Typically the least exciting period of the year when it comes to new movie releases, occasional bright spots are to be found, as “Deadpool” continues to bulldoze the competition, even this weekend’s new releases, like “Risen” (the action-drama which tells the Biblical story of the Resurrection, through the eyes of a non-believer), as well as the rather conventional, if safe and even dull Jesse Owens biopic, “Race,” and the much-hyped horror movie, “The Witch” – all in the top 10 for the weekend, but none remotely close enough to unseat the so-called “Merc with a Mouth,” aka Deadpool, which earned a whopping $55 million in its second weekend in release, for a domestic total of over $235 million, and a worldwide gross of close to $500 million! For a film budgeted at $58 million (and a marketing budget that’s likely much less than that, as is typically the case), the movie is most probably already very profitable for Fox.
Needless to say, a second Deadpool movie is already in the works at Fox studios.
As for the newcomers, “Risen” earned $11.8 million for Sony; “The Witch” brought in $8.7 million for A24; and “Race” drew $7.3 million in ticket sales, likely en route to a modest $30 million total gross (or maybe even less) by the time it leaves theaters in a month or so, especially as theatrical windows continue to shrink, with new arrivals making their way to VOD, Digital, DVD and Blu-Ray much sooner after their theatrical runs than ever before. Those that under-perform have even shorter theatrical lifespans.
Future biopic producers should maybe consider taking a page out of Don Cheadle’s avant-garde “Miles Ahead” playbook; or even consider Todd Haynes’ unorthodox Bob Dylan bio, “I’m Not There.” Not that biopics have to veer entirely off traditional course, but when they’re as sterile and mousy as “Race” is – a film that I’d argue is much less about the man, and more about the time in which he thrived – audiences tend to stay away. It’s also maddening that, even still today, a film about a black man of the historical stature of a Jesse Owens, can’t be made without inserting (some times forcefully), and giving equal on-screen weight to a white male co-star – in this case, Jason Sudeikis, who plays Owens’ Ohio State University track coach, Larry Snyder.
So when the studio behind the film (Focus Features) describes “Race” as “the incredible true story of Jesse Owens, the legendary athletic superstar whose quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy” (certainly an exciting description and real-life story), I can’t say that this is the film that we got. But I’m open to other interpretations.
I should note that Focus Features may not have had high hopes for the film anyway, so its $7.3 million opening may be in line with what was expected. But if that were the case, I’d have to ask, why bother making the film? Especially a film about a significant historical figure like Jesse Owens, which, by all accounts, should’ve been nothing less than utterly compelling, gripping and instructive.
All that said, the film will hopefully lead to more work for star Stephan James, who plays Owens in the film. As of today, his only listed upcoming project is the recently completed pilot for a new NBC spiritual drama, titled “Unveiled,” from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, which is being re-developed from last season. Although he’s not the star of the potential series which centers on a team of guardian angels who step in to save people in crisis.
|2||Kung Fu Panda 3||Fox||$12,500,000||$117,104,584|
|5||How to Be Single||WB||$8,220,000||$31,763,633|
|8||Star Wars: The Force Awakens||BV||$3,836,000||$921,642,295|