Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Disney made billion-dollar movies whilst almost everyone else made chump change, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Disney’s Xbox 360-ass take on The Lion King may have dropped a heavier-than-anticipated 60% in its sophomore weekend, but did you think that would stop it from retaining the #1 slot anyway? Well, if you did, then I’ve got a shack in a blue-screened Los Angeles soundstage masquerading as the savannahs of East Africa to sell you. It’s a $75 million weekend when nothing even remotely competitive came out alongside it, of course it retained the top slot! That $75 million is almost enough to beat the rest of the chart combined, coming up a mere $1.4 mil short, as is seemingly just Disney’s wont at this point. Still, it is worth mentioning that Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood put up a far stiffer fight than one may have expected. Its second-place debut of $40 million is actually the biggest opening of the acclaimed director’s career, besting the $38 million put forth by 2009’s Inglorious Basterds, suggesting that maybe there’s still a market for high-quality mid-(ish)-budget adult dramas in this market place after all?
Case in point, and jumping a little ahead of our usual format: Lulu Wang’s The Farewell. The highly-acclaimed A24 dramedy that isn’t out on these shores until late-September because this industry hates me goes into Wide Release next weekend but has been making a killing in the Limited Release circuit. Upon its initial debut two weeks back, it recorded the biggest per-theatre average of 2019 so far (a truly astonishing $87,833). Then last week, it bumped up to 35 theatres from the usual starter 4 and still slayed fools, cracking the $1 million weekend mark. This week, jumping up to 135 theatres, it’s only gone and already made the bloody Top 10 hasn’t it? $1.5 million and a PTA of $11,510, the third-best of the weekend behind Neon’s beekeeper documentary Honeyland (rounded up to $15,000 from its two-theatre $29,999 total haul) and The Lion King of course ($15,984 from its obnoxious 4,725 theatres). All signs point to, if not a massive nationwide opening next weekend, then at least a strong-as-hell one. Almost like if you make a great film and market and release it halfway decently then, sometimes, the people will come to something without the Disney Seal of Occasional Quality on it.
But back to Disney, as all things inevitably will end up doing. It has been quite the seven days for our currently benevolent pop cultural overlords. Firstly, just as I predicted, they had ended up grossly underestimating the opening weekend take of The Lion King Turbo HD Remix and, rather than $185 million, the tech demo had actually opened to a just-plain-rude $191.7 million which pushes the film past Avengers: Age of Ultron for the eighth best opening weekend of all-time. Secondly, Guy Ritchie is now in possession of a billion-dollar movie as his dull live-action Aladdin has officially crossed that milestone and still seems in no hurry to slow down; it’s gonna end up passing Zootopia on the all-time list and I am going to be PISSED. Third and finally, it took him eight tries but your friendly neighbourhood Spidey has at last managed to web himself a billion-dollar movie as Far From Home also swung past that particular wall this week. Of course, technically this is a billion-dollar movie for Sony since they fund these solo Spider-Man joints and receive all the profits, but Disney-Marvel are still the ones actually making the billion-dollar movie. It’s more like they’re just benevolently redistributing their wealth to those less fortunate than them. After all, some studios have exclusive rights to all the most popular franchises alive on God’s green earth, and other studios have to settle for an Angry Birds Movie sequel.
“FULL LIST,” MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?!
US Box Office Results: Friday 26th July 2019 – Sunday 28th July 2019
1] The Lion King
$75,524,000 / $350,775,534
It’s coming up on two weeks since I saw the thing and I still don’t quite know which is more impressive: the CGI when it actually looks good (which is both more and less often than you might think) or the fact that they somehow managed to make The Lion King boring.
2] Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
$40,350,000 / NEW
Our very own Canuck with all the luck Nicholas Lay has gotten a five-star review out for this already because he’s lucky enough to live on the side of the pond which can keep giving those opposite its shores the middle finger when it comes to release dates. I bet the review’s great! Haven’t read it myself cos, as established, film’s still three weeks out and I’m trying to keep my exposure to a minimum until then, so shield your hot takes from my eyes for the time being thanks kindly! But everything Nicholas writes for us is great, so you all go check it out anyway.
3] Spider-Man: Far From Home
$12,200,000 / $344,455,270
Need to try and finagle the time to get back into this again before it gets yanked. Joys of being an adult with a working job and a crippling habit of overextending themselves. Still, I guess I won’t need great live-action Spider-Man once Hobbs & Shaw ascends me to a higher more pleasurable form of existence in the next few days, so win some lose some.
4] Toy Story 4
$9,872,000 / $395,628,506
Apropos of absolutely nothing, let’s all watch that bit in Sym-Bionic Titan where a climactic mech-monster fight is set to A Flock of Seagulls’ “Space Age Love Song” then curse this industry for not giving Genndy Tartakovsky all the blank cheques to make whatever he damn well wants because, seriously, LOOK AT THIS PERFECTION!
$4,000,000 / $31,462,793
I was thinking of quoting some lyrics from the Kings of Leon song of the same name here in lieu of any meaningful commentary, but then I wondered if anyone would actually get the reference and decided against it. For once.
$3,000,000 / $63,341,550
Spoiler etiquette is preventing me from unloading, but I need it to be known that even a month later I am still agog and infuriated by that bit with [REDACTED] prior to the climax. At this point, I’m worried that I’ll have to dedicate an entire separate article to Yesterday when I roll into my Bottom 10 of 2019 series just to get all of my gripes and venom out of my system and I don’t have that level of free time anymore.
$2,788,000 / $345,928,586
Sigh. Well, I at least hope that now having a billion-dollar movie on his resume gives Guy Ritchie enough of a free reign to make whatever he wants in the future rather than having to continue with ill-fitting and/or anonymous Hollywood paycheque gigs. Maybe Toff Guys will be fun! …ah, no, sorry, I guess I mean The Gentlemen now. Ugh, what a miserable name change.
$1,679,000 / $20,100,989
Rutger Hauer unfortunately passed away last week at the age of 75. Shaun Rodger wrote a lovely tribute/mini-career retrospective to mark the occasion.
9] Annabelle Comes Home
$1,560,000 / $69,736,963
Much like with the Crawl entry earlier, I was thinking of quoting Placebo lyrics from the song of near-enough the same name in this slot in lieu of any useful commentary, but then I immediately knew that nobody would get the reference and refrained. See, I can totally be non-self-indulgent from time to time and anyone who says otherwise is definitely talking shit instead of being adept at basic pattern recognition!
10] The Farewell
$1,553,864 / $3,686,854
Saw a trailer for this before The Current War at my Hull-based Cineworld so… do I get to hope? Do I get to genuinely hope that whomever is distributing this thing will do a half-decent job of it and I won’t have to go schlepping multiple hours away from my usual home in order to find a screening for once? Because that would be a really nice change of pace from what usually happens which is I get all excited and then the week’s cinema times are released whereupon I am told that my excitement can eat shit.
Dropped out: Midsommar, The Secret Life of Pets 2
Callie Petch once stood proud now they feel so small.