See I told you. Over previous weeks I kept saying that Girls Trip would beat out the similarly themed white (well actually mostly white and Zoe Kravitz) version called Rough Night, which completely tanked at the box office and has grossed only $21.7 million so far.
Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images for Universal
But then, I’m no Einstein since anybody could have seen that coming. As I said before, despite the celebrity media’s fuss over her, Scarlett Johansson is no box office power house. If you check out her box office stats, with the exception of Lucy, she can’t put butts in the theater seats. Plus, if it wasn’t for her playing the supporting role of Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which let’s face it, many other actresses could have played), she would not have been considered any sort of box office draw in the first place — and one is rushing to see a Marvel film because she’s in it.
Add to that Ghost in the Shell, which is still one of the most expensive B.O. flops this year, and it was a no brainer that Rough Night was going to have a rough time at the box office. It was yet another rude, R-rated comedy aimed at women which isn’t that novel a concept anymore.
However, there hadn’t been a R-rated comedy aimed at black women, and Universal did a masterful job marketing the film to black women filmgoers and with an attractive cast. It had all the ingredients of being a huge box-office winner. This weekend, the film grossed $30.3 million, far more than Rough Night has made in total so far. According to WGN radio film critic and box office analyst Erik Childress, Girls Trip, with its strong positive reviews and word of mouth, could actually out gross both Rough Night and Snatched, the other R-rated female comedy from earlier this summer, combined! It’s also the largest opening of any live-action comedy so far this year.
When you look at it, it’s rare for a film aimed at black women to fail at the box office, even if you remove Tyler Perry movies. Even Moonlight, I argue, played better among black women than men a lot of whom were hesitant to see the film because of its unwarranted “gay movie” label. Make a film for black women and it’s practically guaranteed to do well at the box office. I remember director David E. Talbert telling me that why he makes films aimed for black women because “that’s where the money is at,” which begs this question about us brothers. Can a film geared to just black men be successful at the box office like they were back in the 70s during the golden blaxploitation era? Are we obsolete to be thrown in the garbage heap? What happened to us? However that’s a question for another article at another time.
In the meantime, Christopher Nolan’s stunning, experiential art house World War II film, Dunkirk defied the naysayers who said that there wasn’t going to be much of an audience for a WWII film, when millennials care about nothing other than superhero movies. Of course, this is forgetting that there are millions of older filmgoers (and younger ones as well who have an interest in history) who have been waiting all summer to see something even remotely interesting that appealed to them.
Most predictions were that the film would do somewhere in the $30-40 million range this weekend, but others said that was lowballing the film and the interest for the film was much greater than people were saying. And they were right, since the film pulled in $50.5 million this weekend. Overseas, where interest in the film will no doubt be higher, especially in the UK and Europe, the film made another $55.4 million, which is solid opening for a film that was seen by many as a very risky venture. The next few weeks will tell the tale if Nolan, who is one of the most successful film directors in recent years with a worldwide total to date of $4.3 billion, has yet another huge worldwide hit on his hands.
In yet another obvious prediction, the massive $180 million CGI sci-fi epic Valerian and City of a Thousand Planetscompletely tanked at the Box Office with $17 million. Unless the film is a super-sized monster hit overseas, which it could be since foreigners love weird things they don’t understand, Valerian looks destined to fail big time. It didn’t help to make a confusing, visually tedious (despite all the special effects) film based on a mid-1960s French comic book that no one heard of in the United States with two charisma challenged, skinny white leads that no one ever heard of before (Yes I know Rihanna is in it briefly, but who’s stampeding to the theaters to see her in it?).
Last week’s No. 1 film, War for the Planet of the Apes dropped huge some 63% percent percent from last weekend, adding it to the list of summer sequels that simply failed to perform at the box office. But then again that wasn’t so surprising as it fails to deliver what it promised. It’s mainly a war between human and the apes. Instead, you get instead a whole lot of apes brooding and no action except a brief flurry at the beginning and a battle scene at the end between two human while the apes hide out of the way at the end. Hey, we want to see apes kicking humans asses! Is that too much to ask for?
In other news, Spider Man: Homecoming continues to dominate the box office with audiences happy that finally they’re got a Spider Man movie that doesn’t suck and Baby Driver continues to have strong box office legs and has become director Edgar Wright’s biggest box office hit ever. The real box office surprise sleeper hit, Wonder Woman is still pulling in money and will come close to hitting the $400 million mark domestically and The Big Sick is turning out to another more modest sleeper hit thanks to excellent word of mouth.
Here’s the weekend’s Top 12:
1) Dunkirk WB $50,500,000
2) Girls Trip Uni. $30,370,720
3) Spider-Man: Homecoming Sony $22,010,000 Total: $251,711,581
4) War for the Planet of the Apes Fox $20,400,000 Total: $97,750,914
5) Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets STX $17,020,000
6) Despicable Me 3 Uni. $12,714,475 Total: $213,322,700
7) Baby Driver TriS $6,000,000 Total: $84,233,939
8) The Big Sick LGF $5,000,000 Total: $24,539,378
9) Wonder Woman WB $4,630,000 Total: $389,033,279
10) Wish Upon BG $2,477,816 Total: $10,522,081
11) Cars 3 BV $1,927,000 Total: $144,021,565
12) Transformers: The Last Knight Par. $1,125,000 Total: $127,561,805
Source: Shadow & Act