MGM/Paramount’s pricey Ben-Hur update failed to gain any traction at the box office this weekend, taking in $4.1 million Friday on its way to an estimated $11 million three-day total from 3,084 locations while Warners’ Suicide Squad and Sony/Annapurna’s Sausage Party looked to retain the top two spots for the second straight weekend.
Ben-Hur — an updated take on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, not a remake of the 1959 Charlton Heston-starrer — was reportedly budgeted at around $100 million, making its opening weekend numbers particularly disappointing for MGM and Paramount, who co-financed the picture.
The silver lining for the film is that it still has yet to open in such Christian-friendly international territories as Latin America, according to Deadline.
Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi and Morgan Freeman star. (Read Breitbart’s interview with Ben-Hur producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey here.)
Meanwhile, Suicide Squad eased 54% in its third weekend with an estimated $20.2 million three-day. The David Ayer-directed DC super-villain flick will cross the $500 million mark at the global box office this weekend, or else shortly thereafter. Despite an all-star cast (Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto) and rich source material, the film was brutally panned by critics and plummeted a severe 67 percent in its second frame last weekend, only slightly better than Batman vs. Superman‘s horrific 69 percent second-week drop. The film could have done a lot worse; the big question now will be whether it can cross the $1 billion mark worldwide.
Sony/Annapurna Pictures’ raunchy animated Sausage Party also fell 54% for an estimated $15.7 million second-weekend haul. The Seth Rogen-starrer will finish the weekend with around a $64 million total take, an impressive result for a film that cost just $19 million to produce (though at least two dozen of the film’s animators have publicly complained that production company Nitrogen Studios pressured them into doing free overtime work).
In third is new release action-comedy War Dogs, starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. The Paramount film pulled in $5.5 million on Thursday and Friday for an estimated $14.8 million three-day opening. Hill and Teller play young gun-runners who land a massive contract with the U.S. government during the Iraq War. Critics and audiences were split on the movie; it sits at 59% on ratings aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and earned a lukewarm B CinemaScore.
The weekend’s final new release, the animated Kubo and the Two Strings, should land in fourth place with an estimated $12.1 million. The Laika/Focus Features film boasts an impressive 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore. Matthew McConaughey, George Takei, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes and Charlize Theron head up the voice cast.
Pete’s Dragon, Bad Moms, Jason Bourne, The Secret Life of Pets and Florence Foster Jenkins should round out the Top 10, in that order.
At the specialty box office, the Jeff Bridges-Chris Pine Western Hell or High Water expanded into 472 theaters over the weekend and took in an estimated $2.4 million in its second frame. World War II thriller Anthropoid fell more than 50% in its second weekend with an estimated $507,000 and $2.4 million in receipts to date.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum