If James Gunn becomes a household name, I will be very, very sad.
His new film, The Suicide Squad, took the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office this past weekend, selling $26 million. Eww. This movie looks bad — all the way bad.
As hopeful as I am for the film industry surviving COVID-19, the idea of the simpleness of the comic book era intersecting with the challenges of the pandemic era truly scares me.
I think, ultimately, the film industry will survive if the storytelling is meaningful and powerful. And no, telling the same story (aka the whole superhero thing) is not going to be what saves the film industry.
I know I sound like a grump, but please don’t go see The Suicide Squad. There are much better movies currently available at your cineplex. Seeing this movie is a negative act.
Also at the Box
Well, now that this week’s fit of self-righteousness has concluded, let’s talk about the No. 2 movie in America last weekend, Jungle Cruise. It’s an adventure film starring a guy who calls himself “The Rock” alongside one of the best living screen actors, Emily Blunt. It brought in a decent $15.7 million over its second weekend of release, bringing the flick’s 10-day sales total up to $65 million in the U.S. and $121 million worldwide. Not bad for a film based on a screenplay that was derived from an amusement park ride. Hanging out on a boat with The Rock and Emily Blunt sounds like a nice escape.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Old took the No. 3 spot at the domestic box office over the weekend, selling another $4 million and upping the flick’s 17-day sales total to $65 million worldwide. Multiply that by four to adjust for the post-COVID-19 standards and M. Night has yet another hit on his hands.
Black Widow took the No. 4 spot, selling a few thousand less than Old, upping the film’s so-far domestic sales total to $174 million ($360 million worldwide).
I really think the times-four theory is correct. What does that mean? It means the studios are going to empty out their vaults with what’s already been made and feel it out. They’ll keep making films, but at lower cost and with lower expectations. Over time, they hope to build the audience back up at just about any cost.
Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater, starring my guy Matt Damon, rounded out the weekend’s Top 5. It sold a sad $2.8 million, bringing the film’s 10-day sales total to $10 million. Oof. Not exactly a massive hit, and probably not a flick that will be in the Oscars conversation.
Matt Damon’s record of teaming up with directors who make mediocre films following their breakthrough work continues.
Also of note: Space Jam. It has continued to flop — hard. This has not been LeBron James’ year.
New This Week
Three very different films open wide this week, and they were all made by studios that shoveled out a pretty penny. This kind of release day suggests that the movies are back. But, are they? It will be interesting to see how this late summer weekend plays out.
First up is Don’t Breathe 2, one of the most anticipated major horror releases of the year. If you saw the first film in the series, you understand why. The problem is, this one isn’t directed by the great Fede Alvarez, so fingers crossed it’s as good as the first one.
Also out everywhere is action-comedy-sci-fi hybrid flick Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds as, from what I gather, a video game avatar of some sort. I can see this one doing surprisingly well.
Finally, we will see the release of the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson in a role that will almost certainly get her an Oscar nomination. The film also stars Marlon Wayans, Forest Whitaker, Marc Maron, and Audra McDonald. Sure, biopics are a flawed sub-genre, but this one should be entertaining.
Also, I’d still highly recommend getting out to see Pig before it leaves theaters. It’s a new major classic and worth seeing on the big screen.