Audiences don’t turn their back on family. That’s the lesson to be learned from this past weekend, anyways, when The Fate of the Furious proved that this is one franchise showing no signs of slowing down. It was never a question of whether The Fate of the Furious would take the top spot this weekend, but even the most optimistic of projections couldn’t have expected the global domination that this movie undertook. Here’s the box office estimates as of Sunday afternoon:
It may seem strange to describe the eighth film in a blockbuster franchise as a transitional moment in the series, but then again, few franchises have had to deal with the death of an actor as essential as Paul Walker. The Fate of the Furious was always going to be a bittersweet affair for those involved; while the movie promised to push new characters and new relationships to the forefront, fans wondered how exactly they would choose to address the loss of Walker’s beloved Brian. The solution screenwriter Chris Morgan came up with should leave diehards and newcomers alike very pleased.
Studio math might be one part proprietary data and one part alchemy, but here’s something I feel pretty confident saying: when your trailer sets the all-time record for most views in a day, you’re about to make some moolah. We all remember that the first teaser trailer for It had 197 million views in its first 24 hours online, shattering the previous (albeit short-lived) record of 139 million set by The Fate of the Furious. Those would be extraordinary numbers for any movie, but for an unapologetic horror film about a demon clown? Not even the most aggressive Warner Bros. projections could have predicted that.
Look, I know that Tom Cruise must be getting older. There are lines on his face that weren’t there before and, like many gym rats, he’s been forced to trade leanness for bulk over the years just to maintain his active lifestyle. And I know that, someday, Tom Cruise will reach an age where the aches and pains catch up to him and he’ll no longer be able to pull off at least three incredible stunts per movie. But you know what? Today is not that day, and if this new batch of Mission: Impossible 6 set photos is to be believe, this is not that movie.
For years, one of the internet’s dirty little secrets has been that people really enjoy The Fate of the Furious: Tokyo Drift. A healthy flop at the time of its release — the film’s $60 million gross is half that of 2 Fast 2 Furious, the second-lowest grossing movie in the Fast and the Furious franchise — Tokyo Drift has climbed steadily back into fans’ favor due to the lasting appeal of Sung Kang’s Han Lue and a bit of chronological trickery in a later film that boosted this one’s reputation. It’s amazing how much better a film gets when you stop being mad at it for failing to bring back any of the main characters.
Welcome to the calm before the storm. With a handful of blockbuster movies already released, and more on the way, the second weekend in April was a relatively quiet affair, with a few old favorites dominating the weekend yet again and a few new releases grabbing whatever box office they could before things get fast and furious at your local multiplex. Let’s take a look at the projected grosses through Sunday afternoon.
If I were a Marvel sales rep, I would get down on my knees every day and thank Thanos for the series of events that led to Baby Groot. Baby Groot might just be the pinnacle of Hollywood marketing; not only is his cute visage the perfect thing to slap on every action figure, lunch box, and stuffed animal from here to the moon, it’s also a character that sidesteps typical customer cynicism. If fans felt for one moment that Baby Groot was a thinly veiled attempt to sell them more junk, they would push back on James Gunn and Marvel with all their strength. But instead, we are treated to one of the baddest killing machines in the galaxy who happens to be totally adorable, too.
There’s just a few months left until Wonder Woman hits theaters, which means it’s time for Warner Bros. to get down to the business of promoting the crap out of this movie. When I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in theaters, the crowd greeted her character during the climactic fight scene with wild cheers and applause, suggesting to me that audiences are ready to embrace the first standalone superhero movie. We’ve had the first two rounds of movie trailers; now it’s time to open the floodgates on teasers, TV spots, and production rumors. Let the games begin!
For most people, the decision to make a sequel to 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey is probably the punchline to a bad joke. But have you actually stopped and looked at the box office numbers for Fifty Shades of Grey recently? We’re not talking about $100 million at the global box office; we’re not even talking about $200 million. We’re talking about $571 million worldwide, more than Mad Max: Fury Road and Creed combined and the eleventh highest-grossing movie of the year. With those kind of numbers, you pretty much have to make a sequel. I don’t blame them.
Last year, we published a video essay on Arnold Schwarzenegger that suggested that Arnold is much an auteur as the directors he has worked with. While most people still think of movies like Terminator and True Lies as the work of James Cameron, our own Matt Singer argued — and rather persuasively, I might add — that Arnold’s status as a cinematic auteur should be just as important a factor in how we evaluate his films. No matter who is behind the camera of an Arnold movie, you know the types of characters and narratives you are going to get.
I’d be hard-pressed to name a Disney villain I like as much as Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston. In addition to being a Sondheim-esque twist on the traditional idea of a fairy tale prince — vain, violent, and eager to confuse chivalry with misogyny — the character of Gaston has also become something of a method actor’s dream for Disney theme park employees. Remember the time that Gaston challenged a kid to a push-up contest? Or how about the time that Gaston got shouted down by a young girl? It turns out that no one goes viral like Gaston, either.
If you’ve been following the Rogue One rumors and production for the past two years, you probably don’t understand why Disney keeps releasing new television spots. Do people still need a new commercial to help make up their minds? It turns out the answer is yes: I sat down for some football with his in-laws on Thanksgiving Day and heard shocked exclamations about a new Star Wars movie after a Rogue One commercial played during a break. Based on the time I spent explaining to the group where Rogue One fits in the Star Wars universe, I’m pretty sure I should bill Disney for marketing services rendered.
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