By David Mumpower
May 19, 2019
The most murder-y dude in cinema today returned to theaters this weekend. Countless random thugs are the worse for it, as these folks foolishly tried to capture the bounty on the head of the world’s most dangerous assassin. Suffice to say that audiences loved the nihilist concept of World War Wick, as John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ended the historic run of Avengers: Endgame.
The John Wick franchise had humble beginnings and low-key ambitions. It was a hate story about a man and the idiot from Game of Thrones who hurt his dog. The star of John Wick, Keanu Reeves, became an action hero for the ages when he starred in The Matrix trilogy. His fans and casual movie-goers supported the stylish first film to the tune of a modest $14.4 million opening weekend.
With a domestic box office total of only $42.8 million, the story of a man killing 2,350 people on the way to adopting a new pet should have ended there. The thing was that John Wick was a really damn good movie. Only five years ago, streaming services hadn’t split into countless entities yet. Everyone who took an interest in an American response to collective oeuvre of John Woo could catch up with John Wick. And they did. And they loved it.
John Wick earned $88.8 million worldwide. Its sequel followed three years later and doubled that total. More remarkably, it was the rare sequel that matched or possibly even surpassed the quality of the first film, a statement few would make about The Matrix: Reloaded (although I’m one of them.) John Wick: Chapter Two has better overall scores on IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic.
As a tribute to the quality of the first movie, John Wick-ier more than doubled its predecessor’s opening weekend with $30.4 million. As BOP has stressed for years, the quality of the most recent film directly impacts the opening weekend box office of the sequel. In the case of Parabellum…yeah.
By the close of business on Thursday, we knew that John Wick 3 was going to be special. Its $5.9 million in sneaks more than doubled (sensing a theme?) the $2.2 million that Chapter Two had earned.
Its Friday total of $22.7 million hinted at a bit of front-loading, but Lionsgate certainly won’t complain about its weekend estimate of $57 million. After all, that’s 33 percent more than the original earned during its ENTIRE domestic run.
Folks, John Wick is a textbook example of how to build a franchise from nothing. And the secret ingredient isn’t a huge mystery. You keep making great movies. As you’re about to see, the metrics for John Wick support the elegant simplicity of this notion. Global assassination translates internationally, too. Parabellum started with an impressive $35 million overseas. The film’s already at $92 million, more than halfway to Chapter Two’s $171.5 million total.
What does the future hold for Murder Man Wick? The third movie is currently 88 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the highest grade for the franchise thus far. Its A- Cinemascore matches Chapter Two and surpasses the original, which somehow had only a B grade. As a reminder, B is actually pretty lousy on Cinemascore. The people who watched it on opening weekend clearly didn’t know what to expect. The rest of us who caught it later were rightfully dazzled by it.
The odds of a fourth John Wick movie seem virtually certain. And it should do extremely well when it comes out. In the meantime, Starz will air a series based on the film’s secretive hotel, The Continental. Filming begins later this year, which means that the next assassin story that we see won’t involve the Dog Lover Who Kills.
Yes, John Wick snapped his fingers and ended the historic run of the climactic (for now) film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Don’t feel bad about Avengers: Endgame, though. It’s gonna be just fine. Another $29.4 million this weekend gives it a running total of $770.8 million, making it the second domestic release ever to reach such lofty heights.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Endgame has fallen off the pace of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Star Wars GFBs will maintain bragging rights over comic book nerds, at least in North America. Globally, the situation is substantially different. Endgame fought its way to $2.614 billion, only $173 million away from the most significant box office record in existence.
James Cameron’s ego is in serious danger. It’s not going to happen as quickly as expected, though. The fourth Avengers movie earned $129 million over the last seven days. It’s reasonable to think that we’ll still be talking about the crawl to immortality in a couple of weeks. It earned $297 million worldwide last week, meaning that it’s off 57 percent this week.
There are actually scenarios out there where Endgame does NOT become #1. I sincerely doubt Disney lets that happen, though. At a minimum, it’ll get a bump when Spider-Man: Far From Home comes out in July, just like Captain Marvel did.
Pokemon Detective Pikachu continued its child-pleasing theatrical run this past weekend. It grossed another $24.8 million, a drop of only 54 percent. That’s really good for a movie that seemed incredibly front-loaded, especially in this day and age at the box office.
The film, while borderline impenetrable to people who don’t play Pokemon, has pleased its fans to the tune of $94 million. In a few days, it’ll become one of the few 2019 releases to cross $100 million. Globally, it has amassed $206.4 million and is currently the #1 film overseas, further proof that we live in the darkest timeline. Given its healthy budget of $150 million, the film still has some work to do to turn a profit, but it’s in good shape. I’ve seen the movie, and I still don’t know what a Ditto is or does, though.
Talking about the rest of the top ten is like dancing about architecture…for a LEGO kit…that Ralph Wiggum tried to put together. Fourth place goes to A Dog’s Journey, the pointless but sweet follow-up to the equally pointless but sweet A Dog’s Purpose. To the film’s credit, it knows its target audience, as A Dog’s Journey received a rare A Cinemascore. Critics were less kind, as the movie is currently 49 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.
A Dog’s Journey earned $8 million this weekend, which is somehow both terrible and not that bad, all things considered. I give it more of a pass than usual since author W. Bruce Cameron had another movie adaptation, A Dog’s Way Home, released four months ago. Someone got a bit greedy by spacing these so closely together. Since that film was a stronger performer, Sony wins over Universal in this dogfight, though. Also, please don’t have dogfights. I say this as an Atlanta Falcons fan.
Fifth, sixth, and seventh place go to returning films that were never that interesting at the box office. The Hustle fell 53 percent to $6.1 million this weekend, giving it a grand total of $23.1 million. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels earned $42 million before we even adjust for 30 years’ worth of box office inflation, which takes it up to almost $80 million. The Hustle didn’t hustle anybody.
Sony’s Intruder grossed $4 million, a drop of only 44 percent. Its current box office total is $28 million domestically, a huge win for a title that only cost about $6 million to produce. Long Shot, the most ridiculous romantic comedy premise since the (thankfully brief) Katherine Heigl era, fell 46 percent to $3.4 million. Its current box office of $25.7 million represents a solid rejection of the premise. Seth Rogen with a beautiful woman is a CBS sitcom premise, not the basis of a movie. Given the budget of $40 million, everyone at Lionsgate has learned their lesson here.
An experimental romance in the vein of Before Sunrise finishes in eighth this week. The Sun Is Also a Star is clearly (and shamelessly) named as a way to take advantage of gullible The Fault in Our Stars fans. Nobody fell for this hustle, either. The movie opened to a disastrous $2.6 million and will probably be on digital video by the end of this sentence. Critics were ambivalent about the project, giving it a 50 percent fresh rating. Opening day audiences were disappointed, as the film managed a lousy B- Cinemascore. That’s the equivalent of getting a D in gym class.
STX Films claims both ninth and tenth place this week. The ill-advised Poms, a derivative take on the shockingly successful Book Club, didn’t make anyone cheer. The film grossed $2.1 million, falling 61 percent in weekend number two. It’s already done at the box office after collecting only $10 million. Meanwhile, UglyDolls is modestly more popular. Its $1.6 million this weekend gives it a running total of $17.2 million. Of course, its budget of $53 million means that it’s a disaster. For all of Poms’ faults, it cost only $10 million to produce.
Despite the opening of three new movies and the holdover of a couple of strong ones, box office is way down year-over-year. While the top 12 grossed a respectable $143 million, it’s a far cry from 2018’s $203 million, anchored by Deadpool 2. Hmm, maybe The Avengers should sick Deadpool on John Wick.