It was a rare weekend of both quantifiable quality and muchos mullah at the box office. Of the new films, four out of five scored 80% or higher on Rotten Tomatoes, with “A Quiet Place” posting an astonishing 97% and a B+ Cinemascore. It was even 100%, at least until half a dozen critics banded together for a poo-poo chorus (we are looking at you, Charles Koplinski of Illinois Times and Kyle Smith of National Review).
“Blockers” managed a funny and smart 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, “Chappaquidick” had Kennedy-esq approval figures (John and Robert, not Ted) of 80% (both scoring a B Cinemascore), while “You Were Never Really Here” was the second highest rated film of the week with an 88% Rotten Tomatoes score. The only new title not blessed with a ‘Fresh’ rating was “The Miracle Season”, which might be faith-based but didn’t attract the faithful, with a 34% RT score and didn’t make the top 10 with USD $4.1 million, despite the A Cinemascore.
John Krasinki’s latest directorial effort is this year’s “Get Out” surprise horror hit (or maybe we didn’t quite hear the raves at SXSW), but probably won’t spawn articles pontificating white middle class silence, the way that Jordan Peele’s Oscar winner did about black race relationship anxiety. Earning USD $50 million, doubly higher than we had expected and beaten this year only by “Black Panther”, the film that also stars Mrs Krasinski (better known as Emily Blunt) was based on the ingeniously simple premise of a couple saving their lives and relationship by saying, “Honey, we need to not talk.” It even earned praise from horror maestro Stephen King himself:
Brain…not processing. Uh oh—don’t black out John, don’t black out— …too late. https://t.co/Hjhl72mr9b
— John Krasinski (@johnkrasinski) April 6, 2018
Meanwhile, on the funny front, Rooster “Blockers” (or did we interpert the poster wrong?) managed a strong USD $21.4 million in line with our predictions. It didn’t leave much box office breathing space for “Chappaquidick,” which pulled in just USD $6.2 million (a million above our prediction). But it’s clear that along with the USD $25 million second week takings of “Ready Player One” the 2018 second quarter box office is off to a strong start, even before any of the truly major blockbuster DCPs have been uploaded to a TMS near you.
Speaking of “Ready Player One,” according to RealD 60.2% of the movie’s global box office has come from 3D ticket sales, no matter the format, USD $66.5 million of which came directly from RealD screens. At the same time, “Black Panther” in fourth place crossed the threshold of overtaking “Titanic” as the third-biggest domestic grossed of all-time, as diligently noted and reported by Forbes’ Scott Mendelson. The MCU wonder earned USD $8.43 million (-27% on the previus weekend) to bring its 50-day domestic total to USD $665,355,740, so clearly above “Titanic’s” $659 million lifetime total. Only “The Force Awakens” and “Avatar” have earned more (but you knew that already).
If you want to be nit-picky and adjust for inflation, there is still good news, as “Black Panther” is now in the Top 30 of all-time-earners-as-counted-by-pedants. This means that the film has now earned more than the adjusted life-time takings of both “Thunderball” and “The Dark Knight”, so T’Challa is officially bigger than both Batman and Bond. The film is such a success that the latest trailer for Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity Wars” has been edited to look like “Black Panther 2”, though the official sequel probably won’t be out until February 2021.
AT THE ARTHOUSE
Cannes Film Festival darling “You Were Never Really Here” starring Joaquin Phoenix made a killing in only three theatres; the Amazon Studios’ release earned $129,911 in its opening weekend. Racing to catch up in the limited release category was “Lean On Pete” from mini-studio A24. It earned USD $12,530 per-screen average from four locations, giving a total purse of USD $50,118 before it goes wider.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
- The plot thickens at Pathé Netherlands, where the CEO and CFO were both suspended. Then the parent company revealed that it was investigating fraud, related to someone sending out emails claiming to be an executive, but not stating if those suspended were directly connected to the fraud;
- The Killing of a Sacred Deer lead to the jailing of Indian super star Salman Khan (not to be confused with, or related to, Indian super stars Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan, nor Bollywood-Hollywood cross-over star Irfan Khan). The charges of killing two blackbuck deer dates back to 1998. He was out again 48 hours later on bail. Khan was previously acquitted of running over and killing a person after a party.
- AMC and “Black Panther” both claimed a first in Saudi Arabia, though it is not an actual multiplex cinema opening, but a re-purposed entertainment hall, and “The Emoji Movie” got there first. Sorry guys.
- It was the inaugural Mallorca Art on Screen festival, which aims to do for event cinema what Cannes does for films (except without the over-priced hotel drinks). Awards were handed out for best opera, theatre, museum and dance productions, with “Pompeii live at British Museum” walking away with both the European Heritage award and the winner in the museum category.
- A shout-out to Gabe Polsky’s documentary “In Search of Greatness”. It is one of the reasons we’ve lost the weekly voice of Jim Amos, but it is already talked about as an Oscar docu contender, so more proof, if proof was needed, that Jim knows how to pick them.
THIS COMING WEEKEND’S WIDE RELEASES
“Rampage“ (Warner Bros) — Dwayne Johnson is paired with a beefy and grunting co-star, whose out-of-control behaviour wreaks a trail of destruction and puts a major strain on their relationship. No, The Rock has not teamed up with Vin Diesel again – in the words of poet T. Swift they are “Never Ever Getting Back Together” if recent interviews are anything to go by. Instead it is CGI silver-back gorilla George whose uncontrollable growth spurt puts it in conflict with The Man (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, with Malin Akerman not very nice either) and other over-grown alpha predators.
The Verdict: Unlikely to ride as much of a nostalgia wave as “Ready Player One”, this film is based on the 1980s Midway Game and brings together much of the same people who brought you the destruction of “San Andreas.” The release was pushed forward a week to give it a clearer run before “Black Panther: Infinity War” is unleashed. The film is thus unlikely to have the legs of The Rock’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” but will continue to restore his reputation as “Baywatch” becomes just a bad memory. USD $38 million and lots more damage overseas.
“Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” (Universal) — Officially now a consumer brand that gets tagged onto the beginning of the film title like Pixar or Marvel, Blumhouse horror hothouse takes another simple premise of teenage tomfoolery having deadly consequences.
The Verdict: Having under-estimated the potential success of “A Quiet Place,” while fighting off two smaller horror releases, don’t expect this one to scare up major numbers. USD $17 million and unlikely to result in a sequel.
“Beirut“ (Bleeker Street ) — Jon Hamm tries to put his troubled, hard drinking 1960s ad man haunted by his past persona from “Mad Men” behind him, by playing a troubled, hard drinking 1970s diplomat haunted by his past. Meanwhile Rosamund Pike hopes that people will forget her previous recent Middle East thriller “7 Days in Entebee” (fun fact: it lasted exactly seven days in most cinemas). The two get together in the eponymous capital to negotiate the release of a kidnapped friend.
The Verdict: Written by “Bourne” scribe Tony Gilroy, this release is more likely to post numbers closer to his “Michael Clayton” or “State of Play”, despite a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91%.
THIS COMING WEEKEND-LIMITED AVAIL TITLES
Dog lovers rejoice as Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” gets a wider release (USD $4.6 this weekend), but there is also “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero“, which tells the true life tale of stray bull terrier mutt who does good with the 26th “Yankee” Division at the onset of World War I.
Horror hounds who aren’t already flocking to “A Quiet Place” or Blumhouse’s multiplax “Dare“can instead choose between “Bus Party to Hell“, in which hipsters headed to Burning Man get more than just a bad case of sun stroke, while “Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum” is a haunted-asylum-web-streaming horror – because found-footage fright films are soooo pre-4G.
Discerning drama dedicates can choose between “Aardwark“, “Borg vs. McEnroe” (yes, we are serious), “The Rider”, “An Ordinary Man” or “Zama“. There is fantasy “Wildling” and action “Sign Gene“, but frankly they are limited releases lucky to have any screens in the two weeks before the release of “Avengers: Panther War“.
It is the 50th anniversary of “2001: A Space Oddesey” and Beatle’s “Yellow Submarine” (someone make that a trippy LSD double bill, please – not that we condone drug taking in cinema), the 40th anniversary of “Grease” and 30th anniversary of the ultimate Christmas feel-sore film “Die Hard“. And “Beetlejuice” is 30 too, with the big three-oooh just around the corner for “Akira.” Watch them all (again) on the big screen.
Bolshoi ballet’s “Giselle” is coming to cinemas in a rare non-anniversary event cinema screening this week.
CJ QUTE OF THE WEEK
“What took you so long?”
“Traffic was a bitch.”
– The Player (1992)