Another month into Andrew Brooker’s self-imposed challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days. See how he’s been getting on below.
Audiences head straight into Compton, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s cover is blown, Mistress America takes home a Participation Award, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Surprising absolutely nobody who is at least somewhat aware of popular culture, Straight Outta Compton is your new box office number 1. Having said that, though, I don’t think anybody was prepared for just how much of a success the thing would be. You see, Straight Outta Compton didn’t just take first place with ease, it did so with $56 million, almost $40 million more than the second place film managed. That’s an absolute domination, a ridiculous opening for a non-sequel/franchise movie, and an utterly sensational opening for a film in August which is typically a complete dead zone at the box office. I’d sit here and make terrible N.W.A, “Forgot About Dre”, and “It Was A Good Day” puns but, honestly, I’m too gobsmacked at the ridiculous success to make puns. That’s just amazing.
Similarly surprising was the complete non-performance of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. Perhaps due to a combination of an off-putting marketing campaign, that I really liked if nothing else, and tepid reviews, which are mostly wrong as you’ll find out in my own review later in the week, Guy Ritchie’s latest adventure in Hollywoodland face-planted right out of the gate. Losing the battle for second place to Mission: Impossible quite handily, The Man cried U.N.C.L.E. – eh? Eh? EH?! – and bowed out for the weekend with only $13.5 million. Nice to see that the Warner Bros. “funding off-beat and often great blockbusters with loads of money only to see bugger-all people turn up to watch” streak is still intact, if nothing else.
Whilst we’re still affixing our eye to the Top 10, let’s briefly check back in with everyone’s favourite complete and total catastrophic failure, Fantastic 4. After failing to achieve the number 1 slot last week and earning roughly half of what it was projected to, the film continued its magnificent spiral of humiliation with a near 70% drop between this past weekend and opening weekend. Enjoy looking at this one, folks. This is the kind of old-school catastrophe that modern Hollywood was supposedly designed to completely avoid. It’s a beautiful sight, like a unicorn grazing underneath a double rainbow.
In the realm of limited releases, Noah Baumbach’s second film this year, Mistress America, did surprisingly poorly. I mean, sure, we’re talking very relatively when I say that $94,000 from 4 theatres is poor. But Baumbach usually has much better openings than this. Hell, he already had one such opening earlier this year when While We’re Young opened to $227,688 from 4 screens, whilst his last collaboration with Greta Gerwig, 2013’s Frances Ha, opened to $137,398 from 4 screens. Maybe, just maybe, audiences are getting sick of movies about annoying self-obsessed New Yorkers. Wouldn’t that be something? Meanwhile, the Jemaine Clement-starring People Places Things Nouns got off to a poor start on 19 screens with just $31,000 for a per-screen average of $1,632.
The jury has found this Full List guilty of being a redneck, white bread, chickensh*t motherf*cker.
Box Office Results: Friday 14th August 2015 – Sunday 16th August 2015
1] Straight Outta Compton
$56,100,000 / NEW
Man, I really cannot wait for this! That’s literally all I’ve got for this one, since I haven’t managed to listen to Dre’s “Compton” yet – that’s a job for tonight, before anyone asks. I will note, however, that an opening like this is yet another sign that mid-budget stories about non-White protagonists, starring a non-White cast and aimed at predominately-non-White audiences are a lucrative and untapped market. A sign that, as per usual, will most likely go stringently ignored by Hollywood.
2] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
$17,000,000 / $138,137,000
Man From U.N.C.L.E. outclasses this movie in every respect. Just thought I’d let you know that.
3] The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
$13,535,000 / NEW
Saw this on Friday and the review will be up on my site tomorrow – in the meanwhile, Brooker’s got a good review of it up here. Short version: probably the best non-Fury Road blockbuster I’ve seen all year. Lot of fun, lots going on under the hood, and impeccably acted with Alicia Vikander nearly running away with the film from everyone else. It’s the first time that “Guy Ritchie, Hollywood Director” has made sense to me, and not coincidentally is the first time he was allowed a crack at the script, so it’s a shame that the film’s box office failure sadly guarantees that we’ll be getting “Hired Gun, Guy Ritchie” for the next few years.
4] Fantastic 4
$8,000,000 / $41,961,000
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (*continues like so for another 15 minutes*)
5] The Gift
$6,500,000 / $23,577,000
Don’t even talk to me about the ending of this. Seriously, it’s been well over a week and I still can’t make up my mind on it. Or, more specifically, I can’t stop trying to rationalise an objectively disgusting and too-far ending as honestly kind of brilliant. Jackson noted that I basically already summed it up when I described the whole film as “very Fincher”, but I still can’t let this go. If nothing else, at least The Gift has stuck with me a week later, unlike the very vast majority of films that have been released so far this year.
$5,517,000 / $157,568,000
Emily Blunt for Carol Danvers, please! Seriously, it’s perfect casting. She’s got the acting chops, Edge of Tomorrow proved that she can be a walking badass when required, she’s more than willing to dye her hair blonde if that’s necessary, she was already going to be Black Widow until Fox forced her to do Gulliver’s Travels instead, and she’s English which continues the superhero movie tradition of casting British leads in American hero roles! Come on, it’s a no-brainer!
I mean, unless the Bond producers do the right thing and cast her as the next Bond. Either of these two things happening will satisfy me.
$5,330,000 / $46,852,000
Once I’ve finished my Man From U.N.C.L.E. review after this, I’ll be sitting down to watch the original National Lampoon’s Vacation in preparation for Friday. Not Tuesday, what’s the point of going to a Cineworld Unlimited Screening for a film that’s out about 48 hours later and looks terrible? Ugh, Unlimited screenings have been going down the drain recently…
Hmm? “The next one’s Sicario, two weeks before its UK release”? Oh, Cineworld! Have I ever told you how much I love you?
$5,200,000 / $312,969,000
A round of applause for Universal Studios for becoming the fastest studio to break $2 billion domestic in a single year, besting Warner Bros.’ previous record by a good 4 months! That’s what happens when you release a whole load of good films that people want to see… and are also part of really successful franchises. OK, I guess we should probably temper that applause slightly, this was basically already predetermined by merely looking at that release schedule.
9] Ricki and the Flash
$4,570,000 / $14,656,000
Oh. Well, err, bye Ricki, I guess.
$3,800,000 / $97,919,000
Review will be up on my site on Wednesday. Gonna keep my opinion under-wraps until then, in a failed attempt to build up suspense and intrigue. I will, though, let slip that I can now happily count the number of good comedies released this year on 3 fingers. That is also a sentence that looks incredibly depressing typed out like that. This goddamn year…
Dropped Out: Pixels, Southpaw
The Fantastic 4 are dead, audiences tentatively accept The Gift, Ricki and the Flash got booed off-stage, motherfuckers didn’t go and see Shaun the Sheep Movie, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
We’re probably never going to get another Fantastic 4 movie again. Not only is the one that was dropped into theatres this past weekend a complete steaming abomination, so venomously destroyed by critics it makes Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 look like Schindler’s List, and dogged by so many rumours of troubled and failed production that the thing more resembled a turd that is being swarmed by hungry flies – hope you’re enjoying your breakfast this morning – even the public wanted nothing to do with it. Most stayed away, smelling a stinker, and even those $26 million worth of people who chose to brave the cinema anyway despised it, giving it an atrocious C- Cinemascore. This franchise is done. Even if Marvel get their toys back, it’s done. There is no coming back from a bomb like this, the brand has been tainted irreparably, it is done.
So, whilst 20th Century Fox was dragging Marvel’s original super-team through the mud one more time out of seemingly nothing more than spite, Joel Edgerton was making his directorial debut with the surprisingly great The Gift. Having been promised a horror/thriller in the vein of producer Jason Blum’s other works – namely: Damn Near Every Single Horror Movie of the Last 3 Years – audiences arrived in a somewhat healthy amount and were instead presented with a drama with thriller elements. Whether or not they were happy about this is still up to debate, but it led to a strong $12 million opening, one of the few unqualified successes of this miserable weekend, and people actually seeing The Gift, so mission accomplished!
Yeah, this was one really bad weekend at the box office. In Wide-ish releases, Jonathan Demme’s return to directing films for a somewhat mainstream audience, Ricki and the Flash, was unceremoniously shrugged to death by audiences, raking in a paltry $7 million for seventh place despite featuring Meryl Streep as an aging rocker. You’d think that that’d be something that people would be dying to see! But at least it wasn’t Shaun the Sheep Movie. Despite being one of the year’s best films, having rave reviews from critics, and me being on your case about seeing it for the last several months, the film didn’t even crack the Top 10 despite opening on well over 2,000 screens. For fucksake, America! It’s Aardman! What do you people have against Aardman, you cretins!?
Things improved slightly in the world of limited releases, though. Whilst The End of the Tour expanded to 36 locations and flailed about for dear life with only $253,000, The Diary of a Teenage Girl was making a pretty decent $55,000 from 4 screens considering the whole “underage sex” part and everything. Jon Watts’ sophomore feature, the pretty decent-looking thriller Cop Car, managed a strong $27,000 from 3 screens, whilst Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, an animated adaptation of exactly what it says, managed an excellent $26,000 from two screens because FUCKING LOOK AT HOW GORGEOUS THIS THING IS!
Also worthy of note is Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’. The film’s been out since Tuesday and has been blowing people away by posting strong numbers during the week – nearly $2 million on the first day and $1.5 million on the second. Now, I can’t report anything about its weekend for certain, cos FUNimation have been playing weird “now it’s here, now it’s not” games with it, but Dragon Ball is on course to have earned well over $5 million in its first 6 days, whilst remaining in limited release the entire time, never breaking more than 1,000 theatres. Considering that Anime doesn’t do well in Western cinemas, that is majorly impressive.
“It’s Full List time!” is what my older brother used to say before he beat the sh*t out of me. I’m just kidding, I only have a younger brother.
Box Office Results: Friday 7th August 2015 – Sunday 9th August 2015
1] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
$29,400,000 / $108,654,000
Forgot to mention this at all last week, but this movie has one of the most blatant examples of Fridging – the art of brutally murdering a character, typically a wife and almost always a woman, for cheap heat/motivation – that I have seen in a Hollywood film in ages. Like, good lord, even Tak3n was less blatant about it! But, despite these things usually riling me up to no end, this one did nothing for me. I just sorta sighed resignedly. It’s like when a bratty kid tries to microwave the family hamster; you’re not angry, you just sigh because you know they’re just doing it for the attention.
2] Fantastic 4
$26,200,000 / NEW
I’m done. I’m not going to waste any more words on this. Here’s my review, go read that. I’m not going to waste any more column inches on this thing because, as I detailed extensively in my review, this is not a film. This is 100 minutes of 20th Century Fox mooning Marvel Studios over the fact that they can’t have their toys back. You could shoot and release bowel movements of mine and they’d be closer to being actual f*cking movies than this piece of sh*t is! So, no, I’m done. Let’s move on.
3] The Gift
$12,007,000 / NEW
Review will be up on my site on Tuesday, but I will say that I really enjoyed this one. I’m even coming around to its ending, which initially rubbed me up the wrong way for a number of reasons but is growing on me as time goes on. Make sure you give this a shot, even if you’re averse to thrillers since it’s actually mainly a drama.
$9,145,000 / $37,325,000
Not too bad of a slide, only 37%, but there also wasn’t much to slide from, so let’s maybe not bust out any party poppers or anything, OK?
$7,826,000 / $147,436,000
Oh, man, I really hope that Fantastic 4’s utter abysmalness doesn’t have a knock-on effect to the good comic book movies. For one, the last thing we need are people believing that the only way to make successful versions of these are to have white male leads, because you know some arsehole pillock studio head is going to correlate the Johnny Storm race-lift to the film’s total box office failure. Plus, my brother, who is way more down the Marvel rabbit hole than I am, thought that this was a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was therefore planning on seeing this until I corrected him. Just saying, some people are just going to see the Marvel logo and assume they make all of these movies, even the terrible ones, and that’s the last thing they want.
$7,400,000 / $302,754,000
Despicable Me 2 is now on UK Netflix for those of you who have yet to see it. I recommend giving it a shot, it’s really crazy and funny but it’s also legitimately sweet…
Look, I’m going to keep working my arse off to ensure you all realise that you don’t hate the Minions because of their films. You hate them because of advertising oversaturation and appropriation by the kind of evil, heartless, mindless drones who force Facebook memes into existence. *shudders*
7] Ricki and the Flash
$7,000,000 / NEW
Having watched the trailer for the first time whilst writing this piece, I now understand why this face-planted right out of the gate. This looks awful, like a Lifetime movie inexplicably granted cinema space. I’m still optimistic, because it’s Jonathan Demme and Diablo Cody and I know that trailers are oftentimes just dreadful, but I get why nobody really turned up to it.
$6,300,000 / $91,102,000
Four more days! Oh, thank the Maker for this weekend! This, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Absolutely Anything back-to-back-to-back! It’s like the Movie Gods looked down on me and went, “Callum. Buddy, old pal. Sorry for the last few weeks, and sorry for pushing Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 out of your Bottom 5 Films of 2015 list. But you’ve made it through with your love and enthusiasm for this medium still intact, so here’s a week of nothing but good-looking films you’re excited for as a reward! Good show!”
$5,430,000 / $57,645,000
Oh, yeah, that spoiler piece on Pixels that I was supposed to write. I haven’t forgotten, I’ve just been busy. And my interest in doing it has gone. Heh. OK, here’s the deal, if it’s not up on my site by Thursday, it ain’t coming and y’all will just have to deal with it. Sound good to everyone? Bully for you if it doesn’t.
$4,764,000 / $40,726,000
You people watched this again instead of Shaun the Sheep? You’re all a disgrace to humanity.
Dropped Out: Paper Towns, Inside Out, Jurassic World
Mission: Impossible doesn’t self-destruct, nobody wanted to go on Vacation cos they’d reached The End of the Tour, you should all Listen To Me Marlon, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Good morning, readers. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out all of the latest Box Office happenings as relayed to you by a tired British hack who has spent way too much time staring at open Word and WordPress documents these past few weeks. The mission will be perilous, as he makes hacky jokes and the occasional generalisation about films that he hasn’t seen, and he may be acting on false information, since the actuals don’t come in until this afternoon, but if there is anyone who can survive this task it is you, and if there was anybody more qualified to run one simple gag into the ground in an attempt to disguise the fact that he has next-to-no material this week then they’d be doing this instead of me. I mean, him. I, err… This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.
OK, with that nonsense out of the way, let’s do this properly. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the latest in the series that I’ve never quite gotten and whose sequel naming is officially the enemy of the English language, managed to continue the series rise back from the brink of failure with an easy number one opening of $56 million, the second-biggest opening of the entire series barring Mission: Impossible II’s $57.8 million. I’d say that the film “Cruise-d” its way to victory, but I’m full enough of self-loathing so let’s pretend that never happened and move on.
Not that it had much of a challenge. The only other wide-release of the weekend came from somebody at Warner Bros.’ New Line Cinema division insisting that we needed a Vacation sequel/reboot/thing – probably the same person who greenlit the Hot Pursuit shooting script – and so one was dumped into our laps even though we already had plans, full of people we didn’t want to spend time with (with apologies to Christina Applegate), and we didn’t want it. Much like a real family vacation. Unlike a real family vacation, however, attending Vacation wasn’t compulsory, so most Americans opted out and the film finished the weekend in a distant second with just under $15 million.
In limited release news, The End of the Tour, the controversial semi-biopic about David Foster Wallace directed by the criminally underrated James Ponsoldt, was the roaring success managing to nab $126,000 from 4 screens for a fantastic per-screen average of $31,500 and me sat here wondering in a very irritated fashion as to why it doesn’t have a UK distributor, dammit! Less successful, but also doing pretty decently, was the Marlon Brando documentary Listen To Me Marlon which picked up $29,000 from 2 screens for a per-screen average of you do the math. Falling flat on its face, by comparison, was the glorified informercial A LEGO Brickumentary which could only sucker in $92,000 worth of people from 93 screens for a per-screen average of $452. I guess the dulcet tones of Jason Bateman are nothing compared to those of Marlon Brando when he’s talking about himself. Although, in fairness, that could also be said about most things.
This Full List is running running and running running and running running. That was both a Mission: Impossible gag and a Black Eyed Peas reference because this is that joke that is my life.
Box Office Results: Friday 31st July 2015 – Sunday 2nd August 2015
1] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
$56,000,000 / NEW
Saw this Saturday, but there won’t be a review because it would just consist of something close to 2,000 words of me trying and failing to identify the reason(s) why this series does nothing for me besides “these are technically strong action movies”. Seriously, this fact bugs the hell out of me. The Mission: Impossible series presses so many of my personal Things I Love buttons – practical effects action sequences, spy stuff, writing characters into tight impossible situations and seeing how they get out, gambits in spades – but the films themselves just leave me somewhat cold. Answers on a postcard, please.
$14,850,000 / NEW
This reminds me, I need to actually watch the old Vacation movies before I get subjected to this in two weeks. Yeah, the trailer did nothing to me except make my eyes glaze over. In fairness, I could say that about nearly any comedy trailer, but we are in a f*cking nadir for feature-length comedies with this year’s offerings, and I really doubt that this is going to be the thing that pulls us out.
$12,619,000 / $132,148,000
Oi, you! Have you watched Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp yet? If not, go do that! Actually, wait. Have you watched Wet Hot American Summer first? If no, go and do that and then go watch First Day of Camp. Seriously, you’ll thank me later. I basically spent my Friday doing nothing but watch First Day of Camp and it was SO WORTH IT!
$12,200,000 / $287,391,000
This appeared at no. 10 on Mark Kermode’s Mid-Term Best Of list this week, which was a surprise. A pleasant one, because Minions is great, but a surprise nonetheless. Relatedly, I have only seen 3 of the films on his list and would put none of them on mine because I am a tasteless heathen.
$10,400,000 / $45,611,000
So, last week, somebody on Twitter, not gonna name any names and they’re not in trouble don’t worry, made the perfectly reasonable statement that we shouldn’t lambast films that we haven’t seen yet. I actually agree with him, both in the article itself (with my worry about dogpiling) and here, which is why I keep my slams based on what I’ve managed to see and have heard about the film, saving any proper slams and such for when I have actually seen the film. Open mind, and all that!
I tell you this because it turns out that I should never have given this utterly reprehensible piece of turd shit any benefits of any doubts. God, I hate this movie.
$9,700,000 / $79,709,000
So, I was in a screening of Hot Pursuit on Saturday and an advert for Trainwreck comes on. It’s funny, everybody laughs, and then Amy Schumer on screen says “Make sure to come back and see my new movie when it hits theatres on August 14th.” To which I overhear this old lady, who just seconds earlier had been audibly laughing at the advert, say in a voice that is loud enough for other people to hear whilst still in theory only talking to her friend, “I don’t think so!”
This woman also found Hot Pursuit utterly hysterical so I don’t know what to believe.
$7,519,000 / $31,577,000
8] Paper Towns
$4,600,000 / $23,816,000
Saw this on Saturday at a nice early screening. Review will be along on my site on Tuesday, but I really enjoyed this one. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s sweet heart-warming viewing for myself. Man, I might actually be a John Green fan, which is especially weird since the edited Q&A highlights I was forced to sit through prior to the start of the film didn’t make him look like a particularly tolerable guy. Still, at least he wasn’t Dan & Phil who I’m still not convinced aren’t just the mannequins from the first series of new Doctor Who attempting to pass themselves off as regular human beings.
9] Inside Out
$4,517,000 / $329,594,000
Gonna go see this again this weekend, will probably cry profusely again. As I’ve said before, I can’t separate myself emotionally from this movie, not enough to offer up a proper objective critical review. It hits too close to home and is way too personal to me for me to be able to do that. On the bright side, I guess we now know what a film that is Fury Road’s equal/possible better for me looks like!
10] Jurassic World
$3,800,000 / $631,500,000
IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Shaun The Sheep Movie is finally getting a nationwide cinema release in your country next week. Go and see it. That is an order. Go and see it. Go and see it multiple times over, it’s one of the best animated features released in the last few years. Go and see it instead of Fantastic 4, please. Don’t let me down, folks! I wanna be reporting strong numbers this time next week!
Dropped Out: Mr. Holmes, Terminator: Amiga
Pixels has insufficient quarters, Southpaw goes down in the fifth, Paper Towns exposes the flimsy construction of the John Green empire, nobody wanted to see what The Vatican Tapes didn’t want us to see, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Folks, you did it. You kept Pixels from the number 1 slot. And you kept it from making any decent amount of money, as it closed the weekend in second place with just $24 million. You did it, gang! You really did it! You proved that you are over Adam Sandler. His scurrying away to the darkest bowels of Netflix with the rest of Happy Madison is like when the exploited villagers of a cynical, money-grubbing dicksh*t finally rise up against him and drive him out of town with pitchforks and torches! You did it, folks! Admittedly, it was a close call, since Ant-Man is currently only sitting pretty at the top by $750,000, but you did it anyway! And that’s what counts!
In fact, it was a rather miserable and underwhelming week all around, to be honest. Antoine Fuqua’s boxing drama Southpaw, for example, was released this weekend. Remember how excited we all were for that movie? When we saw Jake Gyllenhaal all scary-jacked up, and how amazing Rocky was, and how this was going to be this big awards season contender that one time and that finally Jake Gyllenhaal would have to be recognised in all Best Actor races after being bewilderingly shut out last year? You know, until that trailer came out and… yeah, there’s a reason this one was dumped mid-Summer. Audiences agreed, and so the film opened in fifth place with $16.5 million. On the bright side, I got to make a Snatch reference in the headline, so this whole thing wasn’t a total waste!
Meanwhile, the John Green Empire took a critical hit in its formative stages thanks to Paper Towns. Compared to the runaway smash success of The Fault In Our Stars from last year – of a $48 million first place kind – Paper Towns struggled to reach $12.5 million and sixth place. Is this because teenagers are fickle as f*ck? Is it because everyone had places to be this weekend? Or is it just because a subpar adaptation of an author’s inferior-to-his-much-better-work novel wasn’t going to make any money anyway? It’s probably the last one. After all, people weren’t exactly tripping over themselves to race to the box office to see that 2013 adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host, were they? Just goes to show that not every novel by an author is worth adapting just because one of them was good and/or popular. If somebody could pass that message along for me to the people who keep pumping out insufferable Nicholas Sparks movies, that’d be just swell.
In The Land Of Really Stretching The Term Limited Releases, Mark Neveldine – of Neveldine/Taylor of Crank 2: High Voltage more commonly known as THE GREATEST ACTION MOVIE RELEASED THIS CENTURY – decided that he was going to try and be the Shawn Michaels to Bryan Taylor’s Marty Jannetty and split off to direct the found-footage exorcism flick The Vatican Tapes. As karma for this act of betrayal/insolence, the film sat on the shelf for a good year and a bit before finally getting dumped in 427 theatres, trashed by critics, and managing a pathetic $850,000 for a sub-$2,000 per-screen average. Hopefully now he and Taylor – whom I was just reminded was supposed to direct and release a Twisted Metal movie this year, which caused me to laugh for a solid minute – will recognise that they are stronger together and go back to making movies as a cohesive unit! Daddy needs Crank 3D, dammit.
Also, the best performing film of the weekend was Woody Allen’s Irrational Man, which added 21 screens (for a total of 28), and took home $261,000 for a $9,321 per-screen average. Once again, you all do know that you don’t have to give him money for everything he does, right?
A winner is you with this Full List.
Box Office Results: Friday 24th July 2015 – Sunday 26th July 2015
$24,765,000 / $106,075,000
Again, this is currently real tight, so things may switch when the actuals come in, but everything’s great for now! Also, allow me to highlight this well-argued piece by Umberto Gonzalez about how he was offended by the character of Luis in Ant-Man. I personally don’t agree with the piece – as I mention in my review, I feel that the film’s commitment to ensuring that everyone gets enough development to be a character keeps characters like Luis from being just a racist stereotype – and most of the article’s (mostly Latino) commenters don’t seem to agree either, but it’s well-written and I have huge respect for him bringing the issue forward. Even when it seems like we’re being too sensitive, it’s still important to call out these things and have these discussions.
$24,000,000 / NEW
Seeing this on Tuesday for an Unlimited Screening and a review will be along the following day, so I’m restraining any sick burns or easy jokes until then. Hell, I’m even going to flush them out of my mind completely! With films like Pixels, I worry that we all take a little too much pleasure in dumping on easy targets, that we get a little carried away and just devolve into strings of (often admittedly) hilarious insults because we can be united in attacking a common low-effort target. That’s why I try really hard to avoid doing that in my reviews of such films – my Paul Blart and Entourage reviews do have the occasional funny lines, but mostly stick to explaining the legitimate genuine faults those movies have instead of going for comedy gold.
What I’m saying is that I like the middle-part of Moviebob’s Pixels review, where he breaks down in detail why the film sucks, but that review blew up for all of the wrong reasons and that makes me sad and/or mad.
$22,100,000 / $261,620,000
Look, you all like to insult the Minions and claim that their kind and their movies are abominations and the downfall of civilisation. OK, whatever. But, have the Minions ever made an allegedly videogame-themed theme song for their movie by Waka Flocka Flame (featuring two people from Good Charlotte who I am not 100% convinced aren’t just clones of one another), where the lyrics barely reference videogames, barely rhyme, and are performed on a beat that sounds like Maroon 5 covering a Panic! At The Disco cover of a 2015 Fall Out Boy song? I rest my case.
$17,300,000 / $61,545,000
I hate to bring the mood down, but let’s all just take a moment to mourn those killed at The Grand 16 Theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana this past weekend. I could use this space to get incredibly angry – at the lax gun control laws, to the fact that the media keeps painting the cause of the shooting as a mystery despite the fact that it took place during a feminist film by a feminist movie star and that the victims were women who were shot by a man with a history of abusive behaviour towards female members of his family – but I’m honestly just kinda numb to all of this by this point. It’s clear that nothing’s going to change – not gun control laws, and certainly not the toxic sexism that has been ingrained into our society – and I just can’t muster up any emotions about this anymore. Like, seriously, what is it going to take to get something to change?
OK, sorry for springing that on you folks in what is supposed to be a fun and silly space. Back to our regularly scheduled programme.
$16,500,000 / NEW
Saw this Friday and a review will be along tomorrow – it got held up by the length of time it took for me to write about Inside Out – but I will tell you that this one was incredibly disappointing. A film that actively steers itself away from anything remotely interesting or new in favour of yet another tale about male masculinity and fatherly redemption, but this time with extra excess melodrama. It’s fine for what it is, but I’m tired of seeing films like Southpaw. Tell me something new!
Also, I do kinda have to agree with my friend Matt: making a non-Rocky-related boxing movie over an MMA movie in 2015 is pure wankery.
6] Paper Towns
$12,500,000 / NEW
So, question: who, what, where, why, and how Cara Delevingne? Seriously, I go to bed one night, and then wake up the next morning to find people incapable of not talking about her and that she’s appearing in the something like 7 films over the next 12 months. What gives? I mean no disrespect for her or anything, she might be a fine actress and a perfectly upstanding human being, I’m just naturally cautious about anybody who blows up overnight and is in everything. Last time this happened, we got The Walking Embodiment of Beige, commonly known as Jai Courtney. Just saying.
7] Inside Out
$7,356,000 / $320,335,000
Here is my attempt to offer up a straight review, where I only talk about the film and why it’s brilliant and I love it on its own merits. That took 8 hours to write. Here is my in-depth, personal, and spoiler-y piece on why Inside Out is so emotionally attached to me in ways that I really can’t separate it from. That took about 3 hours to write. Writing, everybody!
8] Jurassic World
$6,900,000 / $623,803,000
9] Mr. Holmes
$2,849,000 / $6,432,000
Hey! This actually broke into the chart! Yay and stuff!
10] Terminator: Game Gear
$2,400,000 / $85,666,000
On the one hand: YIPPEE! This piece of dog sh*t is bidding us adieu! We might be spared a sequel after all! On the other hand: dammit! I had all of these videogame console name substitutions lined up for usage, and now they’re all going to go to waste! What good is a once-slightly-clever gag escalation if I don’t get to run it into the ground?! Life is the worst!
This is a situation with no clear-cut answer, so I’m just going to embed the unquestionably godawful Pixels theme song below and call it for the week.
Dropped Out: Magic Mike XXL, The Gallows, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Ted 2
Welcome one and all to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast where Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are this week joined by special guests Andrew Brooker and Matt Lambourne to review big-budget pint-sized Marvel superhero movie Ant-Man! There’s both a spoiler-free discussion on the film and a return of our ‘spoiler alert’ right after the end credits where we go into more specific details.
Also featured on this week’s podcast: Owen discusses the 1970’s Werner Herzog movie Stroszek; Brooker finally manages to get his hands on The Voices, starring Ryan Reynolds; Matt is back to say a few things to say about Terminator Genisys; and Steve puts him through the Danny Dyer film The Other Half ….with very good reason!
There’s even time for the group to mull over the Attack On Titan trailer, talk about our latest celeb Twitter follower after the very first Failed Critics meet up and we “react” to the as yet unreleased Spectre trailer.
Join us again next week for the return of our TV Special in honour of the biggest new release this week. No, not Southpaw. No, not Inside Out either. No, not even Maggie.
“Oh no. Oh Hell no! Surely you don’t mean… it’s not….. it can’t be… no way….??”
Yes way. It’s the eagerly anticipated release of Sharknado 3!
Winking self-acknowledgment is not an acceptable substitute for actual self-improvement.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
WARNING: The following article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Ant-Man, and SPOILERS OF VARYING AMOUNTS for other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Throughout most of Ant-Man, Hope van Dyne spends her time being considerably irritated by the fact that Scott Lang is the one stepping into the Ant-Man suit instead of her. She has good reason to, though. Hope is tougher than Scott, she’s smarter than Scott, she already knows Pym Technologies inside out, and she’s close enough to Derrick to be able to be kept in the loop at all times. Essentially, there is no good reason for her not to be wearing that suit. She knows it, everyone else knows it, and the film itself knows it. Yet, she is told time and time again by her overprotective father that she can’t. Instead, Scott is the one in the suit because he’s expendable, and Hank can’t bear to think about what would happen if things went bad with Hope in that suit.
In addition to being an arc for both Hank and Hope – him learning to accept that his wife (and Hope’s mother) Janet chose to sacrifice herself and that him trying to control the women in his life, even if he does genuinely think that it’s in their best interest, is wrong; her learning not resent her Dad for his decisions in life – the stuff with Hope also works as a meta-text for Marvel’s reticence to just allow women to suit up, kick ass, and headline their own damn movie already. There’s a character that’s basically a stand-in for every single audience member who is sick of waiting for women to get their shot at the limelight, she is told by the hunky white guy that he’s there because he’s expendable if anything goes wrong, and a big part of big daddy Hank’s arc is learning that keeping women from being superheroes out of some misguided paternal instinct just breeds resentment. The first of the film’s two big mid-credits scenes involves Hank revealing a prototype Wasp costume and giving Hope permission to use it, to which she responds with the big-hell-yes line, “It’s about damn time.”
Here’s the thing. Yes, I really like Hope. Yes, I agree with what Ant-Man is saying. Yes, I appreciate that Marvel seems to understand the criticisms levelled against it. And, yes, my heart did swell with joy at the reveal of the Wasp costume. But, no, I don’t think that we should be giving Marvel credit or praise for any of this. After all, they are part of the problem. Kevin Feige has constantly shot down the idea of a Black Widow solo movie, Captain Marvel isn’t due until November 2018 (and every single one of these movies from now on is getting mentally marked-down if they don’t feature Carol Danvers in at least a 10 second post-credits sequence), and this franchise still hasn’t been making any particular strides towards bettering itself when it comes to its female characters.
Yet here’s Ant-Man, self-consciously pointing out how ridiculous this situation is and expecting a round of applause for doing so, instead of actually trying to fix the issue. It’s like an architect of glass houses pointing out all of the structural dangers and safety concerns inherent in his work, and how ridiculous it is that he’s doing this, and then expecting a ticker-tape parade and a knighthood because at least he admitted to it, right?
Look, it’s not that I don’t approve of a big movie pointing out the fact that this is a problem that needs fixing, I just don’t think that Marvel are the people who should be doing so. Black Widow is still one of only two Avengers to not have their own solo movie because… well, quite frankly, Kevin Feige can’t seem to come up with a genuine answer. If the issue is brought up, he’ll instead spout some rhetoric about how they have “gone for the powerful woman versus the damsel in distress” as if that excuses them continually side-lining these characters over their male counterparts.
In fairness, Marvel films do typically have better-written female characters than most blockbusters, in that most of them do actually contribute to the plot in ways that aren’t solely “jumping into the hero’s pants”. But they’re still not great. For one, most of these “powerful women” arrive from the same school that most “powerful women” in popular media do: the ones who kick ass and/or snark but otherwise lack much distinctive personality. Lady Sif, Gamora, Maria Hill, Sharon Carter… My affection for these characters are born less out of what I’ve gotten to know about them in their respective films and more out of my love for their actresses and hints of what could possibly be done with them in the future. Instead, they’re always the least-served characters in their respective movies, asked to do nothing more than occasionally beat people up and snark before getting out of the way of the men’s stuff.
Otherwise, despite Feige’s assertions, these women still mostly fall into the camps of “love interest” or “damsel”, and sometimes both! Jane Foster’s main role in both Thor movies is “bland love interest” whilst her contributions to helping Thor save the world are forced at best. Pepper Potts, despite spending much of the first two Iron Man movies being depicted as Tony Stark’s intellectual equal, is relegated to being just another damsel throughout Iron Man 3 with her last minute Extremis powers being an utterly laughable attempt to combat arguments like mine about the near-total destruction of her character. (There’s also the fact that Iron Man 3 itself is borderline misogynistic, but that’s a whole other article.) And despite acting as a walking meta-commentary on female marginalisation in the MCU and how this needs to change, Hope still spends the majority of Ant-Man on the sidelines and ends the movie as the girlfriend of Scott Lang, despite the only build-up being a begrudging respect for him and a flustered look at some fine Paul Rudd abs, because… that’s how these things are supposed to go, I guess.
Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t some really genuinely well-drawn female characters in the MCU – everybody keeps bringing up Black Widow for a reason (even if Age of Ultron dropped the ball by handing the sterilisation and Bruce Banner developments less-than-well), but Peggy Carter has also blossomed into an outstanding character, and Scarlet Witch is, in my opinion, the real star of Ultron – and I’m also not saying that strong female characters (how I hate that phrase) can’t also be love interests, pre-Iron Man 3 Pepper was absolutely one of the strongest and most well-written characters of this franchise regardless of gender. But what I am saying is that this currently isn’t good enough and that there is room for substantial improvement. And I do mean substantial; this is not something that can be fixed purely by the existence of Captain Marvel, although Feige worryingly gives off the impression that he thinks it can.
A female-led superhero movie is a good start, but it’s not a be-all-end-all. These movies need more better-written women across the board. It’s not just that Hope is better suited to the Ant-Man suit than Scott, it’s that her character is honestly not that interesting beyond her meta-text and Evangeline Lilly’s charm offensive. It’s not that Gamora is boring, it’s that her few moments of genuine personality (which call to mind Starfire from DC’s Teen Titans, natch) are just that. Moments, compared to the extensive character studies we get for Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon in the rest of Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not that Jane can’t be Thor’s girlfriend, it’s the fact that she doesn’t really have a distinctive personality beyond being his girlfriend who occasionally quips about how ridiculous this world she’s been shunted into is, and she’s outperformed at that by Darcy.
The reason why everybody keeps calling for a Black Widow solo movie is not because we just want a movie in which a female superhero is fronting things instead of a man. It’s because, through the four films that she’s appeared in so far, Black Widow is one of the most richly-drawn, well-defined, and just plain interesting characters in the MCU. And she’s a woman, which makes that prior fact a goddamn miracle. This is what everybody seems to misunderstand. DC and Warner Bros. seem to be under the impression that throwing Wonder Woman into Batman v. Superman and giving her a prominent three-second shot in the trailer is going to be enough to get them showered in bouquets of roses. And whilst it is more than nice to finally see Wonder Woman up on the big screen, it’s going to mean jack sh*t if she hasn’t got an interesting character with stuff to do and only shows up to kick arse and snark indiscriminately. Because then she’s not Wonder Woman, she’s just yet another in a long line of quote-unquote ‘strong female characters’.
That’s why the Hope stuff in Ant-Man irritates me so. Yes, it’s nice that everyone seems to recognise that this is a problem, and that they are going to put Hope in the Wasp suit at some unspecified point in the future assuming the inevitable heat-death of the universe doesn’t murder us all to death first. It’s the fact that the film still doesn’t actually do anything to fix the problem, still mostly marginalising Hope’s role in the story, still giving her a rather interchangeable personality, and still shunts her far out of the way of the important concluding parts of the story. Openly acknowledging a problem is not an acceptable substitute for actually trying to fix the problem, and the time and effort spent on this “look at us, we’re so self-aware and clever” routine is time and effort that could have been spent actually bettering the situation.
Hope’s “it’s about damn time” is meant to be a satisfying fist-pumping indicator that things may finally be turning a corner, but forgive me for holding off on the party poppers and champagne until I see actual evidence that things are getting better. And, no, just throwing Carol Danvers into a post-credits sequence alone won’t be enough.
Ant-Man is a heist movie AND a father-daughter relationship movie, so it’s alright in my book.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
OK, that’s exaggerating a little, but it gets at the precarious little platform that I am currently stood on. Unlike most people (that I hang around with), I am still all aboard the Marvel Studios train. I have liked or loved every film they’ve put out to various degrees, except Iron Man 3 which is just garbage save for The Mandarin twist, and I will continue to like them until they start putting out multiple bad movies in a row. That said, I am nearing the verge of burnout and plain old cynicism about superhero movies as a whole. The Marvel movies are formula, I know and understand that, which will one day soon wear out its welcome, whilst everybody else seems to be on a mission to drain every last strain of fun out of the genre with an even stricter adherence to rote formula, deathly seriousness, and blatant franchising during the initial birth stages.
It’s a recent occurrence, but it’s not one that I’m particularly happy with. Even though I don’t read comic books, I love me some good superhero movies! But most of them nowadays aren’t good, and the sheer number of them on the horizon is now, for the first time, genuinely daunting to me. I love this genre, but it needs to try new things or it risks losing me. Of next year’s load of superhero flicks to come, Deadpool is the one I’m actually looking forward to most because, even though the trailer isn’t particularly funny by most metrics, it looks different instead of more of the same, or needlessly and endlessly miserable.
Which, with that context out of the way, brings us onto Ant-Man, a heist movie wearing the clothes of a superhero movie. In stark contrast to most every other movie released during Marvel’s Phase Two, and this includes Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man is a very small-scale film that focuses in on a tight cast of characters, withholds basically all of its action until the last 30 or so minutes, and has stakes that only really affect our immediate cast more than anything else. In fact, there’s something that rings false whenever anybody tries to insist that the central technology that everyone is fighting over would cause untold chaos if released into the public, like saying so is just a reflex that everyone involved can’t kick. The truth is that the stakes are small, the pacing is deliberate, and the focus is on the characters more than the plot.
Said plot, and the characters that populate it, follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a recently freed convict who was arrested for robbing from a powerful company and handing out its funds to their employees. He wants to do right by his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), but is drawn back to crime when his attempts at finding a job go as well as you’d expect for an ex-con. Fortunately, this time he’s being secretly swept into the world of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who is trying to recruit Scott to pull off a daring heist. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), the head of Pym Technologies and Hank’s ex-protégé, has managed to crack the formula and technology required to shrink human beings down to insect size – the same technology that allowed Pym to become the first Ant-Man back during the Cold War – and Hank is very worried about the effects that selling the tech would cause. So, rejecting the help of his more-than-capable daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Hank tasks Scott with using his old Ant-Man suit to break into Pym Technologies and destroy Cross’ research and prototypes, with both Hank and Scott possibly earning their shots at redemption as a result.
So, immediately, Ant-Man is pressing two of my major weakness buttons: heist movies, and films about father-daughter relationships. The latter ends up being the emotional and thematic backbone of the movie, as Hank and Hope try to reconcile things after a life of Hank not being there for Hope, whilst Scott tries to become “the hero [his daughter] already sees [him] as”. Hank and Hope’s strand has issues that I’ll come back to shortly, but Scott and Cassie’s relationship works gangbusters primarily because the film doesn’t belabour the point. Their on-screen interactions are minimal, but they, coupled with the genuine remorse that Scott shows throughout the movie, already clue the viewer into just how much they both mean to each other. Plus, in a rare turn-up for the books, her new soon-to-be-step-father, Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), is not painted as a douchey hateful nuisance we’re supposed to despise. The film understands that he’s a good guy just trying to do his job and never treats him as some kind of villain to wish death upon, a nice change of pace compared to usual.
Meanwhile, the heist side encompasses all of the traits that you expect from a good heist film: extended training montages, detailed step-by-step plans that are slowly put together (often in montage), the smaller heist to build up to the real heist, the moment where certain failure is just avoided, the moment where everyone has to improvise, the bit where everything goes to hell in a handbasket. I’m a sucker for heist movies, basically, and the standard heist mechanics get a nice shot in the arm from the fact that we’re watching this take place in a superhero movie, allowing for more inventive ways of executing acts like frying circuitry or making an escape from a hairy situation. What’s most impressive is the way that the two elements balance so smoothly, although there are times when the superhero part of things takes over, as the addition of the Ant-Man suit and the power to control ants shifts sequences like desperately trying to hide plans or briefing new last-minute team members in slightly different yet distinctive ways.
On the note of “new team members”, Ant-Man spends a lot of its time developing its cast, either through character arcs or just letting them hang out. I bring this up not to mention that Scott Lang is wonderfully charming, or that I really like Hope despite most everything attached to her character, or that Darren is a surprisingly menacing and sadistic villain who is one of the few genuinely good MCU villains that have come along so far. No, I bring this up to make reference to Scott’s friends, headed up by his ex-cellmate Luis (Michael Peña). They are, to be blunt, racial stereotypes whose ethnicities are played up at every opportunity, yet they still feel like three-dimensional characters because their actors (which also include Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave and David Dastmalchian as Kurt) commit totally to them and the film cares enough for them to give off the impression that they actually do have real lives outside of the times where Luis gets all motor-mouthed or Dave plays up his blackness to try and get out of trouble with the police. It’s a very fine and tough line to walk, but the film, in my opinion for whatever that’s worth, just manages to pull it off.
Again, that smaller-scale is what helps here. Characters like Luis would usually be lost in the shuffle in a giant world-ending stakes movie, like most Marvel movies are, but because the film commits to that smaller scale, to building its stakes out of personal legacies and character relationships, it allows for a deeper emotional connection than most typical Marvel films. Sure, there are multiple characters that just get shunted to the sidelines – which is the kind way of saying that Judy Greer is in this movie and we are all currently part of 2015: The Summer of Completely Wasting Judy Greer – but the central relationships get time to properly develop and blossom. Plus, the film finds time to invest in some more idiosyncratic relationships: Scott ends up taking a fancy to one particular ant, whom he dubs Anthony, in a way that’s pretty funny but gains genuine resonance because the film is always completely sincere about how much Scott likes it.
It would also be remiss of me to not mention the film’s final third, the point where one would expect the film to expand its scale for those big action setpieces that all superhero movies apparently must close with by law. Instead, once again, Ant-Man remains committed to keeping those stakes small and personal, with the main conflict coming from Darren’s inferiority complex towards his former mentor, his rapidly deteriorating mental state, and his desire to punish Scott for being everything he wanted Hank to see him as. That also extends to the final setpiece, one of only three times in which the film really lets loose with the suit, which utilises the size-changing mechanics to allow for a big pyrotechnic battle to take place in a little girl’s bedroom. It’s a load of fun and more inventive than any other Marvel setpiece I’ve yet seen, where the fusion of the superhero and comedy aspects works to brilliant effect.
As much as I do really like Ant-Man, though – and that’s not even mentioning Peyton Reed’s stylish direction or the across-the-board-excellent performances – it does have several notable flaws. For one, although this is one of the most stand-alone Marvel movies yet, there are moments where the broader universe intrudes itself on the rest of the film. Now, I am not opposed to this concept, when pulled off right it can excellently give off the feeling of this universe existing outside of each hero’s individual movies, but it’s very hit-and-miss here. Scott immediately asking aloud why Hank doesn’t just contact The Avengers is an example of it working, since it’s an acknowledgment that these films don’t exist in a bubble and provides justification as to why they wouldn’t work on this kind of story. An extended setpiece about midway through the film with a surprise cameo (that I won’t spoil) is one that doesn’t. Oh, sure, it is pretty fun, but it still feels a little clunky, like it was forced in there either because somebody panicked and feared that holding off on proper action until the last third would bore the audience, or somebody just thought it was a really cool idea and threw it in there regardless of whether it fit the film or not.
More of a problem is Hope van Dyne. Now, I like Hope – a combination of Evangeline Lily’s winning charm offensive and my natural love for women who can get sh*t done made sure of that – but her existence in this movie is part of a meta-text that I am not really comfortable with Marvel making. See, Hope is clearly the one best suited to donning the Ant-Man suit and undertaking the heist – she’s tougher than Scott, a fair bit smarter than Scott, more accustomed to the labs and technology – but Hank keeps refusing to let her for personal, ultimately unfair reasons. It’s played as this meta-commentary on how Marvel seem similarly resistant to making a female superhero movie, instead constantly trading on white guys cos if one fails, in the words of Scott in this very film, “[they’re] expendable”. It’s a nice acknowledgement of a genuine problem, and builds to a promising payoff, but that doesn’t change the fact that Marvel still aren’t actually doing anything to fix the problem and ultimately just made me even more annoyed that we still won’t get a fix to this problem until November 2018.
(For more on this, keep an eye on the site over the next few days, I have an article about this in the ideas oven as I type these words.)
That said, I do still really like Ant-Man. For every moment it adheres to the standard Marvel formula, there are many more where it tries something completely different or twists the familiar into something that’s atypical for these kinds of films. It’s still recognisably a Marvel Movie, but its commitment to keeping things small and personal provides a shot-in-the-arm and a nice change of pace for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not massively different, so those completely averse to Marvel/superhero movies are unlikely to get much from this one, but it is a positive step in the right direction. As stated up top, I do still like these kinds of movies, but I need them to be trying something different if I’m going to stay a fan of this stuff. Ant-Man is a good start.
Ant-Man shrinks the standard Marvel opening, Trainwreck is anything but a, Mr. Holmes effortlessly cracks The Mystery of How To Get Into the Top 10, these puns are awful even by my standards, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
So, here’s the deal. I am really frickin’ tired. Not gonna lie. I’ve been really busy these last few days working on something big, and I’m just plain not sleeping well, so Sunday night is currently not the time where my brain is most engaged. Right now, all I really want to do is lie down in bed and alternate between Phineas & Ferb and Parks & Rec episodes until my brain just collapses into Sleepsville. However, my “job” involves providing fresh Box Office Reports for your fine self to read first thing on a Monday morning, and if there is one thing that I am committed to it is my “job”! I spent just over 30 straight weeks pumping out giant DreamWorks Animation essays after all! So, let’s just try and get through this together, eh?
Keeping those doom-saying think pieces that pretty much every Box Office commenter and Internet writer has had prepped for the last three years in storage just a little while longer, Ant-Man is your new box office number 1, with $58 million in ticket sales! Of course, those think pieces could still be trotted out if everyone wanted to, as that $58 million opening is the second-worst in Marvel Cinematic Universe history (only besting The Incredible Hulk’s $55 million), but it’s only one film and a number 1 opening is still a number 1 opening however you slice it. Besides, I don’t think we need to be encouraging these things. I honestly don’t know which will be worse at this point: the incredibly smug “I told you so” attitude that every single card-carrying member of Film Twitter and Film Internet will sport when these films do start failing, or the whiney defensive attitude that will come from the part of the Internet that keeps painting Marvel as some kind of victim being bullied by Film Snobs. It’s like Aliens vs. Predator only somehow even worse than that.
In much happier news, Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck was a huge success, coming in third with $30.2 million! No, that wasn’t sarcasm. See, Trainwreck is Apatow’s second-biggest opening weekend as a director, just behind Knocked Up’s $30.6 million, and the film itself is an R-rated female-focused comedy starring an untested talent in the world of film and being released against the newest instalment in the Marvel juggernaut. This is genuinely a roaring success! Woo-hoo! Go Amy Schumer! Between this, Spy, and Pitch Perfect 2, this has been quite the year for female-fronted comedies. Now, if we could get some movies fronted by non-white female comediennes, that would be just peachy…
In “really stretching the definition of ‘limited’ release” news, Bill Condon’s excellent Mr. Holmes – a film that just missed out on my Top 5 of 2015 So Far list – crossed the pond to 363 theatres this past weekend, and managed to crack the Top 10 with $2.48 million in tickets and a respectable $6,800 per screen average. Almost matching it on 100 less screens, and perhaps another sign that Indian cinema is about to finally break somewhat big in America, was Bajrangi Bhaijaan which took $2.42 million for eleventh place and a per-screen average of $9,400. These two may even switch places when the actuals come in, but, as you all know, I only work from these final estimates cos I have sh*t to do, thank you kindly.
Meanwhile, in actual limited release news, Woody Allen’s latest “older man falls for much, much, much younger woman” tale, this one going by the name Irrational Man, made $188,000 from 5 screens of die-hard Woody Allen fanatics with nothing better going on in their lives. Everybody does know that they don’t have to help him film everything he comes up with, right?
This Full List is brought to you by the warm dulcet tones of Ringo Starr. Because Thomas the Tank Engine is featured in Ant-you know what never mind.
Box Office Results: Friday 17th July 2015 – Sunday 19th July 2015
$58,040,000 / NEW
Saw this on Friday and the review should hopefully be up soon – it’s not yet because I didn’t finish writing it until Saturday afternoon, because my brain currently hates me, and Owen was off enjoying The First-Ever Failed Critics Meet-Up so couldn’t get to posting. Short version: I really dug this one. It has problems, but I really, really dug it! There’s a second article that’s going up later this week that may make it seem like I hate this movie, but I do actually really like it. That’s the thing about criticism, taking issue with a certain aspect doesn’t mean that the rest of the film can’t win you over! It’s almost like opinions are these multi-faceted and nuanced things or something.
$50,200,000 / $216,692,000
Steeper-than-expected 56% drop, which looks really bad compared to the second-week drops of the first (42%) and second (47%) Despicable Mes. But, of course, neither of those opened to $115 million domestic and this $50 million second weekend is about in line with those films’ low $30 million and low $40 million weekends. Yeah, this is doing more than OK, although that unfortunately means that Illumination now have a green-light to run this franchise into the ground. I mean, they were probably going to anyway, but now they have an excuse to.
$30,200,000 / NEW
Absolutely cannot wait for this. Really, truly, cannot wait for this. I think that Amy Schumer is one of the most important voices in comedy right now and I am dying to see what she can with two hours and the romantic comedy template. News from America indicating that this is way more traditional and less subversive than I was hoping it would be has tempered my expectations and excitement but only slightly. Seriously: bring this baby on already!
4] Inside Out
$11,660,000 / $306,363,000
When we next meet, folks, I will have seen Inside Out. I would like to thank Owen for cordoning off review privileges for this on this site for myself and myself alone. It’s like he understands that I live to be the sole person reviewing all of the animated films. He gets me, he really does.
5] Jurassic World
$11,400,000 / $611,174,000
I… I really got nothing for this one anymore, folks. Enjoy this song from Phineas & Ferb, instead.
6] Terminator: 2600
$5,400,000 / $80,640,000
I’m just going to bury my head in my hands and hope against hope that this one just goes away, if that’s alright with everyone else. Emilia Clarke deserves better, dammit!
7] Magic Mike XXL
$4,500,000 / $58,636,000
I hope this becomes a Cult Movie Night fixture. You know the ones: those special screenings full of die-hard fans who know the film front-to-back, love and appreciate every last second of it, get its progressive sexual politics completely, and are completely comfortable in their love for this movie. They’ll all meet up once every few months and make a night out of seeing this film, the cinema will provide each attendee with a roll of (convincingly) fake dollar bills to rain down upon the screen at the appropriate times, and everyone will just have the most fun and best time together shrieking in pure glee.
I hope this happens, at any rate, cos that’s a film screening experience I want to have!
8] The Gallows
$4,005,000 / $18,007,000
THIS JUST IN: Shitty Horror Movie That Nobody Liked Plummets In Its Second Weekend. More at 11.
9] Ted 2
$2,700,000 / $77,457,000
So, Ted 2. I was promised some Rachael MacFarlane in your movie. I went to see your movie and I noticed no Rachael MacFarlane. I feel very much betrayed by this, and you can expect a very strongly worded letter expressing my disappointment to be along in the post shortly!
10] Mr. Holmes
$2,489,000 / NEW
I wanted to write a review of this after I saw it, but I never got around to it due to this whole “being back at home and feeling miserable” lark causing me to have trouble putting words to paper. In any case, I highly recommend it, especially if you’re sick of Sherlock Holmes adaptations cos it’s not really one. It’s more a mediation on death, aging, memory, regret, and selfishness that ties back into Sherlock Holmes in specific ways but is mostly a movie that just happens to feature Sherlock Holmes. I loved this one and cannot recommend it enough to you!
Just don’t be one of those berks who marks it down because “the mystery wasn’t that difficult or compelling” otherwise you and I will be having words.
Dropped Out: Self/Less, Baahubali: The Beginning, Max
People REALLY f*cking love dinosaurs, Ted ends up like Flash Gordon – a thing we all liked as a kid and now want to distance ourselves from, [Insert Tasteless Mean-Spirited Batkid Begins Gag Here], and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
For the third week in a row, somehow, Jurassic World has taken the top spot at the box office, this time with $54 million in ticket sales, pushing its domestic total to over $500 million. There’s a part of me that’s surprised that Jurassic World is doing this well, but I guess it’s gonna take a while for a film like this to stop posting non-ridiculous numbers when it opened over $200 million. That, incidentally, is still something I definitely can’t get over. Meanwhile, Pixar’s Inside Out is probably going to become the first Pixar film to not hit the number one slot, since Jurassic World managed to keep it off of the top even with $52 million in ticket sales. I guess everyone prefers velociraptors fighting genetically-modified dinosaurs to intimate tales of depression. In entirely unrelated news, Pixar have just delayed The Good Dinosaur yet again. Apparently they’ve finally cracked the ending.
“But wait, Callum,” I hear you, imaginary reader calling out to nobody in particular. “Weren’t there new films out this last weekend?” Indeed there were, astutely attuned and likely very attractive reader! Indeed there were! Specifically, Ted 2 happened and, in the grand tradition of Seth MacFarlane works, was apparently nowhere near as good brought back from its at-the-time great original self. The film regressed. Significantly. Whilst the first Ted managed to break box office records with a $54 million opening, Ted 2 could only manage $33 million for third place. It’s not as bad as A Million Ways To Die In The West’s $16 million third place opening, but it’s still troubling. Now, thanks to this, Seth MacFarlane is going to have to make and unleash that Family Guy movie upon the world. Thanks, you lot. Thanks a million.
In “Films That Are Guaranteed To Make Me Weep Like A Three Year-Old” news, Max, the family drama about the loyal dog of a deceased soldier that returns home and suffers from PTSD… sorry, you’ll need to give me a second. Just typing that sentence is causing my eyes to water. …OK, I’m good. Anyways, that film got off to a pretty good start for a low budget and thinly advertised family drama, managing $12 million for fourth place. Its limited release equivalent, Batkid Begins, which is a documentary about how the city of San Francisco came together to help Make-A-Wish kid Miles Scott’s dream to be Batkid for a day… … …OK, I can keep going. Anywho, that film didn’t get off to such a good start, only managing $23,000 from 4 screens because YOU ARE ALL HEARTLESS BASTARDS!
Elsewhere in the part of these articles where I kill time before we get to the Full List, The Third Man received a special re-release to celebrate its restoration and managed an alright $24,000 from 3 screens because who wants to watch old movies at the cinema anymore, AMIRIGHT LADS? A Little Chaos, a movie I fell asleep watching at the cinema for what it’s worth, finally debuted in 83 American theatres and was collectively shrugged out of the room with only $186,000 and a $2,241 per-screen average. Runoff, a festival darling that’s finally managing to get a theatrical release, was the only real bright spot for limited release films this weekend, managing $10,000 from a single theatre.
Actually, no, wait! There was another good slice of news in limited release! Me and Earl and the Dying Girl expanded to 354 locations and couldn’t even manage $1 million! THE SYSTEM WORKS!
This Full List is nowhere near as good as it was before it got cancelled the first time.
Box Office Results: Friday 26th June 2015 – Sunday 28th June 2015
1] Jurassic World
$54,200,000 / $500,100,000
Highest grossing film of the year domestically. Add another $737 mil onto that and you have its current worldwide total. This will beat Frozen in the all-time worldwide totals by the time I finish writing this sentence, and will probably cross Age of Ultron off the list on its journey for world dominance by the end of next week. This is a literal juggernaut. A quite literal juggernaut. How?! I had a lot of fun with it, and even I am perplexed by the sheer non-stoppery of this thing! If Terminator: Mega Drive falls to this next week, I will not be surprised, believe me.
2] Inside Out
$52,128,000 / $184,945,000
Accidentally found out that Inside Out is all about a young girl who has to move house and goddammit Pixar why don’t you just stab me in the heart and get it over with! Seriously, it doesn’t matter if this movie ends up being garbage, I will cry seven hundred times watching it.
3] Ted 2
$33,000,000 / NEW
I honestly just don’t know why Seth MacFarlane hasn’t just made a musical already. He clearly loves them, he’s already recorded two big-band and swing albums, and his voice would probably be able to carry the musical you just know he’d have a starring role in. I mean, it would certainly be better if he just admits that he wants to make a musical and does a full-on musical instead of forcing them into everything else he does even though they mostly just kill the pace of the thing he’s shoving them into.
$12,210,000 / NEW
You remember what I said about Inside Out? Multiply that by a thousand for this. Not joking. This past weekend, I thought I’d lost my dog, Mac, and spent five minutes running about the house in pure panicked terror because I couldn’t find him and was worried he’d somehow slipped out of the house without my knowing. Then I opened a closed bedroom door and found him sat there wondering why I was looking so terrified. Yeah, this film will kill me.
$7,800,000 / $88,351,000
So this is on track to become Paul Feig’s lowest grossing film yet – unless you count his pre-Bridesmaids films, which nobody does because doing so is stupid – despite it being his best by a country mile. That’s a shame, but hopefully Hollywood won’t hold it against him when it comes time to bankroll his and Melissa McCarthy’s next films. After all, everybody has been summarily crushed by Jurassic World, it’s not like this is indicative of anything except that all films need dinosaurs.
6] San Andreas
$5,275,000 / $141,871,000
I’m actually completely out of things to say about this, so have a picture of an adorable puppy.
$2,862,000 / $11,776,000
Sigh… goddammit, people. You can’t spend forever joining me in campaigning for greater diversity and representation in movies and then not actually pay to see the ones that get a wide release! This is why Jai Courtney gets to be a thing, people! That is your goddamn fault!
8] Insidious Chapter 3
$2,025,000 / $49,816,000
A cinema in Middleton, Ohio ended up playing Insidious Chapter 3 for a group of families who had instead turned up to see Inside Out and every single story like this always bewilders me for the following reasons. 1] When you’re programming the projector, do you really pay that little attention to the title of the film you’re setting up that you really will confuse Insidious for Inside Out? 2] Does America not flash up the rating and film title before the film starts like we do in England? Cos this seems like a weird thing to not do if that’s the case. 3] Why don’t the families scramble for the nearest exit when the studio logos quite clearly indicate that this is not the Pixar film they signed up to see? 4] Why does everybody continue to stay in the cinema long after it’s been made apparent that this is a horror movie and not something the kids should see? Y’all do know that horror movies don’t start flinging jump scares and loud noises and terrifying images non-stop from frame one, right? That’s what horror videogames do.
9] Mad Max: Fury Road
$1,735,000 / $147,078,000
Still got nothing to add, so here’s a picture of an adorable kitten.
10] The Avengers: Age of Ultron
$1,643,000 / $452,428,000
Word is starting to come in on Ant-Man from lucky so-and-so American critics, and the consensus is currently at “Hey, that was actually pretty good!” Called it. I mean, that’s how the early consensus on all Marvel films initially comes to, but I called it nonetheless. You people can’t commit to your Marvel backlash! Not when they’re still putting out films that are at least good or better! (*acts like a petulant fanboy, loses all credibility, becomes washed-up jaded alcoholic at the age of 20*)
Dropped Out: Pitch Perfect 2, Tomorrowland
People f*cking love dinosaurs, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Jurassic World made $204 million, making it the second biggest domestic opening weekend of all-time.
(*drops mic, leaves*)
(*walks back in*)
So, apparently, I have to write more than that for these things. But, I mean, I’m slightly at a loss as to what to write. That figure and those numbers kinda tower over everything else, grabbing the eye and the attention so totally that to talk about anything else feels like trying to hold a conversation at a party that’s about anything but the grizzly act of cannibalism that everyone just saw occur in the parlour room moments ago. You know how ridiculous that opening is? I ran the opening of Jurassic Park back in 1993 ($47 million) through an inflation converter, and the result ($77 million) was still nearly three times less than what Jurassic World just made. I am at a loss to explain this, I really am. Like, I knew that Jurassic Park was a beloved touchstone for a generation of moviegoers, and that everybody loves dinosaurs, but DAMN!
That said, it was not the only film making waves this past weekend. For, in the land of the limited releases, it was time to unleash Me and Earl and the Dying Girl upon the world. This year’s Sundance darling, having premiered to a standing ovation and winning the Grand Jury and Audience Prizes for Drama at the festival, critically beloved by most, and looking absolutely and totally motherf*cking INSUFFERABLY GODAWFUL, was launched in the Little Miss Sunshine slot to a pretty great success – $210,000 from 15 screens with a per-screen average of $14,000. On any other weekend, that would be a per-screen average to kill for, but this was Jurassic World’s weekend and that film managed a per-screen average of $47,871 FROM 4,274 SCREENS. So, dinosaurs beat sh*tty-looking try-too-hard indie dramedies in the public sphere! This is information that makes me happy.
Finally, before we get into the part that matters, there’s the issue of Love & Mercy, the biopic of Brian Wilson that came out last week. Now, as you may know, I didn’t talk about it last week or, in fact, any of the week’s limited releases as I was far too busy making easy jokes at the expense of Entourage – which, as I discovered about 8 hours after that post went live, was letting that film off was too easily – to report on them or the fact that United Passions only made $607 from 10 screens – side note: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (*continues like so for another 10 minutes). Besides, I had the feeling that the supposedly great film would make an appearance in the Top 10 eventually, as it was too star-packed, too widely-released, and too critically-slathered to not break in at some point. Well, it did! This week, even! So, there!
This Full List found a way, the clever girl.
Box Office Results: Friday 12th June 2015 – Sunday 14th June 2015
1] Jurassic World
$204,600,000 / NEW
My review is over here, for those of you who are interested. Ended up digging this one a whole lot, even though it’s got characters that might as well just be breadsticks, dialogue that’s on the level of a five year-old, and themes that are communicated on the same level as that of a first year film studies student with a distrust of the military. But who cares about any of that when you have dinosaurs fighting each other and Chris Pratt – albeit minus any gratuitous shots of his abs, which is UNACCEPTABLE – both things I’ve wanted since I was 5 years-old? Not me, that’s for certain!
$16,000,000 / $56,937,000
Very strong 45% hold between weekends, which is very good for an R-rated comedy that is being released in this utterly insane Summer season. Can I also echo The Playlist’s demand that Melissa McCarthy gets a look-in for the Best Actress race come Oscar season? She is absolutely phenomenal in this, and I guarantee you that she’ll have put in a better performance than at least half of the people whose names get trotted out in this year’s Battle of Apparently Lowering Standards.
3] San Andreas
$11,010,000 / $119,321,000
…hey, Hollywood. Can’t help but notice that you haven’t gotten back to me about that goldmine of a film pitch that I gave you last week. Tell me, do you have a negative disposition towards the act of making money? Seriously, who doesn’t want to see Chris Pratt and The Rock solving crimes together in a buddy cop movie? I know that America wants to see The Rock lay the smacketh down on a bunch of candy asses whilst Chris Pratt says something Burt Macklin, FBI-y before The Rock raises his eyebrow inquisitively and humanity collectively creams its pants and explodes in pure glee!
No, seriously, this is pure f*cking gold, Hollywood! Hit me up about this! I’ll even convince my actually talented writing friend to sell out his principles to help me write this script, as it is surely guaranteed millions upon MILLIONS of dollars and millions of dollars and millions of dollars!
4] Insidious Chapter 3
$7,300,000 / $37,371,000
Forgot to mention this last week as I was too busy… whatever I was doing last week, but now’s as good a time as any. If you are writing a box office piece and use the phrase “scares up” when talking about the performance of a horror movie, quit. Just quit. Stop writing, resign from your position, and go and do something else with your life. I am dead serious. That phrase is so, so old and worn out, that even complete hacks will look at that and go, “Yeah, you absolutely put no effort into this whatsoever.” I find it a personal insult that professional writers are paid money to be that lazy whilst I slave away trying to find new spins on material and new talking points every week for free. So if you do use that phrase, quit. Give your job to people who deserve it.
5] Pitch Perfect 2
$6,000,000 / $170,715,000
This has managed to jump up one place, this week. People would rather see this again in its fifth week than Entourage in its second week. Humanity is not totally doomed, folks.
$4,340,000 / $25,870,000
I saw Entourage last Monday. If it weren’t for the fact that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is looming on the horizon like a strategically placed solid object aimed directly at one’s junk that you can’t avoid for whatever reason, I would feel very secure calling this the worst film I will see all year. It is just so totally abysmal. Brooker is still reviewing it for this site, but my thoughts were graciously housed by both Movieblort and my friend Charlize of HotMales.net. They’re absolutely worth a read at either location, I genuinely believe it’s one of the best reviews that I have ever written.
7] Mad Max: Fury Road
$4,130,000 / $138,630,000
Goddammit, I’ve been too busy to find the time to see this a third time. If I get lucky, it might hang around next week and I’ll be able to squeeze it between the new releases (otherwise known as the films I don’t give a sh*t about), but otherwise my chance has been and gone. Sigh. I’d say “at least I saw it twice”, but we all know that twice is nowhere near enough cinema-based viewings of Fury Road.
8] The Avengers: Age of Ultron
$3,641,000 / $444,743,000
I am excited and optimistic for Ant-Man. There, I said it. Revoke my “Film Critic” pass if you want, I don’t give a sh*t. It’s the truth and it’s how I feel.
$3,417,000 / $83,607,000
OK, homework for us all: let’s all watch The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille prior to meeting back up next week. We’re not actually going to talk about or do anything with them, it’s just always worth having seen those films. Great? Great.
10] Love & Mercy
$1,765,000 / $4,774,000
Here’s a scene from Walk Hard. Go and watch Walk Hard. This is not optional.
Dropped Out: Aloha, Poltergeist
Callum Petch only cares about that thing, that thing, that thing. Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!
Welcome to the Week In Film! Steve returns from a short break to provide you with a round-up of everything worth knowing in the world of film that has occurred in the past week.
by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)
The slow drip feed of info about the next instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continued this week as a brief synopsis of Avengers: Age of Ultron was released.
It revealed that Ultron was not created by Tony Stark, as previously thought due to Hank Pym not being introduced as of yet, but Tony Stark ‘releases’ Ultron by messing about with some old tech stuff.
With this in mind could we be seeing a Pym/Ant-Man cameo in Age of Ultron? And with a Doctor Strange movie announced and strong rumours of a Black Panther movie could we see either a cameo or mention of these popular Marvel characters?
I Know What You Did In a Summer Ages and Ages Ago
Sony are looking to remake I Know What You Did Last Summer. While it was an enjoyable teen slasher film, is there really any need to reboot it? I imagine they will attempt to spawn a franchise.
Hollywood needs some new ideas. The amount of remakes, reimaginings, prequels and sequels is getting pathetic.
Ben Hur is set for a rehash by Hollywood. Charlton Heston starred in the successful original, famous for its chariot race and Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman are set to star in a new version written by 12 Years A Slave’s John Ridley due for a 2016 release.
More sequel news as Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass have agreed to return to the Bourne franchise. Previously it was thought that the character had gone as far as it could and Damon stated he would not return without Greengrass, which is what led to the reasonable but not as good as the originals Jeremy Renner outing.
How this will tie in with the Renner ‘Legacy’ film (if at all) and any further plot details are some way off, but if it is as good as the first three…? There’s certainly potential for expansion in this franchise.
An Original Origin Story
It appears that almost every character on the silver screen must, at some point, have an origin story movie. Judge Dredd looks set to have one, based on the comics, but King Kong, whose early life on Skull Island has only been briefly touched on in other cinematic outings, and looks set to get his own movie looking at the back story of the big monkey.
Max Borenstein is set to write. He is the same man who wrote the recent Godzilla movie so he has experience when it comes to monster movies and perhaps we could see some lizard vs. ape action in the future.
Tom Hiddleston is set to star, in what role we do not know. Perhaps as a motion capture monkey.
Join us again next week, where we will return to give us another round up of the latest in film news.
Better late than never (probably), it this week’s Failed Critics Podcast! And please welcome our latest full-time member of the team… Carole Petts! In honour of this momentous occasion, James managed, with textbook precision, to do something dumb to the recording. Don’t worry though, as it only means there’s less of him this week.
And what a week? We review 22 Jump Street, discuss the latest news in Marvel’s Ant Man omnishambles, and Carole lets us know which is the bigger car crash (get it?) out of Diana and Grace of Monaco.
Join us next week for a World Cup Special (including free audio wallchart).
Welcome to this week’s bumper Failed Critics Podcast, ans the usual suspects and special guest Carole Petts get in touch with their younger selves and combine their efforts in attempt to stop catastrophe: Steve winning the quiz and picking a film worse than Cutthroat Island…
They also find time to review new releases X-Men: Days of Future Past and Maleficent, as well as a clutch of teen-focused dramas in What We’ve Been Watching, including Short Term 12, The Selfish Giant, and The Kids Are Alright. Not only that, but we even find time to discuss the departure of Edgar Wright from Ant-Man, and the recruitment of Gareth Edwards for a Star Wars spin-off.
Join us next week for reviews of Edge of Tomorrow and A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Well, not quite. We are back to feature length this week though, with a packed agenda that includes a full run down on the Golden Globe awards, reaction to the latest BBFC guidance, and casting news in the Marvel and Star Wars universes.
The new releases this week include Oscar favourite 12 Years a Slave, as well All is Lost, and The Railway Man. In What We’ve Been Watching Steve finally catches one of last year’s biggest films, Owen finally watches one of Woody Allen’s biggest films, and James sets off on a world cinema odyssey.
Join us next week for our review of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the team’s reaction to the Oscar nominations announcement.