After September opened with a whimper, we were prepared for a dull couple of weeks. It looks like we shouldn’t have been so quick to judge. The one-two punch of The Perfect Guy and The Visit have suddenly made the least interesting month of the year interesting, opening big and opening close enough to one another to make for an interesting race. In the slower movie months, weekends like these are rare treats.
Summer is officially over, September is here, and the movies stink. While the big releases and heavy-hitters of the fall movie season make the festival rounds or rev up their marketing campaigns, audiences have to tough it out and wade through a lot of not-so-good movies. Welcome to September. It’s like this every year. Get ready for an excruciating month at the movies and at the box office.
There’s one reason and one reason only why we’re getting a Ghostbusters remake in 2016 instead of an actual Ghostbusters 3 five years ago. That reason is named Bill Murray and he’s been the not-so-secret sequel roadblock for as long as we can remember. But then he accepted a small role in the new reboot, because he’s Bill Murray and Bill Murray does whatever he wants. Sometimes that means randomly showing up at your birthday party. Sometimes that means popping up in a film franchise that he seemingly had zero desire to revisit. Now, Murray explains his reasons for joining a new Ghostbusters movie he was so vocally against.
All summer movie seasons end with a whimper and 2015 was no different. The final weekend of August was a pretty sad display across the board, with Straight Outta Compton nabbing the number one spot by default while just about every new release faltered. You know it’s a slow weekend when a movie promoted exclusively to faith-based audiences nabs the number two spot.
The original The Karate Kid is one of those seemingly untouchable slices of ‘80s nostalgia. Everyone above a certain age has a soft spot for it. It has effortlessly merged with general pop culture, with characters like Mr. Miyagi and lines like “Wax on, wax off” existing outside of the film that created them. It’s a touchstone … but what if it’s a touchstone that we have been misunderstanding for the past 31 years? What if Ralph Macchio’s Daniel isn’t the hero of the film, but actually – dun dun DUN – the real bad guy?
Every time a movie about and for audiences who aren’t white and male does well, everyone acts like it’s a big surprise. “Black people and women like movies? Who’da thunk it?” It’s actually not surprising at all that Straight Outta Compton had a massive opening, handily defeating its more standard competition. Because all kinds of people like movies and when you make movies for all kinds of people, you end up with huge weekends at the box office.
A few weeks ago, tracking for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was supposedly in the toilet. Early reports suggested that Tom Cruise’s fifth outing as super-spy Ethan Hunt was not getting people excited. This would be the end, the experts said, of a franchise that has kept Cruise’s career surging forward for the past two decades. Well, that was apparently a big load of crap because Rogue Nation opened well and opened in the same ballpark as the rest of the franchise. Even with inflation differences, this series keeps on hitting the same box office sweet spot.
Paramount really wants you to see Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and they’re nudging you in the ribs using the most effective marketing tactic in the history of marketing tactics...they’re giving you free stuff. Specifically, they’re giving you free digital copies of the first four Mission: Impossible movies, reminding you that this series has been 75% good and that you should start getting excited for the new one.
At the time of this writing, early estimates for the weekend box office have Ant-Man edging out Pixels for the top spot in this week’s top 10. That could change. With less than $1 million separating the films, Pixels may very well slide into first place tomorrow, winning one very close competition. But even if it does claim ultimate victory, it doesn’t change the fact that Pixels’ opening weekend is a massive disappointment and another nail in the coffin of Adam Sandler’s career.
It would be easy to label the opening weekend for Ant-Man a failure. After all, it’s significantly lower than the openings for recent Marvel Studios movies and it’s a good $130 million less than the three-day opening Avengers: Age of Ultron had a few months ago. But let’s not be so hasty. Its opening numbers may not have blown anyone away, but Ant-Man’s box office arrival is textbook Marvel.
The LEGO Movie is a project that consists entirely of inspired ideas, but casting the gravelly-voiced Will Arnett as Batman is probably in the top five. With the character’s spin-off in the works, the inspired casting continues! It seems that the soft-spoken Michael Cera is set voice Robin in LEGO Batman.
Universal was already bathing in its Furious 7 and Jurassic World money Scrooge McDuck-style before Minions opened this week. Now the studio is looking at its third truly massive hit of the year, a run that feels nearly unprecedented. Universal already released two of the biggest movies of all time within the past four months, and now it’s looking like it may have three.
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