Pets gets neutered, Dark Phoenix flames out, Godzilla gets stomped and basically everything is terrible, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Ooh, I’m getting tingles, folks! We got some genuine bona fide big-name underperformers in our midst! Borderline bombs in at least one instance! Headed into the weekend, we perhaps all knew that The Studio Formerly Known as 20th Century Fox’s sputtering X-Men finale, the turgid Dark Phoenix, was going to faceplant utterly to the complete indifference of every single human alive on the planet today. And, in fact, it did, resoundingly so. Dark Phoenix is officially the worst opening X-Men film in history, flaring up a mere $33 million for second place, becoming the first movie in the entire franchise (including spin-offs) to open at less than $50 million and almost certainly the first in the franchise to close with less than $100 million domestic. Lovely stuff, but expected.
What was less expected was Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, the follow-up to the surprise mega-smash of 2016, tanking every conceivable estimation. Sure, it’s your new #1 which is all many people will care about, but it did so with a mere $47 million. For context: this film opened on the second-most amount of screens for any film in the United States ever (4,561 behind only the record-slaying alpha beast itself Endgame), was following an original movie which made $104 million in its debut weekend, and was advertised in a manner which could be best generously termed “over-saturated” – there have been no episodes of WWE RAW these past three weeks, only three-hour long Pets 2 advertisements occasionally interrupted by brief spurts of wrestling… and it couldn’t even muster up half of the original’s opening weekend total from three years ago. I guarantee you that Chris Meledandri and his Universal bosses are having mass panic-based meltdowns as you read this. Maybe the public have finally cottoned onto the fact that the best parts of Illumination movies are almost exclusively the overplayed trailers and so saved themselves some time and money? Or maybe they have also finally had it with Illumination being so blatantly goddamn lazy? Or maybe they’re just saving their money for Toy Story 4. Much as I prefer those first two explanations, it’s probably more the third one.
Case in point: in the two weeks I’ve been away, everything’s kind of gone to shit in ways which are giving non-Disney investors troubling heart palpitations. Guy Ritchie’s thoroughly useless Aladdin remake utterly demolished the Memorial Day weekend competition with a $116 million four-day opening which was the best since Fast & Furious 6 back in 2013, and it’s been the only film to not collapse totally in the weekends since. Last weekend, it nearly prevented the darn-great yet strangely-divisive Godzilla: King of the Monsters from claiming the top spot with $47 million (compared to Aladdin’s $42 million) and this weekend it gets to laugh itself silly at some good old fashioned vengeance as Godzilla dropped an astonishing 67.5% in its sophomore frame. The relentlessly hyped Brightburn? Debuted to a pitiful $9 million on Memorial Day weekend and is already gone from the chart altogether. Olivia Wilde’s sensational Booksmart? $8.7 mil across Memorial Day and clinging on for dear life. Ron Howard’s Luciano Pavarotti documentary, creatively titled Pavarotti? Opened this weekend to a rather unimpressive $142,500 from 19 screens in Limited Release (a PTA of $7,500). Honestly, the only films even remotely fending for themselves are the Elton John musical Rocketman, which dipped a semi-respectable 45% in its sophomore frame from $25 mil to $14 mil, and John Wick 3, which has now domestically outgrossed both prior films in the series combined and is about to worldwide.
Get ready for a repeat of Summer 2016, folks! Underperformers and flops, left right and centre! Only Disney and Keanu Reeves will be able to weather the storm, so submit to your overlords now in hopes of being spared before they team up and consume the world!
Check a look at this full list.
US Box Office Results: Friday 7th June 2019 – Sunday 9th June 2019
1] The Secret Life of Pets 2
$47,110,000 / NEW
I consider this karma for the end credits tag where they have Kevin Hart rap Desiigner’s forgotten 2016 novelty hit “Panda,” which I may have raged incoherently about two weeks back when I first saw the film but am, in fact, still not over at all. They even put a clip of it out on the Internet! As promotional material! Like this would get people in theatres instead of sending them screaming away in droves!
2] Dark Phoenix
$33,000,000 / NEW
Aggressively mediocre and interminably dull with a screenplay that’s an empty incoherent mess and dialogue which is the drizzling shits. Simon Kinberg is incontrovertible evidence that White men in Hollywood exclusively fail upwards. I honestly prefer The Last Stand since, in my old age (24 years and 8 months), at least that film is memorably terrible. This is just a less ambitious and slightly-less rickety Fant4stic. Cheap, lifeless, embarrassed of itself, too plodding and lacking in spectacle to work as an action movie, too ineptly written and generically surface-level to work as a character drama. Thank fork we can finally see the back of this series. If you’d like an alternate opinion, however, Dave Bond is… more ambivalent (?) than I.
$24,500,000 / $232,385,926
Said my piece on this a few weeks back, so for a genuine alternate opinion let’s turn to the always-great Tawny Farber who sincerely out and out enjoyed it!
4] Godzilla: King of the Monsters
$15,540,000 / $78,597,097
The shine is coming off of this as I get further away from it – I’d honestly say I’m closer to Megan’s warm three-star review than the rapturous “SO AWESOME” babbling I had coming out of the cinema – but I still dug the thing and its flaws (the blah humans of course) don’t negate those moments where I found myself spontaneously cackle-clapping in glee (every last instance of the kaiju of course). Anything that stirs my jaded anxiety-riddled heart like this managed to, multiple times, is alright in my books; screw the haters.
$14,000,000 / $50,498,756
Like with Aladdin and Pets (lot of films which opened early in the UK for once), I’ve said my piece elsewhere so will instead direct you to Dave Bond’s glowing review. And, honestly, the biggest compliment I can pay Rocketman is that, even if I wasn’t really a fan, I can totally get why others like Dave do love it. This isn’t Bohemian Rhapsody completely again, thank heavens; David Ehrlich and myself are going to go to our graves viciously dunking on that thing to the hilarious consternation of its weirdly-devoted stans.
$7,820,000 / $32,768,075
Oh, yeah, this is also a thing. Always one which slips through my attention cracks. I’m sure that it’s scary – maybe, who knows, like heck have I seen it, both because it’s a horror and more pertinently because it’s a Tate Taylor movie – but do you know what’s even scarier? The unceasing passage of time, which caused blink-182’s landmark Enema of the State to turn 20 last week! Nicholas Lay’s penned a great little Throwback for you to check out, cos nobody’s gonna like the album when it’s 23.
$7,400,000 / $138,662,998
Boy, am I glad I decided to hold off on doing this write-up until after the Microsoft E3 presser wrapped since otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to witness live the announcement that CDProjekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 – which already looked the absolute tits – had snagged Keanu Reeves himself to play what is assumed to be Johnny Silverhand. And then he came out on stage and an entire auditorium filled with games journalists and *wretches* “influencers” audibly proceeded to cream their pants and near-enough propose to him as he tried to get through his sales spiel. To be fair, I would have done exactly the same thing as them if I shared air with Keanu Reeves. I don’t know when everybody decided this fiscal year was going to be the Year of Keanu but I am HERE FOR IT!
$4,800,000 / $824,365,940
$58 million out from the Avatar all-time record. If Endgame does make it, it’s going to be the same way Black Panther got to $700 mil domestic: an extremely elongated and calculated scratching and clawing session by Disney designed to get it over the line and nothing more. Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to happen and James Cameron will instead continue to ruin our days in ways that extend beyond the existence of Terminator: Dark Fate.
9] Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
$2,980,000 / $137,401,719
Only just scraped past $400 mil worldwide at time of writing. We’ll probably talk about it as the Summer rolls on and the bodies really start piling up, but something absolutely has to give with this specific movie season and blockbuster cinema in general soon, right? I’m fairly certain this has become a common occurrence in the last half decade, I think only last year wasn’t classified as a constant string of financial disappointments across this period, surely someone has to notice by now that the Titanic has taken on dangerous levels of water and planned accordingly? …he asks, when we’re about to get back-to-back killer doll movies.
$1,577,259 / $17,814,672
My favourite film of the year so far and I am fuming that it’s been done dirty like this. Wickedly funny, devastatingly heartfelt, outstanding performances and energetic punk-rock direction – Olivia Wilde’s work on this made me think of a distaff Greta Gerwig which is the highest of compliments given the existence of Lady Bird – I just absolutely adored Booksmart. Why in God’s name would you not save this until late-Summer and instead dump it on Memorial Day weekend to be eaten alive by Disney, Annapurna?! Fuck’s sake, you do know that it’s not enough to just fund these typically-excellent and interesting mid-budget features? You’ve also got to market and schedule them half-decently, too! This is The Edge of Seventeen all over again.
Dropped out: Brightburn, The Hustle
Callie Petch is dropping bangers on your baby mums.