Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn’t grow as big as some might like, Americans exercise their god-given right to The First Purge, not many people want to dance with Whitney, don’t hang up on Sorry to Bother You, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
God bless Independence Day weekend, that glorious often-extended public holiday named after Roland Emmerich’s best movie (which actually opened on July 3rd like a damn Commie). Everybody gets to gather around the barbeque, argue furiously with their less desirable relatives, and drink themselves into a stupor, but rather than doing those things as a result of the bleak and depressing terror of living in the year 2018, everybody’s doing so to celebrate the greatness  of those United States of America! What they don’t always do, however, is go see new movies. Yes, July 4th weekend has been rather spotty in terms of performance these past few years, despite many studios’ best efforts. For every surprise overperformance like The Legend of Tarzan or The Purge: Election Year, there’s a trail of carcasses strewn about the landscape like so many Redcoats – The BFG, Earth to Echo, Magic Mike XXL, that Terminator sequelboot you already deservedly forgot about. It’s a gamble releasing over this particular weekend.
But surely the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t become one of those victims? After all, the world-conquering mega-franchise is effectively bulletproof at this point! It practically craps $100+ mil openings nowadays, and every direct sequel brings with it a substantial improvement on opening weekend takings, so Ant-Man and the Wasp should have been yet another runaway super-smash, yes? Well, actually… yes, still, but with quite the caveat. Ant-Man and the Wasp is indeed your new #1 movie, having improved upon the first Ant-Man’s opening by nearly a full $20 million and a good $45 million ahead of second place, but it’s also the weakest Marvel opening weekend since… well, since the first Ant-Man, making a paltry $76 million, a total largely made up from its opening day with surprising drops over Saturday and Sunday. Clearly, this is because Marvel trumpeted this as their first (co-)headline female superhero movie, a step just a bit too far for most of the general public. Time to cancel Captain Marvel, everybody, since this is just more evidence that female superhero movies don’t make money! We’ve successfully foiled Disney’s insidious SJW agenda! Take that, progress!
Also underperforming, but more due to its own decisions than the cruel random whim of fate, was The First Purge, a prequel to everybody’s favourite series to make lazy hack jokes about instead of trying to seriously engage with in any meaningful way. If we’re going by the usual Box Office Report metrics, a $17.1 million fourth place opening for a series that has otherwise hovered around the $30 million opening range is a full-on failure – or, at least, as much of a failure as a typically micro-budgeted Blumhouse production can get, anyway. But it turns out that said hobbling was intentional, because the allure of that July 4th opening was just too much to resist for a film that features one of our leads calling an attempted rapist a “pussy-grabbing motherfucker.” When you take into account the full 5-day opening, then we get a result more in line with previous entries; $31 million. But do you see this series covering the weekdays, as well? No, you don’t, because that is way too much goddamn work and I don’t hate myself that much! So, by our WEEKEND metrics, The First Purge is a FAILURE, because this format calls for reductionist takes based on sensationalist soundbites!
In Moderate Release, Roadside Attractions’ Whitney Houston documentary, Whitney – not to be confused with the other Whitney Houston documentary, Whitney: Can I Be Me, that was made-for-TV last year GOD THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY WHITNEY HOUSTON DOCUMENTARIES I’M GETTING HOUSTON FATIGUE OVER HERE – is forcing me to consciously avoid the easy tasteless jokes. Even though it had 452 screens, the doc just couldn’t perform and it missed the Top 10 entirely, taking $1.2 million for a per-screen average of just $2,770. Fortunately, in proper Limited Release, we do have one inarguable success story this weekend as Annapurna Pictures finally got one right! Sorry to Bother You is currently a smash, raking in $717,302 from 16 screens for a tremendous $44,851 average and, again, who do I have to blow to get this a UK distributor?! It should be considered a war crime to withhold films like this from me!
This Full List comes to you by the one person in the country who has yet to utter the words “it’s coming home” either sincerely or ironically. I’m like Melvin Sneedly from Captain Underpants but for football instead of fart jokes.
US Box Office Results: Friday 6th July 2018 – Sunday 8th July 2018
1] Ant-Man and the Wasp
$76,030,000 / NEW
I have a friend of mine overseas who says it’s their favourite Marvel movie of the year (whilst accepting that Black Panther is technically the better movie) and our tastes largely line up, so that’s a good sign! Better than Infinity War! Looking forward to seeing it once The Football buggers off and Disney get around to screening it here.
2] Incredibles II
$29,021,000 / $504,382,414
First animated film to ever break $500 million domestic, so, yeah, I’d say this one’s doing pretty alright for itself. Has a good shot at dethroning both Rogue One and The Dark Knight on the all-time domestic chart before all’s said and done, too. A chart, for the record, that currently has 6 slots taken up by Disney-affiliated movies because, say it with me now, Disney can buy and sell any and all of us at a moment’s notice.
3] Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
$28,585,000 / $333,342,665
Film #35 to break the $1 billion mark worldwide and oh, wow, that’s not actually a great list of films when you seriously look at it, is it? My personal list, and this discounts films that I think are just “fine,” has 13 that I would honestly call great. Am I… am I out of touch with the common moviegoer? Has it finally happened? Have I, in fact, become the snobby art critic from The Greatest Showman, an insipid garbage movie that’s bewilderingly become one of the biggest albums of the year despite not having even a single song that’s catchy-bad? No, no, it’s the children who are wrong!
4] The First Purge
$17,150,000 / $31,053,945 / NEW
I know that I shouldn’t make promises like this anymore given my garbage writing schedule and chronic laziness, but I’ll hopefully have a full review of this penned and on my site by week’s end. Short version: I loved this. Not as much as Election Year, which had a certain unpredictability First Purge just couldn’t (partly in its nature as a prequel and partly because of the political & social landscape of 2018), but it’s thrilling, genuinely scary, Gerard McMurray is a directorial talent blossoming before our eyes, and Y’Lan Noel is a bonafide action star who needs to be in more things like now. God, I can’t believe I love these movies this much, they’re exactly the hits I need!
5] Sicario: Day of the Soldado
$7,300,000 / $35,302,070
This, however, I fucking despised. Everybody on Set the Tape who put this in their Best of 2018 So Far lists, I am side-eyeing every last one of you so hard right now. Holy shit, this SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS, to such an extent that I’m having to re-evaluate everything I have ever thought about Taylor Sheridan up to now. It’s that awful.
6] Uncle Drew
$6,625,000 / $29,948,620
Here’s a cut Saturday Night Live skit from the Donald Glover episode that’s probably more legitimately funny than this movie.
7] Ocean’s 8
$5,285,000 / $126,751,228
This will now close as the second most-successful Ocean’s movie of all-time, domestically at least – for some reason it has failed to catch on overseas. Perhaps those cretinous foreigners don’t like good movies, or something. Anyways, more speculative casting for future instalments! Taraji P. Henson in any capacity, Aubrey Plaza in something without that Legion stink, maybe Cynthia Nixon if that whole Governor of New York thing doesn’t work out? Send me your answers on a postcard, please!
$3,105,000 / $48,330,681
Had surprising amounts of fun with this one. It’s featherweight, the turn at the end of the film that’s supposed to foster some deeper meaning and heart into proceedings is too out-of-left-field to work, but it’s reliably and genuinely funny which is not nothing when it comes to mainstream studio comedies (particularly New Line comedies). After all, it’s been WRITTEN! And DIRECTED! Actual constructed jokes, distinct characters, and a sense of visual composition! Why do I feel like I’ve spotted a unicorn whenever an American comedy comes along displaying those things? Eh, Isla Fisher is a goddamn riot, in any case, and deserves better in every facet of her career. Ooh, she can be in Ocean’s 9! Her and Lizzy Caplan in order to make it a stealth threequel to Now You See Me!
9] Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
$2,590,000 / $12,382,727
Speaking of films that need a UK distribution deal. I mean, unlike with Sorry to Bother You, I get the logic as to why this one isn’t getting a UK release, but I feel the best documentaries still work regardless of whether the viewer has any knowledge or interest in the subject beforehand? I mean, for example, I find The National to be relentlessly boring 95% of the time and yet I loved Mistaken for Strangers regardless. Just like how, I imagine, 50% (at least) of the people who loved Senna would rather be waterboarded than watch Formula 1. You can probably apply that logic to any film genre, but I feel it holds especially true for documentaries. Point is: stop punishing us Brits for not airing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, you pricks!
10] Deadpool 2
$1,675,000 / $314,546,400
Well, I guess this officially concludes the debate over whether Celine Dion or Whitney Houston is better.
Dropped Out: Sanju, Solo: A Star Wars Story
Callum Petch came around to tear your little world apart.