Seventh Son Box Office Prediction

The fantasy epic Seventh Son opens Friday and it may be in for some troubling results especially considering its reported $77 million budget. With a cast featuring Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, and Ben Barnes – Son has so far been met with mostly negative critical reaction.

It also doesn’t help that Jupiter Ascending is premiering on the same day and could easily siphon away much of Son’s target crowd. The marketing campaign has been relatively modest. Seventh Son might be lucky to match the last fantasy themed pic that featured Bridges, The Giver, which made $12 million out of the gate last summer.

My prediction reflects a feeling that this won’t even quite reach double digits for a very disappointing debut.

Seventh Son opening weekend prediction: $8.9 million

For my Jupiter Ascending prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, click here:

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Box Office Prediction

Arriving over a decade after its predecessor, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water hopes to bring in family audiences and fans of the TV show when it opens Friday. If successful, it may end the three week run of American Sniper atop the box office and outdo the performance of the highly touted Jupiter Ascending.

The voice cast from the popular Nickelodeon program is paired with Antonio Banderas and Slash from Guns & Roses (?). With Paddington having made the bulk of its money, there is an opening for family entertainment that SpongeBob aims to fill. 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie debuted to $32 million before earning $85 million domestically.

I don’t believe the sequel will quite reach those heights, but a debut in the high 20s certainly seems feasible.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opening weekend prediction: $27.8 million

For my Jupiter Ascending prediction, click here:

For my Seventh Son prediction, click here:

Jupiter Ascending Box Office Prediction

With a gargantuan reported budget of $175 million, Jupiter Ascending hits theaters Friday and hopes to end the current three week reign of American Sniper. It might be a tall order. Written and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski who brought us the innovative Matrix in 1999 and its sequels, Jupiter’s science fiction roots could bring in fans of the directors’ work.

Yet that hasn’t worked out too well in the past decade. The Wachowskis follow up features both posted disappointing results domestically. 2008’s heavily hyped Speed Racer managed only $18.5 million in its premiere while 2012’s Cloud Atlas opened to just under $10 million.

I have found the trailers and TV spots for Jupiter a bit curious as it’s underplayed the fact that Channing Tatum is the star. Costars include Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, and Sean Bean. Reviews have yet to publish, but my guess would be mixed notices at best.

The question to me is whether Jupiter Ascending can clear $20 million out of the gate. It was originally planned for a summer 2014 opening, but pushed back with the typical excuse of needing more time for special effects shots. I do believe it will just surpass $20M, but not by much and that additional time away from a plum summer slot won’t make much difference.

Jupiter Ascending opening weekend prediction: $20.9 million

For my prediction on The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, click here:

For my Seventh Son prediction, click here:

Nightcrawler Movie Review

“What if my problem wasn’t that I don’t understand people, but that I don’t like them?”

So says Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), our central character in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler who barely leaves the screen during the film’s running time and probably won’t escape your mind for some time either. When we first meet Lou, he’s a common thief stealing scrap metal who makes what he believes are captivating attempts at obtaining employment. We immediately notice that Lou has no social skills whatsoever. He doesn’t know how to relate to people. All he knows is how to negotiate but he hasn’t found a field in which his negotiations bear fruit.

This changes when Lou happens upon a crime scene and figures out that Los Angeles TV news stations will pay handsomely for gruesome footage. “If it bleeds, it leads” he’s told by another “nightcrawler” played by Bill Paxton . Lou believes he’s found his calling and soon his explicit videos of horrific offenses are airing at 6AM and 11PM by the lowest rated Southern California affiliate. Their news director Nina (Rene Russo) recognizes Lou’s value in increasing ratings. And Lou knows his worth and uses his leverage to bargain with her – not just for gainful employment but for everything he wants from her. This is done in a pitch black comedic restaurant “date” with Nina in which he makes his wishes explicitly clear.

Lou also hires assistant Rick (Riz Ahmed) and he suffers the endless banterings of a boss who is forever conducting a verbal performance review of his employee. Their interaction veers between hilarious (in a very dark way) and chilling (in a very real way). Our central character doesn’t like people in a manner that’s somewhat reminiscent of Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. Everything is negotiable to Lou and as amazingly awkward as he is, his objectives are usually met. This extends to his filming work and if the photos of a slain family member aren’t close enough to the bullet holes lodged in the fridge, there’s a way to fix that.

For the better part of this decade, Gyllenhaal has made one solid choice after another from Source Code to End of Watch to Prisoners. This is the pinnacle so far. With director Gilroy’s screenplay giving him a truly unique and endlessly fascinating character to work with, Gyllenhaal nails his quirky and creepy role. Russo gets her juiciest part in years as the producer who will go to the same lengths as Lou to ensure success. Ahmed is the most sympathetic person here (it’s not saying much) and he sees his demented mentor much like the audience does.

Nightcrawler effortlessly manages charcoal colored comedy with a heightened sense of tension. A major accomplishment indeed. The screenplay has plenty to hint at regarding the public’s insatiable need for the most violent news stories while we are eating breakfast or ready to turn in for the night. Lou Bloom realizes it and knows how to profit from it. He figures a way to achieve his sick dreams. Our brilliantly realized title character with a career best performance from Gyllenhaal gets it right with that opening quote. He doesn’t really like people. And while the characters he speaks with in Nightcrawler thinks he doesn’t understand them, maybe he does all too well.

**** (out of four)

A Most Violent Year Box Office Prediction

JC Chandor’s A Most Violent Year was once looked at as a potential awards contender, but it didn’t quite pan out. The crime thriller set in early 1980s New York City has been a hit with critics (it boasts a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Yet it received exactly zero Oscar nominations.

The cast is filled with familiar faces including Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, and Albert Brooks. The picture has performed decently in limited release and expands nationwide tomorrow on a fairly low 818 screens. It’s difficult to see this breaking through and certainly Academy Awards nods would’ve assisted. The studio should feel great if this manages $5 million out of the gate, but I don’t see it happening.

A Most Violent Year opening weekend prediction: $3.4 million

Ghostbusters and Superheroes

Four was the magic number today in movie news. Four as in this morning, the first trailer for the reboot of this summer’s The Fantastic Four was unveiled. You may recall when 20th Century Fox released two movies based on the iconic comic book in 2005 and 2007 with a cast that included Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis. They did decent business at the box office but critics and fans mostly disapproved. The reboot’s cast includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell. Josh Trank, who burst upon the scene with his sleeper hit Chronicle, handles directing duties. The trailer certainly indicates a more serious tone than what we saw a decade ago. The picture is out August 7.

Four is also a significant number based on news we’ve been waiting to hear for some time. Ghostbusters is finally working its way back to the big screen with a highly comedically talented group of women being the ones who got the call. Paul Feig, maker of Bridesmaids and The Heat, directs and he’s enlisted previous collaborators Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy as part of the quartet. Obviously this marks a Wiig-McCarthy reunion and Feig’s fourth pic with McCarthy (their third feature Spy is out this summer). The other two Busters are current SNL cast members: Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.

At one time it was thought that a traditional third pic in the franchise would eventually see the light of day. However it never materialized partly due to Bill Murray’s reported reluctance to return. By the time of Harold Ramis’s untimely passing year, director of the original two Ivan Reitman made it clear he had no interest in exploring a continuation. The new Ghostbusters is expected for release in summer 2016.

It will certainly be fascinating to watch how these two new rebooted foursomes resonate with moviegoers in the near future.

Box Office Predictions: January 30-February 1

The final weekend of January at the box office should bring an easy three-peat for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. Three newbies make their way to the screen: the found footage sci-fi pic Project Almanac, Kevin Costner interracial drama Black or White, and murder mystery The Loft. You can peruse my individual prediction posts on each here:

American Sniper continues to confound all expectations and, as mentioned, should easily steamroll all competitors.

Almanac appears to have the best chance to do decent business and I don’t expect much out of the other two. In fact, I have the latter two films debuting at seventh and eighth place.

As for holdovers, current #2 The Boy Next Door should suffer the furthest drop in its sophomore frame. Paddington and The Wedding Ringer should stay in the top five while Oscar hopeful The Imitation Game is experiencing very small drop-offs and could top both Black or White and The Loft.

Two important factors to keep in mind that could effect the box office this weekend: The Super Bowl and the aftermath of a massive winter storm expected to pound the East Coast. Both could trend my predicted numbers downward.

And with that, we’ll do a Top 8 for this weekend:

1. American Sniper

Predicted Gross: $42.1 million (representing a drop of 34%)

2. Project Almanac

Predicted Gross: $16.4 million

3. Paddington

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million (representing a drop of 37%)

4. The Boy Next Door

Predicted Gross: $7.5 million (representing a drop of 49%)

5. The Wedding Ringer

Predicted Gross: $6.7 million (representing a drop of 41%)

6. The Imitation Game

Predicted Gross: $6 million (representing a drop of 14%)

7. Black or White

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million

8. The Loft

Predicted Gross: $4.8 million

Box Office Results (January 23-25)

The cultural and financial phenomenon that is American Sniper continued to keep jaws on the floor in its second weekend of wide release. Dropping just 28%, it grossed $64.6 million – well above my $50.4M projection. That’s the eight largest sophomore frame in box office history. The Best Picture nominee has grossed $200.4M so far and should easily surpass $350M with $400M being a possibility. That means it is likely to end up as the largest grosser that was released in 2014 (in limited release, for awards consideration), passing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. Unreal.

The Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door debuted solidly with $14.9 million – on par with my $14.7M prediction. Considering its low-budget, this is a fine debut for the poorly reviewed flick.

Paddington was third with $12.2 million – in line with my $12.6M estimate. The children’s pic has earned $39M at press time. The Kevin Hart comedy The Wedding Ringer earned fourth with $11.3 million, just under my $12.1M projection. It too has amassed a decent $39M so far.

The failure of two newcomers (we’ll get to that in a second) allowed Taken 3 to place fifth with $7.4 million with a total of $75M. I did not have it predicted in the top five. Same goes for The Imitation Game which was sixth with $6.9 million and has earned $60M (making it the second highest grossing Best Picture nominee after Sniper).

The George Lucas produced animated pic Strange Magic stumbled with a debut of only $5.5 million for seventh place. I gave it too much credit and estimated an opening of $8.6M.

Then… Mortdecai. Johnny Depp suffered a colossal bomb as the critically drubbed comedy placed eighth with a pathetic $4.2 million (under my $7.4M estimate). The star clearly needs to start picking better projects as his recent resume is littered with duds that include Dark Shadows and Transcendence. 

And that’ll do it for now, folks! And remember… should you need to conduct a super secret business meeting this week, go see Mortdecai and you’ll probably have the theater to yourselves. Until next time…

Get On Up Movie Review

Get On Up never fully finds a way to break out of the typical biopic conventions that we’ve come to anticipate from the genre. The same holds true for some of the prevalent flaws we find in these types of pictures. The rough edges of the central subject are mostly glossed over. Family dynamics including mother abandonment issues, no matter how true, are too familiar.

What director Tate Taylor has going in his favor are two big things: James Brown is one hell of a subject and Chadwick Boseman was born to play him. Told in a non linear structure, Get On Up explores sixty years of history for the Godfather of Soul, from childhood to the early 90s. We witness his troubled and poor upbringing, his rise to stardom, his business abilities that earned him more money than any other African American musician at the time, and so forth. There’s also his well known history with women that includes domestic violence and infidelity yet that subject is not a primary focus.

Taylor enlists some of his cast from his blockbuster The Help with Viola Davis as his mother who left him and Octavia Spencer as the aunt who raised him. Dan Aykroyd appears as Brown’s longtime business manager. The real Brown, by the way, had a cameo in Aykroyd’s The Blues Brothers in 1980. The second best performance belongs to Nelsan Eddie as best friend and JB hype man Bobby Byrd.

Just as Mr. Brown (his preferred method of what to be called) owned every stage he was on, the man playing him owns this picture and makes it worthwhile. Boseman embodies Brown and is quite remarkable during the musical numbers. Those sequences are the best thing about Get On Up. One of them includes mingling Boseman with the real Brown and it’s thrilling. Let’s face it: by now we have witnessd a lot of biopics that include the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, musicians with inflated egos, addictions, and Mommy and Daddy issues. The music isn’t usually as impossibly funky though with an actor expertly channeling a complicated legend.

*** (out of four)

Last Vegas Movie Review

Redfoo comes away the best in Last Vegas. Who’s Redfoo you ask? He’s one half of the hip hop party group LMFAO and he has a scene as a DJ for a bikini contest in the film. Redfoo will, for the rest of his life, be able to say he shared a scene with Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. That bikini judging sequence is one of many obvious and comedically flat sequences in the picture. Yet for Redfoo, I suppose it’s pretty cool for him. The same cannot be said for the rest of the performers listed.

The film has been referred to as The Hangover for old guys and that’s a fairly accurate description. Douglas is a lifelong single man who finally decides to tie the knot with a woman less than half his age. His friends of 60 years are enlisted for a Vegas bachelor party. They are De Niro, who is a recent widower and whose late wife was involved in a love triangle long ago with Douglas’s character. There’s Freeman, whose family coddles him after he suffered a mild stroke. There’s Kline, whose sole character trait is that his wife gives him a weekend pass to sow his oats.

Once in Sin City, we experience every tired cliche one would expect to find in this type of material. The geezers are given the awesome suite due to Freeman’s gambling abilities. There’s amazement on their part about the price tags of bottle services in the club. Mary Steenburgen becomes the object of Douglas and De Niro’s affection as a lounge singer who they both manage to fall for in about 30 seconds. There isn’t a moment in Last Vegas that feels original or inspired. I didn’t expect this to reach much past the level of tolerable mediocrity, but it doesn’t even reach that unimpressive category.

50 Cent has a cameo as himself. He was supposed to stay in the Big Daddy suite and gets bumped for our grumpy old bachelor party. Even 50 gets the short shrift though as he doesn’t get to share air time with these legendary actors who are seriously slumming it. That honor, once again, belongs to Redfoo. He gets a good story out of Last Vegas’s existence. The audience? Not so much.

*1/2 (out of four)

Black Or White Box Office Prediction

Kevin Costner is certainly pumping out the movies and this Friday comes Black or White, an interracial drama that finds the actor trying to maintain custody of his granddaughter. Octavia Spencer and Anthony Mackie costar. The small budget pic premiered last fall at the Toronto Film Festival to mixed reviews. It was released in limited fashion in December for an Oscar qualifying run which didn’t pan out whatsoever.

The film stands at a meager 38% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s hard to imagine this gathering much buzz. Additionally it’s being released on a relatively low 1500 estimated screens. It has been quite some time since Costner had drawing power at the box office and Black or White should be in line for a minor debut.

Black or White opening weekend prediction: $5.6 million

For my Project Almanac prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Loft, click here: