Last weekend, Straight Outta Compton continued Universal Pictures' banner year at the box office, taking in an estimated $56.1 million, which was actually adjusted up to $60.2 million after the final numbers were tallied. With all of the major blockbusters either out of theaters or ending their runs, this N.W.A. biopic is looking to cruise through the competition throughout the rest of August and possibly into September, although this weekend, there will be three new movies debuting in wide release that will attempt to dethrone the current champ: 20th Century Fox's Hitman: Agent 47, Focus Features' Sinister 2 and Lionsgate's American Ultra. Do any of these newcomers have a shot at taking down Straight Outta Compton? In short, no.
It isn't known yet if Universal plans on expanding Straight Outta Compton from its 2,757 theater count last weekend, but given its early success, that wouldn't be too surprising. We don't have final theater counts yet for Hitman: Agent 47, Sinister 2 and Lionsgate's American Ultra, but Hitman: Agent 47 is expected to debut in approximately 3,100 theaters, with the latter two arriving in an estimated 2,600 theaters apiece, according to Box Office Mojo. Even if Hitman: Agent 47 does screen in 3,100 theaters or more, it likely won't matter, since there isn't nearly the buzz surrounding that project as there was with Straight Outta Compton. American Ultra does have star-power on its side, with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart leading a diverse and talented cast, but that won't seem to matter much when it opens in theaters this weekend.
It's also worth noting that no reviews have been posted on RottenTomatoes.com for any of the new releases yet, so we're not sure yet if the critical response will result in higher or lower yields for this trio of new releases. Of course, Straight Outta Compton will surely suffer a drop, as do all movies in their second weekend, but I don't think it will be nearly significant enough to bump this biopic out of the top spot. We're pegging Straight Outta Compton to take first place with an additional $29.8 million, a respectable drop-off for a film in its second weekend, and this trio of new releases won't even come close.
Sinister 2 will likely take the second place spot with a predicted gross of $17.1 million, with Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation taking in $9.9 million in its fourth weekend in theaters. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation has earned $138.3 million at the domestic box office, putting it on par with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol's $141.1 million take after three weekends in theaters, back in 2011. Rounding out the top 5 will be American Ultra with a predicted opening weekend take of $9.5 million, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with $7.1 million.
The weekend's widest new release will most likely fare the worst, with Hitman: Agent 47 expected to open in sixth place with $6.5 million. Fantastic Four will likely have its last weekend in the top 10, dropping to seventh place with $3.7 million, The Gift taking eighth place with $3.5 million, Ant-Man dropping to ninth place with $2.8 million and Vacation taking the 10th place spot with $2.2 million. The weekend also brings a slew of films in limited release, but none are expected to crack the top 10.
The Orchard's Digging for Fire, Sony Pictures Classics' Grandma, Broad Green Pictures' Learning to Drive and Lionsgate Premiere's She's Funny That Way will also be vying for your box office dollars in limited release, but we don't have any specific theater counts at this time. The end of August normally means a slide in box office receipts, a trend which will surely continue this year, if the lack of buzz around these projects are any indication.
As we head into the film's second weekend, many believe Straight Outta Compton is a true Oscar contender. One day after the film hit theaters, the N.W.A. biopic was screened for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members at the 1012-seat Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. Most of these screenings draw small crowds, especially before Oscar contenders start hitting theaters in the fall. Straight Outta Compton's screening was between 80 to 85% full. And a different screening last week brought in approximately 200 members. A Universal Pictures rep, who was monitoring attendance, said the screening drew well over 700 viewers.
Oscar voters were reportedly so taken by the movie that the N.W.A. biopic was actually met with applause, a rare occurrence that, according to one member, has only happened a few times over the past few years. Several members spoke after the screening and all said they were all very impressed. About the post-screening Q&A with producers Ice Cube and Scott Bernstein, producer-director F. Gary Gray and actors O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Antonio Hawkins and Jason Mitchell, this was said by one member of the Academy.
"They handled the crowd expertly. Ice Cube said to the crowd, 'I'm not anti-police,' even though there's a lot of police brutality portrayed in the film. He said, 'I support the police.'"
Does Straight Outta Compton have a shot at Oscar? While the biopic succeeds on a number of levels, it's still very early in the awards season race. Straight Outta Compton also comes along at a time when the Academy is trying to increase diversity among its membership. The Academy came under fire for their controversial Oscar snub of David Oyelowo for his critically-acclaimed performance in Selma last year. The film itself was nominated for Best Picture but lost to Birdman. We'll have to wait and see if Straight Outta Compton can buck this trend. As it stands right now, Straight Outta Compton will have no problem winning for a second weekend in a row. Do you agree or disagree with our picks? Let us know what you think, after checking out our projected top 10 for this weekend.
PREDICTED WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: