Movies - Box Office postsSunday March 17, 2019
Box Office: ‘Captain Marvel’ Keeps Soaring
Last weekend, “Captain Marvel” had the seventh-biggest opening among Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, $152 mil, and this weekend it only fell 54.8% to gross another $69 mil (including my ticket), which brings its 10-day total to $266. Among 10-day grosses, that’s the 19th-best ever.
Where does it stop? One assumes north of $400. Will be interesting to see how it does next weekend when the other Captain Marvel, “Shazam!,” opens. Early projections have “Shazam!” not opening well, so once again I’m at odds with the zeitgeist.
Overall, there have been 21 MCU movies since “Iron Man” was released in 2008. The lowest grossing is “The Incredible Hulk” with Edward Norton as Bruce Banner: $134. It’s the only MCU movie that never grossed $150.
Let's just do the rundown:
- < $200 million: “Hulk” ($134), “Captain America: The First Avenger” ($176), “Ant-Man” ($180) and “Thor” ($181)
- > $200 million: “Thor: The Dark World ($206), “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($216), “Dr. Strange” ($232), and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” ($259)
- > $300: “Iron Man 2,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Iron Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy 2”
- > $400: “Captain America: Civil War,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
- > $500: n/a
- > $600: “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Avengers: Infinity War”
- > $700: “Black Panther”
I’ve seen them all. Good god.
My initial guess, for what it’s worth (nothing), is “Captain Marvel” finishes in fifth place in the current MCU: ahead of “Iron Man 3,” behind “Ultron.” We’ll see.
The rest of the weekend was poorly-reviewed movies doing not-great business. The animated movie “Wonder Park” (30% RT) finished in second place with $16 million from 3,838 theaters, while the latest sick-teens-in-love romance, “Five Feet Apart,” grossed $13 mil in 2,803 theaters.
The near-future, sci-fi flick “Captive State,” about aliens taking over, finished seventh, grossing an abysmal $3 million. It actually finished behind the Mexican comedy “No Manches Frida 2,” despite debuting in 2,548 theaters as opposed to “Manches”’ 472.
Has anyone seen “The Mustang” starring Matthias Schoenaerts? Four theaters, $76k. I’m interested. Redemption songs and horses.
Amid Shrugs, Captain Marvel Blasts Box Office
This past weekend, “Captain Marvel,” the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe flick, opened to $153 million domestic and $455 worldwide.
Domestically and unadjusted, that's the 18th-biggest opening ever, and seventh biggest of the MCU—after the three “Avengers” movies, “Black Panther,” “Iron Man 3” and “Captain America: Civil War” (which is really an Avengers movie). Worldwide, that's the sixth-largest debut ever, and second-biggest of the MCU—after “Infinity War,” which is the all-time record-holder at $640 million.
Worldwide, “Captain Marvel” is already the second-biggest movie of the year, trailing only China's sci-fi flick, “The Wandering Earth,” which made almost all of its money in China. Domestically, it's already the biggest movie of the year.
The big question is what kind of legs it will have. I have yet to see the movie, a kind of prequel set in the 1980s/90s, but friends who have mostly shrug when I ask how it is. They say it's OK. It's got an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes but also an audience score of 58%. For the latter number, one wonders how many misogynistic trolls are involved; for the former, how many thumbs ups are accompanied by hapless shrugs.
Me, I'm old enough to remember when Capt. Marvel meant either Shazam! or the blonde-haired astral figure who shared Neutral Zone time with Rick Jones. I also remember the 1977 debut of Ms. Marvel, with her bare legs and midriff and mid-70s coif. I'm pretty sure I bought the issue. I remembering thinking the promise of the cover—“in the senses-stunning tradition of Spider-Man!”—sounded a bit odd. Senses-stunning? Would you want that? How could you even read the comic?
I also don't remember being too impressed with the storyline, or something, but by then I had one foot out the comic-collecting door. Others seemed to feel the same. Ms. Marvel only lasted 23 issues.
That was 40 years ago. One wonders what failed enterprise aimed at kids/teens today will become a billion-dollar blockbuster in 40 years.
More Box Office Ho Hum; the Story is Abroad
“Wandering Earth” is the biggest movie worldwide of 2019.
The second weekend of the third “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, which opened bigger than its predecessors ($55 million vs. $43 and $49), dropped 45% but still won the weekend, grossing another $30 million, to bring its 10-day domestic total to $97.
In second place, the ninth Tyler Perry Madea movie, “A Madea Family Funeral,” had the fourth-best opening of that series at $27. Most Madea movies make a little more than twice what they did opening weekend, so expect the same. The eight previous grossed between $47 and $90.
The other big opener, the camp horror film “Greta,” starring Isabelle Hupert and Chloe Moretz, opened with a pittance: $4.5 in 2400 theaters. Eighth place.
The rest of the top 10 were the other non-performers of spring—“Alita,” “LEGO 2,” “Fighting with My Family,” “Isn't It Romantic,” “What Men Want” and “Happy Death Day 2 U”—along with, in fifth place, recent Academy Award winner “Green Book,” which expanded by 1300+ theaters but whose per-theater average was still low: $1.7k.
More ho-hum, in other words.
The real story this spring has been worldwide rather than domestic box office:
|1||Glass||$109||The Wandering Earth||$665|
|2||The Upside||$102||How to Train Your Dragon 3||$375|
|3||How to Train Your Dragon 3||$97||Alita: Battle Angel||$350|
|4||LEGO Movie 2||$91||Glass||$243|
|5||Alita: Battle Angel||$72|
Why is there only four movies under Worldwide? Because Box Office Mojo only lists four 2019 movies among its top 768 all-time.—or any movie that's done better than $200 worldwide. Only four movies in 2019 have done that.
Which ... isn't exactly true. Or it's only true for movies that have opened in the U.S. Because two other Chinese movies (to go with their big one, “Wandering Earth”) have grossed more than $200 in China alone this year—“Crazy Alien” at $321, and “Pegasus” at $246—but neither has played in the U.S. yet. Not sure why Box Office Moho doesn't list them in worldwide. They‘re part of worldwide, after all. Worldwide shouldn’t mean “As long as they‘ve played in America.” And Box Office Mojo knows their numbers since that’s where I got them. Must be a kind of left hand/right hand thing. They should fix that.
The Chinese numbers, by the way, are so far ahead of U.S. numbers because one of China's busiest moviegoing periods, Chinese New Year, already happened. Even so, the difference is starker because domestic b.o. is down 26% from last year. One wonders if maybe this isn't the year China passes the U.S. as the world's largest movie market.
We‘ll see if “Captain Marvel” can come to the rescue. If it’s even a rescue. Maybe it's just a torch passing.
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.