A lot of people are going to act like they didn’t see the enormous success of ‘American Sniper’ coming, but the signs were all there. On top of the promising limited release numbers, there was the awards buzz. On top of that, there were the names of director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper. On top of that, the subject matter of the film is inherently attractive to the same category of moviegoer that makes Christian-themed films into massive hits. ‘American Sniper’ had one doozy of a weekend, but it’s not that surprising.
It’s become fashionable in recent years to hate the Golden Raspberry Awards (AKA, the Razzies) and for good reason. The inherently negative awards claim to celebrate the worst films of the year, but they frequently nominate or “honor” ambitious misfires or boring studio junk over the real worst films of the year. To be fair, the Razzies are and have always been a big silly joke, but they’re a joke that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And yet, it’s really hard to look at this year’s nominees and disagree. With a handful of minor exceptions, this looks like a year where the Razzies actually, well, kinda’ got it right.
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of ‘Star Trek,’ which debuted on CBS in 1966, and Paramount has been adamant about getting the next film into theaters in time to mark the occasion. Today, they officially set the date. If all goes according to plan, ‘Star Trek 3’ will warp into theaters on July 8, 2016.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
As major movie productions keep on getting more secretive, even the best laid plans keep on getting foiled by one thing: merchandising. Yes, hide you costumes and characters and plot points all you want, because when the toys arrive, all bets are off! The latest casualty in this very silly war is Iron Man’s new armor (the Mark XLIII), which was supposedly going to make its debut at some point in ‘Avengers 2’ but can now be clearly seen, examined, and salivated over in toy form.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
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