Zac Efron‘s “We Are Your Friends” barely made a sound when debuting at the box office on Thursday with just $175,000, while Sony’s religious drama “War Room” grossed $600,000 from 1,017 theaters.
“We Are Your Friends,” directed by Max Joseph (“Catfish”), is expected to earn $7 million to $9 million this weekend from 2,333 theaters. Emily Ratajkowski and Wes Bentley co-star with Efron, who takes the lead as a young DJ trying to make it in Los Angeles’ EDM scene.
“War Room” is the latest Christian-themed feature from Georgia-based filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick. Produced with a $3 million budget, it is expected to make $4 million to $5 million from a total of 1,100 theaters.
While the religious drama isn’t expected be a blockbuster, it could breakout as a sleeper hit thanks to a proven formula: a hyper-tight budget and grassroots mobilizing of churchgoers via special screenings with pastors.
The filmmakers, who are brothers, previously produced 2006’s “Facing the Giants,” 2008’s “Fireproof” — which was the highest-grossing indie that year — and 2011’s “Courageous.” Their earlier efforts have taken in $87 million at the box office on a combined budget of $2.6 million.
Efron hasn’t waded in R-rated film waters since 2014’s “Neighbors,” which opened to $49 million.
Warner Bros. acquired the film rights for “We Are Your Friends” from Studiocanal for $2 million in November of 2014.
Owen Wilson‘s “No Escape” opened on Wednesday with a decent $1.2 million, with analysts expecting it to take in somewhere around $10 million over the five-day period. However, none of this week’s openers will beat out N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” which is favored to win its third straight weekend and finish in the mid-teen millions for Universal.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, the R-rated drama showing the rise of the seminal rappers had taken in nearly $119 million domestically so far.