OH FUCK TOY STORY 4 UNDERPERFORMED EVERYBODY PANIC THE MOVIE INDUSTRY IS IN ITS DEATH THROES ABANDON SHIP, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Look, to you and I, $118 million is a stupid amount of money. An actual stupid amount of money, far too much money. That kind of money could definitely buy the record store I now “work” at and keep it running for the rest of my life so I don’t have to do anything else, with maybe enough left over afterwards to buy five Bugatti Veyrons and possibly a skyscraper for the fuck of it. But in the realm of a movie industry operating under the unsustainable vice-grip of CAPITALISM, $118 million can actually be a crushing disappointment in situations where investors and CEOs in pressed suits are expecting continuous seismic no-caveats-necessary growth and perhaps would also like a sign that their industry isn’t about to fold in on itself like a dying star after nearly two straight months of constant underperformances or flops. Hence why, friends and booty calls, you’re about to hear from a lot of sources that Toy Story 4 has underperformed and everything has gone to hell.
To be sure, it has underperformed, Box Office soothsayers were floating around figures like “$164 million” and pie-in-the-sky proclamations such as “it could even climb as high as $200 million” prior to the weekend, with Disney’s relatively conservative projection of $140 million proving to be a jump too insurmountable for the great Duke Kaboom. But let’s put this into perspective before returning to the “SKY IS FALLING” hyperbole, eh? So, that’s still a $118 million opening weekend, so good enough for the chart’s top spot that it outgrossed the combined efforts of its competition nearly twice over. $118 million, whilst not coming anywhere close to Incredibles II’s record-genociding $182 million opening from last year, is also still enough for this to be the biggest opening weekend for a Toy Story movie ever, besting Toy Story 3’s then-record-smashing $110 million from June 2010. $118 million also means that Toy Story 4’s opening is now the third-biggest of the year so far and the third film this year to open over the century mark. Meanwhile, the film’s international performance – including the third-biggest opening weekend in Mexico of all-time, behind only the last two Avengers movies – combines to have the film already recoup its reported $200 million production budget in just three days of release, and there’s basically an open road from now until Lion King Zero when it comes to animated fare so, unless that “A” Cinemascore is really bullshitting public sentiment, Toy Story 4 is practically guaranteed at least $300 million domestic. This is still a lot of money and it’s fine.
…except that, well, it’s not, is it? Again, to you and I and people who understand that you can’t have 27 ultra-expensive MUST SEE EVENT MOVIE blockbusters almost all of which are sequels to franchises with varying degrees of brand recognition and viability one after the other for months straight without them inevitably diluting one another’s aura (and that’s before you bring in most of them nowadays being thoroughly meh), that is all fine. But to a movie industry in the flailing midst of awkwardly transitioning into the streaming era, which has chosen to double down on relentless uninspired sequels and reboots, yet had gotten used to fanning itself with near-$100 million opening weekends and every film needing to make all the money in the world – I believe my girl Azealia Banks referred to this mindset as being Broke with Expensive Taste – that’s the biggest indicator yet of everything being on fire and the iceberg tearing the Titanic in two. Especially since it’s been Summer after Summer this half of the decade where the non-Disney bodies kept piling up with nobody managing to come up with a suitable response to the slaughter, no end in sight, and even Disney themselves starting to see some chinks in their armour.
As much as I enjoy taking the piss out of the alarmist mentality, I do genuinely think that this Summer is going to prove to be the tipping point for the industry and we may even see a collapse within the next three years if things don’t change. Maybe I’ll pen something about this once we’re in the doldrums of August. Meantime, I will say that it’s really hard for me to look at the current Box Office woes then at the sorry-ass excuse for a Summer Movie line-up farted out in front of me this year and not yell in the collective faces of studio executives, “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES, YOU IMBECILIC PISSANTS! WHO ACTUALLY WANTED ANOTHER MEN IN BLACK?!”
Dammit, now I’ve got to shoot through the Full List in record time cos I’m already brushing up against my word limit. Stupid industries being in crisis…
US Box Office Results: Friday 21st June 2019 – Sunday 23rd June 2019
1] Toy Story 4
$118,000,000 / NEW
Dave Bond’s on review duties for this one, and my own thoughts will be up on my site in short (for me) form later this week, but the good news is that we’re both in agreement that Toy Story 4 is good (THANK GOD) and not a mere rehash of prior entries. He’s colder on it than I am, finding it inessential and more disposable than past entries in a manner which slightly cheapens 3’s perfect ending, whilst I find that very inessential epilogue-nature to be the film’s unique appeal and precisely why it’s striking such a chord with me even if I would still easily rate it at the bottom of the series. Somebody should get to work on an odd-couple sitcom about us both, call it Bonded for Life!
2] Child’s Play
$14,055,540 / NEW
The main takeaway from critics, including our very own Brooker whose otherwise-positive review will run later this week, is that it’s a fun sci-fi horror which is undermined at every turn by its status as a Child’s Play reboot rather than a film with no prior baggage or need to cram in series iconography regardless of it making no sense for this particular film. Guess Don Mancini gets the last laugh, after all! That’ll teach movie studios to reboot still-running franchises without the creator’s input or approval for cheap bucks! Maybe. Probably not. Definitely no.
$12,200,000 / $287,510,128
Wait, this cost $183 MILLION?! HOW?!
4] Men in Black: International
$10,750,000 / $52,689,654
After opening last week to an abysmal $30 million for a heavily-pushed tentpole designed to refresh a hibernating franchise into, surprise surprise, a piss-poor Marvel knock-off, the new MIB is already cratering and is only going to hang around for another few weekends because the schedule is about to head to sleep until the start of July. Got thoughts on this coming later this week in other places, but I hated International. Completely hated it in a low-key way which niggled as the film progressed but has since grown into a pulsating tumour afterwards. This era of, what I have maturely dubbed, the “FUCK YOU, PAY ME” blockbuster needs to die off sharpish.
$10,290,000 / $117,583,535
Boy, do I wish an animation studio with talent and noble ambition had taken the “what are pets like when their owners are busy” concept instead of these goddamn lazy hacks.
$5,650,000 / $77,328,389
In contrast with the non-stop calamitous wildfire of the rest of the chart, here’s a mid-level mid-budget movie made for a specific target audience, serving a niche which normally isn’t covered by giant tentpole blockbusters, with strong reviews and positive audience response which opened just under a month ago semi-decently but has demonstrated strong legs (not once dropping more than 47% between weekends) and is now quite the respectable little earner both domestically and worldwide (currently sitting at $153 million) even though it didn’t command headlines or set tills ablaze. But no, sure, let’s reboot The Matrix instead.
7] John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
$4,075,000 / $156,067,424
Related to that last blurb, Parabellum has now grossed more worldwide than both of its two prior instalments combined and, in fact, has a great shot at outgrossing the worldwide takings of Chapter 2 ($171.5 mil) just domestically before all is said and done. Because, sometimes, if you just make a damn-great movie without breaking the bank, the people will come and come and come and come. But yeah, of course, let’s go make Bill & Ted 3 inste-nope, can’t do it. Can’t fake cynicism over the prospect of Bill & Ted Face the Music. I’M SORRY, THEY GOT TO ME! HOPE AND THE PURITY OF KEANU REEVES GOT TO ME!
8] Godzilla: King of the Monsters
$3,700,000 / $102,345,637
Well, at least this finally crossed $100 mil domestic? Friends, much as I will always staunchly believe that a giant-ass dumbass monster movie is deserving of tentpole blockbuster status with budgets nearing the $200 mil mark, maybe it’s time for us to admit that… they’re not? That maybe this extremely niche subgenre isn’t the kind of thing that discourse-capturing mega-blockbuster takings are made of? There is, after all, such a thing as spending too much money.
9] Dark Phoenix
$3,600,000 / $60,159,311
*best Nelson Muntz impression* HA-HA!
$3,555,000 / $15,941,394
This apparently really bad – bad in the qualitative sense, not bad in the “bad motherfucker” sense – Shaft rebootquel is going straight-to-Netflix in the UK this Friday. Before you immediately write it off, however, I would like to inform you that your new release schedule at theatres next week consists solely of Yesterday. Maybe worth a taking a chance on this.
Oh, also, Luc Besson’s Anna bombed, failing to make it into the Top 10 despite playing on 2,000+ screens, with Shaft beating it out by $20,000. Like I said, everything’s on fire right now. It’s fine.
Dropped out: Late Night, Avengers: Endgame (see you again next week probably)
Callie Petch honestly thought that they would be dead by now.