By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday Box Office Not By Klady (yet)
Len got us the wrong numbers this morning and is now out of pocket, so look for his chart later.
Opening day for The Fate of the Furious is off by over $20 million – almost a full third – from Furious 7. Disappointment rarely is so exciting! (Should be the tagline for the movie).
Internationally, it is killing, as expected. The weekend estimate from the studio is $430 million overseas, $192 million of that from China, which (of course) returns half of what the rest of the world returns to the studio. Still, $240 million aside from China, $100 million in real dollars from one market out of the US (China), and something around $100 million domestically is nothing to complain about.
As crap as this episode of is, China will make the $800m worldwide bottom a $1 billion bottom. And that makes it very, very profitable.
So what is the strategy going forward? Because Universal has to know, even though they are getting away with it, this is not a road to keep traveling based on the box office alone. They tried to upgrade. They failed. So now, they need to try to upgrade in some other way to keep people coming to #9 and #10 and onward.
Besides other bad choices, I think the big mistake on this film was thinking that Charlize Theron, who is great, was going to juice the franchise. But she isn’t this franchise’s speed. She plays a Bond villain. Honestly, Jessica Chastain is more the speed. She isn’t the box office star that Theron is, but she brings a grounded energy that is a better fit. Donald Glover would be huge in this series (likely won’t do it, even less so after Lando). Go get Channing Tatum, who is believably physically, but brings a different kind of charm to the piece. Add Ilana Glazer and bring some real comedy and some overt female sexuality.
And hire Michelle MacLaren next time. Or some director who LOVES cars. Why aren’t they hiring Walter Hill? Does Billy Friedkin want to direct something that big at his age? (He’d tell me to fuck myself for asking… but you gotta.) Get the tires back on the ground. Come up with some giant, crazy action sequences, but bring it back to something more intimate. Brad Bird won’t do it. McQuarrie won’t do it. Jordan Peele would be a hip pick, though I am not sure he really wants to do a big ride movie. Bong Joon-ho could kill it. Go get Gareth Evans. How about Karyn Kusama?
Anyway… I like F Gary Gray, but this was his first giant machine movie and he overreached. He will make many more terrific, commercial movies. This isn’t his thing. Coming off Compton, he seemed obvious, but instead of bringing the franchise to him, he “let” the franchise eat him. Move on.
Beauty and the Beast becomes the tenth $450 domestic grosser of all time today, seventh fastest all-time.