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Box office hits and misses: ‘Sully’ keeps flying while new releases fail to launch

weekend box office sully blair witch snowden photo
Image used with permission by copyright holder
As many had expected going into the weekend, the story of US Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s famous emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River stayed on top of the box office for the second consecutive week, with the film adding an additional $22 million to its domestic earnings so far.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and featuring Tom Hanks as Sullenberger, Sully dropped a mere 37 percent in ticket sales from the previous week — the sign of a film that’s going over well with audiences and likely to stick around for a while.

The outlook wasn’t as positive for the three new releases that found their way into the weekend’s top ten films, with horror sequel Blair Witch falling well short of expectations with just $9.6 million in its opening weekend. That debut covers the movie’s low $5 million production costs, but it’s also a bit underwhelming for a movie many box-office pundits expected to challenge Sully for the top spot at the box office.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Sully $22M $70.5M $93.9M
2. Blair Witch $9.6M $9.6M $14.5M
3. Bridget Jones’ Baby $8.2M $8.2M $38.1M
4. Snowden $8M $8M $8M
5. Don’t Breathe $5.6M $75.3M $107M
6. When the Bough Breaks $5.5M $22.7M $22.7M
7. Suicide Squad $4.7M $313.7M $718.8M
8. The Wild Life $2.6M $6.6M $27.5M
9. Kubo and the Two Strings $2.5M $44.2M $54.6M
10. Pete’s Dragon $2M $72.8M $113M

It was a similar story for sequel Bridget Jones’ Baby, which debuted to $8.2 million, the lowest U.S. opening weekend of any of the installments of the three-film romantic comedy franchise.

Premiering in fourth place for the weekend was Oliver Stone’s Snowden, a biopic of former government intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, who famously (or infamously, depending on your viewpoint) revealed classified files to journalists in order to expose the breadth of the U.S. government’s surveillance of its own citizens. Snowden opened to $8 million, which was just about what pundits predicted for the film, but the positive reviews and good audience buzz the film received will likely help it out in the long run.

As for the rest of the weekend’s movies, horror hit Don’t Breathe continued its strong run in theaters by adding another $5.6 million to its already impressive domestic gross of $75.3 million. Not too shabby for a film that cost less than $10 million to make.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ Suicide Squad also seems to have leveled off, and added another $4.7 million to its domestic ticket sales after a week-to-week drop of just 17 percent, bringing that total to $313.7 million so far. It’s still quite a distance off from the $331.3 million that Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice earned this year, but it’s a respectable tally all the same.

This upcoming weekend’s biggest release is director Antoine Fuqua’s ensemble western The Magnificent Seven, which will almost certainly bump Sully out of the top spot. The animated feature Storks also arrives in theaters, and could bring in some of the family audiences for a decent debut.

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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