August is notoriously not a great movie month. With expectations for ticket sales already low in general, studios typically use the four weeks to release features not worthy of release in any other point on the calendar. This past weekend was definitely worthy of that reputation, as a $19 million score managed to win the number one spot at the box office.
Oof. There is definitely not a lot to celebrate here. Stephen King fans have been waiting patiently for years to finally see the heroic Roland Deschain up on the big screen, but it's been nothing but bad news for The Dark Tower in the last week. The reviews were not kind at all, with the movie's Rotten Tomatoes score currently standing at a terrible 18%, and the would-be blockbuster only learned a little more than a million dollars per percentage point during its first three days in wide release.
The Dark Tower is a film that notoriously went through ridiculous ups and downs as it was trying to make its way to the big screen, and that has never done anything positive for box office numbers (see: John Carter). If the project's reported budget is accurate - $60 million - it won't be a devastating loss to the folks at Sony (and it's clear that they didn't exactly dump a whole lot of money into marketing), but this is the kind of result that can kill a would-be franchise. Foreign numbers could end up helping it, but this certainly isn't the outcome that the studio was looking for.
In what's arguably more disappointing news, even critical-smashes couldn't get a win this weekend. Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit expanded into wide release this weekend after starting off in only a handful of theaters, and it didn't exactly rake in the dough. The socially-relevant period piece only pulled in less than half of the business that The Dark Tower did - making only $7.2 million, which was good enough only for eighth place. Of course, the big advantage that Detroit has is that people will be talking about it for months as we get into awards season. It just may have been a mistake to have it out during the summer.
Frankly, the only "win" among new releases this weekend may be Kidnap, starring Halle Berry. The thriller has no reported budget, but it's impossible to believe that it cost a great deal - which means that it could be on its way to making its money back/turning a profit. It's carrying a "B+" CinemaScore rating, so it could wind up having some legs as we move through the doldrums of August releases.
As for the rest of the Top 10, things pretty much moved as expected. Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk continues to hold strong and only dropped about 34 percent; The Emoji Movie fell the average 50 percent in its second week; and Spider-Man: Homecoming has gotten closer to $300 million domestically with an $8.8 million take. And we would be remiss if we didn't point out that this weekend was the first since early June where Wonder Woman didn't place on the chart.