After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
The Sony hacking scandal has proven to be a massive headache for a company that’s already been having a rough few years. And now, this increasingly weird story has taken an even darker turn: the hackers are threatening to launch terrorist attacks against theaters showing ‘The Interview’ this Christmas. Seriously.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
There‘s going to be a lot of blood and ink spilled across the internet on the subject of the opening weekend for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.’ Yes, the third film in the series did open significantly lower than its predecessors. Yes, there are definitely people at Lionsgate wringing their hands and trying to figure out why the film opened below expectations. And yet, that opening weekend is still massive. It’s three day total is larger than most movies ever have a chance to make in their entire runs. So, let's have some perspective as we dive into this week’s top 10.
Yes, it’s easy to decry the permeation of film marketing and our obsession with trailers and posters and previews, but let’s just be honest with ourselves here: The ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ trailer is going to an event that rivals the release of most movies. Think back to the good ‘ol days of 1998 (”A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...”) and remember how fans would buy tickets to ‘A Bug’s Life’ and ‘The Siege’ just to watch the teaser trailer for ‘Star Wars: Episode I.’ If you’re one of those people and want to replicate that experience, you’d better pre-order your ticket for ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ pretty soon.
‘Dumb and Dumber To’ arrives two decades after the first film was one of the bigger hits of 1994 and no one knew what to make of it ... until it topped the box office this weekend and made it look easy. Now, the idea of two middle-aged actors returning to two of the most idiotic characters in modern movie history doesn't seem so desperate and crazy. It seems canny.
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