The 15:17 to Paris Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (02/08): I am revising my prediction from $15.1 million to $13.1 million

Recounting the 2015 attempted train attack en route to France’s capital city, Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris hits theaters next weekend. The true life thriller uses the interesting tactic of having the real life heroes that thwarted the attack (Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone) playing themselves. They’re alongside familiar actors including Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, and Jaleel White (known to you and I as Urkel from TV’s “Family Matters”).

Just over three years ago, Mr. Eastwood found his greatest box office success with American Sniper. This pic isn’t expected to gross anywhere near that, but it could manage to bring in an older audience who will have little to do with the two competitors debuting against it (Fifty Shades Freed and Peter Rabbit).

I could see 15:17 opening right around its title numbers and comparable to what 12 Strong made out of the gate just a couple weeks ago.

The 15:17 to Paris opening weekend prediction: $13.1 million

For my Fifty Shades Freed prediction, click here:

For my Peter Rabbit prediction, click here:


Peter Rabbit Box Office Prediction

Based on the well-known works of Beatrix Potter, Sony Pictures is hoping family audiences will hop to Peter Rabbit when it debuts next weekend. The mix of live-action and CG animation features the voices of James Corden in the title role along with Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, and Sia. Familiar faces physically present include Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, and Sam Neill. Will Gluck, maker of Easy A and the recent Annie remake, directs.

Rabbit could be in a solid position to attract kids and their parents now that box office juggernaut Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is finally winding down. Many are still familiar with the source material that first appeared in literary form in 1902.

I’ll estimate that the reported $50 million production makes a bit under $20 million out of the gate.

Peter Rabbit opening weekend prediction: $18.7 million

For my Fifty Shades Freed prediction, click here:

For my The 15:17 to Paris prediction, click here:


Fifty Shades Freed Box Office Prediction

For the third Valentine’s Day frame in the past four years, the romantic adventures of Anastasia and Christian will be on display for moviegoers when Fifty Shades Freed opens next weekend. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan return with James Foley (who made previous entry Fifty Shades Darker) directing. Costars include Kim Basinger, Eric Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden, and Rita Ora.

This is the third and final chapter of the franchise based on E.L. James’s sultry bestsellers. The trailer reminds us to not miss the climax (get it?). The series has been a popular one for Universal Pictures, but there was a significant dip between 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey and 2017 sequel Darker. Three years ago, Grey premiered to $85 million with an eventual $166 million domestic haul. Darker managed $46 million for its start with $114 million overall.

Freed appears likely to follow that downward trend, but its drop shouldn’t be nearly as pronounced as the last one. Current estimates have this hovering around the $40 million mark and that seems about right. I’ll say it falls just under that as fans bid farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Grey.

Fifty Shades Freed opening weekend prediction: $38.4 million

For my Peter Rabbit prediction, click here:

For my The 15:17 to Paris prediction, click here:

Box Office Predictions: February 2-4

Blogger’s Note (01/31): I am revisiting my Winchester prediction from $14.1 million to $9.1 million, which means I’m estimating it goes from first to third.

In what should be a rather lackluster weekend with the Super Bowl being played and the month’s heavy hitters waiting in the wings, Helen Mirren led horror pic Winchester is the only wide release hitting screens as February arrives. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

My low teens predictions for Winchester still might be enough for it to nab the top spot, though it could find itself in a battle with both Jumanji and current top spot holder Maze Runner: The Death Cure. 

The Greatest Showman and Hostiles (coming off a stronger than expected wide release) should round out the top five. And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend:

1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 

Predicted Gross: $12.4 million

2. Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Predicted Gross: $10.6 million

3. Winchester

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million

4. The Greatest Showman

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

5. Hostiles

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

Box Office Results (January 26-28)

It took nearly a month, but Maze Runner: The Death Cure became the first 2018 title to become #1 at the box office. The third entry in the YA action franchise took in $24.1 million, a bit ahead of my $22.8 million projection. That’s under the previous two entries (which both topped $30 million out of the gate), but decent considering the two-year plus layover between parts 2 and 3. 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle dropped to second after three weeks on top with $16.1 million (ahead of my $14.9 million forecast) for $337 million overall.

The lone surprise of the weekend would be Hostiles with Christian Bale, which greatly exceeded expectations with $10.1 million in third place. The well-reviewed Western expanded its theater count and placed on the high-end of estimates. I didn’t even have it in my top 5 and predicted a meager $4.8 million. Oops.

The Greatest Showman was fourth with $9.5 million (I said $8.5 million) for a total of $126 million.

The Post rounded out the top five with $9.1 million (I said $9.4 million) for $58 million overall.

Finally, I had 12 Strong in the top five but Hostiles messed that equation up. It grossed $8.6 million compared to my $8.9 million prediction for $28 million in two weeks.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Oscar Watch: Tully

A surprise addition to this year’s Sundance Film Festival slate was a screening of Tully, the latest comedic drama from director Jason Reitman. The pic focuses on motherhood with the title character being played by Charlize Theron. It also marks Reitman’s third collaboration with writer Diablo Cody. The first – 2007’s Juno – received a host of Oscar nods. The second – 2011’s Young Adult – received no significant awards attention despite some solid reviews.

Early notices are positive and particularly praising of Theron’s work and the supporting performance of Mackenzie Davis as a nanny helping the frazzled Theron. Tully comes out stateside in April and that could be a hindrance to its Oscar potential. Voters will have to recall the work of the aforementioned actresses from months ago. If it hits at the box office, that could certainly help.

Bottom line: Tully could be a factor in both Actress and Supporting Actress, but time will tell.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2017 Oscar Winner Predictions

The 2017 Oscar nominations came out yesterday with yours truly battling a so so 71%. Naturally we now move to predicted winners in the categories. This will not be my last time predicting as I’ll make final winner estimates on the eve of the ceremony.

For now, here’s who and what I have taking home the prized golden statue:

Best Picture

The Shape of Water

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Actor

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me by Your Name

Best Original Screenplay

Lady Bird

Best Animated Feature


Best Foreign Language Film

The Insult

Best Documentary Feature

Faces Places

Best Editing


Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049

Best Production Design

The Shape of Water

Best Costume Design

Phantom Thread

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour

Best Visual Effects

War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Editing


Best Sound Mixing


Best Original Score

The Shape of Water

Best Original Song

“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

That’s all for now but expect final predictions shortly before the ceremony!

Winchester Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (01/31): I am revisiting my Winchester prediction from $14.1 million to $9.1 million

Helen Mirren goes into horror mode next weekend with the release of Winchester. The supernatural period piece comes from Michael and Peter Spierig, directors of Daybreakers and last year’s Jigsaw. Costars include Jason Clarke, Angus Sampson, and Sarah Snook.

Subtitled The House that Ghosts Built, the Lionsgate release is hoping to bring in genre fans. Horror pics have experienced a good run over the last several months and that could propel this to a more than anticipated debut.

That said, while there’s no competition opening against it, there is a certain football game between New England and Philadelphia on Sunday. The Super Bowl weekend is typically not a robust one at the box office as February heavy hitters wait in the wings.

I’ll project a low to mid teens debut.

Winchester opening weekend prediction: $9.1 million

2017 Oscar Nominations Reaction

And they’re out!

The nominations for this February’s Academy Awards were revealed this morning by Andy Serkis and Tiffany Haddish. As always, there were some surprises and my months long quest for prediction perfection fell short. Of the 109 nominations, I correctly guessed 78 of them and that works out to 71% (a bit lower than previous years, but oh well).

Here I’ll break down every category and tell you how I did with a bit of analysis:

Best Picture

Nominees: Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

How I Did: 7/9

Analysis: OK, lesson learned. When in doubt, predict NINE. The Best Picture category can fluctuate between 5 and 10 nominees, but that seems to be the magic number. I had The Florida Project in, but it was 8th out of my 8 predictions in likelihood so no big surprise there. Also not surprising is Darkest Hour getting in. A bit more so is the inclusion of Phantom Thread, which did far better this morning than I or almost anyone else figured.

Best Director

Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out)

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: As mentioned above, the surprise here is Anderson’s nod for Phantom. Hard to believe but this is Nolan’s first nomination for direction. I had Martin McDonagh’s work in Three Billboards included. Worth noting: it’s happened, but it’s rare for a movie to win Best Picture without their maker being recognized. This could fuel even more talk that The Shape of Water is the front-runner in the big race.

Best Actor

Nominees: Timothee Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: One of the major questions going into this morning is whether recent allegations could prevent James Franco’s nod for The Disaster Artist. We may never know the answer to that fully, but it was expected he’d be a safe inclusion until then and he missed out. In his place – Mr. Washington, nominated for the second year in a row. In short: this is Oldman’s race to lose and it’s highly doubtful he will.

Best Actress

Nominees: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep (The Post)

How I Did: 5/5

Analysis: For quite some time, this has seemed like the five for Actress and it panned out that way.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Plummer got in for his highly publicized role after taking over for Kevin Spacey at very short notice over my prediction of Armie Hammer in Call Me by Your Name.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: The Phantom love continued with Manville’s inclusion over my prediction for Hong Chau in Downsizing.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Call Me by Your Name, The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game, Mudbound

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: In a bit of a surprise to me, Logan became the first superhero flick to get a writing nomination. I had Wonder in instead.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: I went with I, Tonya over The Big Sick, but this certainly was no shocker. Unlike several prognosticators, I did correctly leave Sick out of the Best Picture race and this marks its sole nod.

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: The Boss Baby, The Breadwinner, Coco, Ferdinand, Loving Vincent

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: People love that Boss Baby apparently. It got in over my projected The Girl Without Hands. This is an easy winner to predict – Pixar’s Coco. 

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees: A Fantastic Woman, The Insult, Loveless, On Body and Soul, The Square

How I Did: 3/5

Analysis: Golden Globe winner In the Fade and Foxtrot (which some saw as a potential winner) missed the cut. In their place: Soul and Square.

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Faces Places, Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo, Strong Island

How I Did: 2/5

Analysis: Welp… there always seem to be that category where I whiff and get 2 out of 5 (last year it was Production Design). This year it’s the docs, where Jane (which many saw as a front-runner), City of Ghosts, and Long Strange Trip missed out in favor of Abacus, Aleppo, and Island. 

Best Film Editing

Nominees: Baby Driver, Dunkirk, I, Tonya, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

How I Did: 5/5

Analysis: Besides Actress, this is my only other perfect category.

Best Cinematography

Nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Mudbound, The Shape of Water

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Rachel Morrison made some Oscar history by becoming the first female nominated in this category for Mudbound. I predicted The Post over Darkest Hour.

Best Production Design

Nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Wouldn’t you know it? Here’s one race where I had Phantom Thread in and it didn’t make it. Beauty got in instead.

Best Costume Design

Nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Victoria and Abdul

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: I went with Murder on the Orient Express, but Darkest Hour prevailed. This should be a rather easy victory for Phantom (and perhaps its only).

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: Darkest Hour, Victoria and Abdul, Wonder

How I Did: 2/3

Analysis: Victoria over I, Tonya. Look for Gary Oldman’s transformation to Churchill in Darkest Hour to be the victor.

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, War for the Planet of the Apes

How I Did: 3/5

Analysis: Dunkirk and The Shape of Water were my misses with Guardians and Kong filling in.

Best Sound Editing

Nominees: Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Turns out I should have predicted The Shape of Water in both sound categories. I had War for the Planet of the Apes instead here.

Best Sound Mixing

Nominees: Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: The sound races matched this year with Star Wars in over my predicted The Greatest Showman.

Best Original Score

Nominees: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

How I Did: 3/5

Analysis: I expected John Williams to be recognized, but for The Post instead of Star Wars. Also had Darkest Hour here and not Three Billboards.

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Mighty River” from Mudbound, “The Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, “Remember Me” from Coco, “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: “The Mystery of Love” got in over “It Ain’t Fair” from Detroit. 

And that leaves the final official breakdown of films and number of nominations to this:

13 Nominations

The Shape of Water

8 Nominations


7 Nominations

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

6 Nominations

Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread

5 Nominations

Blade Runner 2049, Lady Bird

4 Nominations

Call Me by Your Name, Get Out, Mudbound, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

3 Nominations

Baby Driver, I, Tonya

2 Nominations

Beauty and the Beast, Coco, The Post, Victoria and Abdul

1 Nomination

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, All the Money in the World, The Big Sick, The Boss Baby, The Breadwinner, The Disaster Artist, Faces Places, A Fantastic Woman, Ferdinand, The Florida Project, The Greatest Showman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Icarus, The Insult, Kong: Skull Island, Last Men in Aleppo, Logan, Loveless, Loving Vincent, Marshall, Molly’s Game, On Body and Soul, Roman J. Israel, Esq., The Square, Strong Island, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder

I’ll have a post up either later tonight or tomorrow with my initial round of predicted winners! Until then…

Box Office Predictions: January 26-28

The month of January at the box office ends with one big new release and it’s Maze Runner: The Death Cure. The third franchise entry will look to finally dislodge Jumanji from its perch atop the charts. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

As you can see, I have Death not reaching the heights of its two predecessors. That said, even with a low 20s debut, it should be enough to allow it to become the first 2018 release to open #1 in 2018.

The other wide release is the expansion of Hostiles with Christian Bale. Despite stellar reviews, the once awards hopeful has been flying under the radar and posting lackluster per screen averages in its limited release. Current screen counts show it rolling out to 3000 screens. I’m a little skeptical it reaches that many (we’ll see on Thursday). If it does, I’ll peg its opening at $4.8 million and that leaves it outside the top five. If the theater count changes by Thursday, so will my estimate.

With competition rather light this weekend, holdovers should experience smallish declines with the seemingly unstoppable Jumanji, The Post and The Greatest Showman perhaps being the largest benefactors.

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

1. Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Predicted Gross: $22.8 million

2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

3. The Post

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

4. 12 Strong 

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million

5. The Greatest Showman

Predicted Gross: $8.5 million

Box Office Results (January 19-21)

For the third weekend in a row, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle dominated the box office charts while newcomers posted better than expected results. The franchise reboot took in $19.5 million and I was right there with my estimate of $19.6 million. It’s taken in $316 million overall.

The Chris Hemsworth led true life military tale 12 Strong took the runner-up position with a decent $15.8 million, topping my $13.9 million. That’s a smidge above what was expected of it.

The story of the weekend may well be the over performance of Gerard Butler’s Den of Thieves, which surprised everyone with a robust $15.2 million debut in third… way above my $6.1 million projection. It actually had the highest per screen average of all the wide releases over the weekend.

The Post was fourth in its second weekend of release with $11.7 million, shy of my $14 million projection for a total of $44 million.

The Greatest Showman rounded out the top 5 with $10.6 million (I said $9.9 million) for a tally of $113 million.

Finally, I incorrectly had The Commuter inside the top 5, but it was seventh with $6.6 million (I said $7.6 million). It’s two-week total is $25 million.

And that does it for now as far as box office predictions…

However, if you missed my FINAL Oscar predictions (they’re out tomorrow morning), you can find them here:

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Movie Review

I’m not an attorney, but I’ve heard of the legal term known as Clean Hands. I might have heard it first from Judge Judy. Regardless, in layman’s speak, it means a defendant claims that a plaintiff can’t argue for equal remedy because they’re engaged in bad acts as well. I realize a lawyer might challenge my interpretation, but I’m reviewing a movie and I’m not on trial. Clean Hands could have been a more appropriate name than what I’m writing about, but instead we have the more pretentious The Killing of a Sacred Deer from director Yorgos Lanthimos.

The aggrieved party in our story is teenager Martin (Barry Keoghan), whose father died three years ago in a surgery performed by Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell, reuniting with his The Lobster director). The two befriend each other after the incident and Martin is eventually ingratiating himself with the doc’s family – wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), teen daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy), and younger brother Bob (Sunny Suljic). Martin seems a bit strange and too eager to please, but his motives turn out far darker. He blames the doctor for his loss and plans to exact revenge.

Lanthimos isn’t interested with playing in the run of the mill revenge fantasy thriller genre. No family pet is harmed in the making of his screenplay with Efthymis Filippou, though there is one. Instead Martin wants to harm the family and any one of them will do. He also manages to capture the heart of Kim while he moves forward with his acts.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a dark and unsettling experience that sometimes struggles to earn the pain we go through watching it. From a technical standpoint, it’s often expertly rendered with a Kubrick like sense of clinical precision and a loud and evocative score. Farrell and Kidman (just seen together in The Beguiled) are just fine as the parents facing increasingly difficult circumstances and choices, but it’s Keoghan who electrifies plenty of his scenes. His misguided Martin gets under everyone’s skin, including ours.

That said, the style of Deer is frequently more potent than its subject and I struggled with whether it was worth it in the end. For all its bells and whistles, it kind of is a typical revenge fantasy with art house touches. Dr. Murphy may have made his mistakes, but there’s a Clean Hands defense when he discovers Martin’s bad acts. For this viewer, I offer a mixed defense of the picture itself.

**1/2 (out of four)