Despite Universal’s Fifty Shades Darker topping the charts on Friday starting the weekend off strong, Warner Bros’ The LEGO Batman Movie dominated the Box Office in the end.

Finishing at spot #1 this weekend, The LEGO Batman Movie pulled in $53 million from just over 4,000 theatres. Now yes, that is technically below what the studio expected for the film’s debut, but given that $53 million is already over half of its $80 million production budget and the fact that the film also pulled in $37 million from the international box office, this film certainty had a successful weekend and plenty of admirers across the globe coming out to get caught up in this fun action packed laughable time at the movies.

The original LEGO Movie of 2014 opened to $69 million domestically and went on to gross a total of $257.7 million from the domestic Box Office. Since the next animated film to release in theatres (Lionsgate’s Rock Dog) isn’t due to hit the Box Office for another several weeks The LEGO Batman Movie won’t have much in the way of direct competition. Therefore, with both these things considered it would seem safe to assume the new LEGO classic could be looking at a final run of $207+ million before leaving domestic show houses. Since it has also to open in China, Australia, and Japan yet, The LEGO Batman Movie is sure to triple its budget and hopeful that means we will be receiving yet another from this fun, nostalgic, and refreshingly meta universe.

The second newcomer of the weekend which also finished second was Fifty Shades Darker, which had plenty of shade getting thrown at it this weekend. Despite opening to $46.6 million and receiving a “B-” from movie goers too mentally susceptible to realize they’re being violated by this pathetic excuse for a movie franchise, the film is getting torn to shreds by critics. With a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 34% on Metacritic, you have no shortage of storytellers ready to put this movie to bed, but not like that….

The truth is, at the end of the day, no matter how you want to cut it, this film glamourizes a certain level of domestic abuse, specifically that of emotional and mental abuse, as we see the male protagonist, Christian, manipulating the main character Ana into being his own personal play thing. Sure the sex is sensationalized, and while you can try and say that the movie is far less twisted than the book series is – let me stop you right there and tell you that this film is only helping to advance said books and luring people of all genders, races, and orientations into believing the lies that this behavior is totally normal or healthy for them to be treated like this, their consent isn’t that important as long as the other person “loves” them, or that this is what real love looks like so it’s okay.

If you’re a fan of this series and you are intrigued by these movies, I’m not saying you’re wrong or that’s bad – not in the slightest – but what I am saying is that this film is dangerous as it convinces people in truly unhealthy situations to believe that it’s okay because that’s how it is in the movies. Domestic abuse is domestic abuse and this film blurs the line so much that you end up with half a country that doesn’t recognize the truly disconcerting and troubling nature of when a rich old pig says he can grab women by the p**** and they won’t say anything because he’s just that much the cock of the walk. That’s a problem.

Unfortunately, while I hate to have to admit this, the film is very much a finical success as it made $144 million worldwide opening weekend, and therefore nearly tripled back what it took to make the film. From a truly humble and unsure standpoint, I realize this will not be the final film of this series and worst of this subject matter. I just don’t know when we’ll all wake up and realize garbage like this isn’t okay to be glorifying or paying homage to.

Moving on though, John Wick: Chapter Two totally blew audiences away this weekend as the film pulled in $30.4 million from the domestic box office, over double what the original John Wick opened to back in October 2014. Audiences also seemed to like this particular installment of the franchise more as it was rated an “A-” on Cinemascore which is a vast improvement over John Wicks “B” rating. While I am not an overly fond fan of the Action B-movie genre, I was very impressed and thoroughly enjoyed John Wick, and was pleasantly surprised by Chapter Two. If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t hate a Chapter Three.

But looking ahead I think it’s safe to say Batman is going to have to "LEGO" the number one spot at the box office with three pretty big audience pleasers hitting theatres this weekend.

First up we have Fist Fight starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube. It’s an R-rated comedy about a reserved, pretty run-of-the-mile high school English teacher, Andy, played by Charlie Day, who ends up accidently upsetting his exceedingly intimidating, and feared fellow colleague Ron, played by Ice Cube. Ron effectively challenges Andy to a pretty immature fist fight outside of the school at the end of the day, and while this film looks like it’s going to be chalk full of some interesting situational and crass humor, I do think there’s going to be a bit below the surface as well and should hopefully prove to be more than just a throw away February comedy.

The next newcomer of the weekend is Fox’s A Cure for Wellness which despite looking like an intriguing psychological mind trip along the lines of Shutter Island, the film is boasting some pretty negative reviews from critics already. A Cure for Wellness is a psychological horror and thriller film about a young executive named Lockhart, played by Dane DeHaan, who is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from a well-known but albeit mysterious wellness center located deep within the Swiss Alps. As with all characters of this genre Lockhart begins to suspect something unsettling about the miracle treatments administered here and his mind begins to unravel as he starts to discover the terrifying secrets of this self-made prison. This would usually be a film I am all about going to see, but I have a feeling given initial word of mouth that it'll be a letdown and that my time would probably be far better spent going to see Split again, even though A Cure for Wellness is helmed by Gore Verbinski who has brought us such greats as the first three Pirates movies, but also such horrible flops as The Lone Ranger and Rango.

And the final newcomer of the weekend which honestly I can’t make heads or tails of will be Trump’s, The Great Wall… I mean Matt Damon. The film is an epic historical fiction adventure piece with plenty of monsters, vibrant colors, and action battle packed scenes to make you forget it’s only like 20 degrees outside and make you think it’s the middle of summer and you’re watching a massive Hollywood blockbuster. The Great Wall boasts a huge cast of racially accurate actors and then… Matt Damon, which looks wildly out of place and honestly this is the one particular element of the film that I can’t get over. The film is directed by Zhang Yimou who has brought audiences such classics as Hero and House of Flying Daggers, and really I’m stoked to see his take on this alternative historical piece as he is well versed and a master at capturing the aesthetic and ornate feeling and exquisiteness of ancient Chinese culture and lore. But with a budget of $150 million, a 39% and 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic respectively, I can say with some confidence that The Great Wall is going to shatter like a fine piece of China this weekend.

But even if none of those films sound interesting to you, and you still need to hit up some of the Oscar nomination showings, you’ve got that to look forward to as we go into the final weekend before the Academy Awards on the 26th. So this weekend go out and catch a film and support art and the artists who make them!

-Matthew Miller

 

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