Grindelwald skimps out on the reparations, Widows botches the heist, Instant Family does not generate instant profits, Green Book is stopped At Eternity’s Gate, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
I need to learn to stop placing all of my wishes on those gosh-darn monkey paws. See, dear reader, I am not in the habit of ordering you to avoid things through definitive statements and extreme judging of your personality for liking bad movies – SHUT UP, I TOTALLY DON’T DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS, YOU’RE THE HYPOCRITE! …ahem. As I was saying: like what you like, kick the concept of guilty pleasures into the trash where all elitist crap should reside, smash the patriarchy and all that. But I did spend the lead-up to this past weekend wishing upon a star for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to fail. I didn’t mean Solo levels of fail, where a middling box office haul ended up constituting a “failure” because it cost almost $300 million to make (for some reason) and every other Star Wars movie made enough money to buy out a dozen small island nations a few times over. I meant Divergent: Allegiant levels of fail, where it performed so badly that the studio had to can the final instalment entirely because the series had reached unsustainable levels of audience apathy that no amount of budget-slashing or hardcore fan-pandering could manage. Please note, I did not wish for this out of malice and not entirely out of selfish desires (although the latter did play a part) but more to save us all from having to watch any more Fantastic Beasts movies because they are fucking abysmal.
So, about that monkey’s paw: The Crimes of Grindelwald – which, for the record, is a friggin’ hilarious title given that one of the dramatic thrusts of the climax comes from a member of the Wizard Police admitting that Wizard Hitler is not actually committing a crime – is your new box office #1. Warner Bros. US are likely having muted celebrations, though, given that their big franchise tentpole playing on 4,000+ theatres nationwide based on one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of the century only got there with $62 million, down a full $12 million from the first Fantastic Beasts movie back in 2016. Compared to the first film’s “A” Cinemascore, Grindelwald could only post a “B+” for whatever that nebulous metric may be worth. Just like two years ago, there’s a new Disney movie out next weekend but, unlike last time, there’s also a bunch of other films looking to snipe Grindelwald’s alleged target audience. And, though this is based more on personal experience from looking around the net, even most of the hardcore fandom seems completely sick of J.K. Rowling’s bullshit post-viewing. All the signs seem to point towards a Batman v Superman level of second weekend collapse… but it also might not mean anything since Grindelwald just made $191 million overseas thanks to simultaneous releasing, with record openings in many territories and only a minor drop-off in China from the first film.
Furthering my grumblings of “goddammit,” this was a pretty disappointing weekend for damn-near everything on the chart, with the non-crappy holdovers averaging 60% drops, expansions often dying on their arses, and openers underwhelming severely. Elevating those grumblings to loud yells was the performance of Steve McQueen’s sensational adaptation of Widows, going straight to a full nationwide release after a rapturous festival tour (including effusive praise from yours truly) even with it being an Awards Season hopeful because this is a proper crowdpleasing drama-thriller no matter how many twittering old people loudly mumble in the cinema about it being “a bit slow” NOBODY WAS ASKING FOR YOUR OPINION WHILST THE FILM WAS STILL RUNNING! …ahem. The good(?) news is that fifth place with $12.3 million isn’t a total disaster, but that’s obviously not a great base to start from and next weekend is the Thanksgiving deluge so there’s every chance that this will pull a The Girl in the Spider’s Nest: A New Dragon Tattoo Story, a title I do insist on spelling out in full every time I have to discuss it since you ask, and plummet from view before the month’s out. The other wide opener was this thing called Instant Family, which took fourth with $14.7 million, but I’d never heard of it before now so I’ve got no material.
In Limited Release: hey, folks! It’s time for your yearly dose of Inoffensive Vanilla Racism Oscar Bait Designed to Make White Audiences Feel Better About Themselves, because apparently only Viola Davis learned anything from The Help – relatedly: give Viola Davis an Oscar for her work in Widows, you cowards. This year’s variant, naturally “based on a true story,” stars Viggo Mortenson as the White guy who needs to pick better projects and Mahershala Ali as “at least he’s not starring in EA Sports career modes again,” whilst the director is *checks notes* Peter Farrelly?! Of Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Shallow Hal, and Movie 43? THAT Peter Farrelly? Sure, given everything else in 2018, why not? Green Book expands nationwide next weekend but got an early start in 25 theatres to the tune of $312,000, a healthy per-screen average of $12,480. A per-screen average that was dwarfed, however, by that of At Eternity’s Gate in which Willem Dafoe plays Vincent van Gogh despite being 26 years too old for the par-wait double back. Willem Dafoe is 63?! I am having my mind blown writing this thing today! Eternity opened on four screens and took $92,000 for a per-screen average of $23,000. Finally, A Private War tried to go wide into 865 screens and [INSERT YOUR OWN TASTESLESS JOKE HERE] cos it only made $725,000, so that’s that.
I solemnly swear this Full List is up to no good.
US Box Office Results: Friday 16th November 2018 – Sunday 18th November 2018
1] Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
$62,200,000 / NEW
I’m gonna step back for a week and let my still-bubbling rage from my Friday night screening hopefully cool off a bit ahead of further weeks of commentary and its almost-assured spot in the upper half of my Bottom Films of 2018 list. Clara Jean-Cook’s got your review needs covered later this week and she says: “A visually entertaining film that unfortunately stumbles around a convoluted plot and ends in an unexpected twist that will no doubt infuriate fans and produce endless articles from critics.” Which is far more diplomatic than I would have been.
2] The Grinch
$38,165,000 / $126,544,280
My review ended up getting in a bit later than planned because I spent much of last week tuned in to this year’s now-concluded Desert Bus for Hope – which I would go deeper into, and how it’s such a warm fuzzy hug of a thing that makes life so much nicer for a week each year, but we’re getting off-topic – but it did get penned and it did run! So, to reiterate: meh.
3] Bohemian Rhapsody
$15,700,000 / $127,885,859
I haven’t seen it yet because I find them cloying and cynically-manipulative (plus my prior-discussed aversions to their garbage covers that back each ad), but, from what other people have told me, I get the impression Dexter Fletcher is probably extremely despondent about John Lewis devoting their Christmas ad this year to effectively making his upcoming Elton John biopic completely redundant.
4] Instant Family
$14,700,000 / NEW
“Starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne?” “Directed by the guy responsible for the Daddy’s Home movies?” “Heartwarming family comedy?” Not that it sounds any good, but why is this the very first I am hearing about Instant Family? *sees UK release date is next February for some reason* OK, now it makes sense.
$12,300,000 / NEW
As of this writing, I have seen Widows three times and, even with each post-LFF screening being filled with people talking over the movie, I love it even more each successive viewing. Best Film of 2018 in a landslide, shut everything else down. Go see it, cretins.
$4,678,000 / $43,870,690
Wait, the Wachowski Sisters are done?! WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED ABOUT THIS IMMEDIATELY?! I mean, I’m glad that it seems like this has come about simply because Lana has just grown tired of filmmaking rather than the more obvious reason of nobody wanting to give them any amount of money anymore, but still! Lana and Lily were two of the most visionary, earnest, technically-proficient, visually-gifted, and unashamedly queer filmmakers to ever trojan-horse their way into blockbuster filmmaking and we need a thousand more like them and a thousand less David Yates’ running about the industry. Pour one out for them, wish Lana all the best during her (fingers crossed) sabbatical, and then go rewatch Speed Racer (to make me happy) and Cloud Atlas (to make Owen happy)!
7] A Star is Born
$4,350,000 / $185,840,907
Lady Gaga getting behind the camera, when? I’m not just bringing this up for easy Madonna comparison jokes; genuinely, when do we think she’s going to turn her hand to directing movies? Gaga strikes me as someone who will be drawn towards that chair at some point, the question is whether that’ll be before or after she finally blesses me with the album of Talking Heads covers I’ve secretly been craving for the past two years.
$3,850,000 / $17,742,889
This’ll be one of those films a whole bunch of people will re/discover on Netflix or something in about 10 years’ time and be all, “how the hell did nobody see this in cinemas?” Mark my words. I’ll probably be one of those people, but that’s because I’m a slave to my extreme anxiety and Where’s the Jump? haven’t gotten around to writing this up for me yet. EDIT: he said before he checked the site mid-edit to see they now have.
9] The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story
$2,500,000 / $13,290,523
And definitely the last Dragon Tattoo story if this box office total has anything to say about it. Eamon Hennedy’s provided a lookback on the Fincher one from 2011, in the meanwhile.
10] Nobody’s Fool
$2,260,000 / $28,887,618
Since I have nowhere else to naturally slide it in, I want it on record that I… am actually… excited for Detective Pikachu? Maybe part of it is because I first saw that trailer at the same time the Desert Bus for Hope crew did and their enthusiasm is infectious, but also it kinda looks amazing? And I don’t even have any affinity or nostalgia for Pokémon so I should have no strong feelings towards that trailer. Yet, yeah, I’m kinda hyped for it? Enough that I’ll be legitimately disappointed if it turns out bad and ecstatic when it inevitably earns a bajillion dollars.
Dropped Out: Venom, Halloween, The Hate U Give
Callie Petch will invent our own kind of obscurity.