Friday Box Office: ‘Ben-Hur’ Poised to Be One of the Year’s Biggest Flops

     August 20, 2016


Audiences have forsaken Timur Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur. While I was pleasantly surprised by the film (although with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 31%, I’m clearly in the minority), it has taken a shellacking at the box office. THR reports that the faith-based movie only pulled in about $4 million on Friday, which is dismal when you consider that it reportedly cost $100 million to make.

Ben-Hur exists in the paradox of faith-based movies. The more Hollywood tries to make an effort to cater to the faith-based crowd and create a crossover hit, the less likely the film will be to appeal to anyone. It’s only when Hollywood isn’t involved and you get a movie like War Room ($67 million off a $3 million budget) or Courageous ($34 million off a $2 million budget) that the faith-based crowd turns out and creates a hit film. To be fair, Ben-Hur leans more towards a standard action film than something like Risen, but the trailers were cut to try and appeal to religious audiences. Unless they turn out in force this weekend, Ben-Hur is looking at an opening weekend of $10-12 million opening in 3,084 theaters.


Image via Warner Bros.

The major new release that’s having the most success is Todd PhillipsWar Dogs. On Thursday night, War Dogs took in $1.3 million, and it made $5.5 million on Friday from 3,258 theaters for a possible $15 million debut. Granted, those numbers don’t compare to what Phillips’ Hangover movies did on their opening weekends, but it’s not bad when you’re coming at the tail end of the summer and your movie is about international arms dealers.

The weekend’s final major release (and by far its best one), Kubo and the Two Strings, is projected to gross $4.5 million on Friday for a $14.5 million opening. That’s slightly more than LAIKA’s ParaNorman but less than Coraline and The Boxtrolls. I’m not sure why LAIKA can’t breakthrough at the box office. Their movies are gorgeous, critically acclaimed, and they appeal to all ages. It could be that the end-of-summer timeframe just isn’t helpful, and perhaps Focus Features should try releasing a LAIKA movie earlier in the year before people are burnt out on summer movies and kids are headed back to school.

Over in indie news, the excellent Hell or High Water expanded into 472 theaters and grossed an estimated $742,000, which brings its cumulative total to $1.62 million.  At this rate, it should pull in a weekend gross of $2.4 million.  It will be interesting to see if the film has legs and stands as one of the indie hits of the year.

So who’s going to win the weekend? Right now, THR is projecting that Suicide Squad will hold onto the top spot with $18 million over the weekend, and Sausage Party will have a strong second weekend with $16 million. However, the numbers could fluctuate and it could become a close three-way race between Suicide Squad, Sausage Party, and War Dogs. So who will win the weekend? Come back tomorrow and find out.

Check out Friday’s Top 5 below [via Box Office Mojo] and check back tomorrow for the full weekend estimates.

Rank Title Friday Total
1. Suicide Squad
$6,025,000 $247,598,335
2. War Dogs
$5,530,000 $5,530,000
3. Sausage Party
$5,000,000 $55,001,019
4. Ben-Hur $4,130,000 $4,130,000
5. Kubo and the Two Strings
$4,092,000 $4,092,000

Image via LAIKA/Universal


Clay Enos/ & © DC Comics Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures


Image via Sony

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