erik lundegaard

Sunday August 16, 2015

Box Office With Attitude: 'Straight Outta Compton' Sets Record

Straight Outta Compton movie


If you adjust for inflation, the most popular music biopics since 1980 are as follows:

  • Coal Miner's Daughter (1980): $202.7 million
  • Walk the Line (2005): $150.5 million
  • Amadeus (1984): $120.7 million
  • La Bamba (1987): $112.5 million

Unadjusted, “Walk the Line” is top dog. It opened at $22.3 million in 2005 and grossed $119.5. Both are records for the genre. 

Until now. 

“Straight Outta Compton,” F. Gary Gray's adaptation of the story of NWA, opened this weekend with a $56.1 million haul, killing the competition. The third weekend of “Mission: Impossible V” came in second at $17 mil, while “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” debuted to a disappointing $13.5 mil.

More impressive? “Compton” did all this in only 2,757 theaters, for a per-theater average of $20.3K. (No other wide-release movie did better than $5K per screen.) It's the sixth-best August opener ever, the 10th-best R-rated opener ever. All time, it's 136th-best, which doesn't sound like much until you realize that its theater tally is 1,087th-best. 

Put it this way: 180 movies have opened with more than $50 million at the box office and only five debuted in fewer than 3,000 theaters. And only one of those—“8 Mile,” interestingly enough, starring Eminem—debuted in fewer theaters: It grossed $51 mil in 2,470 theaters. Meaning no movie that debuted in fewer theaters than “Compton” made more opening weekend. 

Where will it stop? It will almost have to perform like a horror movie (big opener, then nothing), or like “8 Mile” (44% of its earnings on opening weekend) to not surpass “Walk the Line,” which, remember, had the advantage of AA nominations/wins to add wind to its sails.

“Compton” is another in a string of hits this summer for Universal Studios, which has already scored with “Jurassic World” (No. 1 for the year), “Furious 7” (No. 3), “Minions” (No. 5), and “Pitch Perfect 2” (No. 7).

On the other side of the spectrum is Fox's “Fantastic Four,” which opened abyssmally last weekend, then dropped abyssmally this weekend: 68.9% for fourth place and $8 mil. Despite its bad open, Fox expanded its theater count by 9, bringing it to 4,004 theaters, so it too might set a record. Only 66 movies have appeared in more than 4,000 theaters and the lowest previous box office for those films was “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” which grossed a total of $119.7 million. “FF” looks to shatter that. After 10 days, it's at $41.9 mil.

Posted at 10:56 AM on Sunday August 16, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard