"Straight Outta Compton" kept the pedal to the metal, cruising to $26.7 million and its second straight triumph, but three wide-opening movies ran out of gas and the summer box office slowed to a crawl this weekend.
The low-budget Jason Blum horror film "Sinister 2" did the best of the newcomers, taking third place with an underwhelming $10.6 million, behind Tom Cruise's resilient "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation," which was second with $11.7 million in its fourth week.
The assassination thriller "Hitman: Agent 47" misfired with $8.2 million in its debut and the Kristen Stewart-Jesse Eisenberg action comedy "American Ultra" opened to just $5.5 million.
The Lily Tomlin comedy "Grandma" got off to a good start in its limited debut for Sony Pictures Classics, taking in $122,000 from four screens for a strong $30,457 average. But the overall box office was down six percent vs. the same weekend a year ago when "Guardians of the Galaxy" led the charge with $17.2 million.
"Straight Outta Compton," the R-rated saga of the rise of the "gangsta rap" group N.W.A, crossed the $100 million mark this weekend, and so did the Amy Schumer comedy "Trainwreck," the sixth and seventh films of the year to do so for Universal Pictures.
The second-weekend win for "Compton" is notable in that previous rap hits like 2009's "Notorious" and 2002's "Eight Mile" dropped off quickly after fan-fueled openings. But the F. Gary Gray-directed biopic has attracted a much broader audience. With limited competition in the next few weeks, it could build on its $111 million in domestic grosses. With its modest budget of $29 million, a followup film would seem a given, but "at this time there are no plans for a 'Straight Outta Compton' sequel," a Universal spokesman told TheWrap Sunday.
That the box office cools in August isn't a shock, even in a year like this, which remains on pace to be the biggest in Hollywood history. Studios typically clear their shelves and rarely are films with high expectations released in this window. None of the three opening films cost their distributors much, so while there's little excitement generated by the soft debuts, there's not much financial pain, either.
Blumhouse Productions re-united the creative team behind the first film for "Sinister 2," produced for less than $5 million and distributed by Focus Features and Gramercy Pictures. Franchise creators Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill wrote the script and selected Ciaran Foy to direct this installment, but it didn't come close to the $18 million first weekend that the original "Sinister" managed in October of 2012.
This has been a tough summer for horror films, with "Insidious: Chapter 3" falling short of its predecessors and "Poltergeist" and "The Gallows" missing, too. "Sinister 2" played a little more male and a little older than most successful horror films. The crowds, 51 percent female and 57 over age 25, gave the film a "B-" CinemaScore.
Barring a breakout overseas, Fox's hopes that "Agent 47" could reinvigorate the video game-based "Hitman" brand have fizzled, given the soft opening of the R-rated assassination thriller starring Rupert Friend and Zachary Quinto. It was beaten up by the critics and didn't come close to the 2007 original, which opened to $13 million and went on to $100 million globally.
Its audiences were 61 percent male and 60 percent over the age of 25, and they gave it a "B" CinemaScore, better than the critics, who have it at an abysmal 7 percent positive.
Like the other two openers, Lionsgate's "American Ultra" came in under expectations that were modest to begin with, and in sixth place behind "Man From U.N.C.L.E.," which posted a $7.3 million second weekend. That lifts its total to more than $26 million, not what Warner Bros. had hoped for, given its $80 million production budget.