Box Office Predictions: December 4-6

The first week of December is traditionally a weak frame at the box office as the month’s heavy hitters have yet to roll out and moviegoers are mostly nibbling on Thanksgiving leftovers. This year figures to follow suit as only the Christmas themed horror comedy Krampus opens wide and I don’t see it performing too well. You can read my detailed prediction post on it here:

The post holiday weekend also usually means big drop offs for existing pics. The last two Hunger Games entries have fallen more than 60% on this weekend and current champ Mockingjay – Part 2 should do the same.

Disney’s animated features that debuted on Turkey Day weekend have typically fallen over 50% and that could true here with The Good Dinosaur.

And that could create a serious photo finish for the top spot. To add to the mystery: Creed opened to better than expected results and I foresee it having the smallest decline due to very positive word of mouth.

Krampus should land in the four spot with Spectre rounding out the top five. And here are those top five estimates for a fairly sleepy weekend:

  1. The Good Dinosaur

Predicted Gross: $18.7 million (representing a drop of 52%)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Predicted Gross: $18.5 million (representing a drop of 64%)

3. Creed

Predicted Gross: $16.4 million (representing a drop of 44%)

4. Krampus

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

5. Spectre

Predicted Gross: $6 million (representing a drop of 52%)

Box Office Results (November 25-29)

Katniss and crew maintained their dominance as Mockingjay – Part 2 ruled Thanksgiving with $52 million over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and $75.9 million for the five day holiday frame. This was in line with my respective projections of $48.4M and $75.5M. The franchise finale stands at $198 million so far.

Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur had a so so premiere compared to what the company is used to with $39.1 million over the three day and $55.4 million for the long weekend. This is well under my predictions of $56.6M and $78.9M. It will need meager drop offs over the holidays to avoid potentially being Pixar’s smallest earner in its storied two decade existence.

With legitimate Oscar buzz, Creed tapped into Rocky nostalgia and made a magnificent $29.6 million (three day) and $42.1 million (five day), knocking out my estimates of $19.6M and $27.4M. The red hot word of mouth clearly brought this to heights that were unimaginable just weeks ago.

Spectre was fourth with $12.8 million (three day) and a five day tally of $18.2 million for a $176M overall gross. I was close with $13.1M and $17.7M.

The Peanuts Movie came in a bit below my forecast at fifth with $9.7 million and $13.6 million compared to my predictions of $11.1M and $15.3M. It’s made $116M.

The Night Before was sixth in its sophomore frame with $8.3 million and $10.7 million – right in line with my estimates of $8M and (bingo!) $10.7M.

Last and majorly least, critically drubbed Victor Frankenstein tanked with an embarrassing $2.4 million and $3.5 million since its Wednesday start. This put it in just 12th place and way below my generous $10.8 and $14.8M projections.

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

Oscar Watch: Joy

When it comes to Oscar nominations over the first half of this decade, no director matches the incredible track record of David O. Russell. Let’s do some math, shall we? His last three pictures – 2010’s The Fighter, 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, 2013’s American Hustle – have scored a combined 25 Academy Award nods. All three were nominated for Best Picture. Russell was in the Directing race for each film. The trio of pics nabbed a total of 11 acting nominations resulting in three victories: Christian Bale (Supporting Actor for The Fighter), Melissa Leo (Supporting Actress for The Fighter), and Jennifer Lawrence (Actress for Silver Linings Playbook).

Therefore, it’s obvious that December’s Joy has been high on the list for potential Oscar attention. Over the weekend, it screened for critics and journalists for the first time. While reviews are officially embargoed until mid December, the word is that Russell likely has his fourth contender in a row. Early buzz makes one thing clear: Lawrence is in line to receive her fourth nomination as the title character in Best Actress. At this point, it’d be a shock if she’s not included. This would mark her third recognition in a row from the Academy working with Russell (winning for Playbook, nominated for Hustle). As for other acting races, it’s murkier. Bradley Cooper would also be going for his third nomination in a row with Russell, but his part is said to be small and he probably won’t be included. Robert De Niro, on the other hand, has potential with his supporting turn. His last nomination was in the same category for Playbook. Diane Ladd is rumored to be the Supporting Actress most in contention over costars Virginia Madsen and Isabella Rossellini.

It would also seem that Joy remains a strong contender for Best Picture recognition and that could extend to Russell’s fourth time in the Director category. As stated, Russell’s films have been an Oscar juggernaut and it’s unlikely to let up here (especially with J Law). A caveat: some of the initial reaction for this isn’t quite as over the moon as the director’s last efforts, so I would write Joy‘s Best Picture nomination and Russell’s down in pencil, not pen until officials reviews are released. Feel free to use a Bic with Lawrence.

2015: The Year of Nostalgia

This is the third full year of this blog’s existence and in 2013 and 2014, I posted six separate entries about actors and actresses that experienced terrific years during those frames. I’m doing the same for 2015, but for my first, there’s a twist. It’s not a specific performer that gets the honor of having a watershed year but rather a feeling. Nostalgia.

In 2015, we have witnessed franchises that began four decades ago and two decades ago become the defining pictures of this calendar year. We’ve seen the early days of a generational defining musical genre become the surprise hit of the summer. And next month, we are highly likely to see the year culminate in a nostalgic frenzy.

We begin in the summer when Avengers: Age of Ultron was widely expected to be the season’s largest grosser. That was until Jurassic World shocked everyone with the highest domestic premiere of all time with $208 million with an eventual $652 million haul. The franchise that Spielberg began sparked the interest of those who were wowed by its dinosaurs over 20 years earlier. They attended this new World and took their kids along with them.

This same summer saw another long time franchise that had stood dormant for 30 years get rebooted to acclaimed results and brisk box office when Mad Max: Fury Road took in $153 million stateside. George Miller (who helmed the original trilogy) brought his wild action set pieces to a whole new audience and gave fans one of the most heralded pics in the genre in years.

In August, a generation of listeners who grew up on late 80s and early 90s gangsta rap celebrated the release of Straight Outta Compton, which focused on the formation of NWA. It would make an incredible $161 million.

This past Thanksgiving weekend continued the reminiscent trend in the form of Creed. While it might be the seventh movie in the last near 40 years to feature the iconic character of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, the actor/director turned the reins over to upstart filmmaker Ryan Coogler. The results? A $40 million opening and the best reviews of the series since the Oscar winning original. Stallone could be well on his way to a Supporting Actor nod and Creed itself could find itself in the Best Picture mix.

Of course, not all attempts to tap our nostalgic nerve succeeds and it’s usually due to quality. This held true for Arnold’s summer return in Terminator: Genisys and the Vacation franchise being retooled with a younger set of Griswolds. And remember Jem and the Holograms from a few weeks back? Didn’t think so.

In less than three weeks, we will witness hyper drive when it comes to the subject of this post. That would be Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As you know, it marks the return of some of the most beloved film characters ever seen in the most famous franchise ever to reach the screen. It could very easily result in record breaking box office numbers all over the world.

2015 surely will be remembered in motion picture history as a year in which we collectively celebrated our film memories. And that makes this choice an easy one for my first of six posts of what we’ll remember about this year on the silver screen.

Oscar Watch: Anomalisa

Since summer, it’s been clear that one 2015 animated film is a true contender in the Best Picture race: Pixar’s Inside Out. Yet it’s becoming increasingly likely that there may be two and the other is in the form of Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa.

Known for his ingenious screenplays that include Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaufman’s latest is an experimental stop motion comedy drama featuring the voices of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan. It is not an animated pic for kids with its R rating. Anomalisa premiered at Telluride before winning the Grand Jury prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Critics have gone gaga over it as its Rotten Tomatoes score is a cool 100%. Its inclusion in the Animated Feature race is a foregone conclusion. The question is whether or not it could gather enough mojo to be included in the big race, Picture. Right now I feel it’s on the outside looking in, but if any December contenders like Joy or The Hateful Eight falter, I could be singing a different tune. Anomalisa is one to keep an eye on.

Krampus Box Office Prediction

A whole different kind of Christmas comedy hits theaters next weekend when Krampus debuts. This ain’t Love the Coopers, folks. Michael Dougherty, known best for his screenplays for superhero pics X2 and Superman Returns, is behind the camera. This isn’t his first holiday themed horror comedy though. He made the Halloween centric cult favorite Trick r Treat years ago.

Krampus focuses on what may be a very bad Santa with a cast featuring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and David Koechner. The trailers do inspire some hope. Having said that, the first week of December is not fertile ground for new releases as audiences are mostly preoccupied with Thanksgiving leftovers. Additionally, while movie geeks may be looking forward to this, general audiences will probably stay away.

I believe Krampus will be lucky to reach double digits and will predict that it won’t.

Krampus opening weekend prediction: $7.1 million

Todd’s Oscar Predictions: November Edition

We have arrived at my third round of Oscar predictions for the month of November. Some has changed, some has stayed the same. We’ll go through each of the six major categories one by one…

Let’s go!


This is the one category where I’ve made no changes, though any of the others listed as possibilities could find their way in. Most have Jane Fonda in the mix already, but I’m not quite there yet.


Joan Allen, Room

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Other Possibilities:

Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy

Jane Fonda, Youth

Diane Ladd, Joy

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Isabella Rossellini, Joy

Julie Walters, Brooklyn


And here we have the most changes of any category! Coming out of nowhere last week was Sylvester Stallone’s acclaimed performance in Creed and as of now, here appears to be a strong contender for a nod and maybe even the win. I’m also including Mark Ruffalo and re-including Idris Elba. Falling out are Benicio del Toro, Robert De Niro, and Tom Hardy, though they all remain possibles. This category has a whole lot of potential nominees, but only five slots available.


Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Michael Keaton, Spotlight

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Other Possibilities:

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Bradley Cooper, Joy

Paul Dano, Love and Mercy

Benicio del Toro, Sicario

Robert De Niro, Joy

Joel Edgerton, Black Mass

Harrison Ford, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight

Harvey Keitel, Youth

Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton

Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight

Jacob Tremblay, Room


Four slots seem to be rather safe and have been for awhile: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Saoirse Ronan. The fifth slot could legitimately be any of the others listed, but for now I’ve removed Carey Mulligan and replaced her with Blythe Danner.


Cate Blanchett, Carol

Blythe Danner, I’ll See You in My Dreams

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Other Possibilities:

Emily Blunt, Sicario

Carey Mulligan, Suffragette

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van

Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

Lily Tomlin, Grandma


Only one change here as I currently feel the massive box office success of The Martian will get Matt Damon in. That takes Michael Caine out. Watch out for Will Smith, though, even though I don’t yet have him in the final  cut.


Matt Damon, The Martian

Johnny Depp, Black Mass

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Other Possibilities:

Michael Caine, Youth

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies

Michael B. Jordan, Creed

Will Smith, Concussion


Two changes here as I believe Danny Boyle may miss out and George Miller won’t be the wild card pick I predicted in October. This puts David O. Russell and Ridley Scott in.


Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

David O. Russell, Joy

Ridley Scott, The Martian

Other Possibilities:

Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs

Ryan Coogler, Creed

John Crowley, Brooklyn

Cary Fukanaga, Beasts of No Nation

Todd Haynes, Carol

Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies

Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight


I am still predicting nine nominees out of the possible five-ten and I’ve made two changes. I’m putting Carol back in the mix and The Martian in for the first time. That leaves out Bridge of Spies and The Danish Girl, though both remain major contenders. It’s worth noting that Steve Jobs, due to its disastrous box office performance, is not even close to a shoo in  and it could fall off.




The Hateful Eight


The Martian

The Revenant



Steve Jobs

Other Possibilities:

Beasts of No Nation

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


The Danish Girl

Inside Out

In the Heart of the Sea

Mad Max: Fury Road


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Straight Outta Comption

And that does it for my November Oscar predictions, folks! I’ll have the December predictions up shortly before Christmas…

Oscar Watch: The Revenant

One of the huge shoes left to drop in the 2015 Oscar race did so as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s The Revenant screened for Academy voters last night. While official reviews are embargoed until next Friday, there was plenty of word that leaked out and it’s given us a general direction on its Oscar prospects.

The verdict? It sounds as if The Revenant is well on its way to a Best Picture and Director nomination. Some watchers loved it while others were more cautious, but its inclusion as a nominee in these big races seems pretty much assured right now.

Furthermore, last evening’s word of mouth indicates an unquestionable nomination for star Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s been nominated four times and never won. The fifth time, in a Best Actor race that is less competitive than in recent year, could finally be the charm. It appears less certain whether or not Tom Hardy will be a player in Supporting Actor, though that should become more clear when reviews are out late next week.

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is also being heaped with praise and he could be the first individual to win the race three times in a row (after Gravity and Birdman).

Of course, director Inarritu is the man behind Birdman and he saw that effort win himself an Oscar, as well as the film itself last year. History has a shot of repeating itself this time. And for all the deserved chatter over the years about the craziness of Leo being Oscar-less, it could be well on its way to changing quite soon.

Thanksgiving 2015 Box Office Predictions

The Turkey Day weekend box office is upon us and we have three new holiday offerings joining the fray: Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, critically lauded Rocky spinoff Creed, and gothic horror tale Victor Frankenstein. You can read my individual prediction posts on each here:

Since the final Hunger Games pic opened to less than expected results (more on that below), I believe Dinosaur should roam to the top of the charts, though it could be somewhat close.

Solid buzz should put Creed solidly in third place, while I expect Frankenstein to struggle a bit in its opening. Holdovers like Spectre, The Peanuts Movie, and The Night Before should experience small declines as is typical over this holiday weekend.

And with that, I’ll do a top seven predictions that includes projections for both the traditional three day weekend and expanded Thanksgiving five day frame:

  1. The Good Dinosaur

Predicted Gross: $56.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $78.9 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Predicted Gross: $48.4 million (Friday to Sunday), $75.5 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

3. Creed

Predicted Gross: $19.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $27.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

4. Spectre

Predicted Gross: $13.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $17.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

5. The Peanuts Movie

Predicted Gross: $11.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $15.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

6. Victor Frankenstein 

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $14.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

7. The Night Before

Predicted Gross: $8 million (Friday to Sunday), $10.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

Box Office Results (November 20-22)

Katniss and company easily ruled the box office as Mockingjay – Part 2 debuted, but it undeniably came in with less than anticipated numbers. The fourth and final chapter of The Hunger Games franchise made $102.6 million compared to my $124.2M forecast. This is easily the lowest opener of the series and over $50M below the heights of what Catching Fire did two years ago. A nine-digit premiere is always pretty solid, but Lionsgate was likely hoping for a better result than this.

007 was second with Spectre taking in $15 million, on target with my $15.3M forecast. In three weeks, its total stands at $154M.

Snoopy and the gang were third with The Peanuts Movie making $13.2 million, in line with my $14.1M projection. Its three week tally is $99M.

Raunchy Christmas comedy The Night Before had a lackluster beginning with just $9.8 million, well below my $16.6M projection. Its best hope is for smallish declines as the holiday it focuses on draws closer.

The weekend’s other newcomer, thriller Secret in Their Eyes with Julia Roberts, settled for fifth with a muted $6.6 million. It did manage to top my $5.1M prediction.

In sixth, another Christmas comedy Love the Coopers made just $3.9 million in its sophomore frame, below my $5.4M guesstimate.

Finally, Oscar hopeful Spotlight expanded its screen count and took in $3.5 million for 8th place. It couldn’t match my $4.7M projection, but did have the second highest per screen average of any film in the top ten after Mockingjay.

And there you have it, folks! Until next time…

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Movie Review

The Mission: Impossible franchise has followed one common thread throughout its near two decade existence: star Tom Cruise has allowed the directors to put their unique spin on each entry. Brian De Palma with the original. John Woo with the follow-up. JJ Abrams with part three and Brad Bird with the fourth. That approach is somewhat abandoned in #5, Rogue Nation. New director Christopher McQuarrie seems content to borrow here and there from what we’ve seen before and let the formula stand without a more personalized approach to the material. While that may lead to a small degree of disappointment, don’t be too dismayed. The formula is the formula is the formula and Mr. Cruise has got it under control.

Rogue Nation finds the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) in a dire position as the CIA (headed by a welcome Alec Baldwin) has folded it to their oversight. This doesn’t sit well with super agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) who’s in the midst of a mission to take down the shadowy Syndicate, an international crime ring. He may not have the support he’s used to stateside, but Ethan does have his usual suspects around. That includes techie Simon Pegg (who shines with the most screen time he’s had in the series thus far), Jeremy Renner’s field ops head, and Luther (Ving Rhames), who always turns up to help his old buddy. The new face is Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), an MI6 agent whose allegiance is constantly in question. It is unknown if Ilsa ever worked with James Bond, but let’s assume so for the coolness factor.

If you know those pictures, you know plot is secondary and the grandly conceived action sequences are the real focus. Cruise does his own stunts (as he incessantly loves to remind us) and this finds him jumping on departing aircrafts, having to hold his breath underwater for lengthy periods of time, and showing off his motorcycle skills on twisty roads. Per usual, we hopscotch from Paris to Vienna to London to Morocco. We get those nifty masks we first saw in 1996.

The fifth go round feels familiar but Cruise brings enormous energy to the series he keeps returning to. Renner sort of gets the short shrift (especially compared to Pegg) and it’s the second franchise along with Avengers where he’s not particularly given anything of substance to do. At least we don’t get a boring and out of left field family backstory like we did in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ferguson is a welcome presence as she gives her British spy her all.

Even though McQuarrie doesn’t give a unique spin on Ethan and company like Bird accomplished last time with Ghost Protocol, the series is such a well oiled machine that the results are still a lot of fun. And it still mostly shines.

*** (out of four)

Spotlight Box Office Prediction

One box office story that hasn’t been covered much for this weekend is the expansion of Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, which is steeped in major Oscar buzz. The true story of Boston Globe reporters breaking the Catholic Church priest abuse stories, the pic has received raves from critics (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and seems a shoo in for a Best Picture nomination (it may win).

With a strong ensemble cast that includes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schrieber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, and Billy Crudup, Spotlight expands to 598 screens this weekend. That’s not near the number of theaters of its competitors, but this should have the highest per screen average of any film not featuring Jennifer Lawrence and a bow and arrow.

While it probably won’t reach the top five, this should top $4 million in its expansion and settle in for a healthy run during Academy season.

Spotlight opening weekend prediction: $4.7 million