Barbarian runs merciless roughshod over a wasteland of a theatrical landscape, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
OK, before we deal with this week’s Box Office, an important correction about last week’s. When I went to press, Spider-Man: No Way Home was projected through studio estimates to be the #1 movie in America thanks to a strategic Disney/Sony re-release over Labor Day weekend with special cheap tickets and nothing else newer playing. $6 million flat to Top Gun: Maverick’s $5.5 million, itself benefitting from special cheap tickets and regaining a few IMAX/4DX screens during its absurd run. But “studio estimates” are just those, estimates put out on Sunday night by the studios so that trade writers can have catchy headlines ready for Monday morning which enshrines winners and losers in the record books. The “actuals,” which are what they sound like and get reported a day or so later, can shift things by a few hundred thousand but rarely alter the narratives or order entirely. Which, of course, makes the times where the “actuals” do change things quite the big fucking deal.
To wit, No Way Home was not, in fact, the #1 movie in America last weekend. It wasn’t even the #2, with Bullet Train managing to find $300,000 behind the back of the sofa so it could leapfrog from fifth to second. No, the #1 movie in America last weekend, in its fifteenth week of release, was Top Gun: Maverick with the $6 million flat Sony thought No Way Home had managed to secure; both films effectively flipped their estimates. Whilst I don’t much care for either film, I will say that it gives me giggly-child kind of joy to imagine Marvel impotently stomping on their comically-oversized hats in frustration like Boss Hogg at their effort to steal Cruise’s days upon days of thunder failing so publicly. Because, to be clear, there was no reason to put any version of No Way Home back in theatres besides pettiness over Maverick being the biggest film of the year rather than any MCU entry, and the blatant cattiness of it all is the kind of Hollywood dirt which is fun to slurp up by the bowl-load! Unlike anything to do with Don’t Worry Darling, which is the bad toxic and meanspirited kind of Hollywood dirt and y’all are really lucky I had to pen my BOR before that went totally out of control last week.
Anyways, with that important correction issued and a sufficient level of time killed, onto the post-Labor Day weekend which was, you guessed it, mostly miserable save for two bright spots. Bright spots which, in a recovery drive for the ages, you can thank Disney for albeit, ironically given how much of a song and dance the mega-conglomerate made of their depressing main slate at D23 Expo, the arms they treat like redheaded stepchildren. (Which is to say: completely unfairly, they’re good kids who deserve loving mothers.) Top of the pile, and the first time in three weeks we’ve had an eight-figure performance on the chart (assuming “estimates” hold between now and press), was the bonkers-sounding horror Barbarian which rode a surprisingly rapturous critical reception and not-entirely-disastrous “C+” Cinemascore to $10 million dead. Not in the least bit close behind but making waves of its own was Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva, the beginning of what I am told is Bollywood’s equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which posted $4.4 million from 810 screens to record one of the biggest domestic openings for a Bollywood movie ever. And, y’know, one it very much needed since it’s also the third-most expensive Bollywood film of all-time. Not wishing to be a parade-rainer, since I promised to be more upbeat this week, I’ll refrain from mentioning what RRR opened to in the US six months ago and skip ahead to the Full List.
The cinemas right now have slimmer pickings than date night at the Conservative Party Conference. Here’s a Full List, anyway.
US Box Office Results: Friday 9th September 2022 – Sunday 11th September 2022
$10,000,000 / NEW
Since I have a few horror-centric critic friends who saw this before it went on public release and were talking it up with Malignant levels of “don’t let anyone say anything, go in blind, it’s DERANGED,” I decided to give it the old wiki google to see what they were on about. And, err, yep. That’s definitely not what I was expecting from the logline! More horrors willing to be gonzo silly, please!
2] Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva
$4,400,000 / NEW
One of these days, I’m going to dive really deep into Bollywood cinema. I don’t have anything against the cinema, I’ve just never gotten around to trying things out for myself. It’s always just on the periphery of my circle and I’m merely yet to try grabbing that thread cos I’m distracted by shinier, more immediate threads or my own spiralling misery. Sort of like how I didn’t properly try out Carly Rae Jepsen til 2019; just had no opinion or real exposure to her music (besides “Call Me Maybe,” obvs) and never felt compelled to rectify that until my whim pushed my circle into her purview, and we all know how that turned out.
3] Bullet Train
$3,250,262 / $92,544,000
On reflection, that previous comparison made no sense and I’m pretty sure it’s only there cos, as a certified queer, I’m legally required to mention Carly Rae Jepsen on some public forum a certain number of times a month otherwise they take my queer card and assorted privileges away from me.
$3,170,000 / $705,650,344
Could Paramount perhaps do us all a solid and reinvest these ridiculous Maverick profits – it’s overtaken Frozen II to become the eleventh-biggest film of all-time worldwide, this beast cannot be stopped – into funding a Dredd sequel? Sure, they had nothing to do with Pete Travis and Alex Garland’s lean mean 2012 action machine which turned 10 last week, but nostalgia cash-ins are all the rage nowadays! We’re getting an Enchanted sequel for some reason! Surely there’s at least a bit of money in this, or a Paramount+ exclusive?! I’m sure Leslie Byron Pitt would agree with me on this.
5] DC League of Super-Pets
$2,835,000 / $85,421,285
I have started watching Ms. Marvel! That pilot is excellent! I can’t wait to see how they Marvel it up (not a compliment)! Forgotten how good these things can be when they’re DIRECTED on ACTUAL SETS with A COHERENT VISION. Now I’m even more pissed that Adil & Bilall’s Batgirl movie got ashcanned!
6] The Invitation
$2,620,437 / $18,846,000
Y’all know I was already full-sold on Henry Sellick’s Wendell & Wild just from the name Henry Sellick. The trailer Netflix released last week has me buying up the entire neighbourhood, which is another one of my metaphors that doesn’t make any sense but who cares about making sense when there’s that trailer! It looks so spooky and gothic and all my shit! The sole ding against is the Dramatic Trailer Cover of, of all goddamn things, “How You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy but I’m willing to give this a pass since it’s not even the worst DTC of “How You Like Me Now?” I’ve heard this month.
$2,212,288 / NEW
Wait, what on earth is Lifemark? I’ve never heard of this one. Let me check my notes real quick… “Faith-based?” “Kendrick Brothers?” “Kirk Cameron?!” “abortion-themed?!” NOPE! NOPE! EJECT! BAIL OUT!
$1,800,220 / $29,376,000
Three Thousand Years of Longing was mostly very good and deserved better. Idris Elba is gonna get the Jeffrey Wright in French Dispatch treatment come Awards Season and that’s a damn shame because he, like Wright before him, is phenomenal in this and brings such feeling and longing to the storyteller role whose telling reveals so much about his character. Deserves at least a nomination.
9] Minions: The Rise of Gru
$1,650,000 / $362,331,415
When not cavorting around in misogyny-laden gossip-rag filth, British Film Twitter’s favourite target this past week or so has been the absurd fact that Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley, has written-directed-starred in a spy thriller called Blackbird which escaped the shelf of movie languishment for people to see. Well, Lee Thacker decided to trot into those waters for himself rather than mindlessly follow the herd and… it was still bad, but he didn’t hate it, surprisingly.
10] Spider-Man: No Way Home
$1,300,000 / $813,348,862
Not a whole lot from the Marvel presentation got my jimmies all rustled in excitement, mainly cos the panel wasn’t livestreamed and the vast majority its clips not yet released in spite of the fact that it’s twenty-goddamned-twenty-two and a giant pandemic is still on. But the Werewolf by Night trailer? The one that’s a full-blown 50s Hammer horror camp homage as a one-hour TV special directed by Michael Giacchino? Yeah, that frickin’ ruled.
Dropped out: Thor: Love and Thunder, Jaws, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
Callie Petch’s hope is a muscle that allows us to connect.