Labor Day weekend is a historically quiet one for movies. Do studios resist opening anything substantial over the four-day holiday because they know prospective moviegoers would rather spend that time, say, doing something outdoors while they still can? Or does the absence of any particularly alluring multiplex fare create the dip in patronage? It’s a chicken/egg quandary, but either way, Labor Day brought the 2016 summer movie season to an uneventful, unofficial close, as those who did choose to catch a flick largely ignored the brand new options in favor of some August holdovers.
Opening on 1,500 screens, The Light Between Oceans—the type of handsome, tasteful literary adaptation that earns vaguely backhanded compliments like “handsome” and “tasteful”—did the best of the newcomers. Which is to say, its eighth place finish and $5.9 million debut were enough to catapult it past the other movies that opened Friday, even as the combined star power of Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander wasn’t enough to meet even the modest box-office expectations afforded to Derek Cianfrance’s latest. Next down, at No. 12, was the Spanish-language release No Manches Frida, whose $4.6 million opening on just 362 screens solidified the profitability of Lionsgate’s Latino-targeted label. (It’s Pantelion’s best debut since 2013’s Instructions Not Included.)
That leaves the big loser of the holiday weekend, in which Luke Scott attempts to make his father proud with a mercenary thriller about (more or less) replicants. Morgan grossed an abysmal $2.4 million, landing way down in 18th place on the box-office charts and way up in seventh place on the list of worst debuts for a film opening on more than 2,000 screens—this despite a strong cast and a premise that bears some resemblance to Ex Machina, whose success apparently can’t be, uh, replicated. Those looking for holiday scares returned instead to Don’t Breathe, which (buried lede alert!) actually won the weekend with another $19.5 million. Rounding out the top five, here at summer’s end, were an indisputably critic-proof superhero movie, two of the best family films of the year, and that cartoon about food that looks like penises.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.