There are times when I feel like I understand the American public, like the success of Gone Girl, and there are other times when I want to scream “Big Big Theory? What the f*ck is wrong with you people?!?” This weekend fell into the latter category, with Ouija making $20 million damned dollars. The film, produced by Blumhouse and the Michael Bay co-owned Platinum Dunes, based on the inanimate object, reportedly only cost $5 million to produce. I can’t even fathom a possible reason for seeing that other than being 15 and needing a place to get a handjob. Ouija beat out the $14 million take by the other new wide release, John Wick, an unapologetic crowd pleaser starring Keanu Reeves that even critics loved. I’m curious what Michael Bay would have to do to not be successful at this point.
[Ouija] played 75% under-25 years old and 61% female. It played 39% Hispanic, 31% Caucasian, and 12% African American. [Forbes]
I want 25% of that audience on the terrorist watch list.
While John Wick didn’t do as well as Ouija, it did much better than anyone expected, proving once again that tracking companies are mostly just throwing darts at a wall with blindfolds on and trying to pass it off as science.
Going into the weekend, “John Wick” looked like a dud. Reeves, still reeling from the epic flop that was “47 Ronin,” griped that studios no longer offered him plum roles and the action thriller looked like another nail in his career coffin. But reviews for the film about a hit man avenging the murder of his puppy were sterling, propelling the picture to $14.1 million across 2,589 locations. That was much more robust than the $7 million to $8 million opening most analysts projected the revenge thriller would make. [Variety]
Score one for moviegoers, and minus one for random people at the mall being asked their opinion. Or at least, I would say that if Ouija hadn’t made $20 million this weekend. Pretty sure random people hanging out at the mall during the middle of the day were the target audience for that one.
Elsewhere, Birdman expanded to 50 theaters, earning $28,750 per location (compared to Ouija‘s $7,000) because it’s awesome. It’s already an arthouse hit, and I really think it could’ve played to a non-arthouse crowd, but what do I know. The last thing anyone in this business wants to do is overestimate the public’s intelligence. The horror.
St. Vincent also expanded, to around 2,200 locations, taking in $8 million. Which is great, but honestly, if you can’t sell a movie with Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray as a grouchy old man befriending a precocious kid, just give up.
The mostly well-reviewed comedy starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy earned $8.06 million on its first wide weekend and now sits with $9.19m domestic. Chalk up the solid debut to Murray’s pull and McCarthy’s still vibrant stardom as alleged flop Tammy sits near $100m worldwide on a $20m budget. The film hasn’t made much noise in the Oscar race, but if it ends up playing better than the likes of The Theory of Everything or The Imitation Game in the next month or so it might sneak back in accordingly. This will be one to keep an eye on, as arguably (I have not seen it yet), as it may-well play as a would-be Oscar bait film that is squarely aimed at audiences who don’t necessarily flock to the likes of Birdman or Whiplash. [Forbes]
I liked St. Vincent and I love Bill Murray, but it is absolutely not an Oscar film, it’s a guilty pleasure film. If St. Vincent is some kind of art movie and Birdman is avant-garde, then the mainstream is… oh God, Ouija? Let’s all move to France.
Overall, the booming Fall box office is making up for the slumping Summer box office, and suddenly no one’s talking about how movies are dead anymore.
The best news for Hollywood is that October continued to drive a larger turnaround at the box office. Ticket sales were up nearly 10% from the same weekend last year when “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” topped charts with a $32 million debut. [Variety]
So, make some good movies, and people will still see them. Or just be Michael Bay, and film your grandpa pooping his pants because you literally cannot fail.