The War With Grandpa, a Robert De Niro comedy about the battle between a wily septuagenarian and his grandson over a bedroom, was originally supposed to hit theatres in 2018.
Plans changed after Harvey Weinstein, the indie film producer whose company The Weinstein Company financed the Home Alone knockoff, was exposed as a serial sexual harasser and predator. His fall from power led to the dissolution of The Weinstein Company and plunged The War With Grandpa and other films that the studio had expected to release such as The Upside and The Current War, into a perilous kind of limbo.
Two years after it was intended to hit theatres, The War With Grandpa finally debuted, although in a markedly different theatrical landscape, one that faces an existential crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The film grossed US$3.6 million (S$4.55 million) from 2,205 locations while receiving a brushoff from critics who dismissed it as derivative and joyless. In pandemic times when major markets like New York City and Los Angeles are closed, that may rank as a decent opening. That being said, as Forbes notes, it still clocks in as the worst box office topper since 1988, so clearly the exhibition industry is facing some very punishing headwinds.
101 Studios, the new label run by former Weinstein Company executive David Glasser, picked up the rights to The War With Grandpa and released it. The company also distributed the similarly orphaned The Current War in October, with the subtitle The Director's Cut.
This week, The War With Grandpa has unseated Christopher Nolan's Tenet from the top slot. In its sixth week of release, Tenet grossed US$2.1 million in North America, bringing its haul to US$48.3 million. The Warner Bros sci-fi thriller took in an estimated US$9.8 million globally this weekend in 62 markets, pushing its worldwide total to US$323.3 million.
Disney's re-release of Hocus Pocus continued to be a rare COVID-era hit, earning US$1.2 million. The comedy about a coven of witches starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy was a box office disappointment when it debuted in 1993, but became a cult classic on cable and other home entertainment platforms. The New Mutants, the X-Men spinoff that Disney inherited after it purchased Fox, earned US$685,000, pushing its North American gross to US$22 million. With those tepid results, The New Mutants: Part 2 seems like a dream that will be permanently deferred.
Sony's Yellow Rose, a drama about an undocumented Filipino girl who wants to be a country music star, netted US$150,000 from 900 locations, bringing its total to US$170,000.
This weekend – with its collection of underperforming blockbusters and castoffs – paints a dire picture for cinemas. It's going to take a lot more than this to keep moviegoing viable. Wonder Woman 1984 can't arrive soon enough.