Hold your horsies, it’s not time for “Avengers: Infinite Box Office” just yet. Yes, the Marvel marvel is tracking off the charts in terms of ticket pre-sales, but we have another week’s wort of new openings as well solid results from current releases first. Remember, folks, these aren’t toenail cuttings to be brushed away, but labours of love that consummated professionals have devoted years to complete and hundreds of Chinese animators have sweated bullets to finish – only to be crushed by T’Challa & the Gang the following week.
“Rampage” tore down some USD $34.5 million at the multiplexes, slightly below our USD $38 million prediction. The simian starrer managed no better than 50% on the Rottentomatoe-meter – though audiences were kinder with an A- Cinemascore. When you read complaints that the film “isn’t as fun as its source material,” it’s never a great sign since the ‘source material’ was a 1980s arcade game. How many shiny quarters did WB give the poor screenwriter to extract the essence of the 32-bit classic? (Not enough, Henry, not enough.) Interesting factoid, Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” is named after the original game’s Ralph the Werewolf. More BO hope from China where the film took USD $15.6 million on Friday.
“Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” scored USD $19 million at the BO – close enough to our USD $17 million prediction – which given its 15% RT score is as the best they could hope for this micro-budget. Instead it is “A Quiet Place” that narrowly lost out on the top slot with USD $32.6 million for a total of USD $99,635,885. It’s reason enough for Paramount guys and gals to strut the halls of Caesar’s Palace with a much-needed spring in their step when CinemaCon starts in a week’s time. With just a 35% drop it might even outpace “Ready Player One”, which has taken USD $114 million to date, after adding USD $11.2 million this past weekend.
In case you wondered, “Black Panther” has earned more than USD $1.3 billion world wide and is even breathing down the neck of “The Last Jedi”. That record will no doubt be obliterated by “Avengers: Infinity Gross”. But it is a shot in the arm that the domestic BO needs, because as Variety points out, “The 2018 box office is down 2.4% compared to 2017. The same weekend last year, where “The Fate of the Furious” opened with $98.8 million, is down 15.5%.” Stark & Co. to the rescue!
AT THE ARTHOUSE
Fox Searchlight’s “Isle of Dogs” went wide to 1,939 theatres and grossed USD $5 million for over USD $18 million in total. Meanwhile Sony Pictures Classics “The Rider” played in three cinemas for a total of USD $45,268, which works out to USD $15,089 per theatre. It is directed by Chloe Zao, a Chinese filmmaker making her mark on the international film scene.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
- We note the passing at the age of 86 of Czech-born director and humanist Milos Forman. Not just the helmer of Oscar-winners “Amadeus” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, he also directed the delightful “The Fireman’s Ball” and the under-rated if badly timed “Hair”;
- Much-missed Weekend BO chronicler Jim Amos makes a guest appearance return to CJ with a look at how females hold the key to this summer’s box office. Do read it and you will sound so much smarter holding forth with friends on Hollywood’s future fortunes;
- Cannes insistance that made-for-streaming films don’t get to compete with movies that patiently take their turn in the cinema first means that no Netflix films will get the red carpet treatment this year. ‘Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rules Change (EXCLUSIVE)‘ Variety’s headline hyperventilated. But given that their films didn’t qualify in the first place, that’s about as correct as me announcing that I’m breaking up with Scarlett Johansson;
- “The Hurricane Heist” might not have set any BO records, but interestingly it opened in UK cinemas day-and-date with the premier on satellite platform Sky. It marks Sky’s first foray into live action film production and took USD $3 million in its opening weekend in North America and a grand total of USD $32,903 (nope, no million) in the UK, which is even less than it took in Lithuania (USD $33,572). Like I said, no records.
“The Hurricane Heist” also provides us with the CJ Movie Review of the Week, courtesy of Alonso Duralde of TheWrap, “Critics often lament that worthy films released early in the year are too often forgotten during awards season, so let’s be very clear up front: For your Best of the Worst of 2018 consideration, in all categories, The Hurricane Heist.”
THIS COMING WEEKEND’S WIDE RELEASES
Super Troopers 2 (Fox Searchlight) – American comedy troupe Broken Lizard raised more than USD $4.5 million through a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to produce the sequel to the 2001 “Super Trooper”. This time the Vermont Highway Patrol quintet have to provide law and order for a French-Canadian town transitioning to US sovereignty. International border dispute high jinx ensue, no doubt ultimately resolved by a benign and cool tempered POTUS.
The Verdict – Interesting factoid, the first film won the Audience Award at the South By South West Film Competition, tying with “Lady Porn“ and “Wave Twisters”, neither of which spawned a belated sequel or was called a “shaggy-dog classic for Generation Y” by Esquire Magazine. The original took USD $18 million in total in North America but it is highly unlikely that the sequel will outrun that. USD $6 million opening and heading north fast.
I Feel Pretty (STXfilms) – Comic wonder Amy Schumer plays self-perceived ugly duckling who has a knock on her head and becomes convinced that she is a proverbial swan (i.e. super model). Kicking off the female-driven Summer Box Office Trend of 2018 (see above), the film has no RT score yet but ample talent, not just from Ms Schumer, but also Michelle Williams and Emily Ratajkowski. The PG-13 rating promises “sexual content, some partial nudity, and language,” which is always more funny than films without any language to speak of (see what we did there?).
The Verdict – Mini studio STX will hope to mine the same female comedy gold that saw “Bad Moms” 1 and 2 save it after costly flops (remember “Free State of Jones”?), when the first grossed USD $113.2 million domestic – the studio’s highest ever. Schumer’s debut “Trainwreck” also crossed the USD $100 million in final domestic. USD $19 million and laughing a long time.
Dolphins (Disney) – The 12th release from the Disney Nature label follows the anthropomorphic adventures of young dolphin Echo, “who can’t quite decide if it’s time to grow up and take on new responsibilities-or give in to her silly side and just have fun.” Owen Wilson voices this life aquatic.
The Verdict – Disney Nature often gets overlooked in the stable of other in-house blockbuster labels (Pixar, Lucasfilm, etc.) but consistently delivers the goods, with some surprise breakout hits such as “Born in China”, which took USD $4.7 million in its North America opening weekend – and plenty more in China. USD $3.5 million.
THIS COMING WEEKEND-LIMITED AVAIL TITLES
Duck Duck Goose (Original Force) – Not to be confused with privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo, this is the first ‘toon titles by Chinese production outfit Original Force Animation. The company was in the news for the two co-presidents stepping down in tandem back in September. “It’s never a good sign when the people running a feature animation division step down from their roles before the company has even released its first film,” Cartoon Brew observed.
Traffik (Code Black Films / Lionsgate) – Not to be confused with the Channel 4 series on which Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning “Traffic” was based on, this one sees a couple’s romantic cabin weekend interrupted by the arrival of a motorcycle gang. “Honey, I don’t think it’s Bikers for Christ.”
The House of Tomorrow (Shout! Factory) – Coming-of-age drama in which Asa Butterfield forms a punk band with chain-smoking teen Alex Wolff. Adolescent angst and insights ensue.
Lou Andreas-Salomé: The Audacity to Be Free (Cine Libre Studios) – German biopic about the author and poet who mixed with Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Rée and Rainer Maria Rilke, as well as studying under Sigmund Freud to become the first female psychoanalyst.
Corbin Nash (Gravitas Ventures) – “Searching a world of darkness for a truth he was never ready for, a rogue detective-” OK, CUT! Thank you we will call you if we need you Mr [checks papers] Corbin Nash, Demon Hunter. Next!
The Devil and Father Amorth (The Orchard) – Documentary by William (“The Exorcist”) Friedkin about a Catholic priest as he goes about performing his ninth exorcism on an Italian woman. Don’t expect her to hold forth on maternal fellatio prowess in the hot place below.
Ghost Stories (IFC Films) – Big screen adaptation of the London West End stage horror hit. An impressive 95% RT score no less.
Gray Matter (Indican Pictures) – Alien abductions. ’nuff said.
Fathom Events presentation of “MET Opera: Luisa Miller” took USD $1.28 million across 900 locations. Coming this week is Studio Gibli’s “The Cat Returns”, an encore of documentary “The Riot and the Dance” and “The Dating Project”. Internationally there is “Scream For Me Sarajevo”, which is what happened when Iron Maiden front-man Bruce Dickinson went to Sarajevo during the Yugoslav civil war to stage an unlikely concert.
CJ QUOTE OF THE WEEK
– The Graduate (1967)