Box Office Predictions: January 2-4

The first weekend of 2015 at the box office should be dominated by Christmas time holdovers. Only one new release is out – horror sequel The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death. You can read my detailed prediction post on it here:

In order for Black to even have a shot at the top spot, it would need to outdo the $20 million that its predecessor debuted at and that seems highly unlikely. I believe it’ll even fail to crack the top five.

The race for #1 could come down to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Unbroken, and Into the Woods. I believe Hobbit should manage a three-peat with the other two battling it out for second. Family fare Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Annie should round out the top five.

And with that, my top 6 predictions for the weekend:

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Predicted Gross: $23.3 million (representing a drop of 42%)

2. Unbroken

Predicted Gross: $19.2 million (representing a drop of 37%)

3. Into the Woods

Predicted Gross: $18.5 million (representing a drop of 40%)

4. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Predicted Gross: $14.3 million (representing a drop of 30%)

5. Annie

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million (representing a drop of 33%)

6. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

Predicted Gross: $11.1 million

Box Office Results (December 25-28)

The Christmas weekend box office saw a host of new films premiering and expanding, but The Hobbit three-quel stayed on top with $40.9 million. This was right on track with my $42.4M estimate. Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic has earned $168M in two weeks.

The #2 and #3 spots belonged to newcomers that greatly exceeded my expectations. Disney’s Into the Woods scored with $31 million over Friday to Sunday and $46.1 million since its Christmas bow, well ahead of my respective $21.8M and $30.1M projections. Rob Marshall’s generally well-received musical clearly hit its target audience and then some.

Despite middling reviews, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken also opened very high with $30.6 million from Friday to Sunday and $46 million since Christmas. This blew away my $20.5M and $28.6M predictions.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb held up well in weekend #2 with $20.2 million, just above my $18.7M projection. While it will certainly be the lowest earner of the franchise, its total stands at a fair $54 million and it should manage to pass the century mark (though not by much).

Annie was fourth with $16.5 million, right in line with my $16.9M estimate. It also benefited in its sophomore frame from family audiences on break and its total stands at $45 million, despite its woeful critical reaction.

As for other newbies, Mark Wahlberg’s The Gambler had a so-so debut with $9.1 million over the traditional weekend. My estimate? $9.1 million (gold star!). Its $14.1M Christmas to Sunday take did barely exceed my $12.2M prediction.

Oscar hopeful The Imitation Game opened wide with fabulous results with $7.9 million (Fri to Sun) and $10.9 million since December 25. This out shined my respective estimates of $5.3M and $7.2M.

The news was not so good for Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. Despite mostly positive notices, adult audiences simply had so much to choose from that this was ignored. It made $3 million from Friday to Sunday and $4.4 million since Christmas, lower than my projections of $5.5M and $7.4M.

Finally, The Interview. Opening on a scant 331 screens due to large chain boycotts, the Seth Rogen/James Franco international headline of a raunchy comedy managed a pretty commendable $1.8 million (Fri to Sun) and $2.8 million since the holiday. It didn’t reach my predictions of $3.1M and $4.4M, but this still isn’t bad considering it reportedly made $15 million through its online distribution offerings.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Happy New Year!!!


15 for ’15: Todd’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

For movie lovers, the year 2015 has been eagerly awaited for a number of reasons. As you’ll see, tonight I am listing my 15 most anticipated pictures of the upcoming year. In order to prove how big next year could be (it’s widely expected to set records in terms of box office), here’s just some of what I left off:

The reboot of the Terminator series (Genisys) that returns Schwarzenegger

A big-budget Peter Pan reboot (Pan) starring Hugh Jackman

Iron Man director Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book

Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

The latest films from notable directors like Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak), Michael Mann (Blackhat), the Wachowskis (Jupiter Ascending), Neill Blomkamp (Chappie), and Ron Howard (In the Heart of the Sea)

The film version of HBO’s Entourage

The seventh Fast and Furious entry which features Paul Walker’s final work

The Peanuts Movie where Charlie Brown and company finally come to the silver screen

So… what did make the cut? Read on:

15. The Fantastic Four

Release Date: August 7

20th Century Fox had solid box office results but a mediocre product with their two Fantastic Four pics that featured Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and company. There is hope here with the reboot – Chronicle director Josh Trank is behind the camera with a cast that includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell.

14. Mad Max: Fury Road

Release Date: May 15

Director George Miller’s return to the series that made Mel Gibson a star puts Tom Hardy in the title role with Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult supporting. I’ve always been curious about this one, but its inclusion in the list is much due to the fabulous trailer that was recently released.

13. Ted 2

Release Date: June 26

Seth MacFarlane’s 2012 original made a huge splash. It was one of the better comedies in recent years and earned $218 million domestically. Mark Wahlberg is back with MacFarlane voicing the vulgar bear.

12. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

Release Date: November 20

I was a bit disappointed in Part 1, but hope still springs eternal for the finale of the franchise in which we’ll bid farewell to Katniss and company.

11. Jurassic World

Release Date: June 12

Colin Trevorrow takes over Universal’s dino franchise that Spielberg started. Star Lord himself, Chris Pratt, headlines the cast that includes Bryce Dallas Howard and Vincent D’Onofrio. Expect young moviegoers and those nostalgic for the original from over 20 years ago to RSVP.

10. Joy

Release Date: December 25

Jennifer Lawrence could find herself once again in awards conversations playing real life Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop. Joy is easily included because of its director – David O. Russell, whose last three efforts (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) have all been Best Picture nominees.

9. Mission: Impossible 5

Release Date: December 25

This Tom Cruise franchise was completely reinvigorated with Brad Bird’s fourth flick, Ghost Protocol. Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg are back assisting Ethan Hunt with Jack Reacher‘s Christopher McQuarrie taking over directorial duties.

8. Ant-Man

Release Date: July 17

Never. Doubt. Marvel. Ever. They doubted that Iron Man could be a successful franchise. Same with Guardians of the Galaxy. So… if a picture called Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd sounds like a gamble, my guess is just wait. Peyton Reed directs with Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas costarring.

7. The Revenant

Release Date: December 25

Set in the 1800s, this drama finds Leonardo DiCaprio seeking revenge on thieves who left him to die. Tom Hardy costars with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (maker of Birdman) directing.

6. Tomorrowland

Release Date: May 22

As mentioned earlier, Brad Bird infused life into the Mission: Impossible series recently. He also made classic Pixar titles The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Here he’s back with Disney making a secretive fantasy adventure that stars George Clooney and Hugh Laurie.

5. St. James Place

Release Date: October 16

It’s a Cold War thriller… directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by the Coen Brothers. Starring Tom Hanks. Enough said.

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release Date: May 1

The follow-up to 2012’s mega blockbuster finds the gang all returning (including director Joss Whedon) with James Spader voicing the title character bad guy.

3. Spectre

Release Date: November 6

After the billion dollar worldwide gross of Skyfall, Daniel Craig is back for his fourth go round as 007 with double Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as the main villain. Sam Mendes returns to direct after the smashing Skyfall success.

2. The Hateful Eight

Release Date: Fall

For those who are familiar with this blog, you know that (in my mind) Quentin Tarantino has never made a movie that isn’t terrific. Let’s hope the trend continues here with this Western starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Channing Tatum.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Release Date: December 18

I mean… what else could possibly top new Tarantino? I’ve written plenty about it already so I won’t go on. Needless to say, the film world is breathlessly anticipating what JJ Abrams does with the most famous franchise in movie history.

And that’s all for now, folks! Here’s to a great 2015 and the pictures that populate it!

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death Box Office Prediction

Nearly three years ago, British horror pic The Woman in Black starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, performed admirably at the U.S. box office with a $54 million gross (and a much better than expected $20M opening weekend).

And now the sequel arriving January 2 that marks the first major wide release of 2015. Radcliffe does not make a return trip and the cast features no well-known actors. Angel of Death will need to capitalize on audience affection for the original. The problem: there likely isn’t much of it. While the original made more than anticipated, it’s hardly considered a genre classic (though it is worth a look). This could follow a similar pattern to the first picture of 2014: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, which debuted to a less than estimated $18 million. Black, unfortunately, doesn’t even have the following of that franchise.

I believe this should open over double digits, but not by a whole lot.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death opening weekend prediction: $11.1 million


The Interview Movie Review

It was a movie that never expected to lead breaking news updates on CNN, but by now we all know the fascinating journey that caused The Interview to debut in limited release and not its planned wide release Christmas Day. It meant this blogger viewed it on YouTube and not a large chain theater. And now I can finally strip away all the hype and controversy and simply let you know my feelings on the picture itself.

The verdict? Mixed. Quite mixed. The Interview is director Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s follow-up to their very successful (and better) first effort This is the End. As you’ve perhaps heard, it involves a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). The plan? Take little respected entertainment interviewer Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron (Rogen) to the homeland of Jong-un for a fluff interview and use the situation to take him out. The CIA is involved, including Lizzy Caplan (from Showtime’s Masters of Sex) as an operative.

Of course, not all goes as planned. Aaron develops a crush on Sook (Diana Bang), one of Kim’s top communications officials. Dave begins to bond with Kim over sex, drugs, Katy Perry (yep, you read it right), and their mutual perceived lack of respectability. In essence, Dave receives the real life Dennis Rodman treatment from the Supreme Leader which leads him to question whether Kim is really that bad of a guy.

Since this is a work from Rogen and his head collaborator Goldberg, we have an abundance of gross out gags. If you guessed Rogen has to shove a top secret device up his rectum at one point – take a shot! Some of the gags work while many others are all too familiar and fall flat. Rogen is his typical self, but he brings his teddy bear charm to a satisfactory level. Franco is another story. He’s a talented performer who is hit or miss in comedies. Here, his character’s smarmy demeanor comes off more off putting than humorous.

The Interview is ultimately not overly concerned with making grand political statements and more focused on hard R rated sight gags. The character of Kim, played with gusto by Park, is chock full of Daddy issues and an inferiority complex. There’s funny moments with him (his obsession with the aforementioned Perry is good for some belly laughs), but there’s nothing here that Team America: World Police didn’t handle on a more highly elevated satirical level. Early snippets of Skylark’s interviews with Eminem and Rob Lowe actually provide the biggest guffaws and they have nothing to do with the eventual plot.

There’s little doubt The Interview will be remembered more for its generated headlines with the Sony hack and North Korean government reaction that what is up on the screen. For fans of Rogen and Goldberg’s brand of humor, there’s just enough worthwhile to watch. However, they’ve done better work and while nothing they’ve made before or since is likely to capture worldwide media attention – The Interview seems bound to be regarded as a so-so entry in their filmography.

**1/2 (out of four)

The Interview Box Office Prediction

Well, whaddya know??

On this Christmas morning, it turns out my present to you on the blog is something I didn’t get to think I’d write this week: a box office prediction for The Interview.

At this point, everyone movie blogger and critic has written about the debacle that involved hacking and North Korea and Sony Pictures and the controversial decision to not release the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy in theaters. I wrote my own post when it looked like the picture may not see the light of day and if you missed it, you can find it here:

And now – Sony has reversed course, to an extent. The Interview, in which Rogen and Franco play entertainment journalists sent on a mission to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will premiere today in 331 independently owned theaters across the nation. The big movie chains are still not screening it. It is also debuting on numerous digital formats, including YouTube, Google Play, and Xbox which may divert some curious eyes from the theaters and to their laptops.

So what does that mean as far as its box office prospects? Well, that’s a tricky proposition but I’ll try my best. First, 331 screens isn’t many considering the average wannabe blockbuster comes to at least 2000 and often 3000 plus venues. In other words, think low. On the other hand, its per screen average should outdo the other holiday newbies that are rolling out.

With all the hype surrounding the movie (even with its less than stellar reviews – 5o% on Rotten Tomatoes), it should manage to bring out viewers who may not have even intended on watching it right away in the first place. Whether they do so at a theater they might not be used to going to or at home is a mystery that won’t be resolved until the numbers are released early next week. I’ll predict its limited release yields an average of over $10,000 per screen for an impressive haul.

The Interview opening weekend prediction: $3.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $4.4 million (Thursday to Sunday)

For my Unbroken prediction, click here:

For my Into the Woods prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Gambler, click here:

For my Big Eyes prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Imitation Game, click here:

The Imitation Game Box Office Prediction

After several weeks in limited release where it’s done quite well, The Imitation Game rolls out nationally tomorrow on Christmas Day. Premiering on approximately 747 screens, Game has been the beneficiary of much awards buzz – both for the Picture and its actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.

The picture tells the story of Alan Turing, known for being the man to break Nazi codes during WWII. Game is thought to be in the running for what actually could win Best Picture, as is Cumberbatch. Reviews have been highly positive and it stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s rolling out on less than 1000 screens which will certainly effect its performance, but I’ll predict it does quite nicely considering the number of theaters.

The Imitation Game opening weekend prediction: $5.3 million (Friday to Sunday), $7.2 million (Thursday to Sunday)

For my Into the Woods prediction, click here:

For my Unbroken prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Gambler, click here:

For my prediction on The Interview, click here:

For my Big Eyes prediction, click here:

Big Eyes Box Office Prediction

Tim Burton trades in big budget extravaganzas for low budget drama in Big Eyes, which comes out in wide release tomorrow on 1307 screens. Shot for only a reported $10 million, Eyes tells the true story of Margaret (Amy Adams) and Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) and the celebrated 1950s and 60s paintings that caused their divorce.

At one time, the picture was thought of as a potential awards contender, but that has fallen by the wayside. Only Adams is being talked about as a possible nominee for Best Actress and that could be a long shot. Reviews have been mostly positive and it stands at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Obviously, Big Eyes will not approach what the typical Burton popcorn fare accomplishes and there is the matter of a lot of competition out there from more legit Oscar contenders like The Imitation Game and Unbroken. Still, I expect a decent gross out of the gate.

Big Eyes opening weekend prediction: $5.5 million (Friday to Sunday), $7.4 million (Thursday to Sunday)

For my Unbroken prediction, click here:

For my Into the Woods prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Gambler, click here:

For my prediction on The Interview, click here:

For my prediction on The Imitation Game, click here:

2014: The Year of Michael Keaton

Concluding my series of six performers who had a memorable 2014 on the big screen, we finish with Michael Keaton. The 63 year old actor has had many career highlights in his over three decades of stardom. He was Batman, for goodness sake! He was Beetlejuice! There was well regarded dramatic work in Clean and Sober and My Life. His team up with Quentin Tarantino in Jackie Brown and Steven Soderbergh in Out of Sight (playing the same part too). A creepy tenant in Pacific Heights. Comedies such as Mr. Mom and Multiplicity, among others.

For the last few years, Keaton has mostly been relegated to supporting roles in some high profile material and some indies. And he doesn’t make this list because of his work in this spring’s Robocop remake or video game adaptation Need for Speed (which are two examples of the kind of material that seemed a little beneath him).

No, Keaton is here because of Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s acclaimed comedy/drama. This picture marked a career comeback that rivaled that of Travolta in Pulp Fiction and Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. This is the role of a lifetime for Mr. Keaton and there stands a very solid chance that he’ll hear his name called in an ultra competitive Best Actor race at the Academy Awards.

The Birdman love will almost certainly mean roles will be available for Keaton that perhaps haven’t been in recent years. Next year, he’ll appear alongside Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams in Spotlight, a drama which focuses on the Massachusetts Catholic sex scandals of recent history. It comes from Thomas McCarthy, the respected indie director of The Station Agent and The Visitor. With Inarritu’s rediscovery of Keaton’s great talent, there’s probably a lot of fine directors who’ll be calling up his services in the near future.

For my post on The Year of Shailene Woodley, click here:

For my post on The Year of Kevin Hart, click here:

For my post on The Year of Scarlett Johannson, click here:

For my post on The Year of Chris Pratt, click here:

For my post on The Year of Angelina Jolie, click here:

2014: The Year of Angelina Jolie

While she’s certainly omnipresent in the media, it had actually been three and a half years since we’d seen Angelina Jolie on screen when the summer of 2014 came around (sadly, it had been in the box office bomb The Tourist with Johnny Depp). That all changed when Disney’s Maleficent was released and it became her biggest blockbuster yet ($241 million domestic and #6 on the list of year’s highest earners).

While the picture itself received mixed notices, critics mostly praised her work and family audiences ate up the Sleeping Beauty re-imagining. This alone might earn Jolie a spot on part five of my six performers who had a terrific year. Yet it wasn’t just that.

Jolie’s directorial effort Unbroken comes out on Thursday and it marks her first eagerly awaited film behind the camera. It’s been met with mixed reviews and its Oscar buzz has waned quite a bit, but it still may do quite well at the box office (it’s based on a beloved bestseller).

Critical misgivings aside – Jolie came back in a huge way in 2014. We’ll next see her direct and star alongside her hubby Brad Pitt in the drama By the Sea.

For my post on The Year of Shailene Woodley, click here:

For my post on The Year of Kevin Hart, click here:

For my post on The Year of Scarlett Johannson, click here:

For my post on The Year of Chris Pratt, click here:

For my post on The Year of Michael Keaton, click here:

2014: The Year of Chris Pratt

He had supporting roles earlier in comedies such as The Five Year Engagement and Delivery Man and dramas like Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty. Simply put, though, in 2014 – Chris Pratt became a movie star. So much so that he earns a spot in part four of my six performers who shined brightest this year.

The actor, best known for his role on NBC’s acclaimed comedy “Parks and Recreation”, scored the lead in what turned out to be the year’s biggest hit – Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. As Star Lord, Pratt gave a boffo performance in what some are calling the Star Wars of this generation. We will, of course, see him return to the role likely several more times.

As if that weren’t enough, Pratt was the lead voice in the #4 largest grosser of the year, this spring’s animated The LEGO Movie. That, too, has turned into a franchise.

Pratt’s actions in 2014 guarantee that we will see him and hear him in at least two massive series into the future. And 2015 brings a third with him in Jurassic World, the reboot of that beloved franchise.

For my post on The Year of Shailene Woodley, click here:

For my post on The Year of Kevin Hart, click here:

For my post on The Year of Scarlett Johannson, click here:

For my post on The Year of Angelina Jolie, click here:

For my post on The Year of Michael Keaton, click here: