The Box Office Good, Bad and Ugly Over Oscar Weekend
By John Hamann
February 26, 2017
We’ve got a little bit of everything this weekend at the box office - massive success, massive failure, and a few films vying for Oscar on Sunday night.
What a weird and wild February it has been at the box office. LEGO Batman and Fifty Shades fell behind their predecessors, and we’ve seen some nasty flops, including Rings, The Space Between Us, Fist Fight, A Cure for Wellness, and two of the three films released this weekend. Ineptitude at the box office has ruled the second month of the year, and the average opening for the eight films that did not open on February 10th came in at $10.7 million - and that includes a $30 million exclamation point from one of our openers this weekend. If anything has aided the box office through the month of February, it has been the Oscar films, as Hidden Figures, La La Land and Lion have been stalwarts in the top ten throughout the month. Thankfully, March looks frightfully strong, with Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast and Ghost in the Shell ready to absolutely rip it up.
This weekend, the box office recipe consists of one-third massive success, mixed heavily with two-thirds painful failure. Openers this weekend include Get Out, the much buzzed horror/thriller from Universal and Jason Blum, with the partnership looking to build on the success they found with Split, which crossed the $200 million worldwide mark this weekend on a production budget of less than $10 million. Get Out cost even less, and is the brainchild of the usually funny Jordan Peele, whose involvement provides even more mystery this weekend. On the ugly side, the two other openers include Rock Dog, another made on the cheap animated release from Lionsgate, and Collide, a film with a stellar cast that includes Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, and Anthony Hopkins, but was a Relativity Media castoff that was picked up and ignored by Open Road Films. So, on Oscar weekend, the top 12 films at the box office are at risk of finding new lows for the weekend over the last number of years.
Let’s start with the good news - we have a big winner at number one, which is feeling a bit like a repeat of the January 20th weekend, when Split debuted to $40 million. This time around, the same studio (Universal) and production company (Blumhouse) are involved, and the genre is the same (horror/thriller), but instead of M Night Shyamalan at the helm, the auteur of the day is Jordan Peele, as the writer/director explodes onto the scene with Get Out, a critically praised and financially successful first feature. Normally known for comedy, my eyebrows raised when I heard that Peele was behind this, thinking it was a joke, like a Scary Movie retread. Boy, was I wrong.
I can’t begin to tell you how shocked I am to make this statement: Get Out, a low budget horror thriller, is 100% fresh at RottenTomatoes. This isn’t a 12 review 100% fresh film - it is a 132 review 100% fresh rating, Even Mad Max: Fury Road had a dozen blind critics write negative reviews (albeit out of a possible 358), but the current status of Get Out is simply stunning, leaving us to wonder if this kind of buzz would translate into box office dollars. It wasn’t going to need much, as this is a Blumhouse production, so the $4.5 million production cost should be no surprise to anyone. The fact that it's likely completely in the black (including P&A), after three days of release should raise some eyebrows.