Smile and the whole of America smiles with you, Bros are not put before (G)hos(-ts), and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
It’s the customary last BOR before London Film Festival steals my attention for a couple of weeks, and we enter it with the resolution to a grand week’s long query: what film, if any, was gonna finally take over from Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero and break the $20 million opening mark? The contenders have lined up in their droves and, one by one, failed to demonstrate a similar irrefutable power level to that of weeabo shit (even if one or two of them have actually been doing pretty alright for themselves despite what the doomer narrative may have you believe). It seemed like we really were going to have to wait for Halloween Ends to rescue us all from this bizarre state of affairs. But, at the final hour before I jet off into a bubble where THE DISCOURSE cannot penetrate, we got our saviour!
We have a new Box Office #1, the first film to crack $20 million in nearly two months, and (assuming Actuals hold) the biggest opening since Super Hero’s $21.1 million! Yes, it’s Smile, that very silly jump-scare factory originally intended to go straight-to-Paramount+ until strong test audience responses convinced top brass that maybe sending a crowdpleasing low-budget supernatural horror into cinemas first might not be such a bad idea. In a testament to how effective a simple hook, some good trailer jumps, shockingly positive reviews, and just generally making a very good movie with solid marketing can be, Smile effortlessly bodied any and all nearby competition to sit pretty with $22 million. For a comparison on just how little its position at the chart’s summit was under threat, the film’s Saturday alone ($8.6 million) was more than second-place Don’t Worry Darling managed across the entire three-day ($7.3 million). Low-budget mainstream R-rated horrors, remaining undefeated since God knows when.
As you may have gleaned from the headline, though, Smile was not the only game in town and we now need to make a hard pivot where I order America to sit in the corner and think about what it did. Billy Eichner’s Bros, according to the logline – which, like Crazy Rich Asians’ status as the first major Hollywood release to feature an all-Asian-descent cast since Joy Luck Club, is the kind that simultaneously sounds correct whilst also attracting “surely not?” disbelief in me – is the first LGBTQA+ rom-com to be made and released by a major Hollywood studio. It will also, based on the calamitous performance this weekend, likely be the last for a very long while. You may recall that second-place Darling posted a deficient $7.3 million, so a fourth-place finish for Bros already heralds grim tidings even before I let slip that said fourth-place was with just $4.8 million. There is every chance that the second week of Avatar’s re-release could leapfrog it when Actuals come in. The lesbians, it would seem, did not in fact “go.”
…OK, it’s obviously the straights’ fault but I just couldn’t pass up the obvious Billy on the Street reference.
When you see this Full List, it’s already too late.
US Box Office Results: Friday 30th September 2022 – Sunday 2nd October 2022
$22,000,000 / NEW
Glad this one’s finally out because I am sick to death of seeing that gurning grin poster slapped all over literally every single display at my Cineworld. You’d think there was nothing else releasing or worth seeing when, like, 20 different display kiosks are all showing the same one-sheet for minutes at a time. I don’t even think it’s that creepy a poster, it looks kinda goofy, I’m just annoyed by the ubiquity! Again, at least I now have LFF to consume this film’s peak run so I don’t have to look at it when I can finally get back to the cinema.
2] Don’t Worry Darling
$7,300,357 / $32,805,000
For those keeping track, yes that is a 62% sophomore collapse for a movie which didn’t even cross $20 million in its opening weekend. Get your puns out now, but just be aware I already used up that previously-fertile ground last week.
3] The Woman King
$6,999,844 / $46,713,000
Set the Tape contributor and all-round amazing human being Kelechi Ehenulo has written an exceptional review of this incredible movie over at Movie Marker. You should go read it, pronto, then go and see Woman King now that it’s finally out over here, double pronto.
$4,800,000 / NEW
The question of whether this film’s failure is due to a continually-unstable theatrical landscape for comedies and rom-coms right now, or just plain ol’ straightforward cultural homophobia shall be answered in a few weeks when the George Clooney/Julia Roberts rom-com Ticket to Paradise finally opens in the US. If that also bombs – which, I mean, it’s opening opposite Black Adam for crap’s sake – then I’ll consider letting the American arm of our readership off the hook for Bros’ failure. Of course, I’ll also be putting them right the fuck back on the hook because rom-coms are great and I’m furious that y’all are forcing the genre to scurry away to the cheapo dregs of Netflix… but at least you won’t be homophobes!
$4,696,000 / $779,100,388
Speaking of festivals, our resident Canuck correspondent Nicholas Lay is currently galivanting around the Vancouver International Film Festival on our behalf, sending out despatches as and when he can! His first piece, which went live on Monday, looks at a sampling of the documentary slate.
6] Ponniyin Selvan
$4,018,000 / NEW
Really good weekend for Indian pics. Ponniyin Selvan wrecked shop in just 500 theatres, that $8,036 PTA is by far the best of our performers, whilst other new release Vikram Vedha got right up close to the border in eleventh with $1,013,859 from 558 screens (a PTA of $1,816 which is more than Bros managed) only to be denied by Top Gun: Maverick.
$2,817,000 / $33,107,280
Sure, the monster at the heart of Barbarian may be freaky-looking, but is it as freaky-looking as Tim Curry in clown makeup? Who can say. Amy Walker’s checked out documentary Pennywise: The Story of IT ahead of its UK release.
8] Bullet Train
$1,400,280 / $101,334,000
Attention: Eureka! are putting out a 2K Blu-Ray restoration of seminal Michelle Yeoh/Cynthia Rothrock Hong Kong action flick Yes, Madam! in December. They are doing God’s work. (Yes, I know I’ve crapped on the non-action parts of this movie over the years, but HAVE YOU SEEN THOSE ACTION SCENES?!)
9] DC League of Super-Pets
$1,305,000 / $91,694,000
The Smallville recaps will continue until morale improves. Unfortunately, Eamon Hennedy remains in the dregs of Season 4 and has to take brief glimmers of hope like ‘Lucy’ where he can get them.
$1,230,112 / $713,457,000
And so the legendary run of Top Gun: Maverick comes to an end. Just shy of 20 weeks and with a staggering $713 million domestic total. Like I have said multiple times during its run, I fully cop to having not seen even half of this coming. Although the film didn’t do much for me, like any and all of Maverick’s rivals in the air, it has nonetheless unearned my undying respect for that performance. Overdrive your guitars, crack open a few cold ones, and twenty-one gun salute a true American hero!
Dropped out: See How They Run, Pearl, Minions: The Rise of Gru
Callie Petch’s words should be studied up in Berklee and Julliard.