Adrift sinks, Action Point gets shut down, Upgrade is more a minor patch, American Animals steals any “steals” pun reserved for Ocean’s 8 next week, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Well. This has been a while. Let’s see if it all comes back to me.
In this landscape of ALL BLOCKBUSTERS ALL THE TIME $111 MILLION OPENINGS OR ELSE, where a Star Wars movie opening to less than a pre-ordained $100 million triggers a ceaseless wave of insufferable think pieces asking about Star Wars fatigue (and fucking idiots using said underperformance as justification that SJW Star Wars Feminazi Disney is ruining everything with their anti-White Boy bias and that their ineffectual protests are working), it is important to remember the value of rest weeks. Those weeks where the new releases are mid to bottom-tier fare, smaller-budgeted, a bit more niche, curio stuff. They allow for a breather, a chance for the big-ticket films to freely earn some extra cash without being squeezed out, for audiences to catch up or return for repeat viewings, for those who don’t or can’t see more than a few films a year to recharge their wallets for an Incredibles sequel in two weeks. They are vital to our Box Office ecosystem! Have we prognosticators already forgotten the Summer of 2016, where the constant relentless stream of big new releases led to a wasteland of notable major bombs strewn about the place like so many bodies on the Somme?
Still, even with the tempered expectations, this weekend stank. Solo retained the #1 spot, but pretty much only by default considering that it slipped a whopping 65% between weekends, almost equal to the drop experienced by The Last Jedi without the caveats of having opened at over $200 million or facing actual competition. Does this mean that AUDIENCES HAVE GOT STAR WARS FATIGUE?! Does it indicate that The Last Jedi RUINED STAR WARS FOR EVERYBODY FOREVER?! Does it demonstrate that Disney ARE DESTROYING THE INTEGRITY AND PURITY OF STAR WARS?! Or, perhaps more accurately, do we all, Disney included, instead need to adjust our expectations if Star Wars is now going to be a constant regular thing and accept that not every single one of these films is going to open to well over $150 million and perform to Force Awakens degrees, especially if they are explicitly low-stakes spin-offs divorced from the main series like Solo is, resultantly budgeting and projecting for said films accordingly? Of course, such a take doesn’t draw in the clicks, so HAVE AUDIENCES GOT STAR WARS FATI-
As for our new releases, things range from “oh” to full-bore Bugs Bunny “YEESH!” Best of the lot, using a rather charitable definition of “best,” is Adrift, the Shailene Woodley/Sam Claflin disaster… and also it’s a movie about a boating disaster OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Surprisingly, for two rather charming and talented actors who have the absolute worst goddamn track records in picking scripts, not a whole lot of the Finnegan and Tris fan-parades showed up for this one, and it was left floundering in third with $11.5 million. Technically better performing, by virtue of lowered expectations and having half the screens of Adrift, was Leigh Whannell’s Roboco-I mean Upgrade. Even though it couldn’t outdo The Darkness to become BH Tilt’s biggest opening weekend, Upgrade did still do pretty ok, installing almost $4.5 million for sixth place. And then on the “YEESH!” end of things, we have Johnny Knoxville’s Action Point which collapsed and died to the tune of just $2.3 million, one of the all-time worst opening weekends for a film in more than 2,000 theatres. You know things in America are bad when even flashes of Jackass nostalgia can’t bring the people together.
We do have one unquestionable success story, however! For that, we need to turn our attention outside of the Top 10 and towards the realm of the Limited Releases. American Animals, the much buzzed-about Sundance sensation and the narrative feature debut of documentarian Bart Layton, got off to a very strong start in Los Angeles and New York City, smoothly heisting $140,629 from 4 theatres; a very respectable per-screen average of $35,157. And if you want to look outside of debuting movies, we also have two other notable successes to redeem this whole week! A24 are continuing to expand Paul Schraeder’s intoxicatingly gripping First Reformed to surprisingly healthy results: this weekend taking $455,435 from 91 screens and a per-screen average ($5,005) far better than those posted by the Wide Release films. Finally, although it slipped out of the Top 10, Magnolia’s release of the Ruth Bader-Ginsburg hagiography, RBG, just became their most successful release ever. Outshining the younglings at their own game; that’s a real Gins-burn!
If you’re new here, this kind of hackery is how I do things and I won’t apologise for it. Let’s hit the Full List.
US Box Office Results: Friday 1st June 2018 – Sunday 3rd June 2018
1] Solo: A Star Wars Story
$29,296,000 / $148,888,692
I want it on record that I can admit when I am wrong about something. On this site, every time it came up in my writing, I was properly sceptical about Solo, arguably dreading it, borderline ready to jam a pike up its arse for the slightest slip-up! I mentioned it in my Summer Movie Guide, I restated it with my Box Office prediction in the Box Office Premiership… and I actually liked it a lot. For real. That middle third, from the train job to the end of the Kessel Run, I would even go so far as to call genuinely fantastic, Alden Ehrenreich was born to be a movie star, Donald Glover is a goddamn riot, Bradford Young’s cinematography is wonderfully dingy… Sure, it’s slow-ish to get going, and the air is kind of sucked out in the last 40 minutes when it turns from a Space Western into a Star Wars movie, but neither of those significantly diminished the fact that I really enjoyed this! Maybe not to the extent of Luke Bunting in his review, but enough to admit that I was wrong to be so negative!
2] Deadpool 2
$23,325,000 / $254,652,438
The entire X-Force sequence alone makes this better than the original Deadpool to me. I get why it may have annoyed some people, made them feel like it was all a huge waste or a giant middle-finger to more dedicated comic fans than myself, but I adored it, all of it, and wouldn’t have traded it for anything else. The second I caught on to what it was doing, I was in actual pained hysterics and watching it all come together like an R-rated Looney Tunes skit only made me laugh harder. “Who knew David Leitch had such an eye for the timing of physical comedy?” he asks despite the man’s prior resumé causing it to make total sense. Sequence of the year, and the film either side of it is excellent too!
$11,510,000 / NEW
500 Simoleans says Sam Claflin is a ghost or hallucination. I have not seen Adrift, for the record – release window disparities mean it’s not due on these shores until June 29th – but that trailer could not have been any more blatant about Sam Claflin clearly dying from the initial storm if they out and out said it. Admittedly, I was also certain I had figured out On Chesil Beach’s super-telegraphed twist from the trailer only to find out it was something else entirely when I confidently boasted/moaned on a public forum about it. Hubris is a hell of a thing.
4] Avengers: Infinity War
$10,371,000 / $642,869,932
When Infinity War 2: War Infinitier finally arrives and inevitably reverses that ending, I’m just going to spend the entire time grumbling about how Deadpool 2 did it far better. Unless there’s some Cher, then I’ll begrudgingly be ok with it.
5] Book Club
$6,800,000 / $47,316,748
I haven’t watched it yet, because I’m saving it for after I see the film itself on Thursday, but Dan Olson (better known as Folding Ideas) has done a video essay on Book Club that will almost definitely be worth your time because Dan Olson makes damn great video essays. If you haven’t seen the first in his upcoming trilogy about the Fifty Shades trilogy yet, get on that; it’s really helping me see that series in different ways than simplistic derision.
$4,458,000 / NEW
All snark aside, I want to echo Owen Hughes’ statement that this looks like a tonne of fun, regardless of how derivative it may be. Looking forward to seeing it on the… *keeps scrolling through release schedule* …31ST OF AUGUST?!
7] Life of the Party
$3,455,000 / $46,300,160
Because it came in the middle of a comparatively relentless run of content for myself, I never did actually pimp my review of this, which also turned into a minor referendum on the collaborations between Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone at large. My mistake, you can catch up here.
8] Breaking In
$2,815,000 / $41,346,015
Eh. It’s ok. James McTeigue still can’t direct for shit, it’s not very tense, and it follows the home invasion genre to the letter with no deeper themes or revelatory turns, but it’s ok. I like Gabrielle Union, she should have been a movie star. Shaun Rodger has got a deeper and more enthusiastic review you should go read if the film is playing near you and you’re still undecided about it.
9] Action Point
$2,315,000 / NEW
I’m genuinely saddened by this. All of it, really. I’m saddened by nobody seeing the film, I’m saddened by the fact that Bad Grandpa was mostly a dud outside of the child pageant, I’m saddened by all those targeted ad articles that scream “CAST MEMBERS WHOSE LIVES WERE DESTROYED BY JACKASS,” I’m saddened by the fact that everybody didn’t just completely walk away after the perfect ending of 3D… Jackass was this pure, wonderful, weirdly loving thing, dammit, and seeing it stick around with new stuff yet wither away from time and indifference upsets me! One day, I’ll write that in-depth analytical retrospective on the whole endeavour. For now, we’ll always have The High-Five.
$1,975,000 / $45,523,194
Sorry, Overboard. There’s a limit on the amount of boat/water-based puns I am allowed to make per article, and Adrift used them all up already. Nice, err, not knowing ya?
Dropped Out: Show Dogs, A Quiet Place, RBG
Callum Petch was busy earnin’ stripes like a tiger’s skin.