B.O.B. (Bombs Over Box-Office), and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Look forward to me reusing that headline pun for at least the next two Reports to come as, now freed from the tyranny of Disney and Disney-adjacent studios hogging the big release dates and consequently the money spots, it’s time for the other studios that are still nominally part of Hollywood (for the time being) to dump all their not-ready-for-primetime stuff at once in the hopes that they might be able to coexist in this landscape and lead an insurgent victory against the establishment rather than just cannibalising and killing each other repeatedly in what also doubles as a fine metaphor for third-party candidates in a political election. No less than five proper Wide releases dropped this past weekend, bumping up to seven if you count the continuing gradual expansion of The Farewell (whose momentum appears to be cooling off whoops) and the near-900 screen event release of Bring the Soul: The Movie, and every last one of them completely failed in the face of Hobbs & Shaw which repeated at the top handily with $25 million. Great work, folks.
So, let’s take this in order from “best” performing to the one which tripped over its own shoelaces and tumbled over a cliff before crashing face-first into a particularly jagged rock constructed from the letters of its disappointed parents telling it that they would never amount to anything. André Øvredal’s much-ballyhooed and still utterly-bizarre to me adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark managed to outperform everyone’s highly-sceptical expectations both critically and financially by even besting The Lion King (barely) for second place with $20.8 million. Before anybody goes thinking that ruins my nice Outkast-referencing headline thesis, however, I would like to point y’all in the direction of the “C” Cinemascore, the $25 million budget which doesn’t include marketing (that featured prominent Superbowl ads), and the fact that other countries aren’t so inconsistently lenient with their PG-13 rating equivalents – which is my way of informing you that this teen-ish horror is a full-on 15 here in the UK because The Woman in Black ruined that grey area of rating horror for everybody else – so this is still a borderline victory more than anything.
Behind that, there’s the CollegeHumor skit that inexplicably gained sentience and became a real officially-licensed film, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, and even more inexplicably is apparently really good? Maybe that important bit of information will counteract the stigma surrounding the movie otherwise in future weekends cos for now it’s a dour fourth place and $17 million with those Angry Birds flying in over the horizon in a couple of days. Jumbled up in the middle of the pack is our third lightly-inspiring dog-centric dramedy-weepie about the human condition this year, that’s the same number of Marvel movies yet I don’t see any alarmist thinkpieces on this trend, Fox’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and, as seems to be Disney’s prevailing attitude towards completed Fox movies they are legally required to put out at some point, it was kinda just left to fend for itself against audience indifference; sixth with $8.1 million. But at least it wasn’t Warner Bros.’ girl-power mob drama, The Kitchen, which somehow ended up the worst-reviewed release of the weekend (cos sometimes killer loglines and cast-lists don’t mean shit) and bombed to the tune of $5.5 million. But at least that wasn’t Bleeker Street’s inspirational (?) false-rape-accusation true-story drama Brian Banks which atomic-bombed in twelfth with $2.1 million, being bested by the aforementioned BTS concert film.
Join us same time next week to do this all over again with a fresh batch of victims contenders!
Spooky Statistics to Read in the Morning. Here’s the Full List.
US Box Office Results: Friday 9th August 2019 – Sunday 11th August 2019
1] Hobbs & Shaw
$25,400,000 / $108,513,780
She may not want one, with her forays into this kind of genre fare just being a fun stopgap before going back to respectable drama and theatre roles, but can somebody please get Vanessa Kirby an action vehicle of her own sharpish? Like with her former-Crown co-star Claire Foy in the otherwise terminally dull Girl in the Spider’s Web, she turns out to have such a believable natural action presence and charisma that’s just crying out for a quality solo vehicle to take full advantage of her talents. Maybe have David Leitch direct that one, too, since he evidently, between this and Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, knows how to get such a convincing physical performance out of his female action heroines.
2] Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
$20,800,000 / NEW
Not out here for another fortnight, but Brooker will be handling review duties when it does arrive as part of his FrightFest 2019 coverage over the long weekend of (and the week after due to post-dates) the 22nd of August. Look out for all that good stuff!
3] The Lion King
$20,000,000 / $473,103,826
Now the highest-grossing animated movie of all-time, even if nobody’s going to officially class it as animation for unknowable asinine reasons. As an animation fan, I would just like to say: thanks, guys, thanks a forking lot.
4] Dora and the Lost City of Gold
$17,000,000 / NEW
Speaking of Brooker, he managed to see this at the weekend and was so blown away by its quality that he had to take to our group chat/page to sing its praises effusively! Is this another one of those instances where outdated kids’ movie marketing is inadvertently making wonderful family fun look like bewildering garbage (ala The Kid Who Would Be King) or one of those jammy times where a film that sounds absolute nonsense turns out to be just crazy enough to work? Guess we’ll all find out this weekend.
5] Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood
$11,600,000 / $100,331,370
Hey! Tarantino’s gotten himself another $100 million movie, and all before it’s even begun the international rollout part of the release process! My guess based on past performance is that it might be in with a shot of becoming his second-highest grossing film worldwide, or at the very least should easily dethrone Pulp Fiction for the bronze medal. And, yes, I am baselessly speculating on the mysterious unknowable possibilities of the box office to cover for the fact that the movie still isn’t out here at time of writing and I’m getting a little antsy. Wednesday night after work can’t get here soon enough.
6] The Art of Racing in the Rain
$8,100,000 / NEW
In any normal acting contest, I wouldn’t normally rate Kevin Costner underneath Bryce Dallas Howard and Josh Gad, no disrespect intended to the latter two. But in the contest between 2019’s “naïve yet also wise beyond their years dog voiceover performances by bored paycheque-collecting celebrities,” he definitely rates dead-last out of those three. That said, he still manages to outrank Harrison Ford’s turn in The Secret Life of Pets 2 which is another sentence I didn’t think I’d be typing in any capacity when I started this year.
7] The Kitchen
$5,510,000 / NEW
Well, at least I now know why this is being quietly dropped in late-September over here. Can somebody give Her Smell a UK release already so that, between this and the disastrous third season of Handmaid’s Tale, Elisabeth Moss’ 2019 has a shot at righting itself just a little? She deserves way better than this string of Ls she’s been taking.
8] Spider-Man: Far From Home
$5,300,000 / $370,972,490
Guess here’s where we’ll have to speed through the Limited Releases. Roadside’s quirky-sounding but apparently enjoyably-sincere disabled dramedy The Peanut Butter Falcon came out on top with $205,236 from 17 theatres (a winning PTA of $12,073), but it was really close on the PTA front with only $900 in it. Sony Pictures Classics’ remake of Academy Award-nominated Danish melodrama After the Wedding took silver with $57,124 from 5 screens (PTA $11,425), whilst Amazon’s incendiary One Child Nation, a documentary about China’s now-discontinued mandate that families could legally only have one child, brought up the relative rear with $22,244 from 2 screens (PTA $11,122). Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, meanwhile, added another 295 screens to reach 704 overall yet for the first time regressed on its week-to-week takings and, resultantly, dropped out of the Top 10 at press time (the results of #10 – #12 are really close).
9] Toy Story 4
$4,400,000 / $419,578,368
It ain’t gonna stick around in the domestic Top 10 long enough for us to officially acknowledge it – again: five more Wide Releases next week – but Toy Story 4 is very much on course to finally pass the $1 billion worldwide mark this week, being just $11 million under at press time. Congratulations to the Mouse House yet again collecting another skull and spine to hang on the mantel over the fireplace just like the capitalist Predator that it is.
10] Bring the Soul: The Movie
$2,296,491 / NEW
I still am yet to hear a single note of music from BTS, the South Korean boyband sensation who have much of the world’s youth locked under their grasp. I do not say this as a point of pride, rather a point of shame. As somebody who earnestly wants and tries to keep up with what’s new and exciting in the world of music, as somebody who loves pop music and (whilst having more of a girl-group preference) a real soft spot for boybands, and as somebody who doesn’t want to admit that they’re turning 25 in almost-exactly two months and is already old and out-of-touch.
Dropped out: Yesterday, The Farewell, Crawl, Aladdin, Annabelle Comes Home
Callum Petch needs a new reflection, don’t wanna see their face.