'Astonishing' Compton Smashes Expectations

As The Man From U.N.C.L.E. struggles
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 16, 2015 12:09 PM CDT
'Astonishing' Compton Smashes Expectations
Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube and Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre in “Straight Outta Compton."   (Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures via AP)

The boys from Compton smashed opening weekend expectations, while the stylish The Man From U.N.C.L.E. struggled to find its footing. Universal's NWA biopic earned an astonishing $56.1 million in its debut, according to studio estimates today. Director F. Gary Gray's well-received film charts the formation and rise of the influential rap group. It cost just $29 million to produce. NWA members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube served as producers on the film, which has Ice Cube's real son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., playing Ice Cube. Dr. Dre also released the companion piece Compton—his first new album in 16 years. Nick Carpou, Universal's president of domestic distribution, said they were "elated" with the results. Universal had previously predicted a very conservative $25 million to $30 million opening.

"It really struck a chord with audiences. It's a story that is resonating right now," said Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst. "It was one of those records that was an important work and a very important expression of a particular viewpoint. To this day, that album has so much power." Beyond the fandom around NWA and the timeliness of the themes, Universal also launched a clever marketing campaign, "Straight Outta Somewhere," which allows social media users to insert photos in the iconic Straight Outta Compton album cover and write in a hometown. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. PG-13-rated adaptation of the 1960s television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted in third place, behind Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation ($17 million), with a sluggish $13.5 million. Fantastic Four plummeted to $8 million to take the fourth place spot, while The Gift took fifth with $6.5 million. (More box office stories.)

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