Turning Red, National Champions, Journal for Jordan and More in This Week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin

By Chris Kavan - 11/24/21 at 07:16 PM CT

After a disappointing bulletin last week, this week is much better, providing us a trio of new films across the board. In addition, we have the weekend's box office update in which a nostalgia-driven (maybe a bit TOO much nostalgia) Ghostbusters: Afterlife easily blasted the competition.

As noted, the biggest hit against Ghostbusters: Afterlife from the critics was that after the polarizing 2016 all-female reboot, Jason Reitman's actual sequel maybe was a bit too heavy on paying homage to the original. Still, it turns out audiences were more than happy to be reminded of the past - to the tune of a $44 million opening. That was higher than most estimates and was mighty close to the $46 million opening of the 2016 reboot. While critics weren't all on board - it still managed to attain a fresh 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and audiences were entranced, awarding the film a fine "A-" Cinemascore. Featuring Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace and Logan Kim - along with Ghostbusters original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver - the big question is whether this relatively strong start will be enough for this to top the $128 million of the much-maligned 2016 reboot. It also added a little bit overseas - $16 million - for a worldwide total of $60 million.

Coming in second place in its third weekend, the latest MCU entry, Eternals, took a 58.7% tumble and landed with a $11 million weekend. That gives the fully-stuffed entry a $136 million domestic total - and it's looking like a lock for at least the $150 million mark at this point going forward. With an additional $200.3 million in foreign totals, Eternals sits at just over $336 million on the global scale.

In third place, family-friendly entry Clifford the Big Red Dog dipped a bit over 51%, adding another $8.12 million to its total, which has hit the $33.5 million mark. Apparently the response has been good enough to warrant a sequel as a second live-action helping of our big, red friend has already been ordered. Clifford isn't hitting foreign markets until next month, so we'll have to wait and see if any other country is in the mood for this kind of treat.

Also making its debut was Will Smith's inspirational story in King Richard. Despite some strong critical response (91% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a likewise solid audience response (an "A" Cinemscore), King Richard came in under the $10 million+ expectations with just a $5.4 million showing. Yes, it was available for streaming on HBO Max (where, I admit, I did watch it on my own - and liked it well enough), but the result still has to be seen a disappointing given the quite positive reactions across the board. Smith's performance may still get some recognition, but the low opening has to sting somewhat. I still think that dramas targeting mainly adults are a hard sell while Covid concerns linger (see also Green Knight, The Last Duel, etc) but should recover more in time just not yet.

Rounding out the top five, sci-fi epic Dune took a 42.7% hit and added $3.17 million to its total, which is sitting at $98 million and looks to top $100 million by next weekend. It has easily more than doubled its domestic total with a $268.9 million overseas total for a solid $367.1 million global total.

A few items of note outside the top five: In limited release, Joaquin Phoenix's black and white slice-of-life C'mon, C'mon (also starring the young Woody Norman) only debuted in five theaters, but brought in $134,447 - which amounts to a $26,889 per-theater average - topping Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch ($25,938 average) as the best average of 2021.

No Time to Die ended the weekend with a $734.1 million global total - topping F9 ($721.1 million) as the highest-grossing North American film of the year.

With Thanksgiving upon us, next weekend brings us House of Gucci, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City and Disney's latest animated feature, Encanto.

With a few whimpering weekends, at least this week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin is a bit meatier, providing three wide releases including an animated feature, a grown-man-cry drama and a timely sports drama as well.

MPAA Official Logo

For whatever reason, family films, much like adult dramas, have faced an uphill battle during these Covid times with many coming in below expectations and some - like Luca - just skipping theaters entirely. That won't be the case for Turning Red, which follows the story of a girl with mixed Canadian/Chinese heritage who enters her awkward teens years made all the more so due to a long family tradition of turning into a giant red panda whenever she becomes overly excited or stressed. Much like Raya and the Last Dragon, Turning Red has assembled a strong Asian cast as well - Rosalie Chiang voices our transforming girl, joining her are the likes of
Sandra Oh, James Hong, Lori Tan Chinn, Wai Ching Ho, Orion Lee, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Ho-Wai Ching and Jordan Fisher. Hopefully this time there isn't some backlash about how they cast the "wrong" kind of Asians - I don't know, it seems like a fun movie for the whole family, maybe don't get so holier-than-thou about the whole thing. Rated PG for for thematic material, suggestive content and language.

Manly men don't like to admit they have any feelings whatsoever, but certain films throughout the years - Old Yeller, Brian's Song, The Champ - and I'm sure some others - can reduce even the most hardened guy type into a pile of much. Can A Journal for Jordon join that elite group? Based on a true story, Charles Monroe King (played by Michael B. Jordon) is being deployed to Afghanistan and will miss his son's birth. He also knows what the stakes are and thus pens his own journal - a how-to guide for his son to become an upstanding man even without the presence of his father. Now do you see where this is going? Of course, the worst comes to pass and just months before his tour ends, Jordon is killed in action - leaving behind his journal to pass down to his son. Jalon Christian plays the young Jordon with Chanté Adams playing his widowed wife. The cast also features Robert Wisdom, Tamara Tunie, Vanessa Aspillaga, Susan Pourfar, Spencer Squire and Joey Brooks. Denzel Washington directs this powerful story and despite featuring a mostly black cast it feels like one of those films that race shouldn't matter - a love between father and son is pretty much universal. Rated PG-13 for some sexual content, partial nudity, drug use and language.

Sneaking up on me as a wide release out of the backfield - we get National Champions. Alexander Ludwig takes on the role of a star quarterback about to play in the biggest game of the year when he decides to grind everything to a halt, organizing a players strike in order to stand up for fair compensation - but also respect and equality - for all student athletes. Guess who this doesn't sit well with? The coach - played by perennial hardass J.K. Simmons (perhaps he also runs an elite jazz program too?) This is quite the timely film as student athletes have been gaining more and more rights over the last year or so. The cast looks good beyond those two with Timothy Olyphant, Kristin Chenoweth, Tim Blake Nelson, Jeffrey Donovan, Lil Rel Howery, David Koechner, Uzo Aduba and
Andrew Bachelor on board along with "as themselves" Russell Wilson and French Montana. Something tells me this sports drama is going to go a lot deeper than your likes of Varsity Blues - we'll see if how it addresses such a minefield of a topic scores with audiences or gets flagged for excessive dramatization. Rated for language throughout and sexual references.

Those are the main films for this week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin - but be sure to check out the full list below:


Rated PG-13 for rude/suggestive material and language.


Rated PG for thematic elements, suggestive material, and language.


Rated R for sexuality, violent content and language.


Rated R for disturbing and violent content, sexual content/nudity and some language.


Rated PG-13 for some sexual content, partial nudity, drug use and language.


Rated PG-13 for violence throughout, some strong language and suggestive material.


Rated PG for some suggestive references.


Rated R for language throughout and sexual references.


Rated R for violence, suicide, pervasive language and some sexual references.


Rated R for language and some grisly images.


Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, pervasive language and sexual content.


Rated PG for thematic material, suggestive content and language.


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