In a week devoid of any major releases, we still saw some major changes at the box office, with familiar faces like Kong: Skull Island, Power Rangers, and Get Out (RIP) all falling from the Top 10 in favor of new releases or aggressively expanding art films. Of course, not everything was different; if you read these box office reports every weekend, I’ll bet you can name the top three movies (in order) with minimal effort. Here’s the weekend box office projections as of Sunday afternoon:
Despite being supported by a blindingly charismatic cast and some of the best action directors in the business, Paramount’s Star Trek franchise has somewhat been an exercise in diminishing returns after 2009’s big screen reboot. Last year’s Star Trek Beyond may have captured some of the fun of a standalone episode of the series, but it was a surprising disappointment with audiences: the film’s $158 million gross was nearly $100 million less than the first entry in the series and failed to break even on the studios $185 million investment. Those are the kind of numbers that make a studio think long and hard about investing in a sequel.
It’s been nearly eight years since James Cameron’s Avatar took the global box office by storm, and while it’s become très chic for some corners of the internet to endlessly bash Avatar, I still maintain my stubborn affection for Cameron’s movie. Very few filmmakers can create action-driven science-fiction that operates at Cameron’s level; just look at how many times people have messed up Cameron’s Terminator franchise, a near-flawless formula for blockbuster movies that studios have nevertheless run directly into the ground. We may laugh at Cameron’s planned sequels, but they are both original (technically!) and creator-driven movies. Isn’t that what we claim to want from Hollywood?
Dystopian cinema is all the rage right now. Not only is the release of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale only a few days away, we were also recently treated to a series of synchronized screenings of 1984, the film adaptation of George Orwell’s seminal novel. While some may view this as a collective piece of cinematic snark, plenty of others are using these projects as an opportunity to open the door for increased education and awareness about media literacy, politics, and art. And while HBO may only really be interested in art and politics, it is putting one foot firmly in the dystopian game, announcing an upcoming production of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451.
While the words “period action” and “Guy Ritchie” don’t always go over well with critics, there’s no denying that Ritchie’s 2015 film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a cut above the rest. Led by an all-star cast that included Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander, U.N.C.L.E. runs with its Cold War setting and creates a stylish and — dare I say — sexy story of international intrigue and the dapper spies who saved the world from nuclear annihilation. Unfortunately for its fans, the movie didn’t do particularly well at the box office, only grossing about $110 million worldwide against a $75 million budget. That’s not exactly money that screams sequel, if you know what I mean.
When is a video game more than just a video game? When the story it tells is woven into the legends and events of one of the biggest blockbuster movie franchises of all time. This weekend, Electronic Arts debuted the first footage from its upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2, the sequel to the bestselling 2015 Star Wars video game, with the promise that this game would tell canonical stories not previously seen in the Star Wars universe. It’s all part of an ambitious effort by Lucasfilm to weave these Star Wars stories across a variety of media, including the films, television shows, video games, and books.
Studio math might be one part proprietary data and one part alchemy, but here’s something I feel pretty confident saying: when your trailer sets the all-time record for most views in a day, you’re about to make some moolah. We all remember that the first teaser trailer for It had 197 million views in its first 24 hours online, shattering the previous (albeit short-lived) record of 139 million set by The Fate of the Furious. Those would be extraordinary numbers for any movie, but for an unapologetic horror film about a demon clown? Not even the most aggressive Warner Bros. projections could have predicted that.
What came first, the raunchy beach comedy or the Baywatch movie adaptation? Hollywood seems to have discovered in recent years that it can take an existing license — typically one associated with a semi-popular television series — and give it new life as a profane comedy for adults. Sure, there are probably a handful of Baywatch purists out there who have watched the sophomoric humor in the trailers with horror, but for everyone else? A vague recollection of the Baywatch brand and an appetite for 21 Jump Street-esque humor is all they need to be enticed.
Sometimes a movie and a release date just make sense. While blockbuster Hollywood releases can often feel like a game of musical chairs — where every studio scrambles to find a summer release date that isn’t already occupied by a superhero movie or major franchise — occasionally, a movie hits theaters at just the right to really leverage a holiday. Take Amy Schumer’s Snatched. With the film set for an April 12 release date, it is perfectly situated to take advantage of Mother’s Day weekend. For once, you can take your mom out to a movie that you might both actually enjoy.
It’s been a few months since the world lost Carrie Fisher, and while many would prefer to expand the conversation to her accomplishments outside of the Star Wars universe, plenty of people are anxiously wondering how her death might affect her character in the upcoming Star Wars sequels. For some, this can be viewed as a tacky approach to celebrity, but there’s a sweeter side to things as well. Leia Organa remains an icon for people around the world; finding an appropriate way to say goodbye to her character will be, in essence, the way many Star Wars fans say goodbye to Fisher herself.
In a parallel universe where Paramount Pictures doesn’t alienate its fanbase, we might be talking about Ghost in the Shell as the big winner of this weekend and the de facto start of a new wave of Japanese Hollywood adaptations. Instead, DreamWorks Animation and The Boss Baby blew up the box office, no doubt delighting a handful of DreamWorks executives who watched the Ghost in the Shell controversy unfold with glasses of champagne in hand. After all, nobody’s going to boycott a movie about a baby who wears a suit.
Anyone who ever scrolls through the occasional Business Insider article knows that disruptors — companies that enter a marketplace and change the way people do business — don’t stay disruptors for very long. Take an organization like Uber. For years, Uber was the scrappy little underdog, a technology startup that used technology to upend the established taxi market. In the past few years, however, Uber has gone from the underdog to the dominant player, the company that other technology startups are looking to take down. Success breeds imitation, and imitation breeds improvement.
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