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The Weekend Movie Takeaway: The Long Shot

May 6, 2019

The ground-trembling success of Avengers: Endgame in its opening week was a significant reminder that sometimes the whole world stops to pay attention to a particular story. It showed how central narrative still is to our communal society. It proved how everyone can play along when it comes to maintaining narrative secrets (well, almost everyone). It also proved how much money you can make when you strategically plan your stories in advance. It demonstrated that audience investment in certain characters can stretch throughout a remarkable number of films. It showed that even in a heavily fractured media environment, some stories are better enjoyed together, at the same time. Even if it's sometimes potentially detrimental to your health.

Throughout its second weekend in theaters, Endgame also showed that the extreme success of one narrative can come at the expense of other, equally worthy narratives.

Avengers: Endgame earned a staggering $145.8 million this past weekend, and now stands as the second-highest grossing film of all time—a designation surely not long for this world.

It continued to dominate in ways few films ever had in their second weekend, stomping all over three new releases that all must've seemed like smart counter-programming at one point. 

Neo “yuppies-in-peril” film The Intruder, contemporised rom-com Long Shot, and animated family film UglyDolls all took in around $10 million each, coming in second, third and fourth places on the chart.

Of the three new offerings, Long Shot was generating the biggest buzz ahead of its release, and seems to have suffered the biggest hit when you consider how poised for a breakout it was. It's a film that had notable intentions, narratively-speaking, as it sought to update an all-but-dead, once heavily popular sub-genre: the romantic comedy.

While social progress has rendered many rom-coms obsolete, Long Shot leaned into those challenges and presented a witty, knowing, modern take on the form.

But the Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron movie more or less got eaten alive by Avengers: Endgame. It will hopefully find an audience going forward, as it deserves to.

An aspect of Avengers: Endgame's continued dominance worth noting, is that the film’s co-directors announced prior to the weekend that the spoiler ban they had been heavily promoting (#DontSpoilTheEndgame) would be lifting this week. Which may have spurred even more people into theaters over the weekend.

It's kind of a cheap tactic—implicitly threatening those who haven't seen the film with having it ruined for them—but it speaks to how much of a commodity narrative has become in the modern blockbuster world. As well as that said narrative belongs more to the audience than previous generations, with the online world dying to deconstruct story as soon as it hits the screen.

In more ways than one, Avengers: Endgame has weaponised storytelling.

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