Talk Show Hosts: A Movie History

At this year’s Oscars, there’s a very good chance that Oprah Winfrey will be nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. In that same category four years ago, Mo’Nique took home the statue for her work in another Lee Daniels drama, Precious. What do both of those women have in common? They are both former talk show hosts. Of course, Oprah has the distinction of having the most successful daytime talker of all time. Mo’Nique hosted “The Mo’Nique Show” on BET from 2009-2011.

This got me thinking about the rather high number of performers in film who parlayed their careers into the talk show circuit. In a number of these cases, this was done because that performer’s movie career wasn’t doing too well. In some cases, the results were positive. In others… well, not so much. Let’s take a look at some examples from both sides of the spectrum, shall we?

Positive Example: Jimmy Fallon

Mr. Fallon rose to prominence on “Saturday Night Live” before leaving the show to do what most successful SNL alum do: begin a film career. It didn’t turn out so well. Movies he headlined such as Fever Pitch and Taxi were financial failures. This led Fallon back to SNL producer Lorne Michaels when he took over the “Late Night” program from Conan O’Brien. And now Jimmy will be taking over for Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” this February.

Negative Example: Chevy Chase

Another SNL alum who became famous on the program’s Weekend Update segment, Chase was a wildly popular movie star in the 1980s. Unfortunately, by the time the 1990s rolled around, his career was on the down slope. The FOX Network came calling and gave him his own 11:00PM talk show in 1993. “The Chevy Chase Show” failed miserably against his competition – Leno and Letterman. It was canceled after only five weeks.

Positive Example: Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen had already had a popular and groundbreaking sitcom, but when that program ended, her movie career never took off. Her one starring vehicle, Mr. Wrong in 1996, was a dud. DeGeneres would begin her own daytime chatfest, which has now been going for ten years strong.

Negative Example: Roseanne Barr

Like Ellen, Roseanne had a top-rated sitcom. Shortly after that show ended, she had her own daytime talker that never got off the ground and was canceled after struggling for two years. Her film career also never matched her TV sitcom days. 1989’s She-Devil costarring Meryl Streep, no less, was a critical and commercial disappointment.

Positive Example: Rosie O’Donnell

Ms. O’Donnell’s film career got off to a big start in the early 90s with A League of their Own and Sleepless in Seattle before hitting the brakes with duds like Exit to Eden. So, in 1996, she got herself a daytime show that ran for six successful seasons.

There are many other examples of film stars who have gone the talk show route. Whoopi Goldberg was a successful actress who can now be seen on “The View”. Chris Rock had an acclaimed HBO talk show and now can be seen palling around with the Grown Ups crew. Chelsea Handler is doing her E! hosting duties while popping up in This Means War and the upcoming The Familymoon with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Arsenio Hall just came back to talk show world after nearly two decades away. He first became famous as Eddie Murphy’s sidekick in Coming to America. 

Jon Stewart tried to have a film career with roles in Big Daddy and The Faculty before something called “The Daily Show” came around.

Dennis Miller is another SNL vet/Weekend Update anchor who had an HBO show after his movie career (Bordello of Blood anyone?) sputtered.

And then there’s the rare example of someone who started as a talk show host before becoming a major movie star. I give you Greg Kinnear. He started out hosting “Talk Soup” and then got a 1:30AM talk show following Conan on NBC in the 1990s. It didn’t last too long, though, because he was cast in Sydney Pollack’s Sabrina and two years later, was Oscar nominated for As Good As It Gets. Of course, “Talk Soup” became “The Soup” and is now hosted by Joel McHale, who’s appeared in Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted. Could he be the next talk show host turned big screen star?

And finally, we have Bill Maher, who hosted ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” and now HBO’s “Real Time”. However, people who really know their movie history might recall his starring role in 1991’s Pizza Man. No… seriously. This is for real.

Box Office Predictions: October 4-6

Alfonso Cuaron’s critically acclaimed sci-fi flick Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney should easily open at the #1 spot this weekend. I’m not expecting a whole lot of out the weekend’s other newbies, Runner Runner with Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck and the concert film Metallica Through the Never. You can find my individual prediction posts on all three here:

As for holdovers, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 came in well below my projection, grossing $34 million in its debut. A sophomore frame drop in the mid-30s seems likely while last weekend’s #2 and #3 Prisoners and Rush should fall in the high 30s-low 40s. With a debut on only approximately 650 screens, the Metallica pic should open well outside the top five.

And with that, my estimates for this coming weekend’s top five pics:

1. Gravity

Predicted Gross: $38.7 million

2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Predicted Gross: $21.8 million (representing a drop of 36%)

3. Runner Runner

Predicted Gross: $10.9 million

4. Prisoners

Predicted Gross: $6.2 million (representing a drop of 43%)

5. Rush

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million (representing a drop of 39%)

I’ll have a Saturday update on the blog’s Facebook page with final results Sunday!

Metallica Through The Never Box Office Prediction

It’s not just pop stars and boy bands that get concert films as Metallica Through the Never opens in wide-ish release this Friday. The pic features the legendary rockers performing while a subplot stars Chronicle actor Dane DeHaan as a roadie. It sounds like an interest concept for a movie and, so far, critical reaction has been very positive.

Still, it’s opening on a small 650 screens and this is certainly an example of a pic which will have a niche audience… namely, die-hard Metallica fans. I don’t see it getting much past the $3 million opening mark and I’ll say it doesn’t quite get there.

Metallica Through the Never opening weekend prediction: $2.8 million

For my prediction on Gravity, click here:

For my prediction on Runner Runner, click here:


Runner Runner Box Office Prediction

The “Suit&Tie” man and the future Batman team up for Runner Runner from Lincoln Lawyer director Brad Furman, opening Friday. Justin Timberlake is having about the best year you can imagine on the music charts and Ben Affleck saw his directorial effort Argo win Best Picture at the Oscars. He went on to receive loads of publicity (not all positive) when he was cast as Batman in the upcoming summer 2015 pic.

While this thriller set in the world of online poker certainly has famous faces populating it, I’m not sure that’ll translate to good box office. 20th Century Fox is certainly hoping the film’s gross “mirrors” JT’s music popularity, but the studio may want to “take back the night” they decided to open this against Gravity. That film will likely “TKO” Runner Runner at the multiplexes. The pic has received mostly negative reviews so far and I simply don’t see it gaining much traction.

Let’s get to the prediction before I figure out a way to incorporate “Seniorita” into a bad pun, shall we?

Runner Runner opening weekend prediction: $10.9 million

For my prediction post on Gravity, click here:

For my Metallica Through the Never prediction, click here:

Gravity Box Office Prediction

It’s got an incredible 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes so far. It features Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. It’s directed by visionary filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. The guy who’s directed the two top grossing pictures of all time, James Cameron, says it’s brilliant. The film is already being mentioned as not only being nominated for Best Picture, but possibly winning it.

This Friday comes Gravity, the eagerly awaited lost in space pic that seems primed for a healthy debut and a nice run in subsequent weekends. How big could it open? Well, it’s got a few things in its favor. I would imagine a lot of moviegoers will choose to see it in 3D Imax where tickets prices will be higher. Gravity has a brief 90 minute run time which allows more showings per theater.

The figure $40 million has been thrown around for a debut and that is certainly possible. I’m predicting it’ll get mighty close to that figure, but not quite reach it. Still, Gravity should enjoy smallish declines weekend to weekend if the critical and awards buzz translates to audience members.

Gravity opening weekend prediction: $38.7 million

For my Runner Runner prediction, click here:

For my Metallica Through the Never prediction, click here:

Box Office Results: September 27-29

As expected, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 took the top spot at the box office this weekend, but it did not have the biggest September debut of all time as I incorrectly predicted. The animated sequel earned $35 million, good for the fourth highest opening of the month. This was well below my $48.1M projection.

Last weekend’s champ Prisoners fell a bit further than I anticipated grossing $11.2 million for second place (I predicted $12.7M). The rest of the top five was filled with newcomers as Ron Howard’s Rush got the bronze prize with a muted $10.3 million opening, well below my generous $17.2M projection. I did better with my estimates for the four and five spots as the Paula Patton romantic comedy Baggage Claim was fourth with $9.3 million (I said $9.5M) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon was fifth with $9 million (just above my $8M projection).

Be sure to check the blog later today for my projection for next weekend’s trio of newbies: Gravity, Runner Runner, and Metallica Through the Never.


Box Office Predictions: September 27-29

After a fairly toned down last three weekends in which only five new pictures premiered, the floodgates open this coming weekend with four new wide releases: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Ron Howard’s Formula One racing flick Rush, the Paula Patton romantic comedy Baggage Claim, and Don Jon, which marks Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut.

You can find my individual prediction posts on each right here:

Unless any of the new entries fall below $6.5 million (which is about what Insidious: Chapter 2 may make in its third weekend), the four new pics should all populate the top five. I’m predicting that they will. That leaves Prisoners in its second weekend as the only predicted holdover and it should fall no more than 40% in its sophomore frame.

And with that, my prognosis for the weekend’s top five:

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Predicted Gross: $48.1 million

2. Rush

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million

3. Prisoners

Predicted Gross: $12.7 million (representing a drop of 39%)

4. Baggage Claim

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million

5. Don Jon

Predicted Gross: $8 million

I’ll have updates posted on the blog’s Facebook page Saturday with final results on the blog Sunday!

Baggage Claim Box Office Prediction

Movies like Baggage Claim are the type that drive box office prognosticators like me crazy. It’s marketed primarily toward an African-American female audience and those pictures tend to debut higher than expected. It stars Mrs. Robin Thicke (and Alan Thicke’s daughter-in-law) Paula Patton, Djimon Hounsou, and Taye Diggs and the romantic comedy aims to bring in the kind of numbers that Jumping the Broom did two years ago. That film also starred Patton and greatly exceeded expectations with a $15 million opening. Could lightning strike twice?

It wouldn’t surprise me at all, but Baggage Claim is the kind of flick that could make $5 million in its opening or $15 million. It could open on par with Jumping the Broom or just as easily suffer the fate that Tyler Perry Presents Peeples did this summer. That pic was marketed toward the same audience and bombed with a $4.6 million debut. I’ll be honest here. I think Claim is probably going to open on the lower end of the possibility scale, but I’m hedging my bets by going in the middle.

Baggage Claim opening weekend prediction: $9.5 million

For my Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 prediction, click here:

For Rush, click here:

For Don Jon, click here:

Don Jon Box Office Prediction

Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his directorial debut and stars in Don Jon, an R rated romantic comedy that seems to be generating mostly positive reviews so far. The actor has certainly seen his share of box office hits in the last few years with Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Looper. He couldn’t help Premium Rush turn into a hit last year, on the other hand.

Don Jon costars Scarlett Johannson and Julianne Moore, not to mention Tony Danza (!) as Gordon-Levitt’s father. With a mere $5 million budget, Jon shouldn’t have any trouble making its money back but competition should hurt this from breaking out of the pack. Young adult audiences should still be seeing Prisoners in its second weekend and Rush in its debut frame. I don’t see this reaching double digits, unless females turn out at a higher than expected rate. I’m skeptical – Don Jon appears to be no Magic Mike.

Don Jon opening weekend prediction: $8 million

For my prediction on Rush, click here:

For my Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 forecast, click here:

For Baggage Claim, click here:

Rush Box Office Prediction

Can a 1970s era true-life sports flick about Formula One racing break out of the pack and become a box office hit? Indicators are beginning to point towards yes but whether Rush has a big opening is very much an open question.

Ron Howard’s pic starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl screened at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month to mostly rave reviews. Critics say this one is an audience pleaser, but you have to wonder what kind of opening the solid buzz will translate to. Rush seems more destined to have a decent debut followed by relatively small dropoffs in subsequent weekends. For comparisons sake, Moneyball opened two years ago to similar buzz with a $19.5 million start. However, that title featured Brad Pitt and was about baseball. Yes, Rush has Thor himself with Hemsworth, but he’s no Pitt and certainly Formula One racing does not have the broad appeal that baseball does.

Still, the film has been well-publicized and I am predicting that Rush falls just a couple million under the opening of the aforementioned picture.

Rush opening weekend prediction: $17.2 million

For my prediction on the opening for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, click here:

For my Don Jon prediction, click here:

For my Baggage Claim prediction, click here: