|WEEKEND BOX OFFICEBOX OFFICEJOKER|
During the current worldwide pandemic, movie studios are no longer providing box-office figures because theaters have been shut down around the nation and the world. Because we are less interested in the actual figures themselves and more interested in what people are watching over the weekends, each week we will dive into Most Streamed and Bestseller Lists on Fandango, iTunes, Netflix, and Hulu to pinpoint the weekend’s most watched films.
We are now in our third week of inspecting the most watched movies at home, and it’s interesting how much more movement there is in the VOD market than in the traditional box office. That may be more of a function of our current situation, however, where theatrical movies released earlier this year are heading to VOD in a much faster clip to take advantage of the increased movie consumption at home. They’re probably also trying to recoup some of their losses, as well.
In our first two weeks, we’ve been eyeballing the iTunes and Google Play lists to come up with the most watched VOD movies, but Fandango’s most watched VOD movie seems to be a very good compromise between the two lists. In either respect, most of the lists suggests that the two most popular VOD movies this weekend were the home debuts of the two biggest films released in theaters in 2020, Bad Boys for Life and Sonic the Hedgehog. The two movies add to their $204 million and $146 million theatrical box office. Meanwhile, Pixar’s Onward comes in third now that it is being offered for $5 rental instead of $20 purchase note families: It’s free on Disney+, which cost $6 a month, and if you are spending $5 to watch Onward, you probably live in a family that could use Disney+ to help get through the next couple of months. This is not a plug. It is a lifeline.
Invisible Man is still going strong even at the $20 rental price point, but it’s still doing extraordinarily well, even as other movies have debuted and fallen below it, like Knives Out and Jumanji. e don’t have exact figures on Invisible Man on VOD, but it’s safe to say that it has been a resounding success. Excluding Trolls World Tour which is on presale, Invisible Man is number four, while Harrison Ford’s Call of the Wild - which was also ousted from theaters early - debuts at a middling #10, ahead of the original Bad Boys and two other movies still only available for purchase, Ben Affleck’s The Way Back and Robert Downey, Jr.’s Doctor Dolittle, which isn’t even doing well on the VOD market with families starved for movies.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell’s Downhill, which bombed in theaters, is likewise not making much noise on the VOD market, where it debuted at number 24. Meanwhile, I am only seeing it on the iTunes list #11, but the critically acclaimed indie flick Never Rarely Sometimes Always seems to be doing well. I haven’t seen it yet,...
Week three of no theatrical releases. That will technically change soon — Universal’s premium VOD-opening “Trolls World Tour” has a handful of still-open drive-ins to play don’t expect any grosses reported. But it was a week full of important stories, with particular interest in a series of release date adjustments. However, no date can be realized if theaters aren’t open, and nobody knows when that will be.
• Exhibitor trade organization NATO held a webinar Friday. President John Fifthian raised hope that some theaters might be open by late May or early June. AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron, who oversees the most screens in North America reiterated his hopes for mid-June.
• With the COVID-19 still in its early stages of national spread, uncertainty about the curve flattening, and signs that in China, which had the earliest outbreaks three months ago, that viral decline doesn’t equal viral defeat, the reality is it could be weeks before anyone can make a reasonable assessment on reopening.
• Countering industry optimism that after weeks indoors, people will flock to theaters is a survey by Performance Research about public attitudes on return to public events. It saw 49 percent of respondents saying feeling safe about returning to theaters ranged from in a few months to never, with 28 percent saying if they do return, it will be less often. That said: This is a snapshot taken nearly two weeks ago, and shouldn’t be considered predictive. It showed similar or worse results for sporting events, concerts, and theme parks.
• Sports league executives spoke with President Trump, who urged resumption as soon as possible. However, Dr. Alan Sills, chief medical officer for the NFL, cautioned it is premature to believe that football can return this fall. Governors in some states that aren’t fully shut down, like Nebraska, encouraged voluntary compliance — with the threat that if the virus isn’t contained, their ardent fans might not have a season. Sports, of course, demand close player and spectator contact, and are more vulnerable even than theaters to the ongoing threat of contagion. But the idea that it is conceivable the country could have a year with no more sports is even more shocking than disruption to theaters.
• The key takeaway from multiple studio release schedule changes is, in re-dating titles, they don’t expect theaters to be fully operational until July at the earliest. Though key June and July titles like Pixar’s “Soul” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” remain in those months, “Mulan” on July 24 is the earliest rescheduled date for any major title. Other date changes act as a diversion while theaters are closed, but the reality is everything is written in pencil, not pen.
With large swathes of the population sitting at home, audiences have a chance to catch up on films that were released years ago and find new insights into their narrative. Recently, a fan who had been watching Suicide Squad with his family reached out to the film's director David Ayer to ask about the meaning behind the scene where the Joker is lying in the middle of a room lined with a circle of knives, guns, and baby clothes. Denying that the baby onesies were trophies after an infanticide spree on the part of the cackling psychopath, Ayer provided the following explanation for the scene instead.'No it's more innocent. Harley wanted a normal family with Joker hence the baby in her vision. I figured she would have endlessly pestered Mr. J about having a kid. So he had Mr. Frost buy some onesies. The circle represents how he sees Harley.'
The scene under discussion comes up early in the story. Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, is locked up in Arkham, and we see Joker, played by Jared Leto, in his mansion mourning her absence. He has also shown to have drawn a grin across his face using a sharpie, which according to David Ayer, is because...'He was having a hard time smiling without Harley so gave himself some help with a sharpie.'
This introduction sets up the fact that this Joker is unlike any other live-action portrayal of the supervillain as a man who is missing his demon lover. The onesies we see lined up on the floor next to the Joker later make an appearance in the scene where the Enchantress offers Harley her heart's desire, and she imagines a life of domestic bliss with her beloved Mistah J, with their babies wearing the onesies.
How the circle of knives represents Harley in the mind of the Joker is up for debate. Perhaps he fears that his affection for Harley makes her dangerous to him, and thus views her as a circle of knives drawing closer, threatening to destroy him.
This sentiment of Joker being attracted towards Harley and simultaneously hating the fact that she has made him care for her is also played out in the scene where Harley willingly throws herself into a pit of acid on Joker's command. After trying to walk away from the whole thing, Joker almost unwillingly jumps in after her and rescues her, proving that she means more to him than he can bring himself to admit.
From his explanation, it is clear that Ayer had a solid backstory and reasoning behind the script for Suicide Squad, which unfortunately did not translate very well to the big screen. But now that James Gunn has taken over directorial duties on the sequel, there is a chance to see a Suicide Squad film that gets critical acclaim in addition to minting money at the box office. David Ayer on Twitter brings us this news.