Movies - Box Office postsMonday February 25, 2019
91st Oscars: Spike TV
Spike gets to at least say “Do the right thing” at the Oscars; and then the Oscars did the wrong thing.
I don't really have much to say about the Oscars last night. My wife, Patricia, was sick, I had a less deleterious cold, so the party we planned turned into a handful of people just hanging out and eating snacks and watching the hostless zingers and cupcakes and twinkies. Under the circumstances, it wasn't bad.
I also don't have much to say because I predicted the major plot point a month ago, in a post entitled “2018 Oscar Noms: Is It ‘89 All Over Again?”:
What would be fascinating? 1989 was the year the Academy didn’t nominate Spike Lee or “Do the Right Thing” and then unprecedentedly gave the Oscar to “Driving Miss Daisy” without a director nom. Can you imagine if something like that happened again? This year’s “Driving” is “Green Book.” The racial positions are reversed but it‘s, you know, your grandpa’s feel-good race movie. It's set more than 50 years ago, and based on a true story, in which the big-hearted white guy overcomes racism and helps teach the black guy all about black culture in a supposedly awful but actually cleaned-up version of the American South. And guess what? It was written by the white guy's son!
So can you imagine that winning best picture? Also without a director nom? And with Spike in the audience?
Which is exactly what happened.
Spike got off a good line backstage: “I'm snake bit. Every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose – but they changed the seating arrangement!” But the camera really should‘ve been on him the entire time. Here’s the blow by blow.
He was a joy, really: bowing to Barbra, jumping into Samuel Jackson's arms. We need more Spike at the Oscars. Make better movies, Spike. Someone fund them.
Initially I didn't like his acceptance speech for best adapted screenplay. He's up there with three others but they don't get to say shit. It's all him. He just reads off from a handwritten speech, and the language is stilted:
The word today is “irony.” The date, the 24th. The month, February, which also happens to be the shortest month of the year, which also happens to be Black History month. The year, 2019. The year, 1619. History. Her story. 1619. 2019. 400 years.
Yes, the Black History month joke. Say something! I think when he went back to the 17th century, I went into the kitchen to fix a drink. I should‘ve waited him out:
Four hundred years. Our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and bought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved. Our ancestors worked the land from can’t see in the morning to can't see at night. My grandmother, Zimmie Shelton Retha, who lived to be 100 years young, who was a Spelman College graduate even though her mother was a slave. My grandmother who saved 50 years of Social Security checks to put her first grandchild — she called me Spikie-poo — she put me through Morehouse College and NYU grad film. NYU!
Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people. We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let's all mobilize. Let's all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let's do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.
OK, it's still a bit of a mess, particularly for something writtten down, but it's less of a mess than I thought it was. Plus we got his passion. We got him. We got Brooklyn in the house. “BlacKkKlansman” shouldn't have won best adapted screenplay but an honor for Spike was long overdue. Is he the director of my generation?* He was the first director who came into prominence after I became an adult. He roared onto the scene and kept roaring, even as his movies diminished.
Overall, hostless wasn't bad but give me John Mulaney. Opening with Queen + Adam Lambert wasn't bad, but mostly for the reaction from the stars, particularly Javier Bardem, digging every minute of it. Sure, Cuaron. Again. But deserved. It was sad to see Glenn Close not take home the statuette—again. She's now 0-7, the new actress record, and one short of tying Peter O‘Toole’s all-time 0-8 record, but that's pretty good company to be in. Plus she lost to a worthy performance, Oliva Colman in “The Favourite,” who gave an equally worthy speech. It was maybe my favorite moment of the evening. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's duet on “Shallow” was another. The three hours sped. The ratings were slightly up. They‘ll think it’s because of the hostlessness, but c‘mon, it’s box office, stupid: Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born.
The Oscars keep getting more open and more diverse. Look at the last Oscars of the 20th century, the 72nd, and it's all white people and mostly men behind the scenes. Not now. Five of the last six director achievements have gone to Mexican filmmakers. More African Americans win acting awards; you see more winning for behind-the-scenes work. Last night, Peter Ramsey became the first African-American director to win, as part of the team behind “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which won best animated feature.
And yet “Green Book.” Miles to go.
* ADDENDUM: Sorry. Coen brothers.
Box Office: China's ‘Wandering Earth’ Soars
Boldly going where only Hollywood has gone before.
The big box office news is the lack of it in America and the plethora of it in China.
That’s a bit to be expected. Chinese New Year began Feb. 5 and it’s one of the most lucrative weeks for Chinese movies. Last year’s two biggest films, “Operation Red Sea” and “Detective Chinatown 2,” were both released during Chinese New Year. However, this year’s juggernaut, “The Wandering Earth,” a sci-fi thriller about a jet-propelled planet seeking a new solar system, has already surpassed them. After 14 days, it’s grossed $561 million, making it the second highest-grossing film in Chinese history. Ahead of it is just “Wolf Warrior II,” which grossed $870 million in the summer of 2017.
Meanwhile, in America, there’s no “Black Panther” to propel the box office, just the CGIed “Alita: Battle Angel”—which won the weekend with $27 mil—and a few V-Day holdovers: the anti-rom-com rom-com “Isn’t It Romantic,” which finished in third place with $14 mil, and the horrorific “Happy Death Day 2U,” which finished fifth with $10. The second weekend of the underperforming “LEGO” sequel finished second with $21 mil (for a cumulative $62, less than the first grossed in three days), while the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want” finished fourth with $10.9, for a two-weekend total of $36.
If all that sounds a bit blah, the box office reflects it. According to Box Office Mojo, it was the weakest Presidents Day weekend since 2004.
So while the disparity between Chinese and U.S. markets is to be expected, given the time of year, everything else has been exacerbated. The Chinese are getting what they’ve never seen before—high-production Chinese sci-fi—while Americans are getting same old same old and opting for other means of entertainment. Maybe they’re studying Chinese?
For anyone worried about U.S. box office, don't. “Captain Marvel” opens March 8.
Aquaman, Freddie Mercury Rule Box Office
Worldwide, “Aquaman” already rules the DCEU.
“Escape Room” is the No. 1 movie of the year! It's also the only movie of the year:
It's a seasonal tradition, like Christmas and bad Mariners trades. For some reason, one horror flick (always just one) is released during the first weekend of the year, so for a week, and sometimes longer, it's the No. 1 movie of the year. “Escape Room” did so-so biz in this regard. A year ago, “Insidious: The Last Key” grossed $29. In 2012, “The Devil Inside” grossed $33. $18 is about average. The one thing these horror flicks have in common is they‘re all forgettable.
“Escape” is first for the year but finished second for the weekend—to the third weekend of “Aquaman,” which added another $30 million to bring its domestic total to $259.7. In the DC Extended Universe, it’s ranked fifth of six, beating only “Justice League.” Domestically, that is. Worldwide it's already No. 1, having grossed $681 overseas for a worldwide total of $970. It's the fifth biggest movie of the year, surpassed only by “Avengers,” “Black Panther,” “Jurassic” and “Incredibles.”
Back home, in places 3 though 6 for the weekend, are the same movies that have been battling each other for the spoils since Dec, 19: “Mary Poppins Returns,” now at $138.7 ($258 worldwide); “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” now at $133.8 ($275 worldwide); “Bumblebee” with $97 ($287 worldwide); and Clint Eastwood's “The Mule,” with $81 ($81 worldwide).
What's not faring well? “Holmes and Watson” at just $29 after two weeks. Odd release date. The weekend after Christmas? At that point, everyone is itching to see the movies that were released before Christmas but everyone was too busy to see. J-Lo's “Second Act,” originally pitched as a you-go-girl job movie, and repackaged at the 11th hour as a rom-com, never had much of a first act: It's grossed $33 after three weekends. And “Welcome to Marwen,” which looked supersappyawful, and whose fucking trailers I had to endure for like six months, wasn't particularly welcome: It's at $10 mil after three weekends.
The movie with the longest legs? “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which, in its 10th weekend, pulled in another $2.4 million for 11th place. It's now at $193 domestic and—get this—$550 internationally, for a worldwide total of $743 million. Holy crap, I had no idea. It's now the 99th highest-grossing film of all time, worldwide and unadjusted, and eighth among 2018 releases. The only movies above it are superhero flicks and action-adventures.
Box Office: ‘Aquaman’ Swims in International Waters
Vinny Chase, eat your heart out.
“Aquaman” dropped only 23.5% this weekend to add $51.5 million to its coffers and top box office charts for the second weekend in a row, but that ain't no great shakes. The weekend before Xmas is a busy time, the weekend after is when we relax and go to the movies, so box office tends not to drop much. Last year, for example, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” dropped just 26%. More to the point, “Jumanji” added 38% on its way to $404 domestic and $962 worldwide.
Nothing like that this year. Yes, most movies added box office (“Mary Poppins Returns,” “Into the Spider-Verse,” “The Mule”) but there are no “Jumanji”s in the mix.
The real story about “Aquaman”'s box office is international, where it's already grossed $566 million (vs. $188 domestic). Almost half the foreign total is in China ($232). Not sure how Warners marketed it abroad but it's working.
Put it this way: Of the six films in the DC Extended Universe, “Aquaman” is still sixth domestically: $40 mil behind “Justice League” and $110 behind “Man of Steel.” But worldwide? It's third with a bullet: It's already grossed $748 vs. $821 for “Wonder Woman” and $873 for “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It‘ll catch both. It will reign.
The worst decision Warners ever made was handing over its lucrative universe to Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen,” “Sucker Punch”). Damage has been done but clouds are clearing. At the same time, it’s not like we need to make movie theaters safe for superheroes again. 2018 is winding down and the three biggest domestic flicks are all supers: “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Incredibles 2.” Top 10 also includes “Deadpool 2,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Venom.” “Aquaman” will join this team ... which beats the last team he joined.
Box Office: ‘Ralph,’ ‘Creed’ Exceed; ‘Robin Hood’ Misses Target
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the sequel to “Wreck-It Ralph,” won the weekend with a $55 million haul. And since it opened on Wednesday, the five-day haul is more like $84 million. Either way, it's better than the $49 million “Wreck-It” opened to in 2012. (Shit—six years ago? Feels like just a couple.)
“Creed II,” the sequel to “Creed,” came in second with $35 million. It, too, opened on Wednesday and it's five-day total is $55. “Creed” opened to $29, so, again, improvement. BTW: If you adjust for inflation, the first four “Rocky” movies all grossed more than $300 million domestically—with the first one north of half a billion—while the others, “Rocky V” and “Rocky Balboa,” couldn't make it to $100 million adjusted. The first “Creed” did, though, topping out at $115. This one looks to do better.
Meanwhile, the zillionth “Robin Hood” opened to poor reviews and poor box office, finishing the weekend in seventh place with $9.1 million. Good.
Sadly, the new “Grinch,” which I‘ve heard is bad, and which received mediocre reviews, fell only 21% during its third weekend, for third place and another $30 mil. It’s now at $180 domestic, which is just encouraging bad behavior on the part of the studios.
“Fantastic Beasts/Grindelwald” did fall, though, 50+% in its second weekend, and looks to not reach the heights of the first “FB,” which opened to $74 and topped out at $234. “FB2” scraped in another $29 but is at a sluggish $117.
In its fourth weekend, “Bohemian Rhapsody” refuses to bite the dust, grossing another $13. It's now at $152. For the modern, post-1980 era, that's the second highest-grossing music biopic after “Straight Outta Compton,” which is just a stone's throw away at $161. Adjust for inflation, though, and “Coal Miner's Daughter” is on top with $228.
The BOM numbers.