Box Office Predictions: April 3-5

It’s Easter weekend at the box office and Furious 7, the seventh installment of the wildly popular Fast and Furious franchise, looks to set the all-time April opening weekend record and mark the largest debut of 2015 so far. My prediction has it managing both. My detailed prediction post can be read here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/28/furious-7-box-office-prediction/

With Furious being the only new player this weekend (any direct competitors smartly got out of the way), that just leaves holdovers. Dreamworks animated Home had a much higher premiere than anyone (especially me) anticipated. It should dip by the low 40s in its sophomore frame.

The Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard also experienced a solid opening, but it looks poised for a heftier fall in weekend two. Insurgent and Cinderella should round out the top five.

And with that, my predictions for the holiday weekend:

1. Furious 7

Predicted Gross: $117.4 million

2. Home

Predicted Gross: $29.3 million (representing a drop of 43%)

3. Get Hard

Predicted Gross: $15.4 million (representing a drop of 54%)

4. Insurgent

Predicted Gross: $10.9 million (representing a drop of 49%)

5. Cinderella

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million (representing a drop of 42%)

Box Office Results (March 27-29)

As mentioned, the animated Home surpassed everyone’s expectations with a stealthy $52.1 million debut, rocketing beyond my meager $24.6M projection. Clearly, family audiences were ready for something new and decided there was no place like Home this weekend.

Get Hard had a solid opening with $33.8 million, a bit above my $30.3M prediction. On the flip side, it earned a mediocre B Cinemascore grade and was savaged by critics, so it seems destined to fade pretty quickly.

Last week’s champ Insurgent fell to third with $21.5 million in weekend #2, a bit below my $24M estimate. It is currently lagging behind the pace that its predecessor Divergent accomplished and the two week total stands at $85 million.

Cinderella was fourth with $17 million, under my $19.1M projection. The Disney hit’s total is currently at $149 million.

The critically lauded indie horror pic It Follows opened fifth with a commendable $3.8 million on just 1200 screens, outpacing my $2.7M prediction.

In sixth was Kingsman: The Secret Service at $2.9 million, just under my $3.5M projection. Its total is at $119 million.

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

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Furious 7 Box Office Prediction

This Friday, the eagerly awaited Furious 7 looks to pass a number of box office milestones: biggest opening so far in 2o15 and highest debut of the fourteen year old franchise. Conjuring director James Wan takes over the series from Justin Lin.

The last two entries of the Fast and Furious series have brought the franchise to new heights. 2011’s Fast Five opened to $86.1 million with a final domestic tally of $209 million. Two years ago, Fast & Furious 6 topped that with a $97.3 million premiere and a $238 million eventual haul.

As tragic as it is, there is little doubt that star Paul Walker’s untimely death contributes to a curiosity factor here. This will be the last screen appearance of the actor as series regulars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, and Ludacris return. Kurt Russell and Jason Statham also join the party. Reviews have been quite strong and it sits at 86% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

Furious 7 needs to surpass the $95 million that Captain America: The Winter Soldier made last year to post the largest April opening of all time. As I see it, it will blast past that mark with relative ease to earn that designation and set the franchise record in the meantime.

Furious 7 opening weekend prediction: $117.4 million

It Follows Box Office Prediction

After it premiered in May 2014 at the Cannes Film Festival, the low budget indie horror flick It Follows received rave reviews, so much so that it stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. With a cast of unknowns and a director helming his first theatrical feature, Follows debuts in approximately 1200 theaters this Friday.

Its critical acclaim gives it the only real shot of breaking out at the box office. While reviews have deemed it terrifying, it is still tough to imagine that happening. The marketing campaign has been subdued and a better bet is the picture finding a cult following once it reaches VOD and cable.

I’ll predict a soft opening that will keep it outside the top five.

It Follows opening weekend prediction: $2.7 million

Box Office Predictions: March 27-29

The last week of March brings two titles to the multiplex that could easily place first and second: the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard and Dreamworks animated flick Home. You can peruse my detailed projections on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/21/get-hard-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/21/home-box-office-prediction/

Get Hard should rule the weekend unless its quite negative reviews give it a softer opening (so to speak) than expected. Home should manage an OK debut for an animated pic.

As for holdovers, Insurgent opened a little lighter than anticipated and it should lose more than half its audience in weekend two, like predecessor Divergent did. Cinderella should place fourth in weekend #3 while nearly two month old Kingsman: The Secret Service may stay at the five spot.

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

1. Get Hard

Predicted Gross: $30.3 million

2. Home

Predicted Gross: $24.6 million

3. Insurgent

Predicted Gross: $24 million (representing a drop of 54%)

4. Cinderella

Predicted Gross: $19.1 million (representing a drop of 45%)

5. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million (representing a drop of 25%)

Box Office Results (March 20-22)

As mentioned, YA sequel Insurgent came in a bit lower than expected with $52.2 million, under my generous $62.1M prediction and slightly under what Divergent accomplished a year ago. This is certainly not a huge letdown for the studio, but most prognosticators had this debuting higher than the original.

Cinderella dropped to second in its sophomore frame with $34.9 million, just below my $36.9M projection. The Disney live-action hit has amassed $122 million in ten days.

Liam Neeson’s action dud Run All Night was third in weekend #2 with $5 million, in line with my $5.6M estimate. It’s made just $19 million so far.

Neeson’s Taken director stumbled with The Gunman, Sean Penn’s action thriller which flopped with just $5 million out of the gate, below my $6.8M prediction.

Kingsman: The Secret Service managed to stay in the top five with $4.6 million. I incorrectly didn’t include it in the top five. Its total stands at $114 million.

Finally, faith based drama Do You Believe? bombed with a paltry $3.5 million for sixth place. Many similar themed pictures debuted to bigger than expected results in 2014 and I incorrectly believed this would, estimating a $12.3M opening. Oops.

That’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

Inherent Vice Movie Review

Like its constantly reefer toking lead character, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice could use a bit more focus and clarity. The complicated plot sometimes feels like a pothead is describing it to you as it’s occasionally challenging to follow along with. Yet you come away with the notion that Anderson, the master filmmaker responsible for Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, has made exactly the picture he wanted to make.

Based on a 2009 novel by Thomas Pynchon, Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix (who gave a much different and also terrific performance in PTA’s last previous The Master) as Doc, a stoner private eye in California circa 1970. When we open, he’s visited by his hippie ex Shasta (Katherine Waterston) who’s gotten herself into some trouble with a real estate mogul (Eric Roberts) who may be the victim of some shady dealings by his family. It leads Doc to a case that involves Nazis, a thought to be dead musician (Owen Wilson), and a drug addled dentist (a typically memorable Martin Short). Along the way, we discover Doc’s antagonistic relationship with LAPD detective “Bigfoot”, played with gusto by Josh Brolin.

There’s a lot of subplots involved in Inherent Vice and it provides for smaller roles by familiar faces like Benicio del Toro and Joaquin’s Walk the Line counterpart Reese Witherspoon, among others. At its center is the love story between Doc and Shasta, though they talk about their connection like it barely exists. Phoenix, as always, turns in a fascinating performance that further demonstrates his considerable abilites (the guy can do slapstick comedy when called upon). Waterston, daughter of Sam, is the real find here in a sea of more famous faces.

For the most part, Inherent Vice couldn’t be more different than 2012’s The Master. They are similar in one way: I found it tough to get emotionally involved in either. To be fair, I do not believe that’s what PTA is going for. Vice is about atmosphere and characters and the plot is mostly an afterthought. As with all previous efforts by the director, the atmosphere is something to behold, as is the acting.

The picture has moments where it has a Big Lebowski vibe and not just due to the weed love of the star. There are times when you’ll remember this is coming from the guy who made the brilliant Boogie Nights. Inherent Vice doesn’t belong in the same category as either of those movies, but fans of PTA (of which I certainly am) should find this worthwhile. I suspect that this, like most of Anderson’s work, will improve upon subsequent viewings. The fact that I’ll likely sign up for a second viewing in the future is recommendation enough.

*** (out of four)

Home Box Office Prediction

Dreamworks Animation is hoping to have a kiddie hit on their hands as Home opens this Friday. The animated tale features the vocal work of Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin and Jim Parsons and comes from Over the Hedge director Tim Johnson.

Lately, the animation wing of Dreamworks has seen some disappointments as both 2014’s Mr. Peabody and Sherman and How to Train Your Dragon 2 failed to match expectations. While there isn’t much in the way of family competition, with the exception of Cinderella’s third weekend, Home seems likely to perform just OK. I believe it’ll struggle to reach $25 million out of the gate.

Home opening weekend prediction: $24.6 million

For my Get Hard prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/21/get-hard-box-office-prediction/

 

Get Hard Box Office Prediction

The comedic stylists of Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart converge in Get Hard, the R rated entry that opens Friday. The two stars have been hitting the publicity circuit hard over the past few weeks. Both Ferrell and Hart have their legions of fans and their pairing should result in a solid debut. The premise sells itself with Hart teaching white collar Ferrell how to survive an upcoming prison stint. Alison Brie and rapper T.I. are among the supporting cast. Reviews have not been kind as it sits at only 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that shouldn’t hurt it too much.

I do not expect Get Hard to reach the current best $47 millon career best opening for Ferrell that was Talladega Nights or the $41 million that Hart reached last year for Ride Along. A premiere around $30 million seems the most likely scenario.

Get Hard opening weekend prediction: $30.3 million

For my Home prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/21/home-box-office-prediction/

Top Five Movie Review

Top Five showcases the work of an exceptionally brilliant stand up comedian who at last comes into his own on the silver screen. It took some time, but this is one solid payoff. Chris Rock’s greatest work in his quarter century of fame has always been created by him in the form what he’s accomplished on stage holding a mic. Not on SNL, where he was never used properly. Not in movies, which included him doing watered down bits of his act in the fourth Lethal Weapon and trying to fit into an action comedy with Anthony Hopkins. Even pictures he wrote himself, like the Heaven Can Wait remake Down to Earth and political satire Head of State, contained only glimpses of the edge and wit the star brought to a stage.

So it fits that Rock’s character here, Andre Allen, is a once revered comedian whose once hot film career has stalled. Allen has decided to take on more serious roles and nobody’s buying. They want to see him return for a fourth edition of his Hammy the Bear franchise, which casts him as a wisecracking cop in a bear suit. With no future Hammys on the horizon and a dud of a drama about Haitian slavery called Uprize about to debut, Andre’s life is garnering more attention for his impending nuptials to a reality TV star (Gabrielle Union). Their engagement and marriage is, of course, being shot as its own BRAVO series.

The picture takes place in the time span of one day, as Andre is being tailed by New York Times reporter Chelsea (Rosario Dawson) for a feature piece. She’s not your average interviewer and she manages to ask some probing questions to the actor that are more important than “Were you the class clown?” (though she asks that too). Soon the two are embroiled in occasionally deep and often very humorous discussions on their mutual addictions to alcohol, relationships, family, and fame. And we see Chelsea perhaps spark something in a performer who’s seemingly lost his creative way.

For Top Five to arrive not long after Rock made Grown Ups 2 causes me to wonder if he needed to make this. This is the freshest, most insightful and energetic and likely personal tale he’s ever commited to other than his stand up routine. There are genuine belly laughs yet its shift to a more serious tone in the second half works because the central characters are well developed. His chemistry with Dawson works and her performance is terrific, too.

While most of the action centers on the two leads, Top Five is jam packed with familiar faces from Kevin Hart to Tracy Morgan to Cedric the Entertainer. There are some cameos from unexpected celebs that are too good to spoil. Perhaps the best supporting character is JB Smoove as Andre’s barely needed bodyguard, who eventually really does come in handy.

The only minor quibble here is Hammy the Bear. It might’ve been a smarter move for writer/director Rock to make Andre have a similar film career to his real one. The Hammy thing is, well, kind of hammy and unnecessarily over the top silly in a screenplay that mostly avoids it.

Top Five is about an artist trying to rediscover what makes him special. We’ve always known Chris Rock is a force onstage. This is the first time he’s come darn close to greatness in this format.

***1/2 (out of four)

BADFELLAS – 1990: The Year of the Crime Movie

A quarter century ago, Hollywood was in a criminal state of mind. The year 1990 marks perhaps the banner year for crime movies. All kinds of nefarious activity was displayed on the silver screen that year with the Mob as the biggest offenders. Yet there were also crooked cops, psycho neighbors, con artists, and rich husbands maybe offing their wives.

The king of crime movies in 1990 belongs to Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas, an absolute genre classic that rivals the quality of the first two Godfather pictures. It inexplicably lost the Best Picture Oscar to Dances with Wolves. It shouldn’t have.

Speaking of the Godfather, perhaps the most anticipated Mafia tale that year was The Godfather Part III, which came out sixteen years after the second entry. It did not match expectations but it did still score a Best Picture nod. I still maintain it isn’t a bad movie at all yet just pales in comparison to what came before it. Like nearly all films do.

The Coen Brothers were in on the Mob mentality with Miller’s Crossing, an offbeat and beautifully filmed tale that has since become a genre classic. If your knowledge of Coen crime pics is limited to Fargo and No Country for Old Men, do yourself a favor and view this.

Like Miller’s Crossing, Irish gangsters populate State of Grace, Phil Joanou’s worthwhile effort that stars Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, and Robin Wright. It’s worth a look.

Finally on the gangster tip, English mobsters get their turn in Peter Medak’s critically lauded The Krays. It may be tough to find, but it’s solid.

One year before Nino Brown became one of the most notorious movie drug dealers since Tony Montana, Christopher Walken killed it as Frank White in the cult classic King of New York. The solid supporting cast includes Laurence Fishburne and Snipes himself.

Not one, not two, but three 1990 flicks focused on crooked cops and they’re worth watching. Bad cop pic #1 is Sidney Lumet’s Q&A. Nick Nolte is said bad cop. Bad cop pic #2 is Mike Figgis’s Internal Affairs with Richard Gere as the crooked boy in blue. Bad cop pic #3 is Miami Blues with Alec Baldwin in one of his most interesting and creepy roles.

Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening earned Oscar nominations in the darkly funny The Grifters, which also comes highly recommended. John Cusack costars.

Jeremy Irons won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Claus Von Bulow in the true life story Reversal of Fortune. Glenn Close costars as wife Sunny.

As for Best Actress, it was Kathy Bates as an author’s crazed #1 fan in Rob Reiner’s claustrophobic and effective Misery, based on the Stephen King bestseller.

Speaking of psychos, Michael Keaton turns in a supremely creepy performance as the tenant from hell in Pacific Heights.

And before recent commercials showed us a funny Creepy Rob Lowe, there really was one in the underrated Bad Influence, with James Spader.

Oh there’s more. Jack Nicholson returning to his private eye role he made famous in the classic Chinatown with its long delayed sequel The Two Jakes.

Kevin Costner battling Mexican crime lord Anthony Quinn in Tony Scott’s Revenge.

The Dennis Hopper directed film noir The Hot Spot with Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, and Jennifer Connelly.

Desperate Hours, a remake of a Humphrey Bogart thriller starring Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins, a year before he became an international sensation in The Silence of the Lambs.

Harrison Ford as a lawyer who may or may not have murdered his mistress in the taut Alan J. Pakula pic Presumed Innocent.

All of these crime laden tales are worth seeing if you haven’t done so. And it serves as a reminder of the glorious illegality occurring on the screen 25 years ago.

 

Box Office Predictions: March 20-22

For the second weekend in a row, a big budget blockbuster geared towards the female audience will likely dominate a B action movie with Liam Neeson connections. YA sequel Insurgent comes out a year following its predecessor Divergent and I have it debuting to even bigger numbers. The Gunman comes from the director of Neeson’s Taken and stars Sean Penn. The wild card newbie is faith based drama Do You Believe?, which could carry on the recent tradition of these types of pics premiering with larger than anticipated results. You can find detailed prediction posts on all three newcomers here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/14/insurgent-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/14/the-gunman-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/14/do-you-believe-box-office-prediction/

As you can see, I expect Insurgent to easily top the charts. Disney’s live action Cinderella retelling should be #2 after its very strong rollout this past weekend (more on that below). I anticipate it’ll drop in the mid 40s range.

I have Do You Believe? posting healthier numbers than The Gunman, which has been the victim of some pretty brutal reviews so far. The underperforming Liam Neeson thriller Run All Night should round out the top five after its muted opening this last weekend.

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

1. Insurgent

Predicted Gross: $62.1 million

2. Cinderella

Predicted Gross: $36.9 million (representing a drop of 45%)

3. Do You Believe?

Predicted Gross: $12.3 millon

4. The Gunman

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

5. Run All Night

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million (representing a drop of 49%)

Box Office Results (March 13-15)

Well, call me the belle of the ball this weekend! Disney’s Cinderella got off to a terrific start with $67.8 million. My prediction? $67.8 million! Holla!! Female audiences turned out in droves for the acclaimed feature. Having a short film from the Frozen team airing before it probably didn’t hurt either.

The news was not near as good for Liam Neeson as Run All Night stumbled with just $11 million, a little short of my $12.1 million. Reviews were OK but having this arrive so soon after Taken 3 was probably a misstep.

Kingsman: The Secret Service was third and it’s posted solid holds from week to week. I incorrectly had its outside the top five but it earned $6.2 million to boost its current cume to $107 million.

Focus and Chappie each made $5.7 million for fourth and fifth, right around my respective projections of $5.6 million and $6.1 million. The Will Smith caper has made a middling $43 million while Chappie stands at a weak $23 million. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was sixth with $5.6 million, in line with my $6 million estimate. It’s made $18 million through two weeks.

And that will wrap it up for now…. Until next time!