The Bad Guys make off with the loot, Northman pillages, The Unbearable Weight of mildly underperforming expectations, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Hoo, boy! It’s getting a mite crowded in here! With a real Marvel film cresting ominously over the horizon – rather than a slapdash scarecrow kitted up in Marvel gear hoping to attract non-discerning crows to flock with their wallets – studios are racing to get their other mildly-buzzy projects out the door before they get inevitably drowned out by twelve-hundred million screaming YouTube thumbnails about how Marvel hates their fanbase cos Patrick Stewart didn’t actually end up playing Professor X. Clearly emboldened by Sing 2 continuing to rake in semi-substantial cash lump sums weekend upon weekend ($200,000 this weekend why), Universal decided to send out DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys to satiate family audiences craving animated sustenance. In maybe the truest sign yet that nature/Box Office is healing, a weekend with a new release animated kids film has said new animated kids film as your uncontested #1, pulling in a very solid $24 million which is the best DreamWorks opening since February 2019!
(By the way: yes, I do recognise that I keep utilising variations of “nature is healing” to signify results which are somewhat reminiscent of pre-plague times. But, counterpoint, basically every other Box Office analyst also keeps insisting that every latest result signifies a return to pre-end times, so I’m allowed to get away with it too.)
It’s currently a surprising boon period for adult-centric cinema as the still well-performing Everything Everywhere All at Once found itself joined by two newbies this past weekend. They didn’t even end up eating too badly into each other, although there is a clearer loser of the three. Coming up tops was Robert Eggers’ highly-buzzed and metal-as-hell Viking epic The Northman, which ransacked $12 million worth of riches for fourth place, finishing up a lot closer to the collapsing Fantastic Beasts 3 than I think any of us were predicting. The aforementioned Everything slipped to sixth with a 12% drop from last weekend, which technically puts it at the back of this trio but is a film in its third week of Wide release. Then sandwiched in the middle but losing the spiritual race (if that makes any sense) was The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, the Nic Cage meta-comedy chemically engineered to be Film Twitter’s favourite movie and absolutely nobody else’s. $7.1 million for fifth place is actually rather respectable and nothing to be ashamed of for, again, a rather niche title. But I’m here trying to spin sensationalised narratives which’ll generate Hot TakeTM clicks to appease the algorithm, so I say that Massive Talent is really a MASSIVE FAILURE, GOT’EM!
We also have Limited Releases! Specifically, Limited Releases that opened in the UK months-to-half-a-year ago! On the “months” end, perpetually-delayed – genuinely, this is not a joke, so much so that its director Roger Mitchell died between finishing and releasing – comedic-heist biopic The Duke finally snuck into four cinemas and absconded with $28,797; a PTA of $7,199. But the real story, and on the “half-a-year” end, was the long-overdue US release of Céline Sciamma’s beautiful little drama, Petite Maman. Whilst not coming anywhere near close to the runaway smash success of her last film’s US opening, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (with the caveat that Portrait technically had two opening weekends because Neon tried their best to bungle that release real hard), Maman hardly had a Petite opening. Also starting in four theatres, as all arthouse pics are ordained to, it conjured up a mightily impressive $45,829 for a PTA of $11,457; by far the best of the weekend.
I’m the Fuuuuuul List… duh!
US Box Office Results: Friday 22nd April 2022 – Sunday 24th April 2022
1] The Bad Guys
$24,000,000 / NEW
Opened an entire month ago here in the UK and I keep forgetting that I’ve seen it. It’s decent, but hews way too close to the Despicable Me school of both plotting and morality – particularly with how its lead cast are barely villains to begin with, so the arcs are frankly halfway done before they’re even started. A shame, cos the art-style and Spider-Verse inflected twos-animation are lovely, energising the action and setpieces, but get bogged down when the narrative insists on walking the straight path rather than having real fun. Let kids’ films be amoral again, dammit!
2] Sonic the Hedgehog 2
$15,225,000 / $145,829,424
OK, I’m gonna start breaking out the Jehtt vids to fill these segments going forward. Can I nominate this one for my Top Films of 2022?
3] Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
$14,010,000 / $67,127,000
A 67% drop between weekends, especially when you barely opened to $40 million, for a $200 mil movie is catastrophic no matter how you try and spin it. Unless you have a vested interest in seeing bad movies and Joanne fail, in which case it’s actually pretty fucking great.
4] The Northman
$12,000,000 / NEW
Insert that jpeg of Al Pacino saying “what a picture!” from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood here and you will have all the coherent thoughts I have to say about The Northman at this time.
5] The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
$7,175,000 / NEW
Due to the fact that I am in the middle of a gig gauntlet – also known as Fucking Around in the Face of COVID Threats and Seeing if I Find Out – I’m not actually gonna be able to see this for another week or so on account of money and schedules. I hear good things, though! Don’t let waiting for my word stop you from seeing movies you’re intrigued by!
6] Everything Everywhere All at Once
$5,425,446 / $26,944,336
Think it’s time to circulate the last fight scene of Yes Madam!/Police Assassins around the web again. Almost everything that’s not a fight scene or Michelle Yeoh & Cynthia Rothrock in that movie is bad – and, honestly, not even fun bad; just a bit hacky, creepy, and schtick-y – but when it finally reaches the fireworks factory? Oh, MAMA!
7] The Lost City
$4,395,000 / $85,414,909
Pretty alright, this. Suffers from sloppy direction and too much detritus from previous versions of the screenplay which were both meaner and more cluttered, but works surprisingly well when leaning on sincerity and the unconventional chemistry of Bullock and Tatum. A quintessential three-star movie, which is not the burn you may have been conditioned to think that sounds like.
8] Father Stu
$3,325,489 / $13,870,000
Speaking of old-school Hong Kong action movies, Paul Regan’s taken a look at the Eureka! restoration of a mid-tier Sammo Hung project, Knockabout.
$2,250,000 / $69,178,104
The primary DISCOURSE I’m seeing around the Thor: Love and Thunder trailer centres on simping for Natalie Portman’s biceps and honestly same right here.
$1,800,000 / $19,199,045
In like five months, Patrick H Willems is gonna make a video essay about how criminally underappreciated this thing was by the general public, wrap it around one of his usual not-very-good and way-too-bloody-long narrative bits, then everyone’s gonna fall over themselves insisting that Ambulance is actually a masterpiece like they weren’t also paying it dirt upon initial release. We real ones, meanwhile, the Ambu-stans who were there Day 1? We’re gonna side-eye the shit out of those losers.