Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 25/11/22 – 27/11/22

Disney’s Strange World goes unexplored, Glass Onion solves the mystery of how to make streaming movies even a little bit profitable, turkeys everywhere on Turkey Day, and Other Box Office News.

Oh dear.  Normally, the Thanksgiving weekend period is a hive of activity at the Box Office.  Family animations, starry adult dramas, and Awards Season expanders coming together in a big ol’ jamboree to compete for busy moviegoers’ rampant desire to not have to speak to any of their immediate or extended family for 150 minutes please god Uncle Thomas is ready to start talking about DeSantis again.

Even last year, when audiences were “reluctant to return to en masse to cinemas” as the prevailing (demonstrably false) narrative went, Thanksgiving had plenty of meat to chew on with lots of high-performing success(-ish) stories.  But this year… do you kids still like Wakanda Forever?  Cos, with one notable exception, that third weekend of Marvel’s mega-sequel was pretty much all audiences wanted to check out from this slate.  In fairness, a $64 million five-day is better than Encanto’s semi-underwhelming $40 million five-day last year, whilst the $45.9 million three-day marks a soft 31% drop from the sophomore weekend which is much better than those displayed by Doctor Strange 2 and 4or.

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And Disney are gonna want to hold onto that particular silver lining cos it seems my long-running Gravity Falls-referencing gag about how the studio can buy and sell you at a moment’s notice must officially come to an end.  You’ve probably heard this by now, since the industry press is particularly quick this season to turn a movie’s predominate narrative entirely on its financial performance, but for the benefit of those who don’t live in the DISCOURSE bubble 24/7: Strange World, the 61st feature by Walt Disney Animation Studios, bombed.

Not “bombed” with seven dozen asterisks because someone needs to cut through the sensationalist narratives and give you actual sense, like has been the case too often as of late.  No, this is a classic outright no hyperbole bomb of the megaton variety.  $18.6 million for the five-day, and $11.9 million for the three-day meaning that business did not pick up when the weekend kicked into proper gear like is supposed to happen.

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Since we don’t count Raya and the Last Dragon (cos that opened in Full Pandemic times) nor the 2011 Winnie-the-Pooh (since that only cost $30 mil and bringing up its bombing just makes me sad), this makes Strange World the biggest Disney animation bomb since… shit, Treasure Planet in 2002.  Hell, even with twenty years of inflation, Strange World couldn’t match Treasure Planet’s atrocious $12 million three-day opening.

That disaster became the first Disney animation (on current record) to not make its budget back in cinemas (as Fantasia 2000 existed only in travelling IMAX show variety) and it’s pretty much guaranteed to get company soon enough since the overseas rollout is… not much better at time of writing.  Not to mention that a good chunk of the international market is being compromised entirely due to explicitly queer content – maybe, I’ve not been able to see it yet to determine whether Disney and the Culture War types are crying wolf for the nine-hundredth time.  Analysts project a round $100 million loss when all is said and done, proof positive that the only way Disney can truly bomb nowadays is when they actively try to engineer so via non-existent marketing.

Credit: John Wilson/Netflix © 2022.

Speaking of bombs galore, a number of the big Awards Season dramas made their expansion only to find that, god, it’s brutal out here.  The biggest story from last weekend was the Harvey Weinstein investigation dramatization She Said doing pretty much exactly how any non-terminally-online person might’ve expected when presented with that logline, fantastic movie or not.  This weekend, after leading industry publications chose to give column inches to Weinstein’s camp gloating over the movie’s financial failure – JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHAT ON EARTH MADE YOU THINK THAT WAS OK YOU CRETINS – it’s out of the Top 10 entirely.

Similarly getting just the most dogshit DISCOURSE from media illiterate twits and also faceplanting out the gate is Luca Guadagnino’s fantastically macabre cannibal romance Bones and All.  Following a strong arthouse debut during out off-weekend ($121,004 from 5 screens for a $24,200 PTA), the film went wide to nearly 2,750 screens and failed to crack even a $1,000 PTA; $2.2 mil dead.  Spielberg’s The Fabelmans is operating without the assist of hot cannibal Timothée Chalamet and its wide expansion was almost even with Bones at $2.22 million, albeit with the caveat that it’s playing on a comparatively slim 638 screens and yet scored only a fraction of our next film.

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You might be asking yourself, was there anything truly salvageable from this weekend?  Anything to indicate some future that doesn’t involve a Marvel/Avatar boot stamping on a human face forever?  Turns out, if you ask the independent analysts, there may very well be!  Likely a result of Rian Johnson publicly bullying the streaming megalith into doing so, Netflix elected to release the hotly-anticipated new Benoit Blanc befuddler, Glass Onion, into nearly 700 theatres across America for a one week only engagement.

Now, Netflix have released a few of their Awards Season-y features (plus a select couple of their Xerox-efforts at blockbusters) into limited cinema runs – hell, Glass Onion wasn’t even the only one this weekend; Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio has also gotten one – but they never report the financial takings, secretive little clubhouse that they are, so we can never really tell how well they’ve done.  At press time, it’s business as usual from the Netflix mouthpieces, but industry analysts have many birds twittering in many ears so we do have unofficial numbers!  Extremely good unofficial numbers!  A five-day weekend of $13.2 million, a three-day of $9.4 million, and a PTA of $13,305.  If I were Netflix, I’d be running this one for another week or so to take advantage of audience demand at a barren cinematic landscape and rake in some free cash.  Just saying.

Alrighty, now that you’re stuffed full of the turkey that was the pre-amble, it’s time to serve up the Full List.

US Box Office Results: Friday 25th November 2022 – Sunday 27th November 2022

1] Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

$45,900,000 / $367,670,596

I have no idea how I’ve managed to avoid the DISCOURSE spheres for Wakanda Forever these last three weeks.  Nothing has cracked my personal bubble.  No purity signalling shit regarding Letitia Wright, no “#[SympatheticVillain]WasRight” nonsense from people who don’t understand nuance, no discussions of big scenes, nada.  The most I’ve been exposed to was a possible joke post alleging that they had to CGI smooth the crotch area of Namor’s suit cos otherwise you could outline his penis and, no, I’m not about to go dredge it back up for authentication on this published article I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO DO AND IT WON’T WORK!

2] Strange World

$11,900,000 / $18,600,000 / NEW

So, did this bomb because of non-existent marketing, because it’s apparently just ok, or because it’s *adopts Chang from Community voice* GAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY?  Answers on a postcard; I still can’t see it.

3] Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

$9,400,000 / $13,280,000 / NEW

Dropping the pithiness for a minute, I have genuinely been waiting, ever since the initial announcement that this was gonna get a limited cinema run after all, for Netflix to put out a statement saying that “due to overwhelming demand, we’re extending Glass Onion’s cinema run for another week!”  It makes total sense, right?  Knives Out made well over $300 million worldwide and had legs longer than NBA players.  Why not go all-out on this and rake in the free money so you’re not eating ginormous losses on every production since there’s no specified income for each movie?  Unlike subscription rates, box office money is a quantifiable measure of success – and this was guaranteed to be a hit, so the risk of bursting the Netflix bubble was negligible – and it boosts hype for the Netflix drop next month.  But there I go, demonstrating the kind of straightforward logic which means I’d never cut it in the business world.

4] Devotion

$5,960,000 / $9,000,000 / NEW

Nothing to do with the infamous delisted/banned Taiwanese horror game from 2019, but rather a Korean War aviation drama starring Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell.  Somehow, I doubt this one’s gonna do as well as the other aviation drama Powell has starred in from this year.

5] The Menu

$5,200,000 / $18,670,443

Despite having gotten some dispiriting news regarding my recovery process at press time, I’m clinging onto the hope that I will have in fact watched movies at a cinema by the day this actually goes live into your eyeballs.  Don’t break your hip, folks; it’s a real fucking pisser having to put a quarter of your year on hold whilst your crappy body slowly heals itself.

6] Black Adam

$3,350,000 / $162,973,000

And, nope, I’ve not watched The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special yet either.  It’s still not December.  Cool your jets with your Xmas malarkey.

7] The Fabelmans

$2,220,234 / $3,430,000

Fun Fact: The Fabelmans does not release in the UK until 27th JanuaryThe day following its US wide release, Universal announced that Fabelmans will be hitting VOD before 2022 is even out.  It’s as if Hollywood studios are begging people overseas to pirate their Awards Season movies at this point.

8] Bones and All

$2,204,463 / $3,709,000

Bloody brilliant, this.  Saw it at London Film Festival and did not expect to think it was much cop, let alone one of the best films of the year (I’m that buzzkill who found Call Me By Your Name too remote and cold to work).  Between this and Preacher’s Daughter by Ethel Cain, 2022 has been quite the boom year for Southern gothic stories of cannibal romances which double as a commentary on the death of the American dream in a queer metaphor.

9] Ticket to Paradise

$1,850,170 / $65,070,000

We had a busy old week up here at Set the Tape Towers whilst our Editor in Chief was off on break!  Ben Greenland’s exhaustive dive through the best and worst of every single Doctor Who Doctor has reached Jon Pertwee’s time in the TARDIS.  Shaun Rockwood rummaged through the line-up of Canadian horror festival Blood in the Snow to find the most noteworthy pieces.  I managed to finish up a review from LFF of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical the Movie because The Resident Dahl Fan On-Staff (me) couldn’t let its mediocrity go despite more pressing life concerns.  And Sam Judd concluded his time at Leeds International Film Fest by picking out some of his personal highlights.

10] The Chosen Season 3: Episodes 1 & 2

$1,585,840 / $13,450,394

Really, America?  You really chose the second weekend of a TV series event screening over the chance to get around to watching one of the year’s best films (She Said)?  This is why nobody invites you to their fancy wine-and-cheese intellectual soirees anymore.

Dropped out: She Said; Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile; Smile; Prey for the Devil; The Banshees of Inisherin

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