US Box Office Report: 29/11/19 – 01/12/19

Frozen II doesn’t thaw, Knives Out cracks the case of “The Movie Which Made A Buncha Money,” Queen & Slim makes a run for Mr. Rogers’ border, and Other Box Office News.

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

Merry Thanksgiving Weekend, everyone!  Hope our readers of an American disposition had a “fun” few days spent in enforced close proximity to their relatives, engaging in “stimulating” conversation about the socio-political state of the world, “relishing” a big gluttonous turkey-based meal despite the fact that our (including myself) meat-eating ways are only hastening the planet’s complete climate collapse, and taking in the compulsory seasonal viewing of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  Perhaps you attempted to mitigate the non-Charlie Brown parts of that self-inflicted torture by disappearing to the cinema for a few hours?  Statistically, there’s good odds you did.  Most likely to see Frozen II which, in an all-time shocking turn up for the books, not only retained the #1 slot for the three-day weekend with effortless ease, but also took the all-time Thanksgiving weekend records with it.  Best three-day Thanksgiving take ever ($85.2 million) and best five-day Thanksgiving take ever ($123.7 million), both times dethroning the second Hunger Games from 2013 for the crown.

But in stark contrast to how these things normally go, the big Disney tentpole did not end up sucking all the oxygen out of the room.  In fact, it was a banner weekend for noted hack and ruiner of childhoods – and I know this is true because Reddit, YouTube, and too many other insufferable corners of the Internet have been yelling it at me for nearly two endless fucking years – Rian Johnson.  Not only is his brilliant whodunnit Knives Out one of the year’s absolute best films in a walk, it’s also a proper smash success!  Heading into the holiday stretch, everybody in the industry (including the film’s own studio), expected this to conk out at $20 million across the five-day.  Instead, it blew past $20 million within the three-day like it was absolutely nothing ($27 million) whilst the five-day overperformance of $41 million means that it’s already broken even budget-wise in just the US alone!  I’m probably going to be getting more Benoit Blanc befuddlers!  Faith in humanity restored at least for the next week and a half!

Meanwhile, Focus Features decided to quietly slip the feature film debut of motherflippin’ Melina Matsoukas – just one of the most iconic music video directors of the century; look her work up, I’ll wait – into moderate release with worryingly little real advance buzz.  (Or maybe it’s all just quiet for me because Focus have also decided to wait until 31st of fucking January before bringing the film over to the UK, shit’s sake.)  Fortunately, the season appears to have prompted an outpouring of generosity from the moviegoing public as Queen & Slim also peeled past expectations with a very solid $11.6 million three-day (strong enough that there’s a good chance it could overtake A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when actuals come in) and $15.7 million for the five-day.  In fact, in the Top 15, almost no film dropped more than 55% between this past weekend and the last, such was the all-loving generosity of the American public this holiday season!  …ok, the exception was Charlie’s Angels which plummeted 61% in only its third weekend.  I didn’t even like the film and this is still just wince-inducing.

This Full List is the tiny hole within the smaller donut inside the bigger donut hole.

US Box Office Results: Friday 29th November 2019 – Sunday 1st December 2019

1] Frozen II

$85,250,000 / $287,573,344

Saw this at the weekend and extremely enjoyed it, but then again I would given my predilection for sequels which, at their core, remain intimate and modest in order to do something new rather than just rehash prior glories in even-wider-screen.  *side-eyes every single Terminator sequel ever*  I would have loved it had the filmmakers displayed enough conviction to follow through the colonialism themes to their logical conclusion rather than balking at the consequences at the last second – the opposite of Thor: Ragnarok and (whilst not about colonialism) the same as the IT movies, basically – but the big moments hit me like a tonne of bricks and I related a lot to the themes of familial anxiety and existential depression.  Also, the songs are really good and I didn’t spend any of my viewing time wondering why I wasn’t just watching the first Frozen instead, so that’s a win all round in my eyes.

2] Knives Out

$27,022,000 / $41,700,000 / NEW

Got my post-LFF rewatch in on Saturday with a friend of mine who was in the area, am already committed to seeing this at least once more with other friends before the year is out, and frankly I’ll be happy to see this five or six more times if it sticks around in cinemas long enough.  What a film!  And it’s not just me caught under Rian’s spell, Dave Bond has an effusive-as-all-hell review ready to run which will tell you basically the same thing!

3] Ford v. Ferrari

$13,221,000 / $81,003,779

Hoping to get my rewatch of this in at some point this week.  Fold it into general Listmas prep since I have approximately *checks notes* a lot of films from this year I need to see again to refresh my memory on before locking that whole mess in and *checks notes* A LOT of films from this year I still need to watch for the first time.  Gotta be able to get properly mad at the Sight & Sound list in ways that don’t just involve yelling “THAT MOVIE WON’T EVEN BE RELEASED ANYWHERE THIS YEAR, WHY IS IT ON THE LIST?!” which I still do every year like the stickler killjoy I am.

4] A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

$11,795,000 / $34,308,989

Despite the fact that the BAFTAs and the Oscars are both at the very start of February in 2020, UK distribution chains are still needlessly pushing all of their big Awards Season movies to the absolute last possible second on the UK release schedule and taking advantage of BAFTA-based loopholes to qualify despite their films technically being 2020 films in this country rather than 2019 films.  Yes, I am still angry about this and, yes, this Little Chef is absolutely the appropriate forum to verbally air my very reasonable grievance, officer.

5] Queen & Slim

$11,680,000 / $15,790,000 / NEW

So, yeah, this is not out until the very end of January and I am indeed peeved about such a development.  Don’t even get me and Kelechi started about Parasite, whilst we’re at it…

6] 21 Bridges

$5,820,000 / $19,448,268

Finding myself a touch in agreement with Dave Bond’s assessment after my Tuesday viewing but also leaning a bit closer to 3 stars rather than his 2.  Not really sure why since it is indeed extremely generic and not particularly well-made – also, its infrequent gestures towards interrogating Cowboy Cops and the American police force’s habit of protecting their own rather than the public good ultimately end up amounting to nothing since, surprise, following that road to its logical end goal would lead to the film arguing against its own existence in this crowdpleasing form – but I was at least engaged throughout?  Don’t press me on specifics as to why cos, honestly, I’ve already forgotten the vast majority of the thing.

7] Playing with Fire

$4,200,000 / $39,203,808

White hot garbage.  A full review will be up on Soundsphere Magazine this Friday.

8] Midway

$3,957,000 / $50,278,625

I tried!  I really did try to make this, but the start times just never managed to line up and I chose Terminator: Dark Fate instead, which was a mistake let me tell you.  So that’s yet another film from this year to add to the “missed” pile.  I am terrible.

9] Joker

$2,030,000 / $330,601,522

Despite what the occasionally acidic tone of these pieces may otherwise indicate, I don’t like snarkily dismissing and invalidating other people’s film tastes out of hand just because their opinions run contrary to mine.  After all, whilst there is indeed an art to criticism and objective ways to grade a movie in terms of its production quality and such, all art is subjective and one’s critical opinions can be shaped by personal baggage and preferences which are totally valid.  With that said: if Joker is on your Best Films of 2019 list, you need to see way more films.

10] Last Christmas

$1,980,000 / $31,658,680

Turns out this movie’s box office chances were dead all along.  *drops laptop and dramatically walks out*

Dropped out: The Good Liar, Charlie’s Angels

Callie Petch comes alive in metropolis lights when the music’s way too loud.

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