Despite new challengers of all genres, budgets and backgrounds, Sully remained number one at the box office this week, fending off the likes of Blair Witch, Bridget Jones’s Baby, and Snowden. In a month not traditionally known for producing many financial juggernauts, Clint Eastwood’s drama has emerged as something of a surprise smash, surpassing most expectations and showing no signs of slowing down quite yet.
There are two big stories to lead with in this edition of the Weekend Box Office Report and both of them are equally interesting in their own little ways. Let’s start with the positive: Sausage Party now inexplicably holds the record for biggest opening for an animated movie released in August. And now the negative: Suicide Squad dropped a staggering 67% in its second weekend, which…isn’t good.
A little movie called Captain America: Civl War came out this weekend and made the exact kind of money you’d expect it to make. The thirteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe didn’t have the biggest opening in the series’ history, but it was close enough. It’s easily the biggest opening for a Captain America solo movie (albeit ballooned by a co-starring role for Iron Man) and it managed to open bigger than its chief rival this year, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. That’s certainly a win.
Naked & Afraid is an actual reality show that just began its fifth season on the Discovery Channel, but it sounds so much like something that was cooked up in the SNL writers’ room that you can be forgiven for thinking it’s entirely a gag. The premise is patently ridiculous: two strangers are thrown into the wild without clothing or supplies and must survive for 21 days. But SNL has devised a “celebrity” edition of the show and they tossed guest host Peter Dinklage and the incredible Leslie Jones into it.
Around this time last year, SNL presented a commercial parody centering around Totino’s Pizza Rolls, just in time for the Super Bowl. And it was a nasty piece of business, tearing apart the image of the NFL’s biggest game as a day for men and imprisoning Vanessa Bayer’s indefatigable housewife in the kitchen, where she was simply tasked with warming up more disgusting food. So when SNL aired another Totino’s sketch in last night’s episode, we simply assumed it would be a carbon copy of the first one. Boy, were we wrong.
And like that, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders became the third presidential hopeful to appear on SNL this season. While Donald Trump hosted an entire episode last year and Hillary Clinton put in a brief appearance as a bartender counseling Kate McKinnon’s version of her, Sanders’ cameo is a bit more disconnected and bit weirder. Most importantly though, it puts him right next to guest host Larry David, who has been playing him in the show’s political sketches this season.
When the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced nearly two weeks ago, the response to the overwhelmingly white line-up of talent proved instantly controversial. Film fans and industry veterans alike gathered around the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to make their voices heard, especially decrying how films starring black actors and directed by black filmmakers — like Creed and Straight Outta Compton — somehow managed to only receive nominations for the white people involved in making them. With material this ripe, of course SNL was going to take a swipe at the Academy Awards this week.
The moment former Alaskan governor and 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump for President of the United States, you know the producers at SNL hurried to get Tina Fey on the phone. The beloved former cast member, who just hosted the show last month, famously took on the role of Palin eight years ago and many people believe that her scathing imitation actually did lasting harm to the real Palin’s political chances. In any case, this event allowed SNL to pair Fey’s Palin with Darrell Hammond‘s Trump. Thanks, reality!
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Adam Driver hosting 2016’s first episode of SNL, a Kylo Ren sketch of some kind was inevitable. After all, you don't get the actor who plays the villain in one of the biggest movies of all time to appear on your comedy variety show and not have him reprise that character. And we'll give the show this much: we never would have predicted a faux episode of Undercover Boss set on Starkiller Base, with the angry, murderous Kylo Ren going undercover amongst his troops as a radar technician named Matt.
It took Avatar two and half months to become the highest grossing movie of all time. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will surpass its domestic box office gross within the next day or two after less than three weeks in release. The big question now is when J.J. Abrams’ sequel will find its ceiling because as of right now, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was always going to make enough money to make most blockbusters tremble in fear. That was inevitable. It’s a Star Wars movie. The big question lingering over this opening weekend concerned whether or not it’s surely enormous opening weekend would break the records set by Jurassic World earlier this year. And now, with the early estimates in, we can answer that question: yes and no.
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