TriStar's faith-based drama "War Room" emerged triumphant at the box office on one of the slowest Labor Day weekends on record.
Although it pulled in a modest $12.6 million over the four-day weekend, it was enough to unseat former reigning box office champ, Universal's "Straight Outta Compton," which landed in the No. 2 spot with an estimated $11.1 million after three weekends at the top. That brings the popular N.W.A biopic's total domestic take to an impressive $150 million.
"War Room," which is about a woman who turns her closet into a "war room" in order to regain her spiritual footing in a quest to save her rocky marriage, is representative of the resolute history faith-based films have enjoyed at the box office.
Last year's "Heaven Is for Real" grossed $91.4 million at the domestic box office with a minimal production cost of $12 million. The $3 million "War Room," which suffered from lukewarm reviews, receiving only a 36% positive rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, already has a domestic total of $27.9 million in its second week of release.
The trifecta was rounded out by Broad Green Pictures' "A Walk in the Woods," which stars Robert Redford as a travel writer who decides to hike the Appalachian Trail after spending several decades abroad.
That film got a weak start in fourth place on Saturday morning when it took in $2.2 million but managed to rise to the top three with an estimated weekend gross of $10.5 million.
Travis Reid, president of theatrical distribution for Broad Green Pictures, told The Times on Sunday that the film benefitted from launching on Wednesday, in part due to the tendencies of its core audience: women over the age of 45 who don't race out to see films on opening day.
"We play primarily to an older audience and that's an audience historically that doesn't rush out to see a movie the first day it's released," Reid said. "We felt by launching it on a Wednesday the word would get out better and I think that's worked out for us."
"A Walk in the Woods" also benefited from the precipitous fall of the weekend's early box office champ, EuropaCorp's "Transporter Refueled," which took first place on Saturday with $2.4 million in ticket sales but quickly fell to fifth place by Sunday, where it stayed through Monday, taking in a mere $9 million.
The film cost $22 million to make and replaces former franchise star Jason Statham with Ed Skrein ("Game of Thrones") as Frank Martin, a former special-ops mercenary who will deliver anything to anyone for the right price.
The holiday weekend's No. 4 spot went to Paramount's "Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation," which took in an estimated $9.3 million, bringing its total domestic take to $182.5 million in its sixth week.
The long weekend is expected to finish with a historically low $117 million in ticket sales, according to film tracking firm Rentrak. However, the summer box office is still expected to be the second best ever with ticket sales predicted to reach $4.48 billion in the U.S. and Canada. Final figures will come on Tuesday.