“Straight Outta Compton” may take place more than two decades ago, but its themes of racial tension, poverty and police brutality still speak to moviegoers living in a post-Ferguson world.
The biopic about rap group N.W.A. debuted to a blistering $56.1 million this weekend in 2,757 theaters, surpassing “American Pie 2” to become the biggest-ever August debut for an R-rated movie. It’s the kind of opening usually reserved for so-called tentpole movies that trade in costumed heroes and special effects, not urban violence.
“The movie tapped into something in our culture and that made it more of a must-see,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
Its debut nearly doubles “Straight Outta Compton’s” budget of $29 million in a single weekend, meaning the film could be among the most profitable releases of the summer. N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre helped produce the film about the early days of gansta rap and were integral to its marketing campaign.
Universal, the studio behind the music biopic, has been having a year for the ages, as a steady stream of hits such as “Jurassic World,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Furious 7” and “Minions” have pushed its grosses to record heights. Legendary Pictures co-financed “Straight Outta Compton.”
“Straight Outta Compton’s” success overshadowed the weekend’s other new release, Warner Bros.’ “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The stylish action-adventure wilted at the megaplexes, bringing in an etiolated $13.5 million from 3,638 theaters. That’s a particularly rough start considering that “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” cost a sizable $75 million to produce.
Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou labeled “Straight Outta Compton” as a “labor of love” that benefited from being dramatically different from the kind of films flooding cinemas in recent months.
“The public was ready for something with a bit more substance that they could identify with,” he said.
The film’s opening weekend crowd was 52% female, 51% under the age of 30, 46% African-American, 23% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic and 4% Asian. It did not play in Imax or 3D, but did score in premium large format locations, where it grossed $5.1 million, representing 9% of the film’s weekend receipts.
In second place, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” continued to get a lift from strong word-of-mouth, picking up $17 million in its third weekend. That brings the fifth film in the spy franchise’s North American haul to $138.1 million.
Fox’s “Fantastic Four” dropped steeply in its second weekend, falling nearly 70% from its debut and mustering a paltry $8 million. The film ranks as one of the biggest comicbook movie flops in history, having earned a meagre $42 million Stateside.
STX Entertainment’s “The Gift” rounded out the top five, earning $6.5 million this weekend and pushing its domestic total to $23.6 million.
Final numbers are still being tallied, but it looks as though “Straight Outta Compton” will bolster ticket sales over the year-ago period when “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were drawing the biggest crowds.
article by Brett Lang via Variety.com