Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 29/03/19 – 31/09/19

Dumbo awkwardly hangs in the air like a Looney Tunes character over a cliff, The Beach Bum gets lost in the haze, Unplanned is carried to full-term, and Other Box Office News.

Perhaps this “remake every single one of our animated movies in live-action” strategy/obsession Disney have got going on isn’t so bulletproof, after all.  Dumbo, the first of four such movies Disney are planning to release this year (with one of them being a goddamn Maleficent sequel), is your new US Box Office #1 because, what, did you really think Us was going to repeat at the top in the face of a Disney movie?  But said skirmish between two wildly oppositional flicks ended up surprisingly closer than one may have expected with the Tim Burton-directed jumbo-sized re-envisioning of a bottom-tier Disney cartoon (you heard) failing to best even the lowest end of studio and industry expectations, taking that pole position with just $45 million.  That is, to be blunt, not good for a movie with a $170 million budget that’s clearly meant to cover for the inbound disaster of Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin, and whilst its overseas debut also scored multiple #1 placements those in total only amounted to an estimated $71 million.  Plus, Shazam! is along this weekend and, if my instincts on what kids like are accurate (already seen it), that’s going to make an utter killing until Endgame rolls around.

Allow me to armchair studio exec for a sec: how’s about, and just stick with me on this, we… don’t blow $150 million+ on remaking/re-envisioning/re-bastardising our still widely available Animated Classics library with more convoluted plotting, bloated runtimes, less whimsy, and infinitely worse staging and colour palettes?  And we definitely don’t put such charges and budgets in the hands of Tim Burton, a man who should have been carted off to Director’s Jail with the key thrown away about a decade ago?  And we most certainly don’t accept any calls from screenwriter Ehren Krugher (writer of this, Scream 3, 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, and multiple Transformers movies)?  Just spitballing.  Maybe I’m off-base.

Anyways, t’was a good weekend for both Us and Captain Marvel.  The former dropped 52% in its second frame which is very healthy for a horror movie which opened as stonkingly high as this one did, untethering $33.6 million from America’s unsuspecting pockets, hilariously almost exactly the same amount the Hands Across America stunt raised when you ignore all the money which didn’t actually go to charitable causes ($34 million).  That takes Jordan Peele’s second time at the mound effortlessly past the $100 million domestic mark, gives it the third highest per-theatre average of the weekend (bested by Dumbo and limited-release Indie drama Diane which held a $9,014 PTA from 3 screens), and leaves things on a good solid base ahead of Pet Sematary next weekend.  Meanwhile, Captain Marvel held down third with a $20.5 million fourth weekend, dropping a mere 40%, is guaranteed to cross $1 billion worldwide within the next week, and has a good shot at $400 million domestic depending on how much Shazam! cuts into proceedings.

Alas, things weren’t so good with our other openers.  Harmony Korine finally followed up the ultra-divisive cult classic Spring Breakers with genial stoner comedy The Beach Bum.  Surely the promise of a baked-out-of-his-mind Matthew McConaughey Dude-ing his way through optimistically trashy hijinks would unite audiences in much the same way the post-modern horror-esque cynicism of Spring Breakers bitterly divided them, right?  Well, technically it did, in that audiences united to stay away: the Neon release barely squeaked into the Top 10 with a dismal $1.8 million.  Meanwhile, Pure Flix and Mike Lindell pushed anti-abortion screed Unplanned into the same amount of theatres as Beach Bum (1,000-odd) to resounding success.  In fact, the second-most successful opening weekend in Pure Flix’s history, $6.1 million, behind only 2016’s God’s Not Dead 2 (with $7.6 million).  What a fantastic way to send off Women’s History Month.  Quebecer sex dramedy Slut in a Good Way mitigated the insult as best it could with $22,000 from 7 screens.  Alanis Morissette wasn’t martyred at the altar of immediately and deservedly-mocked bad takes for this!

dumbo cover

Full List mine, don’t you cry.  Full List mine, dry your eyes.

US Box Office Results: Friday 29th March 2019 – Sunday 31st March 2019

1] Dumbo

$45,000,000 / NEW

Tawny Farber’s got your review needs on this one covered since I wasted my allotted cash and time for a cinema trip this week on an early Shazam! screening.  Did I say “wasted?”  Probably the wrong word to utilise in this instance since Shazam! is amazing and Tawny’s review of Dumbo is, at best, mixed.

2] Us

$33,605,000 / $128,220,440

You know a film’s making inroads on popular culture when it’s not even been a week and people are already referencing it as shorthand comparisons for critical statements.  For example, somebody in the Stereogum comment threads correctly declared that Sky Ferreira’s new single “sounds like something Lorde’s Tethered would have made.”

Oh, yeah, Sky Ferreira finally put out a new song.  It’s pretty fucking great and you should go listen.

3] Captain Marvel

$20,500,000 / $353,805,815

I’m not going to link to it because that’s exactly what they want, but I did indeed read that Jezebel piece on Jagged Little Pill and it did indeed make me mad.  Less the fact that somebody doesn’t like JLP or feels it hasn’t held up, those I can take.  More the ingrained-sexism of the premise – actively snide and dismissive boyfriend with cool taste was totally right about foundational female art sucking – and the fact that a human being was paid money to spout the critical observation that JLP was “‘Baby Shark’ for mid-90s angsty tween girls.”  Do you know how disheartening it is to write for years without compensation for the love of the game only to then see that another self-proclaimed writer was paid cash money to say THAT?!  That’s somehow a worse take than “Crash Bandicoot was the Dark Souls of platformers!”

4] Five Feet Apart

$6,250,000 / $35,875,601

Pretty good, this!  First half is genuinely delightful with a suitably dreamy Cole Sprouse and charm-machine Haley Lu Richardson making great work out of their character’s courtship, and director Justin Baldoni mining the essential physical distance between his two leads for all the power he can muster in his shot compositions.  Second half not so much as Baldoni fails to change up his filmmaking when these crazy kids get together – same mistake Guadagnino made in Call Me by Your Name, COME AT ME FILM NERDS – the melodramatic tragedy elements overwhelm the narrative to cartoonish degrees, and it’s about 15 minutes too long.  But overall pretty good!  Best of this sort of thing I’ve seen in a while.

5] Unplanned

$6,110,000 / NEW

The “true story” this is based on has more disingenuous holes in it than a malfunctioning cheese factory, Mike Lindell is a Trump zealot who is funding several more far-right religious propaganda pieces just like this and cameos in-film as a man bulldozing a Planned Parenthood clinic, Pure Flix exclusively make mean and unwatchable garbage, abortion should be a basic human right to women everywhere and a choice they are freely allowed to decide on themselves without pressure or demonization.  Thank you, fuck you, bye.

6] Wonder Park

$4,940,000 / $37,881,787

Several major character roles in this film have been recast in the UK with famous YouTube personalities.  Is… is this really going to put additional butts in seats?  What’s the aim here, exactly?  “Oh, I know what will make this film pop in countries other than America!  Deliberately making our film inferior by recasting certain characters with non-professional actors/VAs!”  Paramount and Nickelodeon did the exact same thing with the second Spongebob Movie from 2015 when they replaced the original seagull voices from America – handled by voice acting legends Billy West, Cree Summer, and Carlos Alazraqui amongst others – with Alan Carr, Caspar Lee and Stacey Solomon, who all proceeded to deliver abysmal line reads and blown jokes with alternately shrill and flat regularity.  Again, whose decision on going to see a Spongebob film was heavily predicated on the appearance of Alan bloody Carr?!

7] How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

$4,232,000 / $152,966,010

Did you know that there’s a Hellboy reboot due out in a few weeks?  It looks really bad!  To mark the occasion, Helen Balls has been revisiting the career of director Neil Marshall, having covered Dog Soldiers and The Descent and is up to (at time of writing) Doomsday.  Go check those out!

8] Hotel Mumbai

$3,163,660 / $3,279,139

Expanded to just under 1,000 theatres this weekend after its brief Limited run last week, so this is actually kind of OK for a Bleeker Street release, the studio seemingly incapable of telling people when their films are playing.  On the Bleeker-related tip, Shaun Rodger’s given their Mads Mikkelsen survival thriller Arctic a watch and the review should be along sometime this week, so look for that.

9] Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral

$2,700,000 / $70,039,170

Leslie Byron Pitt has penned up a review of Candyman to celebrate its Blu-Ray release… *holds finger to earpiece* My mistake.  Turns out he’s penned up a review of Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh which is being issued on Blu-Ray for… reasons?  Maybe read the review and avoid the film, in this instance.

10] The Beach Bum

$1,800,000 / NEW

Does not have a UK distribution deal at the moment.  Sod everything.

Dropped out: Gloria BellThe LEGO Movie 2: The Second PartAlita: Battle Angel

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