Box Office: Summer finishes its walk of shame with “Hitman’s Bodyguard” and “Logan Lucky”

logan1The box office has fallen, and it won’t be getting up before the holidays. Yes, last year was a stellar one in terms of ticket sales. But this year, driven by a summer where the rich got “Wonder Woman” fat, “Spider-Man” stuffed — and a whole lot of movies underperformed — is down — 2% for the summer, 10% or more overall.

So down that a cheesy horror sequel is set to own another weekend because Hollywood doesn’t have much to get people out of the house.

How bad is it? Well, Hollywood is hanging its hopes on a Stephen King remake, “IT,” pulling in $60 million on Sept. 8-10 to right the listing ship.

If swooning reviews were driving this train, another weekend of at least one or two grossly over-rated “instant classics” would be filling theaters. But audiences have shrugged their shoulders at another digital “Apes” epic, and won’t be lining up for “Logan Lucky” either. Reviews for Steven Soderbergh’s “comeback” picture were laughably out-of-proportion — a clumsily plotted caper comedy in the “Ocean’s Eleven” vein with a lot of AWFUL Southern accents and assorted Southern stereotypes. The “new” generation of critics swamping Rotten Tomatoes laughed their hipster heads off. Just as they took the vapors over “Alien” and “Spider-Man” and “War for the Digital Apes” and so on.

But everybody involved in making “Logan” knew this wasn’t much. Daniel Craig signing on to do another Bond picture just before it comes out? That’s a touch of career panic. It didn’t do much Thursday night in paid “previews” — “Hitman” tripled its business. The Samuel L. effect.

Sneaking the director-produced and financed cur into the dog days of summer gives it a chance to make coin. They’d only need $15-20 to have a shot at breaking even. Box Office Mojo says no way.

Box Office Guru raises an eyebrow at Mojo’s $10 million prediction and laughs, “Yeah, right.” $8 million says he. 

The other wide release is also flawed, and offensive in a totally different way. The comic body count for “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” the groan-worthy inclusion of romantic banter into the faux “Pulp Fiction” pairing of Samuel L. and Ryan R., left me a little cool.

But hell, the action beats are epic, the chases right up there with mid-level Bond stunts. And Reynolds and Jackson do make a decent pair of “buddies.” Got to hope Ryan R. ad-libbed that “ruined Mother-f—er for EVERYbody” line about Jackson — er, Jackson’s character. Weak reviews for this one, but it could earn between $11 and $15. Deadline.com projects closer to $20, based on what “Atomic Blonde” and its ilk–guy-oriented action pics.

That latter wide release is the only film with a prayer of unseating “Annabelle: Creation.”

A direct-to-video prison picture starring a “Game of Thrones” hunk — “Shot Caller” — opens in a few cinemas. I got some of the most shocking hate comments I’ve gotten in years over this not-even-good-enough-to-warrant-a-real-release dog.

The summer’s biggest hit was “Wonder Woman,” finally fading and losing most of its theaters as fall creeps up on us. “Girls Trip” (which just cleared $100 million yesterday) was the sleeper hit, “Dunkirk” the lone Oscar contender (and I’m including animation, because every cartoon of the season sucked). “Dunkirk” is still sitting at #2 during the week, with only each weekend’s new releases pushing it down — temporarily — before it pops back up weekdays.

“Apes” loses most of its screens this weekend, “Valerian” stands tall at the biggest bomb of summer, though “Mummy” and “Alien: Covenant” didn’t come out smelling like roses, either.

There’s at least one more iffy animated picture due out next weekend, and assorted limited-release or un-previewed major studio pictures figure into the last two weekends of August.

 

But basically, that’s all she wrote for Summer Cinema 2017. Let’s hope fall has more going for it.

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