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:
Welcome to Augusts, where overall weekend grosses can decline for three consecutive weekends — $122, $116, and $95 million, respectively — and a new action-comedy can be the surprise winner of the weekend. Audiences might still be interested in creepy dolls, but it was a hyper-violent buddy film about professional killers that took home the gold. Here’s the box office projections, as of Sunday afternoon:
Earlier this year, Taylor Sheridan added “Oscar nominee” to his resume. The actor-turned-screenwriter-turned-director quickly made a name for himself with Sicario, then wooed the Academy with last summer’s surprise critical hit and Best Original Screenplay nominee Hell or High Water. This year Sheridan returns with his third crime drama, Wind River, directing from his own script for the first time.
In Taylor Sheridan’s snowy western Wind River, Jeremy Renner plays a quiet divorcee and grieving father who spends his days tracking game on the titular Wyoming reservation. Renner’s Cory Lambert is one of the (if not the) only white man on the land, but his Native American ex-wife (Julia Jones) and young son give him a sense of connection and community to their people. After the body of a young Native American woman is found on the middle of a snowy hillside, it reminds Cory of a similar loss he suffered years ago. Cory, along with FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) and the local sheriff (Graham Greene), they trio attempt to solve the murder mystery.
In Wind River, a Native American woman’s dead body is found frozen in the snow. The latest crime drama from Sicario and Hell or High Water screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, also working behind the camera this time around, follows Elizabeth Olsen’s FBI agent attempting to solve a wintry murder with the help of Jeremy Renner’s Cory Lambert, a local animal tracker.
From the ranks of the Sons of Anarchy cast, Taylor Sheridan has emerged as one of the buzziest screenwriters working today. He took Cannes by storm and scored an intelligent sleeper hit with Sicario, his south-of-the-border drug war drama. He made it to the Oscars with another yarn of crime and the solemn-faced folks working to stop it, the timely Western standoff Hell or High Water. And now, the accomplished writer has delivered another potboiler set on the grand expanses of the American plains, with a sweetened deal: he’ll get the chance to prove himself as a filmmaker, too, taking his debut directorial credit on Wind River.
If you know Taylor Sheridan’s previous screenplays, the drug cartel thriller Sicario and the heist movie Hell or High Water, then watching Wind River will occasionally feel like déjà vu. Character types, motivations, social commentary, even a couple of scenes (like a law-breaking interrogation in the back of a police car) reappear in a way that goes beyond an auteur returning to themes and ideas he finds particularly interesting. For the work of a first-time director, Wind River feels oddly familiar.