http://deadline.com/2017/08/labor-day-w ... 202148544/
It’s often said by distribution chiefs that moviegoing is a 52-weekend-a-year business, but that won’t be their philosophy this coming Labor Day weekend which runs Sept. 1-4.
For the first time in 25 years, both major studio and specialty distributors will not be releasing any new wide releases in north of 1,000 theaters. The last time this occurred was in 1992 with the Universal Matthew Broderick comedy Out on a Limb which debuted in 703 locations (by the way, that was considered wide back then).
How ironic for the majors to cap off the lowest summer in 25 years, currently at $3.44 billion for the period of the first weekend in May through yesterday, without any new wide titles. Exhibition stocks look like they’ve been infected with leprosy with theater chains’ shares hitting one-year lows no thanks to this past weekend’s ticket sales dropping 32% from a year ago with $116.9M. And if there’s one thing that exhibition likes, it’s new product, even if it’s a two-week burn.
However, the prevailing attitude by many studio distribution bosses this year is that it’s not worth laboring over Labor Day weekend especially as moviegoers spend the last huzzah of summer outside the multiplex. Lord, knows the Independence Day and Memorial Day stretches haven’t been as robust as they were in the past.
Currently, the widest releases during Labor Day weekend are in the hundreds theater count range and that includes Sony/Columbia’s 40th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (approximately 800 locations), Lionsgate’s Patelion comedy Hazlo Como Hombre (Do It Like an Hombre) (around 300 theaters) and Imax’s release of ABC/Marvel TV’s Inhumans pilot in close to 400 auditoriums.
All of this said, the four-day total box office for Labor Day shows a different trend: The holiday isn’t that atrocious. Last year’s summer-end holiday chalked up $128.3M over FSSM, +10% over the 2015 stretch thanks to Don’t Breathe leading the B.O. in its second weekend with $19.7M. Not to mention, it was only four years ago when the Labor Day stretch hit an all-time record of $162.1M boosted by Weinstein Co. ‘s The Butler (third weekend take of $20.2M).
What the studios are capitalizing on during Labor Day are summer holdovers, and a bulk of that product will roll out the weekend prior to the holiday on Aug. 25. That weekend the three wide entries are Weinstein Co.’s animated pic Leap!, Sony Affirm’s faith-based title All Saints and BH Tilt’s Bruce Lee biopic Birth of the Dragon from director George Nolfi. Two years ago Sony Affirm surprised everyone with a No. 1 win ($13.4M) with another faith-based title War Room in its second weekend over Labor Day. There will also be Lionsgate’s Ryan Reynolds action comedy The Hitman‘s Bodyguard in its third weekend as well as New Line’s Annabelle: Creation in its fourth go-round. If Hitman can peg out Annabelle 2 this weekend, $17.5M to $15M, Labor Day could ultimately be his for the taking.
In addition, during the weekend of Aug. 25, Sony plans to break Baby Driver wide again while Warner Bros. will give the highest grossing movie of the summer Wonder Woman ($402.1M) one last gasp, with some showtimes in Imax, before she arrives on digital download on Aug. 29; DVD Sept. 19. Per tradition, Disney will take its summer Pixar title wide again over Labor Day and this year’s that’s Cars 3 (current B.O. $148.3M domestic).