Box Office Woes: This Could Be the Worst Labor Day Weekend in 30 Years

With no new releases, Labor Day Weekend box office numbers could sink to levels not seen since the heyday of VHS

For the first time in a quarter-century, there will be no new wide releases at movie theaters on Labor Day Weekend. An that means box office returns could sink to levels not seen since the 1980s.

Last weekend, the box office, led by a second-week “Hitman’s Bodyguard,” made just $69 million, the lowest for any weekend since Sept. 21, 2001. This weekend is expected to be even worse, with the widest new release being a 40th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” on 900 screens. Other targeted releases include The Weinstein Company’s “Tulip Fever” and Marvel Television’s IMAX release of the pilot episode of “Inhumans.”

labor day weekend box office

Assuming a 50 percent drop in last week’s totals, plus an additional $9 million to 10 million on Labor Day, that would put four-day totals at approximately $45 million. To find the last Labor Day weekend that made that amount of money, you have to go all the way back to 1987, a year when August releases were so weak that “Dirty Dancing” was still in the top 3 at the box office despite being released a month prior.

While Labor Day Weekend has never been a prime release slot like Memorial Day Weekend, it has been a weekend that has offered one last burst of revenue for theaters to close out the summer. But after an August that has seen a year-to-year drop of over 35 percent, Labor Day Weekend 2017 could become the lowest performing weekend movie theaters have seen since the turn of the century. For theaters, Sept. 8 — and the arrival of the potentially record-breaking “It,” — can’t get here soon enough.