Box office watchers love nothing more than a film becoming a surprise success and outperforming its expectations. Tracking services were once again made the fool this weekend as they did not even give Good Boys a chance over the shark sequel, let alone besting a second sequel that few were asking about nor the franchise spinoff showing signs of wear and tear. But Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, and Keith L. Williams – backed by word-of-mouth since their SXSW premiere in March – managed to do just that and now Good Boys hopes for a long shelf life.
Good Boys is the eighth R-rated film of 2019 to have an opening weekend of $20 million or more. That may seem low until you realize there were only eight R-rated films all of last year to achieve that. The bigger question many are asking is: where are the successful comedies? Until Good Boys, the highest-opening comedies of the year were all headlined by African-Americans: A Madea Family Funeral ($27.06 million), What Men Want ($18.23 million), and Little ($15.4 million). The Rebel Wilson pair in the first half of the year turned out to be a mixed bag as Isn’t It Romantic, despite being the only positively-scored of this batch (69%), fell short due to international rights being handled by Netflix, while The Hustle was a hit, thanks to its overseas release – even if it’s one of the worst-reviewed films of the year (14%).
SXSW had three big comedy premieres this year well in advance of their releases, each maintaining highly-acclaimed status by critics. In May, United Artists Releasing and Annapurna failed to capitalize on the premiere for Booksmart (97% on the Tomatometer), which only grossed $22.68 million. Lionsgate also seemed to miss with Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen in Long Shot (81%), which finished with just $30.31 million, though one could easily blame that on folks not wanting any more politics with their night out at the movies. The third of the batch was Good Boys, produced by Rogen and holding steady with a Certified Fresh 79% on the Tomatometer. Its placement in August is certainly no accident, as the first two American Pie sequels were successes in this month, as were the Rogen productions Superbad and Sausage Party. Back on the same weekend in 2005, Universal released The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which opened to $21.42 million and went on to gross over $109 million. Other high-grossing R-rated comedies released in August include We’re the Millers ($26.41 million opening / $150.39 million total), Tropic Thunder ($25.81 million/ $110.51 million), Pineapple Express ($23.24 million / $87.34 million), and The Campaign ($26.58 million / $86.90 million), even if the latter three were technically financial failures. Good Boys, with a budget of just $20 million, is well on its way to joining the profit list.
The United Artists Releasing experiment has seemingly had a lot of bottoms this year from releasing one of the worst-reviewed films of the year in The Hustle to not cashing in on the aforementioned goodwill of Booksmart to failing to get the Child’s Play remake to outgross even the original’s take of $33.2 million. But thanks to at least one international haul and a few skimpy budgets, those are minor failures at worst and could each be written up as profitable. They won’t be able to escape the numbers on Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette, though. It’s only the fourth wide opening of his career but certainly weaker than The Newton Boys, which opened to $4.01 million in 1,965 theaters. Bernadette grossed $3.4 million in 2,404 theaters and reps a new low for UA Releasing and Annapurna when it comes to a 2,000+ launch.
Anyone who had Hobbs & Shaw at number 1 this weekend was not paying attention to either the breakout potential of Good Boys or the evidence that the popularity of the Fast & Furious series – at least as it relates to spinoffs – is dwindling. We’ll certainly test that theory when Vin Diesel returns in Fast and Furious 9 next Memorial Day weekend, and yes, Hobbs & Shaw has the eighth-highest gross after 17 days for films opening in the month of August, just ahead of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which did gross over $176 million. However its $14.1 million this weekend trails the $16.1 million that Apes made in weekend three, which suggests a final gross in the $160 million range. That is going to be around $65 million less than The Fate of the Furious (itself finishing with $127 million less than Furious 7). More concerning for Universal about this series’ future is that the film has only grossed $303.3 million internationally to date. That alone is about $700 million less than Fate acquired, though H&S still has not opened in China, which added $392+ million alone to that overseas haul; a couple million higher than Furious 7.
The battle for the family dollar was joined this week by The Angry Birds Movie 2, proving once again that Hollywood still has not received the memo that releasing animated films in August is a fool’s errand. Sony may have felt bullish, given that Sausage Party is the highest-grossing animated film ever released in this month, making $97.68 million. But they should have looked further down the list and realized that kids are back in school, weekday numbers are down, and that has resulted in only three other animated films to even pass $50 million (Planes, Barnyard, and ParaNorman). Now, The Angry Birds Movie 2 may not be joining that list either. Despite giving the film an extra day’s head start on Tuesday, the film has grossed just $16.2 million in its first six days. That is a just a million more than Kubo and the Two Strings had in five days ($15.2 million), and it finished just shy with $48.02 million.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold had $22.67 million in its first five days. It now has $34 million after 10 days, which is about a million ahead of where Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters was at. However, Dora trailed that film’s second weekend, $8.7 million-to-$8.5 million, suggesting a final haul right now between $60 and $68 million. Families were still too busy seeing The Lion King, which is just a few days away from passing the $500 million mark. It is the 10th highest-grossing film after 31 days of release, though its fifth weekend haul is more around what the 14th-16th place films had done. It still maintains a pace to get it around the $530 million line domestically. But it has already joined history as one of the ten highest grossing films of all-time globally with $1.435 billion, with eyes on Furious 7 ($1.516 billion) for eighth place. In other Disney news, Toy Story 4 became their fifth billion dollar release of 2019, not to mention their 23rd of all time in a field of just 43 films to reach the milestone. It needs another $20 million to surpass their live-action remake of Aladdin.
Sony is also keeping an eye on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood, which just began its international run, which it’s going to need to turn a profit. Domestically the film is still doing very well. The $90 million-budgeted film has grossed over $114 million and is about on par with the pace of Mission: Impossible III, putting its final estimate between $130 and $135 million. It has only made $7.7 million overseas so far, but that is only in Hong Kong and Russia. The film still needs another $148 million to break even. Leonardo DiCaprio’s last three films all grossed over $200 million internationally. Sony is also ready to pop the champagne on Spider-Man: Far From Home, which, with over $1.1 billion, is on the verge of passing Skyfall as the highest-grossing film in the history of the studio.
Over in the terror category, folks still preferred last week’s Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark to this week’s 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. The former is doing better than most horror films in August, currently smack dab in the middle of where Rob Zombie’s Halloween was in 2007 and what The Cell and The Possession had after 10 days. Stories’ $10 million second weekend was better than any of those films, putting a $60+ million total in play. Uncaged opened to $9 million, less than the $13 million many tracking services had figured. It is also less than the first film, which started with $11.2 million on its way to $44.3 million. With the exception of ’80s horror classics An American Werewolf in London and David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly, horror films released August that have opened to less than $10 million have not made it to $30 million total.
Looking at the summer of Sundance, we have WB/New Line’s pick-up of Blinded by the Light opening to just $4.45 million in 2,307 theaters. The distributors are certainly now hoping for some Bend It Like Beckham international numbers to make up the $15 million budget and acquisition. Then, expanding again but out of the crowded top 10, is A24’s The Farewell. It upped its theater count to 861 and grossed $1.5 million, which is down 28% from last week’s expansion to 704 theaters. Looking at a collection of films that increased from the 700 to the 800-theater range from fifth-to-sixth week, including Enough Said, Emma, Garden State, The Favourite, The Shape of Water, and Gosford Park, the 28% drop is higher than any of them, as they grossed between $1.58 million and $3.13 million. Last week we made the comparison to Garden State, and that still holds, as both films had a near identical gross after 38 days of release. The Farewell stands at $12.83 million while Garden State had $12.84 million. However, Zach Braff’s film’s expansion to 813 theaters at this point netted $2.9 million, suggesting that Lulu Wang’s film does not have the momentum to reach $25 million. That said, it still should have enough in the tank to best Amazon’s Late Night ($15.46 million) and become the highest-grossing pickup from Sundance of 2019 thus far.
One of the biggest success stories of 2018 opened this weekend when Crazy Rich Asians grossed $26.51 million on its way to a remarkable 6.58 multiple and $174+ million domestic haul. The Meg was still second with $21.15 million, and the latest Mark Wahlberg/Peter Berg collaboration, Mile 22, opened in third with $13.71 million. Albert Hughes’ prehistoric adventure tale, Alpha, finished fifth with $10.35 million. The top ten films grossed a total of $110.71 million; the second-lowest weekend of the summer at the time. Critics graded the films an average of 65.3%. This year’s top 10 grossed an estimated $101.54 million and averaged 70.5% on the Tomatometer.
The summer is definitely winding down if the week’s highlight is a new film from Gerard Butler, who has not headlined a positively-scored (non-animated) film since RocknRolla in 2008 (and even that is just barely Fresh at 60%). Nevertheless he is back to possibly conclude the “Fallen” trilogy with Angel Has Fallen. The first two films are his most successful (again as the star in a live-action film) since 2010’s The Bounty Hunter, though London Has Fallen grossed $36 million less than Olympus Has Fallen. Regardless there is also Ready or Not, a humans-hunting-humans horror-comedy that Fox Searchlight did not cancel and is hoping to draw more interest to than recent Fox films. Overcomer is the latest faith-based film from the genre’s most successful director, Alex Kendrick, whose last film, War Room, grossed over $67 million. Then in limited release is Brittany Runs a Marathon starring Jillian Bell in one of the great surprises out of Sundance this year. Amazon is hoping their pick-up will find the necessary word-of-mouth to make this a late summer expansion.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]