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Weekend Box Office: Night School Makes the Grade, Smallfoot Just a Step Behind

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By Chris Kavan - 09/30/18 at 11:44 PM CT

While September might not have been the most exciting of months, there was enough excitement to make it the second-largest on record (behind just last year's record run). There was plenty of good news at the box office this weekend as both Night School and Smallfoot debuted to good numbers and Hell Fest, while not as huge, still looks to turn a tidy profit. There was also a record set in limited release, as extreme rock climbing documentary Free Solo had a monster opening in a handful of theaters. All told, with these kind of numbers 2018 looks to go out as strongly as it came in.

1) NIGHT SCHOOL

No surprise it turns out that teaming up Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish was a great idea. Night School opened to $28 million, nearly matching its $29 million budget on its opening weekend. That is a solid start for the film, coming in just behind Think Like a Man Too ($29.2 million) and also represents the second-best opening for a September comedy behind 2002 hit Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million). While the film earned mixed reviews from critics, it earned a much better "A-" Cinemascore from audiences. That audience came in split between male and female, with 59% coming in 25 or older and 30% African American. Hart's previous track record isn't great when it comes to sustaining week-to-week audiences, but it is looking at about $55 million on the low end around $62 million on the high end (for Hart) but could reach $75 million if it can hold up a bit better. In any case, the $29 million film isn't in any danger of losing out in the long run and should find no issue turning a profit.

2) SMALLFOOT

The animated offering from Warner Bros. opened right along with studio expectations with a $23 million opening. The is over the debut of both Storks ($21.3 million) and The LEGO Ninjago Movie ($20 million) - both of which also opened in September. The film also received an "A-" Cinemascore from an audience that was mostly female (55%) with 41% coming in under 18 - meaning the film did its job and scored with the family crowd. The reported $80 million film may need a bit of a bump overseas to make it into the black, but it should have a domestic run approaching the $75 million mark. It has already earned $15.6 million total overseas thus far, so it looks to do pretty good in the long run. All in all, it's right in line with Warner Bros. previous animated entries in the period and should be good news for the studio in general.

3) THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

Last week's winner took a 53% hit and landed in third place with $12.5 million - raising its total to $44.76 million. That was a bigger second weekend drop and smaller second weekend than Goosebumps so even though it opened bigger, it's looking like it's dropping much faster. Still, Jack Black is going to be just fine and this House has already surpassed its $42 million in a mere 10 days, and with October still ahead, it should play well enough going forward that it will have little issue making some bank. It should have a domestic total approaching $70 million and with $17 million thus far overseas, yeah, it's going to be just fine.

4) A SIMPLE FAVOR

With a mere 35.6% drop (second best among the top 12 films), A Simple Favor added another $6.6 million to its total, which is now up to $43 million. That tops the total for Blake Lively's Age of Adeline ($42.6 million) and it looks to be keeping pace right alongside Lively's The Shallows as well. That film finished with $55 million and it is looking very likely that A Simple Favor will meet and probably even exceed that total. The $20 million film is going to score a very nice win for the studio, likely topping out at at least three times its budget by the time it exits theaters, with whatever international numbers ($10 million and counting) being the cherry on top.

5) THE NUN

Coming in just ahead of the weekend's new horror film, The Nun dipped 45.5% and brought in $5.43 million for a new total of $109 million.But the big news for this Conjuring universe film is its international total. With $16.2 million for the weekend, it raised the total for The Nun to $221 million overseas and $330 million globally - both of which are record numbers for The Conjuring series of films. All this on a mere $22 million budget - I would hazard a guess The Conjuring series is in good hands.

Outside the top five: Hell Fest, the weekend's new horror film, fell just outside the top five with a sixth-place finish of $5.07 million. That is good new for the $5.5 million film and although is earned a horror-typical "C" Cinemascore, it should play well enough through October to wind up on the winning end of things.

The only other semi-wide release of note, the updated Little Women, could only manage $747,000 (16th place) from 643 screens for a weak $1,162 per-theater average. I wasn't expecting much from this one and it looks like my expectations were more than met.

In better knew, Free Solo, a rock-climbing documentary, opened to an excellent $300,804 from just four theaters. Should those numbers hold up it would have a 2018 best $75,201 per-theater average and it would also be the best per-theater average opening for any documentary.

No other milestones of note this weekend so we have to prepare for the opening weekend of October when A Star is Born and Venom will both drop.

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