Although the holiday weekend brought out a slew of new releases to compete for the top spot at the box office, this week’s top 10 was, once again, dominated by Finding Dory. The Legend of Tarzan, The Purge: Election Year and The BFG ultimately couldn’t quite match up to Pixar’s forgetful fish, but the final results were all over the place. This chart is very much a roller coaster of expectations being met and missed.
Naked & Afraid is an actual reality show that just began its fifth season on the Discovery Channel, but it sounds so much like something that was cooked up in the SNL writers’ room that you can be forgiven for thinking it’s entirely a gag. The premise is patently ridiculous: two strangers are thrown into the wild without clothing or supplies and must survive for 21 days. But SNL has devised a “celebrity” edition of the show and they tossed guest host Peter Dinklage and the incredible Leslie Jones into it.
Last year, SNL was hosted by Republican presidential nominee frontrunner Donald Trump and the response was unkind, to say the least. Back then, he still seemed like a big joke — just a loudmouth who was surely going to drop out at any moment. And now, as he wins primary after primary, the beloved sketch show has slowly turned on Trump, culminating in a faux campaign ad that lands like a punch to the gut.
20th Century Fox sat on Deadpool for six years before finally giving it a green light with a modest $58 million budget. After a lengthy and impressive marketing campaign that ensured everyone in the world knew the name Wade Wilson, box office tracking was looking strong with $55 million. And then the film actually opened, more than doubling that prediction, shattering a handful of records and blowing the doors off the comic book movie genre. This feels like a big deal. Oh, and Zoolander 2 also opened.
Kung Fu Panda 3 once again led the box office this weekend, but like its lower-than-expected opening weekend, it’s not as impressive as anyone was hoping or expecting. DreamWorks Animation’s sequel managed to fend off a trio of newcomers, but each of those films disappointed in their own ways, leading to a shrug-worthy top 10 that feels like Hollywood just accepting that everyone is going to be watching the Super Bowl instead of going to the movies.
Around this time last year, SNL presented a commercial parody centering around Totino’s Pizza Rolls, just in time for the Super Bowl. And it was a nasty piece of business, tearing apart the image of the NFL’s biggest game as a day for men and imprisoning Vanessa Bayer’s indefatigable housewife in the kitchen, where she was simply tasked with warming up more disgusting food. So when SNL aired another Totino’s sketch in last night’s episode, we simply assumed it would be a carbon copy of the first one. Boy, were we wrong.
And like that, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders became the third presidential hopeful to appear on SNL this season. While Donald Trump hosted an entire episode last year and Hillary Clinton put in a brief appearance as a bartender counseling Kate McKinnon’s version of her, Sanders’ cameo is a bit more disconnected and bit weirder. Most importantly though, it puts him right next to guest host Larry David, who has been playing him in the show’s political sketches this season.
If you're going to have the great Larry David host a full episode of SNL, there are two obvious areas of parody. First, you simply have to give him more to do as Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, whose unlikely showing in the recent Democratic presidential primaries have made David a regular guest star this season. Second, you need to riff on Curb Your Enthusiasm, his (possibly) late, great HBO sitcom that redefined cringe comedy. And in this case, SNL found a a way to combine the two.
The victory of of Kung Fu Panda 3 at the box office this weekend conjures one of the most common questions you have to ask yourself when keeping a constant eye on the charts: when is a hit not a hit? Sure, the third film in DreamWorks Animation’s series did open at number one and its numbers are very good, but they’re lower than you’d think. In any case, it still fared significantly better than the rest of the competition this week — all of the other new releases simply flopped.
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