Box Office Predictions: May 30-June 1

The summer season keeps the potential blockbusters coming as the Disney tale Maleficent with Angelina Jolie and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted follow-up A Million Ways to Die in the West make their debuts this Friday. You can find my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

I expect both newbies to post healthy debuts, though I expect Maleficent to take in nearly double the haul of A Million Ways. As for holdovers, the Memorial Day weekend champ X-Men: Days of Future Past got off to an impressive start and yet it’s likely to suffer a drop in the high 50s to low 60s in its sophomore weekend. This is not a sign that audiences that don’t like it (quite the contrary). It’s just that tent pole pics that debut over the holiday weekend always tend to suffer large drop-offs. If X-Men were to fall at the rate I anticipate, there could be a potential horse race between it and A Million Ways for the #2 position.

Godzilla (in weekend three) and Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore flop Blended (in weekend two) should round out the top five.

And with that – my predictions for the weekend’s top five:

1. Maleficent

Predicted Gross: $66.2 million

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Predicted Gross: $37.1 million (representing a drop of 58%)

3. A Million Ways to Die in the West

Predicted Gross: $33.6 million

4. Godzilla

Predicted Gross: $14.2 million (representing a drop of 54%)

5. Blended

Predicted Gross: $9.6 million (representing a drop of 32%)

Box Office Results (May 23-26)

The Memorial Day weekend saw the X-Men franchise post its second highest debut ever as Days of Future Past earned $110.5 million over the four-day. This is just slightly below my $114.3M estimate. Only 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand debuted stronger and this bodes well for future X adventures.

Meanwhile Godzilla fell further in its second weekend than nearly everyone figured with $38.4 million, well under my $50.6M projection. This indicates that audiences are not impressed with what they saw and aren’t recommending their friends see it. Still it’s earned enough to justify an inevitable sequel.

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore posted very lackluster results with their rom com Blended, which earned just $17.7 million over the holiday. I thought my estimate of $24.9M was on the low side, but audiences clearly weren’t too interested in what they were selling.

Rounding out the top five were holdovers Neighbors with $17.1 million (a bit under my $18.8M projection) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with $10 million (just under my $11M estimate).

That’s all for now folks!


Summer 2004: The Top Ten Hits and More

As we’re moving deep into the 2014 Summer Movie Season – on this here blog I’ve been reflecting on what has come in the summers before us. Days ago, I wrote a post reflecting on the hits, notable pictures, and flops from 20 years ago in 1994. Today – we focus on the season from a decade ago with 2004’s summer entries.

We’ll start with the Top Ten, but what is notable is some of the comedies that weren’t on that list that spawned endless catchphrases and became massive cult classics:

Onto the Top Ten:

10. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Domestic Gross: $114 million

Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller teamed up for this well-received sports comedy which received 70% positive support on Rotten Tomatoes. While this was a solid hit, Vaughn’s biggest comedy would come one summer later with a certain pic costarring Owen Wilson.

9. Fahrenheit 9/11

Domestic Gross: $119 million

It’s not often you see a documentary in the top ten summer hits, but in the summer of 2004 the country was focused on an upcoming Presidential election between Bush and Kerry. Michael Moore’s examination of the Iraq War struck a chord with viewers and became the highest grossing documentary of all time.

8. Van Helsing

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Don’t let its #8 ranking fool you because Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman was considered a major flop upon release. With a reported $160 million budget, it couldn’t recoup that stateside and a potential franchise for Jackman stalled immediately. Good thing he’s got another character he can go back to time and time again.

7. Troy

Domestic Gross: $133 million

Wolfgang Peterson’s Trojan War saga starring Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Eric Bana under performed a bit domestically (with its reported $175 million budget) but made it up overseas.

6. I, Robot

Domestic Gross: $144 million

While not reaching the heights of his previous summer hits Independence Day or Men in Black – Will Smith’s I, Robot did respectable business. Based on a short story by Isaac Asimov, it received mixed reviews from critics and a planned sequel never materialized.

5. The Bourne Supremacy

Domestic Gross: $176 million

Goodwill left over from the 2002 original The Bourne Identity propelled this Matt Damon sequel to gross over $50 million more than its predecessor. A third Bourne feature would follow three years later before Damon left the franchise and Jeremy Renner took over in 2012.

4. The Day After Tomorrow

Domestic Gross: $186 million

Roland Emmerich returned to doing what he does best (showing the world getting destroyed) and audiences rewarded him for it. Starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhall, Tomorrow is the highest non-sequel on the list and it took in over half a billion worldwide.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Domestic Gross: $249 million

Alfonso Cuaron took over directing duties from Chris Columbus in this third franchise entry. While many (including myself) consider this the best of the series, it surprisingly has the lowest domestic gross of all eight Potter flicks.

2. Spider-Man 2

Domestic Gross: $373 million

Generally considered one of the best superhero movies of all time and the best of this particular franchise, Spider-Man 2 was a massive hit even though it couldn’t quite match the $403 million performance of the 2002 original.

1. Shrek 2

Domestic Gross: $441 million

DreamWorks Animation easily ruled the summer as the sequel featuring the vocal work of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz took the top spot. Of the four Shrek entries, it is the biggest grosser and outshined its predecessor by nearly $180 million dollars.

Beyond the top ten, there are four particularly notable pictures which achieved major cult status:

14. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

It made a decent $85 million upon release, but as we all know, the Will Ferrell comedy has gone onto to becoming one of the most quoted flicks in memory. A 2013 sequel followed.

15. The Notebook

Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, The Notebook caused audiences to fall in love with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams and brought in $81 million.

27. Napoleon Dynamite

With a tiny $400,000 budget – the quirky comedy Napoleon Dynamite with Jon Heder came out of nowhere and posted a $44 million domestic gross. Like Anchorman, it became an endlessly quoted picture.

38. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

It made a meager $18 million upon release, but this stoner comedy became an instant cult classic and spawned two sequels.

And now we move to the flops of the summer:

21. The Stepford Wives

Frank Oz’s remake of the 1975 film cost $90 million to make and earned just $59 million. Critics weren’t impressed and audiences ignored the sci-fi comedy starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, and Christopher Walken.

25. King Arthur

Training Day director Antoine Fuqua teamed up with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley for this retelling of the medieval legend. With a $120 million budget, Arthur tanked stateside with only $51 million.

29. Catwoman

Warner Bros. surely regrets spending $100 million on this critically lambasted Catwoman feature which starred Halle Berry and Sharon Stone. It earned only $40 million. The silver lining for the studio: one summer later, a certain Chris Nolan would reinvigorate their superhero fortunes with Batman Begins.

And that’s what was going on ten years at the multiplexes, my friends!

A Million Ways to Die in the West Box Office Prediction

“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane enters the world of film for the second time with A Million Ways to Die in the West, his directorial follow-up to the smash hit Ted from two summers ago. Unlike his previous effort, MacFarlane stars this time around and he’s brought along an all-star cast including Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, and Neil Patrick Harris.

The R rated western comedy is unlikely to match Ted numbers, which debuted to $54 million on its way to a domestic gross of $218 million. However, I still expect it to do solid business. It may seem like an odd comparison, but I see last year’s Identity Thief as a mark of what I believe West could open at. That picture made $34.5M in its opening weekend and I credit that to the goodwill audiences had for star Melissa McCarthy after Bridesmaids. In the same way – many moviegoers are simply very curious to see what MacFarlane has up his sleeve this time.

There’s plenty of competition out there as there always is around this time of year, but not a whole lot in the way of comedies. Neighbors has already made the bulk of its money and Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore debuted weakly over Memorial Day weekend. Like Thief, I think West posts a low to mid 30s opening.

A Million Ways to Die in the West opening weekend prediction: $33.6 million

For my Maleficent prediction, click here:

Maleficent Box Office Prediction

This coming Friday, Disney brings us Maleficent, a live-action pic focusing on the well-known villainess from Sleeping Beauty. In the title role is Angelina Jolie, who will aim for (and most likely get) her highest live-action debut of all time.

Costarring Elle Fanning and Sharlto Copley, we’ve seen this type of film work at the box office before when Snow White and the Huntsman got off to a $56.2 million start just two summers ago. With an estimated budget of $180 million, Disney clearly believes it has a winner on their hands and they’re probably right. Maleficent should succeed in bringing in kid viewers as well as an impressive female audience.

Jolie’s current largest opening is Wanted from 2008, which made $50.9M in its debut. As I see it, Maleficent should certainly top that number. I feel it will also surpass Snow White‘s gross from 2012. The marketing campaign has been strong and I’m predicting an initial gross in the mid-60s makes a lot of sense.

Maleficent opening weekend prediction: $66.2 million

For my A Million Ways to Die in the West prediction, click here:

Summer 1994: The Top Ten Hits and More

Last summer I wrote two blog posts discussing that season’s top films (and flops) from 20 years ago and 10 ten years ago. In that spirit, we shall do it again beginning with the summer movie season of 1994 some two decades in our rearview.

While we may be focused on Godzilla and the X-Men and Spider-Man and Transformers and not yet trained dragons in 2014, summer 1994 proved that when it came to predicting the #1 highest grossing picture, you never knew what you were going to get.

As I did last year, I will start with the top ten grossing pictures from 10 to 1 and then discuss some other notable titles, as well as some flops.

10. Wolf

Domestic Gross: $65 million

Mike Nichols may be known more for dramatic titles such as The Graduate, Carnal Knowledge, and Silkwood – but in 1994 he turned to the horror genre with Wolf, a mature retelling of the Wolfman tale. He got some big names to contribute – Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and James Spader. The film received mostly positive reviews and I count myself as a fan.

9. The Client

Domestic Gross: $92 million

Josh Grisham fever was its peak at this time as The Firm with Tom Cruise and The Pelican Brief with Julia Roberts were blockbusters the previous year. The Client with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones continued the hot streak even though it didn’t reach the grosses of the aforementioned pics. Sarandon received an Oscar nomination for her role and the movie spawned a short-lived TV series one year later.

8. Maverick

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Mel Gibson reteamed with his Lethal Weapon series director Richard Donner for this western/action/comedy based on the 1950s TV show. Jodie Foster and original series star James Garner rounded out the cast. Critical reaction was mostly positive and while the $100M haul was solid, its gross was a bit on the low end of domestic expectations.

7. The Mask

Domestic Gross: $119 million

In February of 1994, Jim Carrey became a massive box office force with his starring debut Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. This special effects driven comedy would go even further in solidifying that status. It also introduced the world to Cameron Diaz, in her first major movie role. A sequel in 2005 Son of the Mask minus Carrey was quickly and deservedly forgotten.

6. Speed

Domestic Gross: $121 million

A surprise hit – the well-constructed and suspenseful Speed from director Jan de Bont turned Keanu Reeves into an action star and gave Sandra Bullock her breakout role. Dennis Hopper was a rock solid villain, too. Like The Mask, this too spawned a ridiculed sequel in 1997 minus Reeves.

5. Clear and Present Danger

Domestic Gross: $122 million

Harrison Ford was fresh off his megahit The Fugitive when his second Jack Ryan flick Clear and Present Danger managed to out gross its predecessor Patriot Games two years earlier by $40 million dollars. It remains the highest grossing Jack Ryan picture domestically.

4. The Flintstones

Domestic Gross: $130 million

Many expected the film version of the famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon to be the summer’s top grosser with its huge marketing tie-ins. It didn’t turn out that way, though its $130M take was decent. Reviews were mostly bad, however, and while Universal planned this as a franchise – we would never see John Goodman as Fred, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma, Rick Moranis as Barney, or Rosie O’Donnell as Betty return. A 2000 “sequel” with an all-new cast fizzled.

3. True Lies

Domestic Gross: $146 million

The previous summer, Arnold Schwarzenegger had experienced an unexpected box office flop with Last Action Hero. His reteaming with Terminator director James Cameron in this action/comedy got him back in the good graces of audiences. This well-reviewed flick also featured a fine performance from Jamie Lee Curtis as Schwarzenegger’s wife who’s oblivious that he’s an international super spy. The pic also has the distinction of featuring career best work from Tom Arnold!

2. The Lion King

Domestic Gross: $312 million

Disney was five years into its animation resurgence (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) when this came along and out earned them all. A classic from the moment it was released, The Lion King remained the highest grossing traditionally animated picture until just last year when Frozen overtook it. The film is also well-remembered for its Elton John soundtrack.

1. Forrest Gump

Domestic Gross: $329 million

If you would’ve polled 100 people in early 1994 as to what would be the summer’s biggest earner, I’ll venture to guess nobody would’ve said Forrest Gump. The journey through history of a simple yet remarkable man captured the hearts of audiences across the U.S. upon its July release. The reward? Besides being the year’s largest hit, it also earned Oscars for Best Picture, Director (Robert Zemeckis) and Actor (Tom Hanks), earning the performer his second Academy Awards in consecutive years following his 1993 Philadelphia victory. It also spawned a whole lotta catchphrases.

Outside of the Top Ten, here are some other notables flicks from the season 20 years ago:

12. The Crow

Arriving in theaters more than a year after star Brandon Lee was tragically killed on the set of the film, The Crow resonated with audiences to the tune of a $50 million gross.

13. Natural Born Killers

Oliver Stone’s wild tale of media sensationalism gave Woody Harrelson his first acclaimed dramatic role. The controversial pic, costarring Juliette Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Robert Downey, Jr., earned a solid $50 million.

And now… for the flops of the season:

City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold whiffed with both critics and audiences. While the 1991 original earned $124 million, the sequel managed a sad $43 million. Sequelitis also caught up with Eddie Murphy as Beverly Hills Cop III also was drubbed by critics and viewers alike. The third installment took in $42 million while the first earned $234 million in 1984 and II made $153 million in 1987.

Universal Pictures was hoping to turn The Shadow with Alec Baldwin into a franchise, but its meager $32 million gross ended that prospect in a hurry.

Wyatt Earp starring Kevin Costner was looked at as a potential blockbuster but mixed reviews and the fact that well-received Earp flick Tombstone had come six months prior meant this only made a paltry $25 million.

Finally, while Julia Roberts had already starred in successful rom coms – it turned out filmgoers weren’t clamoring to see her chemistry with Nick Nolte in the flop I Love Trouble, which petered out at $30 million.

And there you have it, folks! That’s what was happening 20 years ago at multiplexes across the nation. I’ll be back with my overview of summer 2004 very soon!

Oscar Watch: Foxcatcher

The Best Picture race for next year’s Oscars has officially begun with the screening of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher at the Cannes Film Festival. A couple of months back, I wrote a post suggesting the longshot possibility that The Grand Budapest Hotel could nab a nomination. It’s still certainly possible, but unlikely as the real heavyweights for consideration will hit this fall and winter.

There’s nothing unlikely about Foxcatcher‘s chances. The pic is directed by Bennett Miller, whose last two features (2005’s Capote and 2011’s Moneyball) both scored Best Picture nods. It focuses on the true story of Schultz brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and their relationship with schizophrenic John du Pont (Steve Carell). Reviews coming out of Cannes have been magnificent. To say this is the first surefire Oscar contender is an understatement.

Its significant Best Picture (and Director) chances aside, critics have been truly over the moon regarding Carell’s work – so much so that Variety declared his nomination a “lock”. Director Miller’s films have given the late Philip Seymour Hoffman a Best Actor win for Capote and Brad Pitt a nomination in the same category for Moneyball. The consensus for Carell is that this will be the role that changes his career from dependable comic everyman to serious dramatic actor. This is also familiar territory for Miller: it was Moneyball that significantly changed Jonah Hill’s career trajectory and also earned him first Oscar nomination. It is unclear yet whether Sony Pictures Classics will campaign Carell in the Actor or Supporting Actor race. Tatum is reportedly the star and it sounds like his chances to score a nod are also on the upswing. Either way, based on today’s reaction alone, you can use pen to fill Carell’s name for Academy recognition and not pencil.

The bad news for us? We have to wait until November to see the film as it opens stateside November 14.

Box Office Predictions: May 23-26

Memorial Day weekend 2014 at the box office brings the potentially explosive opening of X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore rom com Blended. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each here:

I’m not quite buying some prognosticators claiming X-Men will make $125 million over the four day holiday frame, but my prediction isn’t too far off from that. Meanwhile, I look for Blended to have an opening on the lower end of typical Sandler debuts.

As for holdovers, percentage drops are typically smaller during Memorial weekend so I see Godzilla, Neighbors, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 having relatively decent holds.

And with that, my predictions for the weekend top five and their four day holiday totals:

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Predicted Gross: $114.3 million

2. Godzilla

Predicted Gross: $50.6 million (representing a drop of 45%)

3. Blended

Predicted Gross: $24.9 million

4. Neighbors

Predicted Gross: $18.8 million (representing a drop of 24%)

5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Predicted Gross: $11 million (representing a drop of 35%)

Box Office Results (May 16-18)

While many predictions for holdovers were solid over the past weekend, I didn’t give Godzilla near enough credit while giving Million Dollar Arm with Jon Hamm way too much credit.

Godzilla stomped into theaters to the tune of $93.1 million, well beyond my $77.3M estimate. The monster pic managed the second highest debut of the year behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier and virtually guarantees we’ll see a sequel featuring the jolly green giant in the near future.

Seth Rogen’s comedy Neighbors dropped to second with $25 million in its sophomore frame, right in line with my $24.3M projection. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was third in its third weekend with $16.8 million, on pace with my $16.6M projection.

Million Dollar Arm, the Disney sports drama, flopped in its opening with a meager $10.5 million, way below my generous $23.4M estimate. Clearly the film simply failed to resonate in its marketing campaign.

Rounding out the top five in weekend #4 was Cameron Diaz’s The Other Woman with $6.3 million, just over my $5.7M prediction.

That’s all for now folks! I’ll have results posted for Memorial weekend next week.

Blended Box Office Prediction

While many filmgoers will choose the X-Men for their Memorial Day weekend entertainment, Warner Bros. attempts some counterprogramming with the rom com Blended which reunites Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The pair already has a couple of box office hits under their belt together with 1998’s The Wedding Singer ($80.2M domestic gross) and 2004’s 50 First Dates ($120.9M domestic gross).

Costarring Joel McHale, Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon, and Shazaam himself Shaquille O’Neal, Blended seems to be flying a bit under the radar with all the blockbusters such as Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past in the marketplace. Sandler’s pictures have been a mixed bag as of late. While last summer’s Grown Ups 2 was a hit with a $41.5M opening, recent pics Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy have disappointed with respective openings of $25M and $13.4M. The inclusion of Barrymore with Sandler could help, as both of their previous efforts are well-regarded. However, trailers and TV spots for Blended have been rather unimpressive in my view.

If Blended managed to reach what Sandler’s last romantic comedy opened at, Warner Bros. should consider that a success. That would be Just Go With It, which debuted with $30.5M in February 2011. Blended will have the advantage of a four day Memorial Day weekend tally and yet I feel it will struggle to gain major traction with audiences. I’m predicting a holiday opening in the quarter century range is the likeliest scenario.

Blended four day opening weekend prediction: $24.9 million

For my X-Men: Days of Future Past prediction, click here:


X-Men: Days of Future Past Box Office Prediction

The Memorial Day weekend box office gets underway with X-Men: Days of Future Past, the seventh installment in the venerable Fox franchise. It’s probably safe to say that audience anticipation for this one is the highest it’s been in the series in a while. Why? That would be the combination of the casts from the original X-Men franchise alongside the group from 2011’s X-Men: First Class. That means Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen matching up against their younger counterparts James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. It also means Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine with Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, as well as Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hault, and Shawn Ashmore.

Director Bryan Singer, who was behind the camera for the franchise’s critically acclaimed first two installments, is back in the mix, too. This has all led to some box office prognosticators forecasting a healthy $125 million four-day holiday opening for the pic. In my view, that seems just a bit high. However, it’s worth noting that I’ve been quite a bit under on both Neighbors and Godzilla‘s debuts so far this summer season. As far as Memorial Day weekends go, the champ is 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which earned $139.8 million. The silver prize goes to 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, which took in $126.9M. Last year’s holiday winner was Fast and Furious 6 with its $117M haul. To me, that seems like a more reasonable ballpark for what Future Past could open at.

In order for the film to break the all-time franchise record, it will need to outdo the $122.8M that X-Men: The Last Stand made over Memorial Day weekend in 2006. It’s certainly possible, but my estimate puts it a bit below that. Either way, this should certainly far outshine the $55.1 million made by First Class three summers ago and set up nicely for the next planned installment, X-Men: Apocalypse, slated for 2016.

X-Men: Days of Future Past four day opening weekend prediction: $114.3 million

For my Blended prediction, click here:

Doubting Doubtfire

Weeks ago when it was announced that Fox was in development with a sequel to 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire, my reaction was similar to that of many: really?

I’ve covered the fact that most comedy sequels simply don’t work before:

There was a time when a sequel would’ve made a whole lot of sense. After all, it grossed $219 million domestically and $441 million worldwide, making it second only to Jurassic Park for that year’s top earners. This was at a time when star Robin Williams was a box office force, especially with kids flicks (Aladdin had been released the year prior). Director Chris Columbus was also a hit making machine, coming off Home Alone and its sequel. Neither have had much success in recent years.

It has been noted that Doubtfire is one of the most replayed pictures on cable so there is likely a new generation of filmgoers who have caught it that way. It’s also encouraging that Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum is drafting the screenplay.

Still – one thought keeps tugging at me. Are there many people who thought there was a lot more to be explored in the Doubtfire universe? As I see it, the film seemed to be a self-contained unit with a follow-up not needed. Even Mara Wilson, who played Robin’s youngest daughter, immediately went to Twitter to proclaim she wouldn’t be involved. By the way, if you don’t follow Mara Wilson on Twitter you should. I’m not sure if Sally Field will reprise her role either and there’s no reason for Pierce Brosnan to return.

At least Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels coming back to reprise their roles in the Dumb and Dumber sequel (out this November) makes a little more sense. That picture would seem to lend itself more to a sequel. However, we’ll see how well that works.

Good luck to Mr. Berenbaum, director Columbus, and Robin Williams coming up with a story that brings audiences back in the Doubtfire fold. Maybe they should make it a horror movie because there’s already been a brilliant trailer cut for that scenario:

For now it’s hard not to be doubting the Doubtfire sequel.