Oscar Watch: Bohemian Rhapsody

The review embargo is officially lapsed for next weekend’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the highly publicized Queen biopic headlined by Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. Critical reaction appears to mostly match the social media buzz that emerged a couple of weeks back.

In short – Malek gives a bravura performance as the legendary frontman while the picture itself is more of a mixed and conventional bag. At the moment, its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at just 50%. Don’t expect this to come anywhere near a Best Picture nod. In my weekly prediction posts, I’ve had this hovering in the bottom rungs of 25 possibilities. I anticipate it falling out completely on Thursday.

Malek, on the other hand, is still viable. He could especially find himself making the final five if Rhapsody soars at the box office. Yet I believe it’s a legitimate question as to whether the reviews risk pushing him out of contention.

Bottom line: Bohemian getting Best Picture attention isn’t real life. That’s just fantasy, but Malek’s nomination could still happen.

The film opens November 2. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Bohemian Rhapsody Box Office Prediction

In the United States, famed British band Queen had two #1 hits with “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Next weekend, a biopic of its legendary lead singer Freddie Mercury is likely to top box office charts when Bohemian Rhapsody debuts. Named after one of their signature tunes (used memorably in 1992’s Wayne’s World), Rami Malek stars as Mercury. The supporting cast includes Lucy Boynton, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, Joseph Mazzello, and Wayne Campbell himself – Mike Myers. The film shares credit for its directors, as original filmmaker Bryan Singer was replaced well into the shooting schedule with Dexter Fletcher. That move attracted plenty of publicity.

With its well-received and rocking trailers, Rhapsody appears poised to knock off Michael Myers from #1 when it opens. It certainly has breakout potential due to familiarity with the band, but it could also leg out well if it achieves positive audience word-of-mouth. Reviews will be out shortly, but early buzz suggests the picture is a bit of a mixed bag while Malek’s portrayal of Mercury could generate Oscar attention.

I’ll say this starts its cinematic journey in the high 20s range.

Bohemian Rhapsody opening weekend prediction: $28 million

Oscar Watch: The Kindergarten Teacher

The Kindergarten Teacher premiered way back in January at the Sundance Film Festival and Maggie Gyllenhaal received raves for her role. Netflix snatched it up and it premiered on the streaming service October 12th. Sara Colangelo directs with a supporting cast including Parker Sevak, Anna Baryshnikov, and Gael Garcia Bernal. Any awards focus, however, will solely be on its star.

With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 89%, the film is garnering greater exposure now with its release. Could Gyllenhaal be a nominee in the Best Actress race? Despite heralded performances in Secretary and Sherrybaby, she has yet to be nominated in the lead category. Gyllenhaal did receive a Supporting Actress nod in 2009 for Crazy Heart. Coupled with her acclaimed work in HBO’s “The Deuce”, it’s been a good year for the actress. Yet I still suspect she’ll be on the outside looking in considering competition.

That said, Gyllenhaal is likely to appear in the bottom portions of my top 15 projections in my weekly Oscar predictions on Thursday. It would mark her first appearance thus far.

Bottom line: despite high marks, it would be a surprise to see Gyllenhaal score her first nomination in Best Actress. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Box Office Predictions: October 26-28

Jamie Lee Curtis and her long running nemesis Michael Myers should have no trouble topping the box office charts once again as a trio of newcomers enter the marketplace. They are the Gerard Butler action thriller Hunter Killer, Pure Flix drama Indivisible, and Rowan Atkinson comedy sequel Johnny English Strikes Again. You can peruse my individual prediction posts on them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/16/hunter-killer-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/22/indivisible-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/17/johnny-english-strikes-again-box-office-prediction/

Let’s deal with the low hanging fruit first. I don’t expect Indivisible or English to come anywhere near the top 5 with respective estimates of $1.7 million and $1.3 million.

We also have Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s expanding into wide release after a four screen engagement this past weekend. A theater count will be key here, but if it gets 1000 screens I’ll say it hits around $3.6 million (this could rise or fall depending on volume).

Hunter Killer is a trickier proposition. It doesn’t seem to be generating much buzz, but recent Butler pics such as Geostorm and Den of Thieves have both managed to go slightly above projections. It’s tempting to say Killer won’t do double digits, but I’m putting it just over that for what would be a fourth place showing (though it could go higher).

Speaking of killers, Michael Myers and his Halloween sequel slashed its way to the second largest October opening of all time (behind Venom) and second highest horror premiere ever (behind It). I’ll say it dips around 53% for the weekend.

A Star Is Born and Venom seem poised to keep their 2-3 positions with Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween rounding out the top five.

And with that, the top 5 estimates for the weekend ahead:

1. Halloween

Predicted Gross: $35.4 million

2. A Star Is Born

Predicted Gross: $13.1 million

3. Venom

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

4. Hunter Killer

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

5. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million

Box Office Results (October 19-21)

As mentioned, Halloween achieved near record-setting status this weekend with a fantastic $76.2 million start, right in line with my $75.4 million prediction. It easily soared above the previous franchise record with $50 million to spare. That mark was held by Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake at $26 million.

A Star Is Born kept the runner-up spot for the third weekend with $19 million (I said $19.2 million) to bring its earnings to $126 million.

After two weeks on top, Venom dipped to third place with $18 million (I was a tad lower at $16.9 million) for a three-week tally of $171 million.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween was fourth with $9.7 million (I said $9.4 million) for a two-week gross of $28 million.

First Man continued its disappointing returns in fifth with $8.3 million – under my $10 million take. In two weeks, it’s earned an unimpressive $29 million.

Critically acclaimed The Hate U Give expanded wide with a solid $7.6 million for sixth place, getting past my $6.7 million estimate.

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

Indivisible Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (10/22/18): Hours after publication of this post, a theater count of approximately 830 screens was revealed. That means a revision down from $1.7 million to just $1 million

The latest Pure Flix drama Indivisible hits theaters this weekend and the faith-based pic is likely to follow in the footsteps of the studio’s most recent output. It’s the true story of an Army chaplain stationed in Iraq. David G. Evans directs with a cast including Justin Bruening, Sarah Drew, Jason Winston George, Madeline Carroll, and Michael O’Neill. I’m not sure how much of a coincidence it is, but many of the actors here have appeared on the long-running ABC hit “Grey’s Anatomy”.

We don’t have a theater count yet on Indivisible and that will be a determining factor in my prediction. However, looking at recent Pure Flix material, 1300-1600 screens is probable. That would fall in line with four of their releases in the past year: Same Kind of Different as Me, Samson, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, and last month’s Unbroken: Path to Redemption. Between those four pictures, their opening weekend grosses ranged between a consistent $1.9-$2.6 million. If this were to debut with less screens that, my forecast will be revised down.

I see no major reason to alter the formula much here. I’ll go on the lower end of that small spectrum since it’s not a sequel like God’s Not Dead and Unbroken. 

Indivisible opening weekend prediction: $1 million

For my Hunter Killer prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/16/hunter-killer-box-office-prediction/

For my Johnny English Strikes Again prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/17/johnny-english-strikes-again-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Stan & Ollie

Stan & Ollie has just closed out the London Film Festival and reviews are piling up. The film centers on legendary comedy duo Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) in the waning times of their career. Jon S. Baird directs with a screenplay from Jeff Pope, who was nominated for his adapted screenplay along with Mr. Coogan five years ago for Philomena.

Most early reviews indicate this a winner. Some point out flaws in the picture itself, though praise appears to be unanimous for its two leads. Distributor Entertainment One has reportedly made the choice to campaign for Coogan and Reilly in the lead Actor race at the Oscars. That could be tricky. That category is already looking very crowded. Beyond that, the two could cancel each other out. Additionally, Reilly faces competition with himself when you include his performance in The Sisters Brothers.

Bottom line: I don’t see Stan & Ollie as a factor in Best Picture. In a weaker year, Best Actor (for Reilly especially) could be reachable, but is more of a long shot. Pope could find himself in the mix for Original Screenplay if this gets enough exposure, but that also appears unlikely right now. Its best chance at any nod may well be Makeup & Hairstyling with Reilly’s transformation into Hardy.

Stan & Ollie opens December 28 stateside in limited release. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Passion Movie Review

Brian De Palma dips into his old bag of tricks once again with Passion, resurrecting his exercises in stylistic silliness. From Dressed to Kill to Body Double to Femme Fatale, it’s the director’s return to what could be described as Hitchschlockian. His affinity for the Master of Suspense has been evident for decades. Unlike Hitchcock, his homages come with a hard R rating and an increased level of the ridiculous. De Palma is winking hard here with throwbacks to past uses of split screen, which is used memorably in a ballet sequence mixed with blood. If only the whole thing were more consistently enjoyable.

The character of Christine (Rachel McAdams) is one that’s basically required to smoke cigarettes and she does. She’s an ad exec with limitless ambition and a do whatever it takes attitude. Her assistant Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) appears more quiet and reserved, but it turns out she’s ruthless as well. She’s having an affair with Christine’s beau (Paul Anderson) and that dynamic creates all kinds of melodrama as Christine wants her in that way as well. It all comes with a heaping of the sleaze De Palma is known for gleefully wallowing in. Karoline Herfurth plays Isabelle’s subordinate who also has a massive crush on her. Essentially, everyone has a thing for Isabelle. Rapace is stuck with the more subdued role while McAdams gets to have a good time with her over the top part.

Dressed to Kill is easily the filmmaker’s finest work in this genre. Nothing has really come close since, but all follow-ups certainly have their flashes of depraved fun. That applies to Passion, but it takes too long to get there. For De Palma aficionados, the nostalgic payoffs don’t really begin until that screen splits and twists start to follow. Unfortunately that’s about an hour into the proceedings. By then, even De Palma’s most ardent fans burning for Passion might have subsided a bit.

**1/2 (out of four)