This Week in Box Office History: Whodunit? (Focus 1985)

See It Instead: Game Night.
Seriously. It's a classic. Go see Clue!

This Week in Box Office History

While this weekend saw a big improvement in box office totals, it was a complete mess otherwise.  The top two spots were hold-overs from last week despite 3 brand new wide-release films hitting the market.  These new films weren’t necessarily flops, but they proved unable to unseat the two August titans, Guardians of the Galaxy and TMNT.  Normally I would be complaining about going 0 for 3 on my predictions, but this week is actually great for audiences:  the cineplex actually lives up to the name, with a ton of varied items to choose from.  Looking back at 1985, the year is a much more monolithic:  Back to the Future and Beverly Hills Cop team up to take the number one spot for nearly half of the whole year.

The Week That Was:  Results (Actual/Predicted)

1.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (28 million)/  The Giver (35 million)

The boys in green managed to over-perform my expectations, and retain the top spot from last week.  I was expecting a steeper drop off and a bigger threat from the trio of new films, but those films mostly fizzled.  The Giver can pretty much be written off as a flop, and with this weeks young adult feature If I Stay muddying the waters, I think it’s chances at having a strong second week are nil.

Let's Be Cops - Box Office history
That’s right, just hold your nose and cash the paycheck.

2.  Guardians of the Galaxy (25 million)/  The Expendables 3 (30 million)

A motley assemblage of talent managed to take home a solid second place.  Meanwhile, Expendables 3 had the worst opening week of the franchises history.  Maybe they ARE history!  (Arnold, feel free to use that one in your next movie…or when discussing the complete lack of viability you’re experiencing at the box office.)

3.  Let’s Be Cops (17 million)/TMNT (25 million)

Of the three new films out last week, I figured Let’s Be Cops to fare the worst.  It actually managed a decent opening, though I think Fox studio’s me-too police comedy was certainly benefiting from earlier successful films such as Kevin Hart’s Ride Along.

The Week That Will Be:  Predictions

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - Box office History
Deja vu, the sensation that Hollywood is showing you the same stuff again and again…

3.  TMNT (14 million)

I’ll get you turtles!!!

2.  Sin City:  A Dame to Kill For  (18 million)

The long lay-over between sequels will probably crush Sin City 2‘s chance at breaking open the box office.  Add to the delay a definite sense of “been there, done that” and a much smaller stable of talent (mostly second string talent, at that)… and the fact that this film will be the 5th option in theaters aimed at men age 25-35 this week…yeah I just don’t see Sin City 2 finding pay dirt like its predecessor.

1.  If I Stay  (23 million)

Another teen tale of ill-fated love based on a best-selling novel, If I Stay should have the chops to grab a top spot, though I think it will fall far short of A Fault in Our Stars.

If I Stay - Box Office History
They are apparently so confident that you’ve read the book that the poster gets to make zero sense.

Top Movies:  1984

Back to the Future - Box Office History
Pictured: Marty about to see some serious shit.

Top Grossing Movie:  Back to the Future

Great Scott, Marty.  This film introduced wild-haired Doc Brown, “don’t call me chicken!” Marty McFly, and thinking 4-th dimensionally to audiences in a big way.  If not for Chevy Chase spoiling the works with European Vacation (and to be honest, you kind of expect Chevy to ruin everything by now, don’t you?) Back to the Future would have been both the highest grossing and longest reigning top movie of 1984.  Perhaps the boys should send Biff Tannen back in time to drop a car-load of manure on the Griswalds…

Out of Africa - Box Office History
Not pictured: crippling misfortune.

Academy Award Best Picture:  Out of Africa

Based upon the autobiographical works of Karen Blixen about her life and misadventures in Africa shortly before the outbreak of World War 1 and the independence of Kenya from European colonization, Out of Africa features Meryl Streep as a wealthy Danish woman who accepts a marriage of convenience in order to further her aspirations of owning her own business.  Things go immediately and terribly wrong, though, as her daft husband missuses her wealth, botches her plans of owning a dairy farm (by purchasing a luck-less coffee plantation instead), and then gives her syphilis as a result of his constant philandering.  Streep finds some solace in a friendship with a local big game hunter (Robert Redford), but her lengthy convalescence from the disease, the dissolution of her marriage, and a tragic fire at the plantation make finding her own life and love a difficult proposition.  This film could have swapped titles with A Series of Unfortunate Events and have felt more accurate.

Longest Time at #1:  Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy managed to put the competition behind bars for 9 straight weeks in 1985 in addition to taking the top earning spot in 1984 with his seminal police action/comedy.  You can practically hear Hollywood working on the reboot of this franchise as I type.

Our Pick:  Clue

Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Oh, you.

Despite having to share a year with one of the greatest films of all time (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, as if you needed to ask), this year was a relatively simple pick.  Tim Curry makes life easy that way.  Somebody should direct Michael Bay’s attention to this devilishly funny film version of a board game.  Maybe Battleship would have benefited from having more jokes…instead of being a joke.

One rainy night, six strangers gather in a creepy mansion, each drawn there by a dark secret they wish to keep hidden.  The mansion’s owner, Mr. Body, has been blackmailing these folks for years, and his butler (Tim Curry) invites all of his victims together on a fateful night to confront him as a group and end his career of extortion.  Instead, as the lights go out, one of the desperate individuals ends his life.  Now the group must figure out who is the killer in their midst, as each hour brings them closer to the arrival of the police…and keeps adding to the body count.  The Mr. Body count.  See, there’s a lot of body puns in this film.

Clue - Box Office History
Remember, salad forks are to the left of your murder weapons. Manners, please.
Clue - Box Office History

Featuring some legendary talent from the comedy world (Madeline Kahn, Martin Mull and Christopher Lloyd stand out in a terrific ensemble) and a script by John Landis, Clue is criminally overlooked as a film (see, murder-movie puns are easy!)  The pacing is magnificent, the jokes are witty and plentiful, and Tim Curry is a dynamo.  The film is so good, it pays you out with not one but three endings.  Playing on the whodunit nature of the board game, Clue solves the case in a multitude of scenarios, with each explanation of how the crimes occurred becoming more outlandish and hilarious.  This film is a treat, and if you haven’t spent an evening groping around in the dark while trying to catch a serial killer recently, why not join these fine, upstanding citizens for an elegant evening of mystery and mayhem.  Just avoid the brandy.  It’s probably poisoned.

Clue - Box Office History
Oh, and mind the chandelier as well.

Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo.  Used with permission.

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