'Magnificent Seven' wins box office shoot-out over 'Storks'

Shooting past all competition, MGM and Sony’s “The Magnificent Seven” took over the weekend box office, surpassing fellow new release “Storks,” from Warner Bros.

“Magnificent Seven” pulled in an estimated $35 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, meeting analyst expectations of $30 million to $45 million.

“It is ‘magnificent.’ It’s excellent, a film, from its inception, that we all felt very strongly had all the goods to succeed,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribution chief. “And it delivered.”

The Antoine Fuqua-directed remake of John Sturges’ classic 1960 Hollywood western centers on a disparate squad of seven gunslingers — including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio — who are hired by a woman to defend her town from bandits led by a robber baron. The film comes nearly six decades after the Sturges movie, which was itself a redo of Akira Kurosawa's classic “The Seven Samurai.” 

Though remakes and sequels seem to be this year’s box office’s kryptonite, with many high profile pictures missing major box office success, including “Zoolander 2” and “Ghostbusters,” “Magnificent Seven” stands apart. This, Bruer said, is because of Fuqua’s understanding of today’s audience.

“I think Antoine knows how to speak to the moviegoing audience and went into this knowing that it needed to relevant to make it succeed,” he said. “And he was absolutely committed and dedicated to making a film that could stand on its own and be respectful of the other films.”

Undoubtedly, the film’s diverse cast — in a post-#OscarsSoWhite world — helped with that relevance.

Costing nearly $90 million, “Magnificent Seven” benefited from a draw of young audiences, thanks to Pratt and Washington, as well as fans of the older flick. Collectively, they gave the film an A-minus CinemaScore. Critics also favored the film, for the most part, with 63% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes rating it positively.

The PG-13 picture was co-financed with partners LStar Capital and Village Roadshow Pictures.

Flying into second place was “Storks” with an estimated $21.8 million. It came in well below analyst projections of $30 million to $37 million in ticket sales, but opened in 33 international markets this weekend, generating an estimated $18.3 million.

“We’re extremely proud of how the movie turned out,” said Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s distribution chief. Having plenty of “running room” ahead with no direct competition, he said the “story [of the film] is going to be written in six weeks.”

The animated film about a gaggle of storks who want to deliver babies again features the voices of Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammer. Written by Nicholas Stoller (“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”), “Storks” is the second film to come of out Warner Bros. since the studio revved up its animation business three years ago. The first, 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” became a box-office smash. The third, Goldstein said, will be 2017’s “The Lego Batman Movie.”

“Storks” was a hit with the under-25 crowd, which gave the picture an A-plus CinemaScore. Overall, the picture was given an A-minus. Response from critics was slightly less enthusiastic, with 63% of Rotten Tomatoes critics favoring the film.

The film cost an estimated $70 million to make, which is relatively modest for a major animated effort.

Warner Bros.’ “Sully” landed in third place this weekend, after holding the top spot since its debut two weeks ago. Adding another $13.8 million, the film has grossed $92.4 million domestically to date. The film, starring Tom Hanks, is about the 2009 real-life emergency landing of a U.S. Airways passenger jet on the Hudson River.

“Bridget Jones’s Baby,” from Universal Pictures,” took fourth in its second week — perhaps because many in its target audiences took their kids to see “Storks.” The third film in the “Bridget Jones” series added just $4.52 million for a domestic gross to date of $16.5 million. It’s worldwide take, however, sits at $83.6 million.

Pulling up the rear of the top five is “Snowden,” adding another $4.1 million for a domestic gross of $15.1 million in its second week. The Oliver Stone-directed picture, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, cost $50 million to produce and is being distributed by Open Road Films.

On the limited release front, Disney’s feel-good live action film “Queen of Katwe” pulled in $305,000 from 52 locations. It will expand domestically next weekend. The film is a biopic of a Ugandan chess prodigy directed by Mira Nair and starring Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o and “Selma” lead David Oyelowo.

With an A-plus CinemaScore, a formidable 90% of Rotten Tomatoes critics rated the film positively.

Additionally, the 1950s-set melodrama “The Dressmaker,” which stars Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, also opened, pulling in $180,522 from 36 screens. The Broad Green Pictures’ flick received a 54% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Next weekend, look for Fox’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” Lionsgate’s “Deepwater Horizon” and Relativity’s “Masterminds.”

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