Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 08/02/19 – 10/02/19

The LEGO Movie falls apart, What Men Want isn’t what audiences want, Cold Pursuit freezes, The Prodigy fails to smack anyone’s bitch up, and Other Box Office News.

You wait three weeks for something, ANYTHING, new to get released into theatres and suddenly along comes every bloody thing at once!  That said, and perhaps a foreboding sign for the next 11 months – feel free to throw this hypothesis back in my face when Hollywood once again posts a record-breaking year at the Box Office, much like it did last year despite most of those films being GARBAGE – my excitement for these new releases doesn’t appear to have been shared by the American public at large.  Case in point: yes, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is your new #1, finally bringing an end to our long national Glass-based nightmare, but that’s with almost half an opening haul ($34.4 mil) than the original LEGO Movie managed five years ago ($69 mil REFRAIN FROM THE JOKES THANK YOU).  Sure, that’s at least better than the disastrous opening of LEGO Ninjago back in September 2017 (a paltry $20 million), but still ouch!  It’s not like we have major competition, with Spider-Verse on Week 9 and the How to Train Your Dragon finale (which is… fine) still two weeks out, and by all accounts the film’s really good so this should still have done numbers!  Perhaps, in future, one shouldn’t pump out multiple spin-offs (no matter how great they may be) before the franchise-viability test of a sequel has come out, and especially not released those spin-offs within six months of each other?

Meanwhile, the gender-swapped remake train continued in earnest despite that historically not turning out so hot.  After all, for every successful one, either financially or in terms of the gender-swapping actually adding something to the story (Ocean’s 8… pretty much just Ocean’s 8 at this point), there have been a litany of financial (Ghostbusters unfortunately) and creative (Overboard) DOAs clogging up the highway.  But Hollywood is terminally afraid of original ideas so here’s a feature-length adaptation of the Chappelle Show skit What Men Want.  *holds finger to earpiece*  Hang on, I’m being told it’s actually a gender-flipped remake of Nancy Meyers’ questionable What Women Want, a film which made *holds finger to earpiece* $182 million domestic?!  Whilst there’s precious little chance of that happening for What Men Want, its second place debut and $19 million opening does almost completely cover its budget – which, as a fun comparison for how little Hollywood studios give a crap about women’s comedies nowadays, was just $20 million compared to What Women Wants’ *checks notes* $70 MILLION?!

“Does the year truly start if there’s not a Liam Neeson vehicle out there in cinemas?” he asks, trying his absolute hardest to avoid the giant unprompted anecdote about an aborted hate crime in the room.  Maybe said controversy is why Cold Pursuit, the English-language remake of Norwegian black comedy In Order of Disappearance, has provided Neeson with his worst opening weekend since Run All Night was crushed under the glass-slippered foot of Cinderella in March of 2015 or perhaps the market for Neeson’s brand of agreeably fun diversion has finally been snuffed out like so many foreign-tongued mooks in one of said movies.  Whichever is the case, Cold Pursuit’s $10 million is Neeson’s worst Wide release opening result all decade, although it is worth mentioning that it’s still more than Lionsgate thought the film was going to rope in.  On similar heavily-qualified success grounds, Orion’s creepy child horror The Prodigy, whose press release to us kept trying to tout it as Taylor Schilling’s “much-anticipated foray into the horror-thriller genre” for some reason, crashed and burned into sixth place with $6 million and a garbage C+ Cinemascore, but will definitely turn a tidy profit regardless given that it only cost $6 million to make.  Miniscule-budgeted horror, the cockroach of the studio system.

In Limited Release, a bunch of films that weren’t Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird (review coming this week) made it to cinema screens.  Best performing of the lot was Asghar Farhadi’s polarising new movie Everybody Knows which Focus debuted onto 4 screens and $75,000 (and a per-screen average of $18,750 that easily trumps everything else from the weekend).  Worst performing of the lot was Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year which was, yes, an all-new Peppa Pig compilation aimed at getting the pig that not even cancellation could kill – this thing initially finished in 2012, but it keeps reanimating at intermittent intervals regardless – over in China.  In this instance, though, a giant asterisk is required because Lunar New Year fell on a Wednesday and Peppa accordingly opened early, so $70,000 from 67 theatres only tells about 80% of the story (the other 20% comes from those additional two days adding just $57,195 on top).  And in between those polar extremes we have Jonas Åkerlund’s dismal Lords of Chaos which only sacrificed $28,086 from 4 theatres ($7,022) to the Dark Ones or whatever it is Black Metal artists do.  Between this and Polar, though, maybe Åkerlund should stick to music videos rather than narrative features for, like, the rest of his career.

The LEGO Movie 2

I misplaced the instructions, but let’s go about trying to assemble this Full List anyway.

US Box Office Results: Friday 8th February 2019 – Sunday 10th February 2019

1] The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

$34,400,000 / NEW 

Doing this on either Thursday (so’s I can also go to the Notting Hill 20th Anniversary screening since I shamefully have never seen Notting Hill) or Saturday (so’s I can roll it in with something I’m not allowed to talk about just yet with any luck).  I know you don’t need to be inundated with the latest happenings in my personal life, but I just wanted to make it clear that I have practical reasons for not being in there Day 1 rather than reticence or anything like.  After all, if anyone’s earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to “does this really need to be a thing?” premises, it’s Phil Lord & Chris Miller (whilst Mike Mitchell of Sky High is directing it).

2] What Men Want

$19,000,000 / NEW

Look, I’m not saying that there isn’t dynamite potential in gender-flipping this particular premise.  But what I AM saying is that you really should go back to the drawing board ASAP if the best gag you can come up with involves men having snatches of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” song stuck in their heads.

3] Cold Pursuit

$10,800,000 / NEW

*goes to type words about the Liam Neeson story, stops, considers whether there’s anything to be said that hasn’t already been better said by better-qualified Black writers, settles instead for played-out meta humour about staying in one’s lane*

4] The Upside

$7,220,000 / $85,800,366 

Can this just fork off now, please?

5] Glass

$6,422,000 / $98,476,580

I’ll admit it, I underestimated the power of January.  Well done everybody for prolonging M. Night Shyamalan’s career another few years.  Can we all go see other movies now?  Preferably good ones?

6] The Prodigy

$6,004,403 / NEW

I’m more partial to The Chemical Brothers, myself.

7] Green Book

$3,567,000 / $61,501,776

On the eve of another potential Green Book win – I am penning this as the BAFTAs are ongoing because tape-delay, so I currently live in the anxiety-inducing Schrödinger’s Cat situation of a Green Book victory both happening and not-happening – I would like to bestow an honorary award to whichever genius in the editing booth of the Golden Globes telecast decided to cut to Ryan Coogler after Peter Farrelly’s sophomoric winner’s speech about how racism can totally be overcome by just talking it out you guys cos we’re all human just like you man we’re sentient or something I can’t remember whatever.

8] Aquaman

$3,300,000 / $328,547,042

Gonna be honest, I may have initially snorted in disbelief at the news Warner Bros. are developing a spin-off based around the trench monsters who appeared in Aquaman for roughly three minutes total, but the more I think about the idea the more I’m into it.  Why not go weird?  Think outside the box instead of just making Batman for the five billionth time!  In fact, freely advertise it as having nothing to do with the rest of Aquaman and just do a straightforward sea monster movie!  We haven’t had one of those in a non-killer shark capacity for an age, and heaven knows the comic book movie industry could stand to be more like the comics industry in this one specific aspect (making a bunch of weird and tonally-distinct gambles that don’t fit easily into the Comic Book Movie template).

9] Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

$3,040,000 / $179,821,627

Congrats on winning the BAFTA, Spider-Verse!  Sure, it means I don’t get to clean sweep my predictions this year like I did in 2018, but Spider-Verse deserves it and, more importantly, I didn’t bet actual money on my predictions so have lost nothing!

10] Miss Bala

$2,725,000 / $11,865,096

Truthfully, I doubt anyone’s going to Miss this.  *cue army of air horns, a sea of confetti, and a ticker tape parade in honour of that savage burn*

Dropped Out: The Kid Who Would Be King, A Dog’s Way Home, Escape RoomThey Shall Not Grow Old

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