By Emanuel Ortiz
“Sully” beats out newcomer “Blair Witch” at the weekend box office as films start to transition into the fall season. Both films are grossing significantly lower than summer 2016 releases.
As September comes around, the weekend gross at the box office dwindles. According to boxofficemojo.com, “Sully” made $21.6 million in its second week. They also report that this time last September, the “Maze Runner” sequel captured first place at the box office, coming in at $30 million. Compared to many blockbusters that come out during the summer, these box office earnings seem relatively low. It is, however, a great number when considering the budget as well as the time of release being September.
So why is it that as fall comes around, less blockbusters become hits? Professor Joseph Moser at Fitchburg State University had an idea. Marginally surprised by the weekend box office, he said, “We’re getting into the fall season so we’re getting away from the summer blockbusters. You’re going to be seeing safe genre movies like horror, romantic comedies, and the big-name stars and a combination of good reviews to keep these movies at the top.”
Besides colder weather and leaves changing color, fall also marks the start of school. There will be less time for students to go out and watch movies; box-office results exemplify this. Just over a month ago, during the Aug. 5 weekend, “Suicide Squad” garnered $133 million in its opening week. This is a massive contrast to the Sept. 23 weekend as well as what is expected from movies in the following month.
Movie studios are aware that summer is the time to release higher-budget films, which could be an explanation as to why these “safe” movies, as Moser had previously mentioned, are released in the fall. These movies are lower budget, meaning they are more easily able to break even.
“Blair Witch” also opened mid-September, coming in at $9.6 million on the weekend of the 16th. It’s not a fantastic number seeing as it is part of a franchise wherein the first “Blair Witch” projects made $140.5 million domestic in its theatrical run.
Besides obtaining poor reviews and lacking a younger audience, “Blair Witch” had another horror film, “Don’t Breathe,” to compete against. When “Blair Witch” was released, “Don’t Breathe” had already been in in theaters for a month, and held its place in the top five, drawing in $5.6 million during its fourth week.
When asked if “Don’t Breathe” could have damaged the “Blair Witch” box office, Moser replied, “Maybe. It could also be helping. The people who have seen ‘Don’t Breathe’ and enjoyed it now have another horror to go and see. It could have encouraged them to go and see ‘Blair Witch.’”
Although the two horrors could have a shared audience, high reviews for “Don’t Breathe” may have encouraged non horror fans to see the movie, whereas “Blair Witch” failed to entice those extra viewers.
With a tough autumn season for blockbusters, “Sully” managed to beat out “Blair Witch” and “Don’t Breathe” in the box office. “Sully” had positive word of mouth, and as Moser put it, had the “combination of an well-known actor like Tom Hanks, good reviews, and the real life Sully story that is still in people’s mind.”