'Spiderman: Far From Home' Takes the Reins from 'Stuber' & 'Crawl'
July 15, 2019
Over the weekend, for the second time in three months, a Marvel Cinematic Universe film in its second weekend has squashed two original movies on their opening weekend, hobbling their chances of breaking out. Two films that reasonably thought they'd be out of harm’s way, crushed by the seemingly unstoppable Marvel wave.
Both Marvel films in question: Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, are perfectly respectable, even superior, exercises in big screen narrative. Yet, the continued dominance of one all-powerful giant story can't be good for overall narrative diversity.
On its second weekend in theaters in early May, Avengers: Endgame stomped all over political rom-com Long Shot and neo-yuppies-in-peril thriller, The Intruder; two original films with considerable breakout potential that couldn't get a look in.
This past weekend, Spider-Man: Far From Home, with a $45 million second weekend take, similarly steamrolled over two new offerings: action-comedy throw-back Stuber and the inventive alligator horror, Crawl.
Stuber should be of note to screenwriters as it is a rare—rare these days, at least—studio film based on a spec script (by Tripper Clancy). The film hasn't been met with the kindest reviews, but there unquestionably exists a market for it. A market, it seems, to still be distracted by Spider-Man: Far From Home, as Stuber only took in $8 million to claim the fourth place spot on the weekend chart.
A greater tragedy is the fate of the taut, efficient and thrilling Crawl, which has been met with an extremely positive critical response, one that was somewhat late-arriving on account of the film not pre-screening for the majority of critics.
Such a move tends to suggest a lack of faith in a film on the studio's part. Happily in this case, that lack of faith appears to have proved unfounded. Critics are widely praising the film, which now has an 88% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
A combination of studio indifference and Spider-Man: Far From Home's second weekend dominance appears to have prevented Crawl from becoming this year's The Shallows, a film many critics have compared it to.
Crawl is exactly the kind of movie we all say Hollywood studios need to make more of—a mid-budget genre with no pretensions of being more than a fun night out.
It's disconcerting that such a great example of this kind of narrative would struggle to find a decent-sized audience alongside storytelling monoliths like the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Written by: Dominic CorryDominic Corry is a Los Angeles-based film critic, writer, journalist and broadcaster. Raised in New Zealand, he is also the West Coast editor of Letterboxd, the social network for movie lovers. For more of his film writing, see his website www.TheGoodInMovies.com