Just a day before its theatrical release, Disney’s live-action update of Aladdin had its review embargo lifted. The big-budget fantasy, which casts Will Smith in the genie role made iconic by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated feature, could’ve certainly fared worse. Based upon fears from a poorly received first trailer, some wondered if the pic would be a disaster. Most critics, while certainly mixed with some negative, haven’t been too harsh. It stands at 60% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Particular praise has gone to the performances of Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, who respectively play the title character and Princess Jasmine.
When it comes to these updates of studio classics, many in the past decade have scored technical nods. This includes AliceinWonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, TheJungleBook, and BeautyandtheBeast. In 2019, Aladdin will find itself competing for space with three other Disney live-action renderings: the already released Dumbo, this summer’s TheLionKing, and this winter’s Maleficent: MistressofEvil. Don’t be surprised if TheLionKing gets the lions share of attention.
That said, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling could be the two best possibilities here. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
25 years ago today, Quentin Tarantino’s second feature PulpFiction held its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Today saw the Riviera unveiling of his ninth – OnceUponaTimeinHollywood. The black comedy casts Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a movie star and his stunt double, respectively. Set in 1969, Hollywood also focuses on the Manson murders with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. The sprawling supporting cast includes Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, the late Luke Perry, Margaret Qualley, Damian Lewis, Bruce Dern, Emile Hirsch, and Al Pacino.
Slated to hit screens stateside on July 26, it’s fair to say this is the most eagerly anticipated Cannes debut of 2019. Some reviews from the festival are glowing and that’s not unexpected when it comes to Mr. Tarantino. Others, while positive, indicate it’s not quite the masterpiece that PulpFiction or InglouriousBasterds are. Both of those pics (and 2012’s DjangoUnchained) nabbed Best Picture nods.
Based on early buzz, I expect Hollywood to do the same with a strong possibility that its director gets a nomination as well. He will almost certainly be honored for his Original Screenplay. As for performances, both DiCaprio and Pitt are being lauded. I’m not certain at this point whether both will be campaigned for in lead Actor. A split (meaning Pitt in Supporting Actor) could increase the chances of both getting in. Margot Robbie is also getting raves and could certainly factor into Supporting Actress.
Bottom line: OnceUponaTimeinHollywood has been looked at as a contender since it was announced. Today’s happenings in France confirm it. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
It’s Memorial Day at the box office with Disney looking to dominate the four-day holiday weekend with their live-action rendering of Aladdin starring Will Smith. We also have the superhero horror flick Brightburn and critically acclaimed high school comedy Booksmart. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
There’s little doubt that the Fresh Prince’s genie will open at #1. How much it makes is very much in question. My mid 70s forecast is toward the lower end of estimates. While it’s always risky to underestimate the vaunted Mouse Factory marketing machine, they’ve already had one under performer weeks ago with Dumbo and reaction to this particular remake seems mixed.
Slots 2-4 are likely to be held by holdovers and that starts with JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum after its dynamite debut (more on that below). Its gross is probably a bit front loaded, so a dip over 50% wouldn’t be surprising.
On the other hand, Avengers: Endgame should follow the path of other MCU titles that premiered in late April or early May with a minor drop in the 20s. I have PokemonDetectivePikachu slated for a mid 30s subtraction.
As for the newcomers, both have breakout potential but I’m hesitant to pull the trigger on either exceeding expectations. Brightburn should fare a bit better than Booksmart, if for no other reason than its higher screen count.
And with that, a top 6 take on my Friday to Monday predictions:
Predicted Gross: $74.8 million
2. JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum
Predicted Gross: $27 million
3. Avengers: Endgame
Predicted Gross: $22.5 million
Predicted Gross: $16.4 million
Predicted Gross: $10.7 million
Predicted Gross: $8.6 million
JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum sped to a terrific start and zoomed past most projections, including mine. The Keanu Reeves sequel made $56.8 million compared to my $45.8 million estimate. That sets the franchise record by over $25 million and is good for Mr. Reeves second largest opening ever behind TheMatrixReloaded.
Avengers: Endgame dropped to second after three weeks on top with $29.9 million, in line with my $28.5 million prediction. The massive tally is at $771 million.
In its sophomore outing, PokemonDetectivePikachu was third with $25.1 million. I was right there at $25.2 million as it approaches the century mark with $94 million.
ADog’sJourney flopped with just $8 million in fourth compared to my $11.8 million projection. That’s less than half of what predecessor ADog’sPurpose achieved. Woof.
TheHustle rounded out the top five with $6.1 million (I said $7.1 million) for $23 million overall.
Finally, YA romance TheSunIsAlsoaStar had a dim start in eighth with just $2.5 million. I went higher at $5.5 million.
HappyDeathDay2U gets some props for going into totally different territories as it follows up on the surprise 2017 hit. The original had a simple concept – mix GroundhogDay with a slasher flick. It worked better than it should have with a stellar performance from Jessica Rothe as the bratty day repeater named Tree. Part 1 developed some layers to her character that are important in the sequel. I didn’t expect part 2 to mostly ditch the slasher concept in favor of science fiction. There’s also slapstick comedy with a supporting player pretending to be a blind French woman.
Horror franchises are usually more than happy to repeat themselves. I expected the same here, especially in a movie about repeating yourself over and over. HappyDeathDay2U doesn’t do that. We are reminded about Tree’s earlier predicament. She woke up on the same Monday in the dorm room of Carter (Israel Broussard), hung over and confused. Things got more baffling when it happened again and again. There was no Sonny and Cher music, but you get the gist. The original eventually revealed her roommate was offing her. She also had time to fall in love with Carter.
The sequel finds Carter’s roommate (Phi Vu) experiencing his own demise and deja vu. He has built a quantum reactor in science class with his nerdy schoolmates and it turns out they get an A+. Unfortunately for Tree, it means she begins to travel back to the manic and murderous Mondays yet again.
The jump scares and other slasher elements are in short supply. Instead we get some scientific jargon (there’s more BacktotheFuture references than anything with Bill Murray) and multiverse chatter. Tree’s deceased mom could be back in a dimension. Her roommate that terrorized her in the baby face mask on the first day may not be bad after all.
Part 1 and II might be different in tone, but they share certain things. Rothe’s performance is comedic and satisfying and she shines even more this time around. There are moments of well placed humor. There’s a bit involving skydiving that elicited genuine laughter. Not all the similarities are positive. This, too, runs out of gas before the running time has elapsed. The plot gradually becomes a secondary consideration. I found myself not really caring at all about who was behind the mayhem at the end of the long day. That said, writer/director Christopher Landon deserves some credit for making this day we’ve already experienced one of an alternative genre.
Four years ago, Robert Eggers made his directorial debut with TheWitch and it was a darling on the indie circuit and with critics. His eagerly awaited follow-up is TheLighthouse and it’s premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Early buzz is solid on the black and white horror flick.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson (who’s been in the news a lot this week due to his apparent casting as Batman) are two lighthouse keepers in the late 19th century who slowly delve into madness. Reviews suggest it’s quite effective if audiences choose to go along with it. That part remains to be seen.
The likelihood is that TheLighthouse won’t be much of a factor come awards time. However, there could be an exception. Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography has drawn raves and there could be calls from critics for him to be recognized. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
The best known actress involved with Booksmart is making her directorial debut and is not in front of the camera. Yet the pic is riding a wave of critical kudos since its premiere at South by Southwest in March. The comedy is centered on two teenage girls and their last day of high school. Olivia Wilde makes that aforementioned first turn in the captain’s chair. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein (best known as Saoirse Ronan’s bestie in LadyBird) are the two graduates. Costars include Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis (Wilde’s hubby).
Booksmart stands at a super fresh 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It could still face hurdles when it opens over the long Memorial Day weekend. Opening on approximately 2300 screens, I’m skeptical as to its awareness factor among general audiences. This could be a slow builder if word-of-mouth takes off or become a cult hit following the theatrical release.
I’ll say a debut in the upper single digits is where this starts out at.
Booksmart opening weekend prediction: $8.6 million
The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing over in France and the highest profile feature so far has screened (with Quentin Tarantino’s OnceUponaTimeinHollywood following next week). That would be Rocketman, a flashy musical biopic featuring Taron Egerton as legendary performer Elton John. Costars include Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Ahead of its May 31st stateside bow, festival goers rewarded the pic with a lengthy standing ovation (with Elton and Egerton attending). This might prove to be an audience pleaser. Some early reviews are glowing while others are more mixed.
Box office could be strong, but will this blast off with awards voters? We have very recent history to consider. I’m referring, of course, to last year’s BohemianRhapsody. Despite its rocky critical reaction, that film was a hit with audiences and Oscar voters. The Freddie Mercury biopic ended up winning four gold statues, including Rami Malek’s portrayal of the Queen frontman in Best Actor.
Rhapsody made an astonishing $903 million worldwide. Rocketman may not reach that territory. If it does, it could be impossible to ignore. Yet even if it turns out to be a sizable crowd favorite, Academy voters could nominate this in a variety of categories. That includes Picture, Actor, and the sound races (for which Bohemian was victorious in both). The comparisons between Rhapsody and Rocketman don’t end there. Dexter Fletcher took over directorial duties from Bryan Singer on the former. He is behind the camera again for the latter.
Bottom line: there’s a chance that voters might not honor Mr. John like they did Mr. Mercury, but Cannes reaction at least indicates it’s a possibility. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…