Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 31/03/23 – 02/04/23

Dungeons & Dragons successfully rolls for initiative, and Other Box Office News.

Our Report, this week, begins in a tavern.  A lively, boisterous tavern filled with the worst, most heinous, least trustworthy creatures to ever walk the realm: movie studio executives.  They come here every Monday morning to drown their sorrows ahead of the unveiling of the weekend’s Box Office figures.  It is both a time of celebration and a time of commiseration, for those whom the winds of fate blow in good fortune will be praised and revered like soothsaying gods, whilst those who are not so fortunate shall see their head on a spike before the afternoon sun settles in.  To pass the time, they drink, consume unholy amounts of illicit substances, and razz each other over troubled productions and petty infighting blabs to the industry trades sniffing around for their latest scoop.  After all, it’s not just about how much money a movie opens to, it’s about the narrative one can make from those results.

You, a fresh-faced intern at Paramount Pictures, as a result of drawing the shortest straw have been given the unenviable task of walking into said tavern and relaying the opening weekend figures of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves to the studio’s top brass.  A coven of ill-tempered, fire-breathing, lizard-people currently hopped up on enough magical white powder to make them all extra irritable.  The numbers in your hand are a win, but the kind which comes with a lot of caveats for a $150 million prospective franchise-starter opening the weekend before The Super Mario Bros. Movie arrives to stomp on everybody’s shit like a row of Goomba heads.  Pitching this wrong could lead to your face being melted off in a misplaced venting of emotion.

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*you make a perception check, 16*

You see that the lead Paramount exec at the table has a twinkle of hope in his eyes.  He’s pretty badly wanting this D&D to be a hit and seems willing to accept a positive read of the figures at face-value.  Whilst the fact that he and the potential future of the franchise hinge a lot more on the sophomore weekend performance might not be the wisest of things to disclose at this juncture, a clear desperation to no longer be solely reliant on the teat of Tom Cruise for his studio’s survival does indicate he may be more open to persuasion than initially feared.

“Sssssssso…” he drawls through his slithery lizard tongue.  “What doesssssssss the sssssssstatisssssticsssss sssssheet ssssssssay?”

*you roll for a charisma check, natural 20*

His smile is practically beaming as you tell him that Honor Among Thieves is the new US Box Office #1.  Initial projections going into the weekend had the film making just a sliver over $30 mil, struggling against the second weekend of John Wick, but you tell him that the $38.5 million it made was severely over expectations and threw Wick into the mud way harder than anyone thought possible!  You point to the movie’s “A-” Cinemascore as a sign of just how much audiences are digging the film, plus the $33 million overseas total making it the biggest film in the world this weekend.  You also take great pains to repeat that, somehow, this is the best domestic opening for a non-sequel/franchise movie since NOPE’s $44.4 million last July.  In no uncertain terms, you spin this as an absolute win regardless of the fact that again a $150 million budget and Mario being mere days away.  Once done, you hold your breath in case the rousing speech has failed to win over the lead exec’s other scaley boys with barbequed intern on their minds.

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The lead exec rises from his throne, thrusts his hand out and, more as a gesture for his underlings to simmer down, bellows “MY MAN!  YOU BRINGSSSSSSSS ME EXXXXXXCELLENT NEWSSSSSSS!  WE ARE MOSSSSSSST PLEASSSSSSSED!” before offering you a line of magical white powder.  Pressured by this just being the way things are done here in Hollywoodland, you somewhat reluctantly snort the powder.

*you make a constitution check, 3*

Unfortunately, your lack of experience with illicit substances means that you black out within a minute of ingestion.  You wake in a dank, pitch-black cavern stripped off all clothes, items, and weapons.  With no means of protecting yourself or crafting a light source, and your initial stirring-awake attracting its attention, you are immediately eaten by a Grue.

This Full List, much like that painful intro, is the result of rolling natural 1s.

US Box Office Results: Friday 31st March 2023 – Sunday 2nd April 2023

1] Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

$38,500,000 / NEW

Quintessential three-star movie, this.  Good enough to be a fun breezy time – with likeable characters; fun setpieces; and excellent set, creature, and visual designs and effects – whilst never quite shaking the wish that it were properly great and directed with more flair.  Also, really shouldn’t have been a comedy, and not just because its jokes aren’t particularly funny.  (Yes, I know I have absolutely no right to bang on about bad comedy after the opening I just made you all suffer through.)  Still, I’d happily watch a few more of these if they work on the shortcomings.

2] John Wick: Chapter 4

$28,210,000 / $122,878,306

A bigger drop than expected (61.8%) but it’s still really good for an R-rated three-hour action flick, and we’re already approaching $250 mil worldwide.  (For comparison: John Wick 3 closed at $327 million worldwide.)  Most importantly, I rewatched the thing this weekend and it still fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucksssssssss.

3] His Only Son

$5,500,000 / NEW

So, here’s a fun one.  A first-time distributor quietly putting out an Old Testament drama with relatively little promotion, no official theatre count going into the weekend, and no major predictions from analysists which managed to crack third-place on the countdown.  The fact that this faith-based drama sounds like an actual goddamn movie – it’s an adaptation of the Abraham story, the one where God tells him to kill his son then says “sike!” at the last minute cos Old Testy God was a real asshole – instead of a sermon by a fundamentalist youth pastor who flunked out of Film School in their first semester is just the cherry on top.  Well done, all!  Please don’t turn out like PureFlix!

4] Scream VI

$5,300,000 / $98,228,065

Following on somewhat from last week’s Wednesday dragging on these very pages, guest writer Grace Adams has taken a deep dive into the history of Wednesday Addams and her various incarnations both on-and-off-screen over the decades!

5] Creed III

$5,007,920 / $148,579,993

I’m no lawyer, and I know we’re in a post-D**p hellscape for domestic abuse victims, but if I were in charge of defending my client from abuse charges, I wouldn’t leak a collection of text messages which make things look much worse then insist that they actually exonerate my client of any wrongdoing.  But that’s just me.

6] Shazam! Fury of the Gods

$4,600,000 / $53,473,000

For roughly 100 to 110 minutes, I was actually prepared to defend Shazam! 2.  Sure, it’s a clear step down from the exceptional original, being over-plotted to all hell and sacrificing the intimacy in favour of spectacle and obnoxious Skittles product placement.  But Sandberg idolises Spider-Man Sam Raimi, the characters remain fun, Rachel Zegler and Jack Dylan Glazer are fantastic, and what seemed like the final beat put a nice bow on things.  And then this thing craters, and I mean total middle-finger collapses in a way that retroactively destroys any goodwill the movie had built up and seems like a psy-op to murder shared universes for good.  Atrocious yet still such a heartbreaker.

7] A Thousand and One

$1,800,000 / NEW

This, meanwhile, is a highly-acclaimed New York drama about a mother who kidnaps her son back from the foster system, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and was dropped into just over 900 theatres with next-to-no buzz.  (It also, unsurprisingly, has no UK release plans at time of writing.)  The fact that I can’t make an “a million and one(hundred thousand)” pun is proof that this film has successfully punched above its weight.

8] 65

$1,580,000 / $30,580,972

In other action-horror news, Resident Evil 4 super-fan Amy Walker has torn through the lavish remake to inform you whether it’s worth buying yet another version of the game Capcom has already sold and resold to you like 23 times before!  The answer may shock you!  (Unless you were expecting the answer to be “yes, it is worth it,” in which case… I dunno, well done, smarty-pants?)

9] Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

$1,230,000 / $212,023,747

Happy boygenius week to all who celebrate!  I’m now racing through the rest of this write-up so I can get back to listening to it, cos my physical copies didn’t turn up until Saturday night.  But Joel Thornton has managed to give it enough spins to crank out a review, presumably cos his heart is made of titanium meaning he can do still things and not just weep nonstop to ‘We’re In Love’.

10] Jesus Revolution

$1,000,000 / $50,898,788

It’s not the messiah, nor is it a very naughty boy!  It’s Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and it’s just turned 40!  Before any more members of the troupe can embarrass themselves with terrible “cancel culture”-esque takes, you should read Lee Thacker’s retrospective on the redheaded stepchild of the Python pictures.

Dropped out: Cocaine Bear, Avatar: The Way of Water, Champions

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