There were five new wide releases this weekend, and hardly anyone went to see any of them. Instead, the box office was dominated by Fate of the Furious, Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast, which combined to account for nearly 70% of the entire top 10. Why did this happen?
Same ole, same ole. Netflix unleashed like 7,000 new Originals on Friday. Thousands were pre-occupied with the March for Science on Saturday. A bunch of good TV shows clogged up Sunday night, as per usual. Plus, the second weekend of a blockbuster (in this case, Fate of the Furious) usually trumps the first weekend of a smaller movie, or, in this case, five smaller movies.
Either way, I am left with the impression that the majority of Americans probably don’t even know anything about the five new movies they opted against seeing this weekend. So I’m going to leave you with the knowledge that the following five movies are actually out in theaters right now. A couple of them are even pretty good. If one of the trailers catches your eye why not give the film a chance:
Born in China
Every other Earth Day, Disneynature releases a documentary like this with a celebrity narrator (in this case, John Krasinski) and eye on family-friendly entertainment. Among this weekend’s new releases, Born in China ranked highest in the top 10, coming in at #5 with a projected opening of $5.1m.
This marks the directorial debut of longtime producer Denise Di Novi, who started out as a producer on Heathers before working with Tim Burton on several of his early movies and then branching out into a wide range of projects, most recently backing a run of Nicholas Sparks movies. Unforgettable opened to $4.8m this weekend, which is not great but not quite a travesty since it only had a budget of $12m. Critics seem to agree that it is a better-than-average guilty pleasure movie.
In a different era, in a different time, The Promise would have been a guaranteed hit. Historical epics throwing together a known movie star with some up and comers to form a love triangle set against the backdrop of life-or-death revolution/war used to be Hollywood’s jam. But we’re talking decades here, as in these kinds of movies have not been reliably bankable since probably before my lifetime. However, The Promise, which cost a staggering $90m to make and only grossed $4.1m this weekend, was a passion project for Kirk Kerkorian, and was actually never fully intended to make a profit. THR has more:
Kerkorian, who died in 2015 and was of Armenian descent, fully financed the movie via Survival Pictures, which was created to make the movie and to educate the public about genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The film’s producers say the movie is a victory, its box office notwithstanding, since the intent was never to make a profit. Instead, The Promise was intended to shine a light on the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. And any proceeds from the film will be donated to charity, including to the new The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law, which was unveiled last week with a $20 million gift.
Those charities are going to be waiting a while. THR projects The Promise will lose at least $80m unless it seriously, seriously cleans up overseas, which seems unlikely considering how controversial the topic of the Armenian genocide remains to this day. Plus, frankly, the reviews haven’t been that great.
Talk about being late to the party. Didn’t Ridley Scott and the film’s other producers get the memo that found footage horror movies are out, haunted houses and social commentary allegories are in? Either way, Phoenix Forgotten will be….wait for it….quickly forgotten by history, though it only cost $2m to make meaning its $2m gross this weekend (and #11 finish in the top 20) isn’t the worst possible outcome in the world. A Jason Blum-esque success story of turning nothing into gold is clearly not in the making though.
Free Fire actually finished filming in July 2015, but got caught up in the financial difficulties of its original North American distributor before landing at A24. It opened in Britain last month, and had the smallest imprint of any of the other wide releases this weekend, grossing just $1.03m from barely over 1,000 theaters thus ranking it as #17 in the weekend top 20. If it’s playing near you and you like films which offer fun genre thrills (or just liked The Nice Guys last year) Free Fire might be worth your time.
Did you see any of the above movies this weekend? Or are you halfway through GirlBoss on Netflix and just want me to shut up so you can get back to it? That’s okay. I get it. I’m stuck in a Lost Girl binge myself.