Comedic holiday hijinks ensue next weekend as Office Christmas Party RSVP’s into theaters. The R rated pic features a cast of familiar faces including Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Matt Walsh and Kate McKinnon. Josh Gordon and Will Speck handle directorial duties and their previous effort was 2010’s The Switch, which featured Bateman and Aniston.
The Paramount release could benefit from both its cast and the fact that drunken and wild work XMas bashes are something many can relate to. Party comes from a story originated by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote The Hangover. It also has no competition in the second weekend of December in its genre.
I’ll predict a decent number of moviegoers attend this Party to the tune of a mid to high teens debut.
Office Christmas Party opening weekend prediction: $18.4 million
A home invasion horror flick where the home invaders are kind of the good guys, Don’tBreathe is a pretty nifty and sometimes nasty little experience. It comes from Fede Alvarez, who’s shown himself as a gifted filmmaker in the genre after making 2013’s EvilDead remake.
We open with three Detroit youngsters who earn some pocket change ripping off nice cribs. It’s rather easy work for them because nice guy Alex (Dylan Minnette) has a dad with a home security business, giving him access to precious info. There’s the harder edged Money (Daniel Zovatto) and his gal Rocky (Jane Levy), who Alex has a crush on. Rocky is our central heroine character. She lives in a low income Motor City neighborhood with a very trashy mom, her loser boyfriend, and a sweet younger sister that she wants to show a better life. I half expected Eminem to rap during her background scene.
The trio get a tip on a new property to focus on and it’s not a typical one. The new mark is a military vet who resides in a poor neighborhood where the homes around him are abandoned. Yet they believe there’s a lot of green there as he received a big settlement after his daughter was killed in an auto accident. It’s a large enough potential payout to send them California dreamin’, so off they go.
What they discover is this robbery victim is unlike any other. First, he’s blind. He’s also got a vicious dog and a casa with all kinds of surprises in store. This sets up a scenario where the criminals become the hunted in The Blind Man’s twisted playhouse.
The occupant is played with supreme creepiness by Stephen Lang. A character actor who’s impressed in all kinds of roles, it’s a kick to see him let loose here. As a side note, he was also the best thing in the long forgotten Michael J. Fox/James Woods buddy cop comedy TheHardWay 25 years ago in which he also played one disturbed dude. The rest of the cast looks appropriately mortified during their during their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad burglary. For that reference, look up Minnette’s filmography. I had to in order to remind myself what I’d seen him in before.
There’s some twists that come later and the main one is a demented doozy. With its grindhouse title and lower end budget to match, Don’tBreathe should please slasher enthusiasts with its welcome uncomplicated story. When we are introduced to one character unexpectedly, the levels of plausibility are stretched greatly if you seriously ponder it. However, we don’t go into pics like this holding our breath for that nor should we care. This delivers enough of the goods that we honestly don’t.
A few years back, George Clooney revealed a list of his top 100 films released between 1964 and 1976. It’s an era he considers the best in the history of the medium and that’s certainly a valid hypothesis. In his impressive career, Clooney has appeared in movies that could have come out in that time frame. GoodNight, andGoodLuck and TheIdes of March deal with themes of corporate corruption and dirty politics in ways that entries on his list did more often forty to fifty years ago. Titles like 1976’s Network and George’s all-time #1 AllthePresident’sMen. Both of those features also deal with the positive and negative aspects of journalism and so does MoneyMonster. In 1976, 24 hour cable news didn’t exist yet. There were no programs like the one in the title where over-the-top host Lee Gates (Clooney) tells viewers how to invest their cash. Think Jim Cramer… except he looks like George Clooney.
Lee is set to tape his Friday show with his trusty director Patty (Julia Roberts) in his ear. Shortly after the cameras roll, Kyle (Jack O’Connell) crashes the set with a gun and explosive laden vest for Lee to don. His beef? He lost his life savings in a company that his now bomb strapped captive heartily endorsed. As millions of ciewees watch the situation live on TV, Monster becomes a rumination on the themes mentioned earlier.
That list Clooney made also correctly included 1975’s DogDayAfternoon. Like that excellent effort, this is a real-time New York City hostage drama with humor frequently injected. Al Pacino gave one of his richest performances of his filmography in Afternoon and his riveting character made the tension substantial in it. That’s a problem here as the character of Kyle is neither fleshed out enough or believable enough to create any significant suspense. It’s not O’Connell’s fault really. He’s just written that way. And therein lies the film’s biggest drawback.
Often, Monster manages to coast on the considerable charms of its two leads and their nice rapport. We’ve seen plenty of pictures with this one’s “Wall Street is bad” theme but few with the star wattage. The quick running time (99 minutes) is a plus. This is never boring, though it’s credibility does dip in the third act.
The director, by the way, is an actress you may have heard of named Jodie Foster. She appeared in 1974’s AliceDoesn’tLiveHereAnymore and 1976’s TaxiDriver. They both also made that Clooney list. MoneyMonster probably won’t be listed on anyone’s all-time top 100 of anything. You may not regret investing a short amount of time in it, but there’s lists of similarly themed fare that’s far superior. Even this movie’s star did one.
The first weekend of December will be filled by Thanksgiving leftovers as only one newbie debuts this weekend: supernatural horror pic Incarnate starring Aaron Eckhart. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:
As you can see, I’m expecting Incarnate to bomb with just a $1.7 million opening, meaning it shouldn’t come close to the top 5.
When it comes to holdovers, Disney’s Moana should easily top the charts in its second weekend. I’m estimating it will lose close to half its opening frame audience. Fantastic Beasts should hold the runner-up spot.
The real drama could be for #3 as I expect Doctor Strange, Allied, and Arrival to each make about the same amount. The post Thanksgiving weekend usually sees pretty large declines for returning product and I expect this year to be no different.
And with that, my top 5 predictions for the weekend:
Predicted Gross: $28.8 million (representing a drop of 49%)
2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Predicted Gross: $20.9 million (representing a drop of 53%)
3. Doctor Strange
Predicted Gross: $6.1 million (representing a drop of 55%)
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million (representing a drop of 49%)
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million (representing a drop of 54%)
Box Office Results (November 25-27)
As anticipated, Disney ruled the Turkey Day holiday frame as their acclaimed animated title Moana was #1. It grossed $56.6 million over Friday to Sunday (right on target with my $56.4M estimate) and $82 million since its Wednesday roll-out (topping my $77.2M projection). Look for the ‘toon to play well over the next month.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them displayed a far better hold than I gave it credit for at second with $45 million as opposed to my $34.9M prediction. The J.K. Rowling would-be franchise has taken in $156M thus far.
Marvel’s Doctor Strange was third with $13.7 million, in line with my $14M prediction to bring its haul to $205M.
The Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard World War II romantic thriller Allied suffered a ho-hum 4th place showing. It made $12.7 million from Friday to Sunday and $17.7 million since its Wednesday bow, coming in under my respective forecasts of $14.2M and $21.1M.
Arrival displayed a strong hold in its third frame at #5 with $11.4 million (above my $8.6M prediction) for a $62M total.
Trolls came in sixth with $10.6 million (I went a little higher at $12.7M) for $135M overall.
Audiences greeted Bad Santa 2 with little enthusiasm as it debuted in seventh place to just $6.1 million from Friday to Sunday and $9.1 million since Wednesday, a bit below my guesstimates of $8.1M and $10.8M.
Almost Christmas was eighth with $5.6 million (I said $4.7M) for a $34M haul.
Mel Gibson’s directorial comeback Hacksaw Ridge was ninth with $5.5 million (I said $5.1M) to bring its pleasing earnings to $52M.
I incorrectly had The Edge of Seventeen outside of the top ten in its second weekend. It earned $2.9 million to bring its small gross just over $10M.
That’s because I gave too much credit to Warren Beatty’s return to the big screen in Rules Don’t Apply. The pic debuted with an extremely disappointing $1.5 million from Friday to Sunday and $2.1 million since Wednesday. That’s good for just 12th place and well shy of my $4.8M and $6.3M prognoses.
The comedic team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (they were childhood friends) was first witnessed by mass audiences in 2007’s inspired Superbad. That pic was conceived by the duo when they were young and that teen spirit infused it with a refreshing authenticity. Their cinematic marriage has since shown their fondness for raunchiness and weed. Nothing has quite hit the effectiveness of their first collaboration. Some have come pretty darn close (PineappleExpress, ThisistheEnd) while others have come up a bit shorter (TheWatch, TheInterview, TheNightBefore). Most of their works have performed well or at least decently at the box office (TheWatch is a notable exception) and SausageParty is the kind of movie you get to make when studios let you do whatever you want. It ends up on the higher scale of their work.
Party gives us the rare instance of a truly R rated animated flick. Rogen and Goldberg’s affection for vulgarity is on full display and one suspects it was green stuff other than money that may have assisted in coming up with the concept. Here it is: the food and products in your local grocery store are alive and blissfully unaware of what happens to them after they walk out of the sliding doors. Rogen’s Frank is a sausage and Kristin Wiig’s Brenda is a bun and they’ve been waiting to connect once they break out of their respective packages. In their understanding, this will occur once they’re purchased by the Gods (who are actually just your everyday consumers) and enter the Great Beyond outside of Shopwell’s.
A returned jar of honey mustard (voiced by Danny McBride) tries to warn his market friends of what lies ahead when their dream of freedom is met. Many are skeptical and what’s often most surprising about SausageParty is its allegorical themes pertaining to religion and sex with some expected drug humor thrown in. It’s also chock full of bad puns (some quite hilarious) and plenty of the living products representing their stereotypes. The most obvious and amusing example? The villain of the establishment (voiced by Nick Kroll) is literally a Douche. We also have Sammy the Bagel, giving Edward Norton a chance to be funny and essentially do a Woody Allen impersonation and his ex-girlfriend Salma Hayek coming out of her shell as Theresa del Taco.
As mentioned, Goldberg and Rogen are free to do what they want here and SausageParty does have plenty of uproariously inappropriate moments. There are also times when their out there idea is funnier in concept than actual execution. Additionally, the final gag practically begs for a post-credits sequence that never materializes. Still, at a brisk 88 minutes, this Party is fresh enough for consumption of its creators fans.
Happy Turkey Day all! And yes we all know it’s Thursday and that also means my weekly Oscar predictions are here for you to stuff yourself with. Over the last week, we have seen new developments as Allied opened, reviews came out, and its awards chances went buh bye.
Furthermore, both PatriotsDay and TheFounder (both out next month) had critical reaction come in. Patriots has established itself as a dark horse candidate for recognition with Founder popping up in the bottom of possibilities based on their reviews.
Added to that… Martin Scorsese’s Silence finally got a trailer release about a month before its premiere.
So there’s a bit of movement happening on the charts and here’s my Thanksgiving projections for the eight major categories:
1. LaLaLand (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Fences (PR: 2)
3. Moonlight (PR: 3)
4. Silence (PR: 5)
5. Lion (PR: 4)
6. ManchesterbytheSea (PR: 6)
7. Loving (PR: 9)
8. Arrival (PR: 7)
9. Jackie (PR: 8)
10. HiddenFigures (PR: 10)
11. HellorHighWater (PR: 11)
12. 20thCenturyWomen (PR: 12)
13. PatriotsDay (PR: Not Ranked)
14. LivebyNight (PR: 13)
15. Sully (PR: 14)
16. HacksawRidge (PR: 15)
17. NocturnalAnimals (PR: 17)
18. TheJungleBook (PR: 16)
19. TheFounder (Not Ranked)
20. Gold (PR: 20)
1. Damien Chazelle, LaLaLand (PR: 1)
2. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 4)
3. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 2)
4. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 3)
5. Kenneth Lonergan, ManchesterbytheSea (PR: 5)
6. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival (PR: 6)
7. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 7)
8. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 9)
9. Pablo Larrain, Jackie (PR: 8)
10. Theodore Melfi, HiddenFigures (PR: 10)
1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Casey Affleck, ManchesterbytheSea (PR: 2)
3. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 3)
4. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 4)
5. Ryan Gosling, LaLaLand (PR: 5)
6. Michael Keaton, TheFounder (PR: 7)
7. Viggo Mortensen, CaptainFantastic (PR: 9)
8. Warren Beatty, RulesDon’tApply (PR: 6)
9. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 8)
10. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 10)
1. Emma Stone, LaLaLand (PR: 1)
2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)
3. Annette Bening, 20thCenturyWomen (PR: 3)
4. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 5)
5. Jessica Chastain, MissSloane (PR: 6)
6. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 4)
7. Meryl Streep, FlorenceFosterJenkins (PR: 7)
8. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 8)
9. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: 9)
10. Taraji P. Henson, HiddenFigures (PR: 10)
1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 2)
2. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 3)
3. Michael Shannon, NocturnalAnimals (PR: 1)
4. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: 6)
5. Lucas Hedges, ManchesterbytheSea (PR: 4)
6. Jeff Bridges, HellorHighWater (PR: 10)
7. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 5)
8. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 7)
9. Hugh Grant, FlorenceFosterJenkins (PR: 9)
10. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie (PR: 8)
1. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)
3. Michelle Williams, ManchesterbytheSea (PR: 3)
4. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 4)
5. Greta Gerwig, 20thCenturyWomen (PR: 5)
6. Janelle Monae, HiddenFigures (PR: 8)
7. Octavia Spencer, HiddenFigures (PR: 7)
8. Molly Shannon, OtherPeople (PR: 6)
9. Helen Mirren, EyeintheSky (PR: 9)
10. Felicity Jones, AMonsterCalls (PR: 10)
1. Moonlight (PR: 1)
2. ManchesterbytheSea (PR: 3)
3. LaLaLand (PR: 2)
4. HellorHighWater (PR: 5)
5. 20thCenturyWomen (PR: 6)
6. Loving (PR: 7)
7. Jackie (PR: 4)
8. TheLobster (PR: 8)
9. CaptainFantastic (PR: 9)
10. Gold (PR: Not Ranked)
1. Fences (PR: 1)
2. Lion (PR: 2)
3. Silence (PR: 4)
4. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 5)
5. Arrival (PR: 3)
6. HiddenFigures (PR: 6)
7. LivebyNight (PR: 7)
8. HacksawRidge (PR: 10)
9. Elle (PR: 7)
10. Sully (PR: 9)
And that does it for your Thanksgiving edition of my Oscar predictions… Enjoy those leftovers!
The first weekend of December is typically a very light frame for new product and 2016 is no different as horror flick Incarnate is the only new offering. From Blumhouse Tilt (a studio that makes their pics cheap and fast), the exorcism tale stars Aaron Eckhart. It’s been a busy year for the lead actor, as he’s already appeared in supporting roles this fall with hit Sully and flop BleedforThis. Brad Peyton (who made last summer’s SanAndreas) is behind the camera and costars include Carice van Houtem and Catalina Sandino Moreno.
Despite a release in European territories last summer, Incarnate has sat on the shelf waiting for U.S. distribution. That’s usually not a sign of confidence from the studio and neither is its dumping ground release date. This should follow the pattern of many other first weekend of December premieres and post extremely low numbers.
Incarnate opening weekend prediction: $1.7 million
Another day, another piece of the Oscar puzzle coming into more focus as The Founder has screened for critics. The film is a biopic of Ray Croc, the man behind the McDonald’s franchise. Michael Keaton stars with John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directing. Costars include Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, Patrick Wilson, and John Carroll Lynch.
This has been fairly low on the radar screen of many awards prognosticators. Part of that could be due to its consistently shifting release date over the past few months. It was originally scheduled to debut this Friday and then was pushed up to August before being pushed back to December and its wide release won’t come until January. Got all that?
Nevertheless, The Founder found some positive critical reaction as of yesterday and it currently stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Will it get a Best Picture nomination? Most likely not, but it could be a factor in one particular race. Michael Keaton has been on a roll lately (he’s appeared in the last two Best Picture winners – Birdman and Spotlight). The Best Actor race appears to be rather fluid, with only Denzel Washington (Fences) and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) as seemingly sure things. Keaton could easily find himself in the mix with Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Tom Hanks (Sully), Warren Beatty (Rules Don’t Apply), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), and others. It could also make a play for Best Original Screenplay, though that could be more of a long shot.
It’s Turkey Day weekend at the 2016 box office and there’s four new titles debuting in wide release: Disney’s latest animated creation Moana, Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard WWII thriller Allied, raunchy sequel Bad Santa 2, and Warren Beatty’s long in the making Rules Don’t Apply. You can stuff yourself on my individual prediction posts on them here:
All 4 releases debut Wednesday to capitalize on the holiday weekend, so my estimates reflect both a three-day and five-day forecast on them.
Moana should rather easily debut on top, especially with the less than expected returns of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them over this past weekend (more on that below).
I’m slating Allied for a third place showing, but if it comes in with less than my estimate, it could battle both Doctor Strange and Trolls for the 3-5 spots. It’s worth noting that holdovers on Thanksgiving weekend typically experience smaller than usual declines. While I’ve got Beasts losing over half its audience in its sophomore frame, I have Strange, Trolls, and Arrival losing crowd shares in the low-high 20s percentile range.
That means I’ve got Bad Santa 2 premiering at #7 with Rules Don’t Apply in ninth place between Hacksaw Ridge and Almost Christmas.
Here’s how the blog readers view my predictions on the newbies:
Moana – 55% Too Low, 38% Just About Right, 7% Too High
Allied – 52% Just About Right, 30% Too Low, 18% Too High
Bad Santa 2 – 58% Too Low, 31% Just About Right, 11% Too High
Rules Don’t Apply – 64% Just About Right, 18% Too High, 18% Too Low
Any way you look at it… this will be one fascinating weekend to watch and here’s how my top ten looks:
Predicted Gross: $56.4 million (Friday to Sunday), $77.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Predicted Gross: $34.9 million (representing a drop of 53%)
Predicted Gross: $14.2 million (Friday to Sunday), $21.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
4. Doctor Strange
Predicted Gross: $14 million (representing a drop of 21%)
Predicted Gross: $12.7 million (representing a drop of 27%)
Predicted Gross: $8.6 million (representing a drop of 29%)
7. Bad Santa 2
Predicted Gross: $8.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $10.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
8. Hacksaw Ridge
Predicted Gross: $5.1 million (representing a drop of 23%)
9. Rules Don’t Apply
Predicted Gross: $4.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $6.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
10. Almost Christmas
Predicted Gross: $4.7 million (representing a drop of 35%)
Box Office Results (November 18-20)
It was a weekend where all four new releases came in below expectations… some far more drastically than others.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them earned $74.4 million to begin a planned five film franchise. This number is on the lower end of expectations and under my $83.1M projection. This is certainly no disaster for Warner Bros, but a gross closer to $90M was probably their hope. That said, expect the J.K. Rowling series to keep rolling.
Doctor Strange fell to second with $17.7 million (below my $21.5M estimate) for a three-week tally of $181M.
Trolls was third with $17.4 million (I was a bit higher with $19.7M) for a gross of $116M thus far.
In its second weekend, Arrival was fourth with $12.1 million, a bit under my $13.6M estimate for a $43M total.
I incorrectly had Almost Christmas outside the top five, but it was fifth with $7.2 million for a $25M overall gross.
And… then there’s the other fresh product that came over the weekend. Audiences weren’t interested. Despite critical acclaim, the coming of age dramedy The Edge of Seventeen sputtered with $4.7 million in seventh place, less than half of my $10.9M prediction.
The news was worse for boxing drama Bleed for This, KO’d in 8th place with just $2.3 million (less than half my $5.8M prognosis).
Which brings us to Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Ugh. I somehow estimated it would make $9.2 million. Yet its lukewarm critical reaction and tampered down buzz (it was once thought of to be a potential awards factor) absolutely destroyed it. Walk was DOA in 14th place with an atrocious $901,000. So… oops!
And there you have it, my friends! Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Until next time…
Yet another piece of the Oscar puzzle revealed itself this morning as reviews for this Wednesday’s Allied came out. The World War II romantic thriller is directed by Academy winner Robert Zemeckis and stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. With that pedigree, it certainly warranted mentions as a potential awards player and I’ve consistently listed it towards the bottom of the pack in my hopefuls for Best Picture (along with Cotillard in Actress).
Critical reaction today is mixed. It stands at 60% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Several critics have admired its old-fashioned sensibilities and Cotillard has gotten some praise (more so than Mr. Pitt, who never really seemed like a contender for this). Other reviews haven’t been so kind (Hollywood Reporter was particularly negative).
Bottom line? Allied is basically out of the running for Picture or Director. It needed stronger reviews than what’s it getting. Cotillard seemed feasible at once, but Best Actress is far too jam packed for her inclusion.