“Straight Outta Compton,” the musical biopic about rap group N.W.A., debuted at $56.1 million this weekend, surpassing "American Pie 2" to become the largest ever August debut for an R-rated movie. "American Pie 2" brought in $45.1 million at its debut in 2001.
The movie is also the best opening ever for a music biopic, exceeding the launch for Johnny Cash drama "Walk the Line" in 2005, which brought in $22.3 million, according to Box Office Mojo. “Straight Outta Compton” opened in 2,757 theaters and nearly doubled its production budget of $29 million.
The mega weekend debut helped Universal, the studio behind the biopic, tally its ninth profitable movie out of 10 the studio has made and released so far this year.
This year has been a blockbuster for Universal for a few reasons, Wall Street Journal points out. One of which is a delay in a series of movie releases from 2014. “Jurassic World,” “Furious 7” and “Minions” had all been scheduled to come out in 2014 but were not released until this year.
Comcast Corp. bought General Electric Co.'s 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal in 2013 for $16.7 billion, which included the Universal movie studio assets in a move to bet on the entertainment business. The move came after Comcast bought an initial 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal in 2011.
When Comcast took over Universal, the studio ranked last in the box office among Hollywood’s six major studios for three of the last five years, and it had not been No. 1 since 1988, Wall Street Journal reported.
One reason that Universal was the biggest laggard was because the studio spent less than most competitors under former owner General Electric, making it difficult to produce more expensive summer blockbusters.
“This is an exceptional year, but our expectations for the film business have risen,” Steve Burke, chief executive of NBCUniversal, told Wall Street Journal. “We expect the overall water level to rise on a sustainable basis.”
Comcast has increased the studio’s annual production budget by more than $300 million -- to total close to $1.2 billion -- Burke said.