In a grim “times have changed” comparison, less than five years ago, I was mildly disappointed that DreamWorks’ delightful Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie opened with “only” $23 million. This was well below “normal” for DreamWorks (Trolls opened with $46.5 million in November 2016 and The boss baby had opened with $50 million in March 2017), so it was a closer comedown to turbo ($21 million in 2013) than Monsters vs Aliens ($59 million in 2009). However, Captain Underpants costs only $40 million (Turbofor example, cost $135 million), making his eventual worldwide gross of $125 million a modest success. Five years later, it’s a real reason to rejoice that Universal and DreamWorks are well-reviewed and well-received. The villains (review) opened atop the domestic box office with $24 million.
The film, about a team of anthropomorphic animal thieves (Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos and Craig Robinson) trying to go straight, marked DreamWorks’ biggest opening weekend since How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($55 million) at the start of 2019. It’s also their biggest debut without a sequel since The boss baby ($50 million) in early 2017. It’s not 2010, back when DWA How to train your dragon would “disappoint” with a $44 million debut, but return to $220 million domestically. It’s not 2010 either, when How to train your dragon cost $165 million and the whole world was zoned out on Twitter, YouTube, and Netflix. Given the galleys, even pre-Covid, for toons without a sequel, I’m going to count The villains as a relative triumph for now.
DWA toons became less expensive (closer to Illumination’s $80 million budgets than Pixar’s $150 million budgets), and expectations for all animated films fell in kind. Of course, if you are How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Frozen II or (presumably) Minions: The Rise of Gru, you can expect to bank. Alas, the mere idea of a big-budget animated movie theater is no longer an automatic event, which is part of why Sony rented The Mitchells Vs. The Machines to Netflix. We haven’t had an animated blockbuster without a sequel since Pixar coconut ($800 million, including $209 million domestic and $189 million from China) in November 2017. Four years later, Disney tried to sell Encanto’It’s grossing $255 million worldwide as a hit because many kids watched the (awesome) musical multiple times “for free” on Disney+.
Anyway, The villains, directed by Pierre Perifel and adapted by Etan Cohen, topped the domestic box with $24 million from 4,008 theaters. This includes $1.15 million in Thursday previews, again showing the gap in terms of legs from Thursday to weekend when it comes to a kid-targeted toon versus a sequel. expected deductible. Coupled with solid reviews (85% fresh and 6.8/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) and an A from Cinemascore, and he’s looking at a “normal for DreamWorks” multiplier of 3.25-3.75x of the weekend in total for a domestic finish of $78-90 million. Considering The villains (which grossed $88 million worldwide) was the first kid-friendly toon since Illumination Sing Last Christmas (after Disney sent turn red to Disney+) and is now the latest big kid-friendly toon until Pixar Light year on June 17 (because Warner Bros. has moved DC Super Animals as of July 29), a national total of over $100 million wouldn’t shock me.
Focus Features, also owned by Comcast, launched Robert Eggers The man from the north (review) in 3,231 theaters over the weekend. The R-rated, original (loosely based on the story that inspired Hamlet with amusing similarities to The Lion King), filled with stars (Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, etc.) received good reviews (89% fresh and 7.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) but a B from Cinemascore. The man from the north earned $12 million on its domestic debut and $18.5 million worldwide, bringing its worldwide total to $23.5 million. The film, split between Regency and Focus, cost $70 million after rebates. Budget aside, that would be a decent showing for a film like this, even in pre-Covid times. Plus, you can’t complain that Focus didn’t market this thing. Call it a (likely) loss for distribution but a win for theaters.
Lionsgate released the film compatible with Twitter The unbearable weight of massive talent (review) in 3,036 theaters. The well commented (89% fresh and 7.3/10 on Rotten Tomatoes), the original $30 million Nicholas Cage as Nicolas Cage who accepts an offer of $1 million to attend a super fan’s birthday party only to find out the guy (Pedro Pascal) is maybe a crime lord. The film only made $7.175 million during its opening weekend. Massive talent aside, Nicolas Cage hasn’t been a draw since Awareness in early 2009. This is his first major studio star vehicle since Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in early 2012. It’s an example of online fandom mismatching the general public interest (and how Hollywood expects our older stars to keep opening movies like in the 1990s ). Still, it’s not like JCVD was a huge hit in 2008.