Ben-Hur trampled underfoot at US box office as Suicide Squad defies critics

The big-budget remake of the sword-and-sandals epic cost $100m to make but took only $11.4m on its opening weekend, according to estimates

A big-budget remake of Ben-Hur was trampled under a herd of holdovers and new releases at the box office, the latest casualty in a bruising summer for Hollywood.

The Paramount Pictures release, which cost about $100m to make, debuted with just $11.4m, according to studio estimates on Sunday. That makes it one of the seasons pricier flops, albeit one that never had anything like the ambition of 1959s Charlton Heston epic.

Instead, Warner Bros much-maligned DC Comics supervillain team-up film Suicide Squad held the top stop for the third straight week with an estimated $20.7m over its third weekend. It has now made $262.3m domestically (fourth best for the summer) despite steep declines and poor reaction from critics and fans alike.

Seth Rogens <a href=”” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>foul-mouthed-food animated comedy Sausage Party continued to do well for Sony Pictures. In its second weekend, it took in $15.3m, good enough for second place, and bringing its two-week total to $65.3m.

Two offbeat debuts followed Suicide Squad and Sausage Party: the Iraq war comedy War Dogs, with Miles Teller and Jonah Hill; and the stop-motion animated Kubo and the Two Strings from Focus Features and Laika Entertainment.

War Dogs, the first movie after the Hangover trilogy for director Todd Phillips, was lambasted by critics but sold a decent $14.3m in tickets.

Kubo and the Two Strings, an acclaimed fantasy about a boy in ancient Japan, debuted with $12.6m, the weakest opening of any film from Laika, the Oregon-based animation studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. Kubo and the Two Strings was fashioned as Laikas most ambitious film yet, with the companys chief executive, Phil Knight, making his directorial debut.

But after the fifth-place opening of Ben-Hur, the second coming of the sword-and-sandal movie appears to be attracting dwindling flocks of moviegoers.

A co-production between MGM and Paramount, Ben-Hur is the third adaption of Lee Wallaces novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. With producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (The Bible miniseries), the film courted Christian moviegoers but was unable to turn them out as successfully as Paramount did for Noah (which debuted with $43.7m in 2014) or even Foxs less successful Exodus: Gods and Kings (a $24.1m opening in 2014).

Still, fuelled by Suicide Squad and Sausage Party, the box office was up more than 22% over the same weekend last year, according to comScore. Despite the ups and downs of individual films, the box office overall is enjoying a potentially record August, usually a sleepy month of summer stragglers.

Below are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final three-day domestic figures will be released on Monday.

  1. Suicide Squad, $20.7m.
  2. Sausage Party, $15.3m.
  3. War Dogs, $14.3m.
  4. Kubo and the Two Strings, $12.6m.
  5. Ben-Hur, $11.4m.
  6. Petes Dragon, $11.3m.
  7. Bad Moms, $8.1m.
  8. Jason Bourne, $8m.
  9. The Secret Life of Pets, $5.8m.
  10. Florence Foster Jenkins, $4.3m.

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