Box Office Predictions: December 25-27

This year, Christmas falls on a Friday and there are five new presents to potentially unwrap at the theater: Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy’s Home, David O. Russell/Jennifer Lawrence collaboration Joy, Oscar hopeful The Big Short with Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, action remake Point Break, and Will Smith NFL centered drama Concussion. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

As I see it, all five are likely to gross somewhere from the high single digits to mid to high teens. I have Daddy’s Home managing to come in first among the newbies, but it could be a close competition for sure.

As for holdovers, both Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Sisters will be entering their sophomore frames after sturdy debuts (especially considering the competition). The Christmas weekend usually means that holdovers often increase their gross from the previous weekend and I believe this will hold true for Alvin (and Hunger Games and The Good Dinosaur and Creed for that matter). Sisters should experience a fairly small decline.

And that, of course, brings us to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will be entering weekend #2 after its historic opening (more on that below). Audiences and critics have taken to it and it has quickly become a cultural phenomenon. Its next record could be highest second weekend total of all time and in order to do so, it would need to top the six month long record of Jurassic World‘s $106.6 million. As I see it, Force shouldn’t have much of a problem accomplishing that feat and I envision a drop of around 40% for the holiday weekend.

And with that, I’ll expand beyond my usual number and do a Top 11 predictions for an extraordinarily packed Christmas weekend:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Gross: $151.6 million (representing a drop of 38%)

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

Predicted Gross: $16.7 million (representing an increase of 17%)

3. Daddy’s Home

Predicted Gross: $16.5 million

4. Joy

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

5. Concussion

Predicted Gross: $13.8 million

6. Point Break

Predicted Gross: $11 million

7. Sisters

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million (representing a drop of 25%)

8. The Big Short

Predicted Gross: $8.1 million (Friday to Sunday prediction), $10.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday prediction)

9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million (representing an increase of 11%)

10. Creed

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million (representing an increase of 14%)

11. The Good Dinosaur

Predicted Gross: $4.9 million (representing an increase of 14%)

Box Office Results (December 18-20)

Slip in any cliche you like. The Force was with it. It moved at warp speed past the record. Star Wars: The Force Awakens easily set the high for largest domestic opening of all time with an otherworldly $247.9 million, topping my projection of $234.7M. This blasted past the record of Jurassic World, which made $208.8M this summer by nearly $40M. With universal acclaim, Awakens has given Disney a mega franchise to work with for years and crowds were clearly clamoring for a return to that galaxy far, far away.

Two titles dared to open against this juggernaut and both fared decently. Alvin and the Chipmunks took the runner-up spot with $14.2 million, right on par with my $14.3M estimate. While this fourth entry in the series easily had the smallest debut of the bunch, it’s still not bad considering it was up against Luke and company. I’m predicting it’ll see a bounce and stay #2 next weekend.

The Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters was third with $13.9 million for a commendable beginning. My prediction? $13.9M… boom!

Holdovers fell a bit further than my predictions. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 fell to fourth after four weeks at #1 with $5.8 million (I said $7M). Its total stands at $254M.

Creed rounded out the top five with $5 million compared to my $6.3M estimate for an overall gross of $87M.

Pixar disappointment The Good Dinosaur was sixth with $4.3 million, under my $6.8M projection. It has yet to reach $100M after 4 weeks at $96M.

I incorrectly had Krampus outside my top seven and it took that number with $4.1 million for a tidy gross of $35M. That’s because I had the Ron Howard/Chris Hemsworth dud In the Heart of the Sea in seventh. It plummeted to 8th in weekend #2 with a gross of just $3.4 million (compared to my $5.6M estimate) and ten days earnings of just $18M. Ouch.

And that’ll do it for now, ladies and gents! Be sure to check back next week for all the Merry results…



Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie Review

When the famous line “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” appears and the Star Wars emblem rockets across the screen, it evokes a series of emotions that is familiar to any lover of the franchise. It changes from generation to generation but is likely strongest with those old enough to recall the first time seeing it in 1977 when the original premiered. The first Star Wars was a cultural phenomenon from the get go. It solidified what we now know as the modern blockbuster era. Its sequel The Empire Strikes Back improved upon it. Return of the Jedi ended the trilogy on a satisfactory if more uneven note. I was not alive in 1977 and I witnessed the series in a weekend of VHS viewing where I was captivated like legions of film lovers across the globe.

By the time George Lucas got around to making his prequel trilogy, I was age 19 at the time of The Phantom Menace. Like all other fans of what came before it, I anticipated Menace breathlessly and like many others, it was a letdown in many fashions. It didn’t really look like a Star Wars pic. More like a video game. In all honesty, the concept of watching the eventual Darth Vader as a precocious child wasn’t really necessary. Follow ups Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were improvements in some ways (especially Sith) yet still didn’t come close to matching the magic of the real trilogy (as I refer to it).

Therefore it was with a sense of major excitement mixed with some trepidation that I awaited Star Wars: The Force Awakens, episode VII of the franchise that picks up about 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. George Lucas sold the rights to Disney, who have grand Marvel style plans for the series. J.J. Abrams, who successfully reinvigorated the Star Trek flicks, is behind the camera. The beloved trio of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess (now General) Leia (Carrie Fisher) would return along with Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO. A new generation of heroes and villains would emerge. The three year wait is finally over and the question is ready to be answered: does Force have the force to bring Star Wars back in the good graces of those who cherish it? The answer is mostly an unqualified and resounding yes.

Episode VII informs us that Luke Skywalker has vanished and the evil First Order (spawned from Darth Vader’s galactic empire) has restored its dominance despite a resistance led by Leia. The Resistance is desperately attempting to obtain a map containing Luke’s whereabouts that is built into BB-8, a droid that is pretty adorable in a manner in which Jar Jar Binks sure wasn’t. One of the leaders of the movement is pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), whose character doesn’t have much impact in these proceedings but likely will in future installments. He teams with Storm Trooper gone good Finn (John Boyega) on the mission to find Skywalker. And that BB-8 droid leads them to Rey (Daisy Ridley), a young girl who has a connection with The Force. Their union soon brings them to Han, Chewie, and the now relic called the Millennium Falcon to fight First Order Commander Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

As we’d expect, there are some revelations about who some of the characters actually are. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling them here. J.J. Abrams is keenly aware of our nostalgia goggles and he presents a vision that hearkens back to the original in both plot and tone. This is a plus. J.J. and his cowriters Lawrence Kasdan (who penned Empire and Jedi) and Michael Arndt are clearly cognizant of the expectation to start anew while rewarding what we adore about episodes IV-VI. There is much plot to roll out, but Awakens does so at a usually brisk pace throwing in the epic battles that look more like we wish for in any entry since 1983.

The John Williams score and special effects are, of course, top notch. Of the returnees, Mr. Ford is given the most material and provides Solo wisecracks and some emotion. Fisher acquits herself decently even though Leia is primarily relegated to the sidelines. As for Luke, the filmmakers have been careful to reveal nothing and neither will I. When it comes to the newcomers, we sense that Rey, Finn, and Poe will establish the new trio for the next few years. Here it is Rey that jumps out and much of that is due to a fine performance from Miss Ridley. Boyega’s Finn has his moments along with occasionally clunky dialogue. Driver is quite effective as Ren and we have a new villain whose motivations create an intriguing dynamic in this universe.

I would rank The Force Awakens as the third best pic in the series, after the first two (slightly above Jedi). Abrams and company accomplish something Lucas ultimately could not with episodes I-III. We care more about the actions transpiring here than with anything from 1999-2005. This is a franchise awakened in a way we have not seen in over 30 years. For those who might have had a bad feeling about this, fear not.

***1/2 (out of four)

Creed Movie Review

I will sheepishly admit that when I first heard about the concept of Creed, there may have been some eye rolling involved. Rocky Balboa training the son of his one time foe and eventual friend Apollo Creed? It seemed like a desperate attempt to revitalize a franchise that I didn’t believe needed it. 2006’s Rocky Balboa had some nice moments, but itself seemed an often unnecessary entry for Sylvester Stallone to bring the Italian Stallion back to the screen. Sixteen years prior, Rocky V was and is correctly regarded as an embarrassment. Five years prior and 30 years ago is the last time we saw Apollo, lying on the mat after taking a fatal blow from Russian fighter Ivan Drago.

In Creed, we learn the late Apollo has a son from the result of an affair. Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is a product of the juvenile detention system in L.A. who can’t seem to stop fighting other kids. He soon learns his lineage from Creed’s widow (Phylicia Rashad) and it affords him a comfortable life growing up. Donnie can’t stay away from the ring, however. This means meaningless bouts in Tijuana in a low key resume that may be due to the fact that he won’t make public that he’s the offspring of a boxing legend.

Donnie wants something more and it leads him to Philadelphia, in hopes of being trained by Stallone’s iconic Balboa. Just as in the 2006 predecessor, Rocky now leads a quiet life running his restaurant and spending much time in the cemetery carrying on conversations with his beloved late wife Adrian and now Uncle Paulie as well. He’s hesitant to train Donnie but his loyalty to Apollo takes precedence. Circumstances lead to a shot at the title, just like with young Rock nearly 40 years ago. And it forges a friendship between the pair that takes many dramatic turns and is truly quite touching.

The Philly pilgrimage gives Donnie a love interest with his neighbor Bianca (Tessa Thompson), a singer who is gradually losing her hearing. Their well-written romance includes a moment where Donnie asks her what she’ll do when she’s no longer able to do what she loves. Bianca responds that she has to keep going until she can’t anymore. Of course, that metaphor applies to Donnie. And Rocky. And even Donnie’s opponent “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew), an English brawler whose championship is about to surrendered to an upcoming prison sentence.

This brings us to Ryan Coogler, the writer (along with Aaron Covington) and director of Creed. Mr. Coogler gained acclaim for his debut pic Fruitvale Station which served as a breakout role for Jordan. Stallone has smartly handed over screenplay and directorial duties to this up and comer. Coogler imbues this series with a grittiness and emotional resonance that hasn’t been seen since the Oscar winning original. It allows Stallone to focus on his performance, which is quite something to behold. He permits us to see Rocky as in many ways a broken man who is given one last chance to do something he loves (just not in the ring). Jordan is very impressive as well and the whole idea of this concept being a gimmick is forgotten quickly. Much of this is due to the complexities and nuance that Jordan brings to the proceedings.

The boxing scenes are also extremely well constructed and easily the most realistic we’ve seen in the franchise. That may not be saying much, truth be told. When Balboa fought Donnie’s father’s executioner in Russia, the punch thrown to landed percentage was about 110%. Creed at least makes noble attempts to make the sport kind of look like it does.

Coogler has made a legitimate accomplishment here, managing to present a poignant partnership between Donnie and his legendary teacher. Many of us fondly recall Rocky running up those steps in the City of Brotherly Love. There’s a variation of that here and its metaphorical meaning may well bring tears to your eyes. Who would have thought we’d see that level of depth in this franchise? Kudos to Stallone for allowing a young and gifted filmmaker to enter the ring here and kudos to Coogler for giving Stallone this opportunity to take his most famous role in unforeseen and enriching directions.

***1/2 (out of four)

Todd’s Weekly Oscar Predictions: December 18th Edition

We arrive at my weekly Oscar predictions and a new wrinkle has been added. I’m predicting every category with the exception of Foreign and Documentary (those will eventually be added).

As with last week, I’ll ranking according to my feelings on likelihood of the films and performers being nominated and let you know what’s changed since last week. The pluses and minuses and no changes indicated their ranking from last week to this week.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

  1. Spotlight (No Change)
  2. The Revenant (No Change)
  3. Room (No Change)
  4. Brooklyn (+3)
  5. Carol (-1)
  6. The Martian (No Change)
  7. Mad Max: Fury Road (-2)
  8. Bridge of Spies (No Change)
  9. The Big Short (+2)

Other Possibilities:

10. Inside Out (No Change)

11. The Hateful Eight (-2)

12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (+11)

13. Trumbo (+6)

14. Son of Saul (+3)

15. The Danish Girl (+1)

16. Sicario (+5)

17. Beasts of No Nation (-3)

18. Steve Jobs (-5)

19. Straight Outta Compton (-4)

20. Creed (-8)

21. Joy (-2)

22. Love and Mercy (-1)

23. Anomalisa (-6)

What’s Changed Since Last Week – IN: The Big Short. OUT: The Hateful Eight.

Best Director

  1. Tom McCarthy, Spotlight (No Change)
  2. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant (No Change)
  3. George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road (No Change)
  4. Ridley Scott, The Martian (No Change)
  5. Todd Haynes, Carol (No Change)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies (+1)

7. Lenny Abrahamson, Room (-1)

8. J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (+9)

9. John Crowley, Brooklyn (No Change)

10. Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight (-2)

11. Adam McKay, The Big Short (+1)

12. Laszlo Nemes, Son of Saul (+1)

13. Jay Roach, Trumbo (Previously Not Ranked)

14. Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl (+2)

15. Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs (-1)

16. Cary Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation (-5)

17. Ryan Coogler, Creed (-7)

DROPPED OUT: David O. Russell, Joy

What’s Changed Since Last Week: NO CHANGES

Best Actor

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (No Change)
  2. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (+1)
  3. Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl (-1)
  4. Bryan Cranston, Trumbo (+1)
  5. Johnny Depp, Black Mass (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Matt Damon, The Martian (No Change)

7. Will Smith, Concussion (No Change)

8. Michael Caine, Youth (+3)

9. Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes (No Change)

10. Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies (No Change)

11. Geza Rohrig, Son of Saul (+2)

12. Steve Carell, The Big Short (No Change)

13. Michael B. Jordan, Creed (-5)

What’s Changed Since Last Week: No Changes

Best Actress

  1. Brie Larson, Room (No Change)
  2. Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn (No Change)
  3. Cate Blanchett, Carol (No Change)
  4. Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years (No Change)
  5. Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (No Change)

Other Possibilities:

6. Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road (+1)

7. Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold (+2)

8. Blythe Danner, I’ll See You in My Dreams (-2)

9. Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back (-1)

10. Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van (No Change)

11. Carey Mulligan, Suffragette (+1)

12. Lily Tomlin, Grandma (-1)

What’s Changed Since Last Week: No Changes

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (No Change)
  2. Michael Keaton, Spotlight (+1)
  3. Paul Dano, Love and Mercy (+1)
  4. Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation (+1)
  5. Sylvester Stallone, Creed (-3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michael Shannon, 99 Homes (+4)

7. Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight (-1)

8. Tom Hardy, The Revenant (No Change)

9. Christian Bale, The Big Short (-2)

10. Jacob Tremblay, Room (+1)

11. Benicio del Toro, Sicario (-2)

What’s Changed Since Last Week: No Changes

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (No Change)
  2. Rooney Mara, Carol (No Change)
  3. Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (No Change)
  4. Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (No Change)
  5. Helen Mirren, Trumbo (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rachel McAdams, Spotlight (+4)

7. Jane Fonda, Youth (-2)

8. Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria (-2)

9. Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy (No Change)

10. Joan Allen, Room (-2)

DROPPED OUT: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

What’s Changed Since Last Week – IN: Helen Mirren, OUT: Jane Fonda.

Best Original Screenplay 

  1. Spotlight (No Change)
  2. Inside Out (+1)
  3. The Hateful Eight (-1)
  4. Bridge of Spies (No Change)
  5. Love and Mercy (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Son of Saul (-1)

7. Mad Max: Fury Road (Previously Not Ranked)

8. 99 Homes (No Change)

9. Sicario (+1)

10. Ex Machina (+1)

11. Straight Outta Compton (-4)

12. Youth (Previously Not Ranked)

13. Joy (-4)

14. Trainwreck (-2)

What’s Changed Since Last Week – IN: Love and Mercy. OUT: Son of Saul.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Room (+2)
  2. Brooklyn (+2)
  3. Carol (-2)
  4. The Big Short (+1)
  5. Steve Jobs (-3)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Martian (+1)

7. Trumbo (+3)

8. The Revenant (-2)

9. Beasts of No Nation (No Change)

10. Anomalisa (-2)

11. The Danish Girl (+1)


What’s Changed Since Last Week: No Changes

Best Animated Feature (First Time Predictions)

  1. Inside Out
  2. Anomalisa
  3. Kahlil Gobran’s The Prophet
  4. Shaun the Sheep Movie
  5. The Good Dinosaur

Other Possibilities:

6. The Peanuts Movie

7. When Marnie Was There

8. Home

Best Cinematography (First Time Predictions)

  1. The Hateful Eight
  2. The Revenant
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road
  4. The Martian
  5. Sicario

Other Possibilities:

6. Carol

7. Bridge of Spies

8. The Danish Girl

Best Production Design (First Time Predictions)

  1. Carol
  2. The Danish Girl
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road
  4. Cinderella
  5. Bridge of Spies

Other Possibilities:

6. The Revenant

7. Brooklyn

8. The Martian

9. The Hateful Eight

10. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

11. MacBeth

Best Editing (First Time Predictions)

  1. Spotlight
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Big Short
  5. Steve Jobs

Other Possibilities:

6. The Hateful Eight

7. The Martian

8. Bridge of Spies

9. Room

Best Costume Design (First Time Predictions)

  1. Carol
  2. Cinderella
  3. Brooklyn
  4. The Danish Girl
  5. Far from the Madding Crowd

Other Possibilities:

6. Mad Max: Fury Road

7. Suffragette

8. Trumbo

9. The Hateful Eight

10. MacBeth

Best Makeup and Hairstyling (First Time Predictions)

  1. The Danish Girl
  2. Carol
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Other Possibilities:

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

5. Black Mass

6. Pan

7. The Hateful Eight

8. The Revenant

Best Visual Effects (First Time Predictions)

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Jurassic World
  5. The Walk

Other Possibilities:

6. The Revenant

7. In the Heart of the Sea

8. Ex Machina

Best Sound Mixing (First Time Predictions)

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. The Revenant
  5. Sicario

Other Possibilities:

6. Jurassic World

7. The Hateful Eight

8. In the Heart of the Sea

Best Sound Editing (First Time Predictions)

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. The Martian
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. In the Heart of the Sea

Other Possibilities:

6. Sicario

7. The Hateful Eight

8. Jurassic World

Best Original Score (First Time Predictions)

  1. The Hateful Eight
  2. Carol
  3. Spotlight
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Danish Girl

Other Possibilities:

6. The Revenant

7. Bridge of Spies

8. Sicario

9. Brooklyn

10. Mad Max: Fury Road

11. Southpaw

Best Original Song (First Time Predictions)

  1. “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground
  2. “See You Again” from Furious 7
  3. “Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  4. “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre
  5. “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey

Other Possibilities:

6. “Simple Song #3” from Youth

7. “One Kind of Love” from Love and Mercy

8. “So Long” from Concussion

Whew! Those predictions reflect a current belief of the following films garnering nominations with number included:

9 Nominations


8 Nominations

Mad Max: Fury Road

7 Nominations

The Revenant

6 Nominations

The Danish Girl, The Martian, Spotlight

5 Nominations

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

4 Nominations

Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Hateful Eight, Steve Jobs

3 Nominations

The Big Short, Room

2 Nominations

Cinderella, Fifty Shades of Grey, Inside Out, Love and Mercy, Sicario, Trumbo

1 Nomination

Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Black Mass, Creed, Far from the Madding Crowd, 45 Years, Furious 7, The Good Dinosaur, The Hunting Ground, In the Heat of the Sea, Joy, Jurassic World, Kahlil Gabron’s The Prophet, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Spectre, The Walk


Oscar Watch – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This weekend, Star Wars: The Force Awakens looks poised and primed to demolish box office records. It’s sold $100 million in pre-sale tickets (a previously unimaginable figure). The Disney marketing machine has been in hyper drive. Hyperbole it is not to say this is the most eagerly anticipated picture of the 21st century.

Over the last few months, I’ve been writing my Oscar predictions and now it’s to the point where I’m doing weekly predictions as we draw closer to the actual nominations coming in January. Through it, Star Wars has hung out there like a giant question mark. If it got rave reviews, could it potentially become a player not just to smash records, but to enter the Oscar fray?

Today the landscape has become clearer as the review embargo has been lifted on the eve of its release. And the word that’s emerged is glowing like Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Based on 127 reviews so far, The Force Awakens stands at a magnificent 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll confess that I’m being careful not to read the reviews (I’ll be seeing it Sunday and my own review will be on the blog that day), but the consensus is undeniably that this is a welcome return to the most beloved franchise in history.

Does that mean The Force Awakens could become the first entry in the series to nab a Best Picture nomination since the original in 1977? Yes… it does. Is it guaranteed? No and my predictions on Friday likely won’t have it making the cut. However, as it premieres to what could be history making numbers and with critics on its side, the forces could align to include it and possibly J.J. Abrams in the directing race. Stay tuned…

The Big Short Box Office Prediction

Known primarily for directing Will Ferrell comedies (if this wasn’t coming out, you might have thought he’s behind the camera for competitor Daddy’s Home), Adam McKay changes things up with The Big Short, out December 23rd. The comedic drama focuses on the housing crisis from a few years ago and stars heavyweights Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. Other supporting players include Melissa Leo and Marisa Tomei.

The pic has received mostly glowing reviews and it stands at 85% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. It stands a very decent shot at a Best Picture nomination. That said, that doesn’t mean Short will come up big in its debut. Even with star power and Oscar buzz, competition over Christmas weekend for adults is fierce (Joy, Concussion). And the last time a critically acclaimed Oscar player focusing on recent events opened, it was Steve Jobs and it flamed out with a $7.1 million opening.

I believe The Big Short is more likely to be a slow burner that could gain momentum if its potential Academy nods pan out. There is a small advantage for it opening on Wednesday, two days before four other titles enter an already crowded Star Wars marketplace. I believe this will just top $10 million for its five day beginning.

The Big Short opening weekend prediction: $8.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $10.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Daddy’s Home prediction, click here:

For my Joy prediction, click here:

For my Concussion prediction, click here:

For my Point Break prediction, click here:

Point Break Box Office Prediction

Nearly 25 years ago, eventual Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow made Point Break, an effective mix of action and surfing that starred Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. It turned into quite a cult hit and Warner Bros. has teed up a Christmas Day remake that comes with a reported $120 million budget.

The pic stars Edgar Ramirez (pulling double duty over the holidays in Joy), Luke Bracey, and Ray Winstone. Break has already opened overseas to so-so results. The questions begs itself: are audiences clamoring for a Point Break remake? While the original deserves its solid reputation, is the remembrance of it fond enough so that action fans will see it? And there’s also the fact that genre fans might be taking in Star Wars in its second weekend for the first time. Or second or third.

Considering those factors, I’m even skeptical that this breaks double digits in its debut. To be fair, another recent action remake Red Dawn opened to $14 million and $21 million over the Thanksgiving 2012 holiday, which was more than I predicted by quite a bit. That aside, I’ll estimate that Point Break just squeaks by the double digit mark for a disappointing start.

Point Break opening weekend prediction: $11 million

For my Joy prediction, click here:

For my Daddy’s Home prediction, click here:

For my Concussion prediction, click here:

For my The Big Short prediction, click here:

Joy Box Office Prediction

For the third time, director David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence team up for comedy/drama Joy and it hopes to replicate the success from their two previous outings, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. 

The pic tells the true-ish story of Miracle Mop founder Joy Mangano (Lawrence) and features Russell regulars Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, as well as Edgar Ramirez, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd.

This will need to clear some considerable hurdles in order to match previous successes. For starters, Joy is opening on Christmas in an ultra competitive frame where competition for adult moviegoers includes Concussion and The Big Short (and the second weekend of Star Wars). Secondly, unlike Playbook and Hustle, the awards buzz for this is muted at best. While Lawrence is likely to receive a Best Actress nod for her well regarded work, critics have been mixed and it stands at 62% on Rotten Tomatoes (well under Russell and Lawrence’s first two outings). The so-so buzz means it probably won’t be a player in any other Academy categories other than for its lead actress.

With those factors in mind, I anticipate Joy not reaching the $19.1 million accomplished by American Hustle over the holidays in 2013. A debut in the low to mid teens seems more probable.

Joy opening weekend prediction: $14.9 million

For my Concussion prediction, click here:

For my Daddy’s Home prediction, click here:

For my Point Break prediction, click here:

For my The Big Short prediction, click here:

Concussion Box Office Prediction

Tackling a topic that’s been in the forefront of sports news recently, Concussion opens Christmas Day, headlined by Will Smith. The pic focuses on the controversy with head trauma and the NFL, casting its star as the real life doctor trying to warn the multi-billion dollar organization of its effects. Costars include Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Albert Brooks, and Luke Wilson as Commissioner Goodell.

Reviews for Concussion have been mixed and it currently stands at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. Smith could find himself in the mix for Best Actor at the Oscars and that exposure helps. The pic has been advertised frequently during sporting events on TV.

Yet that still might not add up to a big opening weekend. Competition is fierce for adults (Joy, The Big Short open against it) and its lack of major buzz could mean a debut in the low teens. The best hope for Concussion may be playing solidly over future weekends, which it may well accomplish.

Concussion opening weekend prediction: $13.8 million

For my Joy prediction, click here:

For my Daddy’s Home prediction, click here:

For my Point Break prediction, click here:

For my The Big Short prediction, click here:

Daddy’s Home Box Office Prediction

Five and a half years after their successful collaboration The Other Guys, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg team up once again for Daddy’s Home, out Christmas Day. The tale pitting stepdad (Ferrell) vs. real dad (Wahlberg) looks to bring in comedy fans over the holiday weekend. Costars include Linda Cardellini, Hannibal Buress, and Thomas Haden Church.

It has the advantage of being the only straight up comedy (Joy has elements) opening, but it will have to contend with competition from the second frame of Sisters starring Ferrell’s former SNL costars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. With so many other movies in the marketplace, Daddy’s Home stands no realistic shot at matching the $35 million debut for The Other Guys or the $33 million premiere of Ferrell’s last outing Get Hard, which had the advantage of also starring Kevin Hart. The more likely scenario is making about half those numbers out of the gate.

As I see it, this stands a real shot at having the highest opening of the five Christmas Day features, but that still may only mean a gross in the mid to high teens as it hopes to experience small declines in future weekends.

Daddy’s Home opening weekend prediction: $16.5 million

For my Joy prediction, click here:

For my Concussion prediction, click here:

For my Point Break prediction, click here:

For my The Big Short prediction, click here: