Commentary pieces are longer, stream-of-consciousness style essays about a particular topic. They can and will take many forms, are randomly organized, and are deeply saturated with personal bias.
It’s about time I indulged in one of my favorite pastimes: Examining and extrapolating on the week’s current film box office numbers (and I’m going to get creative with the stock photos I use, so enjoy them ironically.)
History was made and a few other films either debuted or continued box office dominance. I was at the movies this past weekend, so some of my own money is included in the tally – how neat! It may seem strange to some that people like me obsess over a movie’s performance with the public, but those ticket-sales are often indicative of a number of things. Not the least of which is whether or not a movie that you saw and loved, or vehemently disliked, is either finding an audience or repelling the masses – fists clutching their hard earned cash as they flee the repugnant stench emanating from the theater.
Let’s get started with this week’s numbers.
It’s no secret that theater-attendance peaks and falls around giant tent-pole features released in the summer. Most people schedule their viewership around them and with ticket-prices being as they are, it comes as no surprise. Most people aren’t going to see the smaller artsy-fartsy type films that garner most of their acclaim and viewership on the festival circuit. That being said, it does look like overall viewership is up fifteen percent this year compared to 2017, when duds the likes of The Dark Tower hit theaters and decidedly snuffed the so-called McConaughey-Renaissance (maybe it was those god-awful Lincoln commercials, but still.)
But, if there’s two things you can count on to get people’s butts in the movie theater, it’s Disney and Tom Cruise putting his life in danger.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout won Friday to Sunday viewership with a second-weekend pull of around $35 million, earning its second number one spot on the charts. As of today, Wednesday August 8th, it’s tracking above its predecessor Rogue Nation at the eleven-day mark, having earned an estimated $129 million domestically; $334 million worldwide. This is still a hair below the fourth entry in the franchise, Ghost Protocol, during the same frame, but Protocol had a limited release before going wide. Still, with a production budget of $178 million, don’t expect to hear any complaints when its domestic haul alone earns back its cost.
I’m really hoping that Fallout stays at number one for long enough to beat out the current top-earner in the franchise, M:I:II, which has a domestic total of $215 million. Tom Cruise can’t have broken his ankle for nothing, people. Should this latest outing fall short, I hesitate to imagine what will happen to him while shooting the next one. It has yet to release in China or Italy, so we’ll see if it can match Rogue Nation‘s $682 million worldwide by the end of its run.
[Fun Fact: As of this writing, the entirety of the decades-long Mission: Impossible franchise has earned, domestically, a bit over $1 billion. Star Wars: The Force Awakens alone earned $936 million domestically in 24 weeks. Crazy town.]
Speaking of crazy domestic hauls, Disney and Marvel’s Black Panther finally squeaked into the $700 million domestic-earner club. Disney managed to strong-arm enough theaters into keeping it open, long past home-release, and now it joins the ranks of The Force Awakens and Avatar as the third film to ever gross this insane amount of cash domestically. It’s the only film of 2018 to remain in theaters for 25 weeks, and there might not be another, as films continue to land on streaming services and BluRay more quickly. Still, mighty impressive. Wakanda Forever.
In second place, Disney’s Christopher Robin debuted short of expectations, earning around $25 million – below expectations. I honestly couldn’t be less interested in Disney’s mission to regurgitate all of its existing intellectual property into live-action remakes. As charming as Pooh is, and as much as I love Ewan McGregor, I’m not at all surprised to hear that the film is underperforming. Part of the charm of cartoons is the fact that they’re, well, cartoons.
In third place is the Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon spy-comedy, The Spy Who Dumped Me, which delivered a little over $12 million. There’s been a deluge of R-rated buddy-style comedy actioners the last few years. There’s an audience for them, yes, but without much innovation (at least with the advertising) I don’t know if this brand of filmmaking can avoid the same diminishing returns that Apatow’s suffered. At one time it was easy to chuck together a couple of SNL-alumni and a known star turning a new comedic leaf and expect to earn your budget back. We’ll see.
The sequel to Mamma Mia!, the aptly titled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, landed in fourth place with $9 million. It’s domestic is nearing $100 million total, proving yet again that long awaited sequels to passably entertaining movies is a sure-bet in today’s Hollywood. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m still waiting on a sequel to Jingle All the Way. Someone pull Jake Lloyd out of retirement.
The Equalizer 2 came in fifth place, dropping just 37% to earn around $8.8 million. It, too, may eventually break $100 million should Sony decide to keep it in theaters.
In sixth was Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation with $8 million, bringing its total to around $135 million.
Seventh: Ant-Man and the Wasp with $6.3 million, totaling $195 million.
Eighth: Fox’s The Darkest Minds with a $5.8 million debut.
Ninth: The charming Incredibles 2 with $4.9 million, totaling an insane $583 million.
And rounding out the top ten is Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, with $4.7 million, totaling a modest-but-profitable $20 million.
Some other highlights include my least favorite movie of the year, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom earning $3.9 million, bringing its total to about $405 million domestic. I’m literally jumping for joy that such a heaping shit-pile of a movie is earning so much money.
Bo Burnham’s A24-produced Eighth Grade has expanded nationwide and earned $2.8 million. Its domestic total sits just shy of $7 million and god damnit please go see that movie you won’t regret it, I promise.
There are some other, smaller releases piddling around in a handful of theaters out there, but I’ve never heard of them. You have a Dinesh D’Souza documentary out there, and if you’re familiar with his work I’d suggest forgetting you ever heard the name Dinesh D’Souza.
Okay, on to this coming weekend.
I fully expect Mission: Impossible – Fallout to earn over $215 million by the end of its run – the word of mouth is just too good and the movie too well made to fade from the public’s attention. Going into Friday it’ll be knocking on $150 million’s door. It’s feasible that it earns north of $18 million this weekend, all things considered.
Now that Black Panther has passed $700 million domestic, I don’t expect to see or hear of it again until the teaser for the sequel shows up.
Christopher Robin will probably drop a few spots. I won’t be surprised to see this at number three or four, earning around $10-$12 million. It could have legs, but a disappointing opening almost never suggests that.
The Spy Who Dumped Me looks forgettable, but Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon are both well known enough to recoup the film’s budget. Expect this to stay in the top five with $5-8 million for the weekend, but it’s going to be fighting neck and neck with Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which definitely has legs.
New releases are Warner Bros.’ The Meg, a late-summer shark-picture with one differentiating hook – the shark is the size of a small airplane. I won’t lie, I’m eager to see how critics and audiences respond to this. I read the book it’s inspired by, which is good fun. Expect this to land at number one if Fallout wanes. I’m guessing somewhere either well-north or just-north of $25 million.
We also have Slender Man hitting theaters. It’s a horror movie based on a nearly-forgotten cult-status horror video game. Who knows, it could land in the top five. Screen Gems has it on over 2,000 screens and we’re entering the year’s second wave of spooky movies. It could surprise us.
Focus is releasing the latest Spike Lee joint, BlacKkKlansman on 1,500 screens. I don’t expect this to break into the top five. It’s R-rated, a bit political, but that’s been performing well most of the year, so we’ll see. Late-season race-centric films have had a solid track record over the last decade.
Well, that’s it for Box Office Wednesday. Keep an eye out next week for more number-crunching, sarcasm, and speculation. Be sure to check out the blog’s Facebook and Twitter pages to stay up to date with the latest posts, or subscribe via email using the widget at the bottom of this page. Like, share, comment; let me know what you think of everything I do here.
Until next time.