This weekend saw the release of another biographical film helmed by an iconic American filmmaker. Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone, joins last weekend’s Clint Eastwood drama, Sully, in the cinematic depiction of dramatic, real life events. These are the stories that seem too incredible and grandiose to be true. They are stories that prove just how much real life can be stranger than fiction. And with both events making national headlines within the past seven years, their cinematic treatment allows audiences to explore these stories in new ways. So, how did Snowden fair amongst MoviePass members?
Synopsis: Disillusioned with the intelligence community, top contractor Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) leaves his job at the National Security Agency. He now knows that a virtual mountain of data is being assembled to track all forms of digital communication — not just from foreign governments and terrorist groups, but from ordinary Americans. When Snowden decides to leak this classified information, he becomes a traitor to some, a hero to others and a fugitive from the law.
Snowden makes its MoviePass Member debut at #1, earning 22.16% of this weekend’s member check-ins. Domestically, the film debuted at #4, earning $8.02 million. Perhaps, the film’s popularity among MoviePass members can be attributed to a biographical film trend. During the competitive fall season, films derived from true stories are gold. So, to many viewers, they are a pretty safe bet; however, unlike last week’s favorite, Sully, Snowden has received a rather lukewarm critical reception. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 60%, the film received criticism from New York Magazine who states, “Stone is so intent on making Snowden an icon that he scrubs him of his nuances, his individuality.” On the other hand, The New York Times states, “Mr. Stone has made an honorable and absorbing contribution to the imaginative record of our confusing times.” Perhaps mixed reviews are the reason for Snowden’s soft opening weekend.
#2: BRIDGET JONES’S BABY
Synopsis: Breaking up with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) leaves Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) over 40 and single again. Feeling that she has everything under control, Jones decides to focus on her career as a top news producer. Suddenly, her love life comes back from the dead when she meets a dashing and handsome American named Jack (Patrick Dempsey). Things couldn’t be better, until Bridget discovers that she is pregnant. Now, the befuddled mom-to-be must figure out if the proud papa is Mark or Jack.
Claiming the #2 spot is Bridget Jones’s Baby, the third installment of the popular rom-com film series. The film earned 14.55% of this weekend’s check-ins, proving that members were excited to see their favorite every(wo)man return to the silver screen. At the domestic box office, the film made its debut at #3, earning $8.24 million, just slightly more than Snowden. Critically, the film received mostly positive reviews with a score of 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. This reception represents the series’s return to its origins. To illustrate this point, the first installment, Bridget Jones’s Diary, received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 81% , while the second film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, received a score of 27%. The third entry in the series appears to be a satisfying ending. Empire states, “the warmth and wit so reminiscent of the original Bridget Jones’s Diary propels you along.”
#3: BLAIR WITCH
Synopsis: A young man and his friends venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mystery surrounding his missing sister. Many believe her disappearance 17 years earlier is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when two locals act as guides through the dark and winding woods. As the night wears on, a visit from a menacing presence soon makes them realize that the legend is all too real, and more sinister than they could have ever imagined.
Earning 14.23% of this weekend’s member check-ins is Blair Witch, the sequel to the 1999 horror success. Domestically, the film debuted at #2, earning $9.65 million during its opening weekend. Despite its high anticipation, the film had a weak performance among critics, with a score of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. Rolling Stone Magazine states, “Every attempt at fright lands with a deadening thud.” The negative reviews run contrary to this summer’s success with horror films. With the release of The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, and Don’t Breathe, horror films were this summer’s gold. So, the negative reviews generated by Blair Witch, are a tad bit disappointing.
Synopsis: On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation.
Despite its box office domination, Sully enters this weekend’s Member Top 5 at #4, earning 10.94% of member check-ins. Domestically, the film earned $22 million, maintaining its #1 spot. As expected the film about “the miracle on the Hudson” performed well among New York City audiences; however, the films’s success does not end there. Variety states that the film, “is also performing better-than-expected across the Midwest and Canada. Because of the broad appeal, the film…seems destined to be one of the highest-grossing movies of the fall.” The article also cites Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood as factors in the film’s success. Currently, Sully holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 82%, with the site remarking on the film’s second week performance.
#5: DON’T BREATHE
Synopsis: Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex and Money are three Detroit thieves who get their kicks by breaking into the houses of wealthy people. Money gets word about a blind veteran who won a major cash settlement following the death of his only child. Figuring he’s an easy target, the trio invades the man’s secluded home in an abandoned neighborhood. Finding themselves trapped inside, the young intruders must fight for their lives after making a shocking discovery about their supposedly helpless victim.
Rounding out this weekend’s Member Top 5 is the thriller, Don’t Breathe. During its 4th weekend in theaters, the film earned 3.10% of member check-ins. At the domestic box office, the film holds the #5 spot with a weekend gross of $5.6 million. Overall, the film has earned $89.3 million on a $9.9 million budget. Don’t Breathe is the latest example of the horror genre’s success this summer. With films such as The Conjuring 2 earning $319.5 million on a $40 million budget and Lights Out earning $141.9 million on a $4.9 million budget, horror films have demonstrated their box office potential, as well as critical acclaim. After all, The Conjuring 2 has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 80%, while Lights Out scores 76%, and Don’t Breathe holds a score of 87%.
IN THEATERS THIS WEEKEND
So, what are we watching this weekend? For some star-studded adventure, we’re definitely going to see The Magnificent Seven. Then, we’ll enjoy some family fun with the animated feature, Storks. Finally, we’ll keep up the family fun with the inspirational film, Queen of Katwe.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Synopsis: Looking to mine for gold, greedy industrialist Bartholomew Bogue seizes control of the Old West town of Rose Creek. With their lives in jeopardy, Emma Cullen and other desperate residents turn to bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) for help. Chisolm recruits an eclectic group of gunslingers to take on Bogue and his ruthless henchmen. With a deadly showdown on the horizon, the seven mercenaries soon find themselves fighting for more than just money once the bullets start to fly.
Synopsis: Storks deliver babies — or at least they used to. Now, they deliver packages for a global internet retail giant. Junior (Andy Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, lands in hot water when the Baby Factory produces an adorable but wholly unauthorized girl. Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble, Junior and his friend Tulip (Katie Crown), the only human on Stork Mountain, race against time to make their first baby drop before the boss finds out.
QUEEN OF KATWE
Synopsis: An Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.