Religious crowds pulled off a “great awakening” at the Labor Day box office, raising low-budget “War Room” above “Straight Outta Compton” and reaffirming the value of producing pictures for faith-based moviegoers.
The $3 million production from brothers Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick brought in $12.6 million over the four-day holiday. The film has earned $27.9 million and is on track to be the biggest hit of the Kendricks’ careers, passing “Courageous” ($34.5 million) and “Fireproof” ($33.4 million). It arrives in theaters courtesy of Sony’s Affirm division.
“War Room’s” success was one of the only bright spots in an otherwise torpid weekend at the multiplexes. Overall ticket sales are still being calculated, but it is shaping up to be one of the worst Labor Day holidays over the past decade.
That poor showing is because newcomers like Europacorp’s “Transporter Refueled” failed to generate much heat, snagging fifth place and $9 million at the box office. The attempt to reinvigorate the franchise about a mercenary driver sans Jason Statham may be more warmly received overseas, particularly in Europe where Autoroute racing is next to godliness. “Transporter Refueled” cost $22 million to produce and debuted in 3,494 theaters.
The combination of Robert Redford, Emma Thompson and Nick Nolte appeared to resonate with older audiences, pushing Broad Green’s “A Walk in the Woods” to a solid $10.3 million across 1,980 theaters. That was good enough for a third place finish. The adaptation of Bill Bryson’s best-selling book of the same name joins “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and “Grandma” among art house hits that have found riches by appealing to senior citizens. Since debuting on Wednesday, “A Walk in the Woods” has made $12.2 million.
“War Room’s” success displaced “Straight Outta Compton” from its throne. The N.W.A biopic has topped charts for three consecutive weekends and many analysts had expected it would retain its crown. However, its $11.1 million gross for the four-day period places it squarely in second place. It has earned just under $150 million since debuting in August.
In fourth place, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” added $9.3 million to its $182.5 million domestic total. The Tom Cruise adventure passed $500 million at the global box office this weekend.
Also of note, Pantelion launched the Mexican animated comedy “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos” (A Rooster with Many Eggs) to a strong $4.4 million at a mere 395 theaters, while STX and Blumhouse’s “The Gift” passed $40 million after earning $3.4 million.
Among art house releases, Magnolia debuted Alex Gibney’s “Steve Jobs: The Man and the Machine” on demand and in 68 theaters where it earned $181,000 over the holiday, while Open Road gave audiences one more chance to embrace “Dope,” by moving it from 11 theaters to 1,023 venues. The Sundance Film Festival favorite earned $501,000 for the weekend and has generated $17.3 million throughout its run.