Sunday March 24, 2019
Jordan Peele's ‘Us’ Scares Up $70 Mil at Box Office
Class is in session.
If you discount Oscar contenders that opened in two or four theaters before going wide (“Shape of Water,” “Lady Bird”), and movies that opened the week before Xmas, when hardly anyone goes, and then hit it big (“Jumanji,” “The Greatest Showman”), the 2017 movie with the longest legs, as measured by how big its final domestic total was against its opening, was Jordan Peele's horror flick, “Get Out.” Its $33.3 million opening in February was 19% of its final domestic gross: $176 million. These days a movie does well if it grosses, says, three times its opening—particularly one that wins the weekend, as “Get Out” did—and horror movies tend to merely double their opening.
“Get Out” grossed five times its opening. That's a word-of-mouth movie. That's everyone saying, “You gotta see this.” It dropped only 15% from first to second weekend and its total gross wound up second only to “The Exorcist” among R-rated horror movies. (Both have since been surpassed by “It,” which opened in Sept. 2017.)
I doubt “Us” will have those kinds of legs, but if it does it will surpass “It” and become the all-time R-rated horror champ.
“Us” grossed $70 million this weekend, far surpassing predictions, which had it around $50 mil. I always like when they‘re wrong here, as if with all of their stats and charts they haven’t figured us out yet; but I wouldn't be surprised if the movie's power was underappreciated because of race: black director, black cast. The assumption was: it won't go boffo. But it went boffo. That $70 mil is the third-best opening for R-rated horror after “It” and 2018's “Halloween.” “Us” averaged $18.7k a theater, second-best for the weekend after “Hotel Mumbai,” which opened in only four theaters as opposed to 3,741.
Will be interesting to see where it finally lands. It got a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes but only a 69% for an audience score. Critics like it better. In terms of box office, that's never a good thing, sadly.
Overall, I think it's going to be less satisfying for a lot of people, who will leave the theater scratching their heads. That's what I saw at SIFF Egyptian yesterday afternoon when Patricia and I went. As the crowd drained out and blinked in the late-afternoon light, I saw a lot of confused faces, and conversations starting “So....” or “So wait, if...” Me, I liked parts of it, but it wasn't as cohesive as “Get Out,” and not as scary. Then I woke up at 1 this morning, terrified of dopplegangers. Go know. We'll see what kind of legs it has.
Elsewhere, “Captain Marvel” fell to second place but grossed another $35 to bring its 17-day domestic total to $321 (already 10th-best out of 21 MCU movies), and its worldwide total to just shy of a billion dollars: $910 million.