The summer box office season will go out not with a whimper or a bang, but with a scream.
Horror film, "Annabelle: Creation" is expected to be the most significant title to debut before Labor Day, capping a slower-than-typical summer season with a modest result. BoxOffice.com is looking for the sequel to collect $30 million during its Aug. 10 opening weekend. Variety pegged it lower, with a $25 million estimate, as did Deadline Hollywood.
A week earlier, the Aug. 4 release "The Dark Tower" exited its opening weekend shy of $20 million, skimming somewhere in the middle of moderated expectations and keeping the summer season well in the red. The summer box office's total take was down 10.6% after the Aug. 4 weekend, according to Kagan research. It could end with ticket sales below $4 billion for the first time since 2006.
Source: Warner Bros.
But not everyone has lost out. Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. studio is expected to not only cut a decent profit on its $15 million-budget "Annabelle: Creation," but it was also behind acclaimed sleeper hit "Dunkirk" and blockbuster "Wonder Woman," which recently crossed the $400 million mark domestically, making it the third-highest domestic grossing film in Warner Bros. history, according to Variety.
However, even if "Annabelle: Creation" delivers for its studio, it is still not living up to its predecessors. The Annabelle brand is a spinoff of Warner Bros.'s Conjuring universe, and each of "The Conjuring," "The Conjuring 2" and "Annabelle" collected over $37 million at opening, outperformed expectations for "Annabelle: Creation." The new film's budget is twice that of "Annabelle," which when considered alongside the expected lower opening should yield a margin tighter than the 50.6% seen by "Annabelle."
Critics were generally positive about the sequel, landing it a 68% "fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes as of 12 p.m. ET on Aug. 11.
Offering some counterprogramming, Open Road Films will try to recreate the modest success it had with the 2014 animation "The Nut Job" on a sequel, "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature."
The first "Nut Job" opened on a weekend gross of $19.4 million against a budget of $42.5 million, collected $191.3 million in total revenue by the time it exited theaters and cut an 11.7% margin. The independent animation movie had a "rotten" 10% score on Rotten Tomatoes, similar to the new "The Nut Job 2." The new movie had a 12% "rotten" score, as of 12 p.m. ET on Aug. 11. Variety said its studio is hoping for a $15 million start, but Deadline predicts a range of $12 million to $14 million and BoxOffice.com goes even lower with a $10 million opening-weekend forecast.
Lastly, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s movie studio will sweep up the remainder of debut ticket sales with flyweight title "The Glass Castle." The adult drama, starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson, is expected to open around $5 million. Critics were not unanimously positive or negative on the film, giving it a 46% "rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes. Comparisons were also mixed, with titles like "Lion" and "The Pursuit of Happyness" exiting theaters on strong double-digit margins while "Joy," "The Pianist" and "Angela's Ashes" dropped into the red.