You can’t place too much value in box office returns (if you did, Jurassic World would be the best movie of the past six years), but there’s something sort of heartwarming about a legitimately good movie doing bang-up business, and that’s what happened this weekend.
Straight Outta Compton, F. Gary Gray’s somewhat formulaic yet bluntly effective N.W.A. biopic, crushed its completion at the domestic box office, raking in $56.1 million on 2, 757 screens. That take, more than three times that of the second place film (Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation), made for the biggest August debut for an R-rated movie ever (unseating 2001’s American Pie 2); it also means the movie has already nearly doubled its $29 million production budget.
That left only crumbs for the weekend’s other wide release, Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which came in third with a meager $13 million (against a $75 million budget). It seems safe to bet Armie Hammer and his agent are having a long talk today about big-screen adaptations of old television shows.
And in its second week, the troubled Fantastic Four limped to a fourth-place finish with $8 million. And that juxtaposition is the best part of Compton’s big weekend—though it might have been brand-derived and meme-friendly, Compton was nonetheless a provocative, politically relevant movie for grown-ups that out-grossed a mega-budget superhero movie by a factor of seven. If that’s not heartening box office news, I don’t know what is.