Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Box Office Prediction

Next Friday brings us Zac Efron’s third raunchy comedy of the year after Dirty Grandpa and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Neither one of them did particularly well and I’m not convinced that will change here with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. The R rated rom com costars Adam DeVine and Anna Kendrick (who made both Pitch Perfect features together) and Audrey Plaza (seen with Efron in Dirty Grandpa).

The pic could benefit from really being the only straight up comedy out there in the marketplace besides Central Intelligence (which will be winding down in weekend #4). Having said that, its best hope might be falling somewhere in between Neighbors 2‘s $21 million opening and Grandpa‘s $11 million start. The summer release slot should at least get it slightly above the latter, which premiered in the January dead zone. I expect a so-so debut while Mike and Dave hope for a more happily ever after existence on the small screen.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates opening weekend prediction: $13.5 million

For my The Secret Life of Pets prediction, click here:



The Secret Life of Pets Box Office Prediction

Last year, Universal Pictures animation division had a lovely summer when Minions opened to $115 million with an eventual $336 million gross. The studio is hoping that luck strikes again with The Secret Life of Pets, out next Friday. The 3D animated tale features a voice cast led by Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks (pulling double duty this summer with Pixar’s smash Finding Dory), and many others.

Reviews have been kind as it stands at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Trailers and TV spots have been solid and it’s likely that plenty of their kids and their parents will tune in. One factor that could prevent it from topping – say – the $75 million opening of Zootopia earlier this year is the competition factor. While Finding Dory will be in its fourth week and slowing down, it should still get some repeat business. Spielberg’s The BFG will be in its second weekend. Still, I think it’ll come darn close.

That said, I expect Pets to fall somewhere in the range of $65-$75 million, which is a pretty common debut for a high-profile animated feature. The 9th through 19th top animated premieres have all started out with those numbers. My prediction puts it right outside the top ten at #11 – right between The Simpsons Movie and Shrek Forever After

The Secret Life of Pets opening weekend prediction: $73.7 million

For my Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates prediction, click here:


Zootopia Movie Review

Disney’s Zootopia might be a kids animated pic, but as the studio has proven over and over  again (especially with certain Pixar entries) – there are important adult themes at play here. These are mainly focused on not letting fear and prejudice overcome our diversity and the betterment of society. If that sounds like a message we may need in 2016, your animal instincts are correct.

Zootopia is a gorgeously drawn land in which all animals live in harmony. Well, mostly harmony. There’s still crime in the world and that leads precocious bunny Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) to dream of being a police officer for the ZPD. She would be the first of her kind to join the force as it’s made up of “predator” animals. Those predators make up just a fraction of the population as opposed to the “prey”. And it’s the pre judgment of these predators that serves as the pic’s dramatic through line.

Hopps is determined to prove history wrong in her new job, but her first lowly assignment is parking meter duty. Wouldn’t you know, however, that the assignment puts her smack dab in the middle of a big case where various animals are going missing? She soon teams with petty con artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and their adventures bring them to various sectors of our title like the Rainforest District and Little Rodentia (which is adorable).

The clever plot from screenwriters Jared Bush and Phil Johnston offers some genuine surprises as it unfolds. There’s political corruption and there’s well constructed action sequences that we’ve seen in many detective tales (or should we say detective tail here?). We also have some bits that will make parents laugh as much as their little ones. The sloth scene/DMV scene is pretty genius. There’s even a nice Breaking Bad reference for the old folks.

Even if Zootopia never completely reaches the heights of the studio’s masterpieces, it comes darn close a lot of the time. You’ll be happy kids receive its worthy message of individuality and perseverance while being howlingly entertained. Maybe its message is one the grown ups should pay attention to as well.

***1/2 (out of four)


Box Office Predictions: July 1-4

The Fourth of July weekend is here at the box office as three new titles make their debuts over the four day frame: Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, horror three-quel The Purge: Election Year, and adventure pic The Legend of Tarzan. You can find my detailed prediction posts on each here:




While I have all three earning over $20 million over the long weekend, I don’t expect any of them will manage to top the third weekend of Finding Dory. My estimates reflect a belief that BFG will have a so-so opening, Purge a fairly healthy one albeit under its predecessors, and Tarzan a rather disastrous one.

As for Independence Day: Resurgence in its sophomore weekend, one might think it could hold up well due to… you know, it being Independence Day weekend. I’m not so sure. It had a very lackluster roll out (more on that below) and its weak B Cinemascore grade indicates a rough road ahead.

And with that, my top five predictions (including three and four day projections) for the weekend:

  1. Finding Dory

Predicted Gross: $35.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $44 million (Friday to Monday)

2. The BFG

Predicted Gross: $26.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $33.2 million (Friday to Monday)

3. The Purge: Election Year

Predicted Gross: $21.7 million (Friday to Sunday), $25.5 million (Friday to Monday)

4. Independence Day: Resurgence

Predicted Gross: $17.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $22.8 million (Friday to Monday)

5. The Legend of Tarzan

Predicted Gross: $17.5 million (Friday to Sunday), $22 million (Friday to Monday)


Finding Dory had no problem whatsoever swimming atop the charts as it grossed $72.9 million in weekend #2, just above my $69.8M projection. The Pixar smash has earned $286 million thus far.

20 years ago, Independence Day ruled the summer of 1996. Its long gestating sequel Resurgence? Not so much as it premiered to just $41 million, way below my $63.5M estimate. Here is yet another summer example of a sequel performing well below expectations and this one classifies as a bonafide bomb.

Central Intelligence held up well in its sophomore weekend with $18.2 million for third, ahead of my $15.2M prediction for a two week total of $69 million.

Blake Lively had a nice weekend as her shark tale The Shallows came in well above expectations at #4 with $16.8 million – lapping my $10.4M forecast. Considering its budget is just a reported $17 million, this is a nice size hit for Mrs. Deadpool.

The Conjuring 2 was fifth with $7.7 million for an $86 million tally. I incorrectly had it outside the top five.

That’s because the news was not so good for Matthew McConaughey as his critically panned Civil War drama Free State of Jones stalled with $7.5 million in sixth, under my $12.7M prediction.

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

Summer 2006: The Top Ten Hits and More

Last week, I brought you top ten summer movies – along with other notable pics and flops – of 1996. Now it’s time to recount what was before our collective eyeballs 10 summers ago in 2006.

As I do with these lists, we’ll count down the top ten and then mention some others that made their mark, both positively and negatively.

10. The Devil Wears Prada

Domestic Gross: $124 million

Meryl Streep received her 267th Oscar nomination (or something like that) for this hit comedy which also helped break Anne Hathaway out of Princess Diaries mode.

9. Mission: Impossible III

Domestic Gross: $134 million

It may be in the top ten, but part 3 of this franchise that has now five entries is by far the lowest grosser (making $81 million less than part 2). This did give J.J. Abrams his first big directorial break and, as you may know, he’s moved forward with some other well-known franchises.

8. Click

Domestic Gross: $137 million

10 years later, he may be relegated to Netflix territory, but the critically drubbed Click gave us Adam Sandler when he still had no problem reaching the century club and then some.

7. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Domestic Gross: $148 million

Of the five Will Ferrell/Adam McKay collaborations, Ricky still stands as the highest grosser of them all. It’s first, not last.

6. Over the Hedge

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Dreamworks animated raccoon tale was a nice hit, even if it didn’t approach Shrek territory.

5. Superman Returns

Domestic Gross: $200 million

Coming nearly 20 years after the latest Supes flick, Superman Returns was Bryan Singer’s eagerly awaited reboot of the franchise. Yet its $200 million domestic gross was definitely on the lower end of expectations and critics and audiences were a bit disappointed. Seven years later, it would be rebooted once again with Man of Steel.

4. The Da Vinci Code

Domestic Gross: $217 million

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard teamed up for this adaptation of Dan Brown’s mega-selling novel and box office returns were heavenly, even if critics were quite mixed. Two sequels – 2011’s Angels & Demons and this fall’s Inferno – followed.

3. X-Men: The Last Stand

Domestic Gross: $234 million

Brett Ratner took over this franchise from Bryan Singer (busy with Superman) for film #3. Its reputation now is in tatters and is widely considered a mediocre experience at best. That said, it’s the highest grossing X pic domestically of all time – a full $1 million ahead of 2014’s Days of Future Past.

2. Cars

Domestic Gross: $244 million

It isn’t considered one of the greatest Pixar pics, but it still managed to pace second in summer 2006. The Paul Newman voiced effort would spawn two sequels – one in 2011 and the next coming in summer 2017.

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Domestic Gross: $423 million

This summer features a Johnny Depp sequel flop (Alice Through the Looking Glass), but 10 years ago – he was the king of the summer with this follow-up to 2003’s The Curse of the Black Pearl. It easily blew all competition away.

And now for some other notable movies of the season:

Little Miss Sunshine

Domestic Gross: $59 million

This little indie comedy/drama became a critics darling and struck a chord with audiences and Oscar voters. It was nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Abigail Breslin), and gave Alan Arkin a win in Supporting Actor.

An Inconvenient Truth

Domestic Gross: $24 million

Former Vice-President Al Gore’s feature-length slideshow on global warming was a massive hit as documentaries go (it currently stands at 10th all-time).

And now for the flops of summer ’06:

Miami Vice

Domestic Gross: $63 million

Based on the iconic 80s cop show and directed by its creator Michael Mann, Miami Vice suffered from a reported troubled production and grossed less than half of its $135 million budget.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Domestic Gross: $62 million

This is the one and only example of a Furious flick being listed as a flop as the series would majorly rebound when Paul Walker and Vin Diesel returned for part 4 a few years later.


Domestic Gross: $60 million

Audiences didn’t get on board for director Wolfgang Peterson’s remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, grossing just $60 million domestically compared to its $160 million budget.

Lady in the Water

Domestic Gross: $42 million

This is when it really started to go downhill for M. Night Shyamalan. Critics ridiculed it and it broke his streak of four hits in a row (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village).

Snakes on a Plane

Domestic Gross: $34 million

The trailer got all kinds of publicity with Samuel L. Jackson expressing his displeasure at what was going on in the title. That buzz didn’t end up translating into much, however.

The Wicker Man

Domestic Gross: $23 million

OK, it’s another Nic Cage bomb, but it would gain notoriety later for this gem of a clip…

And that’ll do it for now, my friends! Next summer, you can be sure I’ll be bringing you a recap of summers 1997 and 2007!

The Legend of Tarzan Box Office Prediction

Remember three summers ago when the mega-budgeted The Lone Ranger made just $29 million in its first weekend and was a huge disappointment? I give you what could be this year’s Ranger: Warner Bros The Legend of Tarzan, which swings into theaters over July 4th weekend with an estimated $180 million budget. I’m not convinced it’ll reach half its budget domestically when all is said and done.

Based on the iconic character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan is directed by David Yates – the man responsible for the last four Harry Potter pics and this fall’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Alexander Sarsgard is in the title role with Margot Robbie as Jane and Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou, and Jim Broadbent among the supporting players.

The biggest hurdle here could be the considerable competition for a family audience. Finding Dory will still be earning a lot in weekend #3 and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG opens the same day. There just doesn’t seem to be much excitement for this and it could get a bit lost in the shuffle. Luckily for Yates, his Beasts project is likely to be a smash. Luckily for Robbie, she’s a just over a month away from Suicide Squad probably doing bang-up business.

I’ll predict a three-day debut in the high teens and a low 20s four-day for the holiday frame. Considering its price tag, that’s bad news at Warner.

The Legend of Tarzan opening weekend prediction: $17.5 million (Friday to Sunday), $22 million (Friday to Monday)

For my The BFG prediction, click here:


For my The Purge: Election Year prediction, click here:


The Purge: Election Year Box Office Prediction

For the third time in four summers, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions are hoping that moviegoers will be purging as The Purge: Election Year debuts over the Independence Day weekend.

The third entry in the franchise sees James DeMonaco, director of the first two, returning with a cast that includes Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Mykelti Williamson. Horror films generally begin to lose a bit of steam from pic to pic. The original Purge in 2013 shocked prognosticators with a $34 million opening and a $64 million domestic take. 2014’s sequel Anarchy made $29 million out of the gate and its overall haul was slightly higher with $71 million. As you can see, much of the franchise’s grosses are earned in the first weekend.

Having the Election Year angle in 2016 could help a bit and the series is likely still strong enough to post pleasing results the third time around (especially with a reported budget of only $10 million). I’ll predict it’ll do slightly less than what’s come before it, but not by too much.

The Purge: Election Year opening weekend prediction: $21.7 million (Friday to Sunday), $25.5 million (Friday to Monday)

For my The BFG prediction, click here:


For my The Legend of Tarzan prediction, click here:


The BFG Box Office Prediction

Steven Spielberg returns to family friendly entertainment with The BFG, which steps into theaters over the Fourth of July weekend. Based on Roald Dahl’s book, the late Melissa Mathison (who wrote E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) is responsible for the screenplay. Recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance is the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) with Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, and Bill Hader in the supporting cast.

Disney is banking on the iconic director and the source material bringing kids and their parents to the multiplexes. Reviews have been mostly solid and it stands at 70% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

While The BFG is likely to finish highest among the three films opening over the holiday weekend, it could be hindered by its competition. Finding Dory is likely to have a nice third weekend and The Legend of Tarzan could divert some of its audience away.

I look for this to open in the high 20s-low 30s over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and probably get to the mid-high 30s when factoring in Monday’s July 4th.

The BFG opening weekend prediction: $26.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $33.2 million (Friday to Monday)

For my The Legend of Tarzan prediction, click here:


For my The Purge: Election Year prediction, click here:


Summer 1996: The Top Ten Hits and More

Well, it’s officially summertime and that means on this blog of mine, I recount the top ten movie hits of the season from 10 years ago and today… 20 years ago. When it comes to the film that ruled summer 1996, there’s a major connection to a sequel coming this very weekend…

As I have in years past, I’ll count down the top ten and then also mention some other notable pics, as well as big old flops. Let’s get to it…

10. The Cable Guy

Domestic Gross: $60 million

It may have managed to place in the top 10, but The Cable Guy (with its darker tones than any of his previous material) was considered to be Jim Carrey’s first flop. This was coming after a quintet of hits that included Ace Ventura and its sequel, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, and Batman Forever. Critics and audience didn’t know what to make of this Ben Stiller directed effort at first, but it’s since gained a deserved cult following.

9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Domestic Gross: $100 million

It couldn’t match the earnings of previous 90s Disney animated fare like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, or Pocahontas and it isn’t talked about too much anymore, but the studio did manage to get this to the century club… barely.

8. Eraser

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Arnold Schwarzenegger had his first major flop in summer 1993 with Last Action Hero and rebounded the following season in 1994 with True Lies. Action thriller Eraser falls somewhere in the middle. It did pretty well, but critics and audiences were a bit ambivalent.

7. Phenomenon

Domestic Gross: $104 million

John Travolta was still riding high on the momentum of Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, and Broken Arrow and that continued with this fantasy drama that also included the Eric Clapton hit “Change the World”.

6. A Time to Kill

Domestic Gross: $108 million

John Grisham was a serious box office commodity when Kill hit, directed by Joel Schumacher (doing his second adaptation after 1994’s The Client). The all-star cast that included Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey helped and this gave mainstream audiences their first exposure to Mr. Matthew McConaughey.

5. The Nutty Professor

Domestic Gross: $128 million

After a trio of bombs (The Distinguished Gentleman, Beverly Hills Cop III, Vampire in Brooklyn), Eddie Murphy experienced a huge comeback with this remake of the Jerry Lewis comedy. It also kicked off a series of family friendly titles that gave Eddie a second wind in his filmography.

4. The Rock

Domestic Gross: $134 million

Fresh off his Oscar win for Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage parlayed that buzz into the action genre in this Michael Bay directed Alcatraz shoot-em-up with Sean Connery and Ed Harris. This one’s pretty good. Much of what would follow from Cage? Not so much.

3. Mission: Impossible

Domestic Gross: $180 million

Tom Cruise got his franchise and it started here with Brian De Palma’s rendering of the 1960s TV series. Ethan Hunt and his cohorts are still rolling today.

2. Twister

Domestic Gross: $241 million

Jan De Bont followed up Speed with this high-priced disaster pic starring Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, and that infamous flying cow.

  1. Independence Day

Domestic Gross: $306 million

Moviegoers loved their destruction in summer 1996 and they saw the White House and plenty of other landmarks blown to smithereens in this alien invasion extravaganza from Roland Emmerich. This was what really made Will Smith a superstar – so much so that he isn’t bothering with the long gestating sequel, out this Friday.

Something that struck me about those 10 highest grossing pictures? Not one sequel. Try getting away with that these days…

And now for some other notable movies in the hot months of ’96:


Domestic Gross: $25 million

The Farrelly Brothers followed up their smash hit Dumb and Dumber with this bowling comedy starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and a glorious Bill Murray. It flopped upon release but has since gained a devoted following.


Domestic Gross: $16 million

This British import was an indie fave of the season and gave American audiences their first big exposure to both director Danny Boyle and its star Ewan McGregor. A sequel is coming in 2017.

And now – the flops of the summer and there were many:


Domestic Gross: $51 million

This fantasy adventure starring Dennis Quaid and the voice of Sean Connery couldn’t make its $57 million budget back domestically and critics were lukewarm.


Domestic Gross: $33 million

Critics and audiences alike didn’t shell out their dollar bills for this Demi Moore “comedy” set in the world of strip clubs.

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Domestic Gross: $27 million

This massive flop gave us Marlon Brando at his most bizarre in this doomed adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel. Do yourself a favor and read about the making of for this project. It’s considerably more entertaining than the picture itself.

Escape from L.A.

Domestic Gross: $25 million

Sixteen years after the well-received Escape from New York, this sequel reuniting director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell was mostly ignored.

Chain Reaction

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Keanu Reeves had a smash with Speed two summers before. Director Andrew Davis made the Oscar nominated The Fugitive three summer prior. Putting the two together for this stale action thriller was met with yawns.


Domestic Gross: $18 million

A few months before basketball fans turned out in droves for Michael Jordan and Space Jam, they said no thanks to Shaquille O’Neal’s entry onto the silver screen. Charles Barkley still gives him hell for it on “Inside the NBA”.

The Fan

Domestic Gross: $18 million

Between two major hits with 1995’s Crimson Tide and 1998’s Enemy of the State, Tony Scott had this bomb starring Robert De Niro as a baseball nut stalking favorite player Wesley Snipes.

The Phantom

Domestic Gross: $17 million

Comic books adaptations hadn’t quite hit their stride yet during the mid 1990s, as evidenced here with Billy Zane as the title character that couldn’t even earn half its $45 million budget.

The Frighteners

Domestic Gross: $16 million

This horror action comedy is the last major starring role for Michael J. Fox before he turned his attention back to TV and “Spin City”. This failed with moviegoers, but the director would go on to bigger things. His name? Peter Jackson.

Barb Wire

Domestic Gross: $3 million

Here’s another comic adaptation you don’t think of much – this ill-fated Pamela Anderson vehicle that proved audiences liked her better on the beach… or in other videos you didn’t have to pay for.

And that does it, folks! Your recap of summer 1996. I’ll be back next week talking about 2006…


Zoolander 2 Movie Review

2001’s Zoolander was an often uproarious novelty of a pic that showed Ben Stiller’s ability to essentially take a sketch character and stretch the premise out successfully for 90 minutes. The original took us into the incredibly narcissistic and dumb world of male modeling coupled with nonsensical international intrigue involving the attempted assassination of the Malaysian prime minister. It worked because of its star/director’s enthusiasm behind it and the fact it was a pretty original comedy at the time.

Most movies in this genre don’t need sequels. This is one of them. The novelty has worn badly. Zoolander 2 brings back almost everything and everyone that made us laugh fifteen years ago and has no clue what to do with them. Derek Zoolander (Stiller) is now a has been model living as a recluse. This is following a tragic accident involving his Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good that was erected in the predecessor’s conclusion. His family life is shattered as is his ability to lock down his iconic facial expressions at opportune moments.

Derek soon finds himself recruited (by Billy Zane no less) to return to the real world when gorgeous celebrities start being offed. An Interpol agent (Penelope Cruz) believes both he and Hansel (Owen Wilson) can be of service. The bonkers plot (so was Zoolander’s, to be fair) finds a way to bring back Mugatu (Will Ferrell), in addition to scores of celeb cameos from the music and fashion world. The Fountain of Youth is involved. Derek finds himself trying to connect with his estranged son. Oh and Sting plays himself as a somewhat mythical figure, which isn’t much of a stretch. And there’s Kristin Wiig in unrecognizable makeup as a designer.

Any picture with these performers will have a few funny moments just based on the odds. I will admit that Kiefer Sutherland (playing himself) and his relationship status with Hansel provided a smile. And yet they are truly few and far between. Zoolander 2 is a title in search of a reason to exist that doesn’t find it. It feels lazy, unneeded, and desperate. For a director like Stiller that has shown so much ability with part one and Tropic Thunder and others, it’s surprising to find No. 2 even looking and feeling drab. I was satisfied at the original when Derek flashed Blue Steel, that magical look. It’s here, but my advice is look away. There’s little magic around.

*1/2 (out of four)