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Box office hits and misses: War Room ends Straight Outta Compton’s reign

weekend box office straight outta compton war room
The box-office reign of Straight Outta Compton has come to end, with director F. Gary Gray’s biopic of iconic rap group N.W.A. ending its three-week domination of the weekend rankings on one of Hollywood’s worst Labor Day weekends of the last 20 years. Ascending to the top spot was the religious-themed War Room, which has managed to outperform expectations for the low-budget, faith-based drama.

The story of a family in disarray that finds salvation in Christian prayer, War Room earned an estimated $9.3 million in the U.S. over the weekend (not including Labor Day screenings), besting the $8.8 million earned by Straight Outta Compton. Estimates for Monday’s holiday screenings indicate that the rankings will remain the same across the four-day span, with War Room earning an approximate $12.3 million and Straight Outta Compton around $11.2 million after Labor Day screenings.

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While the performance of War Room was a bit of a surprise to box-office pundits (it was widely expected that Straight Outta Compton would have a four-day reign at the top of the rankings), it’s worth noting that this is is shaping up to be the worst Labor Day weekend at the box office in more than 15 years. Typically, the top 20 films over the three-day period from Friday to Sunday before Labor Day earn between $90 million and $110 million, but this year they failed to cross the $80 million mark. This is also the first weekend of 2015 in which no films crossed the $10 million mark.

Rounding out the rest of the weekend’s top-performing films were A Walk in the Woods, a hiking drama-comedy that premiered well with $8.4 million on its opening weekend. The film stars Nick Nolte and Robert Redford, and did particularly well with older audiences attracted to the film’s well-known cast, which also included Emma Thompson.

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation continued to bring in good numbers with another $7.1 million for the weekend. The film has now grossed over $180.3 million in U.S. theaters and more than $509 million worldwide, and the latter number will probably increase significantly when the film finally opens in China, where the Mission: Impossible franchise has done well over the years.

In fifth place for the weekend was the premiere of The Transporter Refueled, a reboot of the action franchise formerly fronted by Jason Statham but now starring actor Ed Skrein in the lead role. The film made just $7.1 million in its opening weekend (just shy of Rogue Nation), which gives it the lowest debut of any film in the Transporter franchise so far. Given that the film only cost $22 million to make, there’s still hope that it can turn a profit after international earnings are factored into the totals, but the weak premiere doesn’t bode well for the film’s ability to spawn a new franchise.

Overseas drama No Escape came in sixth for the weekend with another $5.4 million, followed by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with $3.4 million. The latter film has been a box-office disappointment despite favorable reviews, earning just $39.3 million in the U.S. and $85.3 million worldwide so far, but has still managed to cover its production costs — so it has avoided falling into the “flop” category.

In eighth place, Spanish-language animated feature Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos managed to earn an impressive $3.4 million for its opening weekend despite being screened in only 395 theaters. The film, which follows a young chicken who must save his home and family from a rancher, was heavily marketed to Latino and Hispanic audiences and was the weekend’s biggest surprise in the top 10.

Finishing out the top 10 for the holiday weekend were horror sequel Sinister 2 with $3.3 million and animated feature Inside Out with $3.1 million. The latter film was brought back to theaters for Labor Day weekend screenings, and the move clearly paid off for Pixar, which has now earned $348.2 million domestically from the film.

Next weekend features the premiere of director M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit, a thriller that’s been generating quite a bit of positive buzz in early festival screenings, with many suggesting that it is the long-awaited return to form for the filmmaker, who’s had a tough time of it after initial success with movies like The Sixth Sense and Signs.

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