This weekend’s box office may have been topped by a film about numbers, but the numbers that mattered were less than desirable. So let’s cook the books and see what didn’t quite add up.
Ben Affleck’s The Accountant took the number one spot this week as no surprise to anyone considering what else it was opening against. The new Warner Bros film opened with $24.7 million on a reported $44 million budget. Yes, that is over the halfway mark, but considering the solid starry cast of Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Lithgow, this film probably should have brought in more than it did. Then again, it’s an action thriller in the middle of October, and even though The Girl on the Train was a thriller that did well for itself in the week previous, it had more attractive elements that audiences want in an October thriller, namely an intense mystery, some steamy scandalous sex scenes, and plenty of twists; perhaps audiences weren’t hungry for another thriller quite yet.
That said, this film has been receiving some praise for its performances, especially Ben Affleck, in a role that has been described as an “autistic superhero.” To be frank, I’m not convinced, and I would rather spend my October moviegoing time on something a little spookier and sure-handed, instead of a scattershot action flick starring Batman. (Please address your snarky “Batman v Superman was just as scattershot” comments below for me to ignore because I loved that movie.) #trollsaregonnatroll
Our second newcomer, Kevin Hart’s stand-up blockbuster What Now? took the third spot this week with $11.7 million on a budget of $9.9 million – combine that with the fact that this film came out of his massive world tour during which he sold out multiple shows, including entire football stadiums, I would say this is just icing on the cake for Hart. The What Now? Tour took place from April 2015 through August 2016 and visited 168 cities, sometimes with two shows on the same day, making this one of the largest stand-up comedy tours of all time, and if that wasn’t enough, this movie was a box office success. I have no idea how Hart managed to pull off this tour and continue starring in films this past year such as Ride Along 2, The Secret Life of Pets, and Central Intelligence, but his work ethic is nothing short of inspirational, and even though What Now? likely won’t stay anywhere near the top of the charts next week, I don’t think Kevin Hart has anything to worry about.
Lastly, as I predicted last week, nobody saw Max Steel, which landed it at the number 11 spot with $2.1 million and a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Looking ahead, we’ve got a big weekend coming that should make up for this past weekend’s underwhelming numbers. Firstly, Tyler Perry takes a stab at horror-comedy with Boo! A Madea Halloween that frankly looks pretty funny. Perry’s iconic Madea character spends her Halloween watching her great-niece and defending the house from zombies and ghosts, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t heavily considering going to see it opening night.
Continuing in the horror vein, Ouija: Origin of Evil, the prequel to 2014’s Ouija, is conjured into theaters this weekend. The first film was panned by critics, but was a massive box office success with audiences, so it’s a safe bet that this will continue that trend. With horror films like The VVitch, The Conjuring 2, Blair Witch, and Don’t Breathe already out this year, it’s difficult to say with a straight face that you should see the new Ouija film. Stay home, rent or stream one of those other ones, and treat yourself to one of 2016’s excellent horror releases instead of suffering through a forgettable mediocre mess.
If horror isn’t your thing, don’t worry! Keeping Up with the Joneses comes out this weekend to give you some laughs. It’s a spy-comedy starring Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis as a vanilla white couple with new neighbors, the Joneses, played by Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot, who are more than they seem. Hint: they’re spies. Hilarity ensues. Or if you want the guns without the laughs, Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back hits theaters this weekend as well, as yet another sequel nobody asked for but we got anyway.
Also opening this weekend is I’m Not Ashamed, the newest from the folks at PureFlix, who were behind God’s Not Dead and its sequel. Yes, this looks like yet another film preaching to the choir, but there is a bit of controversy with this one. YouTube blocked the trailer for almost a year without any explanation as to why, and greatly hurt the film’s marketing. Naturally they took it to court claiming YouTube removed the video as an anti-Christian sentiment (unsurprising from the people behind Persecution Complex: The Movie…I mean God’s Not Dead), and the Google-owned company still has yet to reveal a reason for its removal. So if a movie about Columbine from PureFlix wasn’t controversial enough, this happened too. And yes, the trailer is back on YouTube, albeit with a much smaller view count.
And finally, if you happen to be closer to a more artistic-minded theater, go see Moonlight from director Barry Jenkins, which tells the story of a man trying to find himself over three different time periods of his life, and muster the courage to come out and be who he truly is. This looks like it could easily be one of the best and boldest films of the year, and every early review has mentioned how raw, heartbreaking, and human this movie is, which sounds like some refreshing stark contrast to the more mainstream films opening this weekend. We’ll also see a wider release of Denial starring Rachel Weiss, Timothy Spall, and Tom Wilkinson, taking on the topic of Holocaust denial head on. With a cast like that bringing to life such a powerful story, this is sure to be one to watch during awards season.
That’s all for this week! There’s plenty to see this weekend at the theater, so get out there and support film exhibition, get scared or laugh a little bit, maybe even cry!