Who ordered the unnecessary sequels? C'mon, fess up guys, someone placed an order for two unnecessary sequels. The guy's here at the door with them and I don't want to tip him for two unnecessary sequels.
Weekend Forecast for October 18-20, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
October 17, 2019
Maleficent was the forerunner of Disney's run of live-action adaptations and spinoff movies, taking the villain from Sleeping Beauty and giving her a tragic backstory to humanize her, while simultaneously revelling in her villainy. It was part of the wave of moral ambiguity films where the bad guys were the good guys and the good guys were grey, cats and dogs lived together and anyway look where we are now, was it all worth it? Didn't think so!
Thanks to Angelina Jolie cackling her way through a quasi-British accent, some decent FX and Disney's unstoppable marketing behemoth, the first film was a solid success, opening at $69 million and finding $241 million domestic in the summer of 2014. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is our sequel, out this weekend, and moves the Sleeping beauty universe into a Game of Thrones type drama about the future of the human kingdom and its relationship with the fairies, led by Maleficent and her razor sharp cheekbones. Michelle Pfeiffer and her cheekbones plays the human queen Ingrith, while Elle Fanning returns as Aurora with other notable roles going to Ed Skrein, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Imelda Staunton.
Much more of an action film than the previous outing, it pits the armies of the humans against the armies of the fairies against each other in pitched battle, making me wonder just who Disney thinks is in the market for this film. I'm reminded of the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel, which dove deeply into political theatre and completely lost everyone with a confusing and pointless story. This doesn't look like as much of a misfire as that, but after the novelty of the first film's "let's see how she became a villain" plot, "let's see how... palace intrigue moved her further down that path" seems like a tough sell. The move to October from May indicates less confidence on the part of the studio, and I'd expect a significant drop off to $44 million opening weekend.
Zombieland: Double Tap at least is occupying the same basic spot on the calendar that its predecessor did. The ten-years-later sequel to the zombie comedy that put Jesse Eisenberg on the map, it follows the surviving quartet from the original as they attempt to stay alive in an America overrun by zombies, who may or may not be evolving.
Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigal Breslin return to their roles, with Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Zoey Deutch and Thomas Middleditch showing up for significant add-on roles. The first film was notable for its cynical and hilarious take on the post-apocalyptic scenario, as a group of loners needed to figure out each other's quirks and foibles in order to make it through disaster. Zombieland 2 ups the stakes by expanding that makeshift family, especially as Breslin makes her moves towards finding age-appropriate companionship.
That is, in between zombie mayhem. The film delights in highlighting that it's probably the most decorated cast of a zombie film ever, with three Oscar nominees and one Oscar winner in its above the title cast. Loading them up with heavy weaponry and bathing them in gore, director Reuben Fleischer (most recently of Venom) goes for broke with the premise, starting the action in a deserted and overrun White House, and amping things up from there. Reviews are mostly positive, but there's still a sense that ten-years-later is about seven-years-too-late. If this film is able to hold even with its $24 million opening from ten years ago, let's go ahead and call that a win.
Joker was able to hold on to a decent amount of its opening weekend, falling to $55 million in its second frame and passing the $200 million mark mid-week. That this is happening off what amounts to a single-performance driven portrait of a decent into madness (that just happens to have some tangential references to a comic book) is pretty remarkable, and it'd be fascinating to glimpse its box office in Universe B where these are omitted. This no-CGI take on a comic universe is likely to end up with around $350 million domestic, and may work its way into a Best Picture nomination, thanks to the box office assist. I'd expect $31 million this weekend.
The Addams Family was a solid hit in second place last weekend with a $30 million debut, finding the stable of kids who like to be scared, but not that scared, and delight in the grime and much and weirdness of life. It should drop to around $17 million this weekend. Meanwhile, Gemini Man had a $20 million debut, against its sizable budget of $138 million, and will need to rely on international box office to draw even. The Will Smith-iverse will have to wait for another year, and Ang Lee's plans to impose his technological will on us all have failed once again. This is likely to drop to around $11 million.