Apparently, this coming week historically is one of the four worst weekends for movie theater attendance. There is only one wide release planned, Birds of Prey.
Every year, distributors must navigate four dead-zone weekends: post-New Years, Super Bowl Sunday, Labor Day, and the first in December. Historically, these are the periods with the lowest theater attendance, although studios now have their strategies; some slots have become a good time for horror titles, for example. But early December still resists tactics, with a graveyard of films that braved the date.
Week #1 of 2020 featured The Grudge⭐️⭐️ and this week should go much better. And next week there are a bunch of new films coming out to celebrate Valentine’s Day which must be one of the better weekends, at least for couples.
Some people complain that going to movies is becoming too expensive. They would rather stay home. The streaming markets are growing and taking down the traditional TV model, which is great to see. It gives movie and TV fans a wide variety of choices at more affordable prices.
But creating movie and TV for streaming isn’t an inexpensive proposition for the streaming channels. Take HBO Max which launches in May 2020, and plans to have 31 original TV shows by the end of 2020:
On top of its Max Originals, AT&T is stepping up the budget for HBO. The content budget will rise to $2.5 billion in 2020, up about $500 million from 2018 and 2019. It’s not clear whether management includes that number in its definition of incremental investments, but considering everything available on HBO will also be on HBO Max, and its plans to get all of its legacy HBO subscribers onto HBO Max, it very well should count.
With an estimated $85.2 million three-day and a $123.7 million five-day performance, Disney’s Frozen II not only topped the standard and extended weekend, it delivered record performances serving as the largest three and five-day grosses over the Thanksgiving holiday frame ever. To go along with that, the film has now grossed over $287 million in just ten days of release trailing just Incredibles 2 over the same number of days, which stood at an impressive $349.7 million after just ten days. In fact, Frozen II is already the 17th highest grossing animated film ever and is showing little sign of stopping.
One of several totally unscientific ways that I’m measuring audience engagement and interest is by Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews. Check out these numbers compared to box office sales in the screenshot above:
The Joker inclusion shows how a recent box office juggernaut continues to gather reviews into the ninth week. The reviews have slowed down considerably the last few weeks with, as expected, the bulk coming in the first month a film is in the theater.
Reviews by Others
Sydney Lee (4.5/5): “…there are so many questions that make the story a bit confusing because we don’t know the backstory or just general questions that should’ve been answered the movie. Maybe they were supposed to be for the next sequel and if so, I can’t wait for it!”
Laura/DOTT (4/5): “It’s perhaps too familiar, in that it doesn’t really make for the most exciting film (meaning we pretty much know what’s coming and how it will all turn out), and the story itself is rather lacking in comparison to the first movie, but the strength of the characters and the originality and hooks of the new songs (particularly ‘Into the Unknown’, Frozen II’s signature tune that’s almost as mighty as ‘Let It Go’) firmly keep it from being relegated to the Bin of Crappy Sequels.”
alysonkrier: “Frozen was lightning caught in a bottle. Something that amazing rarely happens twice. But Frozen II is a wonderful, warm, pure attempt to do it again. Some might focus on the imperfections or simply want what they’ve been hoping for, but I see some major sparks within this beautiful film.”
B-Hop/Nerd with an Afro (6/10): ” The animation is great and I like Anna and Elsa’s relationship. But man, the story just did not work at all. There’s no cohesion to it or any focus, it feels thrown-together at the last minute, which makes me think that this was just another cash-in on the Frozen craze. And as much as I like certain songs like Into The Unknown, most of them aren’t as catchy or memorable as the songs from the previous films. “
Cameron Black (6/10): “Overall Frozen II is a confident sequel to the first. I won’t say it’s my cup of tea as it does do some daring things, but it holds back in order to stay mainstream and, I presume, to reboot the Frozen merchandise machine. The Disneyathon might change it later, but for now I’m sticking with a 6/10.”
ruth/FlixChatter (3/5): “…will leave its viewers with a lot to be impressed by and think about. Although worth seeing, its rather lackadaisical story arc, plodding soundtrack, and severe misstep of an ending make it hard for me to rate the movie highly.”
Laurel/Tales Past Midnight: “This movie gave me all the feels. I was already crying in the first 10 minutes then laughing at the funny antics of Olaf then crying again. There is heartbreak in truth but with that comes acceptance and growth.”
moviejoltz: “There was such a high bar to reach due to the success of the first movie that it would have taken super powers to try and top it. I give the studio credit for its valiant effort.”
Drew’s Movie Reviews: “There is a larger sense of adventure this time around and even more excitement than Frozen. While I usually feel most Disney animated films do not require sequels, this is an instance where I am extremely glad this sequel was made. Building on where the characters ended in the previous movie, this movie expands on them even further.”
Jason’s Movie Blog (4.1/5): “While the movie does struggle in how its present some of the new elements (never truly surpassing the original Frozen) and misses a few opportunities along the way, the rest of the feature is a wonderful sequel endeavor, which is complimented by the film’s impressive animation, mature character threads, solid voice talents, and just a entertaining sequel that works. To me, I liked this movie.”
Jasmine/SSZEE MEDIA: “…isn’t about familial relationships or about romantic relationships, even though these both play a factor in the plot. This film is about Elsa and her finding her identity.”
Gasbag Reviews (3.5/5): “The story has many threads that would be interesting if they had been given a little more room to breathe. The end result is less satisfying.”
Am not that surprised that Midway is estimated to take the #1 spot this weekend because of Veteran’s Day on Monday 11/11/19. I always wonder how they know how the weekend will turn out before it’s even over, but will have to trust their estimates, I guess.
Here are the top 10 with my ratings and reviews (click the title to read)
Then again, there was a time (different set of experts, admittedly) when experts said Hilary Clinton couldn’t lose the presidency and yet look what happened there.
Heading into the weekend we were anticipating a top ten that would deliver around $110 million, as it turns out the top ten currently falls just short of a combined $100 million as Lionsgate’s Midway delivered a surprise #1 finish, topping WB’s Doctor Sleep, which slipped to second and well below expectations. Paramount’s Playing with Fire joined Midway in outperforming expectations while Universal’s Last Christmas fell below Mojo’s forecast, but well within studio expectations.
What is somewhat surprising is #3: Playing With Fire which is a terrible movie, but is family-oriented. Being a grandparent, I get it. You’re not taking young kids to see Doctor Sleep and maybe not even the WWII violence of Midway or the historical anti-slavery drama Harriet. Kid-friendly choices are: Playing With Fire, Maleficient and Addam’s Family. So easy to see why Disney dominates the theater. They are pretty much the only logical choice for families, regardless if the movies are any good or not (some Disney movies are great, that’s not a blanket statement)
Am also surprised that Doctor Sleep isn’t doing better. It’s a great movie and it was almost upstaged by a horrible John Cena smokejumper unfunny family movie. Guess those that can see Rated R movies either saw Midway or watched something else. I don’t know anything about the history of horror movies in November, but it seemed odd to me they weren’t releasing Doctor Sleep a month sooner in October.
Won’t make any excuses. People will pay for what they want to see, and maybe Doctor Sleep is starting slower because the word of mouth isn’t doing enough out there, so good for Midway and Playing with Fire.
Last Christmas made the top five but I’m seeing lots of bad reviews on this one. Being the first holiday movie — and not the greatest one (although we liked it) — might be a curse this early in the season. Hmm.
Terminator: Dark Fate rounds out the top five and picks up another $10 million but on 4,000+ screens. If it can hang around in the top 10 it might claw and scratch its way past $100 million, but that is probably just wishful thinking.
Joker is hanging in there, and has had an outstanding run. It will clip the billion dollar mark and that is no joke. Well done!
Nice to see Harriet in the top ten, but it deserves to be much higher up the list.
As I get older, my eyesight is failing. Hopefully, I won’t ever become as blind to the times as Martin Scorsese. Stay with me, this will be a bumpy and scurrilous ride.
Study the screenshot of last weekend’s box office returns. It supports this screed.
Oh, Mr. Scorsese. You just keep talking. And promoting, mind you, that your movie The Irishman is going to be on Netflix (gasp!) later this month. It should be in the big theaters now, and you know what? That’s their loss. I agree with you that it’s stupid, but am glad you’re movie got made, period, so I’ll get a chance to see it. As an ardent movie lover, I don’t care that it’s on Netflix over at the movie theater, but yes, I agree with you. My guess is many other moviegoers agree, too.
I don’t get the blame game, however. People don’t like whining. When we whined as kids, what were we told?
Scorsese is still making a futile attempt to undo stepping on his tongue dissing Marvel movies, by yesterday writing a guest opinion column for The New York Times. In this op-ed, he continues to lament the current state of cinema. To paraphrase Scorsese, the enemy of the moviegoer are franchise films:
“What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger,” Scorsese added. “Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
Sigh. I guess I’m not as cynical about the masses of moviegoers being able to separate good movies from bad, and voting with their wallets.
Case in point: Terminator: Dark Fate ⭐️⭐️½ #1 in box office sales last weekend by the chart. But it is dropping faster than a turd in a flushed toilet. It will have no box office staying power like Joker⭐️⭐️⭐️½ , because it’s — surprise, shock! — not as good.
Dark Fate is a franchise movie that meets all of Scorsese’s ire. I gave it a 10 day countdown on this blog, was genuinely, heartfelt looking forward to seeing it and was utterly disappointed. If you look at the box office returns many people are passing. To counter Scorsese’s point they are not buying tickets to the all mighty franchise movie. Dark Fate is on track to lose over $100 million dollars.
That $100 million loss will speak more than a thousand Martin Scorsese op-eds. When people start getting burned on millions of dollars, that changes the business model. We won’t see another Terminator sequel in the theaters any time soon. Good on that, I say.
Maybe we will get the Terminator movie we want on streaming someday in the future (that’s my hope). A much lower and frankly saner budget, a grittier series of movies that doesn’t terminate what we loved about the first two movies and pander to what Hollywood thinks the masses want (some would say woke, but I don’t buy that for this particular franchise — another rant, another day for that).
Back to Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese is clearly bitter and disappointed that the major studios wouldn’t finance The Irishman. This isn’t Marvel’s fault, or franchise movies fault, it’s a business decision. Big movie studios don’t think they can recoup the money from that movie in ticket sales as easily as with something like Dark Fate. I think they’re wrong and agree with Scorsese but it’s not us risking our money.
He’s lashing out as did Ken Loach and others, saying the big movie houses would rather spend their war chests on franchise films — including Marvel/Disney,etc — than take chances on movies like The Irishman.
Of course they would. Because those franchise films — again, see last weekend’s box office returns — are what are driving the majority of sold tickets. They need to finance movies that sell tickets.
This is what I mean in the headline by focusing on the trees and ignoring the forest. The Irishman is a tree, it’s one movie. Look, Mr. Scorsese, you got your movie made. You won the movie making lottery! Do you have any idea how many great story ideas are out there that don’t get made? That is what we should be focusing on. Finding those gems and working to make them. Say hey, I can make XYZ into a great movie for a measly couple million dollars.
Any remotely active reader could list a ton of great novels that should be adapted into movies tomorrow. With the $100 million+ that will be lost on a subpar Terminator sequel a dozen of these movies or more could have been made and shared. How about 20+ movies? $5 million will still make a pretty darn good movie. Maybe they won’t have the shiny de-aging effects or more realistic CGI, but why not go old school and focus on acting and story instead? Heck, once upon a time great movies were made for less than $1 million. Now the catering bills on some sets exceed the budget of past films.
It’s going to be seen by many more millions on Netflix than it would have been seen at the theater. What are you bitching about? You’re getting your movie in front of the forest!
The more people that see the Irishman will mean more movies like yours will sell tickets at the movie theaters. Moviegoers en masse will buy tickets to good movies. They won’t waste their time with another Terminator sequel when they can choose to stay home and watch Dolemite: Is My Name⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on Netflix or The Irishman (I haven’t seen this one yet, but hope it will be good), or … maybe they will go to the theater and watch something other than a franchise film.
I mean after you’ve seen the good franchise films that drove you to the theater
…. you are jazzed up and wanting to see something else at the theater. Now, you’ll see those artsy, cinematic movies Scorses seems to feel we’re being starved from being able to watch.
Bollocks. The good movies are in the theater. Sure, they might not have as many screenings and/or require a little more ingenuity and discipline by the moviegoer to take a chance on versus the franchise film — but they are there.
My favorite movie last weekend was Harriet⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ . The story of the great Harriet Tubman. Her story is courageous, is very much not a franchise film, and we haven’t talked nearly enough about it here. My next favorite current in the theater film would be The Lighthouse ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ from A24, again, not a franchise film but a creative, gritty, terrifying jaunt into madness.
Good trees to focus on.
Yes, I’m just one lowly moviegoer and reviewer out here, Martin Scorsese, but I watch as many movies as I can and there are plenty of quality cinema beyond franchise movies. My point is let Hollywood faun over big tentpole movies and advertise the wonder of these huge blockbuster movies because it drives people to the theater experience which is warm, wonderful and has movies that don’t suck.
Put down the sword of blame against franchise movies or superhero movies or whatever type of movie that is more popular to the masses than the movie you want to make. The industry needs big budget movies because they serve as a vehicle to drive people to the movie theater experience. Some of these movies will succeed, some will break even and some will lose. We, as movie lovers, shouldn’t care as long as people keep going to the movies.
Call me an optimist, but I have faith in the forest — in people making the right decision with their hard-earned money – and that driving change with planting more and better trees..
If you have not seen Terminator: Dark Fate ⭐️⭐️½ and somehow still want to, then you’ll want to avoid reading this post and/or watching any of the embedded videos.
SPOILER ALERT — you’ve been warned…
…instead of a being a sure-fire hit, the sixth installment of the Arnold Schwarzenegger franchise is, well, being terminated at the box office. Unless the film holds more strongly than expected in coming weeks, box office experts said that the investing studio partners Paramount, Skydance, 20th Century Fox and Tencent should expect to take a big loss on the theatrical release — between $70 million to as much as $100 million.
After seeing Dark Fate, it’s no surprise to me why people are turning their noses up at this one. The film burns up the stories of the iconic first two films (by killing off John Connor in the first five minutes) and then takes a piss on the ashes by systematically retelling the stories with weaker characters.
Because equality matters in this day and age, female fans are just as upset as male ones, watch and listen what MechaRandom42 has to say:
Many, many fans are remarking just how unbelievable Dani Ramos is as the future warrior that John Connor was in a 5’1 frame. Nevermind that the movie after John Connor is terminated, is in Mexico, with subtitles required. Then there is the nonsense surrounding Mackenzie Davis as a hybrid human-machine as a protector who needs to refuel by stealing a bunch of pharmaceutical supplies and being iced to prevent overheating. Then you have the beloved T-800 reduced to a domestic role with a job installing drapery.
Perhaps the greatest dramatic sin committed by Dark Fate is the loss of a human relations story. T1 had a romance with Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor. T2 was all about the T-800 bonding with John Connor. Where is the love, the emotion of Dark Fate? It’s just … dark … fate. Not even Arnold gets to have sex as a T-800 with his domestic family. It is a love borne of him as provider, not any physical intimacy. The most screen time goes to the women who don’t even seem to acknowledge that men are of any interest? I can understand Sarah Connor roaming the world in the future companionless, but what’s wrong with the other two women? Bizarre.
But, some of you that might have made it this far, what if I liked it? Great!
I’m a protector of other people’s opinions on what films mean to them. You can love something others dislike and vice versa. That is a exciting part of what makes movie watching fun. Everybody is different and your opinion is yours and don’t let me or anybody else ever take it away from you. I like movies I know well that others dislike and vice versa.
So, if you like Terminator: Dark Fate, it’s all good. Maybe there will be enough of you out there to encourage this franchise to continue. Me? I think it’s done on the big screen … for awhile. If the film loses hundreds of millions of dollars, that creates a bite to the bark that does not invite the hand of financing.
I would be curious to follow Terminator continued on one of the many streaming options (don’t laugh, that is a more real possibility than it sounds). I mean, Disney+, Amazon … those are some deep, deep, deep pockets and they will want original content.
“I’ll be back,” – Famous quote. Will it be?
So, it’s entirely possible we’ll see Terminator be back. My guess is it will be on the streaming channels.
Other Blogger Reviews
All that said, let’s get to reviews that cover both spectrums: some recommend, some don’t. A balance of both reviews are included. We’ll start with the pro, and finish with the con.
Breach: “If you are a Terminator fan and you specifically missed the story of Sarah Connor, the T-800 and John Connor, I think you will enjoy this movie “
Mark’s Movie Reviews: “I have never been a huge Terminator fan, but I liked the new “Terminator: Dark Fate”.”
John Scalzi (friend of director Tim Miller): “Six films (and one television series) in, it’s worth it to ask whether the world needed yet another stab at the Terminator mythos. My response is: in this case, yes”
The Nerds Uncanny: “But leaving the theater after Dark Fate, I can honestly say it was the first time I’ve left a Terminator sequel happy about what I just saw.”
Critical Hit: “…thanks to thrilling action, surprising heart, and a superb turn from the cast – both young and old – Dark Fate ends up a very solid sci-fi action thriller. Heck, I would even call it good.”
Mr. Movie Film Blog: “I’m keen to see where this goes. Dark Fate is the third-best Terminator flick, which is a bit of a backhanded compliment, but it’s the first in a long while to wrestle the franchise into a position where future films actually seem like a good idea “
Moving Pictures Film: “Overall, Terminator: Dark Fate is neither a home-run or a catastrophic failure”
Full Circle Cinema: “…stumbles at some important moments, but gives us what we’ve wanted- a Terminator movie with good characters and neat action that feels like a worthy successor to what James Cameron built.”
Martin / The Film Tower: ” It will not revolutionize the genre, but Terminator: Dark Fate’s relentless action is entertaining, and seeing the three women take on a formidable enemy was as fun as it was satisfying”
Movie Metropolis: ” indeed the best sequel since T2. This is a film that successfully reboots a franchise that had been flagging for decades and is one of the year’s best action flicks “
Nazamel Tabares: “Putting new faces to a familiar story, giving it a modern look and a deadlier villain makes it more interesting”
Not Recommended or On The Fence
The Knee Jerk Reaction: “…just shut that shit down. This constant repetition is getting tedious and desperate.”
Society Reviews (headline): “…An Unoriginal, Hostile Takeover of The Franchise”
Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys): “… as an overall experience, Dark Fate is forgettable and incessantly bland new addition to a property that is finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant.”
At The Foothills of Madness: “If there’s ever going to be another (judging by the projected opening weekend grosses, that might be a tall order), there really needs to be a major shakeup in both direction and content,”
Matthew Epperly Film Reviews: “Although it is definitely an improvement on the two movies that came immediately prior, Terminator: Dark Fate left me with conflicting feelings.”
Eric Reitz: “It’s biggest fault isn’t that it is a cookie cutter Terminator movie, it’s that it had ideas that could have been something special if they were brave enough to follow through with them “
Tamale Movie Reviews: “The only future director Tim Miller’s “Dark Fate” predicts is one of middling “Terminator” storylines that not even a game-ready Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton—nor stylish action sequences—can save.”
Jordan Barnes: “…it’s probably time to pull the plug on this chugging, barely functional machine “
Bookshelf Battle: “IMO, didn’t totally suck. It doesn’t deserve a spot next to the first two, but among the Overall, Terminator: Dark Fate is neither a home-run or a catastrophic failure list of garbage sequels, it is the least trashy.”
Reviewers of the Lost Art: “It was not great, nor that good, but it was managed to be entertaining enough. It passed the test in most fields but notably failed in others”
Stan The Movie Man: “The thing that bothers me the most about the film is the utter lack of logic. “
Before getting to the headline, JUDY ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ had a great first weekend with limited screenings. Many critics are raving about how great Renee Zellweger does in the film. With “only” 461 theaters the film made almost $3 million dollars. Will expect based on first weekend results there should be wider screenings starting this coming weekend.
When seeing the movie, JUDY, viewers are presented with the impression that Judy Garland was quite literally broke in the year before her death. In the movie she can’t stay at the hotel she normally stays at because the bill hasn’t been paid, so she must gather up her children and take them to her ex-husband’s house.
According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, Judy Garland was worth, adjusted for inflation, $20 million dollars at her death.
Sure, she might have had mounting back taxes, but that is a honeypot of money. How was she so broke? The official story is that she had it stolen from her by thieving managers, industry leeches (primarily by?) her ex-husbands. She owed a bunch of back taxes and needed to take on those Talk of The Town singing gigs in London to make enough money so she could be with her children more.
Just making $1/million in a lifetime is a lot of money. Let’s say you averaged $30,000 a year. It would take roughly 33 working years. If you started working at 18, that means you would need to work until you’re 51 before you’ve generated a million dollars.
Maybe there should be a sequel to JUDY which explains how anybody can be worth $20 million and be so “broke”? I know, I know, taxes, divorce, bad business decisions, etc. Rhetorical. Sort of.
With an estimated $40.7 million, WB and New Line’s It: Chapter Two topped the weekend for the second week in a row, dipping just -55% compared to its opening weekend and pushing the film’s domestic cume over $153 million after ten days in release. In addition to that, the horror sequel added another $47 million internationally this weekend for a global tally that now stands at $323.3 million.
The IT franchise now has made over a billion dollars. Will Rambo: Last Blood, Ad Astra and Downton Abbey take down IT this third weekend for IT? I’m guessing yes, what do you think? Personally, I think it will go down like this:
Ad Astra (The Brad Pitt fan appeal)
Rambo: First Blood
It: Chapter Two
Downton Abbey – Maybe others reading are more excited about this one. A lot of prediction sites (see below) are claiming this will be #1.
Here’s an idea: if you want to put your guess up against others in a fun, free movie-game, check out …
Fantasy Movie League lets you play a game on your phone and/or computer for FREE where you can compete against others guessing which movies will be top at the box office. Have fun!