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[N.American Box Office] Hollywood has worst weekend in almost 16 years

Aug 29,2017
NEW YORK - Hollywood effectively took the weekend off, resulting in one of the most dismal box-office results in 16 years.

An already slow August came to a screeching halt at the multiplex, where no major new releases were unveiled. That left the Samuel Jackson-Ryan Reynolds action-comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” to top all films for the second week with an estimated $10.1 million in ticket sales.

But the entire slate of films grossed only about $65 million in North America and the top 12 films generated just $49.6 million. There have been similarly slow weekends in recent years, including early September in 2014 and in 2016. But not since September 2001 have the numbers been quite so dreadful.

Mid-August through early September is historically the sleepiest time of the year for the movie business, but it’s been especially so this year. This August is down a whopping 35 percent from last year, according to comScore. Next week is expected to be just as bad: No new wide releases are scheduled for Labor Day weekend.

For many, the weekend’s top entertainment option was Saturday night’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor match. The Fathom Events simulcast of the fight was one of the more popular offerings in theaters, taking in $2.4 million from 481 screens.

But the bigger problem was the death of significant releases. The six major studios have released only two new wide-release films this August: Sony’s poorly received Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Tower” and Warner Bros.’s successful horror spinoff sequel “Annabelle: Creation.” The latter came in second this weekend with $7.4 million, bringing its three-week total to $77.9 million.

The Weinstein Co. animated release “Leap!” was one of the few new films to hit theaters. It earned a scant $5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

“It’s a black eye for Hollywood but not a knock-out punch,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “Make no mistake about it, there was little foot traffic in theaters this weekend. But the story line will change in two weeks when ‘It’ opens.”

That second recent King adaptation is the only near light on the horizon for theaters, which are struggling through the lowest-grossing summers in years. ComScore estimates that this will be the first summer in a decade not to cross $4 billion in domestic ticket sales. The summer as a whole is running 14 percent behind last year - and the deadly quiet August is a big reason. AP