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.

Welcome Back

Grab your box office hats, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to analyze a great September performance in North American cinemas.

Friday to Sunday, September 28-30, saw the release of three major films: Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish’s Night School, Warner Bros. Smallfoot, and Lionsgate’s Hell Fest. Three large releases, targeting both kids and teenagers, which propelled weekend receipts up over 14% from the weekend prior. And, if Brad Brevet and Box Office Mojo are to be believed, it capped off the second highest grossing September on record, behind last year.

Isn’t that nice? Go Hollywood.

Anyway. Have you fastened that box office hat firmly to your noggin, yet? Yes?

Good. Last week’s predictions:

  • Smallfoot
    • $20-23 million
  • Night School
    • $15-18 million
  • The House With A Clock In Its Walls
    • $10-13 million
  • Hell Fest
    • $8-10 million
  • A Simple Favor
    • $6.25 million
  • The Nun
    • $5.5 million
  • Crazy Rich Asians
    • $4.75 million
  • The Predator
    • $3.2 million
  • White Boy Rick
    • $2.5 million
  • Peppermint
    • $2.25 million

Let’s look at those weekend totals.

The Numbers

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As mentioned, the box office jumped up by over 14% for an estimated North American total of $105 million – or the equivalent of a modest opening weekend for a tent-pole picture in the MCU. That’s not bad when compared to last weekend, but it’s fantastic when compared to 2017’s September 29-October 1 total of $82.3 million. Still, 2017’s September saw consecutive weekend totals of $67 million, $154.7 million, $103.5 million, $110.4 million, and $82.3 million. September 2018 only managed two weekends with totals over $100 million, and only just over the mark.

Our sturdy September 2018 is thanks not to any particular release, but to Hollywood insisting on releasing multiple properties of a wide range of genres each weekend. We have spooky movies, actioners, franchise flicks, comedies, slashers, and fluff for the kids. August was dominated primarily by one movie: Crazy Rich Asians – which won two-thirds of August and the first weekend of September. Since the first, a different film won each subsequent weekend of September.

The last of which had this as its top ten:

  1. Night School, the same kind of Kevin Hart feature that allows the actor to flaunt his money-first ideology while wooing female comedians far more talented than he is than, say, Think Like a Man Too. Sort of like how Dwayne Johnson only produces and stars in films that accentuate his physique. It’s no secret that the two of them are Instagram business buddies, hyping up their films with online, app-driven antics that neither address the film or offer anything worth investing time into. It’s marketing via histrionics. Essentially, they’ve developed a cult of personality through family friendly, corporate assembled, consume-and-forget marketing. Oh, and Night School opened to $27.2 million from 3,010 theaters. Universal Studios should be proud. I’m not.
  2. Warner Bros. Smallfoot, the kid-centric animated feature about a bunch of yetis or something, debuted to $23 million from 4,131 theaters.
  3. The House With A Clock In Its Walls fell 52.6% for a second weekend pull of $12.6 million. It’s domestic total is $44.8 million – well over the film’s $42 million production budget. Its international total is $9 million and worldwide is $53.9 million. Universal Studios should be proud(er). We need more Jack Black and Cate Blanchett in our lives. And Eli Roth should consider making more kids movies.
  4. Paul Fieg’s A Simple Favor had a respectable 36.2% drop in its third weekend. It added $6.5 million to make its North American total a cool $43 million. It’s still playing in over 3,000 theaters, so Lionsgate is obviously confident that the Blake Lively, Anna Kendrik picture has legs. No pun intended. With an international gross of $19.8 million, the film has earned $62.8 million across all territories.
  5. The Nun dropped only 45.5% and two places to earn $5.4 million over the weekend. Its domestic total is $109 million, which is significant. Add to that the $220.2 million international earnings, its worldwide total of $329.2 million makes it the highest grossing film in the Conjuring franchise. It still lags behind the original here in North America, but give it time.
  6. Hell Fest, the teens-get-chased-in-a-dark-area-by-people-in-masks movie, debuted to $5.1 million from 2,297 theaters. That’s about $400k shy of its production budget and $3 million shy of my prediction.
  7. Crazy Rich Asians is still making decent money, even after its seventh weekend. It fell 35.4% and two places to earn $4.1 million. It’s domestic total is now $165.6 million. Internationally it’s only managed $53.8 million, but a worldwide total of $219.4 million off of a $30 million budget is nothing to pout over. Good on you Warner Bros.
  8. The Predator continues to underperform. It dropped four spots and 57.9% for a domestic weekend pull of $3.8 million. As of today, its domestic / international / worldwide is $47.7 million / $68.3 million / $116.1 million. All off of an $88 million budget plus marketing costs. Please, Shane Black, give us a The Nice Guys sequel. Please.
  9. Here’s White Boy Rick with a weekend total of $2.4 million. Its domestic now sits at $21 million, well shy of that $29 million budget. The renaissance is over, it would seem.
  10. Closing out the top ten is Peppermint. The apparent waste of Jennifer Garner’s talent earned $1.7 million. Its domestic / international / worldwide is currently $33.5 million / $6 million / $39.5 million. It earned its budget back, so expect STX Entertainment to start yanking it from theaters once it drops from the top ten.

Other notable releases include My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, which was released by Funimation in 508 theaters for a debut domestic total of $1.3 million. Awesome. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 fell four spots and 63.1% for $1.1 million. Also awesome. The Meg is shedding theaters quickly as Warner Bros. prepares for home release. It still managed another $1.03 million despite dropping 54.4% and losing over 700 screens. Oh, and that dumpster fire Life Itself lost 254 theaters, dropped 63.7%, and earned only $770k on the weekend. Amazon Studios has some work to do.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout earned $621k off of only 538 screens. It’s domestic is just shy of $220 million, but it’ll get there before home release. Worldwide it’s managed $789.8 million. Given more time in the international market, expect it to make a bid for $800 million, but don’t hold your breath.

The Old Man & The Gun, Robert Redford’s self-professed final acting role debuted in limited release – literally just five theaters – and earned $142,131. That’s a $28k theater average. Send it wide! I wanna see it! Speaking of limited engagements, that Nic Cage movie everyone is raving about, Mandy, is only playing in like 64 theaters across the country. It’s almost earned a million bucks, though. Kudos.

So, how did my predictions line up with reality? Prediction / Actual

  • Smallfoot
    • $20-23 million / $23.04 million
  • Night School
    • $15-18 million / $27.2 million
  • The House With A Clock In Its Walls
    • $10-13 million / $12.6 million
  • Hell Fest
    • $8-10 million / $5.1 million
  • A Simple Favor
    • $6.25 million / $6.5 million
  • The Nun
    • $5.5 million / $5.4 million
  • Crazy Rich Asians
    • $4.75 million / $4.1 million
  • The Predator
    • $3.2 million / $3.8 million
  • White Boy Rick
    • $2.5 million / $2.4 million
  • Peppermint
    • $2.25 million / $1.7 million

Margin of error: $539,000

Not bad, even though I was way off with Night School and Hell Fest, the other predictions saved my ass. Let’s see if next week bodes well.


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Next weekend, October 5-7, has the potential to be massive. You have two highly anticipated movies coming out in Tom Hardy’s Venom and Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star is Born. My gut tells me not to underestimate the star-power of Lady Gaga, who is a fucking magnificent human being. I’m willing to overlook the fact that Bradley Cooper’s only claim to fame is one good comedy and two leading roles in bad David O’Russel films (they’re all bad.)

I’m also hesitant as to whether Tom Hardy can pull Sony’s Marvel features out of their funk. They haven’t released a solid superhero picture since Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2 all the way back in 2004. Speaking of, has anybody seen Tobey Macguire anywhere? Is he doing alright? Come back, Tobey. Bring Brendan Fraser with you.


Anyways, here are my predictions for the top ten.

  1. Venom opens to a disappointing $60-65 million.
  2. A Star is Born surprises with a $30-35 million debut.
  3. Night School drops 60% to earn $10.75 million.
  4. Smallfoot drops 55% to earn $10.25 million.
  5. The House With A Clock In Its Walls will drop around 55% to earn $5.75 million.
  6. A Simple Favor will fall around 40% for $4 million.
  7. The Nun drops around 50% for $2.75 million.
  8. Hell Fest drops around 60% for $2.25 million.
  9. The Predator falls around 60% to earn $1.5 million.
  10. White Boy Rick hangs in tightly to the top ten, drops 50% to earn $1.25 million.

So, there you have it. Tune in next week to see how these predictions play out. Also be sure to follow along on social media here and here for updates, or subscribe to get email updates whenever a new article is posted using the widget below.

Until next time.

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