March was something of a roller coaster ride for Disney, with the mega studio claiming both the biggest hit and the biggest flop of the month. That’s likely to become an increasingly frequent occurrence as the Mouse House is destined to be solely a manufacturer of pricey blockbusters, particularly following the completion of their Fox acquisition.
Welcome to Winners and Losers: a feature where we look back at the past month to determine which movies proved their worth and which ended up being dead weight.
1. Captain Marvel // Disney
Hit of the Month
Anybody could have seen this coming from light-years away, but let’s quickly cover the key points regardless. Marvel Studios’ latest serves as both a prologue for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, as well as the first MCU film to feature a woman in the lead role. While critics have been slightly divided on the artistic merits of the movie, there can be no arguing with its financial prowess. Captain Marvel has stormed its way to a worldwide total of over $1 billion in less than a month, proving unequivocally that the Marvel juggernaut is as strong as ever.
2. Us // Universal
Jordan Peele followed up his Oscar-winning directorial debut with yet another low-budget smash hit. Us enjoyed an impressive opening weekend of $71 million, more than double that of 2017’s Get Out, and currently stands at a worldwide total of $216 million. With a mysterious plot that lends itself to multiple distinct interpretations, Us is likely to benefit from repeat viewings in the coming weeks. However, while Jordan Peele is unquestionably a box office force to be reckoned with, the question remains over whether his sophomore offering can also be a presence on this year’s awards circuit. Movies and Cool Stuff is not optimistic…
3. Five Feet Apart // Lionsgate
Justin Baldoni’s directorial debut proved to be a sleeper hit with teens. The cystic fibrosis drama starring Haley Lu Richardson and Riverdale‘s Cole Sprouse was made for just $7 million, but currently boasts a worldwide total of $62 million. Much of that comes from a sturdy performance in North America, where the film has benefited from gentle week-on-week drops. Sprouse has an avid youth fanbase and this promising result suggests he could well make the challenging leap from television to film in the foreseeable future.
4. Captive State // Focus Features
This sci-fi thriller made an embarrassingly small dent on the top ten before crashing out of cinemas after just three weeks of release. Though his career may be sputtering on the final remaining fumes from 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, director Rupert Wyatt was able to wrangle a few reputable names for this project. Starring John Goodman, Vera Farmiga and Moonlight‘s Ashton Sanders, Captive State depicts a future where the human race finds itself oppressed by an invading extraterrestrial threat. It’s hardly an original premise and perhaps that’s why it couldn’t get critics or audiences onside. With a production budget of around $25 million, the film has struggled to a total gross of less than $7 million.
5. Dumbo // Disney
Flop of the Month
As the first of three live-action remakes to come from Disney this year, Dumbo is not a promising start. Carrying a hefty production budget of $170 million plus marketing costs, Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the animated classic needed big business to be marked a success but fell very short. The film opened with $45 million at the end of March, before falling a heavy 60% on its second weekend. The eponymous character may have famously large ears, but unfortunately it’s his short legs that are represented in these results. Dumbo is likely to fall out of theatres sooner than expected and its overseas performance doesn’t look any better. After a dismal showing in the all-important China, the film has an underwhelming global haul of $218 million, likely to post a significant loss.
In this section, we take a brief look at films that were neither winners nor losers. They simply were.
Chloe Grace-Moretz can add yet another flop to her résumé, as psychological thriller Greta (Focus Features) hit screens without a single person noticing. Tyler Perry’s most famous role ended on a financial high note, as Madea Family Funeral (Lionsgate) ended up being the third highest-grossing film in the franchise. However, it just didn’t feel morally right to describe the film as a winner. Wonder Park (Paramount) is a bona fide flop, proving that not everyone can cash in on the current animation craze. Fortunately, Nickelodeon is making a spin-off television series regardless, so there may well be some merchandising cash to be made. Unplanned (Pure Flix) was the latest in a long line of religious films to do solid business, while The Beach Bum (Neon) was the latest embarrassment for Matthew McConaughey whose Oscar gold has thoroughly lost its sheen.
David Craig is a trainee journalist based in Sheffield. Alongside running Movies & Cool Stuff, he writes for Starburst Magazine, Multiversity Comics and Forge Press. His favourite movie is Aliens (dir. James Cameron, 1986). Follow him on Twitter here.