Audiences weren’t monkey-ing around this weekend, but did they go ape enough to make Kong a success?

Kong: Skull Island was our big opener this weekend, serving as sort of an appetizer for the upcoming blockbuster season now that we’ve passed out of and gotten our fix of artsy fartsy Oscar stuff. It certainly was King of the Box Office this weekend, taking the top spot with a $61 million haul. But since reviews have been mixed-to-positive, so there’s no guarantee it’ll make back its $185 million budget, and with Disney’s guaranteed success of Beauty and the Beast opening this coming weekend, my bet is leaning toward Kong falling from the top of this building in favor of a new beast on the block.

Logan took the second-place spot with $37.8 million dollars, bringing its total gross to $153 million, slashing up its $97 million budget. Logan’s success really comes down to the fact that we finally got a Wolverine film that completely does justice to the character made classic in film by Hugh Jackman. There are layers to the story that make repeat viewings worthwhile, and the R-rated violence surely stays exciting far longer than the CG-saturated stuff we normally get from the X-Men franchise (and almost every superhero movie since 2000).

Personally, I can’t wait to see Logan again because it’s not a “superhero movie” in the traditional sense. This is a drama, a Western, s character-driven and gritty story with real human emotion. The characters aren’t even named “Wolverine” and “Professor X” in the credits, but rather Logan and Charles. The dramatic tension has interpersonal issues at the forefront, and an action-packed pursuit riding shotgun, and to top it all off, we have incredible performances from Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and the young but wildly talented girl who is “quite similar to Wolverine.” I absolutely recommend this film, and I am thrilled that Wolverine got the swan song he deserved.

The biggest success story here though still lies with Get Out, Jordan Peele’s horror thriller that took the third-place spot with $21 million dollars. This masterpiece’s overall takeaway is a whopping $111 million and can I just remind you that this thing has a $4.5 million budget? Yeah - it has a $106 million profit right now! And the thing I love the most is that there hasn’t been talk of sequels or franchising it. Everyone seems completely content to have this be a standalone film, which is great because now Jordan Peele can use some of this money to make us another wholly original and brilliant film to follow it up instead of watering down what we already have. As it stands, Get Out might be the best film I’ve seen this year so far, and even if it’s not, it’s certainly the one I can’t stop thinking about. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Go see it right now!

Looking ahead to this weekend, like I said before, Beauty and the Beast is here! Disney has realized that making their classic animated films live-action is a goldmine, and they are certainly going to cash-in big with this one. Do I really need to give a synopsis? Probably not. You know the drill. A book-loving lady ends up being held prisoner by a hairy beast in his cursed castle, singing and dancing with her captor and his servants who are all pulling for her to be the one to break the spell and return them all to human form. She’s also trying to avoid the advances of a brainless hunk of muscle played by the dreamy Luke Evans. If the well-loved classic music wasn’t already a draw, we have Harry Potter’s Emma Watson as our Belle, a fantastic voice cast including Sir Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Ewan McGregor. And on top of all of that, controversy!

If you have a Facebook, you’ve seen the hordes of people complaining about Disney including a gay character in the film, and for some reason this is REALLY a problem for some people. Apparently adding a homosexual character to the mix tipped the scale of a singing, dancing candelabra and lavish costumes into “too gay” territory, as well as conveniently ignoring the Stockholm Syndrome that has consumed a young girl and causes her to fall in love with a giant hairy animal. But that’s not the problem. It’s a gay character. What’s next? A movie about a cross-dressing woman infiltrating the military?! Yeah, we’ll get our Mulan remake soon enough (hopefully with an Asian cast! PLEASE! If I have to see Rooney Mara play Mulan, I’m gonna burn that Disney Castle to the ground). In the meantime, go see Beauty and the Beast, and roll your eyes at the protesters on the way in, and sing at them on the way out.

Our other newcomer is The Belko Experiment, a hyperviolent thriller that’s been described as Office Space meets Battle Royale. The James Gunn-penned party tells the story of a social experiment in an office where the workers are locked in the building and told that they must kill a certain number of people to go free, lest they all get killed themselves. It looks like a tongue-in-cheek commentary on American work culture, and the mindset of the lower-earning employees applying a kill-or-be-killed mentality for the entertainment of the real villains: the rich and powerful. The cast looks like they’re in on the joke and having a blast, making me suspect that the audience should also go in with their minds on two tracks: this is ridiculous and… but for real, this is totally how America works.

Personally, I am looking forward to this one for a slightly wacky super gory time at the movies before James Gunn goes back to PG-13 sci-fi fun with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so it looks like I’ve got two exciting new films to see this weekend!

-Adam Stutsman

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