Downton Abbey receives a royal welcome, Ad Astra detonates on takeoff, Rambo starts coughing up blood, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
FINE. I guess I’ll stop listening to Norman Fucking Rockwell! on a constant loop being, as the kids say, in my feels and actually get off my arse to do some work if you’re going to make so much of a thing out of it. I mean, what did I miss last week, huh? Did something bomb astronomically hard in such spectacular fashion that it has already become a short-hand for failed Oscar Bait and yet another punchline to add to the bewildering career of Ansel Elgort? …wait, there was? Dammit, people, stories like these are the entire reason for my still doing these Reports when I barely get to the cinemas anymore and can’t dredge up sick burns for films I am yet to see out the blue like I used to a mere five years ago!
So, to recap, last week Warner Bros. put out a critically-reviled adaptation of doorstop Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Goldfinch and it became one of the biggest bombs of the year; opening to just $2.6 million on a nationwide scale, the sixth worst such opening of all-time nestled between Lucky You (a completely-forgotten Drew Barrymore/Eric Bana romance drama from 2007) and The Rocker (a completely-forgotten School of Rock rip-off Rainn Wilson vehicle from 2008). Good company to have, I’m sure you’ll agree, albeit a weirdly more frequent occurrence in recent years. Look at that table linked a minute ago. Of the Top(?) 25 entries, 18 are from this decade alone. Now, sure, very few of those ignoble entries on the chart were positioned as major studio tentpoles, awards or otherwise, like Goldfinch was, and almost all of them are legendarily awful – save for my precious boy, MacGruber, who deserved better – so most of their total decimations at the Box Office can hardly be considered a surprise. But it’s just strange that so many of these record-breaking failures are coming now, at a time when inflation allows many movies to breeze past total box office takings that seemed unfathomable a mere 15 years ago despite the actual ticketed attendances either stagnating or dropping off in those years since. Is it due to those reduced attendances in face of rising ticket prices, or are rising ticket prices allowing utter drivel nobody wants to see less room to skate on by, or is this absolutely nothing and I’m just contorting my brain into knots trying to fill time because I have nothing of value to say about this week’s new releases?
Who’s to say? The Goldfinch isn’t even in the Top 10 anymore, plummeting 71% from its already woeful starting line to a sub-$1 million take in record time, so I probably shouldn’t have wasted so many words on it. As for this week’s releases, things turned out pretty much as expected. Downton Abbey shot straight in at #1 with $31 million, providing distributor Focus Features with their biggest opening weekend ever (ahead of previous champ Insidious: Chapter 3’s $22.6 million) albeit one goosed considerably by $4 million from previews in the days and weeks leading up to the film’s release, the naughty little sausage. The silver medal slot, meanwhile, is currently an uncertain dogfight between James Grey’s difficult/pretentious (delete depending on one’s reaction to his The Lost City of Z) sci-fi space opera Ad Astra and Sylvester Stallone’s pointless/xenophobically sadistic (delete depending on one’s reaction to literally any Rambo film after the first one) Rambo: Last Blood. Both films cracked $19 million for the weekend at time of writing, but Astra is currently just edging out Rambo for second with $19.210 million compared to the latter’s $19.015 million, so Actuals may scramble this order about come our meeting-up again next weekend where I still won’t have seen any of the films discussed today! I am flaming garbage!
Right, let’s get this Full List over with. It’s cutting into my Norman Fucking Rockwell! listening time no YOU’RE THE ONE WITH THE ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY!
US Box Office Results: Friday 20th September 2019 – Sunday 22nd September 2019
1] Downton Abbey
$31,000,000 / NEW
I have still never once seen an episode of this show which I don’t say as a point of pride, because only intolerable assholes go around snobbishly bragging about not having seen popular stuff that’s not really for them anyway as if that somehow makes them better than “sheeple,” and more as a statement of fact. Still, I probably can’t get away with putting this off forever. Unless it disappears from cinemas before I get back from the London Film Festival in three weeks, then I can definitely get away with putting it off forever. More power to those who like it, but everything I have heard about this show causes me personally to break out in hives and then fall into a coma.
2] Ad Astra
$19,210,000 / NEW
Look, I’m all for giving bold auteur figures uninterested in making conventional crowdpleasers big-ol’ blockbuster budgets to realise their visions, but nobody should be surprised by this outcome. I highly doubt that even Brad Pitt could get ordinary people to go and see a film by the director of Lost City of Z – a film so utterly empty and boring and repetitive that I genuinely fell asleep twice during viewing yet woke up to find I had missed absolutely nothing. Maybe this one’s alright, though, who knows. Dave Bond’s got a review lined up and maybe he’ll be able to tell you what Ad Astra is actually about because the abysmal marketing certainly didn’t elucidate things much of any.
3] Rambo: Last Blood
$19,015,000 / NEW
Not gonna lie, I really appreciate Millennium Media’s commitment to being our new Platinum Dunes. Like, you see their logo before a trailer or feature film and you can basically guarantee an awful, hateful and dead-boring time at the movies which barely meets the basic levels of competency to justify a nationwide theatrical release instead of going straight-to-video. In this information overload age, it’s good to have an immediate recognisable “this is gonna suck” shorthand. Nobody sent this memo to Dave Bond, though, and he’s got the review to prove his wasted time.
4] IT: Chapter Two
$17,245,000 / $179,165,563
If the murderous clown-shaped alien entities of pure malevolent evil being aren’t doing it for you, or you’ve exhausted your fill of for the time being, then how’s about Shaun Rodger introduces you to Arrow Films’ pristine all-the-trimmings re-release of off-beat 1983 slasher flick, The Prey? It’s apparently about as well-made, from what my horror aficionado best friend told me about this new IT, anyway. *sick-burn airhorns erupt*
$17,000,000 / $62,553,213
I’ve been loaded down with LFF trip organisation and outstanding article commitments, so couldn’t to put together a review of this one, but do not sleep on Hustlers. Seriously, it is absolutely phenomenal and, unless Scorsese is hiding something incredible up his sleeve with his THREE-AND-A-HALF-HOUR FUCK OFF The Irishman, it may end up being the best Scorsese movie of 2019, which is apparently something everybody has collectively decided to make a bunch of again but Lorene Scafaria has almost definitely done the best out of all of them. Go and see it, thank me later.
6] The Lion King
$2,572,000 / $537,592,304
Well, at least it was denied the accolade of 10 straight weeks in the Top 5 at the last second. Never send a Goldfinch to do a Downton’s job or something. Christ, this thing is actually gonna hang around until that Maleficent sequel somebody thinks we deserve arrives, isn’t it?
7] Good Boys
$2,510,000 / $77,305,605
Finally, after much prodding from one of my other best friends, got around to and polished off I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson and… eh. Appreciate the craft and seeing a sketch comedy series with production values and an immediately distinctive visual style, but I just didn’t laugh very much. That kind of deliberate awkward Tim & Eric-esque anti-humour has never done it for me, the closest I’ve gotten being Portlandia and the bits of The Eric Andre Show that I’ve seen, and even at just six fifteen-minute episodes I could already get the exact rhythms of every single sketch down to the second by the time I hit the finale – right down to the sudden unsatisfying cut-off in place of an ending. Anyway, I’ve been written out of said best friend’s will for this opinion.
8] Angel Has Fallen
$2,400,000 / $64,689,679
Inspired by the release of Rambo: Last Blood, our own Amy Walker decided to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight by putting forth her picks for other older action movies and/or franchises that deserve a resurrection. I, for one, do not want to see 2019 World try and take on the thorny subject of PC (Political Correctness) Police put forth surprisingly deft-ish by 1993’s Demolition Man, but I also aspire to have her level of unshakeable optimism one day. Plus, I wouldn’t say no to Sandra Bullock going whole-hog in an action movie vehicle one last time, so long as it was less Peppermint and more Everly.
$1,500,000 / $31,567,203
You know what requires true perseverance to overcome? Prison. And also the passage of time. And also abysmally tortured attempts at links. Lee Thacker managed to do the former two the other week in order to look back on the movie version of the hit BBC sitcom Porridge as it turned 40!
10] Hobbs & Shaw
$1,460,000 / $170,613,810
Break out the Coronas in tribute, friends. ¡Salud!
Dropped out: The Goldfinch, The Peanut Butter Falcon, Dora and the Lost City of Gold