US Box Office Report: 18/01/19 – 20/01/19

M. Night mildly cracks the Glass ceiling, there is a goddamn Dragon Ball movie in the Top 10 in 2019, and Other Box Office News.

Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).

In the realm of Album charts, there’s a theory I often find with those who seriously discuss or examine how certain records end up performing that the debut performance of an artist’s current album is more a referendum on how the public saw their previous album.  After all, if they loved the previous record, then chances are they’ll snap up or repeatedly stream the newest one as soon as the opportunity arises regardless of how it sounds in the pre-release run-up.  But brick that last effort and the effects won’t become totally clear until the opening week of your newest work as people either hold off or stay far away regardless of whether it was an improvement or not.  It’s something I have in mind as we deal with M. Night Shyamalan’s hotly-anticipated but honestly pretty-garbage Glass where M. Night’s total inability to just make three great films in a row bites him in the ass twicefold, scuppering both his late-decade comeback and the Unbreakable trilogy.  Nevertheless, we’re gonna have to wait a few more years and another film to see if the great discontent extends to the public as well as critics since Split was a lot of fun and, resultantly, Glass easily took #1 with $40.5 million, good enough for January’s fourth-biggest opening of all-time.  That, however, is barely more than Split’s $40 million debut in 2017 and noticeably tapered off as the weekend progressed so this is a very “qualified success” type story we’re dealing with.  At least until you remember it only cost $20 mil to make cos Blumhouse, anyway.

Bizarrely, Glass isn’t anywhere close to the biggest news story of the weekend.  That would instead come from the fact that, across Martin Luther King Jr weekend, the fourth-biggest film in the country – it was the third until Actuals came in and launched Aquaman back up into third and over the $300 mil domestic mark – was a goddamn Dragon Ball movie playing in just over a thousand theatres and which had gotten started on the Wednesday before.  Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the twentieth Dragon Ball movie and apparently the first officially canon movie to include fan-favourite Saiyan Broly, demolished arguably even the most bullish of expectations with a $9.7 million weekend performance whose $7,925 per-screen average was only beaten by Glass ($10,546) and the WWII anti-Nazi-propaganda documentary Who Will Write Our History? which only played on one screen ($13,390).  Hackier box office reporters would probably resort to cheap-ass “OVER $9 MILLION” meme reference gags in response to this news, but not I!  I will instead make a meta reference to how I am above such lazy gags whilst still effectively making said lazy gag anyway in the midst of my grandstanding!  That’s galaxy brain thinking!

Since absolutely nothing else came out this past weekend besides those two movies and that one tossed-off Limited Release, combined with this feature having been on hiatus since Thanksgiving due to the chaos of Listmas Season and personal issues we shan’t dwell on, let’s utilise the rest of my allotted time for some brief catch-ups, hmm?  The Drunk Oscars handing their split Best Picture awards to Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t actually seem to have helped either of them much; the former hasn’t cracked the Top 10 since mid-December although has been consistently pulling in $2 million hauls every weekend whilst the latter has been a tad kneecapped by everybody already having seen it and the singalong version not being out yet in America – Q for those who’ve been: do they put up the lyrics to “Who Wants to Live Forever” when it soundtracks archival footage of the AIDS crisis, cos that would be incredible?  Indeed, Green Book’s thunder appears to have been stolen by Intouchables remake The Upside which had a surprise #1 debut last weekend ($20 mil) and has held extremely strong in its sophomore window.  Our generation no longer wants glurgy condescending morality plays about how racism is super easy to overcome that solely exist to make White people feel better about themselves… unless they star Kevin Hart and Walter White.  Progress?

In fact, we’ve got tonnes of failed Oscar Bait strewn about around the place that also flopped at the Box Office over the last few months.  Adam McKay’s Vice debuted over Christmas to barely more than the notoriously noxious Holmes & Watson and has already resigned from (box) office.  Stan & Ollie, the Laurel & Hardy biopic that finally dethroned Mary Poppins Returns’ iron grip on the summit of the UK chart, has been stuck in first gear posting respectable-ish numbers relative to its screen count (this weekend being $338,362 from 84 screens) but failing to breakout.  Speaking of Poppins, that started decently enough over the December period posting Greatest Showman-reminiscent $20+ mil results but has been tumbling majorly since the new year kicked in and could likely be gone entirely by next weekend.  Karyn Kusama’s so-gritty-you-could-use-it-to-de-ice-motorways noir Destroyer has been crippled by Annapurna incorrectly believing they’ve got an arthouse Oscar Bait on their hands, so it’s drowning in Limited Release.  And, to bring it back around to my initial mission statement on public referendums of prior works, poor old Bumblebee has been getting buried as the runt of Christmas’ family entertainment litter, preparing to close as the lowest-grossing entry in the franchise worldwide unless China can continue working a miracle.

At least Spider-Verse has turned things around and keeps making money, though!  Silver linings, everyone!

In the spirit of M. Night Shyamalan, this Full List will start from a really strong premise before collapsing into thin-skinned self-indulgence and a garbage twist-ending that turns the whole thing into a joke.

US Box Office Results: Friday 18th January 2019 – Sunday 20th January 2019

1] Glass

$40,509,000 / NEW

Dave Bond has a pretty perfect review of this that you can go read now!  Yes, right now, rather than this article!  Go do that and save yourself a whole bunch of money!  I know it’s January and shit’s super slow, but The Favourite should at least still be playing places so it’s not a total wasteland.

2] The Upside

$15,010,000 / $43,323,439

I’d say that it’s a good thing Harvey Weinstein is gone for good so we no longer get utterly pointless English-language remakes of foreign films that weren’t any good to begin with or garbage Oscar Bait about genial racism – because, as we all definitely know, those were absolutely the most serious of his crimes – but this one’s making decent bank and Green Book’s got a good shot of walking away with the Oscar so screw it all, I guess.

3] Aquaman

$10,170,000 / $304,176,848

I get why people like this, which is a marked improvement for every non-Wonder Woman entry in this franchise at least.  Personally, I think it’s all Too Much and the cheesy fun is hampered severely by both the hero and main villain being played by charisma-less black holes with the acting abilities of a goldfish, but I get the appeal to other people.  Baby steps, WB DC!

4] Dragon Ball Super: Broly

$9,794,742 / $20,124,771 / NEW

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have never seen any Dragon Ball and therefore can make absolutely zero relevant or non-ignorant comments.  Were my brother the one writing these, maybe he’d be able to shed some light on things since he’s a fan.  But he’s off having a life whilst I’m sat here on a Monday night typing words about Box Office statistics, so all you’re getting is a jazz-hands JANUARY! before moving on.

5] Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

$7,575,000 / $158,576,385

Far From Home will probably be good – the MCU has yet to release a true brick, just some coasters and a few with personally crappy endings, and I’m starting to think they’re functionally incapable of doing so – but honestly that trailer feels so barren and underwhelming in a post-Spider-Verse world.  Like, it’s fine, but… y’know?  How am I supposed to care about that when Spider-Verse still exists and is still utterly perfect?

This is my way of saying that I finally got my rewatch in and inarguably ranked this one at least five places too low on my Top 20.

6] A Dog’s Way Home

$7,185,000 / $21,353,496

Not sure who demanded a 2010s remake of Homeward Bound but with extended diatribes about dog racism and a super-dark third act, but I hope they were satisfied by their investment.

7] Escape Room

$5,600,000 / $41,025,948

Peak Adult is wanting to try out an Escape Room with your friends but never being able to have everyone sync their schedules up together in order to do so.  Fact totally not based on personal experience.

8] Mary Poppins Returns

$5,254,000 / $158,741,814

If our Set the Tape Listmas submissions closed even a day later than they did (which was Dec 20th), I get the strong impression based on our various group chats that Mary Poppins would have deposed a lot of the actual Top 10.  A LOT of us loved it.  Not so much me – it’s too damn long and is largely a stealth-remake, although Emily Blunt is incredible and it’s filled with lots of brilliant heartwarming sequences – but definitely Tony Black and perhaps a few others.  Just a shame nobody wanted to work over Christmas, necessitating closing of the polls early.  How dare other people want to spend the holidays with their families instead of writing thousands of words about films on THE INTERNET!

9] Bumblebee

$4,750,000 / $116,033,676

Great little movie.  Basically just The Iron Giant but with 50s Cold War paranoia switched out for 80s Cold War paranoia, but after five of these overcomplicated and barely-watchable blasts of incoherent sound and fury, going the simplest and most obvious route really was the best choice.  I hope Paramount don’t give up on Transformers at the point where they’ve finally managed to crank out a good one, because Travis Knight did a bang-up job on this and, just like the last time he directed a masterpiece (though Bumblebee is certainly no masterpiece), deserved better than being dicked over by release dates.

10] On the Basis of Sex

$3,862,000 / $16,773,747

I genuinely keep forgetting this exists.  Probably not a good sign for its UK release *checks notes* long after I and anyone else stops caring.

Dropped Out: The Mule, Vice

Callie Petch falls asleep during conversations.

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