US Box Office Report: 19/08/16 – 21/08/16

War Dogs comes up big short, Kubo’s Two Strings snap, the new Ben-Hur is left to drown, and Other Box Office News.

America, I am extremely disappointed in you.  This past weekend, Laika Entertainment gifted you a brand new masterpiece, one that was gaining thunderous acclaim from every which way, that had gorgeous trailers that promised that “something new and fresh” you’re always complaining about wanting, that was from the same people that made motherfucking ParaNorman, and what did you do?  When gifted with pretty much exactly the sort of film you have spent much of this past Summer craving for by causing a load of creatively bankrupt sequels to flop majorly?  You go and see Suicide Squad for the third time.  It’s not like you have the usual August excuse of there not being anything else out, and you can always wait a couple more months to start putting together your wannabe-Rifftrax scripts!  Dammit, people, IT’S LAIKA!  Fuck’s wrong with you?!

So despite my polite requests for common sense to prevail, nobody actually saw Kubo and the Two Strings this weekend as it flopped into fourth place with just $12.6 million, the lowest opening for any Laika movie so far.  Still, it’s not like this was a banner weekend for new releases anyway.  Top of that charge could only manage third place as Sausage Party had a very strong all-things-considered 55% drop for second place.  That third place movie was Todd Phillips’ War Dogs which, unlike the Hangover trilogy that all of the marketing seems weirdly dependent on reminding you of, was at least upfront about its aims to be mostly-not-funny, and on purpose this time!  Audiences didn’t bite, figuring they could just stay home and reheat some leftover Scorsese instead, and the Dogs only barked up $14 million, the lowest opening for any wide-release Todd Phillips movie ever.  Only took 17 years for people to finally get sick of him, but better late than never!

Elsewhere, some bright spark at Paramount and MGM decided that what the world needed was a new Ben-Hur movie and, what’s more, that said new Ben-Hur movie should be directed by Timur Bekmambetov of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter “fame” and, what’s more than that, that $100 million should be pumped its way despite having no recognisable stars, no reason for existing, and absolutely nobody asking for it in any way shape or form.  Unfortunately, nobody involved seemed to realise their horrible mistake until far, far too late instead of at the appropriate time – which, since you asked, would have been before any money whatsoever left the production company’s coffers and entered the pit that is this film – and so now Ben-Hur: Roman Drift gets to be yet another one of this Summer’s great Box Office Casualties, amassing $11.3 million for fifth place, or most likely sixth once the actuals come in since Pete’s Dragon is just $19,000 behind at the moment.

In Non-Wide Release News, Natalie Portman’s now thankfully Marvel-free existence has led to her trying her hand at directing with an adaptation of A Tale of Love and Darkness, based on an autobiographical account of the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the beginning of the State of Israel and there is absolutely no joke I could make in relation to anything here and you damn well know that.  Much like the movie itself (apparently), the film did surprisingly alright, earning $36,000 from 2 screens.  Square-Enix forced another Final Fantasy movie, Kingsglaive, into 24 theatres, because Final Fantasy films have gone down so well in the past, and did better than the Wide releases this week, at least, with $114,000 for a per-screen average of $4,750.  The one real bright spot this weekend came from David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water which expanded 472 theatres and, with pretty much nothing but word-of-mouth to go on, pulled in a surprisingly strong $2.6 million for twelfth GET THIS MOVIE INTO MY BODY RIGHT NOW DAMMIT!


War Dogs

Read this Full List whilst Laika’s box office receipts quietly weep.

US Box Office Results: Friday 19th August 2016 – Sunday 21st August 2016

1] Suicide Squad

$20,710,000 / $262,283,355

Canny strategy from Warner Bros. here, dropping Suicide Squad at the beginning of August to clean up the box office all month long because they know that jack-shit is gonna present itself as a viable alternative for the public to see.  I was even more impressed when Paramount pulled the exact same thing off with that terrible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie back in 2014, but I guess winning formulas shouldn’t be tampered with.  I mean, what are people going to see next week?  That Mechanic sequel?  Did you ask for a Mechanic sequel, cos I sure as shit did not ask for a sequel to my… (*counts fingers*)… seventh-favourite Jason Statham vehicle!

2] Sausage Party

$15,325,000 / $65,326,019

I was on the Failed Critics Podcast last week discussing the Sausage Party crediting and employee abuse scandal, so I’ll leave you to go check that out for my detailed thoughts.  A couple of hours after we finished recording that episode, co-director Greg Tiernan released a statement where he, of course, refuted those claims which is my typical friggin’ luck.  Still, I’m glad this has gotten picked up by actual news outlets since, and this is the thing you need to remember here, this is not an isolated incident and it’s been especially prevalent in Canada for years.  Animation, and Visual Effects departments in Hollywood at large, are almost on a par with AAA videogame development studios in how they work and handle employees, so I hope this ends up being the inciting incident for some real change there.

3] War Dogs

$14,300,000 / NEW

God, I bet that Todd Phillips really does think that this is his Wolf of Wall Street or Big Short or Pain & Gain, doesn’t he?  I really dislike Todd Phillips movies, they’re basically the worst kind of bro-comedies and few things turn me off films quicker than excessive and toxic masculinity.

4] Kubo and the Two Strings

$12,610,000 / NEW

For the record, if this is even a fraction as good as it looks, my Top 3 Films of 2016 will then consist purely of animated features.  We’re most definitely having a banner year for those, if nothing else.

5] Ben-Hur

$11,350,000 / NEW

You know, after the unfortunately official total failure of the new Ghostbusters movie – side bar: (*screams “GODDAMMIT” for 3 straight hours*) – and now this, you’d think and hope that Hollywood would learn their lesson.  That being: nobody wants to see remakes of supposedly sacrosanct films that were never actually all that great in the first place.  After all, since new-Ghostbusters and new-Ben-Hur both received the exact same level of sustained unadulterated hatred over being remakes of classic movies, it’s proof that this whole subgenre or whatever is now dead in the water!

…hmm?  “Ben-Hur received basically no vitriol prior to its release?”  So are you trying to tell me that all that Ghostbusters hate might not have been rooted in the concept of a Ghostbusters remake, and may have occurred for an entirely different reason not at all related to the film’s quality?  What outrageous accusations, good sir(!)  Outrageous and baseless, I say(!)

6] Pete’s Dragon

$11,311,000 / $42,892,269

So between this, BFG, and this weekend’s Swallows and Amazons adaptation, this has been the Summer of Films That Make Me Feel Miserably Fucking Old, films that I know I would have adored if I were 10 years younger instead of the jaded, cynical, clinically-depressed 21 year-old that I am.  That said, it’s preferable to the Summer’s other big throughline – Summer of Films That Don’t Need Pointless Sequels For God’s Sake Hollywood Invest In Original Goddamn Ideas For Once In Your Miserable Existence!

7] Bad Moms

$8,068,000 / $85,800,428

Out here this weekend, really hoping that it’s actually good cos Kristen Bell deserves all the nice things.

8] Jason Bourne

$7,980,000 / $140,883,285

Right, that piece I have been promising you will be up on Thursday, I swear on it.  I’ve been back home for the past week and it’s had the exact expected effect on me, so all work has been at a standstill.  But it will be up on Thursday.  I have to start writing this week, anyway, cos I promised my old university’s newspaper a full column piece by Wednesday evening and deadlines from other people aren’t of the “Whenever It’s Done” variety.

9] The Secret Life of Pets

$5,770,000 / $346,722,030

Farewell, Pets!  It’s been a good run!  It also feels like way, way longer than 7 weeks since you first burst onto the Box Office charts, dear Lord.  I keep having that same kind of weird feeling whenever I think back on Ghostbusters.  Like, there’s no way that that film was just 6 weeks ago, cos that was the same week as my Graduation and that feels like forever ago.  Why does everything feel so far away?  Maybe I shouldn’t have ended Screen 1.

Sorry, I’m just having another one of my panicky moments about the direction of my life.  Don’t mind me.

10] Florence Foster Jenkins

$4,300,000 / $14,405,743

I genuinely had a load of zingers, legitimacy criticism, and deep analysis of this film all lined up to share with you when I saw it… but that was 4 months ago and, like every other Stephen Frears film ever, I completely forgot about everything to do with this movie about a day after I saw it.

Dropped Out: Star Trek Beyond, Nine Lives, Lights Out

Callum Petch has been burning out for so long.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

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