It’s been awhile since we’ve posted our weekend breakdown, but we’re back and ready to talk film! Though the beginning of the year is usually a tough time for new releases, this weekend saw the premiere of three highly anticipated features—The Lego Batman Movie, John Wick: Chapter 2, and Fifty Shades Darker. So, which of the three sequels tops our list?
Synopsis: Legendary hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.
Killing this week’s competition (seriously, none of the other films came close) is the sequel to the film that put Keanu Reeves back on the map: John Wick: Chapter 2. Claiming 29.88% of this weekend’s check-ins, the action-packed crime thriller performed better among MoviePass members than it did at the domestic box office. During its opening weekend, the movie grossed approximately $30 million domestically, giving it a #3 ranking on the charts. In comparison, the first installment of the series earned $14.4 million in its debut weekend. So, the lovable hitman (after all, we’re talking about Neo, here) seems to have won over audiences nationwide.
Not only has John Wick: Chapter 2 performed well financially, but its critical reception has been nothing less than impressive. With a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film, once again, bested its predecessor (which currently holds a score of 85%). MTV News writes, “The sequel bursts through the pane. It’s clear and bright and wicked and bold.” A more negative opinion of the film is offered by The New Yorker who writes, “Reeves’s admirably minimalist expressivity and air of distraction… lends Wick a deceptive semblance of substance that the script doesn’t define and the action doesn’t dramatize.” Regardless of differing opinions, we’re just happy to see a Keanu Reeves-Laurence Fishburne reunion.
Synopsis: There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman (Will Arnett) wants to save the city from the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) and loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) can show him a thing or two.
Claiming this weekend’s #2 spot on our list is a film that makes us feel like a kid again! With 17.95% of member check-ins, The Lego Batman Movie proves that nostalgia and anything superhero related, are always a good thing. Though John Wick: Chapter 2 dominates our list, the domestic box office tells a different story. During its opening weekend, the kid-friendly feature–we call it “kid-friendly” because we’d like to think that the movie is more for us than it is for them–earned $55.6 million. Currently, the film has a worldwide gross of $92.8 million on an $80 million production budget. So, we’re intrigued to see that number climb.
Critically, The Lego Batman Movie is receiving praise worthy of a superhero. With a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the animated feature dominated the weekend. ScreenRant writes, “The LEGO Batman Movie succeeds at both upholding the standard for quality established by its predecessor and delivering a good story.” On the contrary, The Boston Herald states, “This is a by-the-numbers sequel whose human dimension has disappeared amid the frantic, nonstop action and unimaginative plotting.” In any case, it’s nice to see our favorite toys talk, instead of imagining it.
Synopsis: When a wounded Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) tries to entice a cautious Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle them, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.
Entering this week’s MoviePass Member Top 5 at #3 is the sequel to the wildly successful, Fifty Shades of Grey. With a Valentine’s Day weekend release, it’s no wonder why the film earned 12.2% of check-ins. At the box office, the feature debuted at #2, with a domestic gross of $46.8 million. Interestingly enough, the film made the majority of its money in foreign markets with a worldwide gross of $144.6 million on a $55 million production budget. In other words, it bested both, John Wick: Chapter 2 and The Lego Batman Movie.
Despite its box office haul, Fifty Shades Darker experienced a crushing (egotistically speaking) defeat among critics. With a 9% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the sultry sequel had a weaker performance than its predecessor, which holds a 25% score on the same site. The Atlantic writes, “A movie this bad deserves to have its flaws enunciated clearly.” In a more positive review, The Film School Rejects write, “Ultimately, Foley serves up a completely passable middle child that seems to be pointing towards one hell of a final chapter.” OK. We know that it isn’t a glowing review, but let’s forget about the critics for a moment. The film has an audience score of 64%. So, this Valentine’s Day, let’s keep an open mind.
Synopsis: Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.
At #4 on our list is the M. Night Shyamalan thriller, Split. Claiming 3.38% of check-ins, the film has maintained some popularity among MoviePass members. This is mirrored at the domestic box office, where the feature only took a tumble from #1 due to the release of the three films previously mentioned. Earning $9.3 million in its 4th weekend, Split currently holds the #4 ranking at the box office. To date, the film has made $169.3 million on a $9 million budget! We seem excited, but this news isn’t completely unexpected. After all, the movie is backed by Blumhouse Productions (The Purge, Paranormal Activity) who specialize in micro-budget horror films with a lucrative financial return.
To our delight, Split represents a comeback for Shyamalan, who previously suffered losses with The Village and The Last Airbender. With a 74% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it is the director’s second feature, behind 2015’s The Visit, to redeem his portfolio. ComingSoon.net writes, “whatever Split is, I can’t compare it to anything else. And that, as a lover of strange cinema, is exactly the reaction one dreams of having.” On the other hand, many of the major news sites seem to have a negative reaction to the film with The New Yorker writing, “In short, we are watching an old-fashioned exploitation flick—part of a depleted and degrading genre that not even M. Night Shyamalan, the writer and director of “Split,” can redeem.” Well, clearly audiences seem to disagree, as the film currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 81%. One thing is for sure: bring on the Shyamalan!
Synopsis: A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a movie within the movie that no one has ever seen before.
Rounding out the MoviePass Member Top 5 is the latest installment in the The Ring franchise. With 2.74% of check-ins, the film, in conjunction with Split, seems to highlight our members’ interest in horror. Domestically, Rings earned $5.8 million, falling from #2 to #7 during its second weekend in theaters. To date, the $25 million production has grossed approximately $52 million worldwide.
Critically, Rings hasn’t lived up to the previous two films in the series. The 2002 thriller, The Ring, staring Naomi Watts, holds a 72% score on Rotten Tomatoes, while The Ring 2 holds a 20% score. Unfortunately, Rings scores an even lower rating of 5%. Rolling Stone writes, “This overdose of cinematic Lunesta takes the horror out of horrorshow.” Sheesh. On a more positive note, The New York Times writes that the film is “directed efficiently by F. Javier Gutiérrez.” A horror film–good or bad—with a friend is always a good time (at least in our opinion). So, let the film’s antagonist, Samara, do the scaring, not the critics.
IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
With a pretty epic film weekend behind us, what are we going to watch this week? We’ll start off with the adventure film, The Great Wall, then we’ll get lost in the psychological thriller, A Cure for Wellness. To bring us back to reality, we’ll finish things off with the comedy, Fist Fight.
Synopsis: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.
Synopsis: An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.
Synopsis: On the last day of the year, mild-mannered high school English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is trying his best to keep it together amidst senior pranks, a dysfunctional administration, and budget cuts that put jobs on the line. But things go from bad to worse when he accidentally crosses his much tougher and deeply feared colleague, Ron Strickland (Ice Cube), who challenges Campbell to an old-fashioned throwdown after school.