Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 05/10/18 – 07/10/18

Venom achieves symbiosis, a Star is most certainly Born, The Hate U Give receives nothing but love, and Other Box Office News.

It only took him several decades, ruining multiple Spider-Men, hundreds of millions of dollars, and innumerable false and aborted starts, but it appears that producer Avi Arad may have been on to something after all in his steadfast refusal to admit that his pet project, a Venom solo movie, was a terrible idea. I mean, if you qualify these things based on the actual quality of the released film, then it was indeed still a terrible waste of resources that would have been far better served on more worthwhile ventures. But financially, the thing’s a smash! Venom is not only your new #1, with an $80 million weekend haul, but it’s also gone and smashed the October opening weekend record previously held by Gravity‘s $55.7 million back in 2013. Curiously, sampled audience metrics have the film’s main opening day audiences as those under-25, so I guess Venom really is for the kids after all. This is probably why I’m not a mega-successful Hollywood executive. In any case, the real test will be how it holds up next weekend now that people have done as the tagline requested and seen the movie. After all, Batman v. Superman was being hailed as a smash until those second weekend totals came in, so we may be saved from more un-needed throwbacks to the dark ages of mid-00’s comic book cinema yet.

The Gaga stans, then, couldn’t present enough of a challenge against Tom Hardy’s audition reel for the eventual Jim Carrey biopic somebody is probably trying to cobble together right now. But that’s not to say that the fourth go-around of A Star is Born wasn’t still super-successful in its own right as its second-place finish of $41 million was more than the rest of the non-Venom Top 10 combined. Never underestimate the drawing power of the musical! Case in point, the best performing of the films that opened last weekend was Warner Animation Group’s Smallfoot, which only dipped 35% for a taking of just under $15 million. Upsettingly, this is the best hold of any of the studio’s non-LEGO films to date, which must mean that kids have an abnormally high tolerance to James Corden. This is how we normalise bad shit, parents, so smack that tolerance out of your children right this instant!* (*Set the Tape wishes that you do not actually smack your children in response to this poorly thought out joke, please.)

In Limited Releases, the biggest winner was once again the surprise hit rock-climbing documentary, Free Solo. After opening to year-best results last weekend, the film went on to solidify its foothold in its sophomore window with an expansion to 41 theatres and a total of $540,000, almost double what it made on 4 screens last weekend as thousands of thrillseekers chased that terrifying buzz without actually having to put their own bodies in harm’s way. Solo was almost matched, however, by the beginning of Fox’s staggered roll-out of YA adaptation The Hate U Give. This may sound counter-productive on paper, but Fox seems to think it’s on to a long-term Awards Season winner with this one (a theory buoyed by those very strong reviews currently making the rounds) so it’s getting the gradual Awards Season roll-out that always works so well when it’s three weeks deep and the Film Press has largely moved on. Still, for now it’s doing gangbusters business, as Hate was adored on its initial 36 screens to the tune of $500,000, a $13,889 per-screen average. Instead, the hate was ironically reserved for Loving Pablo which could only muster $16,000 from 15 screens for an average barely over $1,000. Perhaps we’ve just reached Escobar overload? After all, when was the last time you heard a current rapper refer to themselves via a Pablo Escobar comparison? I rest my case.

I am currently in London covering the 2018 BFI London Film Festival which is why we’re a day late, slapdash, and shorter than usual. The things I do do for you lot. Here’s your Full List.

US Box Office Results: Friday 5th October 2018 – Sunday 7th October 2018

1] Venom

$80,030,000 / NEW

It’s bad, but it’s not a trainwreck.  Largely, it’s just boringly bad, a relic of the mid-2000s pre-MCU superhero movies that didn’t try hard enough and had no imagination.  Venom himself is the best part because when he (FINALLY) shows up the film turns enjoyably silly and ridiculous with a weird buddy-comedy feel, but it takes half the film to get there and by the time it does we have to sprint to the end of the movie so it doesn’t get to do much with that dynamic.  Think the first Deadpool if all the non-Deadpool parts of that film were interminable to get through and also it was extremely sloppily made.  Shaun Rodger’s a bit more positive, at least.

2] A Star is Born

$41,250,000 / NEW

For much of the film, I was basically in agreement with Ian on this one.  First act is great and that money shot worked perfectly on me, everything afterwards is fine but too predictable, too disconnected from any discernible reality, and I am SICK of aging White men trying to tell me that nothing but generic soft-country-rock with mad-libs lyrics and 45 overdriven guitar sustains a song is REAL MUSIC™.  But I was enjoying it.  Then the ending happened and this film could promptly get fucked with something rusty and sharp.  I’m getting really sensitive to [spoilers pertaining to the act that turned me against the film] nowadays and this film did not deserve it at all, ESPECIALLY not to continue forwarding bullshit Tragic Artist mythologies.  If I were Eddie Vedder and Bradley Cooper was strolling across talk show sets saying that I inspired his performance given what happens in this movie, I’d retire from music and take up a new vocation of following Cooper around the world punching him in the face.

Lady Gaga’s brilliant in it, though.

3] Smallfoot

$14,900,000 / $42,760,945

I can’t actually see this for a while to pass any judgement upon it, so instead let me direct you to this cool animated short film about social anxiety by Tom Law.

4] Night School

$12,275,000 / $46,750,355

Didn’t actually get to see this on Thursday because the times didn’t line up, so I saw the delightful Skate Kitchen by Crystal Moselle instead.  You should too, if it’s playing anywhere near you.  The film is a modest treasure!

5] The House with a Clock in its Walls

$7,295,000 / $55,050,560

Fingers crossed this hangs on through Halloween because, again, times didn’t line up and I’ve been swamped thanks to London-based shenanigans.  Apparently it’s fine!

6] A Simple Favor

$3,435,000 / $49,014,356

After further consideration, this is definitely going on my Top 20 for the year.  Sue me.

7] The Nun

$2,610,000 / $113,367,310

Hereditary is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.  Just saying.

8] Hell Fest

$2,075,000 / $8,864,476

Shit, that Hereditary-based side-eye would have made a much better fit here.  Err…  How about checking out my review of Mandy from the Festival, if you’re yet to?

9] Crazy Rich Asians

$2,060,000 / $169,134,942

As we bid a fond farewell to Crazy Rich Asians, I would like to reiterate my desire one last time for Constance Wu to headline at least one major blockbuster a year from now until the imminent heat-death of the planet/universe.  I am deadly serious about this request and it had better be honoured or some heads are gonna roll, let me tell you!

10] The Predator

$900,000 / $49,985,889

Still never seen Predator.

Dropped Out: White Boy Rick, Peppermint

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