It turns out people were okay with Blue Will Smith after all.
by Tim Briody
May 26, 2019
Memorial Day weekend is considerably more low key than it used to be when it comes to box office, since the studios decided to crown the first weekend of May as the official kickoff of summer years ago, and then Marvel just said screw it and moved it up a week.
Still, the long weekend has plenty of appeal to the studios, and I think it's morphing more into a weekend to release films they don't have the utmost confidence in, to get that extra kick of box office from Monday.
To say nobody had the utmost confidence in this weekend's big release is a bit of an understatement. Disney's latest world takeover plans include a slew of live-action remakes of some of their most well known films. After 2016's The Jungle Book earned $364 million and Beauty and the Beast exploded to the tune of $500 million in 2017, Disney arranged a bunch of remakes for 2019. The first, Dumbo, was a rare Disney disappointment, barely making it over the $100 million mark. The second one became an internet punchline from the moment the first trailer was revealed, and that's the one in theaters this holiday weekend.
Aladdin is absolutely a solid choice for an update. It was 1992's highest grossing film ($217.3 million!) and is still memorable this day for Robin Williams' performance as The Genie. With the expected unknowns in the primary roles, the updated Genie role went to Will Smith, which turned a lot of heads. And then we scratched those heads as the first images and trailers were released, as it was Blue Will Smith. After Dumbo's box office struggles, Aladdin's box office prospects suddenly seemed a bit shaky. Reviews were also mediocre, but for at least one weekend, things are okay.
Aladdin wins the weekend with a three-day total of $86.1 million and an estimated four-day total of $105 million. That's an acceptable opening considering the ridicule heaved upon it based on the previews. In fact, it's ahead of last year's Solo: A Star Wars Story, which had an $84.4 million weekend and $103 million in four days. Yes, Disney is competing with themselves now, but when you're beating Star Wars, you're doing something right.
Audiences enjoyed Aladdin much more than critics did, so it might be able to carry this opening to a respectable total for a few weekends, at least until Disney's next big release of Toy Story 4 later in June.
John Wick: Chapter 3 becomes the first of the series to cross the $100 million mark with a $24.3 million second weekend (down 57%), giving it $100.9 million. The old school growth of this franchise from the first one (total domestic gross of $43 million, which the third one beat opening weekend) is still very cool to see, and of course a fourth one has been penciled in for 2021.
With the help of Memorial Day, Avengers: Endgame becomes the fourth $800 million film in history, earning $16.8 million in its fifth weekend (down 44%) and $21.9 million in four days, to give it $798.1 million after the weekend and $803.2 million with the holiday.
It's been pretty clear for a couple weeks now that Endgame is not catching The Force Awakens for the all-time domestic title; the 32-day total for The Force Awakens was $858.9 million. Endgame is probably getting to $900 million by the time it's done, but I wouldn't be shocked at a late year re-release.
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu crosses earns $13.3 million (down 47%) in its third weekend, giving it $116.1 million to date. It's headed to about $150 million domestically, which just so happens to be its production budget. Add in the over $237 million it has already earned internationally, and Warner Bros. has a very unlikely winner.
Two other holiday weekend openers end up as disappointments as they land in fifth and sixth place. The first, Brightburn, earns $7.5 million for the weekend and $9 million in four days. A sort of mashup between the superhero and horror genres, the concept is excellent: what if a child with superpowers arrived from another planet, and used those powers for evil instead of good?
From the Gunn family (produced by Guardians of the Galaxy director James and written by relatives Mark and Brian), Brightburn wasted its premise according to the critics, who rated it only 59% Fresh. The good news here is it cost only $12 million to make, and it'll get that back and more, but there's definitely the feeling of money left on the table here.
With a $6.5 million weekend, Booksmart is a future cult classic in the making. Earning by far the best reviews of the weekend (97% Fresh), a coming of age comedy starring Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing) and Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird) and directed by Olivia "Thirteen" Wilde, Booksmart is the film everyone will be talking about for years from this weekend, but that didn't translate into a successful weekend. It'll have to find an audience on the streaming sites.
A Dog's Journey adds $4 million this weekend and has $14.9 million in two weekends. Lagging well behind A Dog's Purpose (which managed $64 million in 2017, which is why this exists), it's suffering from the title being far too similar, as well as earlier this year's semi-unrelated A Dog's Way Home, perhaps causing audiences to think that they've already seen this.
The Hustle drops to $3.8 million for the weekend (down 38%) and $29.8 million in three weekends. The gender flipped Dirty Rotten Scoundrels update suffers from a hostile environment to comedies in general right now, and the poor reviews didn't help, either.
The Intruder earns $2.2 million (down 44%) in its fourth weekend and has $31.9 million to date. The thriller starring Dennis Quaid, Meagan Good and Michael Ealy hasn't held up that well, but it's all been a bonus after its opening weekend, as it only cost $8 million to produce.
Another struggling comedy wraps things up this week as Long Shot adds $1.5 million (-53%) this weekend and $28.6 million in four weekends.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $168.1 million, just slightly behind last year's Memorial Day weekend, when Solo led with $84.4 million and the top films tallied $176.4.
Next weekend brings a Godzilla sequel, subtitled King of the Monsters, as well as Elton John biopic Rocketman, and thriller Ma.