August is traditionally the quietest month of the summer movie season. Instead of opening big-budget sequels and other projects with a lot riding on their success, major studios fill the calendar with their less-expensive, often less-promising titles; not surprisingly, audiences tend to respond to this junior-varsity slate of B-grade blockbusters by keeping a tighter grip on their wallets. And without a Suicide Squad or a Guardians Of The Galaxy on the late-summer docket, this is shaping up to be a typically, even particularly, modest August for box-office returns. (Then again, who knows? Maybe they’ll come out in droves for The Hitman’s Bodyguard.)
Despite nearly universal critical disdain, The Dark Tower won the first weekend of the month, handily besting its new wide-release competition and ending Dunkirk’s two-week reign at the top. But it was a modest victory: The maligned Stephen King adaptation took home only $19.5 million, which is the smallest No. 1 debut for any movie all season. And with the exception of the $14 million Split picked up over Super Bowl weekend, it’s also the smallest amount of money a movie has made and still managed to win a weekend this year. Considering the film’s $65 million budget—relatively frugal, but apparently not frugal enough—this is as much a loss as a win for Sony, although The Dark Tower does hold the distinction of scoring the second-best opening weekend ever for a King adaptation, behind just 1408. (Something tells us that It will make short work of both in a month.)
In terms of new wide releases, the reportedly (if also maybe hilariously) awful Halle Berry thriller Kidnap, which has been sitting on the shelf for three years, snatched only $10 million or so from moviegoers, finishing behind Dunkirk, The Emoji Movie, and Girls Trip. (The film’s budget hasn’t really been reported, though how expensive could a movie that mostly consists of Berry screaming into a phone while pretending to drive really be?) Still, that’s sadly much better than what Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit managed to make in its first weekend of wide release; despite expanding into more than 3,000 theaters, this period piece set during the 12th Street Riot of 1967 grossed only $7.2 million, barely cracking the top 10. Maybe they should have held it for the chillier weeks of the fall movie season, when prestige dramas flourish. August may be lighter on hits than the three months before it, but it’s still summer—a season when moviegoers would generally rather binge on popcorn than sit down for a real meal.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.