Movies - Box Office postsSunday March 25, 2018
Box Office: Pacific Rim's Tepid Victory
The big news isn't that the first weekend of “Pacific Rim Uprising” overtook the sixth weekend of “Black Panther” to become the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office, since that was predicted, nor that “PRU”'s total ($28 million, down from $36 for the original) was a disappointment, since that, too, was predicted. The movie got made for the international, particularly the Chinese market, not ours.
No, the big news, as I see it, is that for the 10th weekend out of 12 this year, the No. 1 movie at the box office starred a person/people of color:
- Jumanji (Dwayne Johnson): 4 weeks
- Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman, et al.): 5 weeks
- Pacific Rim Uprising (John Boyega): 1 week
The others are “Maze Runner 3,” which was one and out, and “Fifty Shades Freed,” ditto.
Don't know if this is getting enough attention.
And sure, you can say that people went to see “PRU” less for Boyega than the giant roboty things, and to “Black Panther” less for Boseman, et al., than its superheroness (although that snap analysis misses something crucial to “BP”'s popularity), and that only Johnson is the true star among the group—the guy that people love and will follow from movie to movie regardless of how shitty it is. Yes. Agreed. But it also means that black stars aren't the detriment to box office that Hollywood execs have long thought. Even in China, which often wears a kind of obtuse racism on its sleeve, they spent $95 million on “BP” during its first week, and $65 mil on “PRU” during its first weekend.
Among other new movies, the animated “Sherlock Gnomes” opened to $10 mil and fourth place (good riddance); the Biblical cheapo “Paul, Apostle of Christ” opened to $5 mil and eighth place (ditto); the teen tearjerker “Midnight Sun” opened to $4.1 mil and 10th place; and Steven Soderbergh's well-reviewed “Unsane” opened to $3.8 mil and 11th place.
Oh, and Wes Anderson's well-reviewed animation “Isle of Dogs” opened to $1.5 mil and 15th place ... but that was actually a feat, since it opened in only 27 theaters. It grossed $58k per. The others are all opened in at least 1,400 theaters. They grossed between $1 and $6k per. Ruff.
Among returners: “I Can Only Imagine,” the feel-good tale of a bad upbringing that led to a hit song, seems like a hit itself, since it fell only 19% and grossed another $13.8 to bring its domestic total to $38.3. That said, I doubt it‘ll do well abroad. The new “Tomb Raider” fell 56% (fifth place, $41 mil domestic), and the much-ballyhooed “A Wrinkle in Time” fell 50% (sixth place, $73 mil domestic). Not the Year of Women at the box office?
Best news? The attempted reboot of “Death Wish” is dead. After four weeks, it’s earned $32 mil and this weekend it finished in 16th place. Playing in more than 1,300 theaters, it couldn't make what “Isle of Dogs” made in 27.
Box Office: Bet on ‘Black Panther’
Still sharpening its claws.
In its fifth weekend, “BP” dropped just 34% to gross another $26.6 million. It's now at $605 million domestic, $1.185 billion worldwide. The latter is 14th-best, the former seventh-best. Domestically, it will soon pass “The Last Jedi” ($619) and “The Avengers” ($623). The only real question is if it can pass “Titanic,” too ($659), and become the third-highest-grossing domestic movie ever. “Avatar,” at $760, is out of reach.
That's unadjusted, of course. But even if you adjust for inflation, “BP” is 47th all-time, having already passed up the likes of the ‘89 “Batman,” “Bambi” and “Around the World in 80 Days.”
Less celebrated but also relevant? “Jumanji” grossed another $1.6 to eke over the $400 million mark.
Most of the new releases didn’t exactly bowl anyone over. The reboot of “Tomb Raider” finished second with $23.6 mil, while the gay teen movie “Love, Simon” finished fifth with $11. But: the Christian uplifter “I Can Only Imagine,” starring Dennis Quaid, surprised with a healthy $17 mil. It finished third.
Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed “A Wrinkle in Time” dropped 50% in its second weekend for $16 mil and fourth place. It's grossed $60 mil domestic.
A Box Office Wrinkle for ‘Wrinkle in Time’
In its weekend preview, Box Office Mojo predicted $42 mil for the new Ava DuVernay-directed “A Wrinkle in Time,” with “Black Panther” settling into second place with $38 mil or so.
Scratch that. Reverse it.
And then push “Wrinkle” even lower.
“BP” had the biggest gross for the fourth weekend in a row, earning another $41 mil, and raising its domestic total to $562 million. That's 7th-best all time, unadjusted. Ahead: two “Star Wars,” two Camerons, one Avengers and one Jurassic. It's also now past the $1 billion mark worldwide: 21st and counting.
“Wrinkle,” meanwhile, opened to a tepid $33 mil, which is surprising given the hoopla around it, but unsurprising given its trailer. Last year, when my wife and I saw the trailer, she leaned over to me and whispered, “That looks awful.” I agreed but hadn't read the books. (She had and wasn't a fan.) But yes: Oprah, Renee and Mindy looked absurd. Zack did, too, but wasn't he supposed to? He was comic relief. The others, in the trailer, played up the nobility angle. Or the trailer played it up for them. Or DuVernay or the book did.
Critics weren't exactly kind: 42% on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's one comment:
Unfortunately, the slow pace of the first hour coupled by the tedium of a CGI overload, reduces A Wrinkle in Time to one of Disney's most lackluster big-budget releases since The BFG.
Believe it or not, that's from one of the positive reviews.
Friday on social media, a female film critic responded to the film's negative reviews by stating she didn't care what 50ish white men thought of the film. Immediately, on FB anyway, a bunch of 50ish white men responded about how enthused they were to see the film. That cracked me up. I thought: Isn't that what she didn't want to hear? What you guys thought? Or we guys? Or was it OK as long as they/we liked it or were enthused by it? I.e., the problem was less “50ish” and “white” and “male” than “thumbs down.”
But I get where she's going. Her stated rationale is “It's what the kids think that matters,” and that's true. And not. When I was a kid, I loved 1967's “Dr. Doolittle” not realizing until decades later what a disaster it was—financially and critically. Would be interesting to see it now. Is there anything there? It's a kids movie that didn't last except in reboots ... which also haven't lasted. But I did enjoy it. I still have fond memories of it.
The real rationale for the critic, though (who is 50ish, white and female), is to promote a movie directed by a woman of color, and starring women of color, with a young female lead. Such movies need to make money if Hollywood is going to change. At the moment, “A Wrinkle in Times” doesn't help the cause, and she wants it to help the cause. But there's only one cause a critic should care about.
‘Black Panther’ Passes $500 Million Domestic
Claws: good for fighting, less for counting.
Two weeks ago, “Black Panther” had the fifth-highest opening-weekend gross in history: $202 mil.
Last week, it had the second-highest second-weekend gross in history, $111 mil, second only to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
This weekend? The third-highest third weekend, $65 mil, after “Star Wars” and “Avatar.”
Add it all up and “BP” is now at $501 million domestic gross, which is the 10th-best all time. Unadjusted. Adjust and it's 87th. But that's with a bullet.
This is astonishing on two levels. “Panther” is a February release. That's afterthought territory for Hollywood. That's beta-testing. The previous high for a Feb. film on the unadjusted box-office chart was No. 37, “Passion of the Christ,” Mel Gibson's beta-test on religious movies/culture wars from 2004, which grossed $370 mil. Second? No. 41, “Deadpool,” Marvel's beta-test on R-rated superheroes from 2016, which grossed $363. That's it for the top 100. No other February release has grossed more than $300 mil. Only one other, “The LEGO Movie,” has grossed more than $200 mil. It's long-been thought to be a lame month when no one goes to see films. Don't waste your best on this less-than-prime real estate. That's the first reason this is astonishing.
The second is the mostly African-American cast. Even after Hollywood's love affair with the South was over (“Birth of a Nation,” “Gone with the Wind”), it was reluctant to be too progressive since it didn't want to lose Southern box office. “Black Panther” is in effect saying, “Fuck Southern box office.” Or maybe: “There's a new Southern box office.”
So where will it wind up on the all-time chart? Weekend to weekend, it's dropping slowly: 44%, 41%. (“The Avengers,” by comparison, dropped 50% and 46% its first two weekends.) It does poorer on weekdays, because it's not summer and the kids aren't out of school, but it‘ll obviously get up to No. 7 all-time (currently “The Dark Knight,” $534). Then it’s a big leap to No. 6, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” at $619. But I think it can do it. If I had to bet, I'd go No. 3 all time, passing James Cameron's “Titanic” ($659) but not James Cameron's “Avatar” ($760). We‘ll know more next weekend.
Either way, “Black Panther” is making history. Your old formulas Hollywood? They’re gone with the wind.
Box Office: Black Panther Roars to $192 Million Record-Breaking Opening
This is how the world changes: not with a bang but a ka-ching.
OK, there was a bang in there, too.
In case you didn't hear, three movies opened this weekend:
- “Samson,” a “bargain-bin Biblical epic” whose main critical watchword appears to be “sluggish”—although it is the kind of thing right-wing Christians have demanded from Hollywood for years. It grossed $1.9 million and finished in 10th place.
- “Early Man,” a British stop-action animation from the makers of “Wallace and Grommit.” It grossed $3.1 million and finished in 7th place.
- “Black Panther,” about the titular Wakandan/Marvel superhero, starring Chadwick Boseman (“42,” “Get On Up,” “Marshall”—basically every 20th-century African-American icon), and directed by Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station,” “Creed”). It got great reviews (97% at RT) and grossed $192 million. It finished in 1st place. With a fucking bullet.
You could actually say “Black Panther” finished in 5th place since that's where its $192 mil places it on the all-time opening weekend chart. Only “The Avengers,” “Jurassic World,” and “Star Wars” VII and VIII opened better.
I wish I saw it coming. Not even close. I always thought of Black Panther as a minor character in the Marvel universe. Even among black characters in the Marvel universe, I would‘ve placed him behind Luke Cage and maybe the Falcon. And here he’s blowing everybody away. He's blowing Batman and Superman away. He reigns.
Plus it's February. You know the biggest all-time Feb. opening before this? “Deadpool” at $132 million two years ago. Then “Fifty Shades of Grey” at $85 and “Passion of the Christ” at $84. It's not a big box-office month. February has generally been a dumping ground for shitty romances (“Valentine's Day,” “The Vow”), cut-rate Christian movies (“Son of God,” “Risen”), and second-rate superheroes (“Daredevil,” “Ghost Rider”). Maybe that's what Buena Vista originally thought “Black Panther” was. Or maybe they saw unstaked territory. But I doubt they saw $192.
Here's the records “Black Panther” has already shattered:
- Biggest Feb. opening
- Biggest single-character Marvel opening
- Biggest single-character superhero opening
But that's actually downplaying the achievement. This feels like a game-changer. $192 million is something even Hollywood can't ignore.
Would it be wrong to suggest that some part of this box office feels like a reaction against our cultural times? That if Trump wasn't in the White House, “Black Panther” would‘ve done well but not $192 million well? Unprovable, of course. And just a sense. Raising the question: Has some part of our box office become politicized? We go to the theater to hear/see what we’re not hearing/seeing in the public/political realms. Or what we think we‘re not hearing in the public/political realm. During the Obama years, Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” broke January box-office records; but with Trump fulminating in the Oval Office the same people couldn't be bothered to see Clint Eastwood's “The 15:17 to Paris,” which, after two weekends, stands at $25 mil. The right-wing crazies don't need that fix; they get it every day on Twitter.
I was curious how Breitbart's Big Hollywood was dealing with BP's huge weekend. Doesn't it go against what they always argue? That Hollywood does poorly at the box office because conservative values aren't honored by Hollywood liberals? So how are they justifying this? So I went there. And no, you don't want to know. Their critic, John Nolte, is arguing that “Black Panther” is not a movie about race but about values. Conservative values. Nolte is actually arguing that Black Panther is Trump while the villain is Black Lives Matter. Yes. Yes, he is.
Patricia and I see the movie tomorrow.
Breitbart can spin however it wants, this is a roar. This is such a roar that everyone has to pay attention. It's James Baldwin's line backed by money: “The world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.”
UPDATE: The actuals were better than the estimates, as “BP” grossed $202 million for the three-day weekend (still fifth-best) and $242 million if you include Presidents' Day (when Patricia and I saw it in a packed Cinerama Theater). That's the second-best four-day total ever—after only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Seems an unintended but fitting revenge for “American Sniper” setting box-office records on MLK weekend, of all holidays. Oh, and Nolte's an idiot. The Panther isn't Trump. Maintaining Wakanda's secrecy, and its borders, is the one thing T‘Challa does wrong; it’s the sin he must rectify. And does. Does anyone ever call any of these guys on this shit?