A remake of a remake, MGM is hoping moviegoers want to do TheHustle next weekend. The pic updates the Steve Martin/Michael Caine comedy DirtyRottenScoundrels, which itself was a reworking of the 1964 Marlon Brando/David Niven effort BedtimeStory. Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are the newest pair of con artists. The supporting cast includes Alex Sharp, Tim Blake Nelson, and Dean Norris. Chris Addison directs.
Hathaway hasn’t headlined a high-profile laugher since 2015’s TheIntern, which made $17 million for its start. Wilson, on the other hand, starred in Isn’tItRomantic earlier this year and that debuted at $14.2 million. I like that comp better and I’ll throw in another: 2015’s HotPursuit with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. It opened in mid May as well with $13.9 million.
That sounds about right here with a so-so low teens take.
TheHustle opening weekend prediction: $13.4 million
For my PokemonDetectivePikachu prediction, click here:
Blogger’s Update (05/08): I am downgrading my estimate from $74.8 million to $64.8 million
Ryan Reynolds hangs up the Deadpool costume for a bit in order to lend his voice to another hoped for franchise when PokemonDetectivePikachu debuts next weekend. Based on a 2016 video game, the Pokémon series has been thriving for nearly a quarter century in various iterations on Nintendo and on the big screen. Rob Letterman, who was behind the camera on Gulliver’sTravels and Goosebumps, directs. A mix of live-action and animation, the supporting cast includes Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Ken Watanabe, and Bill Nighy.
Warner Bros is certainly hoping a slew of follow-up features are in the cards. A sequel has already been commissioned. With Reynolds in the lead and the popularity of the source material, the studio might find itself in luck. Estimates for the opening weekend gross are wide-ranging – everywhere from $50 million to over $100 million. If it falls on the lower end of that spectrum, it may not top the box office due to the third weekend of the record-breaking Avengers: Endgame.
In 1999, Pokemon: TheFirstMovie opened to $31 million and ended up with $85 million. Sequel Pokemon: TheMovie2000 couldn’t replicate that success with a $19 million start and $43 overall gross. By 2001, the series had run out of gas when Pokemon3: TheMovie opened to $8 million and petered out at $17 million.
Expectations are different this time around. I’ll say Pikachu (The Movie) has an opening in the middle of its huge range and that’s about $10-15 million under what the first movie accomplished overall 20 years ago.
PokemonDetectivePikachu opening weekend prediction: $64.8 million
As we all catch our breath from the astounding debut of Avengers: Endgame, the first weekend of May brings three new titles all vying for second place behind Tony Stark and company. They are the animated UglyDolls, Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron comedy LongShot, and homeownership thriller TheIntruder with a demented Dennis Quaid. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
All three films have legit chances at premiering in second. I’m skeptical about UglyDolls, even though the plush toys it’s based on are well-known. LongShot has reviews on its side, but could be more of a slow builder. That leaves TheIntruder and I do believe it could appeal to an older and African-American audience. Therefore I’ll say it becomes the silver medalist.
This brings us to the sophomore frame of Endgame. It broke basically every record there is over the weekend (more on that below). Predecessor InfinityWar dipped 55% last year. This might be a tad more front loaded, but probably not by much. I’ll give it a 57% slide. That means another record should be in store as my estimate puts it over the best all-time second weekend, which is StarWars: TheForceAwakens at $149 million.
And with that, my top 5 estimates for the weekend ahead:
1. Avengers: Endgame
Predicted Gross: $153.6 million
Predicted Gross: $15.2 million
Predicted Gross: $13.8 million
Predicted Gross: $13.1 million
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million
History was made this weekend as Avengers: Endgame rocketed past even the most lofty expectations and left record after record in its wake. The MCU epic took in an otherworldly $357.1 million, scorching my $289.6 million projection. That’s not only the biggest opening of all time… it’s $100 million more than previous holder Avengers: InfinityWar from last summer. The question as to whether it eventually surpasses the $936 million achieved by all-time domestic earner TheForceAwakens is real.
As if Endgame didn’t provide enough embarrassment of riches, CaptainMarvel climbed to second (thanks drive-ins) with $8.3 million (I said $8.7 million) for $413 million overall.
TheCurseofLaLlorona was third with $8 million compared to my higher $10 million forecast. The two-week tally is $41 million.
Breakthrough was fourth with $6.8 million (I said $6.3 million). Total is $26 million.
Shazam! rounded out the top five with $5.5 million. I was generous at $7.4 million. It’s at $131 million.
**There’s really no way to write a review of Avengers: Endgame without some minor spoilers. You may wish to read this post viewing…
The word “epic” can be overused by those who review movies like me, but it unquestionably applies to Avengers: Endgame. It’s epic in its running time (none of the other 21 MCU pics run three hours) and epic in the number of well-known thespians reprising their superhero and villain characters. It doesn’t seem feasible that so many characters could manage to coexist in this vast universe without seeming like a gimmick. If you happen to think predecessor InfinityWar was overcrowded, you’ll get whiplash here. Truth be told, there are moments when this borders on playing like a greatest hits reel based on what’s preceded it during the last eleven years.
Yet Endgame figures out a rewarding way to stick the landing and honor the dozens of faces that we’ve spent billions of dollars visiting since 2008. At the conclusion of InfinityWar, bad guy Thanos (Josh Brolin) had collected his precious Infinity Stones and decimated half the intergalactic population into dramatic looking dust particles. What’s left is mostly the core of the OG Avengers – Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). There’s others as Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) is the sole surviving Guardian of the Galaxy. And we have the two notable characters that were MIA last summer – Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).
One might think this whole saga might be about the original band and some newer friends taking on Thanos. You would be wrong. Endgame has plenty of time bending tricks up its endless story arch sleeves. The first is an unexpected resolution that comes very early. However, that climax is just a set-up to further complications.
This is indeed a time travel movie in which the screenwriters almost sheepishly concede the contrived nature of such a device. The survivors set upon a course of multiple back in time ways to retrieve the Stones and bring back their loved ones. It doesn’t happen overnight and the lengthy nature of the plan coming together provides funny and poignant moments. Tony is off the grid with his beloved Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and a new addition. Bruce is in full Hulk mode, but kindler and gentler. Thor is rounder and drunkenly grappling with his losses. Hawkeye is a full-blown vigilante. When the gang revs up their figurative DeLoreans, it gives us a chance to revisit lots of MCU personnel. And it’s a LOT of former players. Some are genuinely surprising. During this lengthy stretch, the film walks a fine line of not devolving into nostalgic sugar shock amidst the action sequences. By the final act, it rises above it.
We know the battle scenes will be well choreographed and well-directed (with the Russo Brothers handling duties once again). The final one is rather jaw dropping with the mixing of so many known quantities. Thanos is one of the stronger villains in MCU history and he remains so here, though there’s nothing fresh to add about his character. His daughter Nebula (Karen Gillan), on the other hand, continues her evolution as a fine addition to the roster.
The comic relief comes more from Thor as opposed to Ant-Man or Rocket and Hemsworth is up to the task. Captain America and Black Widow are given their emotional moments that we’re invested in from their backstories. To this writer, it’s Tony who’s always been the damaged beating heart of this franchise. The Marvel Cinematic Universe simply wouldn’t exist as it is without Downey Jr.’s brilliant work. That’s never changed. The quality of the movies he’s appeared in has. His performance has always been fantastic. If we’re ranking, I would put Endgame as an overall experience just under the first Avengers in 2012 and InfinityWar. I can’t promise that thinking about all the shifting time plot points might raise as many questions as answers. I won’t deny that its emotional payoff is real and we have Downey and an amazing group of technicians bringing these comics to life to thank for it.
Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron headline the improbable rom com LongShot, out in theaters next weekend. It marks the latest collaboration between Rogen and director Jonathan Levine after 50/50 and TheNightBefore (Levine’s latest was 2017’s Snatched). The film casts Theron as the U.S. Secretary of State who strikes up a romance with Rogen’s journalist. Costars include O’Shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Andy Serkis, Alexander Skarsgard, and Lisa Kudrow.
Shot premiered in March at the South by Southwest Festival to favorable reviews and it stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. A comparison to TheNightBefore is tricky. That pic opened in November 2015 on the weekend before Thanksgiving and against the finale of TheHungerGames franchise. The result was just a $9.8 million start (it legged out well the following holiday weekend).
I believe LongShot will top that number, but perhaps with low teens as it hopes for minimal drops in subsequent frames. If so, this could fall behind the debut grosses of its competition – TheIntruder and UglyDolls.
LongShot opening weekend prediction: $13.1 million
STX Entertainment is hoping affinity for a popular plush toy brings youngsters out next weekend for UglyDolls. The animated musical comedy takes it characters from a line of squishy creatures launched in 2001. Kelly Asbury, who did Shrek2 and Gnomeo & Juliet, directs and Robert Rodriguez (of all people) has a story credit. The voice cast is mostly a mix of musicians and comedians and they include Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Pitbull, Blake Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Emma Roberts, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX.
While UglyDolls looks to pack movie houses, it could face resistance and absolutely faces serious competition. It arrives the week after Avengers: Endgame, which should still be minting money. Furthermore, this debuts the weekend before Pokemon: DetectivePikachu, which hopes to bring in a sizable family audience.
This could get lost in the shuffle and I suspect it might. The possibility certainly exists for a high teens to even $20 million start, but I suspect low to mid teens is where this ends up.
UglyDolls opening weekend prediction: $13.8 million
Last year, Marvel’s BlackPanther became the first comic book pic to score a Best Picture nomination. While it didn’t win, it took home three gold trophies from its seven nods. This weekend, box office records are highly likely to break with the release of Avengers: Endgame. The 22nd MCU title had its review embargo lift hours ago… try to your best to avoid spoilers.
The verdict? A 98% Rotten Tomatoes score thus far. Some critics are going as far as saying it’s the best overall entry in the massive franchise. Others write ups, while positive, don’t go that far. One thing seems certain as Endgame is classified as an epic experience.
Could lightning strike two years in a row for Marvel with Academy voters? Here’s the advantage: this fourth Avengers saga is seen as the culmination of not just its three predecessors, but also the many other pictures MCU blockbusters over the past 11 years. That lifts its chances for recognition as Oscar could see this as an “atta boy” for the whole series.
That said, I’m doubtful. The first three Avengers flicks garnered a grand total of two nominations. The 2012 original and last year’s InfinityWar both received Visual Effects nods. Neither won. The middle child (2015’s AgeofUltron) got no love. Last year, Disney was undoubtedly more focused on getting BlackPanther recognition and they succeeded. In 2019, they could put together a more robust campaign for Endgame.
A third calling in Visual Effects is probably inevitable, but anything else from the Academy is questionable and maybe even doubtful. Yet I wouldn’t totally count out some Disney marketing campaign magic. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…