1917 breaks through the enemy line, Like a Boss is offered Just Mercy, Underwater drowns, and Other Box Office News.
Off the back of two major Golden Globe wins, nine nominations at the BAFTAs, a pair of stunning weekend performances in Limited Release, and all this before the added ten Oscar nominations it’s just now racked up as I type these words, Sam Mendes’ 1917 has also been conquering the Western Front of the American box office as it expands into Wide Release where normal human beings outside of industry bubbles can actually see it. Unsurprisingly, it’s your new #1 since nothing major has come out for an age, but let’s set pithy snarking aside for a moment and stand in awe of its $36.5 million haul. That’s way more than Universal expected it to make (their initial estimates topped out at $20 mil), and it’s not all that far from Dunkirk’s initial opening shot of $50.5 million which is noteworthy since that was rated PG-13 whilst 1917 is rated R – or 15 in the UK as one family unfortunately found out when they tried to get into my screening this weekend. That puts it in good stead to retain next weekend! After all, what else are people gonna see? Dolittle? Nobody was asking for Dolittle! Literally nobody has ever asked for Dolittle unless they’re at a record store looking to buy the classic 1989 Pixies album of the same name but with two “o”s!
1917 was not, however, the only Limited Release Oscar hopeful to expand into Wide this past weekend. There was also Destin Daniel Cretton’s Just Mercy, which has spectacularly failed to score a single nomination at any of the three major awards shows – Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and the Oscars – presumably because it didn’t feature enough drawn-out sad clown interpretive dance numbers for the various awards bodies’ likings. Therefore, its time in the Top 10 is probably going to be a very short one given the fact that Oscar Bait (which Just Mercy is even though it’s really good Oscar Bait) relies on nominations to survive amid the harsh waters of the box office, but at least its Wide debut outperformed expectations with a $10 million haul. That, at time of writing, is actually equal to the opening weekend of Paramount’s Like a Boss, a Tiffany Haddish/Rose Byrne comedy that keeps giving me horrifying traumatic flashbacks to Bride Wars for some reason, the latter movie having significantly underperformed perhaps on account of it apparently being very shit. Who’s gonna win this heated battle once the Actuals shake things out? Come on back next week to find out cos I’m already way too late at turning this piece in as is!
Like a Boss can take comfort, at least, in not being Underwater, the long-delayed and batted around the release schedule like a cat toy – seriously, you can tell how long this one has been sat on the shelf by the fact that T.J. Miller has a top-line-poster starring credit, presumably mandated by his contract from when he signed on back in March 2017 – ‘Alien IN THE SEA!’ horror-thriller. Seventh place with, fittingly, almost $7 million exactly and a perfectly average (for horror movies) “C” Cinemascore. It’s January, what else were you expecting? It’s not like the industry is going to suddenly pull a 180 and undo decades of conditioning that this is a dump month for underwhelming/garbage fare. Still, guess it could be worse. Underwater could be that notorious new Grudge which plummeted 69% (nice) in its sophomore weekend out of the chart entirely. Silver linings, and all that.
Get ready to go over the top with this Full List.
US Box Office Results: Friday 10th January 2020 – Sunday 12th January 2020
$36,500,000 / $39,221,279
Dave Bond’s got a five-star review all set for you to peruse right now! My own take will be along on Friday over at Soundsphere Magazine, but short version is… it’s fine. I thought it was just kinda fine.
$15,059,000 / $478,169,690
Following on from that last bit, please God give me a new film to watch that I feel even slightly strongly about! I’ve been on a seemingly endless “it’s fine” streak for much of the past year and it’s starting to get me worried! I even saw Lawrence of Arabia for the first time the other night, on a big 4k cinema screen, and finished that largely feeling “meh!” I’ve been doing this whole Film Critic thing for over a decade, now, so I don’t really want to entertain the notion that the problem may be me, thanks. I’ll even take a bunch of terrible films I passionately dislike, at this point!
3] Jumanji: The Next Level
$14,000,000 / $257,124,981
Imagine being the imbecilic tasteless assholes who didn’t nominate Awkwafina for Best Actress after her work in The Farewell. In fact, imagine watching The Farewell and nominating it for jack shit. Imagine styling yourself as the arbiter of exceptional filmmaking, of elevating only the best movies from the best filmmakers and ignoring The Farewell entirely yet nominating a straight-faced take on one of Patrick (H) Willems’ “If [x film] Were Directed by [x filmmaker]” comedy videos 11 frickin’ times. Imagine how much of an ignorant dumbass you would have to be in order to make that happen.
4] Just Mercy
$10,000,000 / $10,435,988
I’m gonna do that last bit again in a minute so, for variation’s sake, here’s the eloquent rant I put together about the BAFTAs specifically (and you can also lump the Oscars in too) when their nominations were released last Tuesday. I promise to not harp on this again after this week, scout’s honour. …well, unless Joker somehow wins Best Picture (it won’t), and even then, that’s just gonna be despair over the fact that I will have to keep hearing about Joker for many more months to come than anything else.
5] Like a Boss
$10,000,000 / NEW
Anyone here seen Everly? Salma Hayek was phenomenal in that. She deserves way better. I hope Marvel don’t fridge her within the first 30 minutes of The Eternals or, worse, Mads Mikkelsen in Doctor Strange her.
6] Little Women
$7,650,000 / $74,031,009
Boy, it sure is a shame that Greta Gerwig and every other female director on Earth conveniently has to return to their mothership at the same time as the voting process for Best Director categories in all of these industry awards kicks off, therefore rendering them ineligible on account of one needing a corporeal presence on this planet during voting time. It’s the only explanation which justifies shutting her, Lulu Wang, Olivia Wilde, Lorene Scafaria, et al out of contention. Or that the bantz of having the director of Starsky & Hutch doing his most passable impression of Martin Scorsese go up against the actual Martin Scorsese (in a perfect representative image of White Male Privilege) was too great of a temptation to let go. OK, I promise I’m done now.
$7,003,000 / NEW
The realisation just hit me that Kristen Stewart and Adam Driver have both had the exact same twelve months as each other. Both starring in four films, both being great in all of them – allegedly for Underwater, it’s not out here til next month so can’t say for certain – yet both having the films themselves be hot steaming garbage. They even both hosted a below-average episode of Saturday Night Live! In fact, come to think of it, does any proof exist that Stewart and Driver aren’t one and the same? I could totally see Kristen Stewart being able to pull off the role of Adam Driver, just saying.
8] Frozen II
$5,761,000 / $459,384,042
I am aware that everyone else across the Internet has already gotten their Best of the Decade series over and done with, but our motto here at Set the Tape is “the year/decade is not over until the year/decade is over!” Also “fuck the Tories.” Both look a lot more noble when written out in Latin. Anyways, Eamon Hennedy has kicked off our sporadic coverage of some of our favourite pop culture of the 2010s with a fond lookback at Parks and Recreation, a show which only ended five years ago in case you want an idea of how badly time has been distorted into a collapsing unknowable mush these past couple of years.
9] Knives Out
$5,725,000 / $139,621,744
Following on from last week, and being pimped here cos the film fell out of the Top 10, Joel Thornton’s been to see Uncut Gems during its brief British theatrical run ahead of the 31st Jan Netflix release and he really liked what he saw (through the gaps in his fingers)!
10] Spies in Disguise
$5,108,000 / $54,616,744
Untitled Goose Game movie adaptation when, Blue Sky?