In news that should surprise no one at all, Captain America: Civil War remained number one at the box office in its second weekend, dominating a week where the only new competition was a thriller skewed toward older audiences and a barely marketed horror film.
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.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Adam Driver hosting 2016’s first episode of SNL, a Kylo Ren sketch of some kind was inevitable. After all, you don't get the actor who plays the villain in one of the biggest movies of all time to appear on your comedy variety show and not have him reprise that character. And we'll give the show this much: we never would have predicted a faux episode of Undercover Boss set on Starkiller Base, with the angry, murderous Kylo Ren going undercover amongst his troops as a radar technician named Matt.
It took Avatar two and half months to become the highest grossing movie of all time. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will surpass its domestic box office gross within the next day or two after less than three weeks in release. The big question now is when J.J. Abrams’ sequel will find its ceiling because as of right now, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
SNL commercial parodies are at their best when they’re at their most scathing. The fake ad for a fictional dating app called Settl may not be as dark as that vicious, pro-gun parody from a while back, but it’s a different brand of cynical: Here is the app for people who are tired of trying to find the right person and just want to settle down with, well, any person.
While traditional live sketches are still the backbone of any given episode, modern SNL is frequently at its best in the pre-recorded segments. The past few years have seen an interesting evolution as the silly “digital shorts” of a decade ago have matured into full-blown filmmaking, with sketches that feel more like short films than just a comedy bit. Last night’s Ryan Gosling-hosted episode peaked with a pre-recorded sketch titled “Santa Baby,” which let both SNL and Gosling himself turn the weird up to 11.
As expected, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 topped the box office charts this weekend. But like the war in the movie itself, it all feels like something of a hollow victory. That may seem like a weird thing to say about a movie that broke $100 million in its opening weekend, but this is a new low for the series’ box office receipts…and it’s not even close.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens less than a month away from release and anticipation reaching a feverish level unseen in movie fans since 1999, the timing is right for SNL to gently skewer the upcoming sequel. The sketch is really just an excuse for the cast to break out a bunch of impersonations they’ve obviously been keeping in their back pockets while letting them interact with actual Star Wars cast members, but c’mon, that’s all the excuse you need, really.
It was actually a pretty solid weekend at the box office for movies that weren’t brand new. If your movie was playing in its second, third, or even fourth week, you were fine. If your movie was a new release, you were in for a rough couple of days. While the The Martian, Goosebumps, and more showcased impressive legs, a huge batch of other movies faltered this weekend. At least five major releases fell flat on their faces.
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