“Blade Runner 2049” Proves You Can’t Go Home Again After $31 Million Debut. This Weekend at the Box Office.

By Jim Amos | October 8, 2017 2:47 pm PDT
Box Office - Happy Death Day, The Foreigner, Marshall

Hopefully Meat Loaf won’t mind me slightly editing his song title in order to best sum up this past weekend at the box office. “None Out of Three Is Bad”.

The long gestating “Blade Runner” sequel underperformed to the tone deaf tune of $31.5 million (and didn’t exactly light the international box office on fire either) while neither “My Little Pony” nor “The Mountain Between Us” proved to be box office draws either in yet another dullsville weekend at the multiplex. November, you can’t come quick enough.

First let’s talk about the 800 pound gorilla (or in this case, the 86 pound gorilla). Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” had everything going for it. An A- Cinemascore, an 89 RT score, most, if not all, of the large format screens, two co-stars in Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling who did extensive publicity for the film, and a rabid group of fans that have spent the past six months breathlessly ripping days off their Blade Runner Countdown Calendars. Here’s the rub though. That seemed to be the only group that bought tickets. Based on hearty presales, on Friday it appeared the film could be headed to a $50 million opening but the fact that it came in significantly lower than that correlates to it not reaching an expanded audience beyond the over 25 male demographic who could probably quote the original “Blade Runner” word for word.

That also means that long term box office prospects are highly questionable and as such there’s a very good chance that “Blade Runner 2049” might not even hit $80 million. Jared Leto showed up opening night at the Arclight Hollywood but unless Jared decides to clone himself and visit every BR theatre in America this weekend watch for a hefty second week drop. Oh and one last thing. 163 minutes? Really?

Fox’s “The Mountain Between Us” will come in at just over $10 million which isn’t anything to write home about but compared to “Blade Runner” it’s a scintillating roadshow. Things were starting to look single digits bleak for this Idris Elba/ Kate Winslet pairing as the week wore on so it reaching double digits is somewhat of a pyrrhic victory. Oh the flaccid curve on which we now grade. The A- Cinemascore will help in future weeks if Fox can hang onto those screens as the new releases come fast and furious the rest of the month.

“My Little Pony” appeared poised to be a pleasant surprise as word leaked out that presales indicated the film could open in the mid teens. But reality set in sometime Saturday morning when early matinee figures suggested more of a high single digits debut and ultimately the movie came in at just under $9 million. Christy Lemire of rogerebert.com is our hands-down winner of the CJ Review Quote of the Week (and could be in the running for the yearly title as well) as she sums up “My Little Pony” by scribing, “Imagine eating a giant bag of Skittles, then throwing it all up in a fit of sugar-induced nausea and you’ll have some idea of what it feels like to sit through ‘My Little Pony: The Movie.’” Ms. Lemire, we are not worthy.

Elsewhere, Focus is carving out a nice little release for themselves with “Victoria and Abdul” which expanded this week into 730 theatres and nabbed a royal $4 million.

In other items of note…

  • Congratulations to Amy Miles, Jeff Logan, Joe Masher and Ellis Jacob who received NATO Board appointments this past week;
  • Within the space of two days, “Polaroid”, “The Man Who Invented Christmas” and “Chappaquiddick” all moved onto the November 22nd release date. Hours later, Annapurna moved their “Death Wish” recharge from that date into 2018 and then STX moved “Molly’s Game” to limited at Christmas but there are still seven titles vying for moviegoers’ eyeballs that week. As many of the films have Oscar aspirations it should be interesting to see if anyone else moves or will this be the most crowded Thanksgiving ever for all theatres but especially those “must-have” locations like Lincoln Square in New York that are somewhat limited in screens but play both wide release and limited release titles. And now Christmas looks even worse with 9 titles. Oh this should be fun to watch.
  • This past week marked the 90th anniversary of Hollywood’s first talkie, “The Jazz Singer”. Your Fun-Fact-To-Know-And-Tell is that Britain’s first talkie was Alfred Hitchcock’s “Blackmail”, which came out two years later in 1929.
  • Park Circus is bringing the horror classic, “The Shining”, back to theatres in the United Kingdom and Europe on Halloween night.
  • If you ever want to read a piece of lazy, irresponsible journalism take a look at this insipid article about why “Cinema is Doomed” from someone named Dougie Gerrard from London’s City A.M. This is clearly a reporter, and I’ll use that term loosely, who needed an angle for a story and came up with this. But at least it’s nice to see he’s using the thesaurus that his mom gave him for his birthday.
Box Office Chart - October 9, 2017
Source: comScore

In this ride on the 2017 Box Office Rollercoaster it looks like a down week coming up but let’s take a look and see if there are any potential October surprises in store.

“Happy Death Day” (U)—Pretty much all you need to know about the first of the Halloween Horror titles for October 2017 is that it comes from Blumhouse and if anyone knows how to make a successful frightfest it’s them. The plot can best be described as “Groundhog Day” meets “Memento” but without Bill Murray or Polaroids and hopefully with a decipherable plot. Jessica Rothe stars. I say that hoping someone out there knows who Jessica Rothe is other than immediate members of the Rothe family.

The Verdict: Let’s say this again, it’s Blumhouse. They know what they’re doing. Having Universal’s marketing and distribution departments behind it doesn’t hurt either and if you’ve seen the outdoor it’s pretty eye-catching. Did we mention it opens on Friday the 13th? Cheeky monkeys. This trailer was up on a bushelful of “It” screens in September so awareness is pretty strong. $19 million.

“The Foreigner” (STX)—I’ll take Interesting Jackie Chan Facts for $1,000 please, Alex. A: 2010’s “Karate Kid” Q? Alex, what was the last live action wide release film Jackie Chan starred in? Correct for $1,000!

It has indeed been over seven years since US moviegoers saw Chan in the big screen flesh (so to speak) and this time out he plays more of the Liam Neeson “Taken” role than previous straight action or buddy comedy/action offerings like “Shanghai Nights” or the “Rush Hour” films. Yes, he’s looking his age (I’ll save you the IMDB search, he’s 63) but this role seems to fit him well at this point in his career. The always reliable Pierce Brosnan plays the villain and director Martin Campbell helmed two excellent Bond films in “Casino Royale” and “Goldeneye”. We’ll choose to ignore the fact that he also directed “Vertical Limit” and “Green Lantern”.

The Verdict: In the film, Chan’s daughter is killed by a bomb detonated by an Irish terrorist group. It’s not exactly the most topical storyline, considering it’s been 12 years since the IRA announced an end to their armed campaign. Something tells me this won’t be Gerry Adams’ favorite film of 2017. But the trailer is effective and this could find an audience still holding a grudge against Neeson for giving up roles like these. Side note, does anyone else watch the trailer and get a “Professional/Leon” feeling from it? I half expect Brosnan to turn around and scream, “EVERYONE!!!”. $11 million.

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” (Annapurna)—Luke Evans stars as the man who invented the lie detector test and the Wonder Woman comic series. Because I’m not good at the Six Degrees of Professor Marston Separation party game I have no idea how those two could possibly be related but there you go. Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote stars as Evans’ love interests.

The Verdict: Not a wide avail per se, so overall box office will be limited and the subject matter is extremely limited as well. I mean, I love gnocchi but I don’t need to see a two hour period piece about the man who invented it. $2 million at most.

“Marshall” (Open Road)– Chadwick Boseman stars in this look at the early years of the first black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Josh Gad, James Cromwell and Dan Stevens co-star.

The Verdict: Like “Professor Marston”, “Marshall” isn’t a wide opening (800 runs) and it’s uncertain how much of the American population knows enough about the late Supreme Court justice that would compel them to see a movie about him. Although President Trump is hearing good things about the work Marshall is currently doing. $3-4 million.

“Goodbye, Christopher Robin” (FSL)-Spellcheck’s favorite actor, Domhnall Gleeson, stars as the man who invented Winnie the Pooh and friends. Margot Robbie co-stars

“Breathe” (BLK ST)-Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy star in this inspiration drama of a couple battling a devastating disease. Andy Serkis, yes the performance capture guy from “Planet of the Apes”, slips into the director’s chair for the first time, presumably not in front of a green screen.

On the EVENT CINEMA front this week, Wednesday gives us a dose of culture with The Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Coriolanus” in the UK/IRE. Thursday in the US we have both the survival drama, “6 Below”, and the anime title “RWBY”. Saturday, live from New York, it’s The Met Opera and this week’s offering is Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”. Turner Classic Movies chimes in on Sunday with the big screen return of “The Princess Bride” here in the States and who doesn’t relish another chance to hear, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.” Pure genius.

Lastly here is my favorite cinema marquee of the week:

Blade Runner 2049 Marquee at Everyman Cinema
A marquee for “Blade Runner 2049” at Everyman Cinema.
Jim Amos
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