Box Office: “Tomb Raider,” “Love, Simon” and “Entebbe” underwhelm, “I Can Only Imagine” over-performs

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The head scratching thing about “7 Days in Entebbe” isn’t so much its almost tension-free take on a harrowing hostage crisis of the ’70s, that rare one resolved with a professional, successful military response. As I said in my review, it’s the mere existence of it.

Why this movie, why now? Is there another agenda at work? Aside from Hollywood’s somewhat tone-deaf echo chamber executive ranks?

“Yeah, a movie about ‘Israel’s Finest Hour’ over 40 years ago is what audiences are clamoring for.”

The movie bombed. Critics pounded it and audiences avoided it, not even getting it into the top ten on this, its opening weekend. More diversity in the offices where movies are greenlit might be in order, because nobody wanted to see this and a broader cross-section of voices in those development meetings would have stopped this, dead in its tracks.

“Love, Simon,” a gay coming-of-age romance whose time came, oh, 10-12 years ago, underwhelmed as well, only managing $11 million or so. Weeks of studio previews to build word of mouth, a Saturday night “paid” preview last weekend, rapturous reviews (Oh please), and…enthusiasm waned from the moment tickets were first turned in Thursday night.

Group buys are a big part of the success of the faith-based musical bio-pic “I Can Only Imagine.” As I mentioned earlier, I saw it Thursday night when some unknown entity bought out several showings and handed out tickets to folks coming to my local Regal Cinemas, people there ostensibly to see something else. That they were going to pay to see.

Interesting way of ginning up “support.” Did all those purchased seats leads to attendance? Cannot tell. It’s earned $15 million plus this weekend and much support from its target audience.

Then there’s the MGM/Warners “Tomb Raider” reboot, based on the rebooted video game, but more like the 2001 Angelina Jolie film “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” than anybody would care to admit. It managed nearly $24 million, which means it could break even with a LOT of overseas help, only if audiences everywhere else dive into it with more enthusiasm.

“A Wrinkle in Time” lost a respectable 50% of its barely passable (for its genre and hype) opening weekend take.

And “Black Panther” piled up another $28-29 million.

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