The headline here is that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story held onto the number one of the box office top 10 for the third weekend in a row, which was expected. However, the real story is that the past few days made for one of the most impressive weekends of the past year, closing out 2016 (and starting 2017) with a bang.
It has long been a fine American tradition to escape the awkward enclosure of your parents’ house over your holiday vacation and spend a few hours in the local movie theater, where everyone can shut up about politics and stop swapping passive aggressive comments on each other’s lifestyle for a few hours. 2016 was no different, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Sing drawing in the big crowds while La La Land and Fences impressed in limited release. Not so impressive: Passengers, Why Him?, and Assassin’s Creed, each of which underperformed.
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.
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.
Peter Dinklage hosting last night’s SNL meant that the upcoming sixth season of Game of Thrones hung over the entire evening like a specter. Even when the show wasn’t specifically calling out and calling upon HBO’s series, you were constantly aware of it. After all, why else would Dinklage be hosting the show at this specific time? But when the show did turn its aim on Game of Thrones, it was on-point with an opening monologue where Dinklage asks A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin to write some jokes.
Last year, SNL was hosted by Republican presidential nominee frontrunner Donald Trump and the response was unkind, to say the least. Back then, he still seemed like a big joke — just a loudmouth who was surely going to drop out at any moment. And now, as he wins primary after primary, the beloved sketch show has slowly turned on Trump, culminating in a faux campaign ad that lands like a punch to the gut.
Deadpool ruled the box office for the second weekend in a row, following up its record-breaking opening with with a strong sophomore weekend that proved its initial success was no fluke. In fact, the three newcomers didn’t even stand a chance against this red-suited menace, as Risen, The Witch, and Race all found themselves punted further down the top 10.
Eventually, another movie will top Star Wars: The Force Awakens and end the incredible run that has transformed it into the highest grossing movie in the history of the American box office. That movie was almost The Revenant. This is no failure, though. The combined powers of Leonardo DiCaprio, stories of a harrowing shoot, and a strong marketing campaign actually gave this movie a fighting chance against a genuine cultural sensation. It may have only hit number two on the top 10, but this is a huge victory for a difficult movie.
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.
SNL commercial parodies are at their best when they’re at their most scathing. The fake ad for a fictional dating app called Settl may not be as dark as that vicious, pro-gun parody from a while back, but it’s a different brand of cynical: Here is the app for people who are tired of trying to find the right person and just want to settle down with, well, any person.
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