Horror film Don’t Breathe scares up $26.1m at box office

Performance more than doubles predictions for small-budget film, as latest inexpensive hit for Sony tops Suicide Squad

Audiences turned out in droves for the horror movie Dont Breathe, which brought in $26.1m on the last weekend of August, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.

That was more than double early predictions for how the film would perform and far above the modest production budget, which was reportedly less than $10m. Stage 6 Films produced and Sonys Screen Gems oversaw distribution.

Dont Breathe is about a group of Detroit teens who chose the wrong house to rob that of a blind, vengeful veteran. It stars Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette and was directed by Fede Alvarez, who is known for the Evil Dead remake.

Sony Pictures marketing chief Josh Greenstein noted how rare it was for a film in this genre to resonate so deeply with critics its current Rotten Tomatoes score is 87%. It also continues Sonys summer of success with original films that cost very little to make.

This marks a string of very profitable hits for Sony with very modest budgets. The Shallows, Sausage Party and now Dont Breathe were all incredibly profitable because they were made for modest budgets and did incredibly well at the box office, Greenstein said.

Dont Breathe is also the latest horror success for Hollywood this summer, which has seen films like Lights Out, The Conjuring 2, and The Purge: Election Year thrive while bigger budget, spectacle-driven counterparts flailed.

As it turns out, horror is the least scary genre this summer, especially to the bean counters in Hollywood, said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for box office tracker comScore. [They] can almost always be counted on to make money.

Horror films, Dergarabedian said, perform very well on home video too.

Dont Breathe effectively unseated Suicide Squad from its three-week run atop the box office. This weekend, the comic book film grossed $12.1m, bringing its domestic total to $282.9m.

Laikas Kubo and the Two Strings took third place in its second weekend in theaters with $7.9m. The $60m film has now earned $24.8m domestically. Sausage Party continued to have a ball, earning $7.7m for a fourth place finish and an $80m domestic total.

The poorly reviewed Jason Statham-led sequel Mechanic: Resurrection placed fifth in its opening weekend with $7.5m, according to Lionsgate. The first film opened to $11.4m in 2011.

Among specialty releases, the Barack and Michelle Obama first-date movie Southside With You launched in 813 theaters to an estimated $3.1m, while the Weinstein Companys Roberto Duran boxing biopic Hands of Stone opened in 810 theaters to $1.7m.

Overall, the box office was up slightly from this weekend last year, when Straight Outta Compton opened. Next weekend closes out the summer season with the release of the sci-fi film Morgan and the romantic drama The Light Between Oceans.

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