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.
The advent of new technology has effectively killed so many old school horror cliches (it’s not easy to get lost in the woods when you have a tiny computer for a phone) that filmmakers working within the genre often have to work overtime to invent brand new cliches that complement the age of the iPhone. The ‘Unfriended’ trailer represents a movie that has clearly gotten the memo but decided to take things to the extreme. This isn’t just a horror movie that features all of the social networks and online tools you use on a regular basis, it’s a horror movie about those things. Dun, dun, duuuun!
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.
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.
The odd couple is one of the basic principles of comedy. You take two very different people, fling them into an absurd situation and (hopefully) rack up some good laughs. The ‘Get Hard’ trailer shows off one of the more inspired comedic pairings in recent memory, with the tall whiter-than-white Will Ferrell teaming up with the short black Kevin Hart. If the differences between two lead actors generated laughs on their own, then this is already the funniest movie of 2015.
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.
‘Big Hero 6’ may only be tangentially related to the Marvel comic on which it is based and completely unconnected to the larger Marvel cinematic universe, but it still has the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. Yes, this is an animated movie featuring an animated version of the legendary comic book icon/Marvel mascot. But hey, it’s a tradition at this point.
There‘s going to be a lot of blood and ink spilled across the internet on the subject of the opening weekend for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.’ Yes, the third film in the series did open significantly lower than its predecessors. Yes, there are definitely people at Lionsgate wringing their hands and trying to figure out why the film opened below expectations. And yet, that opening weekend is still massive. It’s three day total is larger than most movies ever have a chance to make in their entire runs. So, let's have some perspective as we dive into this week’s top 10.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Justin Lin was being courted by Universal to return to the ‘Fast and Furious’ series after taking ‘Furious 7’ off and giving the director's seat to James Wan. It was also reported that his return would be be part of a two film “grand finale” that would send this beloved franchise driving off into the sunset. But that second part is just plain silly. Have you seen the box office receipts for these movies? So it should come as no surprise that the studio has “at least three” more Dominic Toretto and company adventures in the pipeline.
‘Dumb and Dumber To’ arrives two decades after the first film was one of the bigger hits of 1994 and no one knew what to make of it ... until it topped the box office this weekend and made it look easy. Now, the idea of two middle-aged actors returning to two of the most idiotic characters in modern movie history doesn't seem so desperate and crazy. It seems canny.
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