An infant was the boss of the box office this weekend, followed by a French beast, a Japanese cyborg, and a group of teenage superheroes. Who says originality in film is dead? Well, considering three of those are remakes, I think it speaks for itself. Anyway, let’s practice our teething and chew on these numbers!
Dreamworks’ The Boss Baby took the top spot this week with just over $50 million. Reviews were lukewarm, with some critics praising the animation and cast while critiquing the poop jokes and simple story. It’s a middle-of-the-road animated film that will fit nicely among Storks, The Secret Life of Pets, and those other cute non-franchise kids movies.
Our next newcomer, Ghost in the Shell, took the number three spot behind Beauty and the Beast by a long shot. The Disney remake brought in $45 million in its third week, while Ghost in the Shell trailed behind with $18.6 million domestically, and mixed to negative reviews. Yes, it did bring in $40 million internationally, but that’s still shy of the $110 million budget. Critics and audiences alike were disappointed in the “style-over-substance” approach that left us with cool cities and solid action, but failed to put an actual ghost in the fancy shell, glossing over the deeper themes of the original manga and prior films. On top of that, the choice to cast Scarlett Johansson in a role meant for an Asian actor is controversial enough, made worse by Johansson’s excuse of basically saying, “well, at least it’s a female protagonist, right?”
Although some Japanese people said they weren’t surprised a white woman was cast in an American remake and weren’t bothered by it, more people, especially Japanese-Americans, were rightly outraged that they tried to pass off an American remake of one of the most popular Japanese manga of all time with a white lead. If Zoe Saldana or Penelope Cruz had been cast, the masses would be confused that they cast someone of a different race in the lead role and everyone would agree that it felt out of place, so why did Johansson make it this far other than this is just another case of Hollywood whitewashing? The only way they could have justified this would have been to delve into themes of outward appearance and privilege from someone who was born in an Asian body, placed in a cyborg with a different racial appearance, and shown the effects of that while also showing that the human soul is race-less. But knowing Rupert Sanders’ work, we all know he’s not focusing on deep themes of acceptance and identity, but rather making cool-looking backdrops for hollow stories.
The final newcomer of the weekend was The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Jessica Chastain and Daniel Brühl, which finished in spot ten with $3.2 million. Despite being a film about World War II, the overall consensus was that it was too safe and sterilized, so even though the historical accuracy was there, the energy and heaviness that should have been, was not.
Looking ahead to next week, Boss Baby is gonna have some competition with Smurfs: The Lost Village! The blue buggers are back in an entirely computer-generated film where they use a magical map to look for a lost village. It’s an all-new cast, but the fact that no one really knows it’s unrelated to the first two and makes no effort to seem like a new identity is a bad sign that this is probably here to sell merchandise and make a little money before the good animated films come out this Summer and doom this movie to be as lost as the village they’re trying to find.
We’ll also see the release of Zach Braff’s latest directorial effort, Going In Style, starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin about three old men robbing a bank. And if you already think that sounds bland and done a million times before, it’s also a remake of a 1979 film! You’d think another film from the director of the indie classic Garden State would have more to offer, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Theodore Melfi wrote the script, however, and after his success with writing and directing St. Vincent and last year’s Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures, maybe there’s more to this movie than the trailers make it seem.
And lastly, The Case for Christ comes to 1,100 theaters this weekend. Based on Lee Strobel’s book of the same name, this movie will tell the story of what inspired the book and not an exact book-to-film translation. It follows Strobel, an atheist journalist who investigates Christianity in an attempt to disprove it after his wife recently finds faith. Through the process of interviewing scholars, scientists, and Biblical historians, he finds there may be more to Christianity than he originally thought. Now I can’t speak for the movie (though PureFlix has been known to consistently release garbage), but I’ve read the book, and it’s fascinating, informative, and intriguing. Hopefully the movie can capture a little bit of those qualities or at least sell a few more copies of the book.
Well, that’s all for this week. We’ll be gone next week, but we’ll be back with an Easter recap, so in the meantime, go catch up on some movies! I know I will!