And that statement was based upon estimates of “a frankly mediocre $5 million Friday” and “an over/under $15 million weekend launch.” Except Variety is now reporting that Heights earned a piddly $4.9 million on Friday with an expected weekend tally of “just under $13 million“…I’m sorry but there’s a word for this, and the word is “bust.”
Mendelson’s dagger in the chest: “Film Twitter convinced themselves that In the Heights was The Force Awakens, but general audiences viewed it as Terminator: Dark Fate.
“In the Heights sold itself as a celebration of Hispanic-American culture but had little else to offer (no stars, no high concept, no IP, etc.) to those who those who didn’t view such a noble sentiment as automatically ‘worth seeing in theaters.'”
Are you reading this, Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson?
Did the ticket-buying public consider my 6.8 review and a certain sentence in particular and decide to blow it off or at least wait and see? The sentence in question read, “No question about it — In The Heights is one of the best films I’ve ever felt vaguely suffocated by.”
Mendelson: “Barring incredible legs (which is still possible), the $55 million In the Heights could be another example of audiences acting in opposition to online media narratives.” Otherwise known as the “whatever Eric Kohn is urging us to do, we’re doing the opposite” syndrome.
Mendelson: “We say we want Widows, but audiences show up for Venom, Halloween and The Grinch. Film Twitter championed Birds of Prey, but audiences showed up for Joker. Film Twitter decried Peter Farrelly’s Green Book and Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody, while both films from ‘problematic’ directors, won multiple Oscars and grossed $322 million (the biggest-grossing Best Picture winner in a decade) and $905 million (the biggest-grossing straight drama ever) respectively.
“Meanwhile, during that 2019 Oscar season, Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston’s ‘problematic’ The Upside earned $108 million domestic from a $20 million debut. Conversely, alt-right trolls didn’t stop Captain Marvel from topping $1.128 billion, a lesson that came too late for Disney’s Star Wars trilogy.
“Diversity can be a big added-value element in a movie that audiences already want to see, or at least it’s very much not a deterrent when we’re talking about a splashy rom-com (Crazy Rich Asians), a buzzy horror flick (Get Out), an escapist fantasy ensemble road trip comedy (Girls Trip) or an MCU superhero flick (Black Panther).
“I haven’t mentioned the HBO Max factor yet. Godzilla Vs. Kong opened with $50 million over a Wed-Mon Easter debut despite being on HBO Max. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opened with $24 million last weekend (on par with Annabelle Comes Home and Curse of La Llorona) despite being on HBO Max. Even friggin’ Tom & Jerry opened with $14.1 million despite being on HBO Max.
“While the same-day streaming availability bit into the opening day/opening weekend numbers, that In the Heights earned $4.9 million yesterday seems to imply that the film wasn’t pacing for a $10-$15 million opening day even in non-Covid/non-HBO Max times. Might the movie have opened higher had it opened last summer in a non-Covid timeline? Almost certainly so, but clearly we played ourselves in terms of ‘how big.'”
Am I allowed to state the obvious? General audiences looked at the trailer and said, “I don’t know, man…look at that shitty neighborhood with the dull regimented apartment buildings and the downmarket bodegas and the hydrants spraying water and view of the George Washington Bridge…who the hell wants to hang in that ‘hood? Nah me, brah.”