Bad Times at the El Royale
Bad Times at the El Royale is a 2018 American neo-noir thriller film written, produced and directed by Drew Goddard. The film stars Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman and Chris Hemsworth. Set in 1969, the plot follows seven strangers each hiding dark secrets, who come to a head one night in a shady hotel on the California-Nevada border.
|Bad Times at the El Royale|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Drew Goddard|
|Written by||Drew Goddard|
|Music by||Michael Giacchino|
|Edited by||Lisa Lassek|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$30.2 million|
Bad Times at the El Royale premiered at Fantastic Fest on September 27, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United States on October 12, 2018. The film has grossed over $30 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for its acting and Goddard's screenplay and direction, although some reviewers criticised the 141-minute runtime and pacing.
In 1959, a bank robber buries a bag of money under the floor of a room at the El Royale hotel. He is shot dead, the money undisturbed.
Ten years later, the hotel's only worker, Miles Miller, takes priest Daniel Flynn, singer Darlene Sweet, vacuum salesman Laramie Seymour Sullivan, and Emily Summerspring to their rooms. Sullivan takes Room 1, Flynn takes Room 4, Sweet takes Room 5 and Summerspring takes Room 7.
Upon entering the honeymoon suite, Sullivan removes several bugs from the room and discovers a hidden passage in the walls filled with two-way mirrors, used to spy into guests' rooms. Sullivan notes a live film camera aimed at Room 1. He sees that Flynn is tearing open the floorboards in his room, that Sweet is attempting to sing in solace, and that Summerspring is holding a kidnapped woman hostage in her room. It is revealed that Sullivan is actually an FBI agent named Dwight Broadbeck, sent by the government to retrieve a piece of incriminating film. Broadbeck sabotages the group's vehicles, and against orders, he confronts Summerspring, and attempts to rescue the girl, who is revealed to be Summerspring's younger sister Rose.
Meanwhile, Flynn invites Sweet to join him for dinner. Unable to find Miles, they help themselves to a meal and chat. Flynn reveals he has memory problems and Sweet reveals that she is on her way to Reno for a singing job. Flynn attempts to drug her drink but Sweet spots him and knocks him unconscious with a bottle. Miles finds Flynn and inadvertently reveals to him about the film and the passageway. Miles explains that "management" tells him to film the guests and send footage to them but he decided to keep the footage.
Fleeing the hotel, Sweet witnesses Summerspring shoot Broadbeck. While Summerspring realizes she has also injured Miles, Rose uses the commotion as a distraction and calls an unknown man, telling him the location of the hotel. Summerspring and Rose take Miles into the lobby and tie him up while Sweet retrieves her car cable. As Sweet tries to start her car, Flynn enters it and reveals that he is a bank robber. Flynn's real name is Dock O'Kelly, who was arrested after a botched robbery; his brother, Felix, was the robber who hid the money in the hotel. Recently freed, he has returned to retrieve the money. However his memory problems caused him to confuse which room the money was in and he has now deduced that the money is actually in Sweet's room. In the lobby, Rose is revealed to have become part of a cult, led by the vicious Billy Lee, and has been rescued from it by Summerspring despite Rose's wishes.
O'Kelly and Sweet agree to get the money, fleeing and working together to distract a patrolling Summerspring while they do so, but upon leaving, Billy Lee and his cultists arrive, holding O'Kelly, Sweet, Summerspring and Miles hostage. Lee interrogates the group about what has been happening, learning of the money and the film. Lee terrorizes the hostages, and makes an example by killing Summerspring. Using a power outage to his advantage, O'Kelly attacks Lee, setting the hotel ablaze in the process. Miles reveals to Sweet that he is a traumatized Vietnam veteran. At Sweet's insistence and reassurance, he picks up a gun and kills Lee and the other cultists. He is stabbed by a furious Rose, but she is killed by O'Kelly. Miles, still traumatized and disgusted with his actions in Vietnam, begs O'Kelly to absolve him of his sins, which he does. Miles bleeds to death as O'Kelly and Sweet retrieve the money. They burn the film before fleeing the hotel.
Not long after, O'Kelly attends Sweet's show in Reno. The pair share a knowing look before Sweet performs for the crowd as O'Kelly proudly looks on.
- Jeff Bridges as Donald "Doc" O'Kelly / Daniel Flynn, a robber masquerading as a priest.
- Cynthia Erivo as Darlene Sweet, a struggling soul singer.
- Dakota Johnson as Emily Summerspring, a woman trying to save her sister from Billy's cult.
- Hannah Zirke as young Emily
- Jon Hamm as Dwight Broadbeck / Seymour 'Laramie' Sullivan, an undercover FBI agent posing as a home supplies salesman.
- Cailee Spaeny as Rose Summerspring, Emily's sister and Billy Lee's accomplice.
- Charlotte Mosby as young Rose
- Lewis Pullman as Miles Miller, the concierge and sole employee left at the El Royale, who served as a sniper in the Vietnam War.
- Austin Abell as young Miles
- Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee, a charismatic cult leader and Rose’s spiritual guide.
- Nick Offerman as Felix O'Kelly, Doc’s brother and criminal partner.
- Xavier Dolan as Buddy Sunday, a music producer who fires Darlene due to budget cuts.
- Shea Whigham as Dr. Woodbury Laurence, a prison doctor who diagnoses O'Kelly.
- Mark O'Brien as Larsen Rogers, Doc and Felix's accomplice.
- Charles Halford as Sammy Wilds, Doc's prison cellmate.
- Jim O'Heir as Milton Wyrick, the presenter at Darlene's show in Reno.
- Manny Jacinto as Waring "Wade" Espiritu, a member of Billy Lee's cult.
- Alvina August as Vesta Shears, a singer who replaces Darlene.
- Gerry Nairn as Paul Kraemer, a reporter.
On March 8, 2017, it was announced that 20th Century Fox had bought the spec script Bad Times at the El Royale, written by Drew Goddard, who would also direct and produce the film. On August 23, 2017, Chris Hemsworth and Jeff Bridges were cast in the 1960s-set film, to play two among the several characters who collide at the El Royale hotel, near California's Lake Tahoe. That same day, it was also reported that Tom Holland had passed on a role, and that Beyoncé was being courted for the role of an African-American vocalist. It was also revealed that main roles in the ensemble would include a vacuum cleaner salesman, two female criminals, a male cult leader, and a desk clerk. Later in August 2017, newcomer Cailee Spaeny was added to the cast to play an impressionable Southern girl brought to the hotel, while Cynthia Erivo was cast as the African-American singer who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. In January 2018, Dakota Johnson and Russell Crowe joined the cast. In February 2018, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, and Mark O'Brien joined the cast, and in May 2018, Lewis Pullman was also confirmed for a role.
Principal photography on the film began on January 29, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia. In February, it was being shot in Burnaby. The El Royale is quite similar in appearance and characteristics to a closed former hotel-casino called the Cal Neva Lodge & Casino.
The first trailer was released on June 7, 2018. The film had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 27, 2018 and also screened at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. It was theatrically released in the United States on October 12, 2018.
As of November 14, 2018[update], Bad Times at the El Royale has grossed $17.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $12.5 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $30.2 million, against a production budget of $32 million.
In the United States and Canada, Bad Times at the El Royale was released alongside First Man and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, and was projected to gross $8–12 million from 2,808 theaters in its opening weekend, with some predictions going as high as $17 million. The film made $2.8 million on its first day and went on to debut to $7.2 million, finishing seventh at the box office. Deadline Hollywood speculates the film was hurt by its 141 minute runtime, as well as its niche genre and lack of awards buzz. The film dropped 52% in its second weekend to $3.4 million, finishing ninth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 73% based on 200 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Smart, stylish, and packed with solid performances, Bad Times at the El Royale delivers pure popcorn fun with the salty tang of social subtext." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 60 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
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