On its debut weekend, horror film Don’t Breathe was placed No. 1 at the box office in North America. In the process, it dethroned Suicide Squad from its first place position. Don’t Breathe, produced by Sony’s Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films, made $26.1 million in ticket sales from 3,501 theaters, well surpassing its meager production budget of $10 million. In comparison, after ruling the box office for three consecutive weeks, Suicide Squad fell to No. 2 by raking in $12.1 million from 3,582 theaters. This takes the movie’s total earnings up to a domestic total of $282.9 million.
Don’t Breathe is the third horror movie to do well this summer, after The Conjuring 2, The Purge: Election Year, and Lights Out also found success with the audience. The Conjuring 2 and Lights Out were produced by New Line/Warner Bros., and The Purge: Election Year was from Universal and Blumhouse’s stables.
The scary movie, directed by Fede Alvarez, is the story of three friends — a delinquent girl, her boyfriend, and another friend — who try to steal from a blind man’s house. However, their robbery idea takes a horrible turn after that, which adds to the tension and a riveting climax. Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang star in Don’t Breathe, which was also well-reviewed by the critics; it earned a B+ CinemaScore, which is unusual for a horror title.
For the promotions of Don’t Breathe, Sony used an interesting approach instead of spending big on the marketing. It screened the film at SXSW and Comic-Con to build the buzz, and then It also went entirely digital for advertising of Don’t Breathe, by debuting spots on Snapchat, crafting animated GIFs for Twitter and Facebook, and launching interactive mobile apps.
Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribution chief, said, “This film is going to be a big money maker for us. We knew we had something special here. This is a film that’s all about keeping people jumping out of their seats and holding onto the person next to them.” Josh Greenstein, Sony worldwide president of marketing and distribution, added, “To more than double your production budget on opening weekend is a fantastic result. It’s the latest in a string of low-budget movies that have been very profitable movies for Sony, including The Shallows and Sausage Party. And Fede is a master storyteller.”
The other movies to release with Don’t Breathe in the last weekend of August included Obama biographical romance Southside With You, action film Mechanic: Resurrection, and the Roberto Duran boxing biopic Hands of Stone. The Jason Statham-starrer Mechanic: Resurrection managed to bring in $7.5 million from 3,246 theaters, much below the $11.4 million opening of the original The Mechanic in 2011, and placed only seventh. The movie also includes Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, and Michelle Yeoh.
Southside With You — a movie about the first date of a young President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in 1989, when they were both lawyers at the same Chicago firm — managed to amass only $3 million from 813 theaters putting it in the No. 14th spot in the box office. The movie stars Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter, and was fully financed by IM Global. Southside With You had met with critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival. Miramax and Roadside Attractions picked up the U.S. rights for the film.
“A hit at Sundance, Southside With You sports a superlative 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and will expand slightly for Labor Day Weekend and play through the early fall as the country prepares to say goodbye to the Obamas at the end of their two terms in the White House,” said Howard Cohen, co-president, Roadside.
However, Southside With You managed to top Hands of Stone, starring Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez, which opened to $1.7 million from 810 locations, at the box office.
[Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Allied]