Two weather-themed catastrophe films and another Tyler Perry vehicle were the biggest new movie releases this past weekend, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was a rough weekend at the box office.
Technically, this weekend’s winner was Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, coming in with an estimated $21.7 million in ticket sales—not great, but certainly not a flop considering its $25 million budget. Perry fans will flock to the theater to see his movies, even if critics are, as per usual, horrified by the finished product (Boo 2 has a dismal 8 percent on Rotten Tomatoes).
However, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything positive to say about the aforementioned weather-related horror shows: Geostorm and The Snowman.
Geostorm, which incredibly cost $120 million with lengthy reshoots and is in the same vein as every disaster movie you’ve ever seen, drew $13.3 million at the U.S. box office; you don’t need to be a math savant to know that’s a terrible ratio. With a 13 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—amazingly, still faring better than Boo 2 or The Snowman—Geostorm doesn’t have much going for it anyway, but the appeal of a weather-centric disaster movie might’ve been affected by recent real-life disasters hitting the States. As The Hollywood Reporter argued, “The images of Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico being underwater thanks to devastating hurricanes throws into sharp relief how frivolous disaster epics like Geostorm are.”
Meanwhile, The Snowman melting (sorry) at the box office to a total of $3.4 million off its $35 million budget probably stems from the fact that … the movie is terrible. Audiences hated it, with the film achieving a rare D grade on CinemaScore. One reason The Snowman—about a serial killer who murders and dismembers women, then leaves snowmen at crime scenes—is abominable, according to its director, is because around 15 percent of the script was never filmed due to a tight shooting schedule. (Another possible reason: the kindergarten-esque artwork from the movie’s unintentionally hilarious marketing campaign.) Having seen the movie myself (because I’m a masochist), I can verify that what was filmed is an incoherent mess, from the sloppy, perplexing redubbing of Val Kilmer’s role to Michael Fassbender’s lead character being named “Harry Hole” without a hint of humor. (Another thing: The killer claimed to give Harry Hole “all the clues” to solve his crimes, and, gun to my head, I can’t recall a single clue.)
The one weekend release that was well received by critics didn’t fare well, either. Only the Brave, based on the real-life heroics of the firefighters who died during the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013, made only around $6 million off its $38 million budget. Despite a 90 percent “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Only the Brave, like Geostorm, might’ve suffered from poor timing, as the West Coast is currently ravaged by wildfires of its own.
So is this rough weekend emblematic of a larger issue with Hollywood, going back to this past summer’s historically poor box office? Probably not.
The Octobers of recent years have hit soaring highs and whimpering lows. David Fincher’s Gone Girl helped make October 2014 a record-setting month that also saw standard Halloween fare like Annabelle perform comfortably well, while October 2015 was a wasteland with poor critical and commercial offerings like Rock the Kasbah, Our Brand Is Crisis, The Last Witch Hunter (in which Vin Diesel rocks a truly incredible beard), and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Last year was fairly tepid, but Tyler Perry’s first Boo! was a moderate success. In other words, audiences don’t necessarily avoid the theater in the month of October, but will only shell out for the right release. In Gone Girl’s case, a David Fincher crime story based on a best-selling novel with a stellar cast was a perfect storm.
The critics gave us all the clues that this weekend was going to be a disaster, and it was. But we’ll forget about these box office woes soon enough. In two weeks, Thor: Ragnarok will debut, while awards contenders such as Call Me by Your Name will sprinkle in until the end of 2017. A rough Halloween weekend—highlighted by another addition to the Saw franchise—is possible. Then again, everyone should be at home binging the new season of Stranger Things anyway.