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Bill Murray Joins Adam Sandler And Will Ferrell In Search Of Box Office Gold

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Well, it's a cool poster at least.

Well, it’s a cool poster at least.

It’s a bit of a puzzle to figure out who was the target audience for the latest Bill Murray feature, Rock the Kasbah, which was given an 8 percent approval rating by Rotten Tomatoes and took in less than $2 million in ticket sales in the combined audiences of the United States and Canada.

My first complaint – besides the simple fact that it is a pandering piece of work – revolves around the concept of Bill Murray figuring out what he should do now that he is 65 and his best years in comedy are behind him.

His last two attempts have been efforts in which he continues the same shtick that worked for him when he was younger. In St. Vincent, with Melisa McCarthy, he played an old timer still clinging to his drinks and his pot, as a ne’er-do-well neighbor who was irresistibly incorrigible – in other words, the same old Bill Murray. In Rock the Kasbah, Murray again tries to cash in on his ne’er-do-well persona as a hip, but aging music manager, which allowed the script writers to drop as many references to famous rocker as they could.

Does Hollywood get it yet? Murray’s schtick always cashed in on the point that he isn’t a good actor; he just knew how to compensate for that. On the surface, Murray was always insincere, which meant he could be a ham instead of a talent. But now the talent Gods are calling and he hasn’t got much left.

Of course, this same demon has also exposed both Will Farrell and Adam Sandler, two other Saturday Night Live veterans, for their collective lack of acting chops. Sandler‘s love me, even though I’m a stoner, routine, has run its course. Meanwhile, I could never tolerate Farrell long enough to understand his shtick, except for very loud and demanding. What else has he got? Don’t ask me.

No question, the men from Saturday Night Live have had a far better run than the women. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy have had numerous high-rolling successes in Hollywood. (Notice, I don’t include Steve Martin, who was a frequent guest, but never a cast member of Saturday Night Live.) In addition, Chris Farley, Dave Spade, and Mike Myers, among others, had sporadic success on the big screen.

The women from SNL who have made it in Hollywood include Kristin Wiig, who is finding dramatic and comedic work in California, Tina Fey, who also a versatile film star, and who can be Maya Rudolph, who can be silly and serious, as well.

But IMDb’s list of the top 20 female stars from SNL show few others with any noteworthy success on the big screen. Jane Curtin has had a stellar career, but most if it has been in television – Third Rock From The Sun was one of her follow ups. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has also asserted herself, but mostly on the show Seinfeld. Still, she has notched nominal success in Hollywood with Fandango listing her in nine feature films – not many compared to 25 for Chevy Chase, 27 for Eddie Murphy, 45 for Will Farrell, 46 for Dan Aykroyd, 50 for Adam Sandler and 53 for Bill Murray.

That said, many are saying that Sandler can no longer find a job; his popularity has run its course. Will Farrell shows no indication of slowing down, although shameless defines most of his career. Murray and Aykroyd – what about getting together again? Lastly, Eddie Murphy, who is only in his 50s and is listed as the fourth highest grossing actor of all time. Yes, finding the right role is hard for him, too, but give it a go, Mr. Murphy. You’ve got years of options ahead of you. Certainly, we need you now, as much as we ever did.


Box Office

“First Man” Fumbles In Crowded Weekend, “Venom” Drops and Tops

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October is proving to be a crowded month for genre pictures and Oscar-worthy films. As such, it’s astounding that a superhero film has managed to set records for the month. Venom, Sony’s Marvel movie about the anti-hero, continues to be at #1 in its second weekend with a weekend gross of $35 million. This brings its domestic total to a towering $142.8 million, covering its $100 million budget. Once again, not far behind it is A Star is Born, the musical drama with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, ends up at #2 with a weekend gross of $28 million, the domestic total sitting at $94 million, still great for a $36 million budget.

There were a host of new releases this weekend but weren’t as successful as they trailed behind the top two. First Man, the Neil Armstrong movie starring Ryan Gosling, only made $16.5 million, a major disappointment for the $59 million film. Just beneath it was Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, a sequel to the 2015 family horror film based on the books by R.L. Stine, coming in close with $16.2 million. Further down was Bad Times At The El Royale, the all-star ensemble campy thriller, making $7.2 million. Expanding for the weekend was The Hate U Give, the racially charged drama, but the expansion to over 200 more theaters did little to push it up the chart, making $1.7 million.

Though Venom took the big dip for the weekend with a 55% drop, it still ended up being the biggest money-maker of the weekend. It’s no surprise that the other big drop was for The House With A Clock In Its Walls falling 45% because there’s not exactly enough room for two Jack Black scary family comedies. Both Smallfoot, the animated comedy with the voice of Channing Tatum, and Night School, the education comedy starring Kevin Hart, each had only 35% drops. But it was ultimately the comedy A Simple Favor that took the biggest hit of dropping 59% to #10 in the box office.

View the full top 10 of the weekend box office below:
Venom ($35,700,000)
A Star Is Born ($28,000,000)
First Man ($16,500,000)
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween ($16,225,000)
Smallfoot ($9,300,000)
Night School ($8,035,000)
Bad Times At The El Royale ($7,225,000)
The House With A Clock In Its Walls ($3,975,000)
The Hate U Give ($1,765,000)
A Simple Favor ($1,380,000)

Next weekend will be far less crowded with a heavy-hitter horror film aiming for the top spot. While The Hate U Give will be expanding even more into 2,300 theaters, the new Halloween, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, will be hitting 3,700 theaters, presenting the biggest threat to Venom’s quickly draining box office.


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“Venom” Makes Big Debut, “A Star is Born” Close Behind

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Superhero movies have once again set a new record for delivering the highest of box office grosses for an October release. Venom, Sony’s solo movie for the Spider-Man villain starring Tom Hardy, premiered to an astounding first weekend domestic gross of $80 million. While not as massive a debut as Marvel’s earlier pictures this year of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, but it’s still a very strong opening for a Sony superhero picture with a $100 million budget.

Also opening rather strong, despite receiving half the box office, is A Star is Born, the new musical drama remake starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Thanks to the strong critic ratings and word of mouth, the film with plenty of Oscar buzz generated $41 million for its first weekend. Given the big response, expect the film to stick around for the month, perhaps even longer than Venom depending on next weekend’s drop-off.

Holding firm in the #3 slot is Smallfoot, the animated yeti comedy with the voice of Channing Tatum. Dropping only 35% from last weekend, Warner Brothers’ latest animated venture now has a domestic total of $42 million. Not a strong total for such an expensive animated film, but sure to have enough legs to stick around until the next major family film. Similarly, The House With A Clock In Its Walls, Eli Roth’s kid-friendly horror fantasy, is proving to hang in there with a 42% drop and a domestic total of $55 million, clearing its $42 million budget.

Don’t count out Night School, the class comedy starring Kevin Hart, fittingly neatly into the #4 slot with a domestic total of $46 million, easily toppling its $29 million budget. Other big money makers of the top 10 include the horror picture The Nun now sitting at $113 million and Crazy Rich Asians now at a rich $169 million.

Check the full top 10 box office weekend results below:

Venom ($80,030,000)
A Star is Born ($41,250,000)
Smallfoot ($14,900,000)
Night School ($12,275,000)
The House With A Clock In Its Walls ($7,295,000)
A Simple Favor ($3,435,000)
The Nun ($2,610,000)
Hell Fest ($2,075,000)
Crazy Rich Asians ($2,060,000)
The Predator ($900,000)

Next weekend will be a three-way battle of astronauts, assassins, and angry monsters. First Man, the astronaut biopic starring Ryan Gosling, will premiere in 3,500 theaters. Bad Times at the El Royale, the all-star ensemble of an intense thriller set at a hotel, will explode into 2,800 theaters. And Goosebumps 2, the sequel to 2015’s family horror film based on the books by R.L. Stein, will be unleashed into 3,400 theaters. Expect the battle to be a close call between First Man and Goosebumps, with Venom presenting the biggest challenge to topple.


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“Night School” Nets Number One, “Smallfoot” Makes Tiny Mark

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For the last weekend of September, it’s a pretty mild time of lukewarm films with lukewarm box office as we enter into the fall awards season. A few smaller films fought for the top spot of the meager money this weekend had to offer. Night School, the Kevin Hart-starring comedy, only made about $28 million to arrive at #1, though not a bad debut considering the $29 million budget. Debuting just behind it with $23 million was Smallfoot, Warner Bros’ animated yeti comedy featuring the voice of Channing Tatum. Not exactly a strong premiere for the animated feature which already has some competition for family entertainment and will have more come October.

Competing with the kids this weekend was The House With A Clock In Its Walls, the Eli Roth directed family fantasy starring Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. The film took in $12.5 million for its second weekend, to arrive at a domestic total of $44 million and clearing its $42 million budget. It may stick around come October where the kids want something more Halloween friendly, but the competition of Goosebumps 2 coming out may make that a taller order. And it may be a little early for Halloween films considering the premiere of Hell Fest, the slasher picture from Lionsgate, only made $5 million to debut at #6.

Despite the low opening for Smallfoot, it still looks like a good month for Warner Bros. The Nun, the latest Conjuring universe horror film, has now made $109 million domestically after four weeks, making the second most profitable entry in WB’s horror saga. Crazy Rich Asians, the romantic comedy hit from August, is still hanging in there with a domestic total of $165.6 million. Both films were made with relatively low budgets, making for great investments on WB’s part for horror and romantic comedies.

View the full top 10 box office results for the weekend below:

Night School ($28,000,000)
Smallfoot ($23,020,000)
The House With A Clock In Its Walls ($12,510,000)
A Simple Favor ($6,600,000)
The Nun ($5,435,000)
Hell Fest ($5,075,000)
Crazy Rich Asians ($4,150,000)
The Predator ($3,700,000)
White Boy Rick ($2,385,000)
Peppermint ($1,770,000)

Next weekend will see superheroes square off against singers. Venom, Sony’s newest Marvel movie based on the Spider-Man villain, will premiere big in 4,000 theaters. A Star is Born, the musical drama starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will debut in 3,500 theaters. Venom seems likely to take the weekend with a heavier theater count, but A Star is Born has been receiving rave reviews and the big word of mouth. Stay tuned to see how this plays out.


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