Monthly Archives: December 2018

Bumblebee Box Office Prediction

Times have changed in significant ways for the Transformers franchise that started eleven years ago. They manifest themselves with the release next weekend of Bumblebee, a prequel to the multi-billion series. For starters, Michael Bay is not in the director’s chair for the first time after making the first five. Travis Knight, most known for the acclaimed animated Kubo and the Two Strings, takes over those duties. Hailee Steinfeld headlines the 1980s set tale alongside John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, and the voice of Dylan O’Brien as the title Autobot.

A second major difference: Bumblebee is unexpectedly getting very good reviews with a current Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97%. Nearly every sequel since the 2007 original has been critically lambasted while still bringing in the bucks. Positive word-of-mouth should only help, but competition is fierce as the holidays approach. Two days before this debuts, Mary Poppins Returns is out and will take away family audiences. Opening directly against it is Aquaman, which will siphon away action fans.

Which brings us to point #3 – expectations have fallen for the franchise and Paramount hopes its best revenge is better than anticipated returns. This will almost surely have the smallest premiere of the series. That’s even with the caveat that four of the five Transformers pics got early jumps and opened during the middle of the week. The series showed rust in the summer of 2017 when The Last Knight had a $44 million traditional Friday to Sunday rollout and a $130 million domestic haul (by far the lowest of the quintet).

Add all that up and I’m not convinced the pleasing critical (ahem) buzz gets this beyond mid 20s considering its venerable competitors.

Bumblebee opening weekend prediction: $24.8 million

For my Aquaman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/aquaman-box-office-prediction/

For my Mary Poppins Returns prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/10/mary-poppins-returns-box-office-prediction/

Aquaman Box Office Prediction

We don’t have Vincent Chase from TV’s “Entourage” starring in it as portrayed on that show years ago with James Cameron directing. Yet DC Comics hero Aquaman finally gets his stand-alone experience next weekend. Instead it’s Jason Momoa reprising his role as the waterlogged warrior after first seeing him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. James Wan, who made the Conjuring entries and Furious 7, directs. The supporting cast includes Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, and Nicole Kidman. In a bit of irony, Julie Andrews has a voice-over while Mary Poppins Returns serves as competition over the pre-Christmas frame.

Aquaman marks the sixth DC Extended Universe feature that began in 2013 with Man of Steel. The lowest grossing opener of the series was Justice League in November of last year with $93 million. All others (Steel, BvS, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman) took in over $100 million. Forecasts and expectations aren’t as high here, but Warner Bros is certainly hoping for a sizable hit. The film opened in China last weekend to robust results. Reviews are fairly solid with a current Tomato rating of 78%.

No previous DC Universe production has premiered in the crowded holiday month of December. Direct competition comes from both Poppins (family crowd) and Bumblebee (action crowd). With Disney’s famous nanny getting a two-day jump on Wednesday, Aquaman appears in good position to grab the #1 spot.

My feeling is that it will do so with a gross in the mid to high 60s.

Aquaman opening weekend prediction: $68.1 million

For my Mary Poppins Returns prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/10/mary-poppins-returns-box-office-prediction/

For my Bumblebee prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/bumblebee-box-office-prediction/

2018 SAG Awards Predictions

Yet another major precursor enters the fold tomorrow when the Screen Actors Guild nominations are announced. Unlike other awards shows, it’s wise to remember that this ceremony is solely voted upon by the thespians who make up SAG. That means no Director race.

More importantly, it means “Best Picture” does not exist. The big prize is Best Ensemble. That designation favors films with large casts. Let’s break down the five major categories with predictions and an alternate and wild card, shall we?

Best Ensemble

As mentioned, big casts help. That would seem to favor something like If Beale Street Could Talk with its sprawling one, as well as Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. Another pic fitting the bill is Vice. As long as the guild members saw it in time, I think it stands an excellent shot.

A Star Is Born is more of a question mark. While it could be looked at as a soft front-runner for Best Picture (along with Roma, which I don’t believe factors here), the actors garnering attention are Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Sam Elliot. While I believe they will be individually noticed, I’m questioning whether the picture itself is named here. The Favourite (even with it also being focused mostly on three actresses) likely has a better chance. There’s certainly other possibilities and they include BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, and Widows (though it’s seen its awards fortunes dwindle).

Predicted Nominees

Black Panther

Crazy Rich Asians

The Favourite

If Beale Street Could Talk

Vice

Alternate – A Star Is Born

Wild Card – Widows

Best Actor

The nominees for Actor here are a solid predictor for Oscar inclusion. In 2015 and 2017, four of the performers here went on to be honored by the Academy. In 2016, it was all five. I’m going with the 5 men I see as most likely to score an Oscar nod at this juncture – with a sneaking suspicion that Ryan Gosling for replace one of then.

Predicted Nominees

Christian Bale, Vice

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Alternate – Ryan Gosling, First Man

Wild Card – Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Best Actress

There’s not quite as much match with Oscar and SAG here – three in 2015 and 2016 and four last year. As has been discussed many times on this blog, Best Actress is packed in 2018. The potential for a “surprise nominee” here is very real. I feel the need to pick one and I’m going with Toni Collette in Hereditary over the more probable Academy nominee Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns.

Predicted Nominees

Glenn Close, The Wife

Toni Collette, Hereditary

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Alternate – Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

Wild Card – Viola Davis, Widows

Best Supporting Actor

We had an outlier in 2015 when only two of the SAG nominees here got Oscar attention. For the past two years, it’s been four. If there’s a real shocker here, look out for names like Daniel Kaluuya (Widows) or Russell Hornsby (The Hate U Give). I’m not willing to be that bold with my picks though.

Predicted Nominees

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Alternate – Sam Rockwell, Vice

Wild Card – Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

The SAG/Oscar match was four in 2015, five in 2016, and three for 2017. I’m estimating the five performers here match last week’s Golden Globe nominations. If there’s a surprise, look for Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), Natalie Portman (Vox Lux), or Marina de Tavira (Roma).

Predicted Nominees

Amy Adams, Vice

Claire Foy, First Man

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Alternate – Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased

Wild Card – Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians

And there you have it! I’ll have reaction up tomorrow after the announcements are made.

 

Mary Poppins Returns Box Office Prediction

Arriving 64 years after its beloved predecessor and with the same awards buzz, Disney unveils Mary Poppins Returns on Wednesday next week. The musical fantasy casts Emily Blunt in the role made famous by Julie Andrews, who won an Oscar as the iconic nanny. Blunt is expected to get a nod as well. Rob Marshall, the man behind 2002 Best Picture winner Chicago and most recently Into the Woods, directs. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep are included in the supporting cast. So is Dick Van Dyke, as an offspring of the role he played in the original.

Though official reviews aren’t out yet, buzz from screenings has been glowing and it’s already popped up on numerous top ten lists and major Academy precursors. The Mouse Factory marketing machine is second to none and anticipation is high. Furthermore, Poppins gets a two-day jump on its Christmas weekend competition, most notably Aquaman and Bumblebee.

It’s worthy of note that many holiday offerings greatly expand their grosses on subsequent weekends and aren’t nearly as front loaded as summer pics. That is probable here as I expect Poppins to experience a long and robust run.

The Wednesday debut probably means it’ll come in second to Aquaman, which opens Friday. I have a strong hunch you’ll see at #1 eventually. One fair comp is last year’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It also came out on Wednesday, taking in $36 million for the traditional weekend frame and $52 million when factoring the extra two days. The key number? It legged out to $404 million domestically.

I am counting on a similar track here and estimating it manages to fly a bit higher. I’ll say this reaches low to mid 40s from Friday to Sunday and get mid 60s with Wednesday and Thursday accounted for.

Mary Poppins Returns opening weekend prediction: $45.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $65.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Aquaman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/aquaman-box-office-prediction/

For my Bumblebee prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/bumblebee-box-office-prediction/

The Critics Choose Their Buffet

The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their nominees for the Critics Choice Awards today, with the show itself airing January 13. Unlike some precursors, it truly can be a window of what’s to come with Oscar nods… with a significant caveat.

This particular awards ceremony lists six to seven performers and directors in those races. Therefore we know one or two nominees won’t make the cut for the gold statue. As for Best Picture, they do name ten and that’s the highest number the Academy can honor. Critics Choice has a large number of categories, but we shall focus on the top six in today’s analysis and use the last three ceremonies for historical context.

Best Picture

Nominees: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice

In 2015, all eight Oscar nominated films were named here. In 2016, it was eight of the nine Academy honorees named, with Hidden Figures missing the Critics cut. Last year, it was 8/9 again with Phantom Thread as the outlier.

The 10 nominees this year exactly match my current top 10 Oscar possibilities. These selections serve as potential bad news for titles such as Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Eighth Grade, First Reformed, Crazy Rich Asians and Widows. If any of them make it in, First Man is likely the most vulnerable.

Best Director

Nominees: Damien Chazelle (First Man), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Peter Farrelly (Green Book), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), Adam McKay (Vice)

Three and five and four. Those are the respective number of nominated directors here from 2014-2016 that made the Academy cut.

The story here is the surprising omission of Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk. Whether that is a sign of something to come is questionable. Chazelle, Farrelly, and McKay might have helped themselves a bit today.

Best Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Ryan Gosling (First Man), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

2015 saw a five for five match while the last two years have seen four Critics nominees receive Oscar love. As in the previous two races, First Man got a boost yet again for the box office disappointment that had previously underwhelmed in precursors. This list not including Robert Redford’s work in The Old Man & The Gun could mean the end of the road for his potential inclusion.

Best Actress

Nominees: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Simple math here. Over the past three years, the five women listed for the Best Actress Oscar have all been mentioned here. By the way, the three winners match as well.

This year is crowded for Best Actress (more so than Actor). Today’s nominations could be best news for Viola Davis (Widows), Nicole Kidman (Destroyer), Julia Roberts (Ben Is Back), Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots), and Rosamund Pike (A Private War).

As for actual nominees, Aparicio and Collette helped their momentum to potentially dislodge one or two of the others.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born), Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Unlike the last race, 2015 and 2016 saw four Critics recipients here get Academy attention. Last year, it was three. While Jordan helped himself, we could still see Sam Rockwell (Vice) or possibly Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite) in the mix.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams (Vice), Claire Foy (First Man), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Five for five match three years ago and four for five the last two years. Right now, these six women are my top six Oscar contenders. If there’s a name not here that could sneak in for Academy voters, perhaps it’s Natalie Portman in Vox Lux, though it’s weak limited release debut over the past weekend doesn’t help at all.

It never lets up this time of year with Awards prognosticating. SAG nods will be unveiled Wednesday. I’ll have predictions up in short order with reaction up soon after!

Box Office Predictions: December 14-16

An onslaught of holiday offerings begin this weekend as a trio of newbies swing into multiplexes. They’re likely to populate the top 3 spots and give a jolt to a typically sleepy post Thanksgiving box office frame. We have the critically acclaimed animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Clint Eastwood’s true-life dramatic thriller The Mule, and Peter Jackson penned dystopian adventure Mortal Engines. You can peruse my detailed individual prediction posts on them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/04/spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/05/the-mule-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/06/mortal-engines-box-office-prediction/

Just as all six Spidey features have debuted at #1 over the past decade and a half plus, so shall Spider-Verse. It should do so rather easily with an estimated take in the upper 40s.

I do believe enough Eastwood fans will turn out for The Mule to be #2. It hopes to play well throughout the holiday season with adult moviegoers.

With a reported $100 million budget, Mortal Engines is shaping up to be a costly flop, though it should still manage a third place showing.

The rest of the top five should be some family leftovers and I’ll predict The Grinch manages to outdo Ralph Breaks the Internet, which has held the top spot for the past three weeks.

I also need to mention Once Upon a Deadpool, which premieres this Wednesday. As you may have read, this is a PG-13 version of this summer’s Deadpool 2 with 20 minutes of new footage. It’s slated to open on approximately 500 screens and I haven’t done an individual prediction post for it. It’s a real mystery as to how it performs, but I certainly don’t believe it will be in the top five. This could fluctuate for sure – but I’ll say it makes $4.2 million from Friday to Sunday.

And with that, my top 5 predictions for the weekend ahead:

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Predicted Gross: $48.4 million

2. The Mule

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

3. Mortal Engines

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million

4. The Grinch

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million

5. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Predicted Gross: $9.7 million

Box Office Results (December 7-9) 

It was expected to be a quiet weekend with no new wide releases out. It certainly was as Ralph Breaks the Internet topped the charts for the third time with $16.2 million, in line with my $16.7 million estimate. The Disney sequel has amassed $140 million so far. This was only the third weekend of 2018 where the #1 pic didn’t reach $20 million and it’s certain to be the last.

The Grinch was second with $15 million (I said $14.2 million) for an overall tally of $223 million.

Creed II was third at $9.9 million – right there with my $10.1 million prediction. It’s approaching the century mark at $96 million in three weeks.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald made $6.9 million for fourth (I said $6.2 million). The wizarding world sequel’s gross is at $145 million.

Bohemian Rhapsody rounded out the top five with $6.1 million (I projected $5.9 million) for $173 million. $200 million could be in its sights if it continues to hold well.

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

L.A. Loves Roma

Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican drama Roma continued its precursor love today as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded it Best Film. While that’s certainly a feather in the cap for something that’s a near lock for a Best Picture nod, it’s not necessarily a harbinger of what’s to come. Only once in this decade have the LAFCA and the Academy agreed on their top race  – 2015’s Spotlight.

While Cuaron’s effort got the big prize, the filmmaker himself came in second in directing to a surprise selection of Debra Granik for Leave No Trace. Her name hasn’t surfaced much for Academy consideration and I currently do not have her in my top 10 possibilities. Ironically, only two directors this decade have shared the Oscar and this category. One is Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water last year. The other? Cuaron for 2013’s Gravity.

Three of the acting winners are seen as strong players for the Oscars: Ethan Hawke (First Reformed) in Actor, Olivia Colman for The Favourite in Actress, and Supporting Actress victor Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. In Supporting Actor, Steven Yeun won for his work in the South Korean mystery Burning. He’s been nowhere on Oscar’s radar and likely won’t be.

With Roma taking Best Film overall, the LAFCA had a tie in their Foreign Film race between Burning and Shoplifters.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? got some attention, taking Screenplay over runner-up The Favourite. That could help its already decent chances at an Adapted Screenplay nod down the road.

Another surprise came in their documentary pick – the Netflix release Shirkers from Singapore. It has not been discussed much in what’s seen as a crowded field of selections.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse took Animated Film, further positioning itself as the main rival to Pixar front-runner Incredibles 2.

My updated Oscar predictions will be up Thursday!