The word is out: Mission: Impossible – Fallout is pretty awesome, according to 97% of reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes and the moviegoers who spent roughly 28% of all the money in the Top Ten this weekend. Despite Disney’s best efforts, the charms of Kate McKinnon, a presumably built-in young adult fanbase, and some politically charged filmmaking, Christopher McQuarrie’s second entry into the franchise handily took the #1 slot for the second weekend in a row.
Disney’s Christopher Robin was the best of the newbies this weekend with a $25 million haul, falling below the $30 million that many had predicted for it. Perhaps the studio scared off some interest with an unusually late embargo (9 PM on Thursday) that left many wondering what they were so worried about. They still managed to get 68% in positive notices here on Rotten Tomatoes, but they are more interested in the numbers coming out of everyone’s wallets. Robin’s 3-day weekend nearly bested the entire $26.6 million take that Disney’s animated Winnie the Pooh made in July 2011, but here’s how its opening stacks up against Disney’s other PG-rated live-action films since 2000:
Maleficent ($69.4 million), The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($65.5), Tomorrowland ($33.0), G-Force ($31.7), Alice Through the Looking Glass ($26.8), Christopher Robin ($25.0), Freaky Friday ($22.2), Inspector Gadget ($21.8), Pete’s Dragon ($21.5), The BFG ($18.5)
There isn’t much to glean off that list except to know that, from Tomorrowland down, only G-Force and Freaky Friday reached the $100 million mark. Going further down the rabbit hole, you would find both George of the Jungle and Phenomenon also reached that milestone with even lower openings. Plus, there’s the fact that unless Alpha strikes a chord with family audiences, there is nothing even resembling entertainment for the entire brood until WB’s animated Smallfoot on Sept. 28. So a small drop next week could keep it on a long-term path to $100 million. Though the film’s budget has gone unreported, Disney will have to earn back its money without the help of China, where the film has been banned, as Pooh Bear has become a symbol of resistance against its Communist government.
Two films whose titles could just as easily be swapped did not impress anyone this weekend. Fox’s The Darkest Minds, about a nationwide dystopia, and the pro-Trump documentary Death of a Nation, from the mind of convicted (then pardoned) felon Dinesh D’Souza, put up paltry numbers. The former, a $34 million-budgeted young adult adaptation that earned an 18% on the Tomatometer and sought to fill the void from Fox’s delayed The Predator (which originally was scheduled to open this weekend), made just $5.8 million. That is less than The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Beautiful Creatures, and Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant made during their opening weekends.
As for D’Souza’s latest piece of poorly-concluded propaganda, Donald Trump Jr. may endorse it, but not a single critic has — at least not the ten who have posted reviews here, anyway. D’Souza expects and feeds off that, so let’s look at the money. His three previous films are indeed among the Top 25 highest-grossing documentaries ever. 2016: Obama’s America released in 2012 and is the fifth highest-grossing ever, grossing $33.4 million and making $6.5 million of that in the 7th weekend when it expanded to 1,091 theaters. His 2014 effort, simply titled America, grossed $2.7 million in its 1,105-theater expansion during weekend two and earned $14.4 million overall. 2016’s Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (which D’Souza credits as helping to get Trump elected in the new film) made $3.9 million when it moved into 1,217 theaters, but it was his lowest-grossing film to date with $13 million (still pretty good for a doc.)
Death of a Nation made its debut in 1,005 theaters and grossed $2.3 million. By comparison this summer, the Mr. Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor made $2.4 and $2.5 million (in 654 & 893 theaters, respectively) in its fourth and fifth weekends. (It is roughly $500,000 away from surpassing the grosses of Bowling For Columbine, which in 2002 was the highest-grossing doc ever. It now ranks 12th.) And the Ruth Bader Ginsburg doc, RBG, never cracked more than 432 theaters but has grossed over $13.4 million. Three Identical Strangers has also made $8.4 million to date in no more than 433 theaters.
A24 gave Eighth Grade (Certified Fresh at 98%) its largest expansion to date into 1,084 theaters, though it did not crack the Top Ten as many had hoped. It did gross $2.87 million, bringing its total to $6.5 million. That is roughly on par (in its fourth weekend) to what Sorry To Bother You grossed in its expansion to 1,050 theaters in its third week ($2.86.) Lionsgate did not expand Blindspotting at all, keeping it in 523 theaters, and it grossed just $660,000 for a total of $3.1 million. Lionsgate also released this weekend’s The Spy Who Dumped Me (37%), which, with just $12.3 million, could not match the summer openings of the studio’s Uncle Drew ($15.2 million) and Overboard ($14.7 million).
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is currently $13 million ahead of where the second (and highest-grossing) film of the franchise was after ten days. Its international total has risen to over $329 million. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is about $4 million ahead of the original’s pace but made nearly $4 million less in its third weekend. Its worldwide total has surpassed $230 million. Equalizer 2 is virtually even with where the original was at this point as it continues to hope to reach $100 million. Hotel Transylvania 3 is within just $400,000 of the second film’s haul in its fourth weekend but is already below what it made in its fifth weekend; it has passed $338 million worldwide. Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp is poised to pass the $200 million mark domestically next weekend and has made over $426 million worldwide, but it still needs at least somewhere around another $30 million just to match the most conservative estimate of its overall budget ($80 million on the high end). Incredibles 2 has nothing to worry about in that regard as, this week, it became the 36th film to pass the billion dollar mark and is settling in to be the ninth-highest grossing domestic film of all time. Finally, congratulations to Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther for reaching the $700 million milestone in domestic box office, joining only Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avatar.
The long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower arrived with a thud with both audiences and critics. Despite opening at #1 with $19.1 million (just beating Dunkirk’s third weekend) the film made just $50.7 million overall and earned just a 16% with critics, making it one of the worst-reviewed films of Summer 2017 along with Transformers: The Last Knight, Wish Upon, The Mummy, The Nut Job 2, and The Emoji Movie. Halle Berry’s Kidnap finally opened after many delays and eventually tripled its opening to just over $30 million total. Overall, the Top Ten made just $105.4 million and averaged 64% on the Tomatometer. In 2018 the weekend generated an estimated $120.3 million and an average 67.9% rating.
It has taken years for the project to make it to the big screen, but the giant underwater beast at the heart of The Meg will take a shot at upsetting Fallout’s shot at a three-peat. Only Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War have pulled off that feat in 2018. Horror fans will be subjected to the Slender Man. Surprisingly not a Blumhouse production taking on another real-life tragedy for cheap thrills, the film nevertheless is hoping for Blumhouse-like profits. Finally, Spike Lee gets his widest release since 2008’s Miracle at St. Anna and, currently, the highest (feature narrative) Tomatometer score of his career at 96% (Do the Right Thing is 93% with just 68 reviews posted) with BlacKkKlansman.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]