Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 29/09/23 – 01/10/23

Which of you were dumb enough to bet against PAW Patrol?, Saw hasn’t lost its sharpness, oh thank god actual movies doing interestingly, and Other Box Office News.

See, folks.  On the BOR beat, sometimes you just gotta have faith that business will pick up again after a couple of slow-ass weeks where there weren’t any interesting stories to discuss and you’re left to grouse about how hard your self-imposed non-paying “job” is!  Make it through a dry spell and, eventually, you’ll be gifted a nice big five new Wide Releases week to gorge on!  Where we writers then get to treat ourselves on some alarmist narratives about an original sci-fi tentpole significantly underperforming, or getting all amazed that a PAW Patrol movie dominated when industry projections initially had Saw X pulling out the win in prime evidence that none of these people have or are around children.  We made it through a drought, everyone, we’re allotted one faux-shocked drama-stirrer!

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Of course, since I brand myself as the adult in this particular room, I’m here to cut through the bullshit and say of fucking course PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is your #1 movie in America and it’s not even close!  Kids, pre-schoolers especially, love them some PAW Patrol and parents of those kids love themselves some PAW Patrol cos it keeps said kids quiet for a while!  The first proper PAW feature, rather than a slightly extended special episode/compilation tape dumped into theatres for a very quick and very cheap buck, woofed up a respectable $13.1 million on its August 2021 debut, when everybody was still a touch tentative to make haste back to cinemas cos of the whole plague thing, and showed impressive legs both at home and worldwide.  So, now that society at large has erroneously decided the pandemic is over, of course The Mighty Movie was gonna put in some solid numbers which showed up the rest of the chart.  Nothing record-breaking, to be clear, but $23 mil for a movie aimed at pre-schoolers and based on something they watch at home all the time – something which is often a pretty hard sell, particularly with cartoons – still impressive.

Photo by Alexandro Bolaños Escamilla/Lionsgate – © 2023 Lionsgate.

Especially when going up against the much-anticipated return – for real, this time; none of this wishy-washy Jigsaw or fake-out Spiral nonsense – of the one and only trap-meister himself, Jigsaw, to the Fast & Furious of slasher franchises, Saw!  The last time we heard from the series so nice they’ve now tried unsuccessfully to kill it thrice, Chris Rock was making a prestige-y #NotAllCops spin-off that nobody seemed to really like but it opened right as the pandemic closures were ending so still spent a couple of weeks at #1 on the Box Office cos what the fuck else was everyone gonna see.  Well, those days are long behind us!  It’s back to traps, ultraviolence, puppet mascots, and a timeline more confusing than the one for the Kingdom Hearts franchise!  Accordingly, audiences were more responsive for Saw X than both Spiral ($8.7 mil debut in May 2021) and Jigsaw ($16.6 mil debut in Oct 2017), only being kept from its #1 perch by those damned dogs; $18 million for second will have to do.

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And as for The Creator, Gareth Edwards’ first feature since his time in the Lucasfilm Star Wars mines that have broken almost every filmmaker not named Rian Johnson?  Signs are not encouraging, but an ace up the sleeve means they aren’t quite a disaster, either.  Any other original sci-fi tentpole debuting to $14 million and third-place in the US, with a soft international rollout currently at just $18.3 mil from 4 markets, would be getting a fast-track to the graveyard where they keep Ad Astra and Jupiter Ascending.  The reason why I’m yet to tag and bag The Creator, though?  Its budget of just $80 mil, meaning it has a much lower threshold to clear on the way to breaking even than nearly anything else operating in a similar airspace.  The word of mouth isn’t exceptional, so we’re probably still looking at a film scraping its way into the black rather than being a giant all-out success story.  But these margins are really something to consider when a good half of this year’s current Top 10 Movies – Fast X, The Little Mermaid, Mission: Impossible 7, Elemental, and Ant-Man: Quantumania – are technically money-losers or barely-profitable due to extravagant budgets.

I can’t think of any punny Full List transitions this week, cos I’m also trying to pack for London Film Festival, so let’s just get on with it.

US Box Office Results: Friday 29th September 2023 – Sunday 1st October 2023

1] PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie

$23,000,000 / NEW

Honestly?  The first Movie was kinda alright.  Better than some of the stuff which gets pushed through bigger and (slightly) more-respected animation studios, even.

2] Saw X

$18,000,000 / NEW

Used to be a fan of Saw back in the day, though my experience with the franchise ended at #3 since my family all agreed how that one closed was a good place to get off the ride.  Should I go back?  Are the later ones “bad films” or “bad even for Saw films?”

3] The Creator

$14,000,000 / NEW

I genuinely think – or, at the very least, pray, given the wretched bloated state of the industry right now – that this will be a revolutionary work in how studios and filmmakers approach crafting their blockbusters.  Proof positive that you don’t have to choose between awe-inspiring visual effects-laden spectacle and a budget higher than the combined debt for an entire generation of university students.  Hopefully those who follow in The Creator’s footsteps will pair this kind of filmmaking with a story and screenplay worth half-a-damn, so we’re not stuck with a sea of pretty faces who have nothing to say.

4] The Nun II

$4,675,000 / $76,759,534

Happy Spook’ems Month, everybody!  Be sure to leave a little traumatised child beside the fireplace for the Babadook to snack on in between its rounds!  Here at Set The Tape, every month is Spook’ems Month, cos we don’t stop getting horror stuff to cover, but why not unofficially kick the festivities off with Shaun Rockwood’s review of the new 4K UHD transfer for Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others!

5] The Blind

$4,139,791 / $4,982,023 / NEW

This is a biopic about the Duck Dynasty guy.  You really can sell hardcore American Christians any old shit if you whistle the right tunes, huh?

6] A Haunting in Venice

$3,800,000 / $31,615,091

All these streaming services getting militant on password sharing because their billionaire investors realised much too late that streaming is a bottomless money pit they unleashed upon a media landscape unable to safely accommodate it and are now trying to scrounge up whatever pennies they can whilst going full mask-off anti-consumer in the process…  It vexes me.

7] Dumb Money

$3,500,000 / $7,300,670

As somebody not in the Reddit meme-stock cult bubble – also known as the kind of person who becomes deeply uncomfortable at any usage of the slur r*tard regardless of whether the person doing so insists they’re just being “ironic” – I found this to be like nails on the chalkboard at a frat house party with some weed-smoking douchebag who speaks exclusively in outdated memes and appropriated AAVE.

8] The Equalizer 3

$2,700,000 / $85,927,935

In concurrent film festival news, our Senior Canuck Correspondent Nicholas Lay has once again been zooming all around the Vancouver International Film Festival to bring you high-quality interviews and left-field film picks to keep an eye out for!  His write-ups this year began on a sit-down with Jamila Pomeroy, director of the Hogan’s Alley disaster documentary Union Street.

9] Expend4bles

$2,495,000 / $13,257,815

When are we, as a collective society, going to band together and force Millennium Media to answer for their decades-long crimes against action movies?  Tripe like Expend4bles cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged!

10] Barbie

$1,430,000 / $633,082,303

Off to London for two weeks.  You may still hear from me in these BORs, as I don’t have any outlet or commissions greenlit for London Film Festival at time of writing, but should things get busy then I’ll see y’all on the other side.  Go catch Stop Making Sense in the cinemas whilst I’m gone; treat yourself.

Dropped out: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, It Lives Inside, Blue Beetle, Oppenheimer

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