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Weekend Box Office: Suicide Squad Fends Off War Dogs, Kubo as Ben-Hur Chokes on the Dust

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By Chris Kavan - 08/21/16 at 07:21 PM CT

I thought it was the end of the line for Suicide Squad but both the top new contenders came in under-performing and as the villainous menagerie held on to the top spot while the raunchy Sausage Party also held on to its second place spot. Even though the weekend was down 25% compared to last week, it was up 30% compared to last year as August continues to be a strong month for 2016. If Suicide Squad was able to hold out, it's looking like clear sailing through the end of the month for the film.

1) SUICIDE SQUAD

Given both the critical drubbing and big second-week drop, I thought Suicide Squad would be facing a tougher battle for the top spot. It turns out heroes can be villains (and vice versa) as the film easily scored its third first-place finish with a $20.7 million weekend. That raises the film to a $262.2 million total, blowing passed the $250 million mark in the process. That still represents a rather hefty drop of 52% compared to last week and its winning ways are not so much a result of its legs as its lack of competition at this point. Still, it ranks fifth among all DC adaptations and will probably be able to top Man of Steel ($291 million) as I'm sure Warner Bros. will do all they can for this to hit $300 million. On the world-wide front, Suicide Squad ranks as the eighth best film of 2016 with a global tally of $572.68 million. In terms of total super hero films, it has also jumped The Amazing Spider-Man ($262 million) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($259 million) on the charts. It will likely wind up as the second-biggest August release on record, coming in behind Guardians of the Galaxy ($333 million) but that is a good result for a film that audiences and critics seemed both ambivalent and hostile towards.

2) SAUSAGE PARTY

Driven by positive critical and audience reactions, Sausage Party also held on to its second-place position with a $15.3 million weekend. That represents a drop of 55% for the R-rated animated film - about on par with what one would think. Its total of $65 million looks fantastic next to its $19 million budget (it has a global total of $71.3 million as it slowly rolls out in international markets). Expect this one to cross the $100 million mark before winding down. It has already topped the charts for R-rated animated films - we'll see just how high it can go before it leaves theaters for good. In any case, this one has outdone whatever I thought it would do so kudos to directors Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon and the fine, funny, talented actors who voiced this risky proposition - they're the real winners and we'll see if this leads to another Sausage Party down the road.

3) WAR DOGS

I was fully expecting Kubo and the Two Strings to be the top new draw, but the combination of Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in a (loosely-based) true story about the horrors and hilarity of war brought in $14.3 million to be the best new film on the block. The audience was 56% male and just a hair over 50% was under 35. The response wasn't great with the film receiving a mediocre "B" Cinemascore. I don't expect this one to make many waves going forward as it likely will top out around $35 million. For director Todd Phillips, it represents his lowest opening since 2006 when School for Scoundrels opened to just $8.6 million. So, no, this is not going to be the next Hangover or even Old School but it's not going to sink anyone's career, either (stay tuned for later on the list to see which film might!).

4) KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

I really did have high hopes set for Kubo - the animation looks fantastic, the story compelling the characters memorable but Laika Entertainment has to settle for fourth place with a $12.6 million opening. That is the lowest opening yet for the studio - coming in under the $14.08 million of ParaNorman and well under the $17.27 million of the 2014 film, The Boxtrolls. But there is good news for Kubo. Those who saw it gave it a strong "A" Cinemascore and it has no real competition until the animated Storks hits at the end of September. Hopefully the returns look more like Coraline (4.5x multiplier) than The Boxtrolls (2.9x multiplier) in the coming weeks. I wish it the best of luck and hope it comes out ahead of what its opening weekend would suggest - hopefully $50 million at least.

5) BEN-HUR

Well, someone's head is going to roll for this one. I still don't know whose bright idea it was to remake a 1959 classic like Ben-Hur (which, to be fair, was a remake itself), but whoever that person is, should just shut up and go away. Timur Bekmambetov probably did as good as he could, but nothing was going to save this one and it opened to a mere $11.35 million. Critics savaged this one about as much as Suicide Squad but audiences liked it, giving it an "A-" Cinemascore. Still, that bit of bright news isn't likely to result in much repeat performance and all the good recommendations in the world aren't going to save this from being a major dud. At a $100 million budget, this is going to wind up being one of the biggest busts of the year - something Paramount didn't need following the disappointing returns from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Star Trek Beyond. This one is going to have to be saved (once again) by the international markets, though it remains to be seen if even overseas help will be enough for this poorly-thought-out remake. It came in just a hair ahead of Pete's Dragon ($11.33 million) and may yet fall out of the top five should the family-friendly title have a bigger Sunday surge.

Outside the top five: A bunch of films are flirting with major milestones, but nothing hit this week. Riding a wave of good reviews, Hell or High Water expanded from 42 to 472 theaters and nearly cracked the top 10. The film centers on a West Texas family resorting to any means to save the family farm and features Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges among others. It took 12th place with $2.65 million (an increase of 326.5% over its limited opening) and it looks like this one will continue to expand in the coming weeks.

Next week brings us the horror film Don't Breathe, Jason Statham's return in Mechanic: Resurrection and the boxing biopic Hands of Stone.

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