September is traditionally the month of box office quiet after the summer movie season concludes, a chance for studios to unload movies that wouldn’t find their audience elsewhere in the year and an opportunity for everyone to recharge their batteries before the big movies return in October. But nobody told Sully, which is a bigger hit than most of the summer fare released in 2016. And now, nobody told The Magnificent Seven, which leapt into the number one spot with a very strong debut.
Just when you thought September was going to be a slow month at the box office, Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks show up with Sully and make things interesting all over again. The feature film adaptation of the “Miracle on the Hudson” opened with huge numbers, benefiting from the pedigree of the talent involved and the lack of direct competition in the middle of a not-so-busy month.
In a summer filled with misfires and box office disappointments, the horror genre has kept its head above the water. The Conjuring 2 crossed the $100 million mark. Lights Out was a gigantic sleeper hit. And now, Don’t Breathe has closed out August with a surprising bang, dethroning Suicide Squad with a very strong opening weekend.
Despite receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews, Suicide Squad opened with record-smashing numbers, obliterating the record set by Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014. And yet, the box office of summer 2016 has taught us one thing: anything can happen after that opening weekend and it probably will. This certainly looks like a huge victory for Warner Bros. and their DC Extended Universe right now, but who knows what next week will bring?
As expected, Jason Bourne topped the box office in its opening weekend, but like so many of the sequels released this summer, the initial numbers aren’t quite what everyone was hoping for. This doesn’t mean we should count out Matt Damon’s return to his most popular character just yet, but it does add more fuel to the “audiences are getting a little picky with the sequels they will pay to see” narrative that has been forming over the past few months.
This has been one of the strangest summers in recent memory when it comes to box office analysis, not because so many high profile movies have disappointed (although that has certainly been interesting), but because so many new releases are hanging out in the grey zone between hit and misfire. In an era where the success of so many movies is determined purely by opening weekend numbers, we’ve spent the past few months watching as movies has defied expectations after a weak opening or rode a solid opening into oblivion. The cut-and-dried successes can be counted on one hand.
It took a movie about adorable talking dogs and cats to dethrone the movie about the adorable talking fish. The Secret Life of Pets dominated the box office this weekend, making it the third 2016 family movie about chatty animals to make a huge splash. If this concept wasn’t as old as the animation medium itself, we could call this a trend.
Despite the arrival of two major films, this Memorial Day weekend was ultimately a disappointing affair, as X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass both underperformed. The former should ultimately emerge untarnished in the long run, likely making enough money to keep the X-Men franchise breathing. However, the second Alice adventure only confirms what everyone outside of Disney already knew. People don’t like the first Alice in Wonderland and they had no interest in a sequel.
In news that should surprise no one at all, Captain America: Civil War remained number one at the box office in its second weekend, dominating a week where the only new competition was a thriller skewed toward older audiences and a barely marketed horror film.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice held on to the number one spot at the box office this weekend, but it sure wasn’t pretty. Zack Snyder’s superhero showdown took a jaw-dropping tumble and if any other studio had decided to release a major film this weekend, it probably would have sunk to second place. This film is already proving to be a fascinating case study in marketing versus word of mouth: one earns you an opening weekend while the other gives you legs.
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