Ford v. Ferrari cruises to pole position, Charlie’s Angels fails the mission, The Good Liar gets caught out, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
There! See! Turns out if you make a really, really, really good movie which appeals to a specific subset of nowadays underserved audience members with a few relatively name movie stars in the leads that you also market halfway decently and release into enough theatres so that people can actually see the damn movie… turns out you’ll make a pretty penny in this collapsing theatrical feature industry and run laps around all the other lethargic non-comic book competition. Is it really so hard when written out like that? In a rather fitting ending for the really obvious meta-narrative behind James Mangold’s quality motor-racing biopic Ford v. Ferrari – or Le Mans ’66 for some reason for those outside of the US – pulled off the underdog victory in style with a massive $31 million debut, almost more than the rest of the Top 5 combined. “Massive” here of course meaning “in relation to the absolutely miserable non-Disney calendar year up to now” and “underdog” of course meaning “was meant to be Fox’s big awards shot across the bow of Disney until it got bought out so is now a Disney film as life somewhat imitates art.”
Still, it’s a victory which doesn’t require about nine bazillion qualifiers and also isn’t an outright failure of which we have had a bunch these past few months with plenty more to come. As an example, Elizabeth Banks Presents Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels: A Film by Elizabeth Banks which, err, did none of the things that Ford v. Ferrari did and has accordingly full-on bombed. I’m not even talking Doctor Sleep or Terminator: Dark Fate bombing, either – although Dark Fate dropped out of the Top 10 entirely this week, HA – cos this didn’t even break eight figures: $8.6 million across three days. Like… God, that’s just depressing. I can’t summon up any worthwhile snark because that just feels unfair, especially with what’s coming next week. The week’s other new major release chose to follow the same playbook of Ford v. Ferrari but, crucially, forgot the “make a really, really, really good movie” part of the equation and so got crowded out in the worst way: Bill Condon’s drama-thriller The Good Liar getting booted back out into the street sans any worthwhile loot with a seventh place debut and a mere $5.656 million that means it’s almost definitely switching places with Joker when actuals come in – the latter is just $0.021 million behind the former.
Speaking of r/movies’ new Best Film of the Decade – gag me with a spoon, Mr. and Mrs. Henderson – Todd Phillips’ somehow successful hoodwinking operation to get himself remade as a Serious Filmmaker Provocateur, because WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY, has managed to make history by becoming the first R-rated movie to cross the $1 billion mark worldwide, all without (as a reminder) the usual stimulus of China. Sigh, whatever. Only one major Limited Release this past weekend as Trey Edward Shults’ mega-ambitious and emotionally devastating Waves was unleashed on the usual four NY/LA theatres all awards hopefuls start out on and lapped up a strong $144,562 overall (a highly respectable PTA of $36,141). Lastly, your weekly Jojo Rabbit update: $2.8 million from nearly 1,000 theatres. Great job killing that off, Disney.
Everyone please take a moment in prayer for our Full List participants ahead of the incoming nuclear bombardment that is Frozen II.
US Box Office Results: Friday 15th November 2019 – Sunday 17th November 2019
1] Ford v. Ferrari/Le Mans ‘66
$31,037,000 / NEW
No, I still don’t know why the title switch, even though maybe Le Mans is actually the better out of the two given that Ferrari aren’t a major part of the story and it’s more about the central friendship between Carroll Shelby & Ken Miles plus a not-particularly-subtle metaphor for trying to create art in a capitalist monopoly dick-waving hellscape. Anyways, I really enjoyed this even if it didn’t fully blow me away like Mangold’s absolute best efforts do, mainly cos the screenplay’s dialogue is heavy on the clunky didacticism. Dave Bond has revved up a full review for y’all.
$8,750,000 / $35,140,773
It took until last Tuesday morning for me to realise that the long weekend of Midway’s release was of course Veteran’s Day weekend so of course a star-studded semi-respectable war drama would overperform expectations despite minimal marketing or buzz otherwise. I really am super out of the loop on everything right now.
3] Charlie’s Angels
$8,600,000 / NEW
Not out in the UK until the month’s end so maybe this is really bad or (worse) intensely mediocre, but for now I’m gonna go with being rather disheartened by this development. Just once I would like to see a kick-ass feminist action movie directed by a woman do genuinely well so I can get more of them and not have to lick the boots of Marvel and DC for bare minimum scraps I’m supposed to be grateful for, y’know? Still, guess this is what everybody involved gets for thinking that there was sincere non-ironic/guilty pleasure lasting cultural cache for Charlie’s Angels rather than just inventing a whole new IP which would’ve done equally as not-well.
4] Playing with Fire
$8,550,000 / $25,497,824
So, I’m not sure what exactly the CM Punk WWE Backstage hiring is supposed to entail, but if this is all part of Renee Young’s covert operation to stealth reboot Talking Smack then I’m not gonna say no to it. Just saying, AEW would absolutely benefit from a Talking Smack style bonus show where Cody Rhodes makes single-entendres whilst Jennifer Sterger shoots him desperate looks of the “please, dude, I need this job” variety.
5] Last Christmas
$6,700,000 / $22,575,765
Too many films are out right now, not to mention also coming out this week, and my backlog is a mess so, despite Paul Feig, this is on the backburner. Not that I’m complaining since I’m that grinch who insists Christmas should not start until December 1st, but that’s why I’m not on this already. Instead, I saw an early screening of Rapman’s theatrical debut Blue Story, a film I’ll have a review up for its release on Friday… somewhere, not sure where exactly yet, will let you know when I do (and I’m saying it out loud to force myself to actually write the damn thing cos I am a lethargic ass).
6] Doctor Sleep
$6,181,000 / $25,039,159
It would make more sense to plug these under the Joker segment, yes, but breaking stupid news has come up so this now goes here. Ahead of The Irishman’s Netflix release in just over a week’s time, Eamon Hennedy has been putting together a few retrospective pieces on some Scorsese classics that are well worth checking out, currently encompassing The King of Comedy (timely) and Goodfellas.
7] The Good Liar
$5,656,000 / NEW
I remember seeing a YouTube ad trailer for this back in March which, considering that was the only major marketing for this thing eight months later, to me screams “we had no idea how this would do so punted it to November for the win-win of it either scoring awards buzz or being understandably trampled into dust.” Will report back next week assuming it hangs around here for even that long.
$5,635,000 / $322,599,593
Right, can somebody please explain to the exhausting “Snyder Cut” mob – which, as of this past weekend, now includes the actual professional movie stars who appeared in Justice League, for fuck’s sake – that the thing they have spent the last two years relentlessly and ceaselessly moaning over, were it to be released, is not going to magically make the godawful Justice League movie great. Much like how the Extended Cut of Batman v Superman did not meaningfully improve that abomination much of anything. The problems with JL are too systemically far gone to be even partway fixable, since the finished product still bared enough of Snyder’s skin to show where it would have gone catastrophically wrong even before Warner Bros. had Joss Whedon ineptly take a hatchet to it. Director’s Cuts rarely improve movies anyway. It is only once in a blue moon that you get, say, a Kingdom of Heaven type situation and Zack fucking Snyder is most certainly no Ridley Scott even on Ridley Scott’s worst days. And also, nobody outside of this loud minority cult even cares about seeing a barely-viewable workprint of a garbage movie anyway. Everybody please just move the fuck on. Let it go.
9] Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
$5,247,000 / $106,040,384
Why not instead turn your complaint efforts towards Disney for uploading every Simpsons ever onto Disney+ and then forcing users to have to watch older seasons in the wrong aspect ratio, thereby losing a tonne of framing-based jokes and sight gags, whilst publicly announcing that they’ll fix their blunder in “early 2020” and expecting a round of grateful applause for something that is their fault, should not have been a problem in the first place, and has absolutely no reason to take this long to fix. Christ, people, did we learn nothing from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer HD transfer disaster?
$4,780,000 / $31,882,990
Chris Haigh is currently taking in the Leeds Film Festival and sending out intermittent dispatches, so go check those out.
Dropped out: Terminator: Dark Fate, Zombieland: Double Tap, The Addams Family
Callum Petch is a motherfuckin’ trainwreck.