American Made Box Office Prediction

Tom Cruise’s box office fortunes have taken a turn for the worse recently with two flops in less than a year – Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and this summer’s The Mummy. The star will attempt to turn that around next weekend with American Made.

The true life crime pic reunites Cruise with his Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman and finds him playing Barry Seal, pilot turned drug smuggler for the Medellin cartel in the 1980s. Costars include Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, and Jesse Plemons. Unlike his two previous pictures, Made is receiving positive reviews with a current 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

That positive word-of-mouth might help, but I could also see Made opening somewhat lightly with hopes of smallish declines in subsequent weekends. Unlike most of Cruise’s recent work, this isn’t an action or sci-fi project that audiences have become accustomed to seeing him in during recent years. Its box office potential should rely solely on his drawing power (which has waned) and the approving critical notices.

I’ll estimate that American Made generates a mid teens debut.

American Made opening weekend prediction: $15.5 million



Box Office Predictions: September 22-24

The two-week reign of Pennywise atop the box office looks to float away this weekend as three new pictures debut: Matthew Vaughn’s action/comedy sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, animated action/comedy spin-off The Lego Ninjago Movie, and supernatural horror flick Friend Request. You can view my detailed individual prediction posts on each here:

There is some question as to whether Kingsman or Ninjago take the top spot. I’m estimating the former will outdo the latter by approximately $5 million.

The continued amazing grosses of It could mean that three movies will top $30 million this weekend, but that demented clown should be right on the edge of that gross with an anticipated drop of around 50%.

American Assassin should slip to fourth place and I have Friend Request managing to round out the top five, albeit with a muted debut.

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

1. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Predicted Gross: $43.6 million

2. The Lego Ninjago Movie

Predicted Gross: $38.6 million

3. It

Predicted Gross: $29.8 million (representing a drop of 50%)

4. American Assassin

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million (representing a drop of 53%)

5. Friend Request

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million

Box Office Results (September 15-17) 

It continued its startling run after its record breaking opening with $60.1 million in its second weekend, in line with my $59M forecast. The juggernaut has amassed an incredible $218 million in its ten days of existence.

American Assassin with Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton was runner-up with a respectable $14.8 million, topping my $13.2M prediction. That might not be enough to justify a franchise, but you never know.

Darren Aronofsky’s instantly controversial mother! with Jennifer Lawrence sputtered in third with $7.5 million. I was considerably higher with a $14.7M projection. While critics were mostly kind (68% on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences rendered their verdict with both their money and CinemaScore grade (an F, which is practically unprecedented). Expect mother! to take a massive tumble this coming weekend as well with the toxic word-of-mouth.

Reese Witherspoon’s Home Again held up decently in its sophomore weekend at #4 with $5.1 million compared to my $4.5M estimate. The rom com has grossed nearly $17 million so thus far.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard was fifth with $3.5 million (I said $2.6M) to bring its total to $70 million.

And that does it for now, ladies and gents! Until next time…

Friend Request Box Office Prediction

It’s been a big year for horror flicks and Warner Bros is hoping its recent success in the genre extends to Friend Request, opening next weekend. The social media related supernatural pic is from director Simon Verhoeven (fun fact: Wikipedia is currently listing Denis Villeneuve as the man behind the camera… not remotely true). The young cast includes Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, and Brit Morgan.

Friend Request is hitting a surprisingly high 3000 screens as it has some serious competition preventing audiences from liking it. Box Office phenomenon It (also WB) will be in its third weekend and still posting hefty grosses. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is premiering and targeting younger moviegoers as well. I don’t believe the $15 million debut of the similarly plotted Unfriended from 2015 is possible.

I’ll estimate moviegoers generally don’t respond to this Request with an opening between $5-6 million.

Friend Request opening weekend prediction: $5.7 million

For my Kingsman: The Golden Circle prediction, click here:

For my The Lego Ninjago Movie prediction, click here:

It Comes at Night Movie Review

It Comes at Night is a bleak, brisk, sometimes effective horror thriller that’s well-acted and filmed. The decision to not overly explain the events causing the characters to be holed up in a house together seems wise. However, when the credits roll, you might find yourself asking it that’s all there is.

Trey Edward Shults writes and directs this tale of a world gone to hell. A nasty and unexplained outbreak has seemingly wiped out a hefty portion of the world’s population. If you become symptomatic, you need to be put down. That’s how we’re introduced to Paul (Joel Edgerton), wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and 17 year-old boy Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) as they do what they have to with Sarah’s ill father.

The family lives in their boarded up home with one entrance/exit. Days are spent rationing food and water. Their sad existence is interrupted one evening by intruder Will (Christopher Abbott), who assumes the house is vacant. He’s seeking shelter for his family – wife Kim (Riley Keough) and their toddler son. The family ends up moving in and for a brief time everything seems ok.

Deserved kudos go out to Shults for crafting a screenplay that doesn’t burden itself with explaining the plague that’s put everyone in that house. This story is more about how the characters function in that claustrophobic existence. Travis is a teenager with attractive young woman Kim all of a sudden present. Paul is always cognizant that you can’t trust anyone beyond family.

Night is a slow burn of distrust and eerie atmosphere that eventually reaches a conclusion you both dread and suspect. Shults is clearly a talented filmmaker, but I can’t deny the feeling that the picture ends up feeling a bit slight and too simplistic. It’s not without its cliches (there’s a family dog that you just know will factor in). There’s a dream sequence over reliance. No fault belongs with the actors who are all solid. Edgerton again proves he can nail an intense performance.

Genre fans will probably find enough to admire here, but Night comes in effective spurts and not a totally cohesive whole.

**1/2 (out of four)

Todd’s 2017 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 14th Edition

We’ve arrived at my second round of weekly Oscar predictions that will come your way every Thursday on the blog! Since last week, a number of titles have screened at the Toronto Film Festival, in addition to the Venice and Telluride fests that preceded it.

As I did last week, I will list my current predicted nominees in the eight biggest races with a total of 25 possibilities for Best Picture and 15 in the others. Beginning today, you’ll be able to see the fluctuation in rankings from last week to the current one and see what and who has joined and dropped out. Once again, rankings reflect who and what I think will be nominated and not necessarily win.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Post (PR: 2)

3. Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

4. The Shape of Water (PR: 7)

5. Mudbound (PR: 4)

6. Battle of the Sexes (PR: 6)

7. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 5)

8. Last Flag Flying (PR: 10)

9. The Greatest Showman (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Phantom Thread (PR: 11)

11. Downsizing (PR: 8)

12. Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 16)

13. Wonder Wheel (PR: 12)

14. Detroit (PR: 14)

15. mother! (PR: 13)

16. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 15)

17. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 18)

18. Wonderstruck (PR: 17)

19. Coco (PR: 19)

20. Get Out (PR: 20)

21. Lady Bird (PR: 22)

22. Wind River (PR: 21)

23. The Florida Project (PR: Not Ranked)

24. I, Tonya (PR: Not Ranked)

25. Wonder Woman (PR: 23)

Dropped Out:

Molly’s Game

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Steven Spielberg, The Post (PR: 2)

3. Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water (PR: 6)

4. Joe Wright, Darkest Hour (PR: 4)

5. Dee Rees, Mudbound (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 5)

7. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 7)

8. Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 8)

9. Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread (PR: 10)

10. Richard Linklater, Last Flag Flying (PR: 12)

11. Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit (PR: 11)

12. Alexander Payne, Downsizing (PR: 9)

13. Michael Gracey, The Greatest Showman (PR: 14)

14. Darren Aronofsky, mother! (PR: 13)

15. Woody Allen, Wonder Wheel (PR: 15)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour (PR: 1)

2. Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread (PR: 2)

3. Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman (PR: 3)

4. Tom Hanks, The Post (PR: 4)

5. Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 5)

7. Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq. (PR: 15)

8. Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 6)

9. Domhnall Gleeson, Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 7)

10. Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 9)

11. Donald Sutherland, The Leisure Seeker (PR: 12)

12. Andrew Garfield, Breathe (PR: 11)

13. Bryan Cranston, Last Flag Flying (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Matt Damon, Downsizing (PR: 10)

15. Liam Neeson, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Renner, Wind River

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 1)

2. Meryl Streep, The Post (PR: 2)

3. Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 5)

4. Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel (PR: 4)

5. Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game (PR: 3)

7. Margot Robbie, I, Tonya (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul (PR: 10)

9. Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird (PR: 9)

10. Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (PR: 7)

11. Daniela Vega, A Fantastic Woman (PR: 8)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, mother! (PR: 13)

13. Diane Kruger, In the Fade (PR: 12)

14. Jane Fonda, Our Souls at Night (PR: 15)

15. Carey Mulligan, Mudbound (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Isabelle Huppert, Happy End

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project (PR: 1)

2. Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 4)

3. Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 3)

4. Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour (PR: 2)

5. Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Mitchell, Mudbound (PR: 8)

7. Mark Rylance, Dunkirk (PR: 5)

8. Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 6)

9. Laurence Fishburne, Last Flag Flying (PR: 9)

10. James Franco, The Disaster Artist (PR: 10)

11. Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Patrick Stewart, Logan (PR: 12)

13. Will Poulter, Detroit (PR: 14)

14. Jamie Bell, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Harrison Ford, Blade Runner 2049 (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Idris Elba, Molly’s Game

Woody Harrelson, The Glass Castle

Christoph Waltz, Downsizing

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Melissa Leo, Novitiate (PR: 1)

2. Hong Chau, Downsizing (PR: 2)

3. Allison Janney, I, Tonya (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water (PR: 4)

5. Kristin Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Margot Robbie, Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 6)

7. Mary J. Blige, Mudbound (PR: 5)

8. Michelle Pfeiffer, mother! (PR: 7)

9. Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird (PR: 11)

10. Julianne Moore, Suburbicon (PR: 13)

11. Holly Hunter, The Big Sick (PR: 14)

12. Brooklyn Prince, The Florida Project (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Kirsten Dunst, The Beguiled (PR: 9)

14. Tatiana Maslany, Stronger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Millicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Michelle Williams, The Greatest Showman

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Juno Temple, Wonder Wheel

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Post (PR: 1)

2. Mudbound (PR: 2)

3. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 3)

4. Last Flag Flying (PR: 4)

5. Wonderstruck (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Molly’s Game (PR: 5)

7. Stronger (PR: 12)

8. Victoria and Abdul (PR: 8)

9. The Beguiled (PR: 9)

10. You Were Never Really Here (PR: 7)

11. The Disaster Artist (PR: 10)

12. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 11)

13. Wonder (PR: 13)

14. My Cousin Rachel (PR: 14)

15. Logan (PR: 15)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Darkest Hour (PR: 1)

2. Battle of the Sexes (PR: 2)

3. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 6)

5. Wonder Wheel (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Get Out (PR: 7)

7. Phantom Thread (PR: 8)

8. Dunkirk (PR: 9)

9. Downsizing (PR: 5)

10. Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 15)

11. Lady Bird (PR: 11)

12. The Big Sick (PR: 10)

13. mother! (PR: 13)

14. The Greatest Showman (PR: 14)

15. The Florida Project (PR: 12)

And there you have it, folks! Expect more Oscar Watch posts to come your way and my next full predictions next Thursday…

Oscar Watch – Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

It’s been nearly 25 years since Liam Neeson received his one and only Oscar nomination for playing Oskar Schindler in 1993’s Schindler’s List. He’s had acclaimed roles since then (2004’s Kinsey being a notable one). To younger moviegoers, he may just be known as the brooding action hero from the Taken franchise and others. Yet Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House had prognosticators like me take notice when it screened at the Toronto Film Festival.

The film casts Neeson as the title character, the real-life FBI man who was revealed decades later to be Deep Throat. Felt provided the invaluable intel that resulted in President Nixon’s resignation. Peter Landesman directs with a supporting cast that includes Diane Lane, Tony Goldwyn, Bruce Greenwood, Ike Barinholtz, and Michael C. Hall.

While reviews for Neeson’s work here have been solid, reaction to the picture itself has been rather lackluster. It stands at just 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, Neeson is the only possibility at all for Academy chatter. That appears to be a long shot.  The film fest season of the past couple weeks has provided a couple names with better chances like Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq. and Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger. That’s in addition to the assured nomination of Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, not to mention plenty of other contenders whose movies haven’t screened.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Lego Ninjago Movie Box Office Prediction

The second spin-off from 2014’s blockbuster (get it?) The Lego Movie, next weekend we have The Lego Ninjago Movie. It’s based on the popular toy line with a martial arts flavor. The animated action/comedy features the voices of Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Pena, Fred Armisen, Olivia Munn, and Jackie Chan.

Ninjago will attempt to retain a good portion of the family audience and Lego lovers that populated The Lego Movie. That feature opened to $69 million in February 2014 with an eventual $257M domestic haul. First spin-off The Lego Batman Movie couldn’t quite match those numbers. It made $53 million for its start and ended up with $175M.

My feeling is that this will continue the downward trend, but still post respectable earnings. It will also have the benefit of having nothing in the way of major family audience competition for several weeks, so holdovers could be pleasing. As for its opening, Ninjago could find itself in a fierce battle for #1 with Kingsman: The Golden Circle. It’s also worth mentioning that It will only be in weekend #3 and still posting big numbers.

The Lego version of Batman was off nearly 25% out of the gate from The Lego Movie. If you applied that here, we’re talking an approximate $40 million debut. That sounds just about right and perhaps a tad under.

The Lego Ninjago Movie opening weekend prediction: $38.6 million

For my Kingsman: The Golden Circle prediction, click here:

For my Friend Request prediction, click here:

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Box Office Prediction

British spies join forces with their American counterparts in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to the 2015 action/comedy hit Kingsman: The Secret Service. Matthew Vaughn is back directing with returning stars Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, and Mark Strong. We also have some new but very familiar faces that include Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, and even Elton John!

Two and a half years ago, the original hit its mark with both critics and moviegoers. Opening to $36 million, The Secret Service went on to gross $128M overall domestically. With the relatively small gap between the sequel and its predecessor, I don’t see sequelitis kicking in here.

Circle could find itself in a real battle for the #1 spot with The Lego Ninjago Movie. Both pictures are expected to post debuts in the low to mid 40s. There’s also the third weekend of It to consider, as it still should be raking in plenty of cash.

I’ll project that the second go-round for the Kingsman (and now the Statesman) debuts about $7 million above the first.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle opening weekend prediction: $43.6 million

For my The Lego Ninjajo Movie prediction, click here:

For my Friend Request prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: Roman J. Israel, Esq.

The reaction to the film itself was mixed, but Denzel Washington has increased his chances for an eighth Oscar nomination for Roman J. Israel, Esq. The legal drama is director Dan Gilroy’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2014 pic Nightcrawler (which is one of my favorite movies of the last few years). Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo costar.

As mentioned, reviews from its Toronto Film Festival screening have not all been positive (it’s at 71% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). Yet critics have singled out Denzel’s work here. His inclusion in Best Actor might be its only chance at Academy recognition. Gilroy could land an Original Screenplay nod (as he did for Nightcrawler), but that race is already looking busy.

Mr. Washington has won twice – for Supporting Actor in 1989’s Glory and lead in 2001’s Training Day. Just last year, he probably came very close to getting his third for Fences (he lost to Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea).

In my intital round of predictions last Thursday, I had the performer playing the title character here ranked 15th. He’ll be ranked higher in the second round on Thursday.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Breathe

Andrew Garfield goes for his second Best Actor Oscar nod in a row with Breathe, which has screened at the Toronto Film Festival. In it, Garfield plays a man diagnosed with polio who becomes a disabilities advocate. The drama marks the directorial debut of Andy Serkis, known most for giving life to CG creations in the Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes franchises. Other stars include Claire Foy and Hugh Bonneville.

Early reviews haven’t been too positive, but they’ve pointed out it wears its Oscar hopes on its sleeve. It’s been compared to The Theory of Everything, which did win Eddie Redmayne a statue. With Best Actor looking like it has some open slots (for now), a strong campaign could give Garfield nod #2 after last year’s Hacksaw Ridge. Yet the troubling reviews won’t help.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…