Oscar winning director Jonathan Demme and Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody bring us the comedic drama Ricki and the Flash, out Friday. The film stars frequent Oscar winner Meryl Streep in the role of a rock star who abandoned her family for stardom with the actress’s real life daughter Mamie Gummer portraying her movie daughter. Kevin Kline and musician Rick Springfield are among the supporting players.
TriStar Pictures is hoping that Ricki’s numbers will be assisted by a sizable female and adult audience. It could work to an extent, but despite the pedigree involved, the pic isn’t really generating awards buzz. It’s hard to see the ceiling for this being greater than high teens though I’m skeptical it’ll reach that gross out of the gate. I believe a debut in the lower single digits is the more likely scenario.
Ricki and the Flash opening weekend prediction: $11.4 million
Joel Edgerton directs, writes, and costars in the psychological thriller The Gift, out Friday and I think it stands a fair shot at becoming a summer sleeper hit. The pic, which also features Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, has featured some rather effective trailers and TV spots and it could succeed at bringing in a more adult crowd than your typical product you see in the August frame.
So far reviews have been quite strong and it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. None of the key players are box office draws and Bateman is much better known for comedic roles, but the robust marketing campaign could succeed in bringing in a larger audience than anticipated.
I’ll predict The Gift yields positive returns for its studio, STX Entertainment and manages a debut in the mid to high teens.
The Gift opening weekend prediction: $16.8 million
Chronicle director Josh Trank spearheads 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise, some eight years after the last entry in the series. The big question is: how much of a clamoring is there for these heroes return to the silver screen?
Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell headline the cast in this reported $122 million tentpole that marks the third and final superhero flick of the summer, after Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Fantastic Four has no hope of reaching Ultron numbers and may be lucky to even be in Ant-Man’s territory.
2005’s original Fantastic Four debuted to $56 million on its way to a $154 million domestic gross while its 2007 sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer opened slightly higher with $58 million. The follow-up did end up earning less overall with $134 million. Both premieres are right in line with Ant-Man’s $57 million first take some three weeks ago.
While any major league comic book film should have no problem making over $40 million out of the gate, this one’s ceiling may not be significantly higher. I’m not convinced audiences are overly eager for this series to come back and early word of mouth has been mixed, at best. I don’t see this making what Ant-Man or the first two Four pics made and a debut in the high 40s seems likely.
Fantastic Four opening weekend prediction: $47.7 million
As July comes to a close, two new entries look to nab the top spots at the box office this weekend as Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and comedy reboot Vacation debut. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each here:
Tom Cruise’s fifth go round as Ethan Hunt should have no problem at all taking the #1 spot while I look for Vacation to land in the runner-up spot.
As for holdovers, I look for Minions to hold up better than current champ Ant-Man, allowing them to place third and fourth. Adam Sandler’s Pixels had a very poor premiere (more on that below) and I look for it to experience the heftiest decline, putting it in a close race for fifth with Trainwreck and Southpaw.
And with that, we’ll do a top seven predictions for this weekend:
1. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Predicted Gross: $52.3 million
Predicted Gross: $17.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $24.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
Predicted Gross: $11.8 million (representing a drop of 48%)
Predicted Gross: $11.4 million (representing a drop of 54%)
Predicted Gross: $10.3 million (representing a drop of 56%)
Predicted Gross: $10.2 million (representing a drop of 41%)
Predicted Gross: $9.5 million (representing a drop of 43%)
Box Office Results (July 24-26)
Marvel’s Ant-Man surprisingly held onto the #1 slot in its second weekend with $24.9 million, in line with my $25.6M projection. It has grossed a solid $106M in its first ten days of release.
The “surprise” is that Pixels was expected to top the charts, yet it tanked with a $24 million opening – less than half of my extremely generous $49M prediction. The critically panned video game pic represents another poor performance from Adam Sandler, whose box office star has been waning in recent years.
Minions was third with $22.9 million, on target with my $23.4M estimate and the animated hit has brought in $262M.
Trainwreck held up admirably for fourth in weekend #2 with $17.2 million (a bit under my $18.7M prediction) for a total of $61 million. The Judd Apatow comedy should top $100M when all is said and done.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s boxing drama Southpaw exceeded most expectations with a sturdy $16.7 million, ahead of my $12.9M projection.
Finally, teen romance Paper Towns (based on a John Green bestseller) had a less than expected roll out with just $12.6 million, considerably below my $26.8M estimate. While Towns has a tiny budget and will easily profit, this is disappointing considering The Fault in Our Stars (also based on a Green novel) made $48M out of the gate last summer.
And that’ll do it for now, friends! Until next time…
A new generation of Griswolds comes to the big screen as Vacation hits theaters this Wednesday. It’s been 32 years since Clark, Ellen, and the kids starred in the now classic original and 18 years since the last installment, the poorly received Vegas Vacation.
Our reboot finds Ed Helms as the grown up Rusty Griswold with Christina Applegate as his wife. Leslie Mann costars as sister Audrey with Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day among the supporting cast. And as you’ve likely seen from the trailers and TV spots, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo do return once again.
The name brand and nostalgia factor alone should be enough to get this Vacation off to a pretty healthy start. There is some comedy competition in the form of Trainwreck‘s third weekend, but that shouldn’t be a huge factor. With its five-day roll out, the pic looks poised for a likely second place showing behind the weekend’s other newcomer, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. I’ll say it manages to reach mid 20s over the five day frame.
Vacation opening weekend prediction: $17.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $24.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
For my Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation prediction, click here:
Tom Cruise is back for his fifth go round as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, opening Friday, July 31st. The now nineteen year old franchise should give the series another solid hit, following the goodwill left over from 2011’s critically acclaimed and audience pleasing fourth entry, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
Besides Cruise, Rogue features returnees Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, in addition to new cast members Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin. Let’s take a trip down memory lane for openings of past flicks:
Mission: Impossible – $45.4 million debut with eventual $180.9M domestic gross in 1996
Mission: Impossible II – $70.8 million debut over four day Memorial Day weekend in 2000 with $91.8 million premiere since it opened on a Wednesday with eventual $215.4M domestic gross
Mission: Impossible III – $47.7 million debut with eventual $134M domestic gross in 2006
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – $44.1 million debut over four day Christmas weekend in 2011 with eventual $209.3M domestic gross
As you can see, Protocol technically had the lowest opening of the franchise, but held strong in subsequent post holiday weekends to generate the second largest haul of the series. That bodes pretty well for audience anticipation for Rogue, yet it doesn’t have the benefit of a late year release when titles tend to experience smaller drop offs from weekend to weekend.
Rogue Nation stands little chance of reaching the opening heights achieved by part two, but I do believe it will manage the second highest roll out. I will predict a debut in the low to mid 50s range.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opening weekend prediction: $52.3 million
I understand. The name comes from a rather ingenious movie game idea that came to my attention via my Uncle Steve over the weekend and I’ve been rather preoccupied with it ever since. If you’re a true movie buff, it’s quite a bit of fun and it’s something good to quiz your fellow movie buff friends on.
The concept is simple. Take the character names (real or fictional) of actors who’ve appeared in a film together and make your subject guess which picture they all appear in together. Still confused? This should clear it up:
Batman, Al Capone, Lois Lane, Chris Kyle, Katniss Everdeen, and Jeffrey Dahmer.
I’ll give you a moment… (DON’T READ ON IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GUESS)
That would be American Hustle, whose cast included Christian Bale (Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy), Robert De Niro (Capone in The Untouchables), Amy Adams (Lois Lane in Man of Steel), Bradley Cooper (Chris Kyle in American Sniper), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss in The Hunger Games franchise), and Jeremy Renner (Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer). Kinda fun isn’t it?
Or how about Elvis Presley, Andy Kaufman, Virginia Woolf, Ty Cobb, and Ernest Hemingway?
That would be Batman Forever with Val Kilmer (Presley in True Romance), Jim Carrey (Kaufman in Man on the Moon), Nicole Kidman (Woolf in The Hours), Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb in Cobb), and Chris O’Donnell (Hemingway in In Love and War).
There’s last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman with Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), The Hulk (Edward Norton), Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and Princess Diana (Naomi Watts).
And 2012’s Oscar winner Argo starring Daredevil (Ben Affleck), Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Fred Flintstone (John Goodman), Shawshank Warden Norton (Bob Gunton), and “Orange is the New Black” main character Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling).
This December’s eagerly awaited Quentin Tarantino pic The Hateful Eight boasts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and Magic Mike (Channing Tatum).
What 1991 Oscar nominated political drama features Robin Hood, Ren McCormack, Harvey Dent, Harry Lyme, Dracula, Carrie White, Felix Ungar, Albert Einstein, President Snow, Uncle Buck, and “Seinfeld” neighbor Newman? It’s Oliver Stone’s JFK and I’ll let you figure out who’s who… it’s part of the fun!
And many of you took in this weekend’s #1 pic Ant-Man with Brian Fantana, Liberace, Kate Austen, Congressman Peter Russo, and Papa Doc.
I could go on and on, but just thought this might provide some film buff fanatics with an enjoyable new way to quiz and frustrate your friends. And thanks to Uncle Steve!
Three new titles populate the multiplex this weekend as the video game inspired family comedy Pixels, adaptation of John Green bestseller Paper Towns, and Jake Gyllenhaal boxing drama Southpaw all debut. You can peruse my detailed individual prediction posts on each of them here:
I expect Pixels to easily nab the #1 spot, though it is worth noting that my prediction is higher than some other prognosticators are putting it at. And to be fair, I overestimated Ant-Man this past weekend (more on that below). Still, it’s tough to imagine it not debuting in first place.
It could be a very tight race between Paper Towns, Ant-Man, and Minions for the runner-up position. I am estimating Towns manages to get there with Ant-Man and Minions losing over half their previous frame audiences in their respective second and third weekends.
Amy Schumer’s comedy Trainwreck should suffer the smallest decline of holdovers after its robust roll out. That would leave Southpaw outside of the top five with a sixth place showing and it’ll certainly need to greatly exceed expectations to avoid that fate.
And with that, it’s a top 6 predictions this weekend:
Predicted Gross: $49 million
2. Paper Towns
Predicted Gross: $26.8 million
Predicted Gross: $25.6 million (representing a drop of 55%)
Predicted Gross: $23.4 million (representing a drop of 52%)
Predicted Gross: $18.7 million (representing a drop of 37%)
Predicted Gross: $12.9 milion
Box Office Results (July 17-19)
Disney/Marvel once again saw its product debut at #1, but Ant-Man managed just the 11th highest opening in their 12 film Marvel Cinematic Universe (only 2008’s The Incredible Hulk started lower). The Paul Rudd pic grossed $57.2 million, well under my $73.3M estimate. Still, expectations were not quite as sky high for this entry and it represents a decent gross, albeit on the lower end of the scale.
Minions dropped to second with $49.2 million, under my $56.9M prediction. The Despicable Me spin-off has amassed $215 million in ten days.
Amy Schumer became a movie star over the weekend as her critically acclaimed Trainwreck posted a fantastic $30 million opening, just ahead of my $27.8M projection. As mentioned, I anticipate solid word of mouth to keep this chugging along over the next couple of weekends.
Pixar’s Inside Out was fourth with $11.5 million (I said $10.5M) for a total of $306 million while Jurassic World was fifth with $11.4 million (I said $11.1M) for an amazing $611 million current gross.
And that’ll do it for now, friends! Until next time…
Alex Garland’s Ex Machina shares similar themes of romance with an artificial intelligence being to that of Spike Jonze’s Her. Oh, but the tone is quite different. This low budget sci-fi feature announces a director with a visual style not unlike Kubrick and one suspects we’ll be seeing lots more from Garland in the future. We’ve seen similar material before, but never presented in the manner it is here and that makes Ex Machina an exciting experience.
The pic gets right into the plot as computer programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected by his boss Nathan (Oscar Isaac) to travel to his gorgeous remote estate. Nathan is the founder and CEO of Bluebook, the largest search engine site in the world. Caleb is unsure of why he’s given this assignment but soon finds out that is to judge whether Nathan’s AI design Ava (Alicia Vikander) passes the Turing test. In other words, Caleb is to determine whether Ava passes for a human.
We witness their interaction through a series of sessions, with the eccentric, alcoholic, and probably dangerous Nathan monitoring their every moment of conversation. Almost. Intermittent periods of power blackouts allow Caleb and Ava to speak more frankly and Caleb soon discovers than Nathan’s intentions could be more sinister than he’s leading his employee to believe. As their sessions grow, Caleb develops an attraction for Ava and she becomes more and more human to him. She reciprocates his feelings.
The themes of the human race dealing with artificial intelligence in a sexual way are, once again, becoming a more common theme in cinema. Where Ex Machina succeeds is generating considerable tension in the dynamic between its two test subjects (there’s never much doubt Caleb is being tested too) and Nathan. Some of the movie’s most significant developments occur in the blackout periods generated by lost power and by Nathan’s love of hard liquor. We are constantly second guessing Nathan’s motives and soon begin to question Ava’s.
Isaac is given the juicy role here and he delivers another terrific performance once again. Gleeson is the straight man who convincingly plays the truly strange new world he’s found himself in. Yet Ex Machina hinges on the work of Vikander, who excels at creating this manufactured woman who quickly tugs at Caleb’s emotions.
There is no doubt that Garland is a real talent and he delivers a tight and often claustrophobic universe to let his three main players interact in (the only other major supporting player is Sonoyo Mizuno as Nathan’s non English speaking housemaid). With each subsequent session, the suspense escalates and we’re never quite sure where it’s all leading up to. When it does, the ending feels a tad predictable but also feels appropriate. This is not the sci-fi experience we’ve grown used to with an over reliance of effects. They’re here, but Ex Machina earns its worthiness from a director who confidently knows how to tell this story.
A ripped Jake Gyllenhaal headlines the boxing drama Southpaw, out Friday and it will attempt to bring in adult moviegoers looking for something out than effects driven sci-fi spectacles and sequels. Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day and The Equalizer, is behind the camera with Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, and 50 Cent among the supporting cast. 50’s protege Eminem is featured prominently on the soundtrack and in the trailers and TV spots.
Gyllenhaal has been on a roll lately, particularly in the critical community. Last fall’s Nightcrawler gave the actor some of the best reviews of his career and many (including this blogger) feel he was snubbed for a nomination at Oscar time. Southpaw gives him another juicy role, but early word is somewhat mixed (it stands at 60% on Rotten Tomatoes at press time). Gyllenhaal’s recent track record suggests an opening in the low double to digits to mid teens could be a real possibility here. 2011’s Source Code debuted to $14.8 million while the following year’s End of Watch made $13.1 million out of the gate. The aforementioned Nightcrawler premiered with $10.4 million. I have a difficult time envisioning this matching his best opening of recent years – 2013’s Prisoners which made $20.8 million.
I’ll predict Southpaw is left with a start right in range with End of Watch, which would be fairly decent considering its rumored $30 million budget.
Southpaw opening weekend prediction: $12.9 million