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Box Office: Why The Success Of ‘Sicario 2’ Is A Huge Win For Sony

todayJuly 5, 2018

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Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado has earned around $23 million in its first five days of release, putting the $35m-budgeted Black Label Media actioner on the path to profitability. Sony picked up the Sicario sequel and (the terrific) Only the Brave after Lionsgate decided not to release them domestically. Lionsgate will still distribute Sicario 2 in some overseas territories, but I digress. The relative success of Day of the Soldado is a win for Sony Entertainment in two specific if admittedly contradictory ways. The “First Blood-to-Rambo: First Blood Part II” sequel potentially turns Sicario into a genuine franchise at a bargain-basement price, while also giving the studio hope for the rest of its upcoming adult-skewing thrillers.

First, that Black Label Media has released two Sicario movies that have both (barring a post-debut crash for the sequel) been relative hits means that Sony may have acquired a small-scale franchise. While the official story is that Taylor Sheridan may write one more story about the adventures of Benicio del Toro’s morally unpredictable lawyer-turned-vigilante Alejandro and Josh Brolin’s reckless DOJ agent Matt Graver, there is no law saying that this series must be a trilogy. There is no reason, presuming the grosses justify it, to make this into a “What god-awful things will Matt and Alejandro do to fight America’s War on Drugs today?” franchise.

That will make the “no Emily Blunt” thing make more sense in the broader picture. If Sicario is a somewhat episodic series of adventures featuring the vigilante and the soldier, then Blunt’s disillusioned FBI agent will merely join Isabella Moner’s kidnapped-daughter-of-a-drug-kingpin as (no spoilers) this episode’s highlighted collateral damage as Matt and Alejandro break the rules to keep white Americans safe from scary brown people and their scary drugs. Sure, they can bring any of the previous two films’ surviving characters back for the third go-around, or they can continue to make this series a bunch of stand-alone action thrillers featuring Del Toro and Brolin as Trumpian answer to John Rambo or Jack Ryan.

The MCU and the Harry Potter franchise got Hollywood addicted to explicitly connected long-term cinematic storytelling. We should remember that many of the biggest franchises (Die HardLethal WeaponIndiana Jones, the 007 films) were “episode of the week” action flicks. A three-part, beginning/middle/end trilogy like Star Wars was the exception rather than the rule. We’ve had few successful post-MCU cinematic universes, and stand-alone action franchises like Transformers and Mission: Impossiblehave been as successful as the comic book/fantasy franchises. An open-ended structure means that Sicario can live forever. This means an Emily Blunt vehicle will have paved the way for a testosterone-powered he-man action series, but even a franchise is a franchise.

Second, even if Sicario 2 is not the beginning of a franchise, it is an example of Sony successfully selling a star-driven, R-rated, adult-skewing action movie in the middle of the summer. It is essentially the third time they have pulled this off in late June, following Blake Lively’s (PG-13) The Shallows in 2016 and Edgar Wright’s acclaimed Baby Driver in 2017. While Ghostbusters and Passengers got most of the ink, Sony had a solid run of small movies (Don’t BreatheThe ShallowsMoney MonsterSausage Party) in the heart of a summer filled with awful tentpoles. More importantly, Sicario 2 is just one of several mid-to-small budget action movies on tap for the next several months.

They’ve got Denzel Washington’s Equalizer 2 set for July 20, Tom Hardy’s (possibly R-rated) Venom on Oct. 5, Claire Foy’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web on Nov. 9 and Gina Rodriguez’s Miss Bala remake (courtesy of director Catherine Hardwicke) in January of 2019. Now the success of Sicario 2, a politically topical sequel to an acclaimed hit, may not mean much to the rest of the adult-skewing genre flicks, but it shows that audiences will show up for these kinds of movies alongside the tentpoles and event movies. And every time Sony scores with a Baby Driver or a Sicario 2, they are that much less reliant on the latest Spider-Man movie or the next animated sequel.

There is long-term value in Sony establishing itself as a studio that puts out well-reviewed, adult-skewing, star-driven thrillers alongside kid-targeted fantasies like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Goosebumps 2. That strategy, coupled with accidental franchises like Sicario and Peter Rabbit and unexpected mega-smashes like Welcome to the Jungle and expected juggernauts like Men in Black 4 and Spider-Man: Far from Home, will allow Sony to survive (and possibly thrive) in a landscape dominated by Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. I kind of wish Fox was going to get bought by Paramount or Sony, but that’s for another day. This isn’t about winning market share, but about staying alive until moviegoers kick their IP addiction.

Source: forbes.com

Written by: New Generation Radio

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