Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 14/09/18 – 16/09/18

The Predator is almost extinct, A Simple Favor makes a simple amount, White Boy Rick is Martha Stewart broke, and Other Box Office News.

There are plenty of ways that one can take the performance of Shane Black’s polarising attempt to resuscitate the Predator franchise, which is your new #1 movie in America.  Only one of those ways, however, is a positive read and that requires you having to ignore literally everything else about the film’s performance besides the #1 ranking.  The Predator is #1 in the same way that a janky-ass soapbox derby car with one working wheel “won” the Downhill Cup by virtue of all of its competitors spontaneously combusting halfway from the finish line.  This was real bad, folks.  First, it took the top spot with a mere $24 million.  Second, it debuted in over 4,000 theatres which makes this the worst opening of all-time for a film on that many screens, stealing The Mummy’s ignoble title when it opened last year to a pathetic $31.6 million.  Third, that $24 million is actually $600,000 less than what the previous attempt to resuscitate the Predator franchise, Predators, opened to in 2010 on about 1,300 less screens.  Fourth, The Predator received a dismal “C+” Cinemascore, for whatever that useless metric is worth.  And fifth, this cost $88 million and was intended to be a major franchise starter.  Just gonna leave this classic Simpsons clip here…

So, what happened, because this is a total spectacular failure?  Well, since I’ve been seriously doing this for 7 years now (*stares off into the void in horror for an uncomfortably long span of time*), I have a few ideas.  There’s that whole shitshow about the fact that Shane Black cast a convicted sex offender across three straight movies, putting him in the vicinity of children – WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE – and Olivia Munn baring the brunt of that resultant shitstorm for daring to *checks notes* successfully lobby to get the attempted paedophile cut out of the film?  …I thought we were on a crackdown of industry folk connected to paedophilia?  That’s why there was that wholly legitimate and sincere movement to fire James Gunn, right?  /sarcasm.  But I doubt it was just that.  Hurricane Florence has been cutting a path through America across the weekend, the minor inconvenience a giant-ass hurricane usually is – to any of our American readers, hope you’re safe and weathering it ok.  There’s also the news of The Predator’s notoriously troubled post-production even before the sex offender controversy, which has been reflected in the tepid reviews.  Finally, there’s also just the distinct possibility that maybe the general public doesn’t give a shit about Predator?  That maybe the cult-er geekier side of the Film Net has drastically overinflated its (and Shane Black’s) standing in our little echo chamber and a major studio bet wrongly on the Comic Con Hall H chatter translating to big Box Office dollars despite that historically almost never actually happening?

Getting away from that flaming car wreck, prospects aren’t a whole lot brighter for the rest of the chart.  In third place, we have Paul Feig’s hard-left turn into a trashy Gone Girl-style mystery-thriller with his adaptation of A Simple Favor.  Since I won’t acknowledge his pre-Bridesmaids films if nobody else is gonna, the intriguing shift doesn’t appear to have paid off, as the film’s $16 million is easily his weakest opening to date and all but guarantees that Favor will be his first film to not finish with at least $100 million domestic; the one bright spot being that it only cost about $20 million so at least it’s not Ghostbusters all over again.  Meanwhile, Yann Demange of the excellent ’71 followed up that bolt out of the blue with a big fancy American Indie production, White Boy Rick.  Alas, much like “fateful” drug deals in the movies, things did not go down particularly smoothly, and this awards-season wannabe could only push a middling $8.8 million for fourth place.  Admittedly, though, I hadn’t heard much about it until about a week before release, so maybe this is actually the best performer of the weekend?

In Limited Release, somebody made a feminist speculative-fiction biopic about Lizzie Borden starring Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart.  Doesn’t that sound absolutely bonkers and also something you want injected into your bloodstream right this second, cos I sure do!  Lizzie was effectively the only quality opener of the whole weekend, its $49,895 from four theatres providing an average of $12,474 that’s head and shoulders above everything else that didn’t open on just one screen.  A24 acquired and released the Emma Thompson-starring Ian McEwen adaptation The Children Act and, following the lead of the year’s other McEwen adaptation (On Chesil Beach), it did… ok: $20,362 from three screens and a $6,787 per-screen average.  (Clara Cook has a nice review of it here.)  Finally, although not a Limited Release and just being shunted here because I don’t have the energy to dig into my stockpile of PureFlix gags today, everybody’s favourite evangelical punching bags responsible for the hilaroffensive God’s Not Dead trilogy tried to outdo Angelina Jolie’s previous attempt to tell the story of Louis Zamperini, even jacking the title, Unbroken, for themselves.  Nobody cared: ninth place with $2.3 million from 1,620 screens.

“PureFlix?”  More like “PureShits,” AMIRIGHT?!

I’ve never actually seen Predator, so pretend this transition to the Full List was a really funny pun based on something from that movie.

US Box Office Results: Friday 14th September 2018 – Sunday 16th September 2018

1] The Predator

$24,000,000 / NEW

We’ve gone all Predator-crazy here at Set the Tape!  Amy Walker voraciously consumed a whole bunch of Predator books and wrote plenty more words about each, plus also found the time to revisit the “classic” – not her words, but presumably the words of somebody alive somewhere at some point – PS2 game Concrete Jungle and the properly classic 1999 Aliens vs. Predator game!  Shaun Rodger revisited the oft-maligned Predator 2, and Owen Hughes will be handling review duties of this new one at some point although he has so far refused to budge on divulging his thoughts about it.  Not even a smackeral of an opinion for me to tempt you with!  That’s dedication!

2] The Nun

$18,200,000 / $85,076,325

A monster 66% sophomore drop makes this a record-breaking weekend for the Conjuring pre-pre-pre-pre-prequel, the biggest for the franchise so far.  Breaking all sorts of dubious records today, folks!

3] A Simple Favor

$16,050,000 / NEW

Really looking forward to watching this because I adore me some Paul Feig and I’m curious to see how he handles this shift outside his comfort zone.  I actually loved Ghostbusters, but at the time (which was coincidentally the time I finally watched Freaks & Geeks) I also expressed a hope that he’d try something different for his next feature which this certainly seems!  It’s a film that will require actual cinematography and active attempts at style, which is the Apatow Collective equivalent of asking a stoned parking attendant to perform open-heart surgery.

4] White Boy Rick

$8,800,000 / NEW

Not due out in the UK until December because I guess we’re getting started on Awards Season Release Window Fuckery early this year.

5] Crazy Rich Asians

$8,700,000 / $149,551,904

Did we all go see this over the weekend?  I sure hope so because I want the face of the rom-com renaissance to look more like this and A LOT less like the upcoming Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis musical that’s not being sold as a rom-com but almost definitely will be because it’s a goddamn Richard Curtis script and also SWEET CHRISTMAS THIS SOUNDS HORRIFIC!  That “one bad film every seven years” Boyle curse is working overtime to make up for T2 having miraculously been brilliant, huh?

6] Peppermint

$6,070,000 / $24,245,804

When the Actuals came in, this did end up leapfrogging Crazy Rich Asians for the runner-up slot last weekend.  But it also got chopped in half this week whilst Asians once again only slid a third, so I think everything’s going to be ok.

7] The Meg

$3,805,000 / $137,087,190

Congratulations on this stupid barrel of nonsense crossing the half-a-billion worldwide mark!  Whilst we’re handing out plaudits, let’s also congratulate me on covering this film for four straight weeks and not once stooping to the level of making an unfunny and super-played out Family Guy joke (a.k.a. a Family Guy joke)!  Yay, me!

8] Searching

$3,200,000 / $19,621,103

Timur Bekmembatov is finally stepping into the director’s chair for one of his Screenlife visions, this one an investigative journalism thriller called Profile that’s screening at the London Film Festival.  Excited to check it out since I’m one of, like, eight people who unironically enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

9] Unbroken: Path to Redemption

$2,350,000 / NEW

What happened to Jack O’Connell?  He had an incredible 2014 getting to headline three separate films – Starred Up, ’71, and the non-discount Unbroken – being brilliant in all of them (even if Unbroken wasn’t very good), then just… stopped appearing in things.  I’ve seen Kaya Scodelario in more films post-2014 than him, so what gives?  I really thought he could be the next big thing, or at least a reliable underrated character actor.

10] Mission: Impossible – Fallout

$2,315,000 / $216,135,337

Oh, thank God, I don’t have to flail around trying to find things to say about this movie I have forgotten absolutely everything about anymore.

Dropped out: Disney’s Christopher Robin, Operation Finale, Alpha, BlacKkKlansman

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