Alita at least does better than Ghost in the Shell, audiences have a brief fling with Isn’t it Romantic?, Happy Death Day does not survive the second loop, and Other Box Office News.
Note: a version of this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Ooh! Maybe I’m more of a Nostradamus than a Toddstradamus for once, since my bold prediction that 2019 might finally yield a reckoning for the Area X that is the modern film industry has been fulfilled for two weekends straight! Twas President’s Day weekend across the Atlantic and whilst the sitting President was busy making an utter mockery of the political and constitutional process – which, admittedly, is something he does merely by sitting in the Oval Office each day, but even still he went above and beyond this week – the American public chose to… largely stay away from the cinema in droves, again. Box Office Mojo has this down as the worst three-day President’s Day weekend since 2004 which saw *checks notes* 50 First Dates, as the only new release, open to almost $40 million. Dark times, indeed. And despite having three shots to clear that low bar, not a single one of our new Wide Release movies could get the job done, even with the caveat that all three films opened at least one day before the Friday. Bodes well for the rest of 2019!
Best performing of the lot was Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s eternity-in-development adaptation of the Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita, here renamed to Alita: Battle Angel for reasons unclear (maybe to scrounge more primo real estate on alphabetised store shelves come home release time). The good news is that Alita managed to way outperform expectations from basically everyone with even a cursory stake in the thing by topping the chart with a $27 million three-day, besting the still-shockingly underperforming LEGO Movie 2, a $36 million four-day (from its Valentine’s opening) and crushing that garbage American Ghost in the Shell adaptation you mercifully already forgot was a thing just two years ago $27.8 million to $18.6 million. The bad news is that, befitting a James Cameron-affiliated joint, Alita sports an exorbitant $170 million budget which supposedly needs $500 million worldwide before it can even sniff turning a profit and so far, despite having been open in most foreign territories weeks before hitting America, that’s proving to be a highly unlikely outcome; foreign grosses currently number $94 million with China and Japan opening next week. The worst news is that seemingly none of this is going to stop Paramount and Bad Robot from remaking Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, which this week picked up Marc Webb as its director seemingly for the sole purpose of absolutely guaranteeing a garbage final product. Joy.
Elsewhere, did you know that both Valentine’s and its much cooler and infinitely preferable younger sister Galentine’s were last week? I know it can be hard to keep track nowadays given how miserable the world as a whole is becoming, but it was true! Whilst Britain chose to mark the occasion by reissuing Notting Hill into cinemas, America instead put out an actual brand new rom-com because every now and again somebody remembers to make one since they make goddamn money when they’re good and promoted. (Before Americans start celebrating their common-sense action, though, it’s worth noting that this was the first Valentine’s weekend to have a new rom-com release in three years.) Despite star Rebel Wilson’s best efforts to torpedo the thing before it could even get going, Isn’t it Romantic? still managed to do fairly ok for a film with sod-all promotion, notching up $14 million over the three-day and $20 million over the five-day (since it opened on the 13th). It also did far better than Happy Death Day 2U, the apparently raucously-fun sequel to 2017’s surprise hit horror-comedy, whose opening weekend could barely beat the $9.3 million the original movie made from its sophomore weekend: $9.8 million for the three-day and $13.5 million for the five-day. Geez, not even horror is safe is safe from 2019’s wrath! Where will it end? Is Avengers: Endgame going to straight-up bomb, too? …ok, things obviously aren’t that bad, hush.
In Limited Release, Stephen Merchant’s WWE-backed wrestling biopic Fighting with My Family got off to an early start on just 4 screens, like somebody’s confused the film and time of the year with an Awards Season hopeful or something, before it goes Wide next weekend. Maybe the strategy will pay off, maybe it’ll collapse once people realise The Rock’s only in it for two scenes (both played pretty much in full in the trailers already), maybe I’ll finally be able to watch WWE programming again without being bombarded by the same pissing ad for this every 40 minutes or so. Who’s to say? For now, $131,625 ($165,898 for the four-day) and a per-screen average of $32,906 makes this easily the best performing film of the weekend. Embrace of the Serpent’s Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego made a Native American drug lord thriller called Birds of Passage that’s apparently very good and was hatched onto 2 screens to make $24,249 ($33,807 for the four-day). Finally, the fascinating-sounding animated heist thriller Ruben Brandt, Collector satisfied $6,394 ($7,737 for the four-day) worth of art fiends on 1 screen and I bring this up solely because I want a UK distribution deal in place for this movie yesterday! Look at it!
A full list! I’LL WRITE IT! NO-ONE WILL EVER KNOW!!!
US Box Office Results: Friday 15th February 2019 – Sunday 17th February 2019
1] Alita: Battle Angel
$27,800,000 / $36,516,232 / NEW
Dave Bond’s got a cracking review of this on the site for youse. I’ll need to squeeze this in on “Business Day” (which is how I’m referring to this thing I’m working on but not telling y’all about yet in case it doesn’t happen) cos I doubt it’s much longer for this world (read: UK cinemas). I keep hearing the words Jupiter Ascending thrown about with regards to this film which, as a noted Wachowski Sisters stan, piques my curiosity way more than the uninspired marketing so far has managed to.
2] The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
$21,215,000 / $62,690,359
Ditto with this. Yes, I could’ve seen it on Thursday, but I chose to watch All is True instead in order to guarantee my viewing of Notting Hill, which was a mistake. All is True was the mistake, I mean, not Notting Hill which was great. More like All is True-ly forking dull, AMIRIGHT?
3] Isn’t it Romantic?
$14,210,000 / $20,455,347 / NEW
So, I figured it curious that a big old rom-com from the studio who just last year put out a big old rom-com that turned into one of its biggest hits in ages wasn’t opening over on these shores in time for Valentine’s despite the obvious sense such a move would make, even accounting for UK release schedules still being skewiff thanks to Awards Season holdovers. After doing some digging, it turns out Warner Bros., rather than attempt to adequately promote a potentially-successful film in an underserved genre for a proven underserved audience, have instead pulled a Paramount and sold the international rights to Netflix. Sure, just go and piss that free money away, Warner Bros., you absolute twits. But, hey, at least Fisherman’s Friends is getting a Nationwide release(!)
Related PSA: Annihilation will finally be available on Home Media in the UK from April 1st.
4] What Men Want
$10,920,000 / $36,150,328
Taraji P. Henson deserves better than this.
5] Happy Death Day 2U
$9,816,000 / $13,527,500 / NEW
This will definitely not please Shaun Rodger who went to a press screening and then immediately hopped into the Set the Tape group chat to extoll its virtues with effusive praise. Couldn’t even wait to pen a proper review, he liked it that much! But he did pen a proper review, eventually, and you can read that here before making his day by going and seeing the film already!
6] Cold Pursuit
$6,000,000 / $21,122,332
Now, I don’t normally bookmark talking points for these articles. Truth be told, I typically just wing them all within 90 minutes on the day, partly because the Box Office is a fickle and unpredictable beast whose whims can shift dramatically and so having plans set in stone is a recipe for panicked disappointment, and partly cos I’m a lazy bastard. But last Monday, I had one of my infrequent peeks back into Twitter to see what’s happening since I left, only to discover a tweet so incredible that I had to make sure it was saved for this week’s BOR. Here is said tweet:
7] The Upside
$5,590,000 / $94,197,031
Following on from my Annihilation PSA, and because I have nothing to say about this movie anymore, it was announced this week that Samsung will no longer produce Blu-Ray players, both 1080p and 4K, for the US market. As somebody who adores his relatively large DVD and Blu-Ray collections, who actually has an imported Region-Free Blu-Ray player (and has sworn by them for the past half-decade), and though he still frequently uses streaming services like Netflix is otherwise highly sceptical of the always-online-all-digital future and has frequent consternations about how they transfer and preserve (or don’t) films… yeah, this greatly disturbs me. Much like with my iPod Classic, you will prize DVD boxsets and Blu-Ray releases from my could dead hands! Ya hear me, you Silicon Valley simpletons!?
$3,859,000 / $104,489,915
OK, we done here? We’re done here. I’m being told we’re done here. Thank u, next.
9] The Prodigy
$3,150,065 / $11,015,539
How’s about, just go with me on this, instead of going to see the crappy horror movie when it releases over here next month, we all go see the special 20th Anniversary 4K re-release of Ringu? Shaun Rodger’s already had a chance to look it over and he found it so super-purdy that he’s not even mad about his impending death from viewing!
10] Green Book
$2,751,000 / $65,756,401
Give the Oscar to Black Panther give the Oscar to Black Panther give the Oscar to Black Panther give the Oscar to Black Panther give the Oscar to Black Panther give the Oscar to Black Panther give the Oscar…
Dropped out: Aquaman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miss Bala
Callie Petch is reminded that they should be getting over it.