May 24-27 Box Office Predictions

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:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/14/aladdin-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/15/brightburn-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/17/booksmart-box-office-prediction/

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 John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum 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 Pokemon Detective Pikachu 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:

1. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $74.8 million

2. John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum

Predicted Gross: $27 million

3. Avengers: Endgame

Predicted Gross: $22.5 million

4. Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Predicted Gross: $16.4 million

5. Brightburn

Predicted Gross: $10.7 million

6. Booksmart

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

Box Office Results (May 1719)

John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum 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 The Matrix Reloaded.

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, Pokemon Detective Pikachu was third with $25.1 million. I was right there at $25.2 million as it approaches the century mark with $94 million.

A Dog’s Journey flopped with just $8 million in fourth compared to my $11.8 million projection. That’s less than half of what predecessor A Dog’s Purpose achieved. Woof.

The Hustle rounded out the top five with $6.1 million (I said $7.1 million) for $23 million overall.

Finally, YA romance The Sun Is Also a Star had a dim start in eighth with just $2.5 million. I went higher at $5.5 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Happy Death Day 2U Movie Review

Happy Death Day 2U 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 Groundhog Day 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. Happy Death Day 2U 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 Back to the Future 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.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: The Lighthouse

Four years ago, Robert Eggers made his directorial debut with The Witch and it was a darling on the indie circuit and with critics. His eagerly awaited follow-up is The Lighthouse 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 The Lighthouse 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…

Booksmart Box Office Prediction

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 Lady Bird) 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

For my Aladdin prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/14/aladdin-box-office-prediction/

For my Brightburn prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/15/brightburn-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Rocketman

The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing over in France and the highest profile feature so far has screened (with Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 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 Bohemian Rhapsody. 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…

Brightburn Box Office Prediction

In a year filled with superhero tales, Brightburn adds a horror element when it opens over Memorial Day weekend. The low budget pic is a Gunn family affair with James (director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise) producing with a screenplay from his brothers Mark and Brian. David Yarovesky directs. The nifty trailer suggests a Superman style origin tale if Clark Kent turned out to be a homicidal maniac. Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, and Meredith Hagner star.

As mentioned, Brightburn comes with a tiny price tag estimated at $7 million. Therefore it should have no trouble turning a tidy profit. That said, a gross in the teens or above could be wishful thinking for Sony Pictures. The marketing campaign hasn’t been near as robust as other titles featuring superheroes (good or evil) and the film isn’t based on known source material.

I’ll say the forecasts of low double digits for its four-day holiday premiere is where this lands.

Brightburn opening weekend prediction: $10.7 million

For my Aladdin prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/14/aladdin-box-office-prediction/

For my Booksmart prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/17/booksmart-box-office-prediction/

Aladdin Box Office Prediction

The second of four live-action renderings of Disney animated features in 2019, Aladdin is wishing for bountiful box office returns over Memorial Day weekend. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the musical fantasy adventure casts Will Smith as the genie in a role made iconic in 1992 by Robin Williams. In the title role is Mena Massoud with Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. Costars include Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad, and Billy Magnussen.

Reaction to the teaser was mixed at best. The full trailer was better received. The film follows this spring’s Dumbo, which was a bit of a disappointment with a $45 million opening gross. The Lion King will follow later this summer with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in the year’s fourth quarter.

While there’s little doubt Aladdin will rule the holiday frame, it’s got a wide range of possibilities. The Mouse Factory’s largest start for one of its reimaginings was 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, which roared to $174 million. Don’t expect anywhere near that kind of number. Some forecasts are putting this in the $100 million four-day ballpark, but I have serious doubts about that.

I could actually see this performing similarly to Mr. Smith’s other Memorial Day opener – 2012’s MIB 3, which earned $69 million. For a Disney comp, there’s 2015’s Cinderella with its $67 million haul. Given that there’s an extra day involved, I’ll bump Aladdin up slightly.

Aladdin opening weekend prediction: $74.8 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Brightburn prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/15/brightburn-box-office-prediction/

For my Booksmart prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/17/booksmart-box-office-prediction/