Blogger’s Note (08/01/18): I am revising my estimate due to the film’s release on Wednesday next week, not Friday from $6.4 million down to $5.1 million.
An ensemble of familiar actors and an ensemble of canines come together for the family dramedy DogDays, which hits theaters next weekend. The film is directed by Ken Marino, who last made the successful comedy HowtoBeaLatinLover. Cast members include Eva Longoria, Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Lauren Lapkus, Thomas Lennon, Adam Pally, Rob Corddry, Tig Notaro, and Finn Wolfhard.
Movies dealing with man’s best friend can certainly post pleasing results, like MarleyandMe and ADog’sPurpose. Yet I don’t see DogDays achieving their grosses. Its upstart studio LD Entertainment doesn’t exactly have a strong track record producing hits. A better comp here could be this May’s Show Dogs, which debuted to just $6 million.
I’ll say this manages to just outdo that number.
DogDays opening weekend prediction: $5.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $7.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
Blogger’s Note (08/03/18): I am revising my estimate down from $12.1 million to $9.1 million
No matter how it performs next weekend, SlenderMan should certainly achieve the biggest horror opening of all time for a movie based on an Internet meme. The supernatural tale comes from director Sylvain White with a cast including Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Talitha Bateman, and Javier Botet.
Based on the frightening meme that hit our small screens nearly a decade ago, this Screen Gems release was originally scheduled for release in May before the August pushback. Horror flicks can always exceed expectations, but I’m skeptical here. Shark tale TheMeg could provide serious competition for eyeballs. Furthermore, the marketing campaign for this seems a tad subdued.
I’ll project SlenderMan struggles to reach the teens for its start.
SlenderMan opening weekend prediction: $9.1 million
Blogger’s Note (08/08/18): On the eve of its premiere, I am bumping my estimate up from $19.7 million to $22.7 million
The second weekend of August is one that Warner Bros hopes is their Shark Week when The Meg opens. Focused on a group of scientists tracking a 75-foot creature sporting massive jaws, the film stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, and Cliff Curtis. Jon Turteltaub, whose had a lengthy directorial career including the National Treasure pics, is behind the camera.
Other than the giant shark itself, the most eye-popping thing about The Meg is its reported $150 million budget. This is an American/Chinese co-production and it better hope for generous earnings overseas.
As for its stateside expectations, it can be dangerous to underestimate audiences shark love. Two summers ago, The Shallows debuted to a better than anticipated $16.8 million. Last summer, 47 Meters Down (which was originally slated for a TV premiere) took in $11.2 million for its start.
There’s always breakout potential in this genre, but I’m looking at The Meg managing to hit Shallows numbers and a bit more.
Blogger’s Note II (08/02/18): I am revising ChristopherRobin down to $29.6 million, meaning I’m now predicting Mission: Impossible – Fallout will take the top spot.
Blogger’s Note (08/02/18): I am revising my estimate for DarkestMinds from $8.7 million down to $6.3 million, which leaves it outside the top five.
The month of August at the box office kicks off with three new releases attempting to dislodge Tom Cruise and his IMF agents from the top spot: Disney’s Christopher Robin, Mila Kunis/Kate McKinnon comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, and Fox’s YA adaptation The Darkest Minds. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on that trio here:
Paramount is celebrating the franchise best opening yet with Mission: Impossible – Fallout and I’m anticipating a second weekend drop in the mid 40s range. That should put it in an extremely tight battle with Winnie the Pooh and company, which I have premiering in the mid 30s (though it could go higher).
The #3 spot should go to Spy, which I have slated for a mid teens start. Both Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and The Equalizer 2 dipped more harshly in their sophomore frames than I estimated. Therefore my high double digits projection for The Darkest Mind could be enough for it to nab #4 (though it could be neck and neck with Mamma).
And with that, my top 5 predictions for the weekend ahead:
1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Predicted Gross: $32 million
Predicted Gross: $29.6 million
3. The Spy Who Dumped Me
Predicted Gross: $15.3 million
4. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Predicted Gross: $8.3 million
5. HotelTransylvania3: SummerVacation
Predicted Gross: $6.9 million
Box Office Results (July 27-29)
22 years after part 1, Tom Cruise achieved his highest opening in the Mission: Impossible franchise as Fallout took in $61.2 million (a touch below my $63.6 million estimate). Bolstered by terrific reviews, the sixth entry in the spy saga managed to outdo previous record holder Mission: Impossible II‘s $57 million way back in 2000. It’s safe to say Mr. Cruise is planning his stunts for a seventh pic.
Holdovers all experienced harsher declines that I figured. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again remained in second place with $15.1 million (I said $19.8 million) to bring its two-week tally to $70 million.
Last week’s champ The Equalizer 2 was third with $14 million compared to my $17.1 million projection. The Denzel Washington sequel fell a mighty 61% in its sophomore outing.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation was fourth with $12.2 million (I went with my $13.6 million). It’s earned $119 million overall.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, despite positive critical reaction, had a lackluster beginning in fifth place with $10.4 million, well under my $16.4 million forecast.
Jennifer Lawrence teams up with her HungerGames director Francis Lawrence once again with RedSparrow. This spy thriller could rightfully be called TheSomberGames. To put it in Red Bull terms, there are times when Sparrow could use some wings.
While Lawrence gives a solid performance, the film never quite strikes a satisfying balance between wanting to be a little trashy and wanting to take itself as stone faced seriously as every character who inhabits it.
Here we have Jenny from the Red Block – with the star playing Dominika. She’s a well-known Russian ballerina whose career is cut short in a freak injury. Unable to care for her ill mother (Joely Richardson) or make ends meet, her high-ranking government official uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) offers her an ultimatum. Dominika is to become an employee of the Foreign Intelligence Service and extract information from suspects by any means possible.
This brings her to an intensive training course called State School 4 or as she later coins it – Whore School. It’s an apt description as most of the methods taught by its headmaster (Charlotte Rampling) involve seduction. Her training soon puts her in close contact with CIA agent Nash (Joel Edgerton) as he knows the true identity of a Russian mole.
Based on a 2013 novel by Jason Matthews, RedSparrow follows the spy flick playbook of frequent double crosses and surprising character reveals. Unlike some recent entries in the well-worn genre, it’s bursts of violence are hardcore and it’s filled with sex. Dominika is tasked with always staying a step ahead of her mostly male coworkers and marks. That almost always involves their uncontrolled libido.
Director Lawrence and Jennifer Lawrence deserve some credit for making this pretty interesting for the first hour or so. The pic is not short on style and watching Dominika first adapt to her new reality has some entertaining and unexpected pleasures at first.
After a while, however, RedSparrow struggles as it devolves into more familiar torture scenes and unsurprising “surprises”. Unlike AtomicBlonde with Charlize Theron (a much better genre experience), there’s hardly any sense of fun here. The Lawrence’s seem convinced that the dour happenings are enough to sustain a 140 running time. Not quite.
We may be smack dab in the middle of the summer movie season, but Oscar season will be taking shape before we know it. This week, the organizers of the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals have unveiled lineups for the pictures that will be premiering at their events in a few weeks. Many of them are awards hopefuls.
To give you an idea of the importance of festivals when it comes to Oscar nominees, six of last year’s nine nominees premiered at some combination of Toronto, Venice, Telluride, New York, Sundance, or Cannes. Every Best Picture winner from this decade and beyond played at one of them. The last one that didn’t was The Departed back in 2006.
The months of September-December are the fertile ground for most nominated features. Last year, seven of the nine Picture nominees came out in that time frame. In 2016 – it was 8 out of 9.
Beginning in late August/early September, I will begin my weekly Oscar prediction columns. It works like this:
Late August/Early September – first posting of predictions in the categories of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
Months of September and October – weekly Oscar predictions column post covering those 6 categories, as well as Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay. For Best Picture, I will be ranking possibilities numbered 1-25. For other categories, it will be numbered 1-15.
Months of November through announcement of nominations – weekly Oscar predictions column covering every category involving feature films. For Best Picture, I will be ranking possibilities numbered 1-15. For other categories, it will be numbered 1-10.
While these posts are a month away, today I bring you 25 fall awards hopefuls that I suspect I’ll be mentioning frequently. Most of these are premiering at the high-profile quartet of upcoming fests (Venice, Toronto, New York, Telluride). Some aren’t, but could certainly be added to Telluride or New York especially (as they’re more known for surprise screenings).
Let’s get to it!
A Star is Born
The third remake of the musical drama marks the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper and features a potential showcase role for his costar Lady Gaga. Early word of mouth is already strong.
At Eternity’s Gate
He received a nomination for his supporting work last year for The Florida Project and Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh in what could be another awards bait role.
**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME
Expect Adam McKay’s follow-up to The Big Short to receive plenty of attention. Christian Bale is Cheney with Amy Adams as wife Lynne and last year’s Supporting Actor winner Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.
**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME
Steve Carell plays the father of a meth addict played by Timothee Chalamet, who was nominated last year for Call Me by Your Name.
Ben is Back
Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts headline this family drama that premieres at Toronto.
**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME
Despite some behind the scenes drama in its filming, all eyes will be on Rami Malek’s work as Queen front man Freddie Mercury.
Perhaps an even larger showcase role for Lucas Hedges is this drama where he plays a homosexual sent to conversion camp. Joel Edgerton directs and costars along with Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Melissa McCarthy received an Academy Award nomination with her breakthrough role in Bridesmaids. This drama about writer Lee Israel could muster attention for her yet again.
Director Damien Chazelle has seen both of his efforts (Whiplash, La La Land) nominated for Best Picture and he’s the youngest filmmaker to ever win Best Director. His third pic is a Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling. It opens the Venice Film Festival.
If Beale Street Could Talk
The follow-up to his Oscar winning Moonlight, Barry Jenkins directs this drama set in 1970s Harlem.
United 93 and Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass brings his latest to Netflix and it focuses on the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway.
**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME
Premiering at Toronto, this ensemble drama includes Oscar Isaac, Olivia Munn, Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas.
Mary Poppins Returns
She’s already a contender for A Quiet Place and Emily Blunt could face competition from herself with Disney’s expected monster hit.
Mary Queen of Scots
They were both nominated for Best Actress last year and now Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie star in this historical drama about the title character and Queen Elizabeth I.
Old Man & The Gun
David Lowery directs Robert Redford in the true life tale of a prison escape artist. Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck costar.
On the Basis of Sex
The documentary RBG could get noticed by the Documentary branch, as could this biopic which casts Felicity Jones as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Acclaimed British director Mike Leigh returns with this historical 19th century drama.
This Mexican family drama is Alfonso Cuaron’s first directorial effort since his acclaimed Gravity.
Call Me by Your Name maker Luca Guadagnino shifts gears for this remake of the 1970s horror classic. Don’t be surprised if this receives attention in some technical categories.
The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos is behind this historical drama featuring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz.
The Front Runner
Jason Reitman directs this biopic of failed Presidential candidate Gary Hart with Hugh Jackman cast in the role.
**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME
The Sisters Brothers
John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jake Gyllenhaal are among the cast in this Western from acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard.
Welcome to Marwen
Steve Carell stars in this unique looking drama from Forrest Gump maker Robert Zemeckis.
It’s been five years between projects for Oscar winning 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen. This heist thriller stars recent winner Viola Davis.
And there’s your very early preview of some titles to keep an eye on over the coming months. Those Oscar posts will start rolling out weekly in about a month! Stay tuned…
Blogger’s Note (08/02/18) – On the eve of its premiere, I am revising my estimate from $8.7 million to $6.3 million
Based on a series of YA novels from Alexandra Bracken, TheDarkestMinds debuts in theaters next weekend. The dystopian adventures stars Amandla Stenberg (from last year’s Everything, Everything), Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, and Bradley Whitford. Jennifer Yuh Nelson (best known for making parts 2 and 3 of the animated KungFuPanda franchise) directs.
We are far removed from the YA adaptation heyday of TheHungerGames and Twilight series. 20th Century Fox doesn’t seem to be hyping this one much. Instead of anything near Katniss or Bella numbers, I could see this struggling to reach double digits. The best comp could be 2013’s TheMortalInstruments: CityofBones, which made a piddling $9.3 million for its start and effectively ended any chance of future sequels. That will probably be the case here with a dark opening for Minds.
TheDarkestMinds opening weekend prediction: $6.3 million
Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon team up for the action comedy TheSpyWhoDumpedMe, out next weekend. As the title suggests, Kunis finds out her ex is a CIA agent and she (along with bff McKinnon) become embroiled in international intrigue. Susanna Fogel directs with a supporting cast including Justin Theroux and Sam Heughan.
Kunis has had plenty of successes at the box office over her career in both leading and supporting parts. Most recently, 2016’s BadMoms was a sleeper hit ($113 million). However, sequel ABadMomsChristmas couldn’t match it with a $16.7 million debut and $72 million overall tally.
The trailers for Spy struggle to make it look like anything special. Its best hope is for a sizable female audience (the kind that made Ocean’s8 a big success last month). I’ll project a low to mid teens is the likely scenario here.
TheSpyWhoDumpedMe opening weekend prediction: $15.3 million
Blogger’s Note (08/02/18): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my estimate down a tad from $34 million to $29.6 million
Disney’s ChristopherRobin hopes to make a pot of money when it’s released next weekend. The mix of live-action and CG brings back Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and other notable creatures that originated from the 1926 novel. Ewan McGregor plays an adult Christopher with Hayley Atwell as his wife. Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, and Sophie Okonedo provide voiceover work. Marc Forster directs. I’m guessing this is more in tone with his 2003 pic FindingNeverland and not QuantumofSolace and WorldWarZ.
This is not to be confused with last year’s GoodbyeChristopherRobin with Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie. That biopic about Pooh’s author went nowhere at the box office.
That shouldn’t be the case here. The Mouse Factory is certainly astute at marketing their product and the familiarity with Winnie and friends won’t hurt. It may even succeed at tapping into adult moviegoers hungry for a nostalgic fix. Depending on how high Mission: Impossible – Fallout flies this coming weekend, a low to possibly mid 30s gross from Robin could put it in contention for the top spot. That seems reasonable for where this begins.
ChristopherRobin opening weekend prediction: $29.6 million
This Friday, Warner Bros animation is out with TeenTitans! GoTotheMovies based on the Cartoon Network series. It’s a superhero spoof blending the characters of the show with notable icons from their catalog, including Nicolas Cage voicing Superman and Jimmy Kimmel as the Caped Crusader.
Early reviews are quite encouraging and it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has the potential to be a summer sleeper that could appeal to kids and their parents. Will Oscar take note?
That could be a reach. Warner Bros has had a critically acclaimed output recently with their Lego series. However, TheLegoMovie, TheLegoBatmanMovie, and TheLegoNinjagoMovie all failed to garner recognition in the Best Animated Feature category.
We can pretty safely say that two 2018 releases are already in for nods: Wes Anderson’s IsleofDogs and Pixar’s superhero toon Incredibles2. And there’s plenty more animated material to come. Despite positive buzz, that could mean Academy voters could fail to remember the Titans in a few months.