Box Office Predictions: June 22-24

There’s only one new wide release this weekend, but it’s a big one as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom stomps into multiplexes. The sequel to the 2015 record breaker hopes to hold onto a large chunk of its predecessor’s audience. You can peruse my detailed prediction post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/12/jurassic-world-fallen-kingdom-box-office-prediction/

Jurassic World took in an astonishing $208 million three summers ago (which set the opening weekend record until Star Wars: The Force Awakens snatched it away six months later). Kingdom is not expected to match that performance. My estimate has decreased from an initial prediction of just over $155 million last week to just over $140 million.

Incredibles 2 broke its own records this past weekend by smashing the all-time animated feature debut (more on that below). With an A+ Cinemascore grade, the sequel to the 2004 Pixar superhero tale has turned into quite the event film. How much it dips in weekend #2 is an intriguing question. Looking at past sequels from the studio, 2010’s Toy Story 3 and 2016’s Finding Dory (the previous animated record holder) both fell 46%. Last summer’s Cars 3, which was a rare Pixar disappointment, fell a steeper 55%. It’s a legit question as to how front loaded Incredibles 2 is and whether it had a must-see factor in weekend #1. That said, repeat business could be strong even with the considerable dino competition. I’ll project a 48% drop, similar to 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. 

Kingdom and Incredibles 2 will surely dominate the charts this weekend as Ocean’s 8 and Tag should be third and fourth, respectively. The five-spot could be a battle between Solo and Deadpool 2 and I’ll give Han a slight edge. And with that, my top 6 predictions for the frame ahead:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Predicted Gross: $140.4 million

2. Incredibles 2

Predicted Gross: $94.9 million

3. Ocean’s 8

Predicted Gross: $9.3 million

4. Tag

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million

5. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Gross: $5.4 million

6. Deadpool 2

Predicted Gross: $4.9 million

Box Office Results (June 15-17)

As mentioned, Incredibles 2 was indeed incredible this weekend as it obliterated the all-time animated feature record. The well-reviewed sequel took in $182.6 million, smashing the numbers of Finding Dory by nearly $50 million. That figure is good for the 8th largest domestic debut in history and that ranks third for 2018 (behind Marvel behemoths Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther). It, um, did a little better than my $138.1 million forecast… oops.

Ocean’s 8 was second in its sophomore outing with $18.9 million, coming in below my $21.2 million estimate. The heist caper has made $78 million thus far.

Newcomer comedy Tag was third with $14.9 million, faring slightly better than my $13.4 million projection. The Warner Bros pic performed right in line with expectations.

Solo: A Star Wars Story placed fourth with $10 million (above my $8.4 million prediction) for $193 million total.

Deadpool 2 rounded out the top five with $8.6 million (I said $8.2 million) for $294 million overall.

Superfly debuted in sixth with $6.8 million and $9 million since its Wednesday roll out, managing to outpace my respective calls of $5.3 million and $7.2 million. I’d look for the crime remake to fade quickly.

Hereditary was seventh and it held up well for a horror release with $6.8 million (I said $6.3 million) to bring its two-week earnings to $27 million.

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

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Music Biopics: The Name Game

A growing trend in movies for the past few years (and a bit beyond) is the musical biopic that incorporates one of the band or artist’s songs into the title. The latest example will come out this fall with Bohemian Rhapsody, the behind the scenes story of Queen.

2019 will bring us Rocketman with Taron Egerton as the legendary Elton John.

We’ve seen this trend in years past. For instance, the 1980s saw La Bamba about Richie Valens.

The 1990s gave us Angela Bassett in her Oscar nominated role playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It?

In 2005, we had Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix in his Academy nominated turn as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon winning as June.

More recent ones have been in the hip hop world with Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.) and All Eyez on Me (Tupac Shakur). There’s also Get On Up with Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

So this got me thinking. What would be some other movie/song titles if certain iconic musicians got their biopic? For this blog post’s purposes, I tried to focus on artists where I feel a big screen treatment on them is at least feasible. In other words, while Rico Suave might be a spectacular title, I don’t envision two hours on Gerardo coming anytime soon.

There is already a Madonna flick reportedly in the works and it takes its name not from a tune, but from one of her tours – Blond Ambition. I suppose Material Girl or Like a Prayer could have worked, but Blond Ambition is just about perfect.

Some choices seem obvious. You gotta call the Bon Jovi story Livin on a Prayer, after all. And My Way seems like the natural fit for Frank Sinatra. And Born to Run for Bruce Springsteen. And there’s Piano Man for Billy Joel.

It doesn’t end there. Respect (Aretha Franklin) and Fire and Rain (James Taylor).

When it comes to some recently dearly departed legends, Prince presents a challenge because you can’t call it Purple Rain. And a number of his other massive hits don’t fit. When Doves Cry is probably the name the studio would go for considering it’s his biggest hit. Personally, I rather like the thought of My Name is Prince, taken from his Love Symbol album of 1992.

With Michael Jackson, Thriller would work but it’s hard to imagine Man in the Mirror not being the choice.

For David Bowie, Starman seems like the winner, but that’s also the name of a fairly well-known 1980s science fiction effort starring Jeff Bridges. That may not matter, but if so, Space Oddity or simply calling it Ziggy Stardust might fit.

Tom Petty? How about Free Fallin or Runnin Down a Dream. George Michael? Faith or Freedom. Whitney Houston? Tough one. Perhaps a studio would want I Will Always Love You. Maybe So Emotional works as well.

Some bands have more than one title that seem appropriate. Aerosmith has three great ones: Dream On, Sweet Emotion, or Walk This Way. With AC/DC – Back in Black or Thunderstruck.

Guns n Roses is an interesting one. Welcome to the Jungle is fantastic, but it was just the subtitle for the blockbuster Jumanji reboot. In this matter, you might have to go with their album name Appetite for Destruction, which is ideal.

Metallica could have For Whom the Bell Tolls or Enter Sandman. Nirvana might have Smells Like Teen Spirit as the studio choice, but I’m a little partial to Come As You Are.

I like Runnin with the Devil for Van Halen and I suppose Stairway to Heaven would be the choice for Led Zeppelin.

Let’s move off rock. How about Britney Spears? That may depend on what direction the studio goes. It could be Toxic or Stronger. Maybe Baby One More Time instead.

Stevie Wonder? Superstition or Sir Duke are possibilities, but I like Higher Ground.

With Bob Marley, maybe Get Up, Stand Up or One Love.

Circling back to hip hop, Fight the Power is the clear pick for Public Enemy and the same may hold true for Mama Said Knock You Out with LL Cool J.

And then there’s my favorite… the Rick James biopic Super Freak. Why hasn’t this been made already?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Let’s see if any of these suggested titles end up playing out in the future. Maybe there will be surprises… Barbie Girl: The Aqua Story, anyone?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/15): I am revising my prediction down from $155.4 million to $140.4 million

Arriving three years after its predecessor set a series of box office records, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom looks to flex its dino might next weekend. The fifth picture in the massive franchise that just turned 25 years old, Kingdom is the sequel to Jurassic World and brings back Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jeff Goldblum (for the first time since 1997’s The Lost World). New cast members include Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine. J.A. Bayona takes over directorial duties from Colin Trevorrow.

The history of this franchise setting opening weekend milestones is significant. Steven Spielberg’s original in 1993 had the largest debut ever at $47 million a quarter century ago. The Lost World would achieve the same honor four years later with $72 million. And, of course, Jurassic World stunned prognosticators in 2015 with $208 million out of the gate, which stood as the greatest premiere until Star Wars: The Force Awakens topped it six months later.

Fallen Kingdom will not and is not expected to break records. Jurassic World seemed to have its stars aligned for a spectacular opening. It had been nearly a decade and a half since the previous installment and the nostalgia factor was off the charts. Mostly positive reviews didn’t hurt and Mr. Pratt was coming off a star making role in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Critical reaction is mixed. The sequel currently sits at 59% on Rotten Tomatoes (World got to 71%). The film is already out in a number of foreign markets and it earned $151 million worldwide over the weekend (a bit above expectations).

The stateside tracking for Kingdom is between $130-$150 million. My general feeling is that this franchise has continually exceeded expectations and may do so here, albeit not by much. Jurassic World was a phenomenon while this is looked at as another summer sequel. It just happens to be one with a huge fan base who love returning to see these CG creatures.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opening weekend prediction: $140.4 million

Box Office Predictions: June 15-17

Pixar should easily rule the weekend and it may do so in record-breaking fashion as Incredibles 2 debuts. We also have the openings of comedy Tag and action remake Superfly. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the three of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/05/incredibles-2-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/05/tag-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/07/superfly-box-office-prediction/

The computer animated superhero sequel arrives nearly 14 years ago after The Incredibles, but anticipation appears sky-high as part 2 looks to set a personal best for the massively successful studio. In order to accomplish that, Incredibles 2 would need to outdo the $135 million achieved out of the gate by Finding Dory two summers ago. My estimate gets it there by just over $3 million.

Tag could potentially serve as decent counter programming, but I’m not quite sold that it breaks out in a significant way. My lower teens projection places it firmly in third behind the sophomore weekend of Ocean’s 8 (which I see losing close to half its audience in weekend #2).

The 4-7 slots could be interesting to watch. One question mark is how Hereditary performs. The horror pic was a hit with critics and easily set an opening weekend record for studio A24. However, its Cinemascore audience grade was a dismal D+. That could mean a hefty sophomore decline. On the other hand, A24’s The Witch was saddled with a C- Cinemascore score and dropped just 42% in its second outing. I have Hereditary dropping over 50% and that should put it in 6th and that would be ahead of Superfly (as my prediction for it has steadily declined since my original post last week). As a reminder, Superfly debuts on Wednesday. That means the 4-5 spots should belong to Solo and Deadpool 2 (and it could be a dead heat between them).

And with that, let’s make it a top 7 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. Incredibles 2

Predicted Gross: $138.1 million

2. Ocean’s 8

Predicted Gross: $21.2 million

3. Tag

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million

4. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million

5. Deadpool 2

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million

6. Hereditary

Predicted Gross: $6.3 million

7. Superfly

Predicted Gross: $5.3 million (Friday to Sunday), $7.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

Box Office Results (June 8-10)

Ocean’s 8 got off to a healthy start and came in right in line with most expectations. The female led heist caper achieved the best debut of the franchise with $41.6 million. I was close with $42.6 million.

Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped to second with $15.7 million compared to my $14.3 million estimate. The three-week total is $176 million.

Deadpool 2 was third with $14.1 million (I said $13.2 million) to bring its four-week tally to $279 million.

Hereditary opened on the higher end of expectations in fourth with $13.5 million, topping my $10.2 million estimate. As mentioned, its negative audience reaction could serve as a hindrance for long-term viability.

Avengers: Infinity War rounded out the top 5 with $7.2 million (I said $6.7 million). The Marvel juggernaut is up to $655 million.

Adrift was sixth with $5.2 million and I was a touch higher at $6.1 million. The Shailene Woodley sailing drama has made $21 million in two weeks.

Finally, Hotel Artemis failed to generate many check-ins, opening in 8th place with $3.2 million (below my take of $5 million).

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

Oscar Watch: Incredibles 2

This should come as no surprise, but reviews out today for Incredibles 2 (out Friday) are pretty encouraging. The sequel from Pixar/Disney arrives 14 years after the original, which stands as one of the vaunted studio’s high marks. The current Rotten Tomatoes score for part 2 stands at 97%.

As I would with any Pixar offering, we turn to its Oscar viability and that takes us on a trip down memory lane. The Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards has been around since 2001. That means the first three Pixar tales (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2) existed in a time when the category did not. I would say all three would have been nominated had the race been around (and the Toy stories likely both would have been victorious).

Since 2001, Pixar pics have won 9 times and they are as follows:

2003: Finding Nemo

2004: The Incredibles

2007: Ratatouille

2008: Wall-E

2009: Up

2010: Toy Story 3

2012: Brave

2015: Inside Out

2017: Coco

There have been two occasions where a Pixar movie was nominated and lost. In 2001, Monsters Inc. couldn’t get over Shrek. In 2006, Happy Feet took the prize over Cars. 

Five Pixar features have failed to garner a nomination. Four were sequels. The only outlier is 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. The others:

2011: Cars 2

2013: Monsters University

2016: Finding Dory

2017: Cars 3

Which brings us back to Incredibles 2. So where does this stand? Note that this sequel is the only one to a predecessor that won before. And seeing that early reviews are overwhelmingly glowing (even though some say it doesn’t match #1), I’ll predict this Pixar sequels makes the final five come next year. The director, Brad Bird, is also responsible for two of the Pixar statues (The Incredibles and Ratatouille). There will certainly be competition (Isle of Dogs was already released and seems assured a spot) and its possibility to win is still a giant question mark. Yet these superheroes seem primed for a return engagement down the red carpet.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Jurassic Park Turns 25: A Look Back

A quarter century ago on this day, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was unleashed in theaters and it was indeed a game changer. For those not old enough to remember its release, it’s a bit difficult to describe just how groundbreaking its visuals were at that time in the early 1990s. The idea that realistic dinosaurs could roam the silver screen didn’t seem possible. However, Spielberg’s wizardry and the geniuses at Industrial Light & Magic proved us all wrong.

The scene above had audiences expressing the same reaction as Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. Mouths open. Jaws dropped. As we have learned in the 25 years since, amazing visuals aren’t enough to make a film great. That said, if any picture could claim greatness due to its effects, this is the one.

Yet Jurassic Park was special for more reasons than just that. Based on Michael Crichton’s bestseller, the cinematic adaptation tapped into a childhood fascination with Earth’s first dwellers that struck a chord. The concept seems so simple now: mix Steven Spielberg with dinosaurs and what could possibly go wrong? That recipe worked rather flawlessly, but let’s take some stock here.

Just a year and a half earlier, Mr. Spielberg made Hook. And when you think of that concept – America’s most commercially successful director taking on the Peter Pan story? What could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty did. Hook has its vocal defenders, but I fall into the camp of deeming it a major disappointment (particularly on subsequent viewings).

Jurassic arrived at a time where it was feasible to question Spielberg’s magic touch. Those queries went away with the first look at the dino creations and the suspenseful and masterfully directed picture that followed.

In terms of box office numbers, some may not know this franchise opener’s relationship to Batman, but there is one. Jurassic Park opened with $47 million dollars. At the time, that stood at the largest domestic debut in history by beating out the $45 million made the summer before by Batman Returns. 

In 1995, it would be Batman Forever that would top the Jurassic record with $52 million.

Two summers after that, Jurassic follow-up The Lost World would snatch the record back with $72 million.

The original Jurassic now stands as the 247th largest opening and was surpassed by all three sequels that followed (and will certainly also be topped by next Friday’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).

The original’s total domestic gross ended up being $357 million. A 2013 3-D re-release for its 20th anniversary added another $45 million to bring the overall haul to $402 million. And that is second only to Jurassic World from 2015 ($652 million).

The Lost World topped out at $229 million with Jurassic Park III at $181 million. When we adjust for inflation, Park tops World by a margin of $839 million to $724 million.

Looking back at 1993, it’s safe to say no director had a single better year in film history than Spielberg before or since. Not only did Jurassic Park set a new standard for visual effects and break every box office record, but he released another picture at the end of the year. That would be Schindler’s List. The Holocaust drama was nominated for twelve Oscars and won seven, including Best Picture and Spielberg’s first statue for directing (he’d win again five years later for Saving Private Ryan).

So as we await the fifth installment of this franchise, it felt worthy to take a moment and acknowledge the seismic happening that occurred 25 years ago today. The unleashing of the dinosaurs. The advent of visual effects in a way we’d never experienced. A year unparalleled for a filmmaker. Welcome to Jurassic Park… 25 years later.

Unsane Movie Review

In Steven Soderbergh’s cinematic world, the mental health and pharmaceutical industries come with even more side effects than the lengthy list we hear following commercials. They come with frequent plot twists, relationships ending in blood spattered bursts, and the stylistic flourishes we’ve come to expect from the director. This was explored first in 2013’s Side Effects and it’s continued now with Unsane.

This is a nasty little low-budget psychological thriller that saves much of its venom toward the cure for wellness empire and insurance game that benefits from it. It’s also a traditional stalker tale unless that aspect is all in our lead’s head. Part of the mystery is finding that out, for a bit.

Claire Foy is Sawyer, a banker who left Boston in fear of a man she obtained a restraining order against. We briefly see her day-to-day activities in which she can’t escape his shadow and can’t seem to have normal interactions with dates or coworkers. Her issues bring her to Highland Creek Behavioral Center where she believes she’s had a healthy conversation with a counselor. Yet that brief errand on her way to work turns into another situation she can’t escape from.

Held at the facility against her will, the audience is left to decide whether she truly belongs there or if there’s truth or delusion to her surroundings. Sawyer maintains that her stalker is orderly David (Joshua Leonard) and that he’s tracked her down in an elaborate scheme to be with her. No one bothers to really listen to her with the exception of her mother (Amy Irving) and a fellow patient (Jay Pharoah) with access to a cell phone.

Unsane doesn’t keep the plot’s central mystery going for long. Approximately halfway through, we know what’s up. Soderbergh and screenwriters Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer are then tasked with holding our attention. They mostly succeed partly to, ahem, a committed performance from Foy and the director’s undeniable glee in shooting this gory B-movie (on an iPhone by the way).

Soderbegh, who’s made great pictures, is known for these occasional side excursions into genre fare. This one is mostly minor with its own side indictments of big business. Had those issues been explored with more focus, Unsane could have been more than its rather trivial (if skillfully made) vibe. The aforementioned Side Effects is a stronger example of Soderbergh working in this realm, but that pic had some third act letdowns itself. There’s some fun to be had in the first half, but Unsane is more of a curiosity than anything else.

**1/2 (out of four)

Superfly Box Office Prediction

Superfly debuts in theaters this Wednesday and hopes to bring in a primarily African-American crowd with some other action fans mixed in. The film is a remake of the 1972 blaxploitation crime flick that starred Ron O’Neal. That early 70s effort is remembered more today for its killer soundtrack by soul legend Curtis Mayfield. This one has a soundtrack overseen by hip hop star Future. Its music influence includes its director who goes by Director X and he’s best known for shooting videos for Usher, Drake, Rihanna, and many others. The cast includes Trevor Jackson, Jason Mitchell, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Jennifer Morrison.

The success or failure of Superfly will certainly depend on the attendance of its intended audience. Younger crowds may not be familiar at all with its four decade old plus source material and that could provide a challenge. On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of advertising – particularly during the NBA playoffs.

I’ll project this falls a under double digits for the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and struggles to catch double digits for the five day premiere.

Superfly opening weekend prediction: $5.3 million (Friday to Sunday), $7.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Incredibles 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/05/incredibles-2-box-office-prediction/

For my Tag prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/05/tag-box-office-prediction/

Tag Box Office Prediction

Improbably based on a true story, the comedy Tag hits theaters next weekend. Based on a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, the film focuses on a group of pals who engage in a long-term version of the kids game. Stars include Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Brian Dennehy, and Lil Rel Howery. It marks the directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic.

The ads hype the “actually based on real stuff” angle, but I felt the trailer could’ve been a bit stronger. I’m not confident this holds any significant breakout potential. The Warner Bros release would likely love the achieve the $17 million debut of this spring’s Game Night and that might be the generous ceiling here. I’d say even with the cast of familiar faces, it doesn’t have the relative star power or laugh out loud promo materials. And I wouldn’t count Renner as this isn’t the genre he’s known for… see The House from a year ago.

Outside of the Hangover franchise, Helms has had a rough road recently as Father Figures was a dud and even his Vacation reboot fell a bit shy of $60 million three summers back. I’ll project this reaches low double digits to mid teens for a so-so showing. As we await the blockbuster comedic pic of this season, I have a hunch Tag is not it.

Tag opening weekend prediction: $13.4 million

For my Incredibles 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/05/incredibles-2-box-office-prediction/

For my Superfly prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/07/superfly-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

A quarter century after Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park thrilled audiences with its eye-popping visuals, the fifth entry in the franchise arrives domestically two weeks from Friday. However, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is out tomorrow in the United Kingdom, so critical reaction is present. The verdict? Mixed. Kingdom currently sits at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes (predecessor Jurassic World ended up with 71%).

No Oscar prognosticator looked at this as Best Picture material. This series is all about the potential for technical recognition. The 1993 original was nominated for and won three gold statues: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. For those around at the time, Park was an undeniable marvel with said visuals and the sounds of the dinosaurs wreaking havoc. The 1997 sequel managed one nod for Visual Effects and lost to a little something called Titanic.

2001’s Jurassic Park III, no surprise, was ignored by the Academy. On the other hand, it may surprise you to learn that 2015’s World also came up empty with voters. The pic did set box office records at the time, but couldn’t even manage Visual Effects or Sound recognition.

The answer as to why could be simple. In this particular franchise, there’s really little room for improvement when it comes to its technical capabilities. Jurassic Park set a high bar in Isla Nublar  for the CG dinos and their sounds. The Academy has moved onto other impressive tech work for other pictures.

Bottom line: If Jurassic World couldn’t manage down the line nods, don’t expect any for Kingdom.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…