Pity poor Matt Damon. It was all just a misunderstanding. It’s just that he can’t help putting his foot in his mouth.
Here’s this big expensive Ridley Scott sci-fi movie he’s starring in, "The Martian," and yet he keeps saying the dumbest things publicly Doesn’t he understand how this whole PR hype thing works? You’re supposed to say things to make people like you, not think you’re clueless.
First, there was the incident when a segment from his revamped cable show, "Project Greenlight," was released, in which Damon showed that he really had absolutely no understanding of what diversity in the film business means, to the shocked reaction from the black producer on the show.
Though Damon did later apologize, saying that he misspoke and that he "gets it", actually his apology was even worse, and showed that he didn’t "get it" at all.
Then last week, he said in an interview that gay actors should basically keep their sexuality a secret, like they used to do in the old days, in order to keep working in Hollywood. Once again there was outrage.
Perhaps it might be better if Damon just stuck to things he knows, like saving the environment or cute little animals, and leave other things to people who actually know what they’re talking about. However, because of his recent statements, some people called for a public boycott of "The Martian," though their calls were admittedly half-hearted at best. And besides, boycotts against films never works anyway.
And, in fact, it really doesn’t matter what Damon said because "The Martian" had the second biggest opening for any film in October, with $55 million, nearly beating out the record holder, the sci-fi film "Gravity," which opened with $55.8 million. Though don’t be surprised if Fox announces later in the week that they "underestimated" and that "The Martian" actually did better with $57 million. These things have been known to have happen.
And since "The Martian" may be a more emotionally resonant film than "Gravity," look for it to hold very strongly over the next few weeks, with a chance at coming close or possibly equaling the total box office take of "Gravity," which grossed $274 million domestically, and over $792 worldwide. Needless to say, "The Martian" is the best opening for any Ridley Scott film, and will no doubt become his biggest grossing film worldwide ever.
But here’s the question: "The Martian" features not just one, but two black super genius characters played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Donald Glover, who are very integral to the plot. Which immediately made me think: "What? You’re telling me that I had to wait for Ridley Scott, of all people, to see characters like this in a film?" Where are the black filmmakers? We should have been seeing characters like them in films by black filmmakers long before Scott. What gives?"
Remember when Spike Lee was once developing an independent film about a black scientist who tries to create a time machine? Instead he made "Chiraq." What happened? "Holy Jesus" movies we have plenty of. Rom-coms we especially have plenty of. Kevin Hart movies we really have plenty of. So what’s the deal?
I had a discussion about this with someone yesterday who told me bluntly that black audiences would not accept black genius scientists in a black film (unless they were designed to be derided or made fun of as the "uncool" person), but would be accepted in a film by a white filmmaker, since they have a white person’s seal of approval that a character like that is acceptable. I thought that was rather harsh and didn’t agree with them. But what say you?
In the meantime, before you guys beat me up, let’s look at what else happened this weekend.
Coming in second was last week’s no 1 film "Hotel Transylvania 2," which dropped only 31%, earning $33 million and over $90 million so far.
In third place was Lionsgate’s thriller "Sicario," which opened wide on over 2600 screens, after playing in very limited release for the last two weeks, with $12 million. Meanwhile "Everest" is looking into becoming a B.O. disappointment for Universal after a great opening, and "The Walk" was a letdown with only $1.5 million on 448 IMAX screens.
On the indie front, Stanley Nelson’s documentary "Black Panthers:Vanguards of the Revolution," which has grossed an excellent $301,000 on only 12 screens, has become such as smash B.O. hit in Chicago where it’s playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center that literally every single screening last week was sold out – including additional screenings the theater booked just to accommodate the crowds. The film is scheduled for a December re-engagement and those shows are reported to be selling out already. Hopefully this means the film will be opening up wider on more screens across the country.
1) The Martian Fox $55,000,000
2) Hotel Transylvania 2 Sony $33,000,000 Total: $90,541,765
3) Sicario LGF $12,075,000 Total: $15,076,295
4) The Intern WB $11,620,000 Total: $36,523,892
5) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Fox $7,650,000 Total: $63,241,124
6) Black Mass WB $5,905,000 Total: $52,521,030
7) Everest Uni. $5,510,000 Total: $33,181,310 55 3
8) The Visit Uni. $3,950,000 Total: $56,921,090
9) War Room TriS $2,800,000 Total: $60,544,613
10) The Perfect Guy SGem $2,400,000 Total: $52,615,190
11) The Walk TriS $1,550,000 – Total: $1,972,274
12) The Green Inferno HTR $1,275,000 Total: $5,917,423