Cinemas and audiences alike demonstrate The Way of Waiting, and Other Box Office “News.”
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Dunno if you’re aware of this, but everybody’s pissed off out the blast-zone of Avatar: The Way of Water in a few days. When the literal biggest movie of all-time finally gets around to making its sequel, you can understand why we’ve reached the duck-and-cover stage of the year’s theatrical release schedule. As such, not a single new wide-release film dropped this week. Not one. We had a couple of moderate releases/expansions, but they barely warrant talking about. Still, I got quotas to hit, I guess…
Last week, Michael Showalter’s cancer dramedy biopic Spoiler Alert made an unexpected splash on its initial “the same six theatres in NYC and L.A. that all films with Awards Season ambitions” start. This week, though, it had to fend for its life with more general audiences and that $82,983 on 6 screens (PTA of $13,830) opening came crashing right back down to earth with a sophomore weekend of $700,407 from 783 screens (PTA of $894). A little more noteworthy, if only for the fact that his prior film was pre-pandemic smash 1917, is the complete and total bombing of Sam Mendes’ tribute to the power of cinema and also British racism being bad or summat Empire of Light. After speeding off a cliff amongst the watchful eyes of critics, Disney’s Searchlight division evidently decided to cut their losses and went straight for the non-committal dumping onto 110 screens – too many to work as a prestige-y buzz-building arthouse rollout, but not enough to count as a proper saturation release. As such, only $160,000 worth of people (a PTA of $1,454) got to see Olivia Colman learn about and extol the virtues of ska in an attempt to solve racism.
Before you ask, yes, that is a real thing which happens in Empire of Light and Kelechi Ehenulo has the mental scars to prove it.
There was one major bright spot in this week’s news, though, that being the official kickstart of the Brendanaissance! (Title still being workshopped.) After a full year of anticipation, festival raves, discourse and DISCOURSE, Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser’s The Whale is now finally playing for non-industry folks. In the aforementioned “same six theatres in NYC and L.A. that all films with Awards Season ambitions” do, but that’s still a public release. And the public is currently thrilled to be horrendously depressed as The Whale notched the biggest opening of the year… on a PTA basis which, honestly, is the true marker of success. A24 have successfully wrested that title away from their fierce rival A24 as The Whale scored $360,000 from 6 screens, a PTA of $60,000, compared to previous champ Everything Everywhere All at Once which made $501,305 from 10 screens, a PTA of $50,103. Granted, The Whale’s dethroning undoubtedly only came because it played on 4 fewer screens and it almost certainly will not share EEAaO’s momentum when expanding into wide release, cos it’s a Darren Aronofsky film, but look are you gonna take this victory or not? We can’t just sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting for Avatar!
Right, let’s get the Full List out the way ASAP so I can go back to listening to the new SZA and Little Simz albums.
US Box Office Results: Friday 9th December 2022 – Sunday 11th December 2022
1] Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
$11,100,000 / $409,810,778
Since there aren’t enough weekends left in the year for Avatar: The Way of Water to also claim that title for itself, Wakanda Forever’s five-week run at the chart summit marks the best of any film this year. The Numbers reports, naturally, that Spider-Man: No Way Home managed six weeks total at the top but two of those occurred in 2021 so TECHNICALITIES, BITCHES! Please give Ryan Coogler blank cheques and zero studio notes for as long as it takes him to make a bad movie! Based on his current track record, that’ll only happen after he dies and some vulture venture capital firm pieces together a bunch of unreleased home movies he shot into a commercially-released product.
2] Violent Night
$8,699,685 / $26,694,000
You want some action this fine holiday season? How about 80s Hong Kong-era Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock (eventually) kicking ALL THE ARSES? Eureka! have put out a pristinely-restored Blu-Ray print of Yes, Madam! and, whilst the film and release have their drawbacks, it’s well worth picking up if you like Sammo Hung-type action-comedies. And, before anyone brings up my past comments, having to revisit the whole film for my review did soften my stance on the non-action parts of the movie.
3] Strange World
$3,600,000 / $30,453,692
This was really fun and does not deserve the “bomb” narratives which are unfortunately gonna be tied to it for the rest of our short days. Of course, I would say that given it’s a] a loving tribute/throwback to 50s/60s sci-fi adventure B-movies but with the budget and medium capable of properly realising any wild visions, b] in the vein of Disney’s also underappreciated flirtations with sci-fi in the early 00s, and c] like properly queer in a way you can’t cut out for international censors and is also authentic to the characters rather than virtue signal back-slapping. But, still, really enjoyable little film!
4] The Menu
$2,700,000 / $29,027,758
Remember when Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes and did a whole bit in the monologue where he told all the assembled stars not to use their victory speeches to push political causes because nobody wants to hear them do so and, also, it’d be hypocritical of them since they’re movie stars working for unethical corporations? Remember how that speech is continually referenced by people online in the years after, either at awards ceremonies or other moments of celebrity activism, as an example of Ricky telling it like it is and roasting ’em good, in spite of the massive fucking hypocrisy inherent in both the speech itself (a political cause) and the person saying it? Well, that speech is The Menu and the people who reference that Gervais speech are the ones this movie is made for. Fuckin’ shite.
$1,999,581 / $16,972,000
In a sign that everything is going wonderfully over at Sony Pictures and they aren’t at all panicking in the least over having a total dud on their hands, the Whitney Houston biopic has, with two weeks to go, been given the ungainly retitle of The Whitney Houston Movie: I Wanna Dance With Somebody. You know, just in case people couldn’t already tell from the original title of the movie being her literal biggest hit that this is a Whitney Houston biopic. But, nah, I’m sure this is gonna do great(!)
6] Black Adam
$1,340,000 / $166,873,000
Thanks, James Gunn, for (if rumours are to be believed) putting Black Adam 2 on the chopping block! Really helped push me over the edge into staying wrapped in my nice toasty bed on Saturday morning rather than get up into the freezing cold for a mediocre-looking movie I honestly don’t care about seeing, now that I know it (allegedly) won’t mean anything going forward! Any chance you can also maybe push Rocky back into his brief character actor phase, whilst you’re at it? Would do wonders for his stock.
7] The Fabelmans
$1,180,034 / $7,330,000
The Blade Runner comic series’ just keep on a-coming! The latest strain jumps forward to 2039 and Kelechi Ehenulo remains absolutely in love with them!
8] MET Opera: The Hours
$791,374 / NEW
Yeah, opera’s all good, I guess. But you want real high culture, then you go to Scalextric toys! Charlie Brigden sat down to give a proper deep-dive review for their latest set, a Back to the Future vs. Knight Rider pairing.
9] I Heard the Bells
$750,713 / $4,072,954
Merry Podmas, one and all! Our yearly podcast recommendation series is back once again with a new post every weekday until Xmas! Go have a peruse and maybe find your new favourite thing to stick on in the background whilst cleaning!
10] Spoiler Alert
$700,407 / $803,000
We’re working on Listmas, btw. Year’s never over til it’s over. SZA and Simz should’ve taught you that.
Dropped out: Bones and All, Ticket to Paradise
Callie Petch would rather be in hell than alone.