(Twenty) Eight (Hundred) Below

There was some noteworthy box office news from this past weekend. Let’s talk about it!

This report that a movie called Arctic Dogs bombed caught my eye…because not only did it bomb, but it bombed badly. Or did it?

I mean…a $50 million animated movie featuring the voices of three Academy Award nominees and an Academy Award winner? Projected to gross $5 million opening weekend and only actually debuting with $2.9 million – that’s hardly Dark Phoenix territory we’re talking about here. I mean it’s a low stakes animated movie for kids, is it that noteworthy that it didn’t gross that much total money? I mean Terminator: Dark Fate is like their third kick at trying to make a sequel and grossed almost the same amount this weekend but against quadruple the budget. Cloud Atlas was supposed to be this highbrow, yellowface-justifying, ensemble cast art piece. John Carter had like a $263 million budget and might have cost Disney $200 million. Those are all-time bombs.

The oft reported headline is that it was the “Worst Opening Of All-Time In 2,800+ Theaters” which seemed like an interesting qualifier. Because off the top of my head, I don’t know what significance that 2,800+ theatre figure has. “Major” releases like modern superhero movies or Fast & Furious iterations get domestic releases to 4,000+ theatres. Crazy Rich Asians which was notable as the first “popular” film with all Asian American principles launched with 3,865 theatres, whereas The Joy Luck Club only had 600 when they did it first in 1993. For reference Box Office Mojo (which is where most of this post is sourced from) considers 600+ theatres a wide release, although it further sorts movies into 2,000+, 2,500+, and 3,000+ theatre categories.

So why the 2,800 cut off? Is it some creative numberwanging to generate a more interesting headline? Like comparing competent professional basketball player and zero-time All-Star Thaddeus Young (whose Basketball Reference page notes a 0.0% – predicted – chance of making the NBA Hall of Fame) to four of the top 10 players of all time?

Sure looks like it. Calling this an “all-time” anything is pretty disingenuous. Going down the list of worst opening weekends in 2,000+ theatres, it ranks #44. Coming in at #28 on the list is Victor Frankenstein which grossed less than Arctic Dogs but on only 2,797 screens. And also The Rocker at #33 with 2,784 screens (0.5% short of the arbitrary cutoff). So if only three additional theatres across all of North America decided that yes, back in 2015, they did want to bet on yet another Frankenstein movie but from Daniel Radcliffe’s perspective as young and sexy Igor witnessing James McAvoy’s portrayal as young and sexy Victor Frankenstein while directed by the same guy who did Lucky Number Slevin…then no such article about Arctic Dogs exists today. But no, everything’s gotta be “of all-time” all the time. And so here we are.

There’s even less to note when you look at worst opening weekend per-theatre averages a list on which this movie ranks #184. This is how you turn a run of the mill movie release that made 4% of it budget less than projected during its opening weekend into a stupid click bait article about an “all-time” event we all just witnessed together, and we should lament the ongoing decline of the movie industry and the creative bankruptcy of everyone involved and yadda yadda yadda. Real dumb stuff.

Oh and The Irishman had a “limited theatrical release” in just eight theatres across New York and Los Angeles because the major North American cinema chains did not like that Netflix wants to put this sucker on streams in just four weeks after premiering in theatres which is also an interesting thing to talk about, but I’ve spent too many words on Arctic Dogs and have no more left for today.

An interesting side note: that’s the 14th one-run game for the Tigers already this season, tops for any team north of the Mason-Dixon Line, whose home games are not played in a dome.



Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.



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