The Woman King conquers, Pearl racks up an OK body count, IMAX freaks out in a Moonage Daydream, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
I have been saying for weeks that The Woman King was a sleeper-hit in the making. That box office prognosticators hanging their capitalist hats on Halloween Ends as the great resuscitator hope were almost deliberately ignoring the potential powder-keg that is a proudly Black, and proudly Black female, historical action epic aiming for a grossly underserved and quietly mega-influential audience. Yet, every weekend, the people at places like Box Office Mojo only had moony-eyes for Halloween Ends as the White saviour of a dire theatrical landscape. Hell, even heading into this weekend, writers were trying to shape a narrative that the $50 million budget on this thing constituted a “risk” in condescending dogwhistles that could be heard from space. But not I, readers! You can check the tapes; a month ago, I knew this thing could do strong business! And now, after the opening weekend, I think we do indeed have a sleeper hit on our hands. Whilst not quite eclipsing Dragon Ball Super as the biggest new release since Bullet Train – $19 million compared to the anime’s $21 million – Woman King’s day-to-day hold has been absurdly strong and, most crucially, it’s rocking an “A+” Cinemascore. You know what’s the only other film so far this year to hit an “A+” Cinemascore? Top Gun: Maverick, and I think we can all agree that movie did more than a little well for itself. Strap in, this thing may well have legs. CALLED IT, BITCHES.
There’s actually been a flurry of activity this past weekend. Of the somewhat niche variety, sure, but activity worth talking about and I shall take such meta-wins where I can get them! At press time, it’s almost a dead-heat for third place between two of those new releases, both of which are fixated on that most September-y of subjects, murder. Just about winning out is Ti West’s latest entry into his exploitation slasher throwback series – but, y’know, it’s A24 so that means it’s totally elevated and classy and shit – Pearl. Beginning an enormous and unfathomable six months ago with X, this true stalwart of the horror genre certainly has its loyal fanbase but may have seen its sheen dulled by the fact that we’re in the midst of a fucking glut of low-budget horrors right now; Pearl bringing in $3.12 million to X’s $4.2 million. Snipping at those heels with a very good shot of switching positions when actuals turn up is the star-studded comedic murder-mystery Agatha Christie throwback Glass On-wait, no, my mistake, that’s not out for another two months. In the meantime, here’s See How They Run, a totally different movie honest because this one is instead relentlessly “homaging” Wes Anderson. $3.1 million doesn’t sound all that impressive, but it’s making a decent killing overseas and is technically the best Wide opening for a Searchlight Pictures film since Ready or Not back in 2019. …yes, due to the plague, don’t fixate on that.
As for the total losers, let’s do a quick round-up. Mixing baseball movies, family dramas, and inner-city teacher flicks, Running the Bases struck out hard at the bottom of the fourteenth with a piddly $545,500 from 1,080 screens. But, wait! We can go piddlier! Let’s check the Moderate releases! First of those is the Thandiwe Newton stand-your-ground thriller God’s Country – no relation to the gay British farmer drama God’s Own Country which is definitely gonna get some confused streams after this – that only managed $300,000 from 785 screens; a PTA of $382. But, wait! We can go even piddlier! Step right up, Confess, Fletch, a Jon Hamm-starring reboot of the 80s Chevy Chase mystery-comedy duology that’s really a Paramount+ Original Movie they’ve dumped into a couple of theatres in hopes of hoovering up some loose change. Was it worth it? Well, with $260,000 from 516 screens (a PTA of $503), I’ll leave you to be the judge of that. But, wait! We can go even even piddlier! Following a pretty mixed reception at Cannes, Focus Features decided to cut their losses and bury likely-Awards Bait drama The Silent Twins – a biopic about identical twins, played by Letitia Wright, who only spoke to each other and ended up sectioned in Broadmoor – in its own institution; a mere $102,000 from 279 screens for a $365 PTA.
Lastly, though, we end on a total win. Releasing exclusively in 170 IMAX theatres, Brett Morgen’s kaleidoscopic David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream went on a full tear, gate-crashing the Top 10 with the biggest per-screen average of the entire weekend ($7,205) and a bigger PTA than The Beatles Get Back: The Rooftop Concert managed in January on fewer screens ($5,840). You heard it here, first, folks! Bowie is officially bigger than Beatles! Everybody rewrite your Rolling Stone canons and tiresome Internet threads about who or what isn’t “real music” compared to the GOATs accordingly!
Put on your Full shoes and dance the List blues.
US Box Office Results: Friday 16th September 2022 – Sunday 18th September 2022
1] The Woman King
$19,000,000 / NEW
Should be seeing or have seen this by the time the article you’re reading has gone live. Very excited for it. When The Old Guard was on, it was really on, so Gina Prince-Bythewood knows how to handle an action flick. For now, I’d just like to one last time mention that I saw this thing doing good from a mile off and, as entertainment manager Chris Evans (not that one or that one) noted on Twitter, industry workers and analysts have long ago lost any right to be surprised by films like The Woman King doing business. Seemingly every single time a Black-centric blockbuster does well, the write-ups all involve some usage of the phrase “over-performed” or “surprises,” coming after a pre-release build which tries to position said film’s mere existence as “a risk.” Do y’all have goldfish memories? The audience is there, they’ve always been there, and they’ve almost always shown up! You’ve just arbitrarily decided not to feed them then act all shocked at what happens when you do? Fuck outta here.
$6,300,000 / $20,915,433
Now you wanna talk legit surprises, this only dropped 40% from opening weekend. For those of you who don’t follow horror movie box office stuff as devoutly as I have to, and I envy your better life, that’s a ridiculous sophomore hold especially for a film whose Cinemascore buzz last weekend didn’t read so hot. Good job, movie!
$3,124,600 / NEW
The major horror anniversaries just keep on a-coming, like those villains who refuse to die no matter how much buckshot gets unloaded into their chest! This time, it’s Tobe Hooper’s classic haunting, Poltergeist – the good one not the rubbish remake, which is a phrase I apparently have to affix to every classic 80s horror. Amy Walker communed with the spirits in her TV set to bring you a write-up.
4] See How They Run
$3,100,000 / NEW
Hopefully seeing this at the weekend since dogsitting duties kept me from being able to hit the cinemas for the past two weeks. …yes, that is the actual reason. I’m not a grieving monarchist, honest. You’re not reading the words of a weirdo. I may be the person who thinks that John Carpenter’s original Halloween would probably be scarier without the iconic score, but at least I’m not standing in five-hour long queues to stare at a casket. I’m reasonable!
5] Bullet Train
$2,500,000 / $96,381,145
As a follow-up to last week’s comment about my having loved the Ms. Marvel pilot and wondering with dread exactly how many episodes it would take them to Marvel it up… one-and-a-half. It took them one-and-a-half episodes of a six-episode series to Marvel things off the rails. Goddammit.
$2,180,477 / $709,055,000
Deep in the bowels of Paramount Studios, a cabal of writers and producers are hard at work figuring out how they can possibly cross Top Gun over with the Yellowstone Television Universe in order to make ALL OF THE MONEY IN AMERICA. That sentence may be a joke, but I can almost guarantee you that some exec there has at least had the idea and, if they ever successfully realise it, we’re gonna need to invent an all-new metric system to account for the cash it’d end up bringing in.
7] DC League of Super-Pets
$2,175,000 / $87,860,000
Harley Quinn’s third season concluded in the US last week. It was great. You’ll get a review here real soon. Yes, I am putting it on public record to make sure that I get my arse in gear and finish the write-up rather than getting overwhelmed by everything else going on in my vicinity right now. That always ends well and never backfires(!)
8] The Invitation
$1,700,000 / $21,468,901
Oh, shit, I almost forgot to mention Clerks III. Yeah, Clerks III got a special theatrical event cinema release but, for god only knows what reason, chose to start said release on a Tuesday. Across the six days, Kevin Smith’s latest legacyquel pulled in a pretty impressive $2.11 million. But on the three days which matter, it could only do $570,000. Had it opened over the weekend like a good little movie, it definitely would’ve cracked the Top 10 and done some damage. Still, I doubt Kevin Smith really cares about Box Office performance. He’s off living his best life and, honestly, good for him.
9] Minions: The Rise of Gru
$1,320,000 / $364,099,540
Welp, as Dave Bond can attest, at least this isn’t Robert Zemeckis’ Pinocchio.
10] Moonage Daydream
$1,225,000 / NEW
Case you’re wondering, yes, my favourite Bowie record is still a toss-up between Young Americans and Lodger. These are the opinions of the person whose words you choose to read! I cannot and will not be stopped!
Dropped out: Brahmastra Part One: Shiva, Lifemark, Beast, Spider-Man: No Way Home
Callie Petch done hit everything from Cancun to Grant’s tomb.