America’s foremost jackass is back in theaters next weekend when Johnny Knoxville headlines Action Point. The comedy casts him as the owner of a low-grade amusement park. Expect many of the patented stunts that the man has become synonymous with. Chris Pontius costars with Tim Kirkby directing.
It’s been nearly five years since Knoxville was featured in a starring vehicle – 2013’s Bad Grandpa. That was a huge hit with a $32 million debut and $102 million overall domestic haul. And of course, the Jackass franchise brought in big grosses for Paramount (this film’s distributor) as well.
That said, it’s been quite a while since Mr. Knoxville’s brand of humor was printing money. One wonders if the audience for it has grown up a bit and moved on. I also have a feeling that Action Point doesn’t quite have the selling point marketability that Grandpa possessed.
Add all that up and I believe this may struggle to even reach the teens out of the gate by not bringing in the teenage crowd it wishes to cater to.
Action Point opening weekend prediction: $12.7 million
At the Toronto Film Festival last fall, Saudi Arabian director Haifaa al-Mansour premiered MaryShelley with the hope of generating some solid critical buzz. The period drama casts Elle Fanning in the title role of the English author who brought Frankenstein to life in 1818. Costars include Douglas Booth, Maisie Williams, Ben Hardy, Bel Powley, and Stephen Dillane.
The picture largely landed with a thud. Scheduled for limited release in domestic theaters this Friday, Shelley is currently at just 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ms. Fanning is certainly an up and comer who could get her share of awards worthy roles in the future.
However, MaryShelley isn’t it. Once it screened up north, the reaction assured its Oscar chances aren’t alive.
I believe Solo will manage to just top $150 million for the four-day frame and that would make it the largest Memorial Day opening of all time (topping the $139 million earned by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End in 2007).
The holiday weekend often means small declines for holdovers and I believe that will hold true such titles as Avengers: Infinity War, Book Club, and Life of the Party. That may not apply to Deadpool 2, which will certainly be in second place. The Ryan Reynolds sequel seems likely to lose over 50% of its opening crowd – perhaps even 55% or so.
And with that, my take on the weekend’s top five (keep in mind these are Friday to Monday estimates):
1. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Predicted Gross: $151.3 million
2. Deadpool 2
Predicted Gross: $55.2 million
3. Avengers: Infinity War
Predicted Gross: $22.5 million
4. Book Club
Predicted Gross: $11.7 million
5. Life of the Party
Predicted Gross: $5.3 million
Box Office Results (May 18-20)
Deadpool 2 easily dominated the weekend, but did so with a little less dollars than most projections include mine. The superhero sequel earned $125.5 million, under my $137.4 million prediction. That’s good for the second biggest R rated debut of all time behind… Deadpool from 2016. Considering its reported $110 million budget, that’s still a hefty haul even though many figured it might manage to just top the original.
Avengers: Infinity War dropped to second after three weeks at #1 with $29.4 million (in line with my $30.8 million projection) for $595 million overall.
Book Club experienced a nice debut in third with $13.5 million, ahead of my $10.3 million estimate. I look for this to have perhaps the smallest drop of any feature over Memorial Day.
Life of the Party was fourth with $7.6 million (I said $8.4 million) for $30 million total.
Breaking In rounded out the top five at $6.8 million (I said $7.2 million) for $29 million in its two weeks.
Finally, family feature Show Dogs failed to bring in its audience with just $6 million. I was higher at $7.9 million.
Two years ago, Deadpool was a breath of filthy fresh air in the superhero genre with Ryan Reynolds triumphing in bringing the title character to the big screen (as we forget X–Men: Wolverine ever existed… sort of). No one was sure whether a very R rated comic book protagonist could succeed with audiences, but he did and then some. The inevitable sequel risks the chance of having a been there, done that vibe. For a while, Deadpool2 comes dangerously close to being that. The self referential jokes and carefree energy threatens to make part II nothing more than a featherweight viewing with a few clever gags thrown in. Luckily, Deadpool gets his groove back in time to make it something a little more. Does it match the quality of its predecessor? No, but there’s certainly moments (especially in the second half) that work very well.
We open with Wade Wilson, aka Mr. Pool, having a demented ball fighting sex traffickers and other baddies while in his blissful romance with soul mate Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Some complications interrupt his happy-go-lucky routine and he soon finds himself in a bad way. He finds teenage mutant Russell (Julian Dennison) with flames for fists that he struggles to protect from future traveling soldier Cable (Josh Brolin, summer 2018’s villain du jour). Deadpool also assembles a motley crew of a team known as X-Force (which even he knows is a derivative monicker). For those who’ve witnessed our hero in action before, we know that none of this is exactly pulled off with expert precision. It is a joy to welcome back some of his unconventional crime fighting partners, particularly Karan Soni’s taxi driving sidekick.
The first half of Deadpool2 is equipped with some humorous cameos and quips galore. And so is the second half. The difference is that for the first hour or so, the pic seems a bit unfocused and content to coast on its meta merits. It isn’t until some of the new characters motivations are explained that the follow-up gathers that needed focus. Once that happens, the gags work better. It also helps that the action sequences seem to jump up a notch towards the end.
One item that doesn’t change is the commitment that Reynolds brings to his beloved character. He clearly loves playing the part and it shows. Brolin, like his Thanos In Avengers: InfinityWar, plays an antagonist with some actually understandable motivation for the second time in a month. He’s no Thanos, but he’s a reasonably interesting dude. Part II delves more into Deadpool’s connection with the X-Men and occasionally in ways that induce well-earned laughter.
The originality factor that made Deadpool such a welcome addition to an always growing genre over can’t be replicated here. However, enough of the winking dirty charms we experienced in 2016 are present.
Since Disney took over the StarWars franchise, the three released pictures have combined for 11 Oscar nominations in the past three ceremonies. Let’s break them down, shall we?
StarWars: TheForceAwakens (2015)
Nominations: Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Visual Effects
RogueOne: AStarWarsStory (2016)
Nominations: Sound Mixing, Visual Effects
StarWars: TheLastJedi (2017)
Nominations: Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects
You will note 11 nods, but no wins for the multi-billion dollar series and that all recognition has been in technical races. This Memorial Day weekend, Solo: AStarWarsStory flies into theaters. So the question must be asked: will it manage to score some Academy love as well?
Solo has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating (71%) of the bunch. That could serve as a hindrance for even tech nods, especially with MCU heavy hitters like BlackPanther and Avengers: InfinityWar in the mix, among others.
Perhaps it could play in the Sound races and perhaps Visual Effects, but competition could potentially leave Solo as the solo entry in the franchise with no Oscar attention.
Last night, Deadpool 2 set the Thursday preview record for an R rated feature and the sequel could well be on its way to the best debut ever for a picture with that rating. It might be easy to forget now, but the original Deadpool in 2016 likely came close to receiving some Oscar nods. The pic did receive nominations for both the film itself and Ryan Reynolds for Best Actor in the Musical/Comedy races at the Golden Globes.
Many of the reviews for the sequel claim part two is an improvement on the first (though certainly not all). The original ended up at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and the follow-up currently sits at 85%. So it’s worth at least asking: could Deadpool 2 garner the Academy’s attention in a way that the first barely missed out on? The short answer is… probably not. No comic book adaptation has managed a Best Picture nomination and this won’t change that. On the other hand, Black Panther just might.
Furthermore, while many superhero adaptations like Panther and Avengers: Infinity War could play in the technical races, that doesn’t really hold true here. Bottom line: Deadpool 2 is highly unlikely to change this franchise receiving no love from Oscar voters.
This year’s opening selection for the Cannes Film Festival came with understandable questions about its Oscar possibilities. The Spanish language dramatic thriller EverybodyKnows, after all, is from director Asghar Farhadi and he’s made two winners in the Best Foreign Language Film category (2012’s ASeparation and last year’s TheSalesman). It stars two Academy recipients with real life spouses Javier Bardem (Supporting Actor in 2007 for NoCountryforOldMen) and Penelope Cruz (2008’s Supporting Actress in VickyChristinaBarcelona).
Yet the buzz out of France likely quashed any notions of Academy recognition. Critics say Knows isn’t in the league of Farhadi’s previous works. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is just 46% as of this writing.
Bottom line: the director is one of the few who’s created more than Foreign Language Oscar winner, but EverybodyKnows is in no position to be his third.
Paul Schrader’s First Reformed premiered at the Venice Film Festival last fall and it opens domestically in limited fashion tomorrow. The drama casts Ethan Hawke as a pastor grieving the death of his son in Iraq who becomes politically active in various matters. Costars include Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer (who goes by Cedric Kyles in this particular case). Reviews out of Italy were encouraging and as more critical notices have come out in recent days, the picture now stands at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Schrader has had a decades long career that includes serving as screenwriter for classics like Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and directing features including American Gigolo, Light Sleeper, and Affliction. Based on the buzz prior to its release tomorrow, Reformed stands as one of the filmmaker’s most acclaimed works.
Could Academy voters take notice? Distributor A24 certainly has it work cut out to keep it fresh in the minds of voters later this year. That said, praise has been effusive for Mr. Hawke and the studio could mount a strong campaign for him. If so, it would mark the actor’s second nomination after receiving a Supporting Actor nod in 2001 for Training Day.
The second stand-alone feature set in a galaxy far, far away – Solo: AStarWarsStory roars into multiplexes this Memorial Day Weekend. Alden Ehrenreich takes over the role of a young Han Solo in the part made iconic by Harrison Ford. Costars include Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover as Lando, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, and, of course, Chewbacca. Ron Howard serves behind the camera in a move that garnered much press attention when he took over from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. They exited the project after creative differences with Disney after months on the job.
Reviews out today are mostly positive with 73% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, that’s the lowest meter of the four entries since the vaunted franchise came back in 2015. Our first spin-off, 2016’s RogueOne, debuted with $155 million one year after the record-breaking grosses of StarWars: TheForceAwakens. These offshoots are not expected to reach the heights of the traditional “episodes”. Solo does certainly have the added bonus of returning a beloved character, even with the natural speculation and some cynicism about another actor playing him.
One thing seems fairly certain: Solo should have no trouble breaking the current Memorial Day record held by 2007’s PiratesoftheCaribbean: AtWorld’sEnd which made $139.8 million for its start. Given the extra day of grosses, Han and Chewie could exceed that by over $10 million.
Solo: AStarWarsStory opening weekend prediction: $151.3 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
It’s been almost 30 years since the Academy suffered a bit of backlash when Spike Lee’s DotheRightThing missed the cut of Best Picture nominees. Since then, the writer/director has had critical hits and misses and none of his joints have managed to score a nod for the top prize (including 1992’s acclaimed MalcolmX).
That could finally change as his latest, BlacKkKlansman, was unleashed today at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the true and amazing story of an African-American cop in the 1970s who infiltrated a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington (son of Lee’s frequent star Denzel) plays the role with a supporting cast that includes Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Corey Hawkins, Paul Walter Hauser, Harry Belafonte, and Topher Grace as David Duke. Blumhouse Productions (the studio behind last year’s GetOut) distributes with its director Jordan Peele as a producer. The film opens stateside this August.
Early buzz from the French Riviera indicates this is Lee’s strongest, most mainstream, and entertaining and timely movie in some time. It seems destined to receive plenty of attention later this summer.
Could that translate to a Best Picture nomination and one for Lee’s direction? The Cannes attention raises that prospect considerably. As for performances, Washington is getting very positive writeups. The same applies to Driver (playing Washington’s partner) and Grace as the former KKK head. Either one of them could see strong campaigns mounted in Supporting Actor. If I had to guess right now, Blumhouse might focus more on Driver.
Bottom line: BlacKkKlansman was one of the festival’s most eagerly awaited pictures and its unveiling today could lead to months long Oscar chatter.