The new couldn’t top the old in this week’s Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office, with not one but two older films beating out our three newcomers! Let’s take a closer look at week 34.
This past weekend was a bit of a Summer bummer at the movie houses, free of any anomalies or clear victories for any films, especially the new ones. Suicide Squad took the top spot again with an underwhelming $20.8 million in its third week (which is normal for a third week…except that it’s the highest grossing movie again – a problem for more than just monetary reasons) and Sausage Party took the number two spot with $15 million its second week. Considering we had War Dogs, a Todd Phillips comedy, and Kubo and the Two Strings, another Laika original, both opening against the CGI-laden Ben Hur remake, there is no reason a mundane superhero film that’s already been out for three weeks and a two-week-old rated-R animated comedy should’ve out-performed any of the three of those newcomers.
Let’s take a look into why these newbies failed to top a couple of two-to-three-week old films. Firstly, the obvious reason that the PG13 crowd went to Suicide Squad instead of Ben Hur is that the latter has absolutely no inherent importance to the lives of the casual teenage moviegoer. And the few teens who have have heard of Ben Hur and know the role it played in the evolution of cinema probably have no interest in seeing a remake doused in CGI and a desperate-seeming casting of Morgan Freeman to put butts in seats. Overall this week's biggest flop is without a doubt Ben Hur as the film opened to $11.2 million making back just over a tenth of it's big blockbuster budget. That's a pretty big hit to Paramount at the ongoing predictions for this film do not have it recovering well at all. In fact this film should have come out in mid November as it would have played better to Holiday audiences as it is a pseudo faith-based film and therefore families with old children probably would have come out in fuller support of the film. But alas, a bunch of animated horses racing around a track will never out pace the glory that was the original Ben Hur, no matter how much money a studio wants to throw at it.
Second, remember all those aforementioned casual moviegoers who fit nicely into the PG13 demographic? None of them are old enough yet to buy tickets to War Dogs given it's MPAA R-rating, even if they have any interest in a political action-comedy starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller, and those same people are also unlikely to go see a dark stop-motion film, which leaves Suicide Squad as the only viable option for a popcorn flick to fill a Friday or Saturday night. Then there’s our adult crowd: twenty-somethings looking for a night at the movies or adults on date night are less likely to see War Dogs because no one really knows what it is – is it a comedy? Is it an action movie? Is it dark? Is it easy to watch? The trailer looks fun enough, but why take an iffy bet when the sure-thing that is Sausage Party is right there ready to make sure you laugh and leave with something to talk about on the drive home.
And lastly, Kubo and the Two Strings has gotten rave reviews from everyone ranging from families to critics, but since it’s an original film and stop-motion films tend to perform worse than the brightly colored films of computer animation, it's overall power this weekend left something to be desired and by no means was as strong as it should have been. I personally haven’t seen it yet, but if it’s anything like Laika’s track record of brilliant and criminally underrated masterpieces, it’s a shame that it didn’t take a higher spot this week. There's a chance that Kubo might have some small staying power, but it'll never be what this beautiful woven film deserves.
Overall, I personally think this weekend was spent doing some back-to-school shopping instead of hitting the movies, but there's nothing wrong with that! The blockbuster season is definitely winding down, and we’re heading into the dry, albeit mediocre, September season where action b-movies and horror films reign supreme before the Oscar-bait takes over. And that’s exactly what’s coming up! This weekend, we have Mechanic: Resurrection, a sequel to the 2011 film starring Jason Statham, which looks to be yet another sequel using the words resurrection, origins, retribution, resurgence, genesis, or next chapter to disguise the unoriginality of their thinly veiled cash grab. However, the film does look like it could be fun, and if action b-movies are your thing, this doesn’t look like a half bad way to shoot your way through a weekend. Or if drama is more your bag, there’s Hands of Stone, a boxing movie starring Usher and Robert DeNiro. But the film I am most excited for this coming weekend is Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe, a horror film about a group of friends who break into a blind man’s house in an attempt to rob him…but get more than they bargained for. And that’s all you should know going in, because early reviews have hinted at some pretty intense twists in the plot. Don’t Breathe looks to be a deeply unsettling addition to Alvarez's currently modest filmography, and hopefully will prove as another gateway for him to continue telling the stories he feels are worth more than a fat paycheck.
That’s all for this week! Go see a movie this weekend in-between all your errand running before school starts, and we’ll see you next time!