight Outta Compton is the kind of late summer blockbuster studios only dream about. We're officially in the doldrums, before the fall movie season hits, and this biopic about legendary West Coast rappers N.W.A continues to over perform and beat all expectations. In it's second weekend, it crushed three new releases that completely underwhelmed. But even with Straight Outta Compton's victory lap, no one is calling this a tough weekend to beat the competition.
Straight Outta Compton managed to pull in a clean $26.8 million playing at 3,025 locations around the country. That propels its grand total stateside haul to $111.5 million. It is without a doubt a major hit, with Universal and Legendary budgeting the film at a mere $29 million. The film hasn't arrived without controversy, though, and the film has been slammed for leaving out some dirty misconduct amongst its main crew.
Coming under the most heavy fire was Dr. Dre, whose history of abuse towards women is all but omitted from the finished film. Journalist Dee Barnes started the rally cry, publishing an essay on Gawker titled 'Here's What's Missing From Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up'. She recounts her run in with the legendary rapper, which left her with a bruised face and body. Other women who had been attacked by Dr. Dre also came forward. Most notably his ex-girlfriend, rapper Michel'le, who accuses the N.W.A member of punching her with closed fists, leaving black eyes, cracked ribs and many scars. Rapper Tairrie B, a label mate of Dr. Dre's also revealed that the rapper had punched her in the face multiple times.
The Straight Outta Compton backlash did create one positive moment, as Dr. Dre apologized on the record this past Friday, just as the film was about to enter its second weekend at the box office. Instead of naming anyone of his victims, he pointed his apology towards them all, saying, "I apologize to the women I've hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives."
The negative headlines swirling around Straight Outta Compton didn't hurt or slow down the film and its ticket sales. And one good thing has come out of the well-liked film. It has propelled Ice Cube's son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., who plays his iconic father on screen, into the public spotlight and kickstarted his acting career. The father and son duo are already talking about reuniting for the thriller April 29, 1992. Directed by Donovan Marsh, the movie will revolve around the infamous L.A. Riots and follows an ex-criminal who must save his son when a group of thugs raid his place of work, hoping to steal a treasure of platinum. Neither Ice Cube nor O'Shea Jackson Jr. have officially signed on, but casting is currently underway.
Straight Outta Compton seemed to face some stiff competition heading into the weekend, but it was all for nothing as three films with already established fan bases failed to live up to their their pre-screening hype. The sequel Sinister 2 performed the best out of the bunch. The low budget horror thriller from Blumhouse managed to pull in $10.6 million, dropping it into third place, just behind Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation at number two. The Tom Cruise sequel has spent the past two weekends at the top of the box office charts, and continues to impress with $11.7 million. So far, it has racked up a stellar stateside gross of $157 million. Mission: Impossible 6 is already on the way!
Sinister 2, which opened in 2,766 theaters, was a disappointment for Focus Features, the studio behind the film. They expected it to gross between $24 and $26 million, but it came in between $14 million and $16 million lower than those projected estimates. The film couldn't match the original 2012 Sinister's opening box office take of $18 million. The good news is that the film cost considerably less than $10 million, so it's already another hit for Blumhouse. Though it's unclear if a third movie will continue to carry the horror franchise into the future.
Landing in fourth place was the 20th Century Fox reboot Hitman: Agent 47. The studio was hoping to once again get a franchise off the ground based on the popular video game series, which saw a first movie released in 2007 starring Timothy Olyphant. The new cast is made up of mostly unknowns, with Rupert Friend taking the lead. It was expected to pull in at least $11 million, but barely cracked $8.2 million on a total of 3,261 theater screens, considerably more than winner Straight Outta Compton. The original Hitman was a bigger hit, earning $13.1 million during it's opening weekend.
American Ultra, which reteams Adventureland stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, was the lowest earning newcomer. The comedy thriller about a pot head who discovers he's sleeper agent pulled in $5.5 million from just 2,778 screens. It secured a sixth place win, coming in behind last week's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Warner Bros.' adaptation of the popular 60s spy series was well-received by critics, but has had trouble finding an audience. It earned $7.4 million in its second weekend, with a $26.6 million total to date. It's unlikely that we'll see a sequel, unless it proves to be a big hit overseas.
All three of this week's new movies, as well as Straight Outta Compton, carry an R rating, which may have hammered their box office potential. Fox's distribution chief Chris Aronson, who already had to endure the box office bomb that was Fantastic Four, claims his new film Hitman: Agent 47 wasn't able to survive in the crowded marketplace because the films 'cannibalized each other'. Fantastic Four dropped all the way to number 10 in its third weekend of release, pulling in just $3.6 million. To date, it has only earned $49.6 million, no where close to its reported $150 million budget. It is one of the biggest bombs of 2015.
Sony Pictures Classic saw a solid debut for its indie dramedy Grandma, headlined by Lily Tomlin. The film has earned rave reviews, and managed to pick up an impressive $120,856 playing on just four screens. That's a per screen average of $30,214. Joe Swanberg's Digging for Fire opened on three screens while simultaneously debuting On-Demand, pulling in an estimated $24,544. The adult comedy Learning to Drive, which stars Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson, proved to be a modest hit for Broad Green, a newly launched company seeing its first film into theaters. It managed to earn a respectable $67,417 from four locations for a per-screen average of $16,854, with word-of-mouth helping as it continued to play throughout the weekend.
While the Judd Apatow directed comedy Trainwreck didn't crack the top ten this weekend, it did cross an important milestone. It's weekend take of $2.5 million was enough to propel it over the $100 million mark. This comes after six weeks in theaters. Overall ticket sales for the weekend were down 7% from last year. At this time in 2014, Marvel's blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot were still drawing in crowds. Neither of those films were Rated R! Here is the complete top ten rundown.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE WINNERS: