Captain Marvel-ous sophomore weekend, Wonder Park has a (relatively) grand opening, Captive State holds no-one under its sway, let’s check The Aftermath of a Limited Release overload, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
So, this is where all the new release films were hiding, huh? In the nooks and crannies of the studio backlogs waiting for the big Marvel blockbuster to enact its usual scorched earth policy then sneaking out in the aftermath hoping to take advantage of sold-out second-week screenings and lowered expectations from investors, since failing in the shadow of a Marvel juggernaut is somehow less embarrassing than failing on one’s own terms? Anybody who professes to know how Hollywood accounting works is lying out their arse. Whatever, let’s talk cold hard statistics! Captain Marvel is once again your commanding #1 movie in America, this week with $69 million and once again outgrossing the rest of the Top 10 combined (with a cool $10 million to spare). That, for those keeping score, is a 55% drop from its opening weekend (lower than average for an MCU movie) and is also the second-best sophomore weekend for a March release ever (behind live-action Beauty and the Beast with $90 million). All of which caps off a pretty great week for Marvel what with the Endgame trailer, the LONG-OVERDUE rehiring of James Gunn to Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and now this. Just relentlessly dabbing on the haters. …that is a thing the kids still say, right? I’m 24, that’s ancient in Internet years.
As for the damned sent out to be chopped down by the Marvel infantry, most of them managed to surpass industry expectations which is a fact I shall leave you to take however you so choose. Highest performing of the lot was Paramount Animation’s latest attempt to become a notable thing taken seriously by animation aficionados, rather than a circus-like non-entity currently on life support until that third Spongebob movie tries to wash down the taste of Sherlock Gnomes and the upcoming Sonic movie, Wonder Park. Its second place $16 million opening is surprisingly non-embarrassing for a studio whose last feature (the aforementioned Sherlock Gnomes) opened to a mere $10 million, plus there not really being much promotion and Wonder Park not actually having a credited director. (It’s also somewhat better than the last time Nickelodeon tried to start a new televised series off the back of a theatrical film, when Barnyard opened to $15.8 million in August 2006.) Meanwhile, overwrought teen weepie inexplicably not-based on a YA novel Five Feet Apart posted a $13 million third place opening which was much better than those by recent genre fare Love, Simon and Everything, Everything. Again, that’s nowhere near the genre’s heyday from *checks notes* five years ago bu-I really need to stop being surprised by how much time has elapsed since things I remember happening as if it were the other day. Wait, what were we talking about again?
With four Wide Releases vying for the scraps somehow not claimed by the all-consuming all-knowing all-present Disney Predator City, though, there must be an inarguable loser. Rare is the release slate where three or more Wide Releases all win to some degree, and this weekend’s whipping boy was Captive State, a slow-burn cerebral sci-fi about alien occupation that Focus Features somehow mistook for a rip-roaring mainstream good time. That or they accidentally clicked the button marked “SEND TO ALL” rather than “SEND TO ARTHOUSE” the week before release – which is barely a joke, this was being pitched as a Limited Release right up until last Sunday when it suddenly decided to go Nationwide. In any case, it flopped hard: seventh place with $3.1 million. To rub further salt in the wound, it ended up being trounced by a foreign-language film playing on roughly one-fifth as many screens, that film being No Manches Frida 2 (and the screen count being 472 to Captive State’s 2,548). The hotly-anticipated (?) sequel to surprise Latin hit from 2016 opened to… roughly the same amount of money as the original made on its Labor Day release, almost $3.9 million. Still, “niche subgenre in a foreign-language released moderately trounces big nationwide studio movie” makes for great headlines regardless of how many liberties one needs to take with the story in order to make it fit the template.
Meanwhile, the Limited Releases also decided to have one great big fifteen car pile-up so let’s bash these out sans much in the way of humorous commentary since word counts are sacred things I otherwise have no respect for. Most successful of the lot was the highly-acclaimed prisoner-reformation drama The Mustang by actress-turned-director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre with $76,000 from 4 screens (per-screen average of $19,000). Next on the docket was Fox Searchlight’s thoroughly mediocre post-WWII romance-drama The Aftermath – oh, hey, a film which has been out in the UK for a good fortnight before America, what a novel concept – which seduced $57,500 from 5 screens (PTA of $11,500). Close behind except not-really we have Jia Zhangke’s greatest hits compilation Ash is Purest White with $45,150 from 7 screens (a deeply average PTA of $6,450). Bringing up the rear is Kim Nguyen’s baffling The Hummingbird Project, laying down $36,027 worth of morally-dubious fibre-optic cables from 4 screens (PTA $9,007). Finally, Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria Bell, which actually did pretty great on its opening last weekend but I enjoyed making jokes about Captain Marvel somehow stealing its thunder, rode the wave of universal adoration to an expansion of 39 theatres and kept that momentum up with a strong $394,835 sophomore haul.
This here Full List comes free with every day pass bought to enter Krabby Land.
US Box Office Results: Friday 15th March 2019 – Sunday 17th March 2019
$69,318,000 / $266,213,933
Jordan Peele’s coming for all of our collective arses next week, so it’s going to be fascinating seeing that chart battle play out, lemme tell you! In the meantime, Amy Walker’s given the latest Centum Books MCU tie-in a peruse and found it an enjoyable supplement to the Captain Marvel film.
2] Wonder Park
$16,000,000 / NEW
Fun Fact: Wonder Park has no credited director because its actual director, Pixar veteran Dylan Brown, was accused of and (according to an internal review held by Paramount) found guilty of “inappropriate and unwanted conduct” towards multiple women working on the film, so he was fired in January with his credit yanked and the film was too close to completion for anyone else to be officially credited as the director! Sorry, did I say fun? I meant *vomits everywhere*. KEEP YOUR DICKS IN YOUR PANTS, YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS, AND YOUR TONGUES IN YOUR OWN MOUTHS UNLESS TOLD OTHERWISE, MEN, IT’S NOT THAT FUCKING HARD!
3] Five Feet Apart
$13,150,000 / NEW
I may have clowned on this a bit up top, but I am legit a sucker for a decent teen weepie. You drop one of those into theatres and I am THERE like most normal people are to MCU or Fast & Furious films (the latter of which I am also always THERE for), regardless of quality! Midnight Sun? Opening weekend! Every Day! Opening weekend! If I Stay? Opening weekend! Everything, Everything! Opening weekend! The Longest Ride (aimed at teens even though it’s a Nicholas Sparks joint)? You better believe I was there to be thoroughly “eh”-d to tears of some description opening weekend! …yes, these are all real films, I’m not making the names up despite how easy doing so would be.
4] How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
$9,345,000 / $135,643,095
Do you think the folks at DreamWorks are super happy that the only cultural footprint Smallfoot left last year was a brief meme which had absolutely nothing to do with the film itself? Do you think they’re also making some kind of black magic deal with questionable deities for Laika’s Missing Link to bomb hard in a month’s time so that their own upcoming Abominable doesn’t have to deal with two sets of potentially unflattering comparisons? This is Antz/A Bug’s Life and Megamind/Despicable Me all over again.
5] Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral
$8,085,000 / $59,068,015
Got a pretty decent shot at finishing as the second-best Madea movie in terms of domestic gross when all is said and done. Still have yet to watch a Madea movie.
6] No Manches Frida 2
$3,894,000 / NEW
…is it offensive if I use this space to briefly sing the praises of cult Metroidvania side-scroller Guacamelee! to cover for definitely having nothing relevant to speak about the movie itself since, y’know, no UK release for either film? Or is it only offensive because I deliberately addressed the elephant in the room instead of feigning ignorance and talking about Guacamelee! anyway, in a super White liberal move? Guacamelee! is great either way, go play it.
7] Captive State
$3,163,000 / NEW
Disappointing to hear that this one is kind of a messy bore, but I’ll reserve any judgement until I see the film for myself since I have an affinity for ambitious-but-messy sci-fi flicks. On a completely unrelated note, Lee Thacker is still subjecting himself to Curfew for reasons known only to him.
$2,135,000 / $101,319,713
It’s been almost a month since I saw the film and I still have “Super Cool” stuck in my head on loop. Surprisingly, this never happened with “Everything is Awesome” since I guess my brain is a born contrarian.
$1,900,000 / $81,821,539
Join me back here in a decade’s time for the inevitable “Alita was Great, Actually, Why Did No-One See This?” think pieces.
10] Green Book
$1,277,000 / $82,621,031
I would pen some kind of celebratory good riddance eulogy to commemorate the occasion, but this thing has risen from its grave once before and is about to Get Out itself into a new body, The Best of Enemies, in a few weeks’ time. I’m taking no chances until it’s been decisively double-tapped by audience apathy, thanks.