OnScreen is back for another week of Guess The Box Office!! Greg Ehrhardt and Ken Jones will be recapping last weekend’s box office results, previewing the new releases to come this weekend, and throwing in some predictions while they are at it.
Last week’s results:
1) Venom: $80.3 million
2) A Star is Born: $42.9 million
3) Smallfoot: $14.4 million
Greg: Ken, we’re both stunned at how good Venom did in the box office. I knew Venom was a popular Spiderman character, I knew Tom Hardy has a generally high approval rating, and certain comic book movies are critic proof, but, man, did you ever see an $80 million dollar opening coming from a Venom movie with a 30% Rotten Tomato score coming?????
Ken: Absolutely not. Even the most optimistic studio projection had it topping out at $65 million, and we both figured that the negative reviews would depress that number some. Instead, it went the opposite direction. I don’t know which I’m more surprised by, that it performed so well or that I saw it and didn’t hate it. I even genuinely laughed a few times. Overall, not a good movie, but it has its moments.
Greg: We spent a lot of time last week (insert link to last week’s column) breaking down Venom, so we shouldn’t digress too much, but you can sure as heck take a sequel to the bank now, and just put in stone more Spiderman villains getting their own movie in years to come
Ken: The one thing you can always count on is for Hollywood to take an already shaky/risky premise and milk it for all it’s worth. I’m sure the Sinister Six standalone origin movie just got new life breathed into it. And just imagine what DC could try if this Joker movie does anything close to Venom. God help us all.
Greg: As far as “A Star is Born”, this was the movie buzzing around the office on Monday, and an opening above $40 million is tremendous for a remake about a musical couple. Buzz is high and we have our first legit wide appeal Oscar contender in the first week of October
Ken: I saw it. I really liked it. I didn’t fall head over heels for it like some people have, or like I did for, say, La La Land last year. I’m not sure it’s an Oscar winner but it’s sure to get nominations.
Greg: Let’s get to this week’s opening movies
1. First Man starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, chronicles Armstrong’s first trip to the moon in what is purporting to be as realistic a take on space travel as what has been done thus far.
2. Bad Times at the El Royale, starring Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, and Jon Hamm, about 7 strangers meeting at a mysterious hotel, each with a secret to hide (and I assume eventually tell the other strangers!).
3. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, the sequel to the fun(ish?) Halloween movie based on the popular R.L. Stein fantasy novel.
Let’s start off with some hot takes about that American Flag not being in the movie!!!!! Ken, put on your MAGA hat, and let ‘er rip!!!!
Ken: The moon belongs to America! It’s as American as apple pie! To not show Neil Armstrong planting the American flag in the ground lets me know exactly what these Hollywood globalist elite types think about our country! They hate America! If Hillary or Obama had been the one to land on the moon, which they would have done illegally, you can bet that they would have shown them planting the flag, which wouldn’t have been an American flag anyway but a United Nations flag or Kenyan flag because Hillary is a globalist and Obama isn’t even American!
Greg: Wow, well done Ken, I’m assuming that was as painful for you as it was for me.
Ken: What happened? I blacked out.
Greg: So, I have mixed feelings about seeing this in the theatre as a paying customer. On one hand, space movies usually work this time of year since October is the month for scares. I went with my wife to see Gravity a few Octobers ago and it was just a mesmerizing and terrifying experience seeing it in Imax (even though my wife couldn’t stand Sandra Bullock ooh’ing and aah’ing the entire movie, something she still makes fun of to this day). But space movies fundamentally work.
On the other hand: can I just say that Ryan Gosling is a supremely bizarre choice for this role???
Ken: It’s going to look amazing in IMAX. I have zero reservations about going to the movie theater for this one and seeing it on the biggest screen possible. I’m all in on Damien Chazelle as a director and if he has a temporary muse in Ryan Gosling then Godspeed.
Greg: I think Gosling is a good actor but a wildly overrated movie star. His box office track record is not good.
Here are the list of movies that he lead in that significantly underperformed at the box office:
1) Blade Runner 2049, which, despite a major prime time fall release date couldn’t even break $100 million
2) The Nice Guys, despite being paired with Russel Crowe in a prime May slot couldn’t top $40 million.
3) Gangster Squad, which in fairness went wide in the doldrums (January 11th), but despite a big premise and a big time cast only made $45 million
4) The Ides of March, a political thriller during the peak of the Obama administration when people wanted political thrillers, only made $40 million
To counter that, he has two movies where he met or exceeded box office expectations as the lead:
1) La La Land (which had major Oscar buzz and member berries too as his tailwind)
2) The Notebook (made $80 million, which is crazy good 2004 dollars for a tragic romance movie)
Ken, Ryan Gosling is still opening movies for one reason: a meme.
Ken: Gosling is opening movies because he is one of the best actors of his generation. I enjoyed all of those so-called underperformers except for Gangster Squad, which I never bothered to see. So let me get this straight, your biggest complaint with a big, prestige movie is that they’re casting a two-time Oscar nominee who has been cranking out consistently good to great work for more than a decade now. Ok.
Greg: If going to the movies was all about observing acting precision, sure. But its an entertainment industry first, and the numbers show that people don’t really want to watch Ryan Gosling? Look, Is Gosling a better pure actor than Tom Cruise? Absolutely. Would you rather see Cruise in a movie or Gosling? 9 times out of 10 you want to see Cruise. And frankly that’s what matters most.
Ken: I know this is a box-office-focused piece and all, but I care much more about whether I find a movie entertaining than whether it makes a ton of money at the box office. Half of the movies that make a ton of money are crap. Shia LeBouf’s movies have made over $2 billion at the domestic box office. Gosling’s have made $750 million. And which direction has LeBouf gone in the last few years since leaving the Transformers movies? He’s tried to have a career closer to Gosling’s.
Greg: I’m not sure Gosling is really an entertaining actor outside of this movie. Let’s table this for our upcoming podcast coming soon. Next up is Bad Times at the El Royale. I’m still a little bit spent from my Ryan Gosling rant, so Ken, take it away while I catch my breath.
Ken: Gladly. This movie popped up on my radar back in January when I was looking at my Most Anticipated Movies of 2018 (https://www.onstageblog.com/onscreen/2018/1/18/the-20-most-anticipated-movies-of-201, clocking in at #17. I love the cast (Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm) and Drew Goddard co-wrote and directed Cabin in the Woods, which was a self-aware deconstruction of the horror genre. I’m expecting something similar here for pulpy crime thrillers. My butt will be in a move theater seat for this one this weekend. It wouldn’t surprise me if it gets lost in the shuffle though.
Greg: Last wide release is Goosebumps 2, Haunted Halloween. All I will say is I’m glad these type of kid friendly Halloween movies are still around, as we had Monster Squad growing up, which is still a top 5 Halloween movie of all time. While I doubt these movies will match up, we need some movies to not try to be anything other than family friendly spooky fun.
Ken: These definitely aren’t up my alley, but they can be good entry points into genre fare for young kids. Since I have nothing else to add, I’ll just say I agree.
Greg: Ok, prediction time. Sadly, I think Venom will win the weekend again, but all eyes are on how A Star is Born will do in its 2nd weekend. If it only drops from opening weekend by 30% or less, we could have a bona fide $150 million dollar movie on our hands.
1) Venom: $35 million
2) Star is Born: $28 million
3) First Man: $22 million
4) Goosebumps 2: $15 million
5) El Royale: $7 million
Ken: I think A Star Is Born is going to continue to do really well. Venom is probably going to drop 60-ish%. Last weekend was a big overall box office number, $169.9 million. Even though there are a lot of options to choose from, a sizeable drop off in total weekend revenue wouldn’t surprise me.
1) Venom: $32 million
2) Star is Born: $30 million
3) First Man: $19.5 million
4) Goosebumps 2: $16.5 million
5) El Royale: $6 million
Greg: Come back next week, when we will break down the glory that is the Halloween franchise on the eve of the new installment. See you then.
You can follow Ken Jones on Twitter @KenJones81 and Greg Ehrhardt on Twitter @Grege333. Like and follow OnStage Blog: OnScreen on Facebook.