The record-breaking $60.2 million debut of the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” the best opening ever for a musical biopic or an R-rated movie in August, appears to have surprised movie theater owners as well as box-office analysts — who are looking to increase the bookings for the film in its second weekend.
“I don’t think we’ll have any problems adding a few hundred theaters,” Universal distribution chief Nicholas Carpou told TheWrap.
With projections for the opening under by at least $25 million, many exhibitors limited the number of runs for the film, keeping the location count to 2,757.
That’s roughly 1,000 fewer theaters than played “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Fantastic Four” — which led to an eye-popping $22,158 per-location average for “Straight Outta Compton” that was more than four times that of its rivals.
That sort of outsize demand — anything over $6,000 per screen is considered strong for a wide release — suggests that “Straight Outta Compton” may have opened even bigger than it did, and that it has a lot of life left in it.
In its opening weekend, director F. Gary Gray’s $29 million production played much more broadly than expected with audiences. Women, for example, represented 52 percent of the “Straight Outta Compton” crowd — higher than expected since N.W.A appealed primarily to young men in its heyday.
In addition, 51 percent of the attendees were under the age of 30 — meaning that the film attracted kids who were under 10 when Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Yella and MC Ren were telling the fan base to “F-ck Tha Police.”
“What that speaks to most of all is the quality of the film itself,” Carpou said. “You look at the reviews, and the ‘A’ CinemaScore and clearly this movie resonated beyond the group’s fan base, and for that you take your hat off to F. Gary Gray, [producer] Ice Cube and the whole cast,” he said.
As expected, “Straight Outta Compton” did better in parts of the country where African-Americans make up a higher percentage of the overall population. But African-Americans made up just 46 percent of the crowd, with 23 percent Caucasian, 21 percent Hispanic and 4 percent Asian.
The largest turnout came from theaters on the West Coast, and in the Los Angeles area in particular, the studio said Monday. An Atlanta theater was No. 1, but nine out of the top 10 highest-grossing locations for the film were in Southern California, where the film was set and filmed.
Since there were no major incident reports at screenings of the film, the extra manpower that L.A.-area law enforcement assigned to theaters showing “Straight Outta Compton” appears to have paid off (though critics might argue that it shows the extra security was unnecessary).
The film also did very well in the South and Midwest, the studio said, while theaters in the Northeast, Canada and the Mountain regions under-indexed.
Newcomers Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell play Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, respectively and O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays his real-life father, Ice Cube, in his first starring role. Paul Giamatti has a smaller role as the group’s shady manager.