US Box Office Report: 29/07/16 – 31/07/16

Jason Bourne remembers how to claim the top spot, Bad Moms make good money, Nerve bottles it, this has been a really terrible Summer, and Other Box Office News.

Now, look.  You’re gonna hear from a lot of outlets over the next few days that Jason Bourne was an unqualified success this past weekend.  After all, an opening of $60 million is nothing to sniff at, the second-highest for the Bourne franchise with only original swan-song Ultimatum surpassing it at $69.2 million, and this has been quite the miserable Summer so far so any giant crushing of the rest of the box office (such as the one that Jason Bourne performed) is very easy to construe into being a massive success.  But let’s step back for a minute and consider a few other key things.  Jason Bourne arrives nine years after the last Matt Damon-led Bourne movie, roaring in to right the apparent wrongs of 2012’s Damon-less The Bourne Legacy which opened to $38 mil, and collective audience excitement for this giant return is about 13% less than when we first said goodbye to Bourne back in 2007?  With nine years for the franchise to grow in stature, to gain a bigger audience, to facilitate as many sequels as Universal can manage before Damon shrivels up into a husk?

No, I’d argue that’s not good enough.  Sequels, after all, are supposed to grow, nostalgia trips are supposed to theoretically print money, and Damon is coming off of a box office megahit that supposedly re-established his nature as a premier Movie Star.  Sure, $60 mil is a far better opening here than in many cases since the budget for Jason is only $120 million, but with inflated ticket prices and the series effectively being dormant for nearly a decade, this should have matched Ultimatum, if not surpassed it.  Furthermore, and this one’s for those of you who may be wondering why Universal execs are secretly sweating spinal fluid right now, take a look at Star Trek BeyondDespite opening lower than both prior Star Treks and having an allegedly better audience reception than the prior two Treks, Beyond has plummeted almost 60% in its second weekend, barely clinging onto second place.  That’s bad for Paramount, who have still greenlit a fourth film in this run despite the current worldwide performance, and it must be terrifying for Universal, since Suicide Squad is along next weekend to most likely bring a swift end to Jason’s box office.

Man, Summer 2016 has been appalling, in both quality and financial terms.  What hasn’t outright failed needs several dozen asterisks appended to it to the point that it becomes questionable as to whether it was a success at all, and even unquestionable successes still manage to disappoint in some way.  Case in point: Bad Moms, which opened in third place with $23.4 million.  With a budget of $20 million, an R-rating, a female-focus and a female-target, and no bonafide stars in the same way that Melissa McCarthy is, this should be a slam-dunk no bones about it celebration!  Except that most outlets called this film breaking $30 mil opening weekend, not helped by an opening day total of $9.3 mil, so now the tag “disappointment” gets to hang around its neck like a rotting albatross and, if Ghostbusters is any indication, god knows how it will do next week even with that “A” Cinemascore.  Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s teen thriller Nerve underperformed by everyone’s standards, with just $9 million in ticket sales for the weekend despite being a low-budget, low-marketed teen-thriller that should have had no expectations to disappoint.

Look, I know that you’re wanting a load of really terrible snark with your box office factuals.  I’d love to give it to you, as well, but this dreadful Summer (in both aspects) is starting to take its toll on me.  I am 75% certain that I am actually witnessing the beginning of Hollywood’s second collapse, here, despite the system supposedly being Too Big to Fail, and it upsets me.  Not so much because even good movies are failing – GO AND SEE GHOSTBUSTERS, FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU – but because I’m just getting an endless line of interchangeable, personality-free, mediocre slop with different franchise names slapped on them as a response to that collapse, even though all it’s doing is making things worse.  I want to be able to collectively slap all the various studio execs across the face and shout the obvious solutions at them, but that’s not going to happen unless next Summer is equally disastrous, since that’s when all of the franchises that are actually worth shit come back.

More than that, though, I just don’t want to have to write the Summer box office post-mortem in September that every single bloody critic/writer has already got primed and ready to go.  I mean, I still don’t have to – I think it’s very obvious from what goes up on this site that I don’t care about writing articles for the zeitgeist – but I’ll do so anyway cos I just can’t stop.

Bad Moms


US Box Office Results: Friday 29th July 2016 – Sunday 31st July 2016

1] Jason Bourne

$60,000,000 / NEW

Should be seeing this either whilst you’re reading this or in an hour or two of you reading this.  The power of scheduling and pre-writing!  In the meanwhile, I’m reacquainting myself with these films, as I’ve seen them before but remember basically nothing about them, and they’re fun disposable times!  This notion that they’re the “thinking man’s spy films” though is provable bullshit.  Those much-vaunted anti-government/anti-CIA themes basically amount to “these people are too incompetent and paranoid to be evil, save for a few bad eggs,” which is basically the same attitude most seasons of 24 took.  I guess that rep only came about due to the first opening nine months after 9/11 and us all being surprised that it wasn’t an “ooh rah, ‘MERICA!” tirade.

2] Star Trek Beyond

$24,000,000 / $105,720,378

If it’s still in cinemas next week, when Suicide Squad is the only new Jenny on the block, then I’ll give it a shot.  Again, Star Trek is this giant imposing beast to me, I can’t help it.

3] Bad Moms

$23,400,000 / NEW

Now that we literally have “The Hangover but with chicks,” since this is written and directed by the non-Todd Phillips writers of the first Hangover, can we all acknowledge that attaching that label to Bridesmaids was less-premature and more just-totally-wrong?  Bridesmaids was absolutely nothing like The Hangover – it was actually good, for one – and I can’t help but get the impression that that specific tag was so that guys would feel less guilty for liking a Woman Movie, since it was good, unlike most other Woman Movies apparently.

4] The Secret Life of Pets

$18,210,000 / $296,177,745

With the exception of Finding Dory, this has been the only breakout no-asterisks-needed Hit of the Summer so far.  Watch everybody involved either blank it or learn exactly the wrong lessons from it.

5] Lights Out

$10,810,000 / $42,877,032

OK, it’s mostly been a bad weekend, but a 50% drop is a full-on Win in the Horror world, especially with a budget that’s just under $5 million.  See, at least something good is coming out of all of this!

6] Ice Age: Collision Course

$10,500,000 / $42,109,623

That piece I promised you last week is going live tomorrow.  I sat down to finish it on Saturday night and what I had believed to be a nice quick in-and-out job just kept going and going and going.  I’m pretty sure it’s the longest article I have ever written.  I’m also pretty sure that it’s one of the best articles I have ever written, though, so the wait will be worth it!  And the read, that’ll be worth it, too.  Dear God, it’s so long…

7] Ghostbusters

$9,800,000 / $106,171,141

We will get a sequel, it will be with this cast, most likely with Paul Feig returning to direct, and it will be with a significantly (and rightly) reduced budget.  I know that this seems less likely by the day, but Sony have invested far too much into Ghostbusters to throw it all in the fire by this point, and I’m going to keep telling myself and telling you that over and over again because I need to believe, dammit.  I need there to be another Ghostbusters with this cast, I need there to be more female-led blockbusters in general, and I need actually interesting and entertaining and good movies coming out of the studio system in the next few years cos all the interesting films (read: Indie) don’t come out anywhere near me.

8] Nerve

$9,000,000 / $15,051,287 / NEW

This came out on Wednesday, hence the extra $6 mil.  It also could be good fun.  So ends my commentary until I get to see it for myself, if it even hangs around that long.

9] Finding Dory

$4,220,000 / $469,012,930

Should finally be seeing this now.  You’ll know very shortly if I liked it or not.

10] The Legend of Tarzan

$2,405,000 / $121,856,210

This has apparently just broken past $300 million worldwide, says Box Office Mojo, like that’s something worthy of applause and a tickertape parade.  Because, again, $180 million budget.  This system cannot collapse fast enough.

Dropped Out: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Hilary’s America: The Blah Blah Fuck Off, The Infiltrator

Callie Petch never opened up to anything that could get them at all.

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