It's time to stop messing with these pretenders, as the holiday movie season jumps into high gear with approximately the 305th entry in Marvel Cinematic Universal, soon to encompass every movie ever made. There are times when I wonder if even Stan Lee is thinking “Okay, that might be enough now.”
Weekend Forecast for November 3-5, 2017
By Reagen Sulewski
November 3, 2017
It does help things that this week's entry in the series appears to be one of the best of the bunch. Thor: Ragnarok (imagine telling someone in the '80s that there would be at least three stand-alone Thor movies, each enormously successful) has the God of Thunder returning to Asgard following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and trying to prevent the titular end of days, when in walks Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, to just ruin everything. Mjolnir, Thor's weapon of choice, is destroyed, and he's banished to a prison planet where he's tasked to be a gladiator against other super beings. Things just couldn't get worse.
There, however, he meets up with his good buddy Hulk, on a bit of a vacation from Earth, and they escape to return to Asgard and attempt to defeat her minions with the help of a few other characters from the Marvel universe (Valkyrie, Loki, Korg and a poorly kept secret of a cameo from another major character). What's different about this Thor is just how funny and campy it appears to be.
That's probably what held down the first two movies, which played like Shakespearean drama and moody angst respectively. Here, they seem to be taking some cues from the Guardian of the Galaxy movies and amping up the comedy and silliness – making at least part of the movie a Thor/Hulk buddy road comedy. Embracing the inherent ridiculousness of the characters and going for a weird Flash Gordon/Battlestar Galactica '70s feel seems to be paying off. This is no doubt due to the influence of director Taika Waititi, a New Zealand director responsible for the Flight of the Conchords series and What We Do in the Shadows, an occult parody, making him something like the antipodean Edgar Wright.
Levity is apparently what we've all been asking for after a couple of grim, overly-serious, team-up films. Reviews are through the roof, and after a couple of months with little to get enthused about, Thor: Ragnarok may be just what the audiences have been pining for. The most recent Thor movie, post Avengers, opened to $85 million, but that's second-tier character money now, and Thor is A-list, baby. Well. B. No worse than B-. Captain America: Civil War opened to $179 million, but that was really Avengers 2.5. This should rival the summer opening of the latest Spider-Man movie, both comedy-heavy films with characters with something to prove, financially. Opening at 4,080 venues, it should start with around $122 million.
Already in theaters for this weekend is A Bad Moms Christmas, the sequel to last year's Bad Moms, the medium hit about suburban mothers rebelling from conformity and modern pressures. After $113 million on a budget of $20 millionish, a sequel seemed inevitable, and a holiday theme makes a lot of sense (though I would still hold out hope for A Bad Moms Arbor Day).
Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn all return as the titular moms, with the addition of their moms to drive them further crazy. Played respectively by Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon, they're responsible for turning these moms into the neurotic wrecks they already are. Combine that with the stress of the holidays, and you've got a recipe for chaos.
Positioning itself as a potential annual classic along the lines of Bad Santa or Christmas Vacation, it's also capitalizing on the raunch movement among comedy that was continued successfully this year with Girls Trip. This opened on Wednesday to a modest $2.5 million, which is not particularly strong, but often comedies don't start strong on fall weekdays. Bad Moms had decent legs last year but started at just $23 million. However, markets have been pretty hard on sequels and reboots judged as unnecessary. Reviews are pretty bad, which leads to me to think that the soft Wednesday number points to a flagging franchise and an opening weekend of about $18 million.
Returning films are led by Jigsaw, the Saw sequel that opened to just $16 million. This is historically a very front-loaded franchise, and this seems like a case for an epic fall. Late reviews savaged it, and with Halloween possibly boosting its weekend numbers, this should drop to about $6 million.
Similarly, Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween: Too Many Subtitles Why Why Why fell strongly over Halloween weekend to just over $10 million. I'd expect a crash to about $5 million or less.