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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates: Mamma, You’ve Been Equalized!

Weekend Estimates 2018-07-22 at 12.33.50 PM

Okay… I had fun with the title of this, but if there is anything I can emphasize first about box office, it is that there was no race this weekend between The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again. Both movies opened. Both had wildly different constituencies. They took different directions over the course of the weekend and the “race” between them was coincidental, not comparative.

There are a few weekends a year when a film or a couple films are so dominant on an opening weekend that they really do crowd out other films. This is not one of those.

There have been four weekends with more than $200 million in domestic grosses amongst the top 12 films in release. That is when a film or films can crowd other films out of their position. There are occasional occurrences of films that really compete heavily with the same demos when one can “win out” over the other. But that is what distributors pay their executives not to allow to happen.

A couple brief thoughts on this specific weekend to come…

The story of the weekend at the top of the charts is that both opening sequels, Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again and Equalizer 2, fell off the cliff on Saturday, victims, in part, of the relatively recent practice of counting Thursday shows after 7p as Friday box office.

There is not enough experiential evidence to call this a box office trend at this time… however… the other 2 openings that had a similar trajectory over their opening weekend in this opening range were Fifty Shades Freed and Ocean’s 8. It was not true of Ready Player One, Rampage, A Wrinkle In Time or Pacific Rim 2, all of which opened between $28m an $42n this year. Last summer, Girls Trip also had a similar trajectory ($31m open), though it didn’t drop as hard on that first Saturday.

So the question of whether this is a “ladies night” phenomenon has to be considered. Big Friday… high anticipation from a specific demo… never a better day than that first Friday/Thursday night. Of course, horror movies tend to take this to an even greater extreme. To some degree, this is also true of “black movies.”

Everyone is hypersensitive these days to the discussion of these demos. And we should be. They have been underserved and often mistreated forever. Still… the numbers are the numbers.

There is nothing wrong with niches, either in the work itself or the embrace of them commercially. It is a bit… maybe ironic… that the push for women and POC in mainstream studio films comes at a time when the business of so much of studios has become about serving niches, niche by niche. The intensity of the split doesn’t have to happen… but studios are not great at subtle shifts. They get very black and white (no pun intended), in great part because of the size of the dollars involved for them.

But I digress…

The answer to the weekend is that E2 dropped less than MM2 on Saturday… though again… both dropped.

A24 had a nice expansion for Eighth Grade. Blindspotting opened well on 14. Both, like Sorry To Bother You should be on more “traditional” multiplex screens. This is not a criticism of the distributors, but of the current system. Opening multiplexes up to indie product more aggressively should be coming back in style, while studio mega-movies invading indie theaters has been the trend in the last 5 years.

Bleeker Street also scored with McQueen on a single screen and IFC got Far From The Tree in gear, also on 1.

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30 Responses to “Weekend Estimates: Mamma, You’ve Been Equalized!”

  1. Joshua K. says:

    Who set the policy that Thursday shows after 7 pm would count as Friday box office?

    I seem to remember this being an issue after INDEPENDENCE DAY, officially a July 3 release, started its screenings at 8 pm on July 2, 1996. Variety, or some entity like that, said, “Okay, this is ridiculous. From now on, opening day at the box office will start at midnight, not 8 pm the day before,” or something like that.

    But if such a policy did in fact take hold, obviously it must have been abrogated over the years since then.

  2. Amblinman says:

    Jesus, was EQ 2 a giant pile of shit. Denzel usually has better taste in projects. Story was painfully generic, villains were garbage, but at least it was boring. And is it me or did they shoot Denzel’s fight scenes Fat Steven Seagal style so as to cover up his age? The thing that struck me most is how poorly everyone involved gets the point of their own character and franchise. You want to see McCall unleash hell on thugs messing with ordinary people. Instead we get the worst Jason Bourne movie this side of “Jason Bourne”.

  3. movieman says:

    I didn’t think EQ2 was bad, Amblin, but I did have major issues.
    (****Potential SPOILERS****)
    I started getting impatient a half hour before the end, which gave me time to pick some nits (e.g., what exactly was Melissa Leo doing in Belgium? why was Bill Pullman considered a “loose end”?).
    Also found the ultimate fate of Pedro Pascal’s character a tad…unsavory, especially since they had so laboriously introduced his wife and kids.
    While I appreciated the tying up of numerous narrative threads in the coda (e.g., Orson Bean and his sister), what the hell happened to Pullman?
    Did I miss something?

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    You know how sometimes you feel like you’re inundated with ads for certain summer movies for what feels like years? You see the trailer every time you go to the movies for months on end? Then there’s Equalizer 2. I knew it existed and I’ve seen the trailer here and there, but it still felt really low-key to me. Not like a studio dump or anything, but it was barely on my radar. $35 million seems really impressive all things considered even if the release date can be questioned. $60 million, R-rated action dramas seem rare these days, and Denzel’s still got some serious star power.

  5. JS Partisan says:

    I adore Equalizer 2. It’s clearly the Denzel Washington version of John Wick. He’s now completely killed his past, and now he gets to deal with trying to make a future for himself. That’s a fascinating trilogy of movies, and if you remember the trailers. The movie originally ended with Denzel at the party at his apartment, and being laughing and smiling with that kid. Obviously, that shit is going to be worked out in the finale.

  6. movieman says:

    “You know how sometimes you feel like you’re inundated with ads for certain summer movies for what feels like years? You see the trailer every time you go to the movies for months on end?”

    That would be MIF. I think there must have been a federal law mandating every theater chain show the trailer before every/any movie since Xmas.

  7. Glamourboy says:

    Interesting side note…QT has been filming his Once Upon A Time in Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd..and it is spooky to see many of the old store fronts restored to their 1969 authenticity. If anyone else is in LA they should check it out

  8. GdB says:

    I would but the power keeps going out in my neighborhood around miracle mile. Ugh

  9. JS Partisan says:

    And let’s give it up to Cameron and Rodriquez for realizing, that the Battle Angel needed an eye adjustment. Some people still find her creepy, but that’s enough to get me a bit more interested in that nutty ass movie.

  10. Pete B. says:

    Has there been an actual side-by-side comparison done? I just wondered if after the initial shock of the first trailer, folks have gotten used to the anime-style eyes.

    That weekend in December is crazy with Aquaman, Bumblebee, and Battle Angel dropping on Friday after Poppins opens Wednesday.

  11. Mike says:

    I’m just excited for a script by Cameron. The guy knows how to write sci-fi action movies with interesting ideas. It seems like forever since the last time he made a movie.

  12. amblinman says:

    Nothing Robert Rodriguez does will get me interested. Hack who doesn’t even have John Woo to ape anymore.

  13. Mike says:

    Apparently Cameron didn’t allow Rodriguez to add to the script, only edit it. He also dictated that all the effects had to be by Weta. I’m cautiously hopeful.

  14. palmtree says:

    Mamma Mia’s Monday number jumped way above EQ2’s.

  15. EtGuild2 says:

    Hated EQ2. Just like the first, a total disgrace to the series. This was a series with a dedicated fan-base the studio just trashes. Still, huzzah for Sony I guess. Disney, Universal and Sony are having good years. WB, Lionsgate and (no surprise) Fox are having very bad years. Paramount is as of this moment having its worst year ever but will be saved by MI:6 for a moment.

    The indies continue to thrive, however. So that’s good.

    How about that INCREDIBLES 2 drop. Perhaps $600 Million, while still a longshot, isn’t totally out of the picture after all.

  16. GdB says:

    I watched the shit out of the original Equalizer as a kid.

  17. Pete B. says:

    ^ It had that great theme from Stewart Copeland.

  18. YancySkancy says:

    Wow, Orson Bean is in Equalizer 2? Tempted to see it just for that. Still working at 90. Must be angling to be the next Norman Lloyd.

  19. JS Partisan says:

    So the hill Ethan dies on, is the Equalizer. Interesting, but guess what? It’s not much of a fanbase, because where are the kids? Again, if you are in your 40s. You really have to turn around, look back, and realize a lot of things have just no weight in the 21st century. I loved the Equalizer show, liked it better when it was called Spencer for Hire, but that’s neither here no there :D! Nevertheless, I get being pissed about the Equalizer being different from the show, but it’s Denzel. He’s the hill I will fight on, so I get it.

  20. JS Partisan says:

    Woo! Blog still alive. I accept that everything ends, but what would a box office discussion be in my life without this place? PROBABLY NOT FUN! Nevertheless, glad the lights are still fucking on.

  21. Bulldog68 says:

    By the way JS, you owe me a beer. IW does not make it to $700m. And is AntMan being viewed as a disappointment or being given a pass as it isn’t exactly setting the box office on fire. It may be just over/under Thor Dark World when all is said and done, but compared to recent Marvel movies of late, it seems like a whiff.

  22. movieman says:

    Really loved “M:I–Fallout:” totally lived up to the hype.
    It’s the best time I’ve had at the movies this summer, and my favorite action movie since “Spectre.”
    Very possibly a franchise high for me, and I’ve liked every “M:I” to date, even the pissed-on Woo and J.J. iterations.
    The great thing about Cruise is that he commits so HARD every time at bat that you completely forget all about Scientology (and his sundry other offscreen baggage) while watching him onscreen. Like Denzel, Leo and probably nobody else these days, he’s the very definition of “Movie Star.”

  23. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Movieman is on the money – Fallout is tremendous fun. Partly because Mcquarrie has thought hard about the previous movies and their recurring problem of peaking with the second act setpiece (the vault breakin in the original, the bridge ambush in 3, the Burj sequence in Ghost Protocol, the underwater sequence in Rogue Nation). He’s very cleverly structured Fallout so that it just keeps on topping itself, with the final twenty minutes being, yes, the best sustained action sequence I’ve seen probably since the Battle of Scarif in Rogue One or maybe the climax of Fury Road.

    Also credit to Cruise, who is finally willing to let his age show and be an issue here. Ethan Hunt in this movie looks more beaten up and overmatched than before. He looks more embarrassed than responsive when the Vanessa Kirby character puts the moves on him. He limps and runs out of steam in the foot chases. There’s a great ‘I’m too old for this shit’ eye roll he gives during the fight in the bathroom.

    All this, and the best 3D since Gravity (spring for the extra dimension here if you can).

  24. Bulldog says:

    Was hanging out with some buddies and one of them commented that he just didn’t like Tom Cruise and thus doesn’t like his movies. Some people juts don’t have the ability to separate personal from professional I guess.

    Cruise has been entertaining movie goers for almost 40 years now. Think about that. Taps was 37 years ago. The fact that he’s still basically at the top of the food chain, and never phones it in, always seems 110% committed to his projects, gives entertaining interviews and seems to treat “regular” people with respect, makes me a big fan.And yes, I forget all about the Scientology stuff which is definitely not my cup of tea, but he does put everything on screen.

    If you add up the times I have rewatched The Outsiders, Rainman, Top Gun, A few Good Men, The Firm, Interview with a Vampire, Minority Report and Edge of Tomorrow, it could equal a year of my life.

    The movies I least liked where Legend, Eyes Wide Shut (yeah I know I may get blowback on that, but I disliked it), Rock of Ages, The Mummy.

  25. EtGuild2 says:

    @Bulldog, it’s hard to view Ant-MAN 2 as a failure, because most sequels make less than their predecessors. In this case, it looks like it will increase on the first just around the same amount as THOR 2. Both THOR 2 and ANT-MAN 2 exist in a kind of netherworld between success and failure IMO. The good news is, Taiki finally got the tone perfect for THOR 3 and ran with it and ANT-MAN remains modestly profitable just like THOR was.

  26. Bulldog68 says:

    Wasn’t suggesting that it was a failure. Just that we have become so accustomed to Marvel movies hitting out of the park home runs, that when they hit one inside the park, it feels soft by comparison.

  27. movieman says:

    JFC! I just got back from a “Spy Who Dumped Me” sneak and am still reeling.
    It’s a totally unhinged mix of shocking (how shocking? it makes “Equalizer 2” look like “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”) ultra-violence and laugh-out-loud comedy.
    Yet it works.
    I can’t remember the last time a movie finessed those two extremes as well as director Susanne Fogel does here.
    McKinnon and Kunis make a great buddy, and Jane Curtin and Gillian Anderson contribute hilarious supporting turns.
    I liked Fogel’s minutely scaled 2014 indie “Life Partners,” but it didn’t suggest she had a big-scale production like this–w/ beaucoup action setpieces, a large international cast and numerous European ports of call–in her future.
    Have no idea how multiplex audiences will respond. The marketing. which is selling it as a combo “Bridesmaids”-style chick flick and a 007 spoof, seems way off. I could see this sinking like a stone, or becoming a late summer, “Bad Moms”-ish sleeper.

  28. brack says:

    I still haven’t seen anything more violent action movie stuffed with almost nonstop laughs to the likes of Shoot ‘Em Up, which is pretty under appreciated and almost forgotten.

    The Spy Who Dumped Me sounds like a lot of fun.

  29. JS Partisan says:

    Shoot’Em Up is a good time, but the Raid movies are still where it is at, when it comes to violence.

    BD, I will cede that point. If they don’t do any double screenings before Avengers 4. I can totally see them doing it, to just push it a little bit. If not… yup. You won. Good show.

    Now, the MARKETING OF ANT-MAN AND THE WASP was and is terrible. It’s the first Marvel Studios film, since they really started hitting it out of the park. Where the marketing did absolutely nothing to explain what the hell the movie is about. The entire film should have been sold on the fact that they want to get Janet back, and Ghost being in the way of it.

    I understand, that they average consumer might have not understood that aspect, the Quantum energy and stuff, but that’s the movie. They didn’t sell the movie, and this is what happens. This is 2018, and unless you EXPLAIN WHAT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT… the audience will just shrug. It will still be profitable, and we are still getting a third one. When your previous two films have made 3.3bn dollars. Before the release of your smaller one. It’s just the part of making a cinematic universe. They can’t all be Avengers movies, but people are going to be really confused when watching Avengers 4, and Ant-man is hugely important in it.

  30. Triple Option says:

    I saw Miss:Imp and will echo the sentiment. I saw it in 2D and reminded myself at times that there was a 3D version and tried to picture what I may’ve been missing. I was completely satisfied so idk, but now I’m curious to see it in 3D.

    I think I’ve seen all the Miss:Imps but can’t say for certain. That’s maybe my favorite genre but they can be so elemental and maybe predictable isn’t the best word but it’s like waiting for items to be checked off a list. This one made great use of the “this mission, should you choose to accept it” and peel off rubber mask tropes that it added something to the film instead of having them be so cliche they take you out of the film.

    I think there was high praise for the last one, which I thought was fine but really didn’t do much for me. This one really seemed like McQuarrie thought “OK, that last one turned out alright but what can I do better?” not just “make it bigger!” that fails so many other films, even in series.

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