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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates: Meg Eats, Slender Man Thin, BlacKKKlansman Burns Gently

Friday Estimates 2018-08-11 at 12.04.25 PM

The Meg will likely be the biggest opener of the summer for Warner Bros, with a number in the low 40s. The most striking thing about this is that WB put out such an unambitious summer slate by their historic standards. They should have a much better fall/holiday run. But even looking at next summer, one wonders if we will ever again see the studio flex all that muscle it used to show off constantly. Still… Crazy Rich Asians next weekend… so it could be a heavy August slate of wins for WB.

Slender Man arrives with a whimper. Will Screen Gems ever develop a strong post-Clint voice?

And BlacKKKlansman has a mixed launch. Strong for Spike and in this 1500-screen range, solid for Focus. But it’s still a $10 million launch focused in all the locations that are expected to be strong for this film. Expansion is not going to change the trajectory. So you can look at it as Spike having a single day that is better than the total grosses of his last 3 films. Or you can look at it as his best opening, with the exception of Inside Man, in the last 15 years. Or you can look at the opening as stronger than a couple of Focus’s other 1500 screen openings, The Ice Harvest and The World’s End, which are both beloved films. Or you can look at it as the Florence Foster Jenkins or Hell or High Water of this summer. Or you could see it as a $25m domestic-grossing disappointment. It’s all about perspective. And this opening allows for many variations in perspective.

Nice single screen opening for Skate Kitchen… which everyone should try to see on a big screen, though it will be a hip movie to watch on phones for many years to come.

35 Responses to “Friday Estimates: Meg Eats, Slender Man Thin, BlacKKKlansman Burns Gently”

  1. Joe Leydon says:

    It’s weekends like this one that remind me: Some movies are made for box-office bloggers, others are made for the history books. And, fortunately, there’s room enough in this world for all of them.

  2. Pete B says:

    Joe, you really think The MEG is one for the history books?

    (showing myself out)

  3. Joe Leydon says:

    Call Uber. Don’t try to drive yourself.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    Here I was thinking $11 million was actually pretty good for Slender Man. It got delayed, some bad press, and then dumped in August not long before its release date. Seemed like they just wanted it to be off their hands quickly and quietly.

    Seeing BlacKKKlansman later this week. Very much looking forward to that. Hope to see The Meg soon as well.

    Saw Tully over the weekend. Easily one of my favorites of the year. Theron is not surprisingly absolutely sublime. It’s funny and moving and rings very true. Wish it had found more of an audience back in May. Deserves it.

  5. Bulldog says:

    That Meg number keeps getting pushed up. Now actuals are at $45m. I hope to see it soon, and hope it’s pure dumb fun. We had this chat on another thread, and I’m a sucker for an escapist shark move. Deep Blue Sea remains a guilty pleasure family fave.

    Also, really extremely ironic that a move named Equalizer 2 is running basically identical to Equalizer 1. Both are at $89m after 4 weeks. In fact for the past three weeks they have been identical, week 2 $64m, week 3 $79m Did they plan this shit or what?

  6. Hcat says:

    Just saw Tully recently myself, loved Theron but didn’t like the last bit. Like what it was trying to do but didn’t think it stuck the landing. Chomping at the bit to see the new Lee and still need to see fallout as well. Been awhile since I have had two MUSTSEES on the plate.

  7. Sideshow Bill says:

    Seeing both KKKLANSMAN and THE MEG today. Interestingly my 15 y/o daughter and movie partner is only interested in the Spike Lee film. She’s skipping THE MEG. I’m many ways my daughter(s) are so much smarter than me.

    And seriously if at some point Statham doesn’t look at the shark and says “Shut up, the Meg,” then farts in it’s face I will feel so ripped off.

  8. Sideshow Bill says:

    BLACKKKLANSMAN. Jesus Christ. I’m rocked. I’m sad and angry and pissed off. Like the film is.

    I was also enormously entertained.

    The last 10 minutes are victorious and sobering.

    Good lord. The power of movies, man.

  9. Sideshow Bill says:

    R.I.P. The Hot Blog….

  10. JS Partisan says:

    The Hot Blog is fine. IT’S FINE! Dave just didn’t feel like doing shit on Sunday. It happens. How about Disney though? They really don’t fucking get, that they just squandered a shit ton of fan goodwill. I really feel, like I am finished with them. You can’t fucking let the nazis win, and they are letting the nazis win. I can’t support any studio that does it, and it’s not even Marvel Studios. It’s the assholes at Disney.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    I love all aquatic horror. I rewatch, among others, Leviathan and Deep Rising every chance I get. I love shark movies. I’ve seen Jaws three or four times this summer alone. I just rewatched The Shallows. You get the idea. So I was psyched for The Meg (SPOILERS follow). But man it’s a bust. I don’t mind the rating or tone. I expect something like this to be PG-13 (though it’s disappointing to hear Turtletaub talk about all the gore they filmed that won’t be on the DVD). I expect some jokes and comic relief characters. But the $150 million or $175 million isn’t on the screen. The shark gets so little to do and the body count is miniscule. You spend 15 minutes setting up the beach sequence and it goes nowhere. The only time I got all excited was when the bigger meg ate the smaller one and tipped the boat over. But there are very few memorable moments for a summer blockbuster about a giant prehistoric shark. I was giddy when it started and extremely bummed when it was over. I do hope it ends up doing well just so they make more aquatic horror. We could always use more of it.

    So Peppermint (saw the trailer for The Meg; it was not on my radar) is basically a Death Wish remake in the same year we got a Death Wish remake? People of color kill some fine white folks, so the surviving family member goes on a rampage and slaughters lots of people of color. The justice system is corrupt. The public cheers on the vigilante. Looks like a right-wing fantasy. Hope it’s not.

  12. JS Partisan says:

    Peppermint is about destroying the patriarchy, because it’s men who messed her life up. That’s the difference: one is white male fantasy. The other? Is a woman taking down the patriarchy, and inherently a better movie. Just like Steve McQueen’s Widows is going to be a better version of Peppermint later this year.

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    Widows looks fantastic. Peppermint does not. The trailer makes it look like the same old right-wing revenge fantasy. It doesn’t convey anything about taking down the patriarchy. I hope the movie itself is better than the awful trailer. Have you seen it since you say it’s a better movie? Or are you just hoping?

  14. JS Partisan says:

    I am just judging from the trailers, but the Peppermint trailer is totally about destroying the patriarchy. That’s the only reason it looks worth a darn.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    Hmm OK yeah we must have seen different trailers. I’ll seek out the one you saw.

  16. Pete B. says:

    Gotta second Stella on the Deep Rising love. That movie is a blast.

    So we’re not going to get a bloody R rated director’s cut of The MEG? Bummer. I had not heard that.

  17. movieman says:

    “Widows” looks like “Time’s Up” meets grindhouse.
    I can certainly dig it, especially with that cast.
    Anxious to see how McQueen tackles genre.

  18. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah it sucks Pete. Turtletaub said some gory scenes were filmed but they are incomplete and there’s no way the studio will spend lots of money to finish the visual fx and include the scenes on the DVD. So he said they will never seen. Bummer.

  19. Pete B says:

    Sober news to start a Friday…
    While the rest of the world mourns Aretha Franklin, and rightfully so as she was phenomenal and a one of a kind talent, this metalhead would like to say RIP Jill Janus. Mental health issues and addiction are both hard crosses to bear individually, but combined they can be devastating. She fought through them until she took her own life Tuesday at just 43.

    I was lucky enough to see her band Huntress twice, and both times were great.

    Here’s to you Jill.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1OltqVcr1Q

  20. Sideshow Bill says:

    I didn’t hear about Janus until now. That sucks. Not really a metal head but I found them entertaining. Mental illness sucks. When Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit killed himself in May I was devastated. I still am. I even got a tattoo in his honor.

    I liked THE MEG little more than you, Stella, but yea…it’s a missed opportunity. I enjoyed it while it was happening but I doubt I’ll ever seek it out again. I went to a Tuesday bargain night so I paid $5 for the ticket and I feel like I got just about $5 in entertainment. That should go on the Blu Ray cover. It’s an endorsement of sorts but i should have had way more fun.

    I did laugh out loud at the line “it’s already proven aggressive towards boats!” That was the funniest thing in a too-jokey movie.

    Oh well. I’m ready for The Predator, The Nun, Mandy and the return of The Shape. Those all look like a lot of fun so at least one ore 2 should hit the spot.

  21. Stella's Boy says:

    $5 in entertainment is a good summarization of The Meg. It was just hard not to hope for a little more. It definitely should have been way more fun.

    The next few months are loaded. Indeed those all look very promising. Not to mention others like Hell Fest, Suspiria, Overlord, and more. Also Puppet Master: Littlest Reich is available to rent or buy for $.99 right now and I am definitely expecting that it’s worth at least that much.

  22. JS Partisan says:

    Hey SB: here’s a question, and I think I know the answer. I just want to ask anyway. Do you like the Puppets from Puppet Masters evil, or do you like them as anti-heroes? Personally? Their anti-hero movies, are just so much fun to me, that it bums me out they have returned to their violent and deadly ways. The new rebootish movie, still looks like a fun movie.

    I will admit, that I am looking forward to A Star Is Born. It looks ridiculous, but sweet.

  23. Sideshow Bill says:

    I forgot about SUSPERIA. And OVERLORD could be a lot of fun. I plan on watching the new PUPPET MASTER this weekend, as well as UPGRADE.

    THE BARN, which I’ve been trying to see for a long time, is finally available to stream. And I’m alsolooking forward to the sequel to HELL HOUSE LLC. I thought the first one was surprisingly effective.

  24. Stella's Boy says:

    Really liked Upgrade a lot. Good stuff. I think you’ll like it. And I also enjoyed Hell House much more than I thought I would.

    I never really considered that JS, and honestly I haven’t seen much of the Puppet Master series. My interest in the new one is due to being a big fan of S. Craig Zahler and the highly enthusiastic reviews from horror nerds.

  25. movieman says:

    “CRA” is a wonderful indulgence: it’s like a Bollywood movie (albeit w/ a different kind of Asian), no musical production numbers and a shorter run time.
    I hope Michelle Yeoh gets some Best Supporting Actress traction during awards season.

    Appreciated what Berg was going for in “Mile 22,” but the movie just didn’t work for me. Like in “All the Money…,” Wahlberg’s thesping limitations are a sore spot.
    Found a good two-thirds of the movie generally incoherent: yeah, yeah, it all “comes together” in the concluding 5 minutes, but it was too little too late for me.
    “The Raid” dude is cool, though, and Maggie from “TWD” does a nice job.
    Can’t imagine this launching a Wahlberg franchise: “CIA spook w/ Asperger’s” doesn’t translate as Bourne 2.0 to me.

  26. Stella's Boy says:

    Wahlberg and Berg are launching a franchise on Netflix with that Spencer for Hire project. Probably a smart move for them both.

  27. leahnz says:

    berg and wahlberg should just get married already, they already even have the same name practically — go for hyphenated, “Wahl-Berg”, so as to avoid any bitchy double-the-patriarchy arguments.

    i’m compelled to pay cash money to see any movie that features cliff curtis in el cinema, but good grief can anyone make a decent big-budge ‘B movie’ anymore?
    ‘deep blue sea’, while dumber than a sack of hair at times and laughable CGI sharks and all, is freakin ‘jaws’ compared to ‘the meg’ in terms of suspense, story and pacing.
    ‘the meg’ was tolerable for maybe half the runtime when the ensemble cast was still all together (— sPOILERES —- i chuckled at the ‘best i-told-you-so’ line between the exes and there was a single moment of semi-suspense, when the megalodon’s face materialises in the deep water outside the tube to the little girl, first good look at the massive predator) but then they leave the research vessel and go to shore and it’s all just a very sad trombone

  28. leahnz says:

    crap i meant to say above after the mention in this thread of puppets that i’m intrigued by ‘the happytime murders’ after learning that the writer was inspired by ‘meet the feebles’, hopefully it’s even 1/5th as fucked up

  29. movieman says:

    With Hollywood’s mania for recycling, I’m a little stunned Wahlberg never got his “Million” (or has it been upgraded to “Billion”?) Dollar Man” franchise wannabe made.
    A rebooted “Spencer for Hire”–as a streaming series–will suffice, I suppose. Just hope it’s better than “Wahlburgers.”

  30. leahnz says:

    all sarcasm aside, i wish berg would step away from wahl for a bit, branch out and see other people (with berg’s next up flick it’ll be five in a row i think for Wahl-Berg, it’s just getting weird and boring). berg’s early bit of action flair and edge like in ‘the kingdom’, rundown and hancock is getting dulled by all the middling wahlberg sameness

  31. Sideshow Bill says:

    “berg and wahlberg should just get married already, they already even have the same name practically — go for hyphenated, “Wahl-Berg”, so as to avoid any bitchy double-the-patriarchy arguments.”

    seconded. They need to give it a rest. It’s not working. Wahlberg, a limited actor as someone else said, is capable of being very funny. He needs to break away from Berg and do more comedy. Not just Daddy’s Home type junk. He was so great in The Other Guys (and ye I know that had Ferrell too but it also had Adam McKay).

  32. JS Partisan says:

    To be faiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir, Berg and Funky Bunch, are both of the belief that it’s 15 years ago, and not almost another decade. They keep making these movies, that would have been HUGE during early 21st century bro-years. Now? They are just movies you see, scratch your head at; and ignore.

    Spencer for Hire, may be something that gets some eyeballs. Other than that? They are cinema anachronisms.

  33. palmtree says:

    I was hoping for some CRA analysis given the amount that was written about its prosects and its significance before this weekend.

  34. leahnz says:

    re wahlberg, not sure it’s entirely kind to recommend but his appearance as a guest on ‘the graham norton show’ (last year maybe?) wherein he gets progressively and ultimately shitfaced on white wine, making a right fool of himself in the process, is rather cringingly amusing viewing

  35. Dr Wally Rises says:

    So…… Boyle is out of Bond now. Here’s a suggestion – flip him and Gunn. Boyle to give us a Guardians movie, and Gunn to parachute into the Bond franchise. Not that it would ever happen. A more likely scenario?

    Is your movie heading into trouble? Are you experiencing creative differences? Have you recently fired your director and need your movie delivered by a set date? Just dial 1-800-CALL-RON now!

The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin