Box office smiling on horror film
'Smile' holds top spot while 'Amsterdam' flops
Greg W. Locke
Parker Finn’s new horror flick, Smile, took the No. 1 spot at last weekend’s domestic box office with another $17.6 million in sales. Smile, which is getting a whole lot of word-of-mouth buzz, sold just under $50 million in the U.S. over its first 10 days. Add in foreign sales, and this one has made just under $90 million in less than two weeks. Whoa.
This is a hit film, I guess. That the film has a strong psychological element is of course appealing to me, as is the lead actress, Sosie Bacon, 30-year-old daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. She’s good. Is she good enough that she would have “made it” without nepotism? That’s always the question, isn’t it? I haven’t seen enough from her to make the call, but so far I’d say that she’s probably lucky that her parents are who they are.
Smile also stars Kyle Gallner, an actor I recognize as someone who is trying extremely hard to be the next Sean Penn, but just doesn’t have it.
Also at the box
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, based on a children’s book about a crocodile who lives in New York City, took the No. 2 spot at the box office over its first weekend, selling a decent $11.5 million. Good job, kids. This isn’t a film I’ll run out to the theater to see, but I will watch it eventually. I love NYC. And I had this book as a kid. And it stars Javier Bardem. Good enough.
David O. Russell’s new ensemble period piece, Amsterdam, had a very disappointing opening, selling just $6.5 million over its first three days. Ouch. When you consider the director, budget, and cast, this one has to go down as a major flop. I’ve heard this film suffered from what I’m calling CEPS (COVID-Era Production Stress), and I believe it. Reviews and word of mouth are bad for this one, but I still get the feeling that it’s very much worth seeing. Great writer/director/producer (Russell), great cinematographer (Emmauel Lubezki), and an all-time-great cast — Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoë Saldaña, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Risenborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, Rami Malek, and, last but not least, Robert De Niro. How did this one fail? I can’t wait to see it.
The Woman King continued to roll, taking the No. 4 spot over its fourth weekend with another $5.3 million in sales. This one has now made $54 million in the U.S. and $64 million worldwide. Amazing.
And finally, at No. 5, we have Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, which sold another $3.5 million, upping its 17-day total to $38 million.
Also of note: Best Picture frontrunners Triangle of Sadness and Tár both started testing in major markets and did well. Can’t wait for all the Oscar films to start showing up. What’s that you say? They already are?
New this week
David Gordon Green’s final film in his own little Halloween trilogy is here. It’s called Halloween Ends, and it’s supposedly really good.
I’ve been a DGG superfan for a long, long time, but haven’t really loved his Halloween detour. See more about DGG’s incredible career below, in this week’s ScreenRant.
Also out this weekend are … nothing, really. That is to say, no really notable Hollywood films. There are, however, a whole lot of smaller films premiering on streaming services and/or playing on arthouse screens. Here are some that might be worth looking into: Johnny Cash: The Redemption, Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday (eww), Ash and Bone, Cat Daddies, Old Man, Piggy, Silent River, Stars at Noon, The Accursed, The Inspection, The Other Tom, Till, and In the Stillness of Summer.
That’s a lot of movies. Stars at Noon, the Claire Denis film starring Margaret Qualley and Benny Safdie, looks like the winner of this week. Every Denis film is worth seeing.
I’m 42 years old. David Gordon Green is 47 years old. It feels like a miracle that I’ve made three feature films. Green, who has made 17 features (and well over 100 episodes of high-end television), has three films (and a TV series) in listed as “in production” on IMDb.
Green works hard. He takes a lot of swings and, I’d say, has a pretty high batting average. Super high. Not quite Ty Cobb or Ted Williams-level high, but somewhere in the Tony Gwynn range. (Kirby Puckett at lowest.) While I await his latest film, the aforementioned Halloween Ends, I have seen most of his other work. And now, because this is Screen Time, I’m going to rank them:
1. Pineapple Express (A+)
2. George Washington (A+)
3. Snow Angels (A+)
4. Prince Avalanche (A+)
5. All the Real Girls (A)
6. Undertow (A-)
7. Joe (B+)
8. Your Highness (B)
9. Stronger (B-)
10. Our Brand is Crisis (C+)
11. Manglehorn (C)
12. Halloween (C)
13. The Sitter (C-)
14. Halloween Kills (C-)
15. Unit Zero (D)
While putting this list together I realized that I don’t really love it when DGG is working as a director-for-hire. I like his passion projects, the artsy ones. I like when he writes his own scripts or works with writers he’s friends with. Of the 15 DGG films I’ve seen, I’d say eight or nine are really good. And I think he has one of the better Top Fives of anyone in his generation of auteurs.
Who would you compare DGG’s career to? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.