I need to address the two weeks I’ve been absent from this blog. Without saying too much, while also remaining as transparent as possible, I hit a bit of a mental block when it came to writing for this thing. To the few of you that read everything I post here, I’m sorry. Our behavior is so dominated by the reward centers of our brains, that when a sense of hopelessness settles in it can appear daunting to even sit at the keyboard and clack away for a few hours. Progress isn’t quite as obvious when the nature of your work is stationary – no pun intended. I’m back and hopefully on the right track with generating content.
Also, I am working on a manuscript for a novel. That takes time.
Why not post a separate article as an update on the blog? Because, dear reader, that’s more effort than should be spent airing out personal matters. Work smarter, not harder.
On to the box office.
Halloween’s back, baby
Normally when an old property is revived with the original cast, the results are less than stellar. In today’s nostalgia-laden and quality-conscious age, a long-awaited sequel can carry near insurmountable expectations. That isn’t the case with Michael Myers’ return to the big screen. I guess a mountain of shit-quality sequels lowered the bar enough for the average consumer to walk away happy with anything other than absolute garbage. However, Halloween (2018) has managed solid scores from critics and audiences, which allowed it to leap to the top of the box office pile, eclipsing both Venom and A Star is Born, which both have seen some serious legs.
The only other film worth mentioning was the limited release of Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, which only hit four screens. We’ll see how that performs once it goes wide on October 26. The early response from critics has been decent and Jonah Hill is a big name, especially coming off the success of Netflix original series Maniac, where he stars alongside fellow Superbad alum Emma Stone. We shall see.
Anywho, let’s take a glance at BoxOfficeMojo.com and break down the weekend numbers.
Weekend top ten
Halloweendebuted to $76.2m domestic, $14.3m international, and $90.5m global. Thanks to tremendous word of mouth and the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, this sequel / refresh earned the second largest October opening of all time, behind Venom‘s $80m from several weeks ago. This is a stellar debut for a film made for $10m.
A Star is Born earned $19m domestic in its third weekend, surpassing Venom almost every day this past week. The Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga drama has yet to drop over 40%. It’s totals so far are $126.1m domestic, $75.6m international, and $201.7m global. For an R-rated directorial debut, it doesn’t get much better.
Venom narrowly missed third place over the weekend, having earned $18m in North America. Last weekend it suffered a drop of over 50%, whereas this week it held on more firmly with a drop of 48.5%. Just goes to show that comic book fans aren’t concerned with the quality of their entertainment, only that it’s their entertainment. The film currently sits at $171m domestic, $290.7m international, and $461.7m global.
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween remained in fourth place with $9.7m in North America. The film, a sequel to a movie I didn’t see, based on a R.L. Stine’s celebrated children’s horror book series, dropped a respectable 38.5% and has the following totals: $28.8m domestic, $11.1m international, and $39.9m global.
First Man, Damien Chazelle’s third feature film, continues to underwhelm audiences. The tale of unrepentant stoic Neil Armstrong as he stone-faces his way to the moon, ignores his wife, and silently resents Buzz Aldrin, earned $8.3m domestically. Its totals are currently $29.7m domestic, $25.7m international, and $55.4m global. That’s about $4m shy of its production budget. The far-reaching allure of Gravity has officially waned.
The Hate U Giveadded over 2,000 theaters. Officially in wide release, it earned $7.6m to bring its domestic total to $10.7m. It has a long way to go before it earns back its $29m budget.
Smallfoot, an incredibly forgettable movie that’s barely worth talking about, earned $6.5m domestic. Its totals are currently $66.3m domestic, $71.2m international, and $137.5m global.
Night School, another pitifully forgettable movie and shameless appeal to Kevin Hart’s arguably diminishing appeal, earned $4.8m domestically. Its totals are $66.7m domestic, $17.6m international, and $84.3m global.
Bad Times at the El Royale dropped 52.1% and two places in its second weekend. So far the Drew Goddard ensemble feature is struggling to earn back its $32m budget. So far, it’s earned $13.4m domestic, $7.9m international, and $21.3m global.
The Old Man & the Gun, Robert Redford’s supposed final film, jumped up five places to round out the top ten. Fox Searchlight added over 500 theaters to bring it into wide release following decent reception in limited release. It earned $2.1m, bringing its domestic and only total up to $4.2m.
Honorable mention to Jonah Hill’s Mid90s, which debuted in limited release to $258k, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that that’s from four theaters. That’s a stellar $64.5k theater average. Oh, and for some reason, Disney still has Incredibles II in theaters. The smash of the late summer, Crazy Rich Asians, is still raking in over a million a week, half a million just this past weekend. Wonderful.
Alright, that’s all I care to talk about.
Since I’m a few weeks behind on predictions, I think I’m just going to leave you all with a shorter article today. I might separate the predictions into their own things right before the weekend. Who knows. I leave you with a calm and colorful image of autumn. Enjoy the season, dear reader.
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.
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:
The House With A Clock In Its Walls
A Simple Favor
Crazy Rich Asians
White Boy Rick
Let’s look at those weekend totals.
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:
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.
Warner Bros. Smallfoot, the kid-centric animated feature about a bunch of yetis or something, debuted to $23 million from 4,131 theaters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
$20-23 million / $23.04 million
$15-18 million / $27.2 million
The House With A Clock In Its Walls
$10-13 million / $12.6 million
$8-10 million / $5.1 million
A Simple Favor
$6.25 million / $6.5 million
$5.5 million / $5.4 million
Crazy Rich Asians
$4.75 million / $4.1 million
$3.2 million / $3.8 million
White Boy Rick
$2.5 million / $2.4 million
$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.
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.
Venom opens to a disappointing $60-65 million.
A Star is Born surprises with a $30-35 million debut.
Night School drops 60% to earn $10.75 million.
Smallfoot drops 55% to earn $10.25 million.
The House With A Clock In Its Walls will drop around 55% to earn $5.75 million.
A Simple Favor will fall around 40% for $4 million.
The Nun drops around 50% for $2.75 million.
Hell Fest drops around 60% for $2.25 million.
The Predator falls around 60% to earn $1.5 million.
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.
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 weekend of September 14-16 saw a slew of new releases, but had little to celebrate as domestic box office totals were down a frustrating 11.3%, according to Box Office Mojo. This happened despite one of the more anticipated films of the year, The Predator, debuting in over 4,000 theaters across the country. It isn’t all bad news, however, as Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor and other newcomer White Boy Rick both saw strong(ish) opening weekend numbers.
Personally, dear reader, I did not attend the multiplex this past weekend. As I mentioned in my previous box office report, Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the East coast with a vindictive rage that put not only over ten million lives at risk, but over 70% of the nation’s Bojangles restaurants. Storm of a life-time, to say the least. Rather than begrudgingly attend another instalment in one of film’s choppiest franchises, I piled sandbags at my back door and waited patiently for the storm clouds to disappear.
Apparently, I didn’t miss much.
Regardless, a few movies hit some significant milestones, some underperformed, and others just kept making money. Let’s check it out.
A reminder of last week’s predictions:
The Predator opens with $30-35 million.
The Nun stays at number two with $20-25 million.
A Simple Favor opens with $15-20 million.
Crazy Rich Asians earns $10 million.
White Boy Rick opens with $5-8 million.
Unbroken: Path to Redemption opens with $4-6 million.
Peppermint earns $6-7 million.
The Meg earns $3 million.
Searching earns $3 million.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout earns $1.5-2.5 million and finally surpasses Mission: Impossible II as the highest grossing entry in the franchise at the domestic box office.
Let’s see how they panned out.
As I mentioned above, total domestic earnings were down 11.3% from the previous weekend. North Americans spent about $107 million at the cinema – not including the $400 million spent on popcorn, Mike & Ike’s, and 40oz tubs of Diet Coke. CONCESSIONS SURE ARE EXPENSIVE, RIGHT GUYS?
Here’s the weekend’s top ten:
Leading the pack is Shane Black’s latest attempt at franchise work, The Predator. Studios were undoubtedly hoping that his particular brand of flamboyant wise-cracking would inject some much-needed energy into the property, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It debuted to a weak $24.6 million, less than a third of its production budget ($88 million), and a disappointing $6,102 theater average. Considering the film opened in over 4,000 theaters – an allotment reserved for the likes of Marvel’s superhero features – it doesn’t bode well for the future of the franchise. Oversees it pulled in about $30 million for a $54.6 million worldwide total. It isn’t a bomb, not yet, but considering the controversy surrounding the picture, it’s reasonable to assume a rocky few weeks are on the horizon.
The Nun saw a significant drop-off in attendance. It earned $18.2 million in its second weekend of release, a drop of 66.1% – a franchise worst – for a domestic total of $85.1 million. Internationally it’s sitting pretty at $144.8 million for a $229.9 million worldwide total – or about $207 million over the film’s production budget. The Conjuring brand isn’t going anywhere.
Paul Feig’s latest, A Simple Favor, debuted to a respectable $16 million. This speaks volumes about the likeability of stars Anna Kendrick and Black Lively, as this was an R-rated creative departure for Feig, who’s most known for Bridesmaids and the divisive Ghostbusters (2016) reboot. Oh, and for putting his face up an adult man’s ass on The Joel McHale show. It earned an additional $3.5 millon internationally for a worldwide opening of $19.5 million.
Matthew McConaughey’s latest, White Boy Rick, opened to a within-studio-estimates $8.8 million from 2,504 theaters across North America. That’s higher than I gave it credit for, but barely. Someone find the gif of McConaughey smiling in that Lincoln ad.
Crazy Rich Asians dropped a solid 33.9% in its fifth weekend and earned another $8.6 million. That brings its domestic total up to $149.5 million. Oversees it’s earned $38.5 million for a worldwide total of $188 million. It has yet to release in most Asian markets, so we’ll see how that plays out in the coming weeks. As for North America, it’s made a killing.
Jennifer Garner’s revenge-flick, Peppermint, dropped 55.3% and four places in its second weekend. In North America it added $6 million for a domestic total of $24.1 million. Oversees it’s barely managed $1.4 million for a worldwide of $25.5 million. Not including marketing costs, the film has barely earned back its $25 million budget.
The Meg had a respectable drop of 36.6% and added another $3.8 million to its domestic haul. So far it’s earned $137.1 million here and $369.5 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total up to $506.6 million. Half a billion dollars is nothing to shake a fin at.
Below that is social-media thriller Searching, which dropped only 30.4% to earn $3.1 million. Its domestic total is currently $19.6 million. Oversees it’s managed another $26.3 million for a worldwide total of $45.9 million.
Best action movie of the year, Mission: Impossible – Fallout earned another $2.2 million off a 41.2% drop. Its domestic total just hit $216.1 million, which – drumroll please – has finallypushed it over the $215.4 million domestic total of franchise shit-pile, M:I-II. It’s been a long road, ladies and gentlemen, but we’ve made it. I hope you’re as unapologetically elated as I am. I really do. Internationally it’s amassed $544.8 million – $144.1 million of which from China – for a worldwide total of $760.9 million, another franchise best. Mission: accomplished.
Closing out the top ten is the faithful sequel to Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, the subtly named Unbroken: Path to Redemption. It pulled in $2.2 million domestic in its opening weekend, averaging $1,383 per each of its 1,620 theaters.
Outside the top ten are leggy films Christopher Robin and BlacKkKlansman. The Pooh-adventure earned another $2.1 million from 1,902 theaters in its seventh weekend (seriously, Disney?), for a domestic total of $95.1 million. You watch, Disney will pull over 1,000 of those theaters once the film passes $100 million domestic. As for Spike Lee’s latest joint, it added $1.2 million after losing almost half of its theaters – an impressive feat. It currently sits at $45.9 million domestic. Well earned.
Scrolling down the list we can find Hotel Transylvania 3, Incredibles II, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and Slender Man all enjoying similar sub-$1 million grosses. I promise this will be the last time I mention any of those films.
Comfortingly, Mile 22, The Happytime Murders, and especially A.X.L. have plummeted down the charts. It does my heart good to see people leaving garbage where it belongs. None of these films made over $250,000 this weekend, or has grossed over $40 million in North America. In fact, Mile 22 dropped 80.1% after losing 1,389 theaters. All of which happened after the film had earned over $50 million in worldwide grosses – its production budget, as it would happen.
Okay, how did I do?
The Predator came in almost ten million shy of my lax expectations. Proof that either Olivia Munn has serious influence in the industry (anyone else remember her from Attack of the Show?), or people don’t like to see bad entries in stale franchises. Or both. Shane Black should stick with what he does best, standalone R-rated buddy-cop misadventures.
The Nun came in about $2 million shy of my estimate, but I was close.
A Simple Favor landed within my $15-20 million estimate – it helps to give them a wide berth.
Crazy Rich Asians came in about $2 million shy of my estimate.
White Boy Rick earned over $8 million, which was my high estimate. I’ll take my victories where I can get them.
Unbroken: Path to Redemption earned half of my low estimate – I am filled with hope.
Peppermint earned $6 million – I was right on the money.
The Meg earned $3.8 million, where I predicted $3 million. Close enough for me!
Searching earned a little over $3 million, my estimate. Awesome.
And M:I – Fallout gave me everything I had hoped for.
Not bad! I’m not bowling strikes yet, but I’ll get there.
Time for some speculation.
This coming weekend we see the release of a kid-friendly Eli Roth film (I know), The House With A Clock In Its Walls. We also have the highly anticipated Amazon Studios production, Life Itself. People went ape-shit for This Is Us on TV, so maybe this one will be big. Also hitting theaters is the latest Michael Moore documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9, about Trump’s rise to the presidency. What could have influenced people to vote for such a vile, contemptible narcissist? Perhaps a liberal millionaire in cargo shorts can chase down enough of the white working poor and wheeze as many condescending, ideologically debasing questions as required to lend us an answer. It will be revelatory, I’m sure.
Here are my domestic predictions for the coming weekend:
Life Itself draws out the date-night crowd for an impressive $40-45 million.
A House With A Clock In Its Walls debuts with a kid-boosted $15-20 million.
The Predator falls to the new kids on the block, drops around 50%, and earns about $12-15 million. Expect this to fight to earn back its budget.
A Simple Favor holds well, earns around $10 million.
The Nun drops similarly to its second weekend and pulls in $8 million.
Crazy Rich Asians – which I’ve never been able to adequately predict – earns $5.5 million.
White Boy Rick holds well, earns around $5 million.
Peppermint earns $3 million.
Fahrenheit 11/9 appeals to the Moore-faithful and earns about $2.5 million.
The Meg earns $2.5 million.
And that’s my top ten for next weekend. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’re enjoying my box office updates. I enjoy writing them. Please like, share and subscribe to this blog and its social media pages using the widgets at the bottom of the page.
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 Wednesday, my dudes [aaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!], so let’s get to talking about the weekend box office.
BUT WAIT – a disclaimer.
It was Labor Day weekend here in the states, so the totals I’ve pulled from stat-daddy Brad Brevet and BoxOfficeMojo.com represent a four-day total as opposed to the normal Friday through Sunday. I’ll add in the Fri-Sun totals for comparison. You’re welcome.
Now, were there any major releases over the weekend? Meh. Searching opened in the top five, as did a movie I had literally never heard of, Operation Finale. I need to read more news – these films keep sneaking up on me. There was also the teen sci-fi Kin and Pantelon’s Ya Veremos, neither of which opened to much enthusiasm, but I’ll get into that in a second.
Last week we were treated to a vulgar puppet-movie with The Happytime Murders and it bombed, Mark Wahlberg and dogs (both feral and robotic) weren’t appeasing audiences, and a few other films hit the scene in limited release.
This past weekend, however, the box office is still in decline. Total receipts are sitting at $98 million across the board, a few million below the previous weekend. Even with the extra day it’s proving difficult for studios to coax us out of our living rooms and into the theater. Might it have something to do with studio monopolies? The vanishing middle class? Stagnant wages? The Last Jedi? Colin Kaepernick? Who knows. It certainly doesn’t have to do with the rock-bottom standards of modern filmmaking. Anyone else wish we’d get a year as good for film as 1994? Anyone, at all?
Moving on. Let’s take a look at my domestic predictions from last week. You’ll notice that Operation Finale is absent:
Crazy Rich Asians continues to earn well, pulling in another $15-20 million.
Searching rides its early buzz and opens wide at number two, earning $15-20 million.
Kin debuts with $15-20 million.
The Meg stays in the top five, earning $10 million.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout earns another $6 million.
Christopher Robin proves it has legs and earns another $5 million.
BlacKkKlansman pulls in $4.8 million.
A.X.L. disappears from our collective attentions.
Slender Man falls further down the chart, earning $1.5 million.
Hotel Transylvania 3, The Equalizer 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Mamma Mia! 2, and Incredibles II all make $1-1.7 million.
As you can see, I had some high hopes for the new releases. Let’s see if they panned out. Cue the ironic stock photos.
[Dr Benjamin Bitcoin, inventor of the dial-up modem and credited with introducing syphilis to silicone valley]
Alright, as I mentioned above, the box office has been down recently, but a few movies continued their dominance in North America. Here’s the top ten over the three and four-day weekend.
Crazy Rich Asians continues to defy expectations. Its Friday – Sunday earnings represented an 11.5% drop from the previous weekend. That’s insanity. Very, very rarely does a studio film perform like this. Clearly Warner Bros. has tapped into the cultural zeitgeist here. It’s traditional weekend gross was $21.9 million, and its four-day total was $28.5 million. That’s a $6 million Labor Day. Just awesome. It’s domestic gross now sits at $117.3 million, way beyond studio estimates and that $30 million budget.
In second place is, still, The Meg, which dropped a stellar 17.8% to bring in $10.5 million. Its four-day take was $13.8 million, a $3.3 million Labor Day. Its domestic total is a respectable $123.8 million, about $10 million shy of its budget. Not that that matters, as its worldwide gross is north of $467 million.
Retaking third place from lesser films is Mission: Impossible – Fallout with a 13% drop, three-day total of $7 million, four-day total of $9.3 million, $2.3 million Labor Day. It’s domestic total is sitting pretty at $206.6 million – SO CLOSE TO TOPPLING M:I:II. The film also opened in China, finally, to a wonderful $77.3 million – 84% higher than Rogue Nation’s debut in the territory. Rogue Nation went on to earn $135 million in China, so this is huge news. We could be looking at the first Mission: Impossible to creep within spitting distance of $1 billion worldwide, but for now it’s sitting pretty at $668 million worldwide.
In fourth place, Searching broke wide to a $6.06 million three-day. However, it fell to fifth place on Labor Day, with a four-day total of $7.6 million – $200k behind our next film. Its domestic total is $8.1 million.
In fifth is a movie I’ve never even heard of MGM’s Operation Finale, a thriller set fifteen years after the end of World War II. It debuted to a three-day of $6.02 million, and a four-day fourth-place ranking $7.8 million. It simply had a better Labor Day than Searching – considering the audiences each of those films cater to, it makes sense.
Staying put in sixth place is Christopher Robin, which dropped a tiny 15.7% (sensing a pattern here in the late-year doldrums?) to earn $5.2 million Fri-Sun and $7.2 million Fri-Mon. Its domestic earnings may finally cross the $100 million mark if it holds up like this. As of right now its total sits at $87 million.
In seventh place is Alpha, holding firm with a 24.2% drop and making $4.5 million Fri-Sun and $6.04 Fri-Mon for a domestic total of $28.9 million – a little over half the film’s production budget.
In eighth / ninth is The Happytime Murders, the puppet movie starring Melissa McCarthy. It dropped five places and earned a Fri-Sun total of $4.3 million off of a 54% drop. A drop like that is actually pretty normal for big movies. It would’ve placed much higher had it legs like the other films on this list. It had a Fri-Mon total of $5.3 million, falling a slot behind BlacKkKlansman on Labor Day. Its domestic total sits at $18 million, less than half the budget. A flop, ladies and gentlemen.
In ninth / eighth is BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s recently controversial film about a black cop infiltrating the Klan. It earned a Fri-Sun of $4.2 million, a 17.6% drop, and a Fri-Mon of $5.6 million for a domestic total of $39.8 million.
Rounding out the top ten in both the three-day and four-day lists is Mile 22, the latest Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg collaboration. It dropped a better-than-it-deserves 40.8% for a $3.7 million Fri-Sun and a $4.8 million Fri-Mon. Its domestic is around $33 million and it’ll sink from our attention soon don’t even bother.
Outside the top ten are some surprises. I’ll list them:
Disney added like 1,800 theaters to Incredible II to push the domestic total over $600 million – which worked. It surged from 15th place to 11th and $4.7 million over Labor Day weekend. It’s at $602.5 million domestic and $1.16 billion worldwide.
Hotel Transylvania made $2.9 million over the four-day. Woo. $162 million domestic total.
Slender Man is still alive after it added another $2.2 million. $28 million domestic total.
Kin opened to $3.8 million domestic. I literally laughed when I saw that, considering my prediction.
Universal added 800 theaters to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom probably just to spite me, allowing that travesty to earn another $1.6 million. $414 million domestic and fuck-all worldwide.
Mamma Mia! 2, A.X.L, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and The Equalizer 2 each earned $1.6 million, $1.8 million, $1.8 million, and $1.8 million respectively. Equalizer 2 passed $100 million domestic, which Ant-Man and Mamma Mia! did ages ago, and A.X.L. doesn’t have a shot at breaking $10 million. I’m serious. It’s Monster Trucks all over again.
Those are pretty much all the movies I’m worried about, nothing else made over a million save for Juliet, Naked. Do you know what that film is? Neither do I.
So how did my predictions pan out? Kind of all over the place. Not my best week.
I accurately predicted that Crazy Rich Asians would continue to do well, but had it dropping 25%, which it clearly did not. It earned $8 million over my high estimate at close of business Monday.
I expected better of the newcomers, Searching and Kin. The former of which had a stellar per-theater average when in limited release. Searching opened $8 million less than my low estimate, and Kin opened $12 million below. Shame.
I saw The Meg finally taking a substantial hit, but it refuses to lay down and die, much to Warner Bros.’ excitement. I predicted $10 million and it delivered $13 million.
I had Mission: Impossible – Fallout at $6 million, but again I was low-balling. Here’s hoping it passes M:I:II in the coming week.
I didn’t even know what Operation Finale was….
Christopher Robin is another pesky film that’s rooted itself in the top ten. I had it earning $5 million and it delivered $7 million.
Alpha earned $6 million while I predicted $4 million.
I was close with BlacKkKlansman. I predicted $4.8 million and it showed up with $5.6 million.
A.X.L. didn’t quite disappear, like I wanted, but give it another week.
I was a little short on Slender Man.
Lastly, I nailed Equalizer 2, Mamma Mia!, and Ant-Man with each earning north of $1.5 million. I did not expect Disney to squeeze theater owners into showing Incredibles II until it broke its record, or for Hotel Transylvania to keep chugging along, but whatever. There’s always next week.
[He’s a thinker, I’m a thinker, we’re all thinkers. Don’t you think?]
Alright, just like last week, I’m aiming for expediency. We have some notable releases coming our way. The Nun will debut in 3,700 theaters; Peppermint will see Jennifer Garner kick some serious ass across 2,850 screens; and God Bless the Broken Road will open in over 1,200. I’ve never heard of that film, but Brad Brevet put it in his weekend recap so, there you go.
The Nun will kick The Meg from its second place slot, earning a respectable $20-25 million.
Peppermint will earn maybe $8-12 million. It’s been too long since anyone has seen a prominent Jennifer Garner film – not to mention the fact it’s opening in less than 3,000 theaters and its name is *Peppermint*. Come on.
I don’t know what God Bless the Broken Road is and I’m too lazy to look it up so, uh, $4 million?
Crazy Rich Asians drops around 15% for a cool $16-18 million.
The Meg drops to $8 million.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout finally surpasses M:I:II and adds another $5 million.
Searching and Operation Finale both earn around $4-5 million.
Christopher Robin takes in $4 million.
Alpha takes in $3.2 million.
The Happytime Murders is accidentally deleted from the STX servers and can no longer be shown to paying audiences. $0 million.
BlacKkKlansman keeps its sturdy legs and pulls in $3.5 million.
Mile 22 over-pronounces its “wh”s and falls to $2 million.
I don’t know if Disney is keeping the theater count high, but if it does expect Incredibles II to earn another $2.5 million.
Kin is going to crash and burn. No one’s interested, apparently. $1.5 million.
I’m done talking about Hotel Transylvania and Mamma Mia! and all of those. They’ll pitter out over the next few weeks, but it’s time to focus on the newcomers. If they pass a significant milestone I’ll keep you guys updated.
Alright everyone! That’s all I have / care to write about. These pieces are too long as it is. I have some interesting stuff in the works regarding video games so please, keep your eyes peeled. And of course, like and share using the widgets and social platforms. It helps me somehow.
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. Photos featured here are screenshots from both YouTube and IMDb.
I’m on Netflix, and seeing as I’ve finished The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, I have nothing to do. The Last Jedi is available to watch, but I’m still traumatized – it’ll be a long time before I write about that one. I scroll down the page and under “Because you watched: Jurassic Park” is a film I haven’t seen in at least half a decade: The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Oh, yeah, baby. Here we go.
I saw Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opening night and still can’t sleep soundly knowing the piss-poor condition Colin Trevorrow has plunged the franchise into. Seriously, he made Safety Not Guaranteed (which was charming) and suddenly he’s got the green-light to write and direct two-thirds of the Jurassic Park revival trilogy? Ick.
I’m nostalgic for Jurassic Park in a way that Universal Studios can’t monetize. I want the OG-movies back. The blue-steel, smart-phone, and concrete aesthetic of Jurassic World and its sequel isn’t working for me. Give me the jagged, jungle-infused primary colors of Jurassic Park and The Lost World. Blacks and reds and yellows, musky thickets of dense tropical plants, and tiki-themed huts. Isla Nublar is supposedly 100 miles from Costa Rica, and the closest Jurassic World came to that aesthetic was a damn Margaritaville.
Sorry. We aren’t here to trash the other movies, we’re here to defend The Lost World against the other movies.
I’m typing this up as I watch it, so let’s get to it.
Welcome, to the sequel to Jurassic Park
Can you imagine the hype surrounding this movie? Back in ’97, before Titanic released, Jurassic Park was literally the highest-earning movie ever made. People busted blocks for that movie, and Spielberg grabs Michael Crichton to again help screenwriter David Koepp pen the script for its follow-up. The old team was getting back together. I was a little over four-years-old at the time and I can still remember seeing the rubber r.c. controlled t-rex toys and the lunch boxes and the sit-and-shoot video games at every arcade. Of course, that happens every summer nowadays. Tent-pole blockbusters are everywhere, synonymous with summer movie-going.
Back then, however, fan-boys were either in their infancy or lurking in secluded basements, away from the public eye, so the average movie-going public was allowed to vent their frustration with The Lost World when it didn’t live up to their expectations. Of course, this was back when people were allowed to be disappointed by sequels for sake of the film *glares at The Last Jedi and the ongoing internet-war over the soul of Star Wars*.
I remember liking this as a kid for the same reasons I’m liking it right now. The action is lively, the CGI well-utilized, and the dinosaurs more numerous and with greater variety. You could say the same thing of Jurassic World, but here comes the crucial difference.
We get twenty-some seconds in the beginning of Lost World to introduce this little girl and her rich family, picnicking on the beach of some uninhabited Island (as you do), and every bit of dialogue between them occurs in a real space, playing out as the camera observes the scene from a distance, panning back and forth or rolling up the sand away from them. We don’t have actors spouting decades-old lines of dialogue at the screen in that over-the-shoulder, crisscrossing television-style bullshit way of filming a conversation. We don’t have a back-and-forth here, we have people moving and things being done and characters moving around them. The sets are part of the conversation because people have to move to keep up with their counterpart in order to talk to them.
Damn near every scene of dialogue in Jurassic World is over-the-shoulder, back-and-forth garbage on a set far removed from any of the action. Spielberg introduces his characters as part of a world, and his worlds as part of his plot. He does all of this simultaneously. Lost World may be a monster-flick, undeniably, but it’s still a Spielberg film.
Things are developing around our characters constantly. You know the plot already, Ian Malcolm (played by the endlessly enjoyable Jeff Goldblum) is coerced into an expedition to Isla Sorna, dinosaur Site B, by Richard Hammond, who is no longer in control of the dinosaur-genetics company, InGen. In fact, Peter Ludlow, Hammond’s nephew, has taken control of the company and hopes to finally turn a profit by exploiting the dinosaurs (BOY I WONDER IF THE SEQUELS WILL LATCH ONTO THAT IDEA).
Jesus, this movie moves, though. Within twenty-five minutes we have the reason Hammond loses control of InGen (the little girl getting attacked on the beach), Malcolm is shown to be the victim of a smear campaign by InGen and Ludlow to discredit his criticisms of the theme park of the previous film, and then we have to get ready to go to the island so Malcolm can “save” his girlfriend, Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore).
Can we actually stop for a second and appreciate Julianne Moore’s screen presence? She owned every scene in which she appeared in The Big Lebowski and Children of Men, and does so here. She’s also a stoic and unsettling figure in the two Mockingjay movies. In Lost World she’s clearly the only one in control of the situation; having studied the dinosaurs for a few days before Malcolm, Eddie, and Nick van Owen arrive, she’s technically more qualified to speak of them than Malcolm is.
So, I don’t think pacing is too much of an issue yet. They get to the island and we see Stegosaurus within the first half-hour. Spielberg doesn’t linger too long before throwing our characters into some kind of danger – those spiked tails! – but moviegoers aren’t going to be as impressed at the mere sight of dinosaurs now, so let’s just get on with the show. Either by necessity or principle, effects are a blend of CGI and practical animatronics. The dinosaurs, more than any of the sequels, are technically right there in-camera. It feels good. It still looks good.
And look at this! Characters walking and talking! Talking about scientific stuff! Our protagonists are still interested in proving some theory about dinosaurs, studying them with extended research as the goal. Where the hell did that go?
I know people don’t like Malcolm’s daughter here. She isn’t a great addition, but at least it’s easy to understand why she’s here. In that lengthy prelude to the expedition’s departure we get plenty of information thrown at us economically. We learn that Malcolm isn’t exactly a doting husband, but has fathered a few children (in keeping with his character from JP), and that his daughter wants to come along. We’re shown what all of their vehicles look like, included the RV home-base. We know that she knows where it is and can presume she hid inside of it, considering the dialogue even earlier that it isn’t a long trip to get to the island and seeing that none of the main characters were inside the RV on the journey there.
Can we also talk about that? That Spielberg and Co decided to introduce aspects of the narrative long-before they became useful? It’s Chekov’s Gun – level storytelling basics, here. We get the RV, the High-Hide, the tranquilizer gun, the wonky satellite phone, the lucky-pack, and plenty more within the first half-hour of the film. All of it pays off or at least becomes relevant later in the film. Compare that to the fan-favorite Indominus Rex in Jurassic World. It’s understood that we, the audience, aren’t to know much about its abilities due to the genetic-splicing that brought it to life, but come on. It’s a walking plot-mcguffin. Whatever the narrative needs at any given moment, the I-Rex can be, and it’s either explained away with a throwaway line just before it happens – “IT CAN CAMOUFLAGE” – or it’s chalked up to mad-science. Lazy.
The Lost World, whether it works for you or not, is far from lazy.
Look at this Safari-vibe we have going on here. John Williams has returned for the score, and rather than trumpet that old theme-song, he provides a thumping and suspenseful band of music to underscore the darker overall tone of the film. This is far from stock string-pieces that appear at emotional cues; we have melodies and themes for the heroes and villains, key-strikes and percussion for rampaging dinosaurs. It feels tailored to the experience, rather than assembled from a pre-recorded suite of genre-music.
And here comes Roland Tembo and his merry-brigade of profiteers. What a fun character, played with expert pragmatism by the late Pete Posthwaite. These are Ludlow’s guys, under the new InGen, trying to capture these dinosaurs for transport back to the mainland. It’s pretty stupid, but the film realizes this, making the case for saving the animals from people – rather than a fucking volcano. At least here, in Lost World, we have characters with motivations stemming from either a previous film or deeply understood character archetypes. The big-game hunter wants to hunt, the capitalist wants money, the scientists want to science. Spielberg isn’t forcing anything here (not until the fourth act). These are evident in the later films, but…they were derivative to begin with.
If anything, this is where we can cry foul for pacing. Once the second expedition shows up, all hell breaks loose and it’s a race to the end of the film. They set up camp, the original expedition opens some dino-cages, and things literally burst into flames. Moments later we have the bleating baby T-Rex and the beginning of a ninety-minutes chase-scene.
And honestly? That’s where this film commits its resources, which is fine. It does it magnificently. We have numerous peaks and valleys, setting tension and paying it off. The most impressive of which being the RV tumbling over the edge of a cliff. It isn’t just monsters and mayhem, because we wouldn’t give a damn about the stakes if we didn’t care about the characters.
And this movie might have the last moment I’ve felt tension for the approach of a T-Rex. Their presence here is incredible. The camera stays on the fucking ground, leaving the audience to feel as vulnerable as our characters. And I’m beginning to think it might actually give the execs over at Universal an aneurism to invest in animatronics again.
Oh, hold on. Eddie’s about to bite it – or be bitten. What a shame Trevorrow felt compelled to top this unearned character-death with one far more grotesquely-realized in his film – if you remember the poor babysitter being dunked to death by flying dinosaurs until the Mosasaur ate her in Jurassic World. Eddie at least dies quickly. Same can’t be said for this unfortunate franchise.
The Moveable Feast
Well, all the characters are together. And it’s good. We get brief interactions to play these archetypes against one another. The environmentalist vs the hunter, the chaotician vs the capitalist. That the movie is plunging us into Malcolm’s chaos and still stops to remind us of the central arguments forming the narrative is smart. It’s smart, mainly because it works so well. It’s due to that competence that every sequel, save for JPIII, has aped those themes outright and offered no new insight.
Fallen Kingdom wants us to care about these dinosaurs and hope to preserve them, while The Lost World has already exhausted both sides of the debate. This wasn’t some cautionary preamble, this was closing the book. Spielberg’s departure from a directorial role in the franchise should be evidence enough of that. “But he’s stayed on as producer!” Yes, but as with the Transformers franchise, that doesn’t amount to much of substance outside of his bank-account, does it?
Digressions, my apologies.
Our characters are bickering, and that makes it interesting. They aren’t just screaming into the camera – not yet anyway. Spielberg is embarking on a journey across the island, and we have to follow. Again the pacing is wonky, like Spielberg is anxiously hustling through these bits to show off the next bloody rampage by the T-Rexes. And that’s just what we get. They lose their luster after a while, I’ll admit. This doesn’t operate on the restraint seen in the original film, but we’re a far cry from the wobbly, weightless CGI of the Jurassic World sequels. We’ve got actual actors, awarded actors, playing bit parts to lend some depth to every encounter – selling those archetypical monologues with flair and conviction.
And let’s take a closer look at those action scenes. After a few more brushes with the T-Rex and some Compies, the “moveable feast” is fractured and leaving the island in their respective groups. The dinosaurs are still cleverly concealed, behind waterfalls or by shadows in the darkness outside a tent.
They are monsters, but as hunting animals it makes sense as well. The raptors are pack-hunting and hyper-intelligent. We see that in their apparent behaviour. Spielberg isn’t going to waste time explaining them to you all over again, we know they aren’t going to be tricked so easily. So the humans have to evade and fight them using their intellect. Or some form of it. Yeah, the gymnastics shit is strange, but at least they set it up earlier in the film.
Nothing is so outlandish here as using live-animals in the military, or having them appear in dreams.
If anything, the film does a pretty good job wrapping up what it lays out on the table. Roland gets his prize T-Rex, but loses quite a bit in the process. Sarah and Ian are finally heading off the island in what can ostensibly be seen as a familial-unit. Ludlow should have learned his lesson, but…no. That pesky greed, it corrupts absolutely.
I can give Spielberg a pass for the idea of the San Diego breakout. It’s a lot of fun and has a plethora of memorable moments. It’s tough to ignore, though, that it throws a wrench in the conclusion of the film and all of a sudden we have a fourth act. It wouldn’t have been enough to keep the action on the island and use the data Hammond’s team collected to change public perception of the dinosaurs living on Sorna.
No. In a silly bit of showmanship, we have a boat with a T-Rex crashing onto American shores. How did the crew of the boat die? Doesn’t matter now, they cut it in post. Boy, Mr. Hammond, this should work well toward changing public opinion of your dinosaurs. The San Diego-scene is where you’re either torn from or galvanized in your support for this film. I can appreciate it for the entertainment that it is, but it undermines so much of…whatever this film was getting at. It never really gets the chance to elaborate aside from a quick bit on CNN by Hammond about the need to leave these creatures alone.
But the T-Rex breaks loose on a major city with a devastating resentment of infrastructure: Take that traffic-signal!
And you, public transportation!
How on earth is the Coast Guard just letting that thing sail back home? It doesn’t make a lot of sense, and in a movie that seemed so adamant in justifying its existence with some kind of forethought, this ending is disappointing.
I can understand when people suggest that this is the worst of the JP films, and then say the end is too nonsensical. Those sentiments, I feel, are mutually exclusive, however. You can’t insist that it’s bad because of its ending and also suggest that it’s the worst of the franchise. The entirety of the drama surrounding the newer films has been pilfered from the two original films. Jurassic World is a soft reboot of Jurassic Park, but with a seriously dumb “use them as dino-soldiers” plot-line. Fallen Kingdom boils Lost World down to its most basic elements: save the dinos, capture dinos, capitalism, greed. Fallen Kingdom, however, insists on a very strange and self-defeating location for two-thirds of the movie – the fucking basement of a really big house – then tosses the dinos out into the real world just like The Lost World did.
How is that better? If anything, it’s exactly the same.
The common argument is that we aren’t meant to analyze these movies, that they are big dumb action-adventure flicks with broad-chested men and women running stupidly from bloodthirsty monsters. Which is fine. It’s disappointing, but it’s fine. The movies can be that way, but don’t ape the imagery and plots from better movies in your own franchise.
For all of the pacing and tonal shifting in Lost World, it’s certainly closer in feel to the newer films than to the original, it still offers dialogue and story-beats worth paying attention to. There are arguments to be had about dinosaur behavior and of observing them as elements of nature rather than theme-park exhibits. We have glimpses of that in Jurassic World, but Chris Pratt’s smoldering at the camera and pinching insects out of the air distracts from anything he’s trying to say about animal behavior.
And Spielberg is just a better filmmaker than Trevorrow. There’s careful attention to detail in sets and in movement. Things are arranged to follow the natural path of curiosity within the audience. We are shown something and it is elaborated on until its function becomes apparent. Action scenes develop as part of an ongoing conflict, and resolve themselves before they wear out their welcome. Dinosaurs are heard approaching, or conflicts with technology are hinted at hours before they become a problem. Dinosaurs don’t just appear in fucking tubes while volcanos are erupting and lava is spewing everywhere. It also doesn’t having a dino-showdown by the ocean as if the dinosaurs carry personal vendettas. Fan-service alone is not good moviemaking.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park is not a great movie, but it’s above and beyond the films that followed. It’s shlocky, but tastefully done. Its humor in balance with its mayhem.
In the race for second-place, which is all a sequel in this franchise can hope for, it’s won handily.