When is the number one spot on the box office charts, not enough? When a studio expects a $60 million to $70 million at the international box office and some $50-60 million domestically (the US and Canada) for a healthy $110 million- $120 million total and the movie limps back with $81.3 million receipts worldwide.
The movie is question was Warner Bros’ most recent DC title, Birds of Prey, starring Margot Robbie back as Harley Quinn, now sans the Joker and with a band of no-holds-barred superheroes Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). The Suicide Squad spinoff gathered a mere $33. 2 million Stateside – enough to beat Bad Boys For Life, now on its fourth week out – in spite of decent critical response – 81% certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes- and preview audiences - a B+ from CinemaScore. Expert explanations run the gamut from the size of the picture – medium -, the lack of “event power”, and the placement – in the dead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Being a woman-led movie was not the culprit, they agree – pictures like Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman had done fine at the box office.
Internationally, the paltry returns could be blamed, in part to the spreading coronavirus, leaving audiences at home, especially in Asia. Europe and Latin America performed decently, but not enough to push the movie where Warners expected. Mexico was the hottest market, bringing in $4.6 million, and placing Birds on the number 1 spot. Russia, with another number 1 and $4 million, followed by the UK, with $ 3.9 million, Brazil, with $2.8 million and France, with 2.7 million were the top 5 in the list of 78 territories where the movie has already opened.
The long-lasting Bad Boys for Life is holding fast to the number 2 spot domestically and internationally, making Sony very happy with an additional $ 27.8 million for a worldwide cume of $ 336. 3 million. Universal’s Dolittle kept the third spot, now with a $158.6 million cume, and Golden Globe winner 1917 is healthy, tracking well with a $287.3 million cume.
The big news this week, however, is the re-launch of Golden Globe winner Parasite. Having collected more gold elsewhere, director Bong Joon-Ho’s mordant social satire this week will hit 2,300 theaters in the US and Canada, with an expected return of $45 million. This will make the South Korean film the fourth-highest grossing foreign-language picture domestically, behind Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Life is Beautiful and Hero.
Parasite is currently available on DVD Stateside, and playing in theaters in 174 international markets, having grossed over $1.5 million this weekend to a total of $35. 4 million. A success on all fronts – culturally and commercially – Bong Joon Ho’s film heralds a new moment for the industry when “specialty” (which usually means non-English language, small to medium budget films) titles can move easily through worldwide markets, with important financial returns.
Besides Parasite’s return to the US and Canada’s screens, this week will see, among others, family-friendly Sonic the Hedgehog, starring Jim Carrey; romantic drama The Photograph, starring LaKeith Stanfield and Issa Rae; Downhill, a remake of Swedish Golden Globe nominee Force Majeure, starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus; and Blumhouse’s torture horror Fantasy Island.
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