US Box Office Report: 16/12/16 – 18/12/16

Rogue One Rogue Won, Collateral Beauty got into a severe pile-up, Fences built a solid foundation, and Other Box Office News.

For potentially the final Box Office Report of the year – depends whether Box Office Mojo update on Christmas Day or not, I have a tonne of End of Year articles planned out on a tight schedule, so we’ll see – the big guns were well and truly brought out to send this little-read and mostly-tolerated series of articles off for the year in style.  Disney, of course, brought along Star Wars, as it plans to do for every single Christmas season until the planet becomes subsumed by a never-ending Nuclear Winter thanks to President Trump (so next year basically).  But Warner Bros., a studio that absolutely has not spent the entire last year making nothing but the stupidest worst decisions one after another, had a secret weapon that they were ready to deploy in an effort to counter the Disney Death March: none other than Will Smith, in blatant-weepy-attempt Collateral Beauty, backed up by a laundry list of well-known pretty actors and actresses!  Truly, this would be a battle for th…

Nope, can’t do it.  Not even sarcastically can I finish that sentence.  Rogue One went ahead and full-on murdered Collateral Beauty to the tune of $155 million, the third largest opening weekend of the year (naturally behind two superhero movies) and the second biggest December opening weekend of all-time.  Meanwhile, the star of the former third-biggest December opening weekend of all-time – no, for real, I Am Legend made more money in its opening weekend than Avatar did, that’s mad – had to instead settle for his film being once again critically reviled and, in the worst opening weekend for a wide-release Will Smith-starring film ever, just $7 million for 4th place.  What’s going to be most interesting out of this is next weekend, since that’s when the final load of films escape from their cages and run rampant on cinemas across the nation, including 4 separate Wide releases and a veritable smorgasbord of Limited releases.  Collateral Beauty is obviously going to sink like a stone, but can Rogue One weather the storm of a terrible-looking sci-fi romance, a terrible-looking videogame movie, a terrible-looking Illumination feature, and Why Him?  Since we likely won’t be here next week, I can respond to this query with a succinct “not my problem!” before moving on.

This is all also without taking into account the expansions of Awards Season front-runners Manchester by the Sea and La La Land, with the former going Wide and the latter testing the waters prior to a Wide rollout on Christmas.  One did significantly better than the other.  Whilst Manchester by the Sea’s Blur may have won the position battle, taking 6th place with $4.1 million, La La Land’s Oasis undoubtedly won the war, seeing as it only came up short by $130,000 despite playing on almost exactly 1000 less screens than Manchester by the Sea.  In this clumsy Britpop War metaphor that I’ve only trotted out because some Blur came on as I started writing this paragraph, this makes Moonlight the Pulp of the trio, in case you’re wondering how that slots in when it gets unfairly overlooked by its more populist brethren come Awards Season.

In Limited Release, Denzel Washington, obviously sick of putting in good performances in garbage/immediately-forgettable mid-budget thrillers, decided to set about rectifying this problem himself rather than wait around for Antoine Fuqua to stop sucking, and directed a film again!  This one is called Fences, an adaptation of August Wilson’s acclaimed play of the same name, and I’m just going to assume we’ve all watched the trailer for this so I don’t have to waste time detouring about how amazing it looks.  Opening in, yes, the four theatres that all Awards Season contenders are contractually-obligated to open on before expanding next week – you know, it’s almost like people want to do anything other than hang out with their families for the holidays, or something – Fences took $128,000 for a strong per-screen average of $32,000.  Also of note, if being understandably crowded out by the Denzel, Pablo Larrain (of the still-expanding Jackie) finally had his other film for 2016, Neruda, released on American shores to relative indifference: $28,265 from 3 screens and a sub-$10,000 per-screen average.


Collateral Beauty

I am one with the Full List, the Full List is with me.

US Box Office Results: Friday 16th December 2016 – Sunday 18th December 2016

1] Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

$155,000,000 / NEW

Got a piece on this coming on Wednesday – not a review, something far more spoilery and, hopefully, in-depth – but, yeah, I adored this one.  It has the usual Gareth Edwards problems of almost the entire cast being underwritten, things being a tad too emotionally cold, and the opening 30 minutes especially being a barely-coherent trainwreck, but when that film clicks?  Sweet God, it is SO GODDAMN GOOD!  It gains something by being the right film at the perfect time, admittedly, but its characterisation of rebellion against fascism only being effective through great personal risk, sacrifice, and occasional moral-greyness is so well-handled, and so perfectly embodied by a legitimately awe-inspiring final 40 minutes, that my complaints against the film just melt away.  I am seeing it again on Thursday, along with Moana finally, and if it holds up on a second viewing, you can bet good money that it’s gonna be on my Top 20 and relatively high up at that.

2] Moana

$11,644,000 / $161,858,745

So, that is certainly a cast for the new DuckTales series, huh?  On the one hand, I get automatically suspicious whenever a cast list for an animated series is made up of non-professional VAs who are Names but not quite Headline Names, if you get me.  But, on the other hand, Disney Television Animation have been on-point with their casting in all of their animated series for a while now – this is the part where I rave about Gravity Falls for 27 days straight without stopping for breath – and everyone involved has been doing some VA work in other shows to some degree.  So, yeah, colour me intrigued.  I’m mostly just excited for seeing what the new DuckTales will look like at all!

3] Office Christmas Party

$8,450,000 / $31,518,267

My review from Tuesday, in case you missed it.  Still stings a fair bit, this one not being any good, I’m not gonna lie.  But, Reliance, I am still available to draft up that film pitch I outlined at the end of the review!  Call me, OK?

4] Collateral Beauty

$7,000,000 / NEW

Absolutely no part of this movie sounds even remotely real.  I’m serious, every single time I see a trailer or advert for this film, I’m convinced that it’s extensive viral marketing for a Tropic Thunder sequel or something.  No part of this movie sounds like something that a studio would greenlight, throw $36 million and a whole host of talent at, and earnestly release as the serious weepy that it’s clearly meant to be.  Then the reviews came out and it turns out that the film they’ve been selling isn’t actually the film at all, and dear God!  This sounds like a legendarily bad movie for the ages!  I’m actually quite looking forward to it… at least until I sit down and realise that it lasts 90 minutes instead of 2 and that, no, I can’t just leave after my raucous laughter subsides.

5] Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

$5,030,000 / $207,681,095

Fun Fact: I currently have no idea what my Top and Bottom lists look like at the moment, outside of a few certainties.  I’m rather excited by this, even though it’s more endemic of the year’s films mostly being rather middling and forgettable, and my mind being overly preoccupied with stuff other than Film, than some kind of seal of quality.  Almost time to draft them, though!

6] Manchester by the Sea

$4,156,338 / $14,016,643

Gee, it’s almost like brutally honest mediations of grief and loss are harder sells to the general public than fun song-and-dance men-and-women.  Who could’ve possibly seen that coming?

7] La La Land

$4,020,000 / $5,260,166

What part of “IN MY VEINS NOW” are you not getting, Lionsgate?!

8] Arrival

$2,775,000 / $86,468,367

Apparently wishing to get started with making me unreasonably angry over their bullshit early this year, the Academy have disqualified Arrival from Best Original Score contention because the film makes usage of Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” at the start and end.  This, despite The Artist being allowed to compete, and winning, in 2012 even though it prominently used music from other sources too.  I, unsurprisingly, as somebody who has a track from the film on his Best Songs of 2016 list and am currently yet to find a better score in a film this year, have not taken this news well.

9] Doctor Strange

$2,036,000 / $226,086,027

Do not get involved with the Tilda Swinton/Margaret Cho business, do not get involved with the Tilda Swinton/Margaret Cho business, you have no takes and even if you did they would be unwanted and unhelpful anyway…

10] Nocturnal Animals

$1,391,380 / $8,812,746

You know, Focus Features, there are easier and far cheaper ways to convince Awards Bodies to vote for your film during Awards Season than bribing them with expensive perfumes made by your film’s director.  Making an actually good and interesting film is the one I most prefer, but you do you, Focus.  You do you.

Dropped Out: Allied, Trolls, Hacksaw Ridge

Callum Petch is going down the job centre.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

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