In a marketplace ever more dominated by remakes and pre-boots and shared sequel universes, perhaps the most anticipated original film of the summer finally arrives. Wait, *original*? Anticipated? Do those words go?
Weekend Forecast for July 26-28, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
July 25, 2019
Nearly 30 years into his career, one of the few remaining celebrity prestige directors, Quentin Tarantino, is in the lucky place of being able to make basically whatever he wants (c.f., his potential upcoming R-rated Star Trek movie) and the kind of director that inspires "career retrospectives" every time he releases a film. Such is the benefit of a fairly uninterrupted string of critical success. His latest, Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood, enters slightly new territory, being his first film about actual events, and boasts one of his strongest casts yet, heralding perhaps a new level of commercial triumph.
A period piece, like most of his recent films, this goes back to the swinging 60s of Hollywood, and while it's sold primarily as light character study on a hack-action star (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), it's really about the Manson Family and their infiltration of the fringes of Hollywood society, leading up to the murder of Sharon Tate, an event which shocked the community to its core. This is similar to the approach to Inglourious Basterds, which was sold as "Brad Pitt, Nazi Hunter" but had at its core a much more compelling story about survival and revenge of a young Jewish woman in occupied France. So, here we get the surface gloss of Hollywood glamor papering over the story of one of the most disturbing crimes (and one of the most disturbing persons) in the 20th century.
In addition to DiCaprio, we also have Brad Pitt as his stunt double, Margot Robbie as Tate, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Luke Perry (in his final role before his death) and Damon Herriman (possibly best known as Dewey Crowe from Justified) as Manson. Maybe another dozen or so significant actors fill out other roles in the film, but we could be here forever. Suffice to say that everyone wanted to be in this one, and most of them got to be.
Tarantino's films have occupied a strange middle ground at the box office, never opening huge, but always demanding attention. UOATIH is possibly more relatable than most, thanks to less overt violence than past film, even though it at the same time it doesn't shy away from the Manson connection. Leaning on these real world events is likely to help a lot, especially compared to something like The Hateful Eight, which was basically a filmed stage play.
Reviews are solid, if not as strong as they've often been, with this film being more meandering than usual for Tarantino. Nearly three hours long, it's a great big feast of a film, as opposed the usual bite size meals we're used to. That's his usual M.O. and with the subject matter and cast, it should best his previous biggest opening weekend, of $38 million. Note, of course, that this was several years ago, and it's been a while since Tarantino's given something so straightforwardly digestible. In 3,600 venues, it should see an opening weekend at $46 million.
This leaves things wide open for The Lion King to repeat, after its $191 million debut. The eighth largest opening weekend in history, it now gives Disney 12 of the top 13 (Jurassic World being the lone hold out) and the largest "pure" Disney opening ever, pushing past Beauty and the Beast's $174 million mark from two years ago. Any sorts of questions about the decision making of Disney will have to wait until its execs finish their money fight. Look for a second weekend of around $110 million, which is just a staggering number in itself.
Spider-Man: Far From Home will become either the third or the fourth film to pass $1 billion worldwide in 2019, depending on whether it or Aladdin reaches that number first. Marvel Phase 4 has a lot to prove with its new lineup of heroes, but Phase 3 has exited on a strong point. Spider-Man looks to be a natural anchor hero, though it technically belonging to Sony is potentially a bit of a sticking point. It should wind up with around $400 million domestic, and earn around $12 million this weekend.
Toy Story 4 should be next in line to do so, though it'll have to hurry to beat The Lion King to that mark. Basically, there's a whole bunch of insane earning films right now and Disney has a hand in basically all of them. This would be the fourth Pixar film to hit $1 billion and will likely become the third highest earning Pixar film domestically, eventually passing Toy Story 3 despite the lower than expected opening weekend. Give it $10 million this weekend.