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Weekend Box Office: Blade Runner 2049 Takes Top Spot but Sputters Well Below Expectations

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By Chris Kavan - 10/08/17 at 06:04 PM CT

It was another win-lose at the box office as the anticipated Blade Runner sequel turned out to be not as anticipated as many had predicted. While the nostalgic nerd crowd certainly turned out, the expected $45-$50 million opening the studio was hoping for crashed to reality, where it was lucky to top $30 million. The rest of the box office didn't hold much better news as both The Mountain Between Us and My Little Pony delivered moderate openings. The big news continued to be It, which continued to climb the ranks and break records even after five weeks in release. Those hoping that October would deliver another huge hit like September are going to be disappointed, as it now looks like this fall month could be floundering for a breakout title.

1) BLADE RUNNER 2049

Expectations and buzz both seemed to point to Blade Runner 2049 turning into a big October win. Even after Thursday previews, which brought in a great $4 million (Gravity and The Martian brought in $1.4 million and $2.5 million respectively), things quickly took a turn for the worse when Friday numbers only amounted to $8.7 million. That meant Blade Runner 2049 could only muster up a $31.5 million weekend, good enough for the win but, unless it has amazing legs or becomes an overseas hit, looks bleak next to its $155 million price tag. The film earned an "A-" Cinemascore, but that's mainly because the audience who did show up was older males (71% male, 63% over 35), most nerds like me who think highly of the original Blade Runner (which, remember, was itself a commercial disappointment in theaters). Unlike It, which brought in men, women and teens (and probably some very now clown-phobic children) - Blade Runner 2049 does not seem to have a wide appeal beyond its core group of fans, and that also does not bode well for its long-term chances. I was hoping this would play well throughout October, now I'm not even certain it's going to last that long. Comparisons to Mad Max: Fury Road, The Marian, Interstellar and Gravity are all way off target now - you have to looks at sci-fi under-performers like Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow. Meaning instead of $125 million or more, Blade Runner 2049 might be shooting for $100 million as the best-case scenario. The nearly 3-hour, R-rated sci-fi trip is going to have to hope for big help overseas (where it currently sits with $50.2 million) if it hopes to save face, but even if it breaks out big, this sequel has to be considered a disappointing misstep.

2) THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

Things didn't fare much better for the counter-programming offer featuring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as a pair of plane crash survivors trying to make it back to civilization. The Mountain Between Us scored a $10.1 million opening. It also scored an "A-" Cinemascore and certainly brought in more women (58% women, 81% over 25) but despite playing up the romantic angle vs the survival story, it never generated the kind of buzz that really drives in audiences. With a $35 million budget, it should about break even, but I don't see this have a huge impact on the overall October market. It also brought in about $3.6 million overseas, where it may need a small push in order to find its way in to the black.

3) IT

The monster horror hit continued its strong pace, dipping just 43% in the face of new competition. Andy Muschietti, his Loser's Club and that murderous clown officially crossed the $300 million mark with a $9.65 million weekend and new total of $304.9 million. It can now also claim to be the largest international horror release of all time with $298.8 million overseas for a global total of $603.7 million. It is now the sixth highest-grossing R-rated film of all time worldwide and third highest-grossing domestic R-rated film of all time (not adjusted for inflation) behind Deadpool ($363 million) and The Passion of the Christ ($371 million). It's next push is the $325 million mark, a goal that seems inevitable at this point, even as more films hit the box office. It continues to play strong in the face of competition and I expect it to survive at least through Halloween.

4) MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE

As I said, with little fanfare or marketing, My Little Pony, much like Blade Runner, played primarily to its hardcore fan(atic)s where it brought in $8.8 million for the weekend. As with the previous two new entries, this one also earned an "A-" Cinemascore from a mostly female (59%) audience almost evenly split between those over and under 25 years of age. The opening is below the $10 million for Alpha and Omega. So it looks like My Little Pony is going to have a minimal impact at the box office and I suspect its biggest strength will be its home viewing numbers as I'm sure the fans who wanted to really see it in theaters are happy and it will be leaving theaters in short order.

5) KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

The somewhat divisive sequel to Kingsman took a 52.2% hit in its second weekend, dropping from first to fifth place with a $8.1 million weekend a new total of just about $80 million. The film crossed the $75 million mark in fairly short order, and it is only running about $5 million behind the original film at this point, which looks pretty good when you consider the sequel has been much maligned compared to the first one. As it stands, The Golden Circle should wind up near the $125 million mark when all the chips fall, now bad for an "inferior" sequel, and on that cost just $104 million to boot. With $220 million worldwide, the Kingsman are still in good hands and now I wouldn't be at all surprised to see at least one more film come down the pipeline.

Outside the top five: Much like last weekend's A Question of Faith, the uplifting, faith-based The Stray found little support, opening in 13th place with $550,000 and a weak $859 per-theater average. It was barely a wide release anyway, but this is exactly what I expected.

The expansion of Victoria and Abdul resulted in a $4.14 million weekend (8th place) two spots below the 6th place finish for Battle of the Sexes, but above the $3.4 million that film finished with. That is a decent result and, with $3 million overseas, the film sits at a tidy $31 million worldwide.

The limited release champion was The Florida Project, which hit just four theaters but brought in $153,342 for an excellent $38,336 per-theater average. This is another film with awards aspirations, and it will continue to expand throughout October, eventually going wide on the 20th where we'll see where it lies with general audiences.

Next week brings us yet another horror film in the Groundhog Day-esque Happy Death Day, Jackie Chan back in action with The Foreigner, and not one but two biographies in Marshall and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.

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