US Box Office Report: 22/02/19 – 24/02/19

How to Train Your Dragon soars to new franchise heights, Fighting with My Family lays down and does the job brother, Run the Race crosses the finish line, and Other Box Office News.

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

Well, we’ve finally got one inarguable success story for 2019 at the Box Office.  Yes, I am of course talking about the fact that The Upside, the little movie that could in the face of disapproving critics and any and all sense of good taste, is just $250,000 away from crossing the $100 million domestic mark, which it will most likely crack by Wednesday afternoon.  That’s the kind of aspirational feel-good story about overcoming adversity – from the French original it’s based on already being condescending shit, tepid festival reviews (even Green Book got quality festival reviews), one of its major producers being Harvey Weinstein right at the point where his reckoning finally arrived, and then kicking around in release limbo for a year and a half before belatedly coming out to precious little fanfare – which normally gets made into Oscar-winning movies!  …look, I’m penning this long before the Oscars themselves actually happen, so I’ve got no idea who’s won and don’t want to make any definitive statements since the last time I did that on what seemed like the surest thing in the universe I was forced to eat crow and watch Mob Handed (a wager I am admittedly still yet to follow through on).

Anyway, How to Train Your Dragon!  That’s still a thing which is ongoing, presumably to the wonderful relief of DreamWorks Animation’s new owners, Universal, given the once titanic animation studio’s heavily inconsistent track record of releases this decade.  But maybe not for much longer!  The financially unsuccessful releases, yes, but also the Dragon series itself since The Hidden World aims to tie a bow on the entire franchise, Toy Story 3-style – much like with Toy Story, we’ll see if that holds firm in five years’ time should DreamWorks hit rocky waters again.  Befitting this much ballyhooed finale, which has actually been playing in basically every other major country before the US release (with China to come next weekend and Japan in August), The Hidden World managed to post series-high opening numbers and is, by a gulf so vast it encompasses almost the combined efforts of the rest of the Top 10, your new #1 with $55.5 million.  This would be the part where writers like myself are supposed to burst the thing’s bubble and state how this is actually not all that great – its $6 million increase on the opening of Dragon 2 from five years ago is the same as that movie’s increase on Dragon 1 from 2010, so one could more credit general ticket price inflation for this result rather than expanding audiences – but let’s take our victories where we can get them at this point as Twenty Bomb-teen rolls on.

Speaking of, after overperforming last weekend, Alita: Battle Angel crashed back down to Earth hard with a 58% drop in its sophomore weekend and $12 million.  That said, its Chinese opening has been pretty decent, recording an estimated $62.2 million #1 placement in an effort to stem the bleeding.  But whilst on the subject of cold hard reality checks, Fighting with My Family went Wide this past weekend and, as called by yours truly this time last week, was caught in the PTO and forced to submit pretty gosh-darn quickly with an $8 million fourth-place start.  Life, it seems, undeservedly has it in for Stephen Merchant solo-projects.  Things were a tad less embarrassing in the more moderately-sized releases which we’re briefly turning our gaze towards in this truncated opening spiel since no actual new Limited Releases came out this weekend.  Faith-based inspirational sports movie Run the Race,  one with a starring role for American footballer turned baseballer Tim Tebow (perhaps angling for some kind of Space Jam 2 appearance), actually cracked the Top 10 despite playing on like a third of the screens (853) the rest of the chart had.  Meanwhile, Indian mega-sensation Dhamaal released the third entry in its slapstick comedy series, Total Dhamaal (a riff on It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World according to the Wiki entry I’m getting all this info from since I’ve never seen any of these), into 202 screens and pulled in a decent-enough $950,000 for a per-screen average of $4,703 that’s better than any non-Dragon members of the Top 10.

Again, it’s been a slow week for movies (what else is new), a busy and tiring week for me, and any Oscar jokes would be inaccurate and/or outdated by the time you read this.  Give me a break on the funnies.


US Box Office Results: Friday 22nd February 2019 – Sunday 24th February 2019

1] How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

$55,527,000 / $58,027,000 / NEW

*shrugs shoulders* Eh.  The How to Train Your Dragon series and I don’t get along, as has been previously documented, and Hidden World did not change that relationship: some excellent individual scenes, whole doesn’t work, gorgeous animation, the humans suck, not enough dragons – also, hey, maybe don’t make one side character’s extremely annoying nature a vital plot point that leads right into the All is Lost moment of your big serious finale movie?  It did at least finally help me nail down why these films don’t click for me: they’re terrified of committing to their thesis statements, resolving their respective conflicts through macho posturing and shooting a big bad thing in the face or, in the case of this one, adding a time-skip epilogue onto its Toy Story 3 moment designed to soothe audiences that not even its ending will actually stick.  More power to you if you love this series, I wish I could (since Dean DeBlois is one half responsible for Lilo & Stitch).

2] Alita: Battle Angel

$12,000,000 / $60,681,068

Remember eleven years ago when the Wachowski Sisters somehow convinced Warner Bros. to sign off spending $120 million on a live-action Speed Racer movie, and how said live-action Speed Racer movie was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE?  In fact, can we make it a rule enshrined in law that only the Wachowski Sisters are allowed to make live-action adaptations of anime for as long as this cottage industry remains prevalent?  Yes, even the Japanese since they’re also not particularly good at this either.

3] The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

$10,015,000 / $83,619,039

Dug the heck out of this.  No, it’s not as good as The LEGO Movie or LEGO Batman, but it’s still pretty brilliant with a clever and vital central metaphor, excellent animation directed by Trisha Gum, and a constantly disarming wit because Lord & Miller are comedic geniuses.  Also, they teamed up with Jon Lajoie to make the film a semi-musical and the songs are uniformly excellent, as you’d expect.  No idea why this isn’t catching on, besides the obvious “filler spin-off sequels draining audience interest in the brand,” but it deserves way better.

4] Fighting with My Family

$8,012,000 / $8,227,021


5] Isn’t it Romantic?

$7,510,000 / $33,768,742

Did you know that Confessions of a Shopaholic turned 10 last week?  Did you also know that Chris Haigh went and did an anniversary write-up for it, on this website of all places?  This is why I love our little corner of The Web.

6] What Men Want

$5,200,000 / $45,061,666

Gonna check out the original this week for the first time ever.  Will report back at our next meeting, same bat-place, same bat-time, same bat-channel.

7] Happy Death Day 2U

$4,988,000 / $21,611,880

Shaun Rodger is very upset about this development.  Or, at least, he would have been if Bioware’s hotly-anticipated Anthem hadn’t placed a premium on his allocated anger molecules.  He’s, diplomatically speaking, not a fan of Anthem.

8] Cold Pursuit

$3,300,000 / $27,085,567

John Mills, the expert on this particular film since he’s also seen the Norwegian original it’s based on, described this as “the worst kind of remake: a pointless one.”  January and February movies, everybody!

9] The Upside

$3,210,000 / $99,749,409

If the Eds here don’t mind me going into business for myself for a moment, last week I did a video thing for BBC No Filter all about the Oscars and their inherent discrimination that involved me both writing the script and appearing in front of the camera like a stoned Shaggy from Scooby Doo about to be run over by a van outside of an indie rock gig.  If you have Facebook, you can go here to watch it since it’s pretty good from a production and editing standpoint!  Plus, you watching it means I might get to make more and isn’t the promise of continued future torturing of me worth a click?  (No, seriously, I look and sound horrendous, and that’s me made up!)

10] Run the Race

$2,273,050 / NEW

Space Jam 2 really is happening, by the way.  16th July 2021.  Ryan Coogler pulling the ultimate heel turn by making this thing happen.  So long as I get an updated rendition of The Monstars Theme and the R&B megastar they get to sing this film’s “I Believe I Can Fly” equivalent doesn’t turn out to be a scumbag of the highest order, though, all will be forgiven.

Dropped out: Glass, The Prodigy, Green Book

Callie Petch hears the voices venomous and thrilling, in their head they’re always calling.

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