Arriving in theaters a little later than anticipated, historical drama Chappaquiddick debuts next weekend. Directed by John Curran, the film recounts the 1969 car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne and Ted Kennedy’s role in it. Jason Clarke plays Kennedy with Kate Mara as Kopechne. Supporting players include Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan, Taylor Nichols, and Clancy Brown.
The pic receives its first screening last fall at the Toronto Film Festival. Reviews were mostly positive and it stands at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, reaction was muted enough that Entertainment Studios moved it from its December 2017 awards qualifying run to this April roll out.
Chappaquiddick likely faces a tough road ahead. Premiering on approximately 1500 screens, its only real hope to appeal to older moviegoers who recall the events from nearly a half century ago. I’ll project that only gets this to $2-$3 million.
Chappaquiddick opening weekend prediction: $2.3 million
Upstart studio LD Entertainment is hoping for a crowd next weekend when TheMiracleSeason debuts. The sports drama tells the true story of a high school volleyball team whose captain dies suddenly and the inspiring aftermath of that event. Oscar winners Helen Hunt and William Hurt star alongside Erin Moriarty and Danika Yorush. Sean McNamara directs.
Slated to open on approximately 1700 screens, Season is hoping its PG rating and subject matter appeals to a young female audience. I’m not confident it reaches the demographic it intends to serve. I’ll estimate a gross under $5 million.
TheMiracleSeason opening weekend prediction: $3.8 million
Ridley Scott’s AlltheMoneyintheWorld is made with all the competence in the world you would imagine from this filmmaker retelling one of the most famous kidnappings in modern history. It’s a story built for a cinematic rendering that’s moderately successful in its execution. The screenplay from David Scarpa takes liberties with what really happened on occasion, but sticks to many of the bizarre facts surrounding the taking of John Paul Getty III.
In 1973, 16-year-old Getty (Charlie Plummer) was living a carefree life in Rome when he was abducted. The demands for ransom were based on good cause. Getty’s grandfather is J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, no relation to the actor playing his grandson). Not only is the elder Getty currently the wealthiest man on Earth, the oil tycoon is the wealthiest man to ever walk it. There’s one significant issue: he’s also notoriously stingy and his potential heirs are not enjoying his riches.
That means young Paul’s mother Gail (Michelle Williams) must ask her former father-in-law for the $17 million demanded for his safe return. Paul’s father (Andrew Buchan) is essentially out of the picture both literally and figuratively – off somewhere in a drug induced haze. Mr. Getty has no interest in paying. Some of his reasons seem valid as he figures it will be open season on all his grandkids if he acquieses. Most of his actions re-enforce his reputation as a persnickety cheapskate.
Mr. Getty does direct one of his advisers, former CIA man Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), to investigate. He believes at first that Paul may have set up the snatching himself for a generous payday. When that wrongheaded theory proves false, a lengthy negotiation develops between Gail, Mr. Getty, and a rather large group of crime figures involved in Paul’s capture.
AlltheMoneyintheWorld, of course, has its own notable backstory as Kevin Spacey filmed the entire role portraying Mr. Getty. When numerous sordid allegations came forth about him, director Scott made the unheard of decision to recast the role with Plummer just weeks before its release. You wouldn’t know of the behind the scenes drama upon viewership. The 88-year-old gives a strong performance as the unlikable billionaire who never seems to recognize normal human emotion or find a dollar he doesn’t attempt to stretch as far as humanly possible. Similar acclaim goes to Williams as the mother desperately trying to come up with solutions when everyone else assumes she can just snap her fingers and cash magically appears. Another solid performance worthy of mention is Romain Duris as Cinquanta, one of the kidnappers who develops a bond with Paul and is far more sympathetic to the situation than his grandpa is. The weak spot is Wahlberg. He’s an actor capable of fine work, but I never managed to fully buy him here as the hardened CIA man.
Some of the events depicted here are accentuated for dramatic effect, including an ending for Mr. Getty that didn’t follow until years later. Most of the time, the picture glides by on Scott’s sturdy direction and its inherently compelling tale of inheritors with a bad benefactor.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s PhantomThread serves up a recipe that is both deliciously lush in its look and sickeningly pitch black in its sneaky comedic sensibilities. It’s a fascinating concoction to behold with an alleged swan song performance by Daniel Day-Lewis where he’s occasionally upstaged by the women around him.
The three-time Oscar winner is Reynolds Woodcock, a brilliant fashion designer in 1950s London. He’s the go to dressmaker for high society and he delves into his work with the serious and intense manner in which, well, Day-Lewis inhabits his roles. Reynolds is a forever bachelor who worships his deceased mother and holds an extremely and maybe too close relationship with sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), who assists with his thriving and thrifty business.
A trip to the countryside introduces Reynolds to Alma (Vicky Krieps), a young waitress. He asks her to dinner and in quick succession, she’s moved in with him. Alma serves a dress model at first, but is soon his latest muse (we imagine there’s been several) and love interest. She quickly realizes that her new and fancy world revolves around Reynolds and his routine that he despises being disrupted. He’s a tortured genius and egomaniac. Yet the roads we foresee this union dissolving into are not always what writer/director Anderson has up his sleeve.
That’s partly because Alma doesn’t turn out to be just a needy girlfriend. Some of the film’s biggest surprises and key moments come from her choices on how to deal with Reynolds. Krieps gives us a feisty and fantastic performance to behold. Manville’s work is quite impressive as well. Sister Cyril is an intriguing presence – always steps away from Reynolds and bizarrely attached to him. She’s also the only person who can speak any truth to him until Alma enters the frame.
And there’s Day-Lewis, an actor who can do more with a line reading choice or facial expression than nearly anyone else. With Reynolds Woodcock, we have one more memorable and unique creation. He’s seemingly incapable of nothing less.
Anderson, of course, already directed Day-Lewis as the unforgettable oil baron in ThereWillBeBlood. They mix well together. Like all of Anderson’s work, this is a visually sumptuous experience where the gorgeous score from Jonny Greenwood and costume design from Mark Bridges are especially noteworthy.
PhantomThread hides some of its best tricks for the end. It may have you wanting to watch the off kilter courtship of its subjects a second time – or to again watch a great auteur in fine form with a trio of performances to match.
Like its direct competitor A Quiet Place that also opens next weekend, Blockers made quite an impression with journalists and festival goers when it debuted at South by Southwest earlier this month. The raunchy comedy about parents trying to prevent their daughters plan to lose their virginity on prom night marks the directorial debut of Kay Cannon, best known for penning the Pitch Perfect franchise. The cast includes John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Graham Phillips, and Hannibal Buress.
Its festival premiere caused some buzz and it now stands at 91% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. The Universal release has now been pegged as a potential sleeper at the box office. Competition is light in the genre and the solid reviews should help. As I see it, the ceiling for Blockers is likely the $17 million achieved in February by Game Night, another comedy that received kudos from the critical community.
I’m not sure it will reach quite that high. I’ll project an opening in the low to mid teens and it could continue to play in subsequent weekends, just as Game Night has.
Blockers opening weekend prediction: $15.2 million
At its best, Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue is cinematic music. Like many distinctive screenwriters icluding Mamet and Tarantino, he has an unmistakable style. There’s a zippy and often whip smart quality present. We heard that melody in TheSocialNetwork and on “The West Wing” and large parts of AFewGoodMen, TheAmericanPresident, CharlieWilson’sWar, Moneyball, and SteveJobs. On occasion, there are heavy-handed and slightly preachy notes in his wordy tunes.
We know what we’re getting in a Sorkin screenplay. An unknown until now is how he performs behind the lens and Molly’sGame answers it. The frequent highs and more infrequent lows of his writing are present here. And he pleasingly proves he’s got some style in the director’s chair, too.
The film is based on the real life story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), who went from a wannabe Olympic skier sidelined by freak injury to underground poker syndicate magnate. It’s an improbable yarn where truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Following her slopes related incident, Molly travels to L.A. and soon finds herself as assistant to a rich on paper and sleazy real estate developer (Jeremy Strong). He seems far more concerned with his high stakes poker game that involves celebrities and the West Coast wealthy – all male. Molly starts out basically holding their money. That doesn’t last long as her intellect soon has her running the show.
This puts her in constant contact with an unnamed movie star played by Michael Cera. A quick look at the facts of Bloom’s true events would put Tobey Maguire as the actual actor. Sorkin’s screenplay doesn’t dwell on the famous names that real Molly came in contact with, as apparently the subject’s book this is based on didn’t either. I will say this. If half the stuff about Maguire (err Cera’s character) is accurate, he’s not exactly your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
It also puts her in proximity with far worse types than bratty leading men. There’s the Mob, in Italian and Russian form. And that’s where it all gets truly dangerous. These individuals provide a risk to her personal safety, as do the drug fueled measures she takes on her own to keep the business rolling in celebrity, Mafia, and trust fund kid cash.
Molly’sGame is told in flashback as our central figure’s legal troubles mount. Idris Elba is her skilled and sympathetic lawyer. Kevin Costner is her hard charging dad – a therapist who is always seeking perfection from his daughter. It’s their dynamic that turns out to be the key one here and provides a window into Molly’s behavior. In some ways, it’s a relationship we’ve seen countless times onscreen before and this doesn’t add much freshness.
That said, when Sorkin’s writing is at its best, it’s an entertaining sound. Molly’sGame gives us plenty of long exchanges between particularly Chastain and Elba that qualify. We’ve seen the world of closed-door poker (in the solid Rounders for example) before, but not often. The writer/director frequently excels at displaying this fast-paced universe that just a minor segment of the ultra rich are privy to.
Chastain is present in nearly every frame and she provides another electric performance as a strong female getting it done in a male dominated universe. Elba offers sturdy support. Even though Costner’s subplot is the most routine, he adds some depth in the third act as the complicated dad.
Those familiar with Sorkin’s word games will find plenty to enjoy here. It doesn’t rise to the level of TheSocialNetwork, mind you. It does comfortably give me confidence that his dialogue works just fine with him also wearing the director’s hat.
Next weekend, A Quiet Place looks to make a lot of noise at the box office and early indications are that it may well succeed. The horror pic comes from John Krasinski, best known to many as Jim from “The Office”. The director stars alongside his real life spouse Emily Blunt with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe playing their children. The foursome play a family trying desperately to survive in a world terrorized by creatures that attack if you make a sound.
The Paramount release garnered significant buzz when it screened at the South by Southwest Festival earlier this year. Krasinski’s previous directorial outing, comedic drama 2016’s The Hollars, made little impression with moviegoers. Look for his career behind the camera to be on the upswing following this. Critical praise has been vocal and it’s currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The creepy and nearly silent trailers are effective and the marketplace seems primed for a hit in the genre.
Add all that up and I believe the opening for Quiet will be anything but. I could see this debuting between the $26 million achieved by 2016’s Don’t Breathe and the $33 million haul of last year’s Get Out.
A Quiet Place opening weekend prediction: $31.2 million
Three new films try to fill their box office Easter baskets with dollars this weekend as Steven Spielberg’s futuristic sci-fi adventure Ready Player One, Tyler Perry’s thriller Acrimony with Taraji P. Henson, and faith-based threequel God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness all open. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
Ready Player should have no trouble being number one out of the gate. The big budget and well-reviewed pic opens wide on Thursday (a bit odd for a roll out), meaning it will have Wednesday night previews as well. I’ve got it slated for a mid 30s debut over the traditional Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend with a $50 million haul when factoring in the extra day. I will note that my projection has steadily risen since last week and we’ll see if I revise it up again before Wednesday evening.
The battle for #2 could be more interesting. Similar genre themed entries as Acrimony have grossed anywhere between low teens and mid 20s. I’ve got Acrimony on the lower end of that spectrum and that should still give it the runner-up spot in my view.
That’s because I’m anticipating a hefty sophomore weekend drop for Pacific Rim Uprising, the current #1. Its 2013 predecessor suffered a 57% dip in its second frame and I expect this to follow suit.
Percentage drop-offs should be much smaller for both Black Panther and I Can Only Imagine. I’m anticipating a photo finish between numbers 3-5.
My $5.1 million estimate for God’s Not Dead leaves it well outside the top 5.
And with that, here’s my top five Easter predictions:
1. Ready Player One
Predicted Gross: $36.7 million (Friday to Sunday), $50.8 million (Thursday to Sunday)
Predicted Gross: $13.2 million
3. Pacific Rim Uprising
Predicted Gross: $11.7 million
4. Black Panther
Predicted Gross: $11.4 million
5. I Can Only Imagine
Predicted Gross: $11.2 million
Box Office Results (March 23-25)
Pacific Rim Uprising nabbed the top spot over the weekend with $28.1 million, above my $23.4 million prediction. While my estimate was low, its debut was quite a bit less than the $37 million achieved by its 2013 Guillermo del Toro directed predecessor. Look for it to see a big dip this weekend.
After five weeks perched at #1, Black Panther finally fell to second with $17 million (I said $17.9 million). Marvel is surely celebrating, however, as Panther is now the highest grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe film of all time with a total of $631 million – surpassing the $623 million made by 2012’s The Avengers.
I Could Only Imagine continued its highly impressive run in third place with $13.6 million (I was close at $13 million) to bring its two-week tally to $38 million. I look for it to experience a small decline over the Easter holiday.
Animated sequel Sherlock Gnomes had trouble detecting a solid family audience, opening in 4th place with a weak $10.6 million compared my $13.7 million projection. The seven-year gap between its predecessor Gnomeo and Juliet and this probably didn’t help.
Tomb Raider rounded out the top five in its disappointing run with $10.1 million (I was a touch higher at $11.2 million) for a ten-day tally of just $41 million.
Biblical drama Paul, Apostle of Christ failed to reach its intended audience in an 8th place opening at $5.1 million, on pace with my $5.5 million prediction.
YA romance Midnight Sun had a lackluster start with $4.1 million in 10th place, on target with my $4 million take.
Finally, the Steven Soderbergh iPhone shot thriller Unsane debuted in 11th place with $3.7 million, in line with my $3.9 million estimate.
There’s a moment in GoodTime where Robert Pattinson takes a brief respite from the chaos around him to watch an episode of “Cops”. The rest of the 100 minutes show our main character’s overwhelmed thief and those around him engaging in activities that might land them on the long running program. They do keep their shirts on, but their level of criminal sophistication is on that low bar level.
The hand-held camera work from the aforementioned TV show is present as well. Yet brothers and directors Ben and Josh Safdie employ plenty of other creative touches to create a crime flick far more interested in style not substance. The film’s title could only be described as ironic as no one’s time here is that. It’s frenzied and panicked. And almost everyone here is up to no good.
Connie (Pattinson) is a two-bit crook in New York City with a mentally challenged brother Nick (played by co-director Ben Safdie) that he’s overprotective of. We begin with Connie breaking him out of a therapy session and taking him to a bank robbery gone wrong. Nick gets arrested and thus begins a night long odyssey of Connie trying to bail him out.
That journey involves all sorts of vile types that match Connie and some that he takes advantage of. His erratic older girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) belongs in the former category. A sixteen year old girl (Taliah Webster) whose grandmother’s apartment he hides out in is more the latter. Connie also unexpectedly teams up with fresh out of jail alcoholic low life Ray (Buddy Duress), who manages to be a more clueless delinquent than our main subject.
For a stretch, GoodTime mostly succeeds due to Pattinson’s commitment, a pulsating electronic score from Oneohtrix Point Never, and a couple developments in the crazy night that are surprising. Bringing Connie to a bizarre amusement park to retrieve acid and cash is an admirable left turn. So is a journey into Ray’s backstory of an idiotic first day out of the slammer.
Eventually it grows tiresome. There’s been plenty of crime tales with no one to root for, but these characters can’t manage to sustain the time worth spending with them. The Safdie brothers have plenty of impressive visual flourishes. Maybe next time the storyline will be a better time spent with bad people. It happens occasionally here, but not enough. I’ve watched “Cops” marathons with similar types that held my interest longer.
Two months ago, the supernatural horror flick Hereditary debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and it made quite an impression. Reaction from Utah (where this was also shot) has indicated it’s a genre exercise that truly is a frightening experience and it sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes currently. The film marks the directorial debut of Ari Asher with a cast led by Toni Collette and costarring Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Ann Dowd.
As we know, horror pics face an uphill battle for any Academy recognition and that could certainly be the case here. That said, the buzz for this is getting louder as it debuts stateside on June 8. Critics have particularly taken notice of Collette, saying her performance is masterful. If she manages a nomination for Actress, it would be her second Oscar nod. She was recognized nearly 20 years ago in Supporting Actress for another genre piece, The Sixth Sense. Collette is not the only actress generating some buzz in this category as Emily Blunt could garner attention for this April’s A Quiet Place.
Bottom line: even with its sterling critical reaction, Hereditary could be a long shot for attention. Collette, on the other hand, could be worth keeping an eye on.