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The Weekend Movie Takeaway: ‘Bad Boys’ Holds Steady While Oscar® favorite ‘1917’ Vies For the Top Spot

February 4, 2020
2 min read time

On the weekend before the most well-regarded narratives of the previous year are awarded the top prizes by the industry at the Academy Awards®, Bad Boys for Life still reigns supreme at the box office.

The film took in approximately $18 million over the weekend to not only become the highest-grossing film in the franchise, but also ensuring the existence of future Bad Boys movies for years to come. We've already examined how this will likely result in a boon for adult-target action comedies, but it's also nice to see Will Smith asserting his box office dominance once again. Especially after the under-whelming Gemini Man, which features a remarkable amount of narrative overlap with the third Bad Boys installment.

1917's status as the favorite to win Best Picture this Sunday was further affirmed by taking the top prizes at the BAFTA Awards yesterday. Audiences continue to flock to the single-shot war epic to the tune of a $9.7 million gross over the weekend.

It's one of the few Best Picture contenders to count as a genuine box office hit. But as recent years have shown us, there are no guarantees when it comes to who’s going home with Oscar, and the talk around Parasite's chances continues to swell as we approach the final day of voting—tomorrow.

Despite landing with a thud two weekends ago, audiences continue to be drawn to the Robert Downey Jr. flop Dolittle, which came in at number three with $7.7 million. There's almost no positive press surrounding the movie, so it has to count as one of those cases where star power overcomes a crummy narrative.

Sneaking in behind Dolittle in fourth position is the off-kilter horror film Gretel & Hansel, which is not the kind of movie you usually expect to see in 3,000 theaters. It has no stars (unless you count It's Sophia Lillis) and feels like the kind of arthouse genre film that garners respect, not audiences. But enough people showed up to give it a $6 million gross, which speaks to the allure of a familiar title combined with a fresh narrative perspective.

The film's director, Osgood Perkins (son of legendary actor Anthony Perkins) has previously produced two acclaimed horror films—I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House and The Blackcoat's Daughter—that deserved much wider audiences. So, if the relative success of Gretel & Hansel spurs audiences to check those out, or at least encourages studios to give Perkins more of a budget to work with, then it's a win-win-win.

Further down the charts is an example of what happens when audiences deem a narrative all too familiar. The Blake Lively spy-thriller The Rhythm Section flopped hard with a $2.8 million take over 3,000+ screens. Lively has proved a draw in the past, but something about the unoriginality of The Rhythm Section seemed to put audiences off. That the film was outpaced on every front by something like Gretel & Hansel speaks volumes about audiences’ hunger for something narratively interesting.

The Superbowl was of course last Sunday, and amongst all the usual fervor surrounding various blockbuster film and TV trailers (F9, Top Gun: Maverick, and various Marvel TV offerings on Disney+), one commercial stood out as being particularly relevant to the future of scripted narrative: the ad for Quibi, a new service that markets itself as a hub for film entertainment for people on the go.

Proudly proclaiming that every piece of content, be it an episode or a movie, is less than ten minutes, Quibi (short for Quick Bites) is either the future of video entertainment, or the biggest folly since the XFL. It remains to be seen which way it will go, but either way, it's probably wise to start planning ten page screenplays.

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