‘Magnificent Seven,’ western with diverse cast, a hit

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‘Magnificent Seven,’ western with diverse cast, a hit


LOS ANGELES - An honest-to-goodness western, “The Magnificent Seven,” arrived to a solid $35 million in domestic ticket sales over the weekend, proving that studios can make hay from worn genres and remakes if they are conceived in a totally new way. In this case Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures Entertainment remade a 56-year-old movie, which was itself a remake, with a principal cast that included black, Korean, Native American and Mexican actors. The diversity generated positive media coverage (“How the West Wasn’t White”), and audiences paid attention. Stars helped, too. The movie, directed by Antoine Fuqua and built a bit like a superhero movie in Old West drag, with various characters specializing in certain killing methods, has Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt as headliners. “Even with the western genre, Antoine is such a skilled filmmaker that he was able to make it feel modern and urgent,” said Josh Greenstein, Sony’s president of marketing and distribution. “The Magnificent Seven” cost MGM, Sony and partners like Village Roadshow about $90 million to produce, before marketing costs.

While important for Sony, which has found several profitable films of late, “The Magnificent Seven” is an even bigger win for MGM, which oversaw production and needed a hit to bounce back from its “Ben-Hur” misadventures last month. (MGM also had an unconventional hit in June: “Me Before You,” a drama, slept its way to $205 million worldwide.) The second-biggest draw at the North American box office over the weekend was the animated “Storks,” which collected a disappointing $21.8 million, according to comScore, which compiles ticketing data. Produced by Warner Bros. for about $70 million before marketing costs, “Storks” was expected by most analysts to take in at least $30 million.

Warner is hoping that the movie finds a bigger audience over the next month; the next major animated movie, “Trolls,” does not arrive until early November. Also of note: “Queen of Katwe” (Walt Disney Studios), a family-oriented drama starring Lupita N’yongo and David Oyelowo, arrived in limited release at 52 locations and took in a so-so $305,000. The film, which earned a rare A-plus grade in CinemaScore exit polls, will roll into more theaters next weekend.


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