Going down in regrettable flames this weekend was Sony Entertainment’s Inferno starring Tom Hanks which opened to the less than smoldering figure of $14.8 million which landed it in spot number two. Despite only having a budget of $75 million this is still $10 million short of what the studio had expected the film to open to, and additionally a solid $22 million from where it needed to land in order to be considered doing well domestically. But prospective here is important as the film brought in nearly $95 million internationally last weekend and pulled in another $36 million internationally this weekend - bringing its global cume to $147 million. Overall the domestic performance of Inferno can be chalked up to the fact that American audiences just weren’t interested in the same-old same-old motif this time around. While I myself was intrigued by the plot and twists this latest in the Robert Langdon series offered, it was very obviously based off the same structure of its previous two predecessors. The film didn’t bring much to the table in the way of freshness or pure originality to encourage new movie goers to the franchise, and after nearly 7 years since the last installment current fans of the franchise were clearly just not as amped to go see it. Those two elements combined clearly made for the black plague for this film.
Inferno won’t make as large of a profit for Sony as 2009’s Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code from 2006, but it is clearing burning through the international markets quite notably and we could easily see an international finish for this film around $350-400 million. And this weekend China’s premiere of the film brought in $13 million alone, just $1.8 million behind the domestic results. This just shows China is creeping closer to closing the gap between America-China box office performances and soon once it does it’ll begin to pull ahead. So while there is some silver-lining to the apocalypse this film is clearly experiencing, there isn’t a ton for Ron Howard which now adds this to his growing list of recent misses. Following his 2013 Rush, and his 2015 In The Heart of the Sea, Inferno’s apparent meltdown at the box office this weekend must be feeling like a trip through his own personal Hell. With that said though, Howard is reported to have just recently been hired to direct a Zelda Fitzgerald biopic with Jennifer Lawrence in the leading role which could be just what this director needs to get out of his slump.
And reigning atop the charts this weekend was Boo! A Madea Halloween which killed it at the theatres at it only saw a 39.6% drop between its first-to-second weekend performances. Given that this film was projected to drop 55% by this weekend and yet pulled in another $17.2 million bringing its overall domestic cume to $52.5 million, it’s pretty clear the “A” grade it received from opening day movie goers was on point. For me, while I really liked Inferno and thought that the B+ grade it received on Cinemascore was fitting, I am not too surprised that Madea did take the top again. It fits the Halloween bill better than Inferno does (despite Inferno being dark and more creepy than I had expected); it’s easier to digest than an “on-the-edge-of-your-seat” biological pandemic thriller is, and Hanks’ performance – while being okay – was definitely not his best in recent history. So overall I think audiences just weren’t as infatuated with Inferno this weekend.
For the rest of our top five we say a range of notable to just sad performances. Tom Cruis’ Jack Reacher: Never Go Back dropped 57.9% in its second weekend bringing in $9.6 million landing at spot number 3. With a 37% and 47% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic respectively, it looks like this one’s fading, and fading fast. But on the upswing in its third weekend, Warner Bros’ The Accountant actually increased its theatre count by 70 and only dropped 37.8% giving it a fourth place finish with just shy of $8.5 million. And finally closing out the top five with saw Universal’s Ouija: Origin of Evil which dropped 50% in its second weekend giving it a pull of $7.1 million. Now yes, it’s pretty typical to see a film in its second weekend decline by 50%, but that’s less standard for a Horror film, especially for one on Halloween weekend when it should have had a much better performance due to the subject matter and general vibe that we see from films during this time of the year.
So looking ahead to next weekend we have some serious spectacle coming to theatres with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Doctor Strange is a psychological trip through other dimensions focusing on yet another white man being some sort of chosen one. That said, early reviews of this film have praised the performances and the visual effects, arguing that these refreshing aspects make up for the stereotypical origin story. The film just opened to $86 million from 33 different overseas territories, which means the film has already made back half its budget and should be smooth sailing after this point. This performance is 49% better than Ant-Man’s performance respectively from the same markets and adjusted to today’s exchange rates, 37% better than Guardians of the Galaxy, and 23% better than Captain America: Winter Soldier. What with opening in about 3,800 theatres and continuing its international expansion into territories like China and Russia this coming weekend, I have no doubts that Doctor Strange is taking the top of the box office.
And also opening this weekend in nearly 4,000 theatres we have Fox’s Trolls starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. Trolls is an animated family/kids film about the overly optimistic leader of the trolls coming face to face with her first real problem. Packed full of colors and dance music, and coming hot off of the Halloween season as we start to dive into our family films and Oscar season, this is a great frontrunner with some serious star power and a great alternative for families needing a film to go see that the whole group can enjoy.
And speaking of Oscar season we have Mel Gibson’s latest directorial piece, Hacksaw Ridge, premiering in 2,700 theatres. Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of US Army medic Desmond T. Doss, who was a Christian conscientious objector to violence during World War II, choosing to attempt to save lives instead of take them. Despite being a truly intriguing and powerful look at war through the eyes of a pacifist, the film has one large glaring element going against it: it’s director. Gibson has only continued to draw more and more controversy to himself over the years following Passion of the Christ, and while I am a staunch advocate of not judging the art by the artist, this is something to be considered and weighed nonetheless. No matter its performance, however, this is one to keep on your radar this Oscar season.
And that’s it for this week! Make sure to head out to the theatres this coming weekend and be sure to check back next week when we'll have our first-time very own special guest host joining the conversation!