Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday's Headlines - Weekend Box Office

In its second weekend of release, It continues to break records. As of today, Andy Muschietti‘s Stephen King adaptation is once again leading the top five with $60 million, making for $218.7 million at the domestic box office. This would make the 80s-set horror movie the eighth most profitable movie thus far in 2017, as well as the most profitable movie to be released in September in the history of the box office. It’s already far more lucrative than Dunkirk at the domestic box office and by the end of next weekend, it will have overtaken The Fate of the Furious and Logan as well. Muschietti’s movie cost $35 million to make, whereas the aforementioned trio cost $100 million, $250 million, and $97 million to make respectively. Of course, The Fate of the Furious has reached over a billion in the foreign market, which It will not even get close to by the end of all of this.

Though the unstoppable force that is globalization will continue to make trash like Transformers: The Last Knight, The Mummy, and The Fate of the Furious immensely profitable, the success of It will likely have greater influence on how studios think. At least that’s what I hope. If one were to ignore the global box office and consider undisclosed marketing costs, two of the biggest hits of the year — Get Out and It — signal a growing hunger for smart, stylish horror films made on a modest budget. The lesson here is less that we need more King adaptations (though I wouldn’t mind a few more good ones) and more that we need more inventive filmmakers who know how to work small even in the big leagues.

And yet, this weekend offered a case study in how badly this philosophy can go as well. Darren Aronofsky‘s beguiling mother!, which was made for a little less than It, came in with an unimpressive $7.5 million at third place, walloped by would-be franchise starter American Assassin at number two with $14.8 million, which was made for $33 million. The latter movie has a chance to make back its money but for mother!, this will prove to be an uphill battle at best. In fact, mother! only made $2 million more than Home Again‘s $5.3 million take in its second frame, landing the vanilla-as-fuck Reese Witherspoon vehicle in fourth place.

Aronofsky’s movie also will not benefit from a string of low-tier releases the way The Hitman’s Bodyguard did, to the point that it’s still in the top five with $3.5 million in its fifth frame at number five. Next weekend will bring two big releases, The LEGO Ninjago Movie and Kingsman: The Golden Circle, that will send Hitman’s Bodyguard to the lower depths and will likely unseat It from its throne. Even if that happens, however, It will continue to put asses in seats for at least another two weeks. The likelihood of that happening with mother!, which is the best movie currently in wide release alongside Logan Lucky, is simply non-existent. Still, as a risk, mother!‘s budget was a drop in the bucket. What happens when franchise movies that cost $150 million to produce start consistently tanking both here and abroad? That’s when things will start getting interesting.