Todd’s Birthday Movie Hits

Just in case you don’t read the scroll at the bottom of CNN, today is the date of birth for your trusty movie blogger. I won’t say how old I am, but as of this morning – I can officially run for President of the United States should I choose to do so (it’s doubtful). This got me thinking: what were the #1 films at the time of significant birthdays in my past. Luckily we have an Internet to retrieve that information so here goes:

On the day I was born (known to most as A.T. – After Todd), the horror flick The Amityville Horror was scaring audiences. It would spawn sequels and a 2005 remake. Amityville would end up being 1979’s second highest grosser following Kramer vs. Kramer.

On my fifth birthday, Prince ruled the box office and the music charts with Purple Rain. For those who know me personally, this may seem fitting since His Royal Badness is my favorite musical artist and I’ve seen him in concert around a dozen times. I also touched his leg during a show in Las Vegas. It happened. Let’s move on.

On birthday number ten, Turner and Hooch topped the box office. This was three years before its star Tom Hanks would become a back to back Best Actor Oscar winner and he was still starring in comedies that weren’t always great. This was one of them.

As I became a teenager, Damon Wayans scored a #1 hit with Mo’ Money.

My sweet sixteen saw Kevin Costner’s Waterworld at #1. The pic is notorious for its massive budget and troubled production yet it’s not as bad as its reputation.

As I moved into “adulthood” – Air Force One commanded the charts with Harrison Ford forcefully asking Gary Oldman to get off his plane.

When the age of 21 came (and I was predictably at a bar on the Ohio State campus) – it was Eddie Murphy playing multiple roles in The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps that packed the multiplex.

At age 30 – G-Force. I don’t even remember this one and never saw it, but it’s a kids flick that managed to gross over $30 million in its debut weekend.

And now today – we have Scarlett Johannson’s Lucy atop the box office.

So there you have it – your Todd Thatcher birthday movie hits!

Oscar Watch: Chadwick Boseman in Get On Up

It’s not out until Friday but the James Brown biopic Get On Up has so far been earning very solid reviews, especially for its star Chadwick Boseman. The actor became well-known to audiences last year for his portrayal of another real-life figure, Jackie Robinson, in 42. His well-received turn in that part and critical lauds for Up could mean Boseman’s chances for a Best Actor nomination are decent.

Obviously the race is in its early stages though, based on festival buzz, you can bet Steve Carell will earn one of the five spots for Foxcatcher. Everything else is currently uncertain. A win or nomination for an actor playing a musical legend is nothing new. In 2004, Jamie Foxx took the prize playing Ray Charles in Ray. The following year, Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line and Joaquin Phoenix was nominated as Johnny Cash. Other past nominees include Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story, Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne in the Tina Turner pic What’s Love Got to Do With It?, Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, Jessica Lange as Patsy Cline in Sweet Dreams, and a win for Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter.

If the movie turns out to be a huge hit, it might even stand a chance for a Best Picture nomination. However, that currently appears to be a long shot. Boseman’s chances are much greater and his name is one to remember come nomination time next year.


Box Office Predictions: August 1-3

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy should easily rule the first weekend of the August box office while the James Brown biopic Get On Up could come in for a second place finish. You can find my individual prediction posts on each of them here:

Current #1 and #2 Lucy and Hercules both got off to healthy debuts this past weekend and both are likely to suffer hefty declines in their sophomore frames. In its fourth weekend, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes should round out the top five.

And with that, my predictions for the upcoming weekend:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy

Predicted Gross: $74.6 million

2. Get On Up

Predicted Gross: $24.9 million

3. Lucy

Predicted Gross: $16.6 million (representing a drop of 62%)

4. Hercules

Predicted Gross: $13 million (representing a drop of 57%)

5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Predicted Gross: $8.5 million (representing a drop of 49%)

Box Office Results (July 25-27)

Luc Besson’s Lucy with Scarlett Johannson easily took the #1 spot with a terrific $43.8 million – well above my $28.1M prediction. While its opening is undeniably fantastic, it received only a C+ Cinemascore rating meaning audiences weren’t pleased with the results.

Hercules with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had a solid #2 premiere with $29.8 million, above my $21.4M estimate. Better than expected reviews could have contributed to its decent performance.

Falling to third after two weeks on top, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes made $16.7 million, a bit under my $19.4M projection. The ape sequel has earned $172 million so far and should approach a final gross of $215M.

The Purge: Anarchy was expected to suffer a precipitous drop and it did with $10.4 million in weekend #2, right on par with my $10.3M prediction.

Rounding out the top five was Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue with $9.5 million in its sophomore frame, under my $11.2M projection. The animated sequel has made a middling $35 million.

Finally, the Michael Douglas/Diane Keaton rom com And So It Goes sputtered with only $4.6 million for an eighth place debut – less than half of my generous $9.3M estimate.

And that’s all for now, folks! ‘Till next time…

Get On Up Box Office Prediction

The Godfather of Soul gets his own biopic when Get On Up debuts in theaters this Friday. Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in the hit 42, portrays James Brown with The Help director Tate Taylor behind the camera. Costars include Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson, and Jill Scott.

Get On Up could be in a good position for a solid debut. Taylor’s The Help opened in August three summers ago to $26 million. That would certainly be a good number for this. 42 premiered to $27 million in 2013.

The pic could be successful in bringing in African-American audiences and adult moviegoers burnt out on sci-fi blockbusters. I’ll predict Get On Up manages a debut in the mid 20s.

Get On Up opening weekend prediction: $24.9 million

For my Guardians of the Galaxy prediction, click here:

Guardians of the Galaxy Box Office Prediction

Marvel Studios is back in action this Friday with Guardians of the Galaxy, their $170 million dollar project that is certainly more of a gamble than their previous megahits. It’s based on a comic book not nearly as well-known as Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor – in other words, the Avengers cast.

Still positive signals are sprouting up. The James Gunn directed saga boasts a 100% current score on Rotten Tomatoes and TV spots are omnipresent. The cast features Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, a genetically engineered raccoon.

While Guardians is not likely to match the $95M debut that the latest Disney/Marvel pic, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opened at – a healthy debut is expected. I foresee a premiere in the mid seventies and if word of mouth is solid (and it should be), it could have a nice run at the #1 spot.

Guardians of the Galaxy opening weekend prediction: $74.6 million

For my Get On Up prediction, click here:

Guilty Pleasures: Dragnet

One of summer 2014’s biggest hits is 22 Jump Street, a comedic take on a TV crime drama that came nearly three decades before it. The same can be said for the financially successfully 1987 summer pic Dragnet, which was based on the Jack Webb show from the 1950s and 1960s.

Dragnet has developed a fairly poor reputation in the past quarter century, but truth be told – it’s a lot of fun and is worth a look for some genuine laughs. It earns a spot in my Guilty Pleasures blog series. The film stars Dan Aykroyd, who gives one of his greatest comedic performances channeling Webb as straight-laced LAPD sergeant Joe Friday. His smart ass partner Pep Streebek is played by Tom Hanks, a few years prior to his serious acting turns and multiple Oscars. We also have Christopher Plummer as a corrupt televangelist and Dabney Coleman as a Larry Flynt like porn peddler. The duo are chasing down a cult group called P.A.G.A.N. (People Against Goodness and Normalcy – love that name) who believe in crazy activities like sacrificing virgins such as Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul). One of the my favorite running jokes in the movie is that everyone refers to her constantly as “The Virgin Connie Swail” – as if she’s a Biblical figure.

Most critics didn’t like it and don’t get me wrong – Dragnet does not approach the 80s greatness of your Vacation or Ghostbusters and so forth. Yet it’s heart is in the right place and there are plenty of laughs to be had. It more than earns a spot on my Guilty Pleasures list.

Top 25 Justin Timberlake Songs: Nos. 5-1

And now we’ve reached the best of the best when it comes to my personal favorite Justin Timberlake songs of all time! If you missed numbers 25-6, you can click the following links and find them here:

Here’s the crème de la crème:

5. “SexyBack” from FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)

The first single from his greatest album, JT’s label was worried about this club anthem being the #1 single. They needn’t worry. It spent seven weeks at #1.

4. “What Goes Around…Comes Around” from FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)

The third single from FutureSex, this mid-tempo ballad is yet another triumph of production from JT’s partner Timbaland.

3. “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” from FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)

FutureSex‘s fourth single is a jam that would’ve fit Michael Jackson well. As is common with JT/Timbaland collaborations, the beat switches towards the end to a slower groove.

2. “Mirrors” from The 20/20 Experience (2013)

JT’s most romantic track to date is an absolutely beautifully composed ballad. The radio version is fantastic while the longer album version is flat out brilliant.

1. “Cry Me a River” from Justified (2002)

Maybe the greatest breakup track ever stands as JT’s biggest masterpiece. Timbaland’s production is exquisite. This isn’t just JT’s best pop song. It’s one of the best pop songs of all time.

And there’s my list! I’ll be hearing the vast majority of them in five days when I see JT in concert. But who’s counting?


Top 25 Justin Timberlake Songs: Nos. 10-6

We have breached the Top Ten of my personal Top 25 Justin Timberlake songs! We’ll get to the top five tomorrow. If you missed my first three posts covering numbers 25-11, peruse them here:

To the top 10 we go:

10. “Not a Bad Thing” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 (2013)

JT’s current hit single closes out his newest album in grand fashion – a fabulous mid-tempo ballad that sounds more like his old N’Sync material than pretty much anything else he’s done. And that’s not a bad thing in this case.

9. “FutureSex/LoveSound” from FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)

The influence of Prince is present on the title and opening track to his magnificent second album. At first listen, you knew he was moving in a different direction than Justified four years earlier.

8. “My Love” from FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)

One of his biggest smash hits, the second single from FutureSex is a standout featuring rapper T.I.

7. “Rock Your Body” from Justified (2002)

If this sounds like the greatest track Michael Jackson never made, that’s no accident. This Neptunes produced pop classic was originally offered to the King of Pop.

6. “Pusher Love Girl” from The 20/20 Experience (2013)

With its edgy lyrics comparing his love life to a drug induced high, the first track off 20/20 is a glorious eight minute masterpiece of production from Timbaland and JT’s vocals. And those opening strings…

Alright, top five tomorrow! Until then…


Top 25 Justin Timberlake Songs: Nos. 15-11

This evening we’ve arrived at part 3 of my personal Top 25 Justin Timberlake songs from his catalogue. If you missed the first two posts covering numbers 25-16, I hope you’re proud of yourself and you can find them here:

Now – let’s get to nos. 15-11:

15. “True Blood” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 (2013)

This nearly ten minute opus is one of those Timbaland productions where he throws in everything but the kitchen sink. It may even remind you of “Thriller” with its Vincent Price cackles punctuating the delicious dance groove.

14. “(Another Song) All Over Again” from FutureSex LoveSounds (2006)

This soulful ballad closes out FutureSex and it allows legendary producer Rick Rubin to work with JT. The result is special.

13. “Like I Love You” from Justified (2002)

The single that started it all for Timberlake’s solo career. At first listen, you immediately knew this Neptunes produced groove meant JT had left his boy band roots behind and good things were to come.

12. “Let the Groove Get In” from The 20/20 Experience (2013)

This salsa sounding concoction from Timbaland may remind you of listening to the best 80s pop in its heyday.

11. “Senorita” from Justified (2002)

Another Neptunes created jam from his debut album, this track with its call and response portion will forever be a JT concert highlight.

Tomorrow – we get into the Top Ten! Until then…


Box Office Predictions: July 25-27

Three new titles open Friday to challenge current two week champ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for box office dominance. They are the Scarlett Johannson action pic Lucy, The Rock led Hercules, and the Michael Douglas/Diane Keaton rom com And So It Goes. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each here:

As I see it, Lucy and Hercules may fight it out for the #1 position. If both underwhelm, there is an outside chance for Dawn to three-peat. As for other holdovers, current #2 The Purge: Anarchy is likely to suffer the typically big decline that horror titles do, though I’m not predicting it’ll drop as precipitously as the original fell (75%) last summer. The animated Planes: Fire & Rescue should have the smallest decline of all titles in its sophomore weekend while And So It Goes may have to settle for a sixth place debut.

And with that – my predictions for this coming weekend’s top 6:

1. Lucy

Predicted Gross: $28.1 million

2. Hercules

Predicted Gross: $21.4 million

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Predicted Gross: $19.4 million (representing a drop of 46%)

4. Planes: Fire & Rescue

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million (representing a drop of 36%)

5. The Purge: Anarchy

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million (representing a drop of 65%)

6. And So It Goes

Predicted Gross: $9.3 million

Box Office Results (July 18-20)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes remained #1 for the second week in a row with $36.2 million, just above my $34.6M projection. The well-reviewed sequel has earned $139 million in ten days and a gross north of $200 million seems in the cards.

I far underestimated The Purge: Anarchy, which debuted strongly at second with $29.8 million – way beyond my $15.5M prediction. I incorrectly surmised that audience’s dislike of the original would hurt this. It didn’t. Expect a part 3 next year.

Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue opened third with a decent $17.5 million, under my generous $25.4M estimate. It couldn’t match the $22 million that its predecessor accomplished last summer, but it should hold well in future weekends.

The bomb of the weekend was undoubtedly the Cameron Diaz comedy Sex Tape, which stumbled out of the gate with $14.6 million – about half of my $29.1M projection. Oops. There’s no doubt that highly negative reviews hurt this and this will go down as one of the season’s biggest flops.

In fifth was holdover Transformers: Age of Extinction with $9.8 million in its fourth weekend, above my $7.7M estimate. It’s taken in $227 million so far and should get to $250 million, which will most likely allow it to be summer’s highest domestic grosser.

That’s all for now, everyone!