American cinemas are briefly bolstered by injections of tiger blood and anime, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Don’t mind me, I was only snoozing last week on account us officially hitting the end-of-Summer dead-zone. Precious little of note is being released between now and, at the very earliest, The Woman King in mid-September – a movie I feel like industry analysts might be sleeping more than a little on, frankly. The state of things can be best summed up by the fact that last week’s new releases debuted in eighth and tenth place respectively, whilst Top Gun: Maverick, in its twelfth weekend, climbed back to #2 due to a special IMAX re-engagement. Not exactly blockbuster, game-changing stuff and this is all nearly a month before Labor Day weekend, the perennial deadest of dead-zones! You can probably forgive me for having taken last week off, then, due to my not exactly having much to say about Bodies Bodies Bodies’ nationwide expansion only snuffling out $3.1 million. (And also it having been really hot again in the UK and my sleep being a mess.)
But have no fear, folks! For in our hour of need, as it so often does, anime weebs answered the call to jolt things into life! Which is to say, we have a new #1 movie and it is not, in fact, the one where Idris Elba fights a giant fuck-off tiger even though that sounds boss as tits. No, instead Dragon Ball Super made a dramatic arrival on-scene to party like it’s still 1998, baby! Super Hero – which, yes, means that the movie’s full title is Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero apparently by complete accident – went super Saiyan on a few records in the process, too. Crunchyroll were all-in on the distribution by giving it the largest screen-count of any anime release in the US ever (3,900), with a focus on IMAX and other Premium Large Formats (or “gimmicks” as they’re more accurately described) which ended up being responsible for around 40% of the film’s $20.1 million gross. Though Super Hero didn’t manage to dethrone Demon Slayer: Mugen Train from the title of best opening weekend for an anime this century ($21.2 million for that movie in April 2021), nor so much as sniff all-time anime opening record-holder Pokémon: The First Movie ($31 million in November 1999), it did more than double the performance of the last Dragon Ball movie, Broly, which opened to $9.8 mil in January of 2019. A little more dubiously, Super Hero is also one of the most hilariously front-loaded #1s in recent times with well over half of its total coming from Thurs/Fri alone.
So, if you want to make a whole “moral victory” argument, you could try and claim that the prior-mentioned Idris Elba vs. fuck-off tiger movie Beast was the true winner of the weekend. You’d be dead wrong, since Beast’s second-place came about from just $11.6 million which would still be less than Dragon Ball if that movie posted a Friday more in-line with its Sat/Sun totals, but you can try and make it. Mind, I don’t want to be Mx. Doomsayer over here. That number for Beast is around about what everyone was expecting it to do, and came with the added caveat of being a relatively cheap R-rated thriller with little marketing and a planned VOD dumping in two weeks. It’s not too bad. It’s also the only kind of movie we’re getting between now and *checks calendar* late-October, so maybe this’ll look a lot more impressive when the smoke from that incoming deluge clears. Case in point: Orphan prequel First Kill did a simultaneous cinema/Paramount+ drop and stank up the joint to the tune of $1.675 million for twelfth place. Christ, what a miserable time to follow movies.
US Box Office Results: Friday 19th August 2022 – Sunday 21st August 2022
1] Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
$20,100,000 / NEW
As somebody who went into this with 0 prior knowledge or experience with any kind of Dragon Ball… I think I might be really into Dragon Ball Super? At the very least, I had a lot of fun with this movie and I want to check out more? Am I finally gonna spring for a Crunchyroll subscription? Can I end a sentence without an interrogative? How about now? …now? …now?!
$11,570,000 / NEW
Industry people I know who have seen it keep trying to tell me that George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing, which Idris also stars in and releases overseas next weekend, is pretty bad and I refuse to accept the sounds of their duplicitous tongues or sights of their maleficent pens! Please let me have some hope that I might see more than two fully good movies a month! This malaise of crap is why I barely write anymore!
3] Bullet Train
$8,000,214 / $68,985,000
In David Leitch/Chad Stahelski news, Stahelski’s Ghost of Tsushima movie adaptation is currently planned to be shot entirely in Japanese with an all-Japanese cast. I don’t wanna be the parade-pisser for those who are really excited at this news by pointing out that I thought the whole appeal of the video game was you getting to play a Japanese samurai movie which means a movie take is kinda fundamentally redundant on-paper, bu… wait, I just did the thing I said I wasn’t going to do, didn’t I? Sorry.
$5,860,166 / $683,375,000
Y’know who’s a real maverick around these parts? Shaun Rockwood. That rebel was sent a 4k restoration of Dog Soldiers for review and, loose-cannon that he is, the sonuvabitch loved it! What an unexpected turn of events Dog Soldiers being a good movie that Shaun Rockwood loves is! You just never know what that rogue is gonna do next when it comes to Dog Soldiers!
5] DC League of Super-Pets
$5,775,000 / $67,485,000
I’m resolving to try and be nicer towards movies covered in this column lest I develop a reputation of being overly cynical and jaded – one I wore throughout the mid-2010s and honestly was not a good look on me. So, here’s a complete list of things I liked about this sub-Secret Life of Pets:
- Buff Wonder Woman
- Plus-sized Jessica Cruz
- Err… they played The Chemical Brothers’ “Block Rockin’ Beats” for 30 seconds at one point
- …yeah, I’m tapped out of positives
$4,031,000 / $332,112,624
Scout’s honour: I will finally start Ms. Marvel this week. Not that I ever was a Scout so the whole honour system thing is worth jack, but still! I’m gonna do it! Honest! Hold me to it!
$3,549,780 / $113,761,000
THANK FUCK, JORDAN PEELE IS 3 FOR 3! Definitely more of a thinker and a grower than his first two films, in that I was never outright scared like the highest moments of Get Out and Us nor does it have immediate breakout performances to gravitate towards like those two , but NOPE hangs together thematically a lot better than Us ever did and Peele’s command of tension remains completely unmatched by his peers. The only reason I haven’t already gone back for seconds is because I’m still unpacking and chewing on my first viewing – Jupe’s entire tragic arc and OJ’s cowboy image representation, in particular, continue to gain greater resonance the more I sit on them. But you better believe I’m going back again, if only to witness that final sequence on the big screen it damn-well deserves.
8] Minions: The Rise of Gru
$3,520,010 / $350,037,000
I am so tired of scumfuck dumbshit corpos making sure to line up a studio’s animation division against a wall first when the shady tax-break cuts get busted out. The arts and their corporate overlords need to stop treating animation as a second-tier (and that’s on a good day) medium they can just gut without prior notice and expect nobody to care. Unbelievably shitty and utterly heartbreaking. Why would any of these extremely talented and now-super-pissed-off creatives ever want to work for Warner Bros. again after this? Also, oh hey, funny how a majority of the major HBO Max cuts – and cancellations at other animation houses – happen to be cartoons about or heavily-made by queers and PoCs. Total coincidence, that, I’m sure.
9] Where the Crawdads Sing
$3,149,692 / $77,725,000
On the subject of moody Southern gothic dramas about sympathetically depicting women driven to murder, Dave Bond recently checked out the very lavish new Second Sight restoration of Patty Jenkins’ acclaimed Monster.
10] Bodies Bodies Bodies
$2,412,208 / $7,439,343
Bummed about Netflix cancelling First Kill and wanting to commiserate in another queer teen vampire work? Amy Walker recommends you drive a stake through the heart of Shudder’s So Vam rather than watch it.
Dropped out: Elvis, Fall