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Spielberg’s West Side Story tops the box office


Greg W. Locke

Whatzup Features Writer

Published December 15, 2021

Right now, this moment, is a pretty special time if you’re someone who loves to go to the movies.

We have a Guillermo del Toro film on the way. Both Wes Anderson and PT Anderson have movies our right now. There’s a Ghostbusters movie and a Chloe Zhao movie. Ridley Scott’s best movie in years, House of Gucci, is out. Dune and No Time To Die, two technical masterpieces, are screening. And of course there’s also that new Mike Mills masterpiece, C’mon C’mon, featuring an incredible performance by Joaquin Phoenix.

And there are others screening right now, too. Lots of them. Including a new … err … masterpiece (?) from the legendary Steven Spielberg, his remake of West Side Story. Spielberg’s latest masterwork took the No. 1 spot at the U.S. box office this past weekend with a ho-hum $10.5 million in sales. Oof. Not great. The film is receiving glowing reviews and will, even if it doesn’t sell up to expectations, one of the films that competes for the best picture Oscar in the spring.

I personally don’t think a remake of an already-good (and already best-picture-winning) musical is a good way to spend a best picture vote, but West Side Story has a strong case for best cinematography.

I wish I could say that PT Anderson’s Licorice Pizza took the No. 2 spot at the U.S. box office this past weekend, but that’s just not the case. PT and his gang are now doing the word-of-mouth thing, having the film play at select theaters to build buzz while planning out a marketing blitz between now at the film’s wide release date of Christmas Day. Entertainment Weekly recently called it the best film of the year, and a whole lot of other critics have it in their Top 5.

But I digress …

Getting back on track, Disney’s new kiddo flick, Encanto, took the No. 2 spot at the box last weekend, selling another $9.4 million, upping the flick’s 18-day worldwide sales total to $152 million ($80 million domestically). Those kids, they show up.

Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife took the No. 3 spot at the box, selling another $7.1 million, upping the film’s 24-day worldwide sales total to $164 million. Not bad. I’m happy for any Ghostbusters project that succeeds. Can’t wait to see this one.

Ridley Scott’s above-mentioned House of Gucci took the No. 4 spot at the box, adding another $4.6 million to the film’s 17-day worldwide sales total to $93 million. Yay. I love the idea of a weird, artsy Ridley Scott film making $100 million in 2021. I have so much love for Ridley. Not only has he had a legendary career, but the guy is in his 80s and has released not one but two of the best films of the year in 2021. I sincerely hope he gets a best director Oscar nomination and milks the publicity and gets one last big blast of fame some 50 years after his career began. All hail Sir Ridley.

Chloe Zhao’s Eternals somehow managed to round out the weekend’s Top 5 with another $3.1 million in sales, adding to the film’s $161 million domestic take. So far, the movie has made $395 million worldwide, which is a very low number for a Marvel film. Here’s hoping this means Chloe can get back to making films that aren’t about adults wearing tights.

Also of note: Mike Mills’ wonderful C’mon C’mon sold just $177,000 this past weekend despite featuring a performance by Joaquin Phoenix, who is perhaps the best working screen actor of the moment. This movie should be killing. Ugh.

As noted above, everything is out. The movies are jam-packed with quality films right now. But that won’t keep Hollywood from chugging along with two more big releases this weekend.

First up is Guillermo del Toro’s latest, a remake of Nightmare Alley starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, and many others.

Also out everywhere is maybe the most anticipated film of 2021, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home, starring, well, pretty much everyone in Hollywood. This one is going to be big. Really big. And while I personally can’t get too excited about it, I’m happy for Watts, who is a great director and, I think, will have an interesting career once he gets through his MCU hazing period.

It’s really just wall-to-wall great theater releases from here through January, so please just get up off your couch and go see a movie.

A real one, not one with men in tights.

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