We’ve reached the doldrums of August, where studios release the titles not marketable enough for the summer movie season and not quality enough for serious award consideration. That means an odd mixture of horror films, formerly prestigious movies that have lost a little bit of their luster, and absolute junk just looking for a few screens to dominate for a couple of weeks. Oh, and what do you know? That perfectly describes this weekend’s new releases! Gee!
With two new releases and a third movie switching from a limited to a wide release, this was a weekend of big changes at the box office. Gone are familiar stalwarts like Wonder Woman and Baby Driver, and in its place are (with respect) the also-rans of summer, a few genre-driven films looking to carve out a name for themselves in a time of year devoid of major blockbuster releases. Here are the numbers as of Sunday afternoon:
Christopher Nolan does things his own way. That’s led to some of his greatest technical coups to date; when he wanted to defy gravity for Inception, he built a giant rotating box the size of a hallway. Armed wth the biggest budgets studios can afford, he employs new technologies and puts them fully through their paces, all to bring his massively ambitious visions to life. And for his latest epic Dunkirk, Nolan wanted to blaze his own path yet again. But this time, his plans didn’t involve fancy equipment or elaborate sets.
Be honest with me: did you really want to see a picture of The Emoji Movie at the top of this article? You had to be hoping that Atomic Blonde or Dunkirk would hang strong enough to keep The Emoji Movie from finishing in the top spot of its opening weekend, right? Well, good news for you: it’s not the highest-grossing movie in America this weekend! Has there ever in the history of Hollywood been a box office one-two as disparate as Dunkirk and The Emoji Movie? Actually, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know. Here’s the projected grosses as of Sunday afternoon:
It’s common knowledge by now that Christopher Nolan is not like other guys. He doesn‘t have an e-mail address or carry a cell phone (he doesn’t let anyone on set bring their phones with them either), which is probably why he often works with the same group of actors — because they’re the only ones who have the homing pigeons that know the way back to Nolan’s fortress. A couple new Nolan quirks recently came to light after the release of Dunkirk, and boy, do they make being on this guy’s set sound like a whole lot of fun.
There are lots of positive things to say about Christopher Nolan’s new war epic (or, rather, avoidance-of-war epic) Dunkirk: Nolan has constructed a dignified tribute to his home nation of England, he’s successfully reproduced the chaotic intensity of combat on the cinematic plane, Harry Styles has really great hair, etc. etc. But all the rightfully earned praise notwithstanding, there’s no getting around the fact that this movie has a whole lot of white dudes. It is almost entirely white dudes, in fact, and as with all movies dominated by white dudes, everyone else has begun to ask where everyone else went.
It seemed like 3D was having itself a little moment there for a while, spurred on by the success of James Cameron’s Avatar back in 2009. But it seems like the 3D era is nearing an end, as 3D’s biggest supporter, IMAX, has made the decision to focus more on 2D screenings of Hollywood tentpoles, citing a “clear preference” amongst consumers.
What did you see this weekend? Was it the dour World War II epic? The raunchy New Orleans sex comedy? Or the movie where Cara Delevingne shoves her head into a telepathic jellyfish’s butt? Truly, with options like this, anyone who complains about the death of cinema has no idea what they’re talking about. Anyways, here’s the box office numbers through Sunday afternoon: