Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 14/02/20 – 16/02/20

Audiences OPEN THEIR HEEEAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTs to Sonic, Fantasy Island does not take patrons up to the highest heights, Downhill gets buried by the avalanche of new releases, and Other Box Office News.

Presidents’ Day weekend also happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day for the first time since 2016 and, in celebration of love being in the air for the holiday weekend, folks chose to patronise the time-honoured love story between a C-list actor who coulda been somebody and a mildly-cute-mildly-offputting CGI creature from whatever pre-21st century child-adjacent media property a group of creatively bankrupt movie executives could get their hands on, played out across a cost-effective pop-culture-reference-laden LOUD NOISES family movie of the kind we were drowned to death in throughout the 2000s.  Unfortunately for those of us who went back to such films without nostalgia goggles and discovered that they were largely steaming trash, Sonic the Hedgehog is currently a massive hit with a #1 debut of $57 million for the three-day, which smashes past last year’s Detective Pikachu to the title of Best Opening Weekend for a Video Game Movie Ever whilst also racking up the far more impressive accolade of being the fourth-best Presidents’ Day weekend of all-time, and a four-day almost guaranteed to be a minimum of $70 mil.  It’s also rocking an “A” Cinemascore so that puts it in good stead for the next fortnight to fight against the stiff competition of [INSERT STIFF COMPETITION HERE].  Where was this enthusiasm for my beloved Birds of Prey, huh, assholes?!

Sonic was nowhere near the only new opener this past weekend looking for a sugar daddy or several hundred thousand polyamorous folks to shower it with affection and money, however.  It’s just that they, err, didn’t do particularly well.  Blumhouse’s disastrously received horror reboot of Fantasy Island, much like we Brits for the past two weeks, got relentlessly battered by a very angry storm – albeit a metaphorical one of decidedly unhappy moviegoers given the “C-” Cinemascore – and as such barely held off its much less promoted competition to secure third with $12.4 million for the three-day.  Extremely close behind, by whatever the nose-hair equivalent of $130,000 is, was The Photograph, an Issa Rae/Lakeith Stanfield romance drama which apparently attempts to envision what a Nicholas Sparks story would look like if the leads were Black and also not insufferable twats of the nth degree.  For a film with basically no advertising behind it being drowned out by bigger and louder multiplex fare, fourth place with $12.27 million is not all that bad; it’s only $5 mil shy of Birds of Prey’s second weekend.  *seethes passionately*

As you may know, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite pulled off the Mother of all upsets at the Oscars a week back as Academy voters successfully vaulted over that one-inch subtitle barrier to award the correct film with Best Picture – HA HA, SUCK IT, MENDES!  Well, as it turns out, perhaps such a win has become the catalyst for ordinary cinemagoing folks to make their own trips over that previously verboten barrier.  Observe: Neon dropped Parasite back into 2,000 theatres this past weekend and, despite it being almost five months old, the BP winner at long last cracked the Top 10 with its best weekend yet of $5.5 million.  In Limited Release, Neon also officially put out (after previously running it for one week in the bare minimum of awards qualifying theatres) the astonishingly romantic Portrait of a Lady on Fire and ran away with an excellent $440,907 from 22 theatres (a PTA of $20,041).  Meanwhile, as the conclusive third piece of evidence that makes wildly speculative arguments bulletproof, the Will Ferrell/Julia Louis-Dreyfus-starring Force Majeure remake Downhill got completely wiped out, bringing up the rear of the Top 10 with $4.6 million and a shockingly dire “D” CinemaScore, presumably cos Force Majeure is neither particularly obscure nor exactly difficult to obtain.  Who was Downhill meant to be for again?

sonic the hedgehog cover

Kids, there’s nothing more cool than getting a Full List from someone you like!  But if someone tries to remind you that Birds of Prey is failing with relishing glee, that’s no good!

US Box Office Results: Friday 14th February 2020 – Sunday 16th February 2020

1] Sonic the Hedgehog

$57,000,000 / NEW

Matt Latham has got your review needs covered for now.  At time of writing I am yet to see this, but by date of posting I will have seen it!  Maybe all my extremely dismissive snark was for nought and it’s actually really good?  Latham seems to think so, but I am approaching this cognisant of the fact that there have literally only ever been two genuinely decent live-action video game movies in all of film history, so the odds aren’t great.  Come on back next week to find out!

2] Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

$17,115,000 / $59,273,302

Got my review out, so head on over to Soundsphere and catch yourself the very extensive and very messy set of words I let loose about this wonderful movie that, in the process of reviewing, talked me into bumping it up to a mental 5*.  If you are still yet to see this movie, I’m coming around to each and every single one of your homes and de-alphabetising your CD collections… then immediately re-alphabetising them because my brain will actively refuse to let me leave a room if something like that has been left unorganised.

3] Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island

$12,400,000 / NEW

Yes, that is the actual name of the movie, much like how Truth or Dare was Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare and that Christopher Robin movie was explicitly named Disney’s Christopher Robin.  Trying to read the plot synopsis for this on Wikipedia caused my brain to go cross-eyed.  Can we maybe stop hiring Jeff Wadlow to write, direct, and write-direct things?

4] The Photograph

$12,270,000 / NEW

Not out in the UK until next month because why would people want to go and watch a romance movie on Valentine’s Day weekend, amiright?  What dumbass would want to sit and watch a moving and romantic love story with their significant other on a day specifically dedicated to celebrating romance and spending time with one’s significant other?  Anybody who believes otherwise will clearly never make it in the cutthroat world of British film distribution!

5] Bad Boys for Life

$11,305,000 / $181,327,306

Speaking of “romance,” Matt Latham last week commemorated the tenth anniversary of Los Campesinos!’s underappreciated third LP, Romance is Boring, with a great write-up you should check out!  On a personal note, I am most certainly not ready for a bunch of albums that are significantly important to my life to hit double digits over the course of this year.  No, sir/madam/other, not one bit.

6] 1917

$8,090,000 / $144,414,984

Any attempt to make even the most tenuous of links is gonna end up being utterly tasteless, so I’ll just mention that Dave Bond has watched and reviewed the brisk yet detailed and occasionally harrowing documentary Flint: The Poisoning of an American City, which you can read here.  Relatedly, this is your periodic reminder that many parts of Flint are still without clean water six years on.

7] Jumanji: The Next Level

$5,700,000 / $305,716,286

Not only has this now successfully hit 10 straight weeks in the Top 10, Jumanji has chosen to commemorate this achievement by increasing its weekend total from last week’s performance (up 3%)!  I keep telling folks: you want to guarantee your film is a hit, you need to hire Karen Gillan or Awkwafina as your good luck charms!  Their current box office runs don’t lie!

8] Parasite

$5,500,500 / $43,188,044

I happen to think that the Academy has largely had a better track record this past decade with handing out Best Picture to a quality film than most are willing to give them credit for – not always the best, but usually pretty good – but Parasite is the kind of movie they should be rewarding every year.  Formally exciting, narratively daring, thematically urgent and interesting.  Stuff that makes one excited to go to the movies and has things to say!  Maybe not my personal favourite of the line-up, but definitely the one that most deserves it.  Now, everyone checking out Parasite because of that Best Picture stamp of quality, go check out Bong Joon-ho’s other films too!  Every single one of them.  You’re in for a ride, believe me!

9] Dolittle

$5,050,000 / $43,188,044

Rather than foster garbage upon them, why not treat your children to the charming delights of Aardman’s absolutely wonderful Farmageddon, which hit DVD and Blu-Ray last week (and Netflix in the US)?  Helen Balls penned a review and I can back up her cool recommendation with an extremely enthusiastic one!  It’s better than Spycies, anyway.

10] Downhill

$4,671,000 / NEW

I’ll finally watch Force Majeure in the next fortnight.  …yes, I’m well aware that I am “part of the problem.”

Dropped out: The Gentlemen, Gretel & Hansel, Little Women, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, Knives Out

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