Monday, December 24, 2018

Bumblebee Weekend Box Office Lands in Third Place

This weekend was chock full of new movies after nearly three weeks of quiet weekends. On the surface it seems like a mistake to release Bumblebee against Aquaman, and Mary Poppins Returns all of whom are competing for essentially same set of eyeballs. The thinking however is is they could take advantage of all school grades and colleges going on Christmas break starting this past weekend. On paper, its not a bad idea, in reality it just reads like they cannibalized each other while letting Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Ralph Breaks the Internet enjoy a few weeks of little competition. Having said all that, the Holiday releases should not be judged the same as the Summer releases. Where summer is a sprint where the first two weeks of box office matter the most, Christmas time is more of a marathon where a movie could benefit from over a month of steady sells to increase their profits. So its in this context that I let you know that Bumblebee just had an ok weekend release. No great but not alarming either. It was in an expected range.

Aquaman won the weekend box office with a $67.4 million opening, Mary Poppings Returns took $22.2M, Bumblebee took third at $21M, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was at $16.7M, and fifth goes to The Mule at $9.9M. My take is its a great weekend for family films but since most families can only afford to see a single movie a weekend, the result is over $100+ million in ticket sales got spread around instead of channeled to a single movie as we would normally see for a summer release. Internationally, Aquaman added $91.3 from 70 markets, Mary Poppins Returns $20.3M in 17 markets, and Bumblebee $31.3M from 38 markets. In short, I suspect all those numbers to more or less double by the time Christmas ends and these three films will enjoy good box office runs. Exactly where Bumblebee will land is too early to say but I suspect that Paramount and Hasbro will consider any number above $500 million worldwide box office total to be a very successful release that will speed up sequel talks and increase pressure to get a new franchise installment out sooner rather then later.

Debating if will right a formal review of the movie. The quick version is its a highly entertaining movie, running neck in neck with the first movie. The movie does away with all the Bay-isms. The robot designs are great with an excellent mix of Bay-verse detail with G1 aesthetic, frequent use of transformations not just for humor but as a means of attack and defense, easy to follow action sequences that do not rely on fast edits or shaky cam to convey what is occurring, developed characters, and a tease of the kind of epic storytelling Transformers is capable of in the right hands. Its the touchstone that future Transformers films can follow. The film is a prequel to the previous movies but lets just say that there are many parts where its clear the continuity to those films was not considered that important. I highly recommend you go see it.

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