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Arts and Entertainment

U.S. Box Office Hit With Worst Labor Day Weekend In Two Decades

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel Jackson in "The Hitman's Bodyguard" (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Films)
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Amid the summer heat, nothing is as ideal as sitting in a cavernous, air-conditioned room, accompanied by a box of Sour Patch Kids and a "small" cup of soda that's the size of a Christmas ham.

It looks like people have other plans this weekend, however, as Variety reports that the Labor Day weekend is on track to have the lowest four-day total for the holiday in two decades. ComScore says that the slate of films is expected to bring in about $95 million over the weekend; not since 1998 has the total dipped below $100 million. Business Insider says that this is a 22% drop from last year's Labor Day weekend earnings.

As noted at The Hollywood Reporter, revenue topped out at $95.2 million in 1998 and $90.6 million in 1996 for the respective Labor Day weekends.

It's all another sign of a woeful summer box office in the U.S. (which comes to an end after this coming Monday). The summer's total is expected to end with less than $4 billion, which hasn't happened since 2006. Variety attributes some of this to major flops such as The Dark Tower, King Arthur, and Valerian (which is apparently nice to look at, but also an unmitigated disaster). Also, franchise titles like Transformers: The Last Knight have underwhelmed at the box office when compared to its predecessors.

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Another unique (but dubious) thing about this Labor Day weekend is that it lacks a major wide release. This has helped The Hitman's Bodyguard (which has a ho-hum 40 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and which Empire has characterized as an action movie with "fair to middling octane at best") retain its spot as the highest grossing movie for the third straight weekend. Its projected haul for for the Labor Day weekend? A paltry $13.4 million.

As noted at Business Insider, a poor showing in late August/early September isn't all that unusual, as families are away on vacation, and studios see the period as a transitional time between the summer and fall box offices. Still, this Labor Day weekend marks the dying gasp of a dreadful summer box office. If you intend to help reverse the trend and hit up the theater, may we suggest the kinetic Good Time with Robert Pattinson? Or the 3D re-release of Terminator 2?

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