Americans were ready for some FOOOOTBAAAAAAAAALLLL, less so for movies, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
January is a dead zone for new releases on the American movie calendar, the place where studios dump a whole load of garbage with dubious commercial potential in the hopes of shoring up easy money from freezing cold audiences – literally this year, please stay safe and warm American readers – desperate for anything to pass the time whilst we wait for Awards Season to end so Hollywood can quit patting itself on the back and get back to releasing regular people movies. We know this, we accept this, we’ve memed this thanks to a grossly-overrated YouTube channel. Yet January of 2019 has seemed extra-uneventful. That’s not just me, right, folks? Normally there’d be a parade of dubious movies lined up for their 15 minutes and some fine mockery, yet this year we barely get more than one new Wide release film per week. What gives? Are Americans over braving the freshly laid crust of the new year for what amounts to “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal” in movie form? Did M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass suck all the air out of the month by being a legit prospective blockbuster and it scared all the rejects and weirdos off? Is it because Netflix is the only place making and distributing these specific kinds of mid-budget curios anymore since studios want to make All the Money all the time despite blockbuster cinema about to reach crystalline perfection and subsequent obsolescence once Hobbs & Shaw comes out?
Whatever the reason, the bleed-over into February has conspired to bring us the worst weekend at the Box Office since the first week of September 2017 which itself had a grand total of *checks notes* zero new Wide releases. This here weekend at least had something new for most Americans to watch, although I’m not sure if that makes things better or worse since this particular abysmal weekend only cleared the bar of the prior abysmal weekend by $3 million. Anyway, on Superbowl Weekend – which apparently hurts the potential box office of any prospective releases despite there being two additional perfectly good days before the FOOOOOOTBAAAAAAAAAALLL kicks off – Catherine Hardwicke was let back out of Director Jail to take a shot at remaking 2011’s nail-bitingly tense and nasty-as-fuck Mexican cartel thriller Miss Bala for those pesky audience members who will gladly watch a vastly inferior product so long as they don’t have to rely solely on subtitles. Any hopes on this becoming the next Peppermint were… sorry, I’m just waiting for everyone to finish googling Peppermint before moving back on since, despite it starting hot, that movie has already faded from everyone’s collective memories. Good? Right, so, any hopes on this becoming Gina Rodriguez’s Peppermint were dashed/fulfilled (financial analysis is weird) by a third place start and $6.6 million, barely a third of its budget.
Glass is still #1, btw. Duh. Even with it shedding half its audience with each passing weekend. Meanwhile, last weekend’s openers are not doing well in the least. Joe Cornish’s The Boy Who Would Be King already had a pretty dismal $7 million start and its sophomore weekend was not much better, dipping 41% and three places for $4.2 million and seventh. For comparison, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which has been out for eight weeks and finally became Sony Pictures Animation’s highest grossing film of all-time domestically, dipped just 28% between weekends in the mid-chart scrum we’ll get to shortly. And as for Serenity, the apparently utter batshit Steven Knight noir that I am staying completely in the dark on until it gets the direct-to-Sky Cinema release over here next month (NO SPOILERS)… yeah, that’s up and gone, dude. Vacating the chart with a catastrophic 61% drop and $1.7 million despite still playing in well over 2,500 theatres. JANUARY, EVERYBODY!
It’s not much of a prettier sight in Limited Release land, either. Best performing of the lot was the Mads Mikkelsen star vehicle named after a place super cold and set in a freezing wasteland released on February 1st that went to theatres, Alaska – not to be confused by the Mads Mikkelsen star vehicle named after a place super cold and set in a freezing wasteland released on February 1st that went to Netflix, Polar – with $56,463 from 4 screens (a per-screen average of $14,116). Worst performing of the lot, by a friggin’ continent, was Nicholas Pesce’s horror(?) black comedy Piercing, an adaptation of a book by the writer of Audition which is definitely an advertisement of some description, which took a pathetic $8,500 from 25 screens (a per-screen average of just $340). And perhaps even arthouse fans are sick to death of Jean-Luc Goddard’s bullshit as, last weekend, his Image Book opened to just $13,854 from 33 screens and a per-screen average of $420: *insert obligatory “niiiiiice” here*. Still, it wasn’t all miserable news. Following a series of event engagements around the centenary of the Armistice last year, Peter Jackson’s ambitious WWI documentary They Shall Not Grow Old was dropped into proper release and took advantage of this open chart landscape to break into the Top 10. Can The LEGO Movie 2 hurry the hell up already, please?
You didn’t get one of these last week cos otherwise it would have just been me waxing rhapsodic over having seen The 1975 live that Friday. You’re welcome. Here’s this week’s Full List.
US Box Office Results: Friday 1st February 2019 – Sunday 3rd February 2019
$9,535,000 / $88,655,100
Split was right on the cusp of cracking $100 mil domestic by this point in its release cycle. Just saying.
2] The Upside
$8,850,000 / $75,590,128
Yeah, I finally saw Green Book this week. I’m good on extremely dull, saccharine, and hamfisted genial movies about how racism is just a problem we can talk past with civility for at least seven more decades, thanks.
3] Miss Bala
$6,700,000 / NEW
Not gonna lie: because a bunch of these films aren’t out in the UK for a while and we here at Set the Tape don’t have any relevant articles to link you to in order to fill time, I’m really struggling on the content this week and it is taking all my strength to not just talk about how awesome The 1975 were live over and over and over again.
$4,785,000 / $323,572,240
First DC-related movie to earn more than billion dollars worldwide since The Dark Knight Rises. I find that to be very telling, in a good way. Again, I wasn’t particularly a fan, but I get why people liked it and I hope future entries in this franchise keep up that kind of goofy tone and commitment to being A LOT in a fun way. Shazam! looks fun and, oh hey, Birds of Prey has only just started shooting and already looks a billion times better than Suicide Squad! Mind, I would say that since Birds of Prey has Mary Elizabeth Winstead and I am of the unshakeable belief that the world requires more Mary Elizabeth Winstead every single goddamn day!
5] Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
$4,410,000 / $175,286,069
Release the movie edit of “What’s Up Danger,” you cowards!
6] Green Book
$4,317,000 / $55,821,331
This is probably going to win the BAFTA and that act will get more of a rise out of me than the film itself managed to. It’s bad but in a very humdrum “seen it all before” type way that I can’t get truly angry about because, seriously, this kind of hokey simplistic nonsense feels plucked straight out of 30 years ago. Everything about it is a cartoon, a really bloody dull cartoon. When Mahershala Ali wins his award, I’m going to pretend it’s for Spider-Verse. Kevin Wight’s got a slightly more positive review for you.
7] The Kid Who Would Be King
$4,200,000 / $13,173,676
I cannot believe the director of Attack the Block is responsible for this. Seriously, I saw the trailer for the first time late December and thought “this looks garbage” with exasperated bewilderment because have you seen that garbage trailer plus the fact that it’s another King Arthur movie? Then a few weeks later I find out that Joe Cornish directed and wrote it, a fact from which my brain has yet to recover. How do you make Attack the Block, disappear for eight years with nary a hint as to what your next move might be, and then return with *gesticulates wildly in film’s direction*? Maybe I’m just a negative Nelly and it’s really good (still a fortnight out), but, yeah, no wonder this bombed.
8] A Dog’s Way Home
$3,510,000 / $35,902,871
Between the events which occur in this and A Dog’s Purpose, I’m getting the impression W. Bruce Cameron is potentially a sadist? Also, this movie’s beating heart revolves around a dog befriending a coyote rendered in Ang Lee’s Hulk-Dog level CGI. I was thoroughly entertained!
9] Escape Room
$2,900,000 / $52,089,300
I was hoping to say “well, guess folks were better off staying at home and watching Velvet Buzzsaw instead,” but I snuck a peek at Tony Black’s review of it and it seems we all lost no matter what move was played. That’ll be live soon.
10] They Shall Not Grow Old
$2,405,000 / $10,745,072
I’m thinking a rewatch at home might make me more amenable to this one’s charms rather than on Day Whatever of a chaotic London Film Festival. Or maybe I’m just burnt out on Peter Jackson’s bag of technological tricks by this point. He’s like Nolan with timelines; not every film needs to have some big new computer-aided hook, Peter! At least your Beatles documentary will get me a commercial release of the true Let it Be doc at long last.
Dropped Out: Serenity, Mary Poppins Returns
Callum Petch suffers from a lack of concentration.