Sony's horror-thriller Don't Breathe continued to suffocate the end-of-summer competition for the second weekend in a row, easily winning the slow Labor Day holiday box office with an estimated $19.6 million over four days (for a total of $55 million), according to studio estimates.
With its tiny budget of $9.9 million, Don't Breathe easily outpaced an underperforming pack with its tale of three friends who try to rob a blind man full of unexpected vengeance.
"Don't Breathe is a cost-conscious horror movie that checked all the boxes for late-summer audiences looking for good scare in air-conditioned multiplexes and was perfectly timed to take advantage of the typically slow Labor Day weekend," says Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for comScore. "That was a genius strategy."
Lost in the slow-moving weekend traffic were disappointing openers including Disney/DreamWorks' The Light Between Oceans, starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. The story of a couple who find a child who had been lost at sea also drifted aimlessly to the No. 7 spot with $5.9 million. The disappointing opening came despite the highly respected and perfect-cheekboned actors in the leading roles.
Light earned a tepid 60% critical rating on RottenTomatoes.com and a B+ audience grade on CinemaScore.
The Fox sci-fi thriller Morgan starring Kate Mara fared even worse, tanking in its opening weekend with a paltry $2.43 million in 2,020 theaters.
"Morgan is one of the worst opening for a film in over 2,000 theaters ever," says Jeff Bock, box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "Almost no one heard about this film. Labor Day weekend is a dumping ground for studios, and that's what happened to this film."
Morgan earned a 43% critical rating on RottenTomatoes.com and a C+ audience grade on Cinemascore.
A major bright spot for the weekend box office centered on STX Entertainment's R-rated Bad Moms starring Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell as overworked mother's letting loose. The comedy with a $20 million production budget passed the $100 million mark over the weekend with an estimated $6 million on its sixth weekend of release for a total of $103.8 million
The rest of the slow weekend competition consisted of holdovers, including Warner Bros' Suicide Squad, which worked its way through the weak openings to take second place with $12.8 million (for a total $300.2 million in its fifth weekend). Disney's Pete's Dragon landed in the third spot with $8.6 million in its fourth weekend (for $66.3 million total)
Focus Features' animated Kubo and the Two Strings took the fourth spot with $8.5 million for a $36.4 million total over its third weekend.
"Families and kids always need entertainment in the summer," Dergarabedian says. "As long as people keep making kids, they'll keep making these PG-rated movies to entertain them."
The R-rated Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg animated creation Sausage Party rounded out the top five, ironically in a weekend known for its hot-dog cookouts, with $6.5 million and a total of $89.6 over four weeks.
Final numbers are out Tuesday.