Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 02/11/18 – 04/11/18

Bohemian Rhapsody is dynamite with a laser beam, The Nutcracker loses the Realms, nothing can kill A Star is Born, Bodied gets merked, and Other Box Office News.

Unfortunately for those of us who like watching good movies, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story failed to definitively kill the biopic in all of its various ungodly forms 11 years ago, so it was only a matter of time before some “visionary” “director” would come along and remake that genius parody but without any of the intentional jokes or self-awareness and centring itself around a real musical icon who deserved better instead of John C. Reilly (no disrespect to John C. Reilly). 

And after an already monumentally successful pre-release run in the UK, where the band Queen are arguably more fondly regarded than our actual monarch Queen, Bryan Singer’s abysmal Bohemian Rhapsody toured the US this past weekend to an absolutely thunderous reception, clinching the #1 slot with a cool $50 million.  Much like Queen themselves, Rhapsody was able to fend off even the harshest of critical responses to its gaudy, vapid, insipid self-mythologizing in order to instead be embraced by *true fans* that make up the general non-snooty public who know how to have fun and don’t react to the already-notorious Mike Myers cameo by trying to gnaw off their own skin.  Difference here being, unlike the actual Queen who were awesome, I highly doubt this is going to inspire revisionist critical appraisals a few decades down the line.  If Bohemian Rhapsody is any Queen album, it’s Hot Space – one phenomenal track stuck at the end of an interminable stretch of dirge.

But let’s not dwell on one of my personal most-hated films of the year, because I’ve been off this beat for almost a full month and a lot has happened!  For example, David Gordon Green’s revival of Halloween blew the roof off of cinemas nationwide and threatened to turn into a full-on IT level phenomenon.  Opening two weekends back to $76 million, one of the largest ever for an R-rated horror movie, and last weekend dropping a respectable 58% to remain in the top spot of the chart with $31 million.  But then Halloween the holiday fell on a Wednesday and now audiences seem completely done with spooktaculars like Halloween, as the film fell another 65% this weekend into fourth place with $11 million. 

One would think, then, that everyone is already in a rush to get their Christmas movie on!  Maybe they are, but since Despicable Grinch isn’t until next weekend, we’ll have to wait a while to find out for certain as Disney’s bewildering The Nutcracker and the Four Realms died on its arse.  Admittedly, second place and $20 million doesn’t seem severe enough for the usage of “died on its arse,” but that’s in addition to a meagre $38.5 million overseas (including China) and Disney are supposed to be a bulletproof brand incapable of delivering anything less than zeitgeist-capturing monster-opening blockbusters.  If your response to that is, “then why did they sink millions of dollars into a Nutcracker movie?” then you’ve already thought way more about it than any Disney exec did!

Meanwhile on holdovers, A Star is Born may in fact be unkillable because even with a big fancy new musical in town with a lower barrier for entry, the Bradley Cooper-directed inevitable Awards Season-sweeper – it’s gonna be that or the Ruth Bader Ginsburg-biopic On the Basis of Sex, get your anger out of your system now – only dipped 20% in its fifth weekend; $11.1 million.  So too, somehow, is Venom, whose success has been so total (it’s going to cross $200 million domestic by midweek) that I am at a loss for a potential explanation.  At least A Star is Born has good music.  Speaking of Eminem disses, Neon opened the Eminem-produced acclaimed battle-rap dramedy Bodied into 14 theatres and absolute indifference with just $50,528 (a per-screen average of $3,609) before it gets sent to YouTube RED to die in irrelevance next year, much like Eminem in the latter half of this decade. 

And whilst I’m focusing on easy targets, Joel Edgerton’s rubbish gay conversion therapy drama Boy Erased dominated the weekend’s new Limited Releases with $220,000 from 4 theatres for a per-screen average of $44,000.  OK, that was mean.  It’s probably really good, I personally won’t know until February (thanks a bunch Universal), but I will be super-salty when Boy erases Desiree Akhavan’s wonderful Miseducation of Cameron Post from all conversations, much like La La Land did Sing Street in 2016.  *mumbles irritatedly*

Right, what else have I missed?  Luca Guadagnino’s divisive remake of Suspiria expanded from last weekend’s two screens to 311… just in time to completely miss the boat on hooking in anybody not already predisposed to trying out a 155-minute-long remake of a 1977 giallo film; $964,722 for a per-screen average of $3,102.  Admittedly, Amazon probably had mother! still rolling around in their memories, but their bodged release schedule still means that we’re definitely done talking about Suspiria from this point on.  Lee Chang-dong’s Burning has been getting off to a low-key decent start for such an icy movie, following up last weekend’s $26,130 opening on two screens with a $57,550 sophomore on six screens.  Damien Chazelle’s breathtaking First Man has officially failed as it dropped out of the chart this week after a full month of struggling to replicate the quiet success of similarly-targeted adult drama Bridge of Spies; its four-week domestic total coming to just $42 million.  Finally, the mediocre Marie Colvin biopic A Private War got off to a moderately-decent start with an opening weekend of $72,000 from four screens, and I chose to bring this up because I found out that one of its producers, Marissa McMahon, is the wife of WWE’s Shane McMahon who went to Saudi Arabia last Friday and became The Best Wrestler in the World.

Somebody please notify The Machines that The Matrix is falling apart before our very eyes.

Gotta get away from this Full List floor, crazy!  (Full List crazy, you know!)

US Box Office Results: Friday 2nd November 2018 – Sunday 4th November 2018

1] Bohemian Rhapsody

$50,000,000 / NEW

Dave Bond has put together a decidedly more positive review than I would have managed, so go read that both because it can give you a break from my venom and because it’s a good review.  But if you want my advice?  Just watch Walk Hard.  Yes, I know that’s my advice for all situations in life, but at least Walk Hard is intentionally hilarious and doesn’t effectively claim that Freddie Mercury’s life went completely downhill the second he decided to start being openly camp and having sex with Bad Gay Men.

2] The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

$20,000,000 / NEW

Got a review of this coming midweek but I’ll let you know as a sneak peek that the film’s a disaster.  It’s a mess in the way that Disney have largely managed to hammer out of their films, but unlike Maleficent every flummoxing creative choice that’s perversely fascinating is cancelled out by flaws that afflict boring terrible movies and the result is just dull.

3] Nobody’s Fool

$14,000,000 / NEW

Oh, hey!  A new Tyler Perry movie opened this past weekend.  I have not seen a single one of them which is meant less as a brag and more as an indictment that it’s 2018 and one of the biggest-name directors in America, regardless of how critically reviled his films may be, cannot get a consistent UK distribution deal.

Relatedly: Sorry to Bother You is out here December 7th.  Go see it.

4] A Star is Born

$11,100,000 / $165,634,566

Since this continues to rocket up the chart of Top Grossing Movies That Never Hit #1, I decided to take a look at that there list and whilst I was shocked at some of the totals – Ice Age 3 made nearly $200 million domestic?! – I was more shocked by the fact that Casino Royale never topped the American Box Office.  Like, I know that Bond’s reputation was in the toilet after Die Another Day, but I figured the film would have pulled off a leapfrog in its sophomore weekend after word got out that it was (and still is) excellent.  But, no!  Both times it was pipped to the post by, dead serious, Happy Feet!

5] Halloween

$11,015,000 / $150,408,705

I’m never going to see it because of horror and mine’s rocky relationship, but this managed to make Brooker happy so I’m happy that he’s happy.

6] Venom

$7,850,000 / $198,663,348

Imagine if Bad Times at the El Royale made this level of money?  Or if we split that amount of money between El Royale and First Man?  Imagine how much better our future Film landscape would look had we gone and done that instead of continuing to see Venom a month after its initial release?

7] Smallfoot

$3,805,000 / $77,484,301

As a pre-emptive warning for next week in the likely event I do get to it opening weekend: no, I am not looking forward to Illumination’s take on The Grinch.  For one, everything they’ve show so far makes it look like Despicable Me but modded to replace that film’s cast with Grinch character models – EVEN THE POSTER DESIGNS ARE THE SAME – and I shouldn’t have to tell you that Dr. Seuss is not Despicable Me.  For two, there’s a soundtrack coming out and it’s filled with novelty hip hop Christmas needle-drops that I am already breaking out in hives over.  And for three, Illumination have already tried adapting a Dr. Seuss story, The Lorax in 2012, and it was an abomination that perverted the entire message of the book.  Sure, Mike Myers makes an abysmal live-action Dr. Seuss and nobody is allowed to do live-action adaptations ever again, but Illumination do something equally as terrible in animated form yet are given a second chance?!

8] Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

$3,700,000 / $43,832,316

Still haven’t gotten around to seeing this yet – I’ve been spending my post-LFF days trying to catch up on everything I missed whilst down there and it’s been a struggle lining up times for everything – so I’ll instead mention that the 2015 Goosebumps movie was really quite fun and worth checking out.

9] Hunter Killer

$3,525,000 / $12,965,116

Linda Cardellini got paid and, in the end, that’s all that really matters.  Sure, I also got robbed of two hours of my life that I’ll never get back thanks to an especially boring Gerard Butler film – which, yeah, is also true of almost-literally every single film the man has ever been in – but at least Lindsay Weir/Wendy Corduroy/my personal Velma Dinkley got paid.

10] The Hate U Give

$3,400,000 / $23,460,924

Called it on the platform release backfiring.  Rather than being smug, though, I’m just bummed because this was excellent and deserved better.  Look forward to seeing it on my End of Year lists (that I guess we’re all going to have to start drafting soon).

Dropped Out: First Man, Night School, Mid90s

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