It’s hard to imagine Hollywood without Steven Spielberg. Spielberg’s career as a filmmaker serves as a perfect parallel for contemporary film history. From his humble beginnings outside the collection of University of Southern California wunderkinds to his commercial dominance at the multiplex, Spielberg did more than just make movies that wowed millions of people around the world: he also disrupted an entire industry, changing the way Hollywood approached filmmaking and establishing the format for blockbuster films that persists to this day.
It’s now been two weekends since Pennywise the Dancing Clown was unleashed upon unsuspecting audiences, and Hollywood may never be the same. Seriously. The kind of box office numbers we’re seeing right now will inspire, uh, major changes in how Hollywood tries to jump on specific trends. And while two new movies made a sort of solid showing for themselves over the weekend, the fact is this: it’s Pennywise’s world. We’re just living in it. Here’s the box office projections as of Sunday afternoon:
If there’s one bone I can pick about the most recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It, it’s that the movie doesn’t spend enough time with Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Sure, we get that incredible opening sequence where he lures Georgie to his death, but people are right to call Bill Skarsgard’s character one of the most iconic horror characters in decades: he’s fantastically creepy and desperately in need of a lot more screen time. And now, with Andy Muschietti working on a director’s cut for the home video release, we might have one of the first scenes we’d like to see added back in.
In a weekend where no new releases cracked the Top 10 and six movies maintained their exact spot in the rankings, you’d think there would be less news worth sharing. That isn’t quite the case. Sure, as sites like Box Office Mojo have noted, this is a historically bad Labor Day Weekend for movies in theaters, but it’s also a uniquely static weekend for releases, one that even required me to create a second chart just to capture all the data points. Let’s start as we always do, with the box office grosses as of Sunday afternoon:
Here’s a fun question for you: how many evil droids have there been in the Star Wars universe? There was the interrogation droid that tortured Dr. Leia in the original Star Wars; IG-88 and the jet-black C-3PO unit in The Empire Strikes Back; and a handful of trade federation robots in the Star Wars prequels, as well as K-2SO (sorta) in Rogue One. Come to think of it, while both Death Stars have always had a bunch of R2 and MSE units wandering around in the background, the Star Wars series has always been a little short on recognizable droid baddies.
One of the most challenging parts of any Stephen King adaptation is walking that fine line between childhood fears and adult terror. It is a perfect example: how do you take images meant to be frightening to 12 and 13-year-olds and adjust them for an adult audience? This is the formula that King has used to make him one of the most successful authors of all time, but stepping outside of the characters’ heads — and behind a movie camera — only ramps up the challenge of balancing tone just right. That’s why it’s been so heartening to hear It director Andy Muschietti say all the right things in pre-release interviews. For better or worse, it sounds like he really gets it.
Have you ever scrolled through Donald Trump’s IMDb page? Owing to his background as a New York City socialite, Trump has appeared as himself in many talk shows and entertainment news segments; at last count, Trump has approximately 266 appearances in movies and televisions shows ranging from Late Night With David Letterman to his many, many appearances on the various iterations of The Howard Stern Show. What’s more interesting, however, are his appearances that fall under the ‘actor’ category. How did Trump continue to pop into shows like Spin City and Sex and the City despite his questionable reputation among New Yorkers?
There are bad weekends, there are bad weekends, and then there are historically terrible weekends the likes of which haven’t been seen in decades. Guess which one applies to this past weekend? With the overall box office dipping more than $30 million from last week, and the overall numbers landing as historically bad, we seem to be ending August on a terrible note. Nevertheless, here are the box office numbers through Sunday afternoon:
If the early buzz is to be believed, fans couldn’t get any more excited for the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s It. Not only does the film have one of the most-watched movie trailers of all time, and is also projected to make over $60 million in its opening weekend, it’s also coming into theaters riding a wave of impressive reviews. And somehow, the movie has done all of this without tipping its hand on some of the most impressive scares. All of this for an R-rated horror movie about children being jeopardized. We’ve come a long way since the original miniseries, America.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of The Dark Tower isn’t that it failed to live up to expectations decades in the making, or even that it mangled Stephen King’s source material in a way that die-hard fans found unforgivable. No, the most frustrating aspect of The Dark Tower is that it’s just… fine. Despite the plethora of negative reviews, it isn’t some disastrous flop a movie, nor is it an ambitious mess that reached for the stars and came crashing back to earth. It’s just sorta there, a Young Adult action-fantasy film that limps through its paces before ending with a thud. Really, how do you even make a King adaptation that doesn’t have a little bit of ambition?
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