Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of the summer movie season, and the start of the fall season at the box office, with the weekend receipts usually suffering a sharp drop from the sweltering summer months. This year, only two new releases hit theaters over the holiday weekend, EuropaCorp's action-thriller The Transporter Refueled and Broad Green Pictures' A Walk in the Woods, which actually debuts in theaters starting tomorrow, September 2. Both of these new releases will have to contend with Straight Outta Compton, which has taken the top spot for three weeks in a row, and, judging from the projections at BoxOffice.com, it may be a closer race for the top spot than you may think. Regardless of how close the race is, one thing is for certain: none of these new releases will open big, at all.
Straight Outta Compton faced some unexpected competition in the faith-based drama War Room, which exceeded expectations last week, coming in second place with $11 million, just behind Straight Outta Compton's third-weekend total of $13.2 million. If Straight Outta Compton drops another 50% from last weekend, that would put it at $6.6 million for the weekend. Early tracking numbers for The Transporter Refueled, starring Ed Skrein taking over for Jason Statham as Frank Martin, put it at $8 million, but most movies have had a tendency to either overperform or underperform this summer, and I can't see The Transporter Refueled hitting that projection, so it's possible we could see it top out around $7 million. It's possible that the top two spots could be separated by less than $500,000 this weekend, but we'll have to wait and see.
While almost every movie decreases in its second weekend, War Room actually has the potential to increase, depending on if TriStar expands this weekend from its 1,135-theater opening frame. Given the religious movie's success, that wouldn't be surprising, but we won't know for sure until the exact theater counts are released in a few days. If the film does get a major expansion, it could make a strong push and take the top spot, but we're not sure if that will happen. Despite the movie's financial success, it hasn't fared well with critics, earning just a 25% "Rotten" rating on RottenTomatoes.com. For now, we're going to assume that it won't be expanding, which means it will likely drop to third place with somewhere between $5 and $6 million. Then again, that was the same range I predicted it would open in last weekend, so, clearly, anything is possible.
The weekend's other new release is A Walk in the Woods, which is tracking at $3.3 million in its first weekend in theaters, and it should open in sixth place. The film does boast plenty of star-power, with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte leading a diverse and talented cast that also includes Emma Thompson, Nick Offerman and Mary Steenburgen. However, the demographic that would enjoy this film will likely be spending time with their own families over the long holiday weekend, instead of going to theaters to see two guys hiking through the Appalachian Trail.
Neither The Transporter Refueled nor A Walk in the Woods will have super-wide releases, with The Transporter Refueled opening in approximately 2,800 theaters, although we don't have a theater count estimate for A Walk in the Woods. No critic's reviews have been posted for The Transporter Refueled yet, so we're not sure how the nation's critics will respond to this action-thriller. A Walk in the Woods currently sits at 50%, with 10 positive reviews out of 20 that have currently been posted.
The rest of the top 10 shouldn't change much, except for blockbusters Jurassic World and Ant-Man dropping out of the top 10, most likely for good. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and No Escape will drop to fourth and fifth place this weekend, behind The Transporter Refueled, Straight Outta Compton and War Room, with A Walk in the Woods taking sixth place, Sinister 2 in seventh place, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in eighth place, Hitman: Agent 47 in ninth place and The Gift in the 10-spot. Naturally, there is no exact science to predicting box office takes, but we can't see the rest of the field shifting too drastically.
Debuting in limited release are RADiUS-TWC's dramatic comedy Before We Go, the directorial debut of Chris Evans, who stars with Alice Eve, and Shout Factory's vampire comedy Bloodsucking Bastards from the improv troupe Dr. God, starring Fran Kranz and Pedro Pascal. We don't have exact theater counts for Before We Go yet, but Bloodsucking Bastards is opening in 10 markets across the country this weekend, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Minneapolis and Austin. Both films will also be available on various VOD platforms starting September 4 as well.
Looking ahead to next weekend, director M. Night Shyamalan returns to theaters with his new thriller The Visit, going up against Screen Gems' own thriller The Perfect Guy, starring Michael Ealy and Sanaa Lathan, and yet another faith-based drama, Samuel Goldwyn Films' 90 Minutes in Heaven. It will be interesting to see how War Room fares both this weekend, with a possible theater expansion, and next weekend, going up against a film with similar religious themes. Check back on Monday for the official box office estimates from the long holiday weekend, and again on Tuesday for our predictions for the following weekend. Until then, check out our predictions for Labor Day weekend below. Do you think our picks are accurate? Or will we be way off when the estimates come rolling in?
HOLIDAY WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: