This weekend, Christmas brought filmgoers Fences and Toni Erdmann. Yet, none of these highly acclaimed features make our MoviePass Member Top 5. However, even during their one day in theaters, these films have still left their mark on our list. With member check-ins spread among so many promising choices, there isn’t one particular movie that dominates this week’s list. Instead, we have quite a few close calls, which may be all the more exciting. So, let’s get started.#1: PASSENGERS
Synopsis: On a routine journey through space to a new home, two passengers, sleeping in suspended animation, are awakened 90 years too early when their ship malfunctions. As Jim and Aurora face living the rest of their lives on board, with every luxury they could ever ask for, they begin to fall for each other, unable to deny their intense attraction… until they discover the ship is in grave danger. With the lives of 5000 sleeping passengers at stake, only Jim and Aurora can save them all.
Who doesn’t love a film set in the wilderness of space? It leaves so much to the imagination. Since it’s dark and endless, it’s all the more terrifying and exciting. So, it’s no surprise that the sci-fi flick, Passengers, claims this week’s #1 spot on our MoviePass Member Top 5. Earning 14.09% of check-ins, the Jennifer Lawrence-Chris Pratt adventure romance only reinforces our love of the otherworldly. Domestically, the film debuted at #3 with a weekend gross of $14.85 million. With a Wednesday, December 21st release, Passengers was still able to beat out the comedy, Why Him?, which opened the Friday before Christmas. To date, the fantasy feature has earned approximately $30.43 million domestically, with an overseas expansion slated for later in the week.
Critically, the film hasn’t faired well, with a 32% score on Rotten Tomatoes; however, audiences had a much stronger reaction to the movie, with an overall score of 69%. Having seen the film ourselves, we’re inclined to agree with the audience score. Passengers’ two-hour time span is filled with humor (a little laughs go a long way in this existential tale), drama (every good love story needs it), and adventure (it is space, after all), to keep viewers’ attention. In a favorable review, Empire Online gives the feature 4/5 stars, stating, “A timeless romance wedded to a space-age survival thriller, it may be a curious coupling but Tyldum’s Turing follow-up is a journey well worth taking.”And we’d second that opinion. So, take a trip to the stars, or if you’ve seen Rogue One, just stay there for a bit and give Passengers a chance.
Synopsis: During the holidays, loving but overprotective Ned (Bryan Cranston) travels to California to visit his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) at Stanford University. While there, he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward boyfriend Laird (James Franco). Even though Laird is a billionaire, Ned disapproves of his freewheeling attitude and unfiltered language. His panic level escalates even further when he learns that Laird plans to ask for Stephanie’s hand in marriage.
At #2 on our list is the Bryan Cranston-James Franco comedy, Why Him? Claiming 12.17% of member check-ins, perhaps the film provided some comic relief for parents who find themselves in the same situation this holiday season. We want you to know that it’s okay to laugh. You’re gonna need it. At the weekend box office, Why Him? claims the #4 spot with a gross of $11.05 million.
The soft opening can be explained in a number of ways. The first would be that Christmas weekend is incredibly competitive. The release of an Oscar contender such as Fences, is bound to impact film grosses and rankings. After all, during its second weekend in theaters, Fences has already climbed from #25 to #7. Another explanation for the film’s soft opening could be its critical reception with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 41%. Among the positive reviews of the movie is one written by The Australian’s Stephen Romei who calls Why Him? “one of the funniest American comedies I’ve seen in a while.” So, if you’re excited to see Bryan Cranston back in the comedy game (after Malcolm in the Middle), this mature comedy is worth a watch.
Synopsis: Dapper Koala Buster Moon presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. An eternal optimist, and a bit of a scoundrel, he loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Facing the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he takes one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition. Five contestants emerge: a mouse, a timid elephant, a pig, a gorilla and a punk-rock porcupine.
Claiming this week’s #3 spot on our list is the animated family feature, Sing. Featuring more than 85 pop hits, the film has a cast of equal caliber including, Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Hudson. Among members, it accounts for 9.06% of check-ins and its placement makes sense, given the context of the holiday weekend. At the domestic box office, Sing debuted at #2, earning $35.29 million in its opening weekend. To date, it’s earned $93.95 million worldwide, having opened in select countries before its Wednesday, December 21st U.S. release.
So, how has the film performed among critics? With a 72% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Sing is a pretty solid movie. Devan Coggan of Entertainment Weekly calls it Illumination Entertainment’s (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets) “sweetest and most charming project yet.” So, if you like pop songs, adorable animals, and incredibly famous celebrities, Sing may be the perfect pick.
Synopsis: Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing down when the evil Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a vengeful Jyn joins forces with a spy and other resistance fighters to steal the space station’s plans for the Rebel Alliance.
As die hard Star Wars fans, we’ll admit that we weren’t ready to see Rogue One leave our list. Though it has fallen in ranking among members, it still claims 8.88% of check-ins, besting a few new releases. Domestically, the film continues to dominate the box office, with a Christmas weekend gross of $64.38 million! To date, the sci-fi feature has earned $318.08 million stateside, with a worldwide gross of $555.48 million. We know that this news is pretty much expected. After all, it is Star Wars. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t be excited about it!
Rogue One currently holds a Metascore of 65. Of the 51 reviews considered, 35 are positive, 13 are mixed, and 3 are negative. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes, “with the smashing [Felicity] Jones giving us a female warrior to rank with the great ones and a cast that knows how to keep it real even in a sci-fi fantasy, Rogue One proves itself a Star Wars story worth telling.” And its global domination makes it worth talking about.
Synopsis: Cal Lynch travels back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA. There, he lives out the experiences of Aguilar de Nerha, a distant relative who’s also a member of the Assassins, a secret society that fights to protect free will from the power-hungry Templar Order. Transformed by the past, Cal begins to gain the knowledge and physical skills necessary to battle the oppressive organization in the present.
Rounding out this week’s MoviePass Member Top 5 is the live action adaptation of the popular video game, Assassin’s Creed. Accounting for 8.12% of member check-ins, the film comes as a close second to Rogue One. During its opening weekend, Assassin’s Creed earned $10.28 million, giving it a #5 ranking. To date, the feature has grossed $36.69 million worldwide on a $125 million production budget.
Negative reviews seem to be the culprit here. Despite its stellar cast–Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Michael K. Williams—the movie has a 19% score on Rotten Tomatoes. With acclaimed director, Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, Snowtown Murders) at the helm, the negative criticism comes as a shock. Luckily, there are some favorable opinions of the film with Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers giving the it 2.5/4 stars. In his review, he states, “Assassin’s Creed catches the dizzying allure you want in a game and a movie.” So, if you’re a fan of the game, or action-adventure, give Assassin’s Creed a chance. You may be surprised. 😉
IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
This week presents 2 thoughtful dramas that have each been the subject of high praise. So, if you’ve already binged watched December’s many other delightful offerings, head to the theater to see Jim Jarmusch’s latest feature, Paterson and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women.
Synopsis: Paterson (Adam Driver) is a hardworking bus driver in Paterson, N.J., who follows the same routine every day. He observes the city and listens to fragments of conversations while picking up and dropping off his passengers. Paterson also writes heartfelt poems in a notebook, walks his dog and drinks one beer in a bar after his shift is over. Waiting for him at home is Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), his beloved wife who champions his gift for writing.
Synopsis: In 1979 Santa Barbara, Calif., Dorothea Fields is a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie, at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women — Abbie, a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home and Julie, a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor — to help with Jamie’s upbringing.