Box Office Predictions: March 4-6

A quartet of new releases start out the month of March at the box office this weekend. They are Disney Animation’s Zootopia, action sequel London Has Fallen, Tina Fey war comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and British horror entry The Other Side of the Door. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each here:

Zootopia should have no trouble ending the three week domination of Deadpool atop the charts while I expect London to hit the #2 spot, putting Ryan Reynolds’ vulgar superhero in the three spot with Whiskey placing fourth. Box office dud Gods of Egypt should be fifth in its second weekend, as long as its anticipated hefty decline doesn’t allow Kung Fu Panda 3 to remain in the top five. As for The Other Side of the Door, it’s only opening on around 500 screens and my $2.1 million prediction for it leaves it far outside the top five.

And with that, my predictions for the weekend:

  1. Zootopia

Predicted Gross: $54.4 million

2. London Has Fallen

Predicted Gross: $24.6 million

3. Deadpool

Predicted Gross: $16.9 million (representing a drop of 45%)

4. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million

5. Gods of Egypt

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million (representing a drop of 58%)

Box Office Results (February 26-28)

As anticipated, Deadpool maintained the #1 position for the third weekend in a row. The three new entries were, as Donald Trump might say, “low energy”. Ryan Reynolds’ phenomenon took in $31.1 million (compared to my $28M forecast) for a total of $285M.

Gods of Egypt proved to be the first massive bomb of the year as the inexplicably budgeted $140 million action fantasy grossed just $14.1 million, which was on pace with my $13.9M estimate.

Animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 3 was third in weekend #5 with $8.8 million, in line with my $8.2M projection for a total gross of $128M.

Biblical drama Risen was fourth in its sophomore frame with $6.8 million, right there with my $7.1M prediction for a ten day total of $22M.

Two newcomers had soft debuts for the fifth and sixth slots. Heist thriller Triple 9 earned $6.1 million (just below my prediction of $6.9M) for fifth while Olympic drama Eddie the Eagle was iced in sixth with only $6 million (I was much kinder with an $11.2M estimate).

And that’ll do it for now. folks! Until next time…

Oscars 2015 Reaction

Well – after months of prognosticating the nominees and the winners of the 2015 Oscars, the season officially came to a close last night. This was a truly unpredictable year at the Academy Awards and it bore out with my so-so performance at just 13/21 on predictions. There were some REAL surprises last night and plenty of races that went according to plan. Let’s break it down with my various takes on the telecast and the winners:

  • The three picture race for the top category was just that with Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight winning over presumed front runner The Revenant (which was my prediction). The journalistic expose won only one other category (Original Screenplay, which I correctly predicted) and it’s the first Best Picture winner to be victorious in only two categories since 1952’s The Greatest Show on Earth.
  • Speaking of history, expected recipient Alejandro G. Inarritu is the first Director to win (for The Revenant) twice in a row (2014’s Birdman) in 65 years.
  • The sixth time was finally the charm for Leonardo DiCaprio as he picked up a golden statue for The Revenant, as he was widely expected to.
  • The female acting competitions went according to plan: Brie Larson in Actress for Room and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl in Supporting. Same goes for Foreign Language Film (Son of Saul), Animated Feature (Inside Out), Adapted Screenplay (The Big Short), and Documentary (Amy), even though I went with the upset pick of Cartel Land.
  • Sylvester Stallone was the heavy favorite in Supporting Actor for Creed, but the Academy instead went with Mark Rylance’s work in Bridge of Spies. This category has had a history of upsets (Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine over Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls circa 2006) and this is indeed another one.
  • It was a good night in the technical categories for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road as it picked up six awards: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Costume Design, Editing, and Makeup and Hairstyling. It was nominated in Cinematography, but that went as anticipated to The Revenant. The big shocker in the tech categories was Ex Machina‘s out of nowhere win for Visual Effects. This truly was a massive upset as I would have picked it fifth to win over competitors Mad Max, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The Martian.
  •  While Best Score went as planned to legendary Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight (for which he learned a long and deserved standing O), the Song category honored Sam Smith’s Spectre theme “Writing’s on the Wall” over expected winner “Til It Happens to You” by Lady Gaga from The Hunting Ground, just moments after her peformance was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden.
  • As for the show itself, Chris Rock’s handling of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was handled with the edgy humor you’d expect from one of the greatest stand up comedians of all time. The telecast, per usual, was way longer than it should have been. The idea, however well intended, to allow winners to thank various people via a scroll at the bottom of the screen didn’t serve its intended purpose. Look for it to be gone next year. As solid as Rock was in his hosting duties, I couldn’t help but watch Louis C.K.’s brilliant introduction of the Best Documentary Short Subject race and hope that the Academy tabs him to host like… next year.

And there you have it! Another Oscar season that’s come and gone. Before we know it, I’ll be predicting the 2016 films and performers that could be recognized a year from now…

San Andreas Movie Review

It’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vs. Mother Nature in disaster pic San Andreas, which gives us impressive visuals of destruction and a screenplay that feels like it was written by a computer program.  With its 90s action score pounding into our heads, this is essentially a near two hours of buildings and landmarks being decimated. The Golden Gate Bridge has a bad day, as has become tradition in these proceedings.

While millions of people are subject to the earthquakes and tsunamis wrought here, San Andreas concentrates on fire and rescue worker Ray Gaines (Johnson), his estranged wife (Carla Gugino), and their daughter (Alexandra Daddario). Their family dynamic (with Ray’s divorce papers having just arrived in the mail) is the stuff of lazy Screenplays 101. Gugino is now dating a stuffy British real estate tycoon (Ioan Gruffudd). The separated couple is still mourning the tragic drowning of their other daughter and if you think the circumstances in which she perished will be presented to our protagonist again, you have seen movies before.

A subplot involves a seismologist played by Paul Giamatti and he gets to yell warnings to his fellow citizens. This is a good thing because Giamatti has shown since Private Parts that he’s terrific at yelling stuff and it’s fun to watch him do it here.

Most of our time, however, is spent with the Gaines clan as they fly, drive, boat, tandem parachute jump, and bad wisecrack their way to finding each other. The daughter is joined in her journey by a British hunk (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his little brother (Art Parkinson) that adds another romantic angle.

Lost veteran Carlton Cuse has sole script credit and I was a bit surprised how lackluster it is. You might find yourself mouthing the predictable lines — “Let’s go get our daughter!!” — before the actual characters utter them. That said, I can’t deny that San Andreas is directed well by Brad Peyton and Johnson is sturdy and dependable as the anchor. This is nothing special but it’s certainly no disaster and is passable enough for a lazy couch day.

**1/2 (out of four)

Deadpool Movie Review

I love it when a plan comes together and Ryan Reynolds’ plan to bring a proper version of Deadpool to moviegoers pans out in a big and raunchy way. It marks the actor’s fourth appearance in a comic book based picture after Blade: Trinity, Green Lantern, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he also played Mr. Pool. Those entries weren’t too memorable. The fourth time turns out to be the charm.

What sets Deadpool apart from Spideys and Avengers and Caped Crusaders is the level of R rated debauchery, amped up violence, and profanity not often found in the Marvel or DC universes. Yes, we see it in Iron Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy, but not quite like this. The alter ego here is Wade Wilson, a former special forces operative who makes his dough as a mercenary. He doesn’t see himself as a good guy and he isn’t, though most of the jobs he takes have whiffs of virtue. Early on, Wade fools around and falls in love with escort Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and life is going well until a dire cancer diagnosis. Choosing to undergo experimental treatment for his illness, he leaves his girl and soon figures out that he’s been duped and is subjected to torturous experiments by a shadowy group led by British mutant Ajax (Ed Skrein). It leaves our antihero badly deformed and indestructible, hence the need for his superhero costume. Additionally, it leaves him pining for sweet and bloody revenge. Deadpool is soon joined in his journey by two X-Men – Colussus (Stefan Kapicic) and the entertaingly named Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).

Along the way, Reynolds frequently breaks the fourth wall and talks to us in the audience. The screenplay fluctuates between his origin story and the here and now. It is a pic with its wicked tongue planted in its cheek. Much of what comes out of his mouth is hilarious and un-PC in a genre where a sense of sameness (see Avengers: Age of Ultron) has creeped in. Even the lead performer’s previous failures in spandex are slyly addressed. From the 80s inspired synth score coupled with Wham! and Salt n Pepa to a sex scene montage that shows our lead lovers freaky holiday progression, Deadpool isn’t afraid to be way out there. The gamble usually pays off.

Truth be told, Skrein’s villain and sidekick (Gina Carano) are forgettable. And there is the occasional joke that falls flat. Most, however, land. Reynolds has been working hard to get this character his own explicit feature for some time and it’s clear that he and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and first time director Tim Miller have their hearts in the proceedings. For an actor whose performances are a mixed bag, Reynolds’ sarcastic wit is absolutely perfect for this part, similar to what we’ve seen with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt in their franchises.

Deadpool shakes up the comic book worlds we are now accustomed to seeing every three months or so and gives Mr. Reynolds some nice retribution on screen and in a genre where his previous efforts weren’t too fun. This one is tremendous fun.

***1/2 (out of four)

The Other Side of the Door Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s note (Friday, February 26) – due to announced screen count of only about 500, I’m revising my original prediction of $4.1 million to just $2.1 million

British supernatural horror flick The Other Side of the Door opens next weekend and will try to bring in genre fans. Other may find that door closed, as this low budget entry from director Johannes Roberts (who’s helmed a number of scare pics you’ve likely never heard of) seems to be gaining little traction stateside. Sarah Wayne Callies from TV’s “The Walking Dead” and Jeremy Sisto star.

Early reviews have been weak and this probably will be lucky to gross half of what January’s The Boy accomplished with $10.7 million. I’ll say it doesn’t and this should be streaming on VOD quite soon.

The Other Side of the Door opening weekend prediction: $2.1 million

For my Zootopia prediction, click here:

For my London Has Fallen prediction, click here:

For my Whiskey Tango Foxtrot prediction, click here:

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Box Office Prediction

Tina Fey headlines the war comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, out next weekend and the 30 Rock star hopes to capitalize on the goodwill audiences gave with her Christmas time hit Sisters. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the directors of Crazy, Stupid, Love and Focus, are behind the camera with Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfred Molina amongst the supporting players.

The Afghanistan set pic could benefit with solid reviews (they’re not out yet). Even if Foxtrot receives them, it likely faces an uphill battle to open big out of the gate. Sisters started rather slow at $13.9 million, but eventually grossed nearly $90M domestically (it did open against something called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to be fair). However, that film had Fey’s partner in hilarity Amy Poehler alongside her.

I believe this should manage to open higher than Fey’s Admission, which flunked out with a $6.1M opening three years ago. Whether it reaches double digits is a legit question and I’ll predict it falls a bit under that.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Zootopia prediction, click here:

For my London Has Fallen prediction, click here:

For my The Other Side of the Door prediction, click here:

London Has Fallen Box Office Prediction

In 2013, there was a showdown of terrorism at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave pics between Olympus Has Fallen and Roland Emmerich’s White House Down. It is the latter that was expected to win the contest, but it didn’t turn out that way. Olympus debuted to $30.3 million on its way to a $98M domestic haul in the spring while its competitor opened at $24.8 million with a disappointing $73M overall gross.

While we won’t see Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in White House Down Again, we do have London Has Fallen out next weekend. The sequel returns Gerard Butler’s Secret Service agent, Aaron Eckhart’s POTUS, Melissa Leo’s Secretary of Defense and the soothing sounds of Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House alongside new cast members Angela Bassett and Jackie Earle Haley.

Olympus was well liked by critics and audiences, though I’m not totally confident that a follow-up is being clamored for. I have doubts that it will match the $30M achieved by its predecessor and it probably won’t reach its reported $105 million budget domestically. I’ll say a premiere in the lower to mid 20s is the safest bet.

London Has Fallen opening weekend prediction: $24.6 million

For my Zootopia prediction, click here:

For my Whiskey Tango Foxtrot prediction, click here:

For my The Other Side of the Door prediction, click here:

Zootopia Box Office Prediction

Disney looks to end the box office domination of Deadpool next weekend with Zootopia, the studio’s 55th animated feature. It’s quite likely to succeed. The animal tale features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, and Shakira.

The pic has amassed positive reviews (currently 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) and it’s already done brisk business in overseas markets. Zootopia arrives just four months after a rare animated disappointment for The Mouse Factory – November’s The Good Dinosaur, which took in a much less than expected $121 million domestically.

That said, with a dearth of family fare out there, I expect this to improve on Dinosaur‘s numbers. An opening in the mid 50s seems most plausible.

Zootopia opening weekend prediction: $54.4 million

For my London Has Fallen prediction, click here:

London Has Fallen Box Office Prediction

For my Whiskey Tango Foxtrot prediction, click here:

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Box Office Prediction

For my The Other Side of the Door prediction, click here:

The Other Side of the Door Box Office Prediction

Box Office Predictions: February 26-28

Like last weekend, a trio of newcomers will attempt to unseat the reign of Deadpool at the box office. They are big budget action fantasy Gods of Egypt, Olympic sports tale Eddie the Eagle, and heist thriller Triple 9. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

And like last weekend, I don’t see any of them topping the raunchy Ryan Reynolds superhero megahit. Deadpool should lose about half its audience in weekend #3, allowing it to easily come in first. As for newbies, Gods of Egypt and Eddie the Eagle should manage 2nd and 3rd with Triple 9 competing for a top five showing. Holdovers Kung Fu Panda 3 and Risen may lose between 35-40% of its crowds.

And with that, a top 6 predictions for this weekend:

  1. Deadpool

Predicted Gross: $28 million (representing a drop of 50%)

2. Gods of Egypt

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

3. Eddie the Eagle

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million

4. Kung Fu Panda 3

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million (representing a drop of 35%)

5. Risen

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million (representing a drop of 38%)

6. Triple 9

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

Box Office Results (February 19-21)

As expected, Deadpool continued to rule the charts in its sophomore frame with $56.4 million – in range with my $58.6M estimate. Its two week total stands at an astonishing $236M and, as mentioned above, it should continue its dominance next weekend.

Kung Fu Panda 3 was second with $12.5 million, a bit above my $10.8M projection for a four week haul of $114M.

Biblical drama Risen was the top newcomer in third with $11.8 million, not quite reaching my $14.2M prediction. This is a fair debut and it hopes to experience smallish declines as Easter approaches.

Critically lauded low budget horror pic The Witch debuted in fourth with $8.8 million, ahead of my $6.7M estimate. Considering its reported $1 million budget, this is quite a tidy sum.

Rom com How to Be Single was fifth in its second weekend with $8.2 million, just below my prediction of $9.2M for a two week total of $31M.

Jesse Owens biopic Race had a muted sixth place premiere with $7.3 million, below my $10.6M forecast.

Finally, Ben Stiller’s box office dud of a sequel slipped to seventh with $5.4 million (I said $6.1M) for a total of just $23M.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…


Todd’s FINAL 2015 Oscar Predictions

One week from tonight, the 88th Annual Academy Awards will air with Chris Rock hosting and unlike some other years, there is real and legitimate intrigue as to what will win the big prize in Best Picture. Meanwhile, other categories have strong front runners but upsets are always possible. So with seven days to go, here are my FINAL predictions for who will win in each categories, with the exception of the three short film races. Here we go!


For Room, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies – it’s an honor to be nominated. This is truly a close race between the trio of The Big Short, The Revenant and Spotlight and any one of them could easily emerge victorious. All have won important precursors. Of the three, my gut is that Short is running third in this tight derby. All week my inclination has been to pick Spotlight, but The Revenant seems to have the hot hand in these late proceedings.

FINAL PICK: The Revenant

Runner-Up: Spotlight


Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu looks poised to win his second directing prize in a row after 2014’s Birdman for his work in The Revenant. If so, he would be the first auteur to do that in 65 years. In my estimation, only George Miller could be an upset winner for Mad Max, but that’s doubtful. Inarritu has won the Golden Globe and the DGA and is a safe bet.

FINAL PICK: Inarritu

Runner-Up: Miller


Speaking of safe bets involving The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio at last looks poised to win a gold statue. He is the heavy favorite over competitors Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne and Bryan Cranston.


Runner-Up: Ummmm… Cranston? Seriously, Leo is a major favorite


Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) could be spoilers, but the front runner is definitely Brie Larson’s turn in Room.


Runner-Up: Ronan


If the Academy doesn’t go for nostalgia here, you might see Mark Rylance win for Bridge of Spies. Yet I do believe Sylvester Stallone will knock out his foes for Creed.

FINAL PICK: Stallone

Runner-Up: Rylance


Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) has won some precursors and Rooney Mara (Carol) stands an outside shot, but Alicia Vikander had a big 2015 and I’ll pick her for The Danish Girl.

FINAL PICK: Vikander

Runner-Up: Winslet

For the remainder of the categories, I’m simply listing my picks with the runner-up:


FINAL PICK: Spotlight

Runner-Up: Inside Out


FINAL PICK: The Big Short

Runner-Up: Room


FINAL PICK: Inside Out

Runner-Up: Anomalisa


FINAL PICK: Son of Saul

Runner-Up: Mustang


FINAL PICK: Cartel Land

Runner-Up: Amy


FINAL PICK: The Hateful Eight

Runner-Up: Star Wars: The Force Awakens


FINAL PICK: “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground

Runner-Up: “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey


FINAL PICK: The Revenant

Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road


FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: The Revenant


FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: The Revenant


FINAL PICK: The Revenant

Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road


FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: The Revenant



Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road


FINAL PICK: The Big Short

Runner-Up: Mad Max: Fury Road


FINAL PICK: Mad Max: Fury Road

Runner-Up: Star Wars: The Force Awakens