Fall is a somewhat unpredictable season. It’s never quite clear exactly what’s going to hit with audiences, and as a result we regularly see studios throwing anything they can at the wall and hoping something sticks. It’s why this past weekend saw a mix of comedy, animation, and horror, and while nothing hit super big, it was ultimately Ken Hughes’ Night School that took the top spot away from Eli Roth’s The House With A Clock In Its Walls. Check out the Top 10 below and join me after for analysis!
Kevin Hart has proven to be an authentic box office commodity, and while Night School is technically his weakest live-action opening since 2015’s The Wedding Ringer, it is also his first live-action title to take the number one spot since Ride Along 2 in January 2016. It’s also a moderately nice win for Tiffany Haddish, as this score is about the same as what Girls Trip – her breakout feature – made in its first three days last summer.
But will it be able to hold on? October has some interesting options for audiences, and unlike some other recent Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish titles the buzz Night School is carrying isn’t great. Opening weekend crowds have been receptive, leading to an “A-” CinemaScore, but critics have not been friendly. It should at the very least still be able to make eight figures next week, but there are a lot of big titles arriving next month,
As for Smallfoot, Warner Animation Group was surely hoping that the feature would be more successful. The studio has had some major openings in recent years, but this weekend’s release was much closer to The LEGO Ninjago Movie than The LEGO Movie. it is definitely a step up from this summer’s Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, which opened with only $10.4 million, but at the very least things are looking up thanks to the forthcoming release of The LEGO Movie 2. As for why the film didn’t put up bigger numbers, it’s worth noting that the equally-family-friendly The House With A Clock In Its Walls didn’t dip that much from its debut, and possibly stole some of the audience.
This weekend’s other new release was Gregory Plotkin’s Hell Fest, and it can be definitively said that this is not a title elevated by the on-going horror renaissance. Critics didn’t respond to it (it has a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes); it got a “C” from CinemaScore; and couldn’t even beat out Corin Hardy’s The Nun, which is now in its fourth week of release. The film was probably trying to avoid the horror-filled month of October, which includes Halloween, Suspiria, Goosebumps 2 and more, but it still couldn’t really find much of an audience.