The Weekend Movie Takeaway: Super Bowl Edition
February 4, 2019
Though the last three days at the box office showed the weakest Super Bowl weekend results since 2000, there are plenty of pop culture-related takeaways to be discerned from the deceptively uneventful 72 hours.
M. Night Shyamalan's Glass led the domestic box office for the third weekend in a row with a take of $9.5 million, bringing the total to $88 million. This result is remarkable for a film almost nobody is still talking about.
The power of Shyamalan's reputation as a master storyteller cannot be overstated. More than special effects or brand adherence (apparent driving factors in modern mainstream cinema), story is bringing audiences into the cinemas for this picture in a way that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The only new entrant at the box office, cartel thriller Miss Bala, earned a mere $6.7 million for the number four spot. It’s a disappointing result for any film opening on 2,200 screens, but especially so in terms of the film's representation goals; this is a commercially-targeted action thriller starring a Latina actor — Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin — and there should've been a big audience for it. Maybe marketing dropped the ball.
Speaking of which, the Super Bowl has always represented a natural starting point for summer movie hype, so let's take a look at which promo spots garnered the most attention.
Most people got excited about the new spot for Avengers: Endgame, which didn't provide any money shots, but highlighted a world without heroes and emphasized the loss that ended Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has said trailers for Avengers: Endgame won't feature anything beyond the first 20 minutes of the movie; an idea that’s nice in theory, but highly doubtful considering modern marketing demands.
Nevertheless, it asserts the degree to which people are interested in Endgame for what happens, rather than the traditional allure of how crazy the spectacle will be. It's the story that audiences are hanging out for here, not the explosions, which is highly encouraging from a pro-narrative perspective.
Superhero cinema is often dismissed for being spectacle-centric, but the wild speculation surrounding what story beats will unfold in Avengers: Endgame seem to prove that story matters just as much in this arena.
Pixar’s Toy Story 4 also unveiled a well-received new spot during the Super Bowl. Pixar’s iconic status in modern cinema history is the result of thoughtful storytelling, and as in Avengers: Endgame, it's what happens here that has audiences excited.
Although a new setting was revealed during the spot, nothing in the way of story was revealed, as executives at Disney/Pixar know that's what people will be showing up for on opening day.
Jordan Peele reasserted the social power of story in the smash hit horror Get Out, and the trailer for the film's follow-up, Us, makes it feel no less incendiary than its predecessor. In a separate spot aired during the Super Bowl, Peele made his debut as the host of the new incarnation of The Twilight Zone he is executive producing for streaming service CBS All Access.
If there's one television show since the medium's inception that demonstrates the power of story, it's The Twilight Zone. Every genre tale told since it first aired must build on what The Twilight Zone achieved, which is no small task.
Peele is well-placed as the host and guiding hand for the latest mounting of the series, which follows the pretty decent ’80s version, and the not-very-good-at-all 2002 reboot.
The trailer for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw also made something of an impact, but it hardly stands as bastion of storytelling, considering how action-centric the parent franchise tends to be.
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