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.


The disappointment is strong with this one.

Despite a slew of new releases last weekend, September 21-23, Hollywood took a hit. Once-popular franchises are showing diminished returns, and new properties aren’t finding an audience. And Michael Moore still sucks the fun out of everything while saying absolutely nothing of substance about anything he can. Eli Roth’s The House With A Clock In Its Walls may not resonate well with critics or audiences, but it sparked enough interest in kids to lure some of their parents away from Football – which I chose to watch rather than hit the theater. The other movies? Not so much. In fact, attendance was down 15.5% from the weekend prior.

All of that portentous doom and gloom won’t keep me down, however. It’s time to check in with Box Office Mojo and Brad Brevet, pretend Scott Mendelson hasn’t already cornered the market on box office commentary, and get to analyzing the weekend’s results.

A quick cringe-filled run-down of my top ten predictions from last week:

  • Life Itself
    • $40-45 million
  • The House With A Clock In Its Walls
    • $15-20 million
  • The Predator
    • $12-15 million
  • A Simple Favor
    • $10 million
  • The Nun
    • $8 million
  • Crazy Rich Asians
    • $5.5 million
  • White Boy Rick
    • $5 million
  • Peppermint
    • $3 million
  • Fahrenheit 11/9
    • $2.5 million
  • The Meg
    • $2.5 million

Yeah. I actually predicted $40 million for Life Itself. You can see where this is going. Whether you hope to learn something or enjoy that sweet and savory schadenfreude, let’s get to looking at the numbers.


The Numbers

lots of numbers
Photo by Black ice on Pexels.com

As I mentioned above, total box office receipts were down 15.5%. That represents a domestic cume of $91,819,514. That’s across all studios and theaters. Granted, Hollywood shed about 3,900 theaters – probably for cleaning or something, I don’t know – but the dollar-per-theater average was still an abysmally low $2,253. That’s with three highly marketed new releases in Eli Roth’s The House With A Clock In Its Walls (House), Michael Moore’s Trump-bunking documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, and “what the hell happened here” head-scratcher Life Itself – WHICH DIDN’T EVEN OPEN IN THE TOP TEN.

Inhale. Exhale. Just focus on the numbers.

Here’s your weekend top ten:

  1. House debuted to a respectable $26.6 million. That’s good news for Universal Studios, as this could potentially add another lump of cash to their third-placed $1.09 billion yearly earnings. Eli Roth isn’t much known for . . . accessible entertainment, so this could prove to be a nice change of pace for the director. Buzz isn’t strong about the movie, however, so we’ll see if it struggles to recuperate its $42 million budget. As of today its domestic total sits at $27.8 million domestic, $9 million foreign, and $36.8 million global.
  2. Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor dropped a reassuring 36% and earned $10.2 million over the weekend. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively’s popularity have pushed the film to a domestic total of $33.2 million, $10.2 million international, and $43.4 million global.
  3. Below that is Conjuring sequel The Nun, which earned $9.9 million off a 45.4% drop. It continues to earn well in its third week, with its domestic total finally pushing past the $100 million milestone. Currently it’s earned $101.3 million domestic, $192.1 million foreign, and $293.4 million global. Remember that it was produced on a budget of $22 million. The fact that it’s nearing $300 million worldwide should explain why studios keep making these things.
  4. How the mighty have fallen. In its second weekend, Shane Black’s The Predator only managed to earn $9.1 million at the domestic box office. The R-Rated sequel has only earned $41.6 million domestic so far, less than half of its production budget. It’s earned $54.8 million internationally for a worldwide total of $96.5 million. Including marketing costs, it’s doubtful the film has managed to break even at this point.
  5. Still in the top five after six weeks is Crazy Rich Asians, which added $6.3 million to its domestic haul – which currently sits at a rock solid $159.8 million. Its foreign earnings amount to about $47.4 million, pushing its worldwide gross up to $207.2 million. That’s off a $30 million budget. You better believe Warner Bros. is giving director Jon Chu the run of the place.
  6. Here we have White Boy Rick. You know who stars in this alright, alright, alright? I genuinely abhor writing his name out so I’ll let you figure it out. It earned $4.8 million in its second weekend for a domestic total of $17.7 million. It hasn’t released elsewhere, and seeing as it’s struggling to earn back its $29 million budget, we might see a home-release sooner rather than later.
  7. Peppermint dropped only 38.6% in its third weekend, adding $3.6 million to its domestic total. So far it’s earned an above-budget $30.6 million in North America and only $6 million everywhere else. A $36.6 million worldwide total isn’t bad, but distributor STX Entertainment was undoubtedly hoping for more.
  8. Opening well short of expectations was Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore’s attempt to shine new light on the already exhaustively researched 2016 Presidential Election. It debuted to $3.008 million on over 1,700 screens, which represents a bomb-certain $1,750 on its opening weekend. Not that the film was going to draw huge crowds, but I’m sure Moore and company were hoping for a lot more. Another forgettable, indignant, stunt-heavy documentary come and gone.
  9. Here we have the big fish that refuses to leave the top ten, The Meg. It earned $2.2 million domestically over its seventh weekend, bringing its North American gross to $140.5 million, below Crazy Rich Asians. Where the shark has the rom-com beat is oversees. The Meg has managed a very impressive $377.3 million international, for a significant worldwide gross of $517.8 million.
  10. Rounding out the top ten was social media thriller Searching, which managed to earn $2.1 million in its fourth weekend in wide-release. Screen Gems’ decision to increase its theater-count has paid off well, as the film is sitting pretty with a domestic total of $23.2 million, $31.1 million international, and $54.3 million global. It has to have earned back its budget, considering the whole thing was shot using webcams and iPhones.

Outside the top ten is how-did-I–fuck-up-this-badly film, Life Itself (2018), which was made by the same bozos who made that television show. You know, the one about normal, everyday people who get killed by slow-cookers? Yeah, it debuted in eleventh place with $2.1 million in 2,609 theaters. That’s a piss-poor average of $814 per screen. It’s domestic total is just an image of Oscar Isaac checking his watch after depositing a check at the ATM.

Some other totals worth mentioning are Mission: Impossible – Fallout reaching $218.2 million in North America and $778 million worldwide. Christopher Robin is still earning over $1 million a week, so Disney might keep it in theaters until Christmas (that’s a joke, but watch out.)

Oh, and two films that I predicted would fade from existence, A.X.L and The Happytime Murders have both sunk to forty and 123 theaters respectively. Each is earning less than $100k and that’s schadenfraude, baby. Crash and burn you awful movies.

Alright let’s see how I did (Prediction / Actual):

  • Life Itself
    • $40-45 million / $2.1 million
  • The House With A Clock In Its Walls
    • $15-20 million / $26.6 million
  • The Predator
    • $12-15 million / $9.1 million
  • A Simple Favor
    • $10 million / $10.2 million
  • The Nun
    • $8 million / $9.9 million
  • Crazy Rich Asians
    • $5.5 million / $6.3 million
  • White Boy Rick
    • $5 million / $4.8 million
  • Peppermint
    • $3 million / $3.6 million
  • Fahrenheit 11/9
    • $2.5 million / $3 million
  • The Meg
    • $2.5 million / $2.2 million

Excluding Life Itself, I can boast a margin of error for the other nine films of about $800k. That’s closer than I’ve managed in the past. Including Life Itself . . . well, let’s not.

Let’s take a look at next week.


Speculation

woman working girl sitting
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

This coming weekend, September 28-30, we have a few new releases to look forward to. I won’t be seeing them, and hopefully you’ll glean a sense as to why once I describe them.

First up we have Warner Bros.’ next kid-friendly feature, Smallfoot. They’re opening it across 4,000 screens, so expect a sizeable pile of “mommy, please!” money by next Monday. Why to avoid it: You know those Ice Age movies? Not the first one, the fourth one. No? Well, this movie looks about as entertaining as the fourth Ice Age.

Second, we have the latest Kevin Hart cash-grab, Night School. Allow me to summarize the plot of a movie that hasn’t released yet: Man-baby working fast-food blunders his way back to night school; has what the narrative describes as a good heart; improbably manages to have the independent, professional young woman who teaches him (Tiffany Haddish), fall for him; takes some important test at the end and passes or something. Kevin Hart will make faces, warp his voice, and he’ll cash his check.

The third new release worth mentioning is Hell Fest, a generic teenager-centric horror movie set in a Halloween-themed amusement park. If you’ve seen Cabin in the Woods, you know exactly how this will play out. Save your money.

My predictions for the top ten:

  1. Smallfoot debuts on 4,000 screens and earns $20-23 million.
  2. Night School Kevin Harts hard enough to earn $15-18 million.
  3. The House With A Clock In Its Walls falls over 50% to earn $10-13 million.
  4. Hell Fest earns $8-10 million.
  5. A Simple Favor drops around 35% to earn $6.25 million.
  6. The Nun drops 45% to earn $5.5 million.
  7. Crazy Rich Asians drops 25% and earns $4.75 million.
  8. The Predator drops around 65% and earns $3.2 million.
  9. White Boy Rick drops 50% and earns $2.5 million.
  10. Peppermint drops 40% and earns $2.25 million.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned next week to see how we did!

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Until next time.

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