Box Office Predictions: November 4-6

The month of November begins at the box office with the infusion of some likely blockbusters to lift the current fall season out of its doldrums. We have three new pics that should populate the top 3 spots: Marvel’s critically acclaimed Doctor Strange, Dreamworks animated Trolls, and Mel Gibson’s World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

There’s little doubt that Disney/Marvel will rule the weekend with their new superhero. The question is just how big it will be. My estimate gives it the 10th out of 14th largest opener for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, between Thor: The Dark World and the first Thor. 

While Strange should hammer all competition, I’ve got those frizzy haired Trolls capturing a sizable family audience for a sturdy runner-up showing.

As for Hacksaw, the well-reviewed pic could over perform, but I’ve got it slated for a low double digits debut (though it may play well throughout awards season).

When it comes to holdovers, I look for Boo! A Madea Halloween and Inferno (which bombed this past weekend; more on that below) to experience sizable dips and fall to fourth and fifth.

Here’s how the blog readers feel about my prognoses:

Doctor Strange – 47% Just About Right, 36% Too Low, 17% Too High

Trolls – 55% Just About Right, 26% Too Low, 19% Too High

Hacksaw Ridge – 65% Too Low, 27% Just About Right, 8% Too High

And with that, my top 5 predictions for the weekend:

1. Doctor Strange

Predicted Gross: $77.3 million

2. Trolls

Predicted Gross: $34.6 million

3. Hacksaw Ridge

Predicted Gross: $12.1 million

4. Boo! A Madea Halloween

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million (representing a drop of 55%)

5. Inferno

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million (representing a drop of 54%)

Box Office Results (October 28-30)

In a seriously surprising box office upset, Boo! A Madea Halloween remained atop the charts for a second weekend in a row with $17.2 million, well ahead of my $12.7M projection. The Tyler Perry hit has amassed $52 million so far and looks to easily become the 2nd highest grossing Madea titled pic after 2009’s Madea Goes to Jail.

The upset is due to the massive under performance of Inferno, the third teaming of Tom Hanks and Ron Howard based on Dan Brown’s novels. The film absolutely tanked with just $14.8 million, less than half of my extremely generous $30.6M prediction. This franchise started a decade ago to great results with The Da Vinci Code and still produced decent results in 2011 with Angels & Demons. While Inferno is performing better overseas, you can bet this is the last time we’ll see Mr. Hanks cracking codes.

In another Tom led box office disappointment, Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back fell hard in weekend #2 with $9.5 million (I was higher with a $12.4M forecast). Its meager earnings stand at $39 million.

I fared a bit better with the rest of the top five. The Accountant was fourth with $8.4 million (I said $8.7M) for a $61 million total. Ouija: Origin of Evil was fifth with $7.1 million (I said $7.3M) for a $24 million tally.

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

Lights Out Movie Review

The low-budget horror pic Lights Out comes from producer James Wan, who’s mastered the art of using sound effects to max effect in his Conjuring franchise. Here, director David F. Sandberg and screenwriter Eric Heisserer leave it to their production crew as well to generate the vast majority of scares. In something named Lights Out, you could correctly surmise that the lighting technicians are of key value here. Their work is often impressive.

If only there were a compelling story to match the occasionally nifty crew contributions. The pic opens with an effective intro where a textile warehouse owner meets his demise due to a shadowy female figure who appears only in the darkness. Flash forward to the man’s widow (Maria Bello) living with her grade school age son Martin (Gabriel Bateman) and trying to cope with his death. Her grieving patterns are a bit off kilter as she seems to be conversing with that same otherworldly creature who took her husband away. This overall creepiness leads Martin to seek out his half sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer). She left years ago due to her own father’s abandonment and Mom’s strange behavior. Together, the siblings uncover a lot of backstory to explain what is happening. Tagging along is Rebecca’s boyfriend (Alexander DiPersia), who gets a gold star for sticking around when the going gets rough.

I give Lights Out some credit for attempting to fashion a narrative that goes out of its way to justify its character’s behavior, particularly with Bello. She veers between pharmaceutically chill and understandably freaked out. It helps that the performances are uniformly solid. A problem here is that once the existence of Diana (she’s the spirit wreaking all this havoc) is addressed, Lights sort of lumbers on with the same scare tactics repeatedly. There’s only so many times the flick of a lighting switch and the boo moment that follows doesn’t become redundant. It’s an issue that plagued the Conjuring sequel with its familiar sound effects jump moments from the original. In the plus column is that director Sandberg keeps it brisk at just 81 minutes. For a horror flick freaky Friday night, you could do a lot worse than this. Still, there’s plenty else that illuminates the genre in superior ways.

**1/2 (out of four)

Todd’s Weekly Oscar Predictions: October 27th Edition

Thursday has arrived and that means a fresh round of Oscar predictions in the 8 biggest categories! The major development this week? The announcement that Viola Davis will compete in Supporting Actress for Fences instead of lead. I’ve had Davis firmly at #3 for weeks on my Best Actress board, but this news puts her at #1 in the supporting race. I’m also growing more confident that both Moonlight (which had a scorching debut in limited release) and Loving will make it into Best Picture and they both rise up in this week’s rankings.

Please note – this will be the final week of predicting 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 predictions in the other races. Starting next week as November arrives, it’ll be whittled down to 20 in Picture and 10 in the others.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees

1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 2)

3. Fences (PR: 3)

4. Moonlight (PR: 6)

5. Lion (PR: 4)

6. Jackie (PR: 5)

7. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 7)

8. Loving (PR: 10)

9. Arrival (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities

10. Hidden Figures (PR: 9)

11. 20th Century Women (PR: 11)

12. Hell or High Water (PR: 12)

13. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 18)

14. Sully (PR: 14)

15. Live by Night (PR: 13)

16. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 15)

17. The Jungle Book (PR: 19)

18. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 17)

19. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 16)

20. Allied (PR: 21)

21. Miss Sloane (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Passengers (PR: 24)

23. Gold (PR: 22)

24. Rules Don’t Apply (PR: 23)

25. 13th (PR: 20)

Dropped Out:

The Founder

Best Director

Predicted Nominees

1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 2)

3. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 4)

4. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 3)

5. Pablo Larrain, Jackie (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 8)

7. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival (PR: 6)

8. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 7)

9. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 9)

10. Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (PR: 13)

11. Mike Mills, 20th Century Women (PR: 11)

12. Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 10)

13. Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 12)

15. Clint Eastwood, Sully (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Ana DuVernay, 13th

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)

2. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 3)

4. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 5)

5. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities

6. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 6)

7. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 7)

8. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 9)

9. Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply (PR: 8)

10. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 10)

11. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 11)

12. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (PR: 14)

13. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 12)

14. Will Smith, Collateral Beauty (PR: 13)

15. Miles Teller, Bleed for This (PR: 15)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)

3. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 4)

4. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 6)

5. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)

7. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 9)

8. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 8)

9. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)

10. Marion Cotillard, Allied (PR: 12)

11. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: 11)

12. Rachel Weisz, Denial (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers (PR: 15)

14. Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 13)

15. Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Viola Davis, Fences (competing in Supporting Actress)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 1)

2. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 2)

3. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 5)

4. Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 3)

5. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities

6. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie (PR: 8)

7. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)

8. Aaron Eckhart, Sully (PR: 7)

9. Sunny Pawar, Lion (PR: 9)

10. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: 10)

11. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 11)

12. Timothy Spall, Denial (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This (PR: 13)

14. Alan Rickman, Eye in the Sky (PR: 12)

15. Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: Not Ranked, listed in Lead Actress)

2. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 1)

3. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)

4. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 3)

5. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities

6. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 5)

7. Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)

8. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 6)

9. Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls (PR: 12)

10. Margo Martindale, The Hollars (PR: 8)

11. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 9)

12. Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women (PR: 7)

13. Janelle Monae, Moonlight (PR: 13)

14. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miss Sloane (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Laura Linney, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Moonlight (PR: 4)

4. Jackie (PR: 3)

5. Loving (PR: 6)

Other Possibilties

6. 20th Century Women (PR: 5)

7. Hell or High Water (PR: 7)

8. Miss Sloane (PR: 9)

9. The Lobster (PR: 12)

10. Toni Erdmann (PR: 8)

11. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 10)

12. Allied (PR: 13)

13. Rules Don’t Apply (PR: 15)

14. Gold (PR: 14)

15. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 11)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. Fences (PR: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 2)

3. Lion (PR: 3)

4. Arrival (PR: 5)

5. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities

6. Hidden Figures (PR: 4)

7. Love & Friendship (PR: 7)

8. Live by Night (PR: 8)

9. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 15)

10. Certain Women (PR: 14)

11. Sully (PR: 10)

12. Elle (PR: 9)

13. Indignation (PR: 13)

14. The Jungle Book (PR: 12)

15. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 11)

Until next week…!

Hacksaw Ridge Box Office Prediction

After a decade away from behind the camera, Hacksaw Ridge marks Mel Gibson’s directorial return. The World War II true-life tale casts Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector who nevertheless ended up being awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic exploits on the battlefield. Costars include Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Teresa Palmer, and Rachel Griffiths.

The reported $45 million production debuted at Venice Film Festival in September to very positive word of mouth. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 94% and it seems to be gaining some traction as a potential awards contender. Ridge is the first war drama of November, but will be followed up quickly just a week later with Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. 

Gibson, of course, is an Oscar winner for his direction of 1995’s Braveheart and struck box office gold in 2004 with his follow-up, The Passion of the Christ. 2006’s Apocalypto was his last job as director and it grossed $50M domestic. The last decade has been an interesting one for Mr. Gibson – notable more for tabloid fodder than anything on the silver screen. His acting jobs have ranged from supporting roles in Machete Kills and The Expendables 3 to direct to On Demand action flicks like Get the Gringo and Blood Father. 

It’s a legitimate question whether or not his name adds anything here. None of its stars carry much box office potency either (though Garfield will also soon headline this fall’s eagerly awaited Martin Scorsese drama Silence). What might help is the encouraging critical buzz swirling around it. I don’t expect an opening above $15 million, yet this could be a slow burner that experiences small declines in subsequent weekends. I’ll predict the most likely scenario is a low double digits opening and potential for growth as the season wears on.

Hacksaw Ridge opening weekend prediction: $12.1 million

For my Doctor Strange prediction, click here:

For my Trolls prediction, click here:

Trolls Box Office Prediction

Viral intrigue hits multiplexes as Trolls, a timely thriller about Internet irritants, debuts next weekend. OK, the 3D animated musical kiddie pic is actually about those dolls with the funky spiked up hair and it hopes to capture a sizable family audience.

The Dreamworks effort comes with a reported $120 million budget and features the voices (both spoken and in song) of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, and James Corden. The soundtrack has already yielded Timberlake’s summer smash “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”. Reviews thus far have been surprisingly quite positive and it stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Early November has been fertile ground for animated fare in recent years past. Some of the original titles and their opening grosses include: 2007’s Bee Movie ($38M), 2010’s Masterminds ($46M), 2012’s Wreck-It-Ralph ($49M), 2014’s Big Hero 6 ($56M), and last year’s The Peanuts Movie ($44M). There is one significant factor standing in the way of Trolls potentially achieving those numbers and that would be Marvel’s Doctor Strange, which debuts directly against it. While the wild haired characters of this may be looking to siphon off an even younger audience (and their parents), Strange should undoubtedly succeed in bringing in families as well.

That said, I expect Trolls to manage a mid-30s roll out and likely play well into the month of November.

Trolls opening weekend prediction: $34.6 million

For my Doctor Strange prediction, click here:

For my Hacksaw Ridge prediction, click here:

Doctor Strange Box Office Prediction

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s mega billion dollar alliance with Disney rolls along as Doctor Strange opens in theaters next weekend. Based on the character created by Steve Ditko over a half century ago, this is the 14th entry in the MCU that began with Iron Man in 2008.

And that first Tony Stark pic over eight years ago is the film many critics are comparing the Doctor to. Benedict Cumberbatch is the title character with a stellar supporting cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, and Mads Mikkelsen. Scott Derrickson (most known for horror flicks such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister) directs. Advance word of mouth for the reported $165 million has been quite encouraging, with reviewers praising Cumberbatch’s performance, the striking visuals, and an origin story said to be satisfying in the way that Iron Man’s was. It stands at 97% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

This is only the second MCU feature to open in the autumn season. 2013’s sequel Thor: The Dark World premiered to $85.7 million in early November. That’s probably the range that Strange is looking to debut at, but I’m not sure it’ll quite get there. I certainly don’t see it reaching the $94 million accomplished by Star Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy or the $98 million that Robert Downey Jr.’s signature character got the first time out of the gate. Yet I see it outpacing the $65 million that Thor opened to in his first solo saga and $57 million from Ant-Man in summer 2015. The buzz for this one seems stronger.

Ultimately, I think this manages a mid to high 70s opening weekend. Low 80s is reachable. Regardless, this should be a new franchise for the Mouse Factory’s comic book division.

Doctor Strange opening weekend prediction: $77.3 million

For my Trolls prediction, click here:

For my Hacksaw Ridge prediction, click here:


Box Office Predictions: October 28-30

For the previous two weekends at the box office, we’ve seen a total of seven features roll out in wide release. As the final frame of October is upon us, we just have one to close the month out – Inferno. This is the third teaming of director Ron Howard with Tom Hanks in adapting Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels to the screen. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

While Inferno should have no trouble debuting at #1, just how much it makes is a legit question. I’ve got it pegged at just over $30M, though my blog readers tend to disagree with 64% saying my prediction is Too High. 23% think I’m Just About Right with 13% believing I’m Too Low.

As for holdovers, Boo! A Madea Halloween had a much larger than anticipated debut last weekend (more on that below). Similar Madea titles that opened in the same range dropped about 60% in their second weekend. Could Halloween dip a bit lower since, you know, this is Halloween weekend coming up? Perhaps, but probably not by much.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back should lose close to half its audience. Same for Ouija. The Accountant in weekend #3 has been experiencing good worth of mouth and its drop may not be quite as pronounced (I have it leaping over Evil).

And with that – the top 5 predictions for the weekend:

1. Inferno

Predicted Gross: $30.6 million

2. Boo! A Madea Halloween

Predicted Gross: $12.7 million (representing a drop of 55%)

3. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Predicted Gross: $12.4 million (representing a drop of 46%)

4. The Accountant

Predicted Gross: $8.7 million (representing a drop of 36%)

5. Ouija: Origin of Evil

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million (representing a drop of 48%)

Box Office Results (October 21-23)

In an unexpected box office twist, Tyler Perry outpaced Tom Cruise this weekend as Boo! A Madea Halloween scored a terrific debut with $28.5 million, more than double my meager $12.5M estimate. This marks the third highest debut for a Madea titled pic and ensures this character will be having other holiday fun (Thanksgiving’s probably next) into the future.

It was expected to top the charts, but Madea blocked that as Jack Reacher: Never Go Back debuted in second with $22.8 million (just below my $23.9M estimate). The Tom Cruise sequel suffered from middling reviews and it was following up a predecessor that isn’t exactly beloved. It should struggle to make the $80M earned by the first Reacher and it probably won’t.

Ouija: Origin of Evil didn’t scare up as much business as its predecessor, taking in $14 million for third place (I predicted $15.2M). With a lackluster C Cinemascore grade (same as the first one), it should fade fast, but may not have too calamitous a drop next weekend due to the Halloween holiday.

With all the newbies premiering, The Accountant slipped to fourth with $13.6 million. My prediction? $13.6M! At least I got something right this weekend! Its total stands at $47M.

The Girl on the Train was fifth with $7.1 million and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. The thriller has grossed $58M in three weeks.

The Zack Galifianakis led comedy Keeping Up with Joneses had to settle for seventh place with a poor $5.4 million, well below my $10.1M forecast. It actually performed worse than the star’s comedy from earlier this month, Masterminds. 

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