War Room wins Labor Day box office; Disney and Universal earn biggest summer market share; Triggerfish accepts 1,378 submissions from animators worldwide


Welcome to the Labor Day results edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Here’s what’s topping today!



Sony’s prayers were answered last weekend at the box office as the faith flick War Room beat out the Compton boys after 3 straight weeks at the top spot which explains that yesterday’s numbers were in sync with box office estimates. Now that we’ve covered our summer box office coverage, time for our Labor Day recap. They were 3 themes that occurred this past summer that made it the strongest box office on record, superheroes, rappers, and dinosaurs. Did War Room managed to stay alive last night and what sparked the strongest summer Johnny?








Johnny Trout (via The Hollywood Reporter)- Superheroes — a la Avengers: Age of Ultron — rang in summer 2015 with one of the biggest openings in history, but the season ended on a decidedly quiet note as EuropaCorp’s The Transporter Refueled failed to ignite audiences.

Instead, the race for No. 1 was between holdovers War Room, a Christian drama from Sony’s TriStar/Affirm label, and Straight Outta Compton. In a needed win for Sony, War Room prevailed, topping the long holiday weekend with $12.6 million for a domestic total of $27.9 million.



Summer 2015 was a volatile ride at the box office overall, despite being the second-best ever in terms of North American revenue, with an estimated $4.48 billion, according to Rentrak predictions. Universal soared, enjoying a record run capped by Compton. Disney was the other big winner, and between them, the two studios accounted for 60 percent of all revenue. Other studios suffered big misses, however. Another low point was Labor Day weekend, one of the worst in recent memory in terms of revenue.

Straight Outta Compton, which had ruled the box office for three consecutive weekends, grossed $8.6 million from 3,097 theaters for the three days and $11.1 million for the four, putting it squarely at No. 2. Through Monday, the N.W.A biopic has earned a massive $150 million domestically. Overseas, the film grossed another $7.9 million from 13 markets this weekend, for an early foreign total of $18.1 million and global cume of $168.1 million. It debuted No. 1 in Australia ($3.3 million), as well staying No. 1 for the second consecutive weekend in the U.K. and Germany.


In a surprise upset, the weekend’s other new nationwide offering in North America, A Walk in the Woods, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, is beating Transporter Refueled. The film, one of the first releases from Broad Green Pictures, took in $8.2 million from 1,960 locations for the three days and $10.3 million for the four. Launching on Wednesday, the film’s six-day debut is $12.2 million.

Walk in the Woods, placing No. 3, overperformed thanks to keen interest from older adults.

Directed by Ken Kwapis, Walk in the Woods is based on travel writer Bill Bryson’s book about hiking the Appalachian Trail with a friend. Broad Green acquired the film out of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and later pacted with AARP for a screening program, in addition to partnering with outdoor retailer REI. Emma Thompson also stars.

Transporter Refueled  — hoping to reboot the franchise sans Jason Statham — opened to a disappointing $7.2 million for the three days and $9 million for the four, despite getting the second-widest release ever for a Labor Day title. It is playing in 3,434 locations, including Imax and premium large format theaters.



Refueled, placing No. 5 for the long holiday weekend, hopes to be a sizable player overseas, where it launched in 27 foreign markets this weekend. Rentrak is reporting that it only took in $4 million, a poor showing, but EuropaCorp has yet to release official figures. Insiders put the number at $10 million or more.

Ed Skrein replaces Statham as the lead character Frank Martin in the fourth installment. In North America, the actioner is going out through RED, the joint distribution venture between EuropaCorp and Relativity Media (RED is not part of the Relativity bankruptcy proceedings). Camille Delamarre directed the film based on a script by Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and EuropaCorp’s Luc Besson.

The last film in the Transporter franchise opened to $12.1 million in November 2008, while the second installment took in $20.1 million over Labor Day weekend in 2005. Transporter Refueled, targeting younger males, is getting a wide berth in Imax theaters and premium format locations.

Refueled was edged out by Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, which remains a vibrant player in its sixth weekend, earning $9.3 million for the four days domestically and crossing $500 million globally for Paramount and Skydance.



While a success, Rogue Nation will have a hard time matching the last installment, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol ($694.7 million). It has yet to open in China, where fellow Paramount and Skydance release Terminator: Genisys has made big gains, grossing $108.8 at the Chinese box office and lifting its worldwide cume to $435.9 million.

As with the domestic box office, the international marketplace was likewise quiet. Terminator topped the foreign chart again with $11.5 million, edging out Hitman: Agent 47 ($11.4 million), pending numbers for Transporter Refueled.

Among films making a more limited play in North America, versus a nationwide rollout, Mexican animated film Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos (A Rooster with Many Eggs) all but tied with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for No. 8 with $4.42 million from 395 locations.

The movie, earning a rare A+ CinemaScore, is being handled in the U.S. by Lionsgate and Televisa’s Pantelion label. In Mexico, it grossed $6 million in its first two weeks of play and is expected to pass up A la Mala to become the year’s top-grossing Mexican release to date.



Sundance hit Dope tried to use the weekend to up its gross, expanding from 11 theaters into more than 1,023 locations (AMC theaters offered a two-for-one ticket deal), but the move didn’t seem to pay off for Open Road Films. The film is projected to gross $464,000-$500,000 for the long holiday weekend, putting its domestic total north of $17.2 million.

New titles at the specialty box office include Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which Magnolia debuted day and date in 68 theaters and on VOD. The Magnolia release, earning an estimated $181,000 for the four days, opened just as Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs feature biopic Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, makes its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.

Chris Evans’ directorial debut, Before We Go, opened in 21 theaters after launching on VOD last month, where it has been a solid earner. Starring Evans opposite Alice Eve, the film took in an estimated $23,000 theatrical, pushing its total cume to $1.6 million for Radius-TWC.



Indeed, Universal topped Warner Bros. for the best record-breaking summer. On top of that, Disney’s box office numbers came out strong too. So strong, that both the globe and the mouse overcame their mistakes and corrected them. But how’s that possible Jim?



Jim Fish (via The Hollywood Reporter)- Universal Pictures and Disney Studios fueled the second-biggest summer ever at the domestic box office, where revenue is expected to hit $4.48 billion through Labor Day — an increase of 10 percent over last year’s dismal showing, according to Rentrak.

In terms of attendance, the season saw an uptick of 5 percent or more (since one advantage that summer 2015 had over last year was an extra week). Many, however, had predicted greater gains. A number of box-office pundits had boldly pronounced that revenue would overtake the record $4.75 billion earned in summer 2013 and set a new benchmark for summer’s potential.

Those hopes were dashed when poor reviews and bad word of mouth capsized a number of high-profile titles, including Disney’s Tomorrowland, Sony’s Pixels, Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot and Warner Bros.’ The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Male-fueled, R-rated comedies also suffered, including Entourage and Magic Mike XXL, both from Warners, and Universal’s Ted 2.


Outside of Ted 2, Universal could do no wrong. Thanks to a diverse slate of titles, including late-summer hit Straight Outta Compton, the studio’s domestic take was a monstrous $1.5 billion-plus, representing 35 percent of all domestic revenue generated between May 1 and Aug. 31. And year-to-date, Universal boasts north of $6 billion in global box-office revenue, a first for any studio.

Domestically, Universal boasts three of the five top-grossing summer films: Jurassic World ($646.6 million, No. 1), Illumination Entertainment’s Minions ($328.6 million, No. 4) and Pitch Perfect 2 ($183.8 million, No. 5).

Worldwide, Jurassic World is the No. 1 title of 2015 so far with $1.65 billion. Minions and Universal’s Furious 7, released in early April, have likewise jumped the $1 billion mark globally. No Hollywood studio has ever delivered three billion-dollar babies in a given year.

Disney’s summer offerings generated an estimated $1.09 billion in domestic revenue to command 25 of market share (put another way, Universal and Disney movies accounted for 60 percent of revenue). Disney and Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron is the No. 2 title of the season with $457.6 million domestically and $1.51 billion globally, followed by Pixar’s Inside Out, which is No. 3 domestically with $348.2 million. Marvel’s Ant-Man is No. 7 with $174 million.



“The summer of 2015 has to go down as one of the more interesting on record, with an incredible mix of films from virtually every genre,” says Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian. “Notable records were broken, and a couple of studios truly dominated the landscape by offering the perfect slate of films that had audiences literally coming back for more — and happy to get the word out, good and bad, through social media like never before in the history of the industry.”

Disney and Universal were up sharply over last summer, while Fox, Paramount and Sony saw steep declines.

With roughly $615 million in domestic revenue, Warner Bros. may have improved its standing over a brutal summer 2014, but the studio failed to return to its prior glory days as summer champ. Sans a mega-tentpole, Warners employed a divide-and-conquer strategy by releasing 10 titles, an unprecedented number. By way of comparison, Universal released six, followed by Fox with five, Disney and Sony with four and Paramount with two.

San Andreas and Max Mad: Fury Road were Warner’s two top-grossing summer titles, placing No. 8 and No. 9 domestically with $154.3 million and $153 million, respectively. Otherwise, the studio suffered a string of misses.


Fox was last summer’s winner with north of $790 million in domestic revenue, but this time out cleared only $320 million after both Fantastic Four and John Green YA adaptation Paper Towns failed to wow audiences.

Fox’s biggest summer title was Paul Feig’s action-comedy Spy, the filmmaker’s latest outing with Melissa McCarthy. The movie has grossed $110.4 million domestically and $235.9 million worldwide and is among a trio of female-driven comedies that prospered this summer. The others are Pitch Perfect 2 and Universal’s Trainwreck, which has taken in $107.1 million in North America (Ted 2 grossed $81.3 million domestically and Magic Mike XXL, $65.9 million).

Fox placed No. 4 in domestic market share, followed by Paramount with an estimated $273 million. Paramount and Skydance Entertainment’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation currently ranks a solid No. 6 on the summer chart with more than $180 million.

Paramount and Skydance’s Terminator: Genisys was a major disappointment in North America, where it has earned $89.6 million, but has made up ground overseas (thank China) for a worldwide total of nearly $440 million through Labor Day.



Finally, Sony, in last place among the Big Six, earned a mere $172 million. The studio was responsible for summer duds Pixels and Aloha, though it did end summer on a brighter note thanks to Christian drama War Room.

Market share figures for the six majors could be revised slightly upward once final Labor Day weekend numbers are calculated.

Year to date, domestic box office revenue is up 5.6 percent, while attendance is up roughly 3 percent.

Overseas, Universal’s summer titles amassed $2.09 billion from May 1 to Aug. 31 — summer is calculated differently overseas — followed by Disney with an estimated $1.27 billion, Warner’s with $746 million, Paramount with $629 million, Fox with $595 million and Sony with $233 million.



Triggerfish studios is trigger happy after 2 successful flicks so far in its history that made the most impact worldwide. Now the studio is poised to create more animated prowess to add more of them to their collection. Just how many animators will participate until Triggerfish makes the next batch of animated films Danny?




Danny Angelfish (via The Hollywood Reporter)- Triggerfish Animation Studios, which has been called the Pixar of South Africa, received nearly 1,400 entries from storytellers and filmmakers in 30 countries for its Triggerfish Story Lab, which it launched with the support of the Walt Disney Co. and the country’s Department of Trade and Industry earlier this year.

Triggerfish previously said that it would be investing up to $3.5 million over the next three years in the Story Lab, designed to give African storytellers and filmmakers the opportunity to develop their ideas alongside the studio’s international network of mentors.

The animation studio has had international success with its first two feature films, Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba. They were distributed in more than 150 countries and dubbed into over 27 languages.

The Cape Town-based studio said the Story Lab received 1,378 submissions, with 1,174 for feature films and 204 for TV series. “When I told people I expected over 1,000 submissions from across Africa, everyone laughed at me. Ha! Now who’s laughing? Oh wait, I have to read all of these…,” quipped Anthony Silverston, head of development at Triggerfish.



Industry experts who will now evaluate the entries include Peter Lord, the Aardman Animations co-founder and creative director and British director of Chicken Run and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, Hollywood writer Jonathan Roberts (The Lion King), script consultant Karl Iglesias, a panel of development executives from Disney, South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope, comedian David Kau and Triggerfish’s development team of Silverston, Wayne Thornley and Raffaella Delle Donne.

A group of 20 shortlisted storytellers will be announced in October and take part in workshops in November before making their final pitches, after which Triggerfish will announce the final Story Lab participants in December 2015.The selected Story Lab participants will receive two weeks of mentorship immersion with studio and TV executives at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank.

The Story Lab specifically called for uplifting, family-friendly stories.

“I believe that it’s vitally important for every country and culture to tell its own stories,” said Lord. “Much as we may enjoy Hollywood storytelling, it is not the only way; there are so many different stories to be told, and so many voices demanding to be heard. I look forward very much to immersing myself in authentic African storytelling.”



Added Kau: “I’m looking forward to helping unearth new African talent in animation and telling stories from Africa that will show the world that there’s an Africa beyond the genocide, Aids, corruption and dictatorship that’s the daily gospel of most news outlets about Africa.”

Said Silverston: “The overwhelming response we’ve received shows the depth of storytelling talent in Africa.”



1,540 fans are still on the board at the Penguins tally as Fall TV season begins next week.



Don’t forget our returning Labor Day surprises this week as Sanjay and Craig, TMNT, SpongeBob, and Pig Goat Banana Cricket officially start off Fall TV season next weekend. But first, Gumball, Teen Titans Go!, Steven Universe, We Bare Bears, and Regular Show start us off tonight. So we’ll see you in our Fall TV season edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report.

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