Dark Phoenix Box Office Prediction

Closing out the latest chapter of the X-Men Universe that began in 2011, Dark Phoenix rises or falls in theaters next weekend. The fourth official entry in the current franchise iteration is a direct sequel to 2016’s XMen: Apocalypse. This one is focused more on the Jean Grey character played by Sophie Turner, but it brings back Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. The familiar cast additionally includes Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Evan Peters with Jessica Chastain joining the fray for the first time. Simon Kinberg, responsible for penning three previous X pics, makes his directorial debut.

Phoenix comes at a time where the franchise is going through a major transition. With Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox, it is believed the X-Men characters will be cast anew and melded with the vaunted Marvel Cinematic Universe at some juncture. The series is coming off Apocalypse, which didn’t impress critics and had a $155 million overall domestic gross that ranked well under predecessor Days of Future Past. The next X title (spin-off The New Mutants) is out next spring and has been delayed on numerous occasions.

Anticipation seems muted here. Phoenix has the very real possibility of having the lowest premiere ever in the franchise’s history. That distinction for a non spin-off currently belongs to the 2000 original, which started with $54 million (not adjusted for inflation). Just below that is 2013’s The Wolverine at $53 million.

The opportunity for Disney to reinvigorate the series is coming, but I’ll project this latest entry will mark an overall low in earnings.

Dark Phoenix opening weekend prediction: $45.3 million

For my The Secret Life of Pets 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/29/the-secret-life-of-pets-2-box-office-prediction/

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Box Office Prediction

Illumination Entertainment is back in the summer blockbuster animation game next weekend with the release of The Secret Life of Pets 2. The follow-up to the 2016 smash has Chris Renaud back in the director’s chair. Returning voices include Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, and  Jenny Slate. Patton Oswalt takes over the lead role of Max after Louis C.K. was dropped after recent controversies. Other familiar faces providing new voiceover work to the franchise include Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and Harrison Ford.

Three summers ago, the first Pets had a scorching start with a $104 million start and $368 million eventual domestic gross. It’s worth noting that competition on its opening weekend wasn’t as strong as Dark Phoenix will premiere against this. This sequel is garnering reviews in line with its predecessor. Part 1 ended up with a 73% Rotten Tomatoes score while this is at 68%.

I look for this to perform similarly to Illumination’s last two efforts. Despicable Me 3 earned $72 million for its beginning two summers ago and Dr. SeussThe Grinch made $67 million and perhaps a bit under.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 opening weekend prediction: $65.2 million

For my Dark Phoenix prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/30/dark-phoenix-box-office-prediction/

May 31-June 2 Box Office Predictions

After a sizzling debut over the long Memorial Day weekend, Aladdin could slip to third as two heavy hitters join the fray: monster sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters and critically lauded Elton John biopic Rocketman. We also have low budget Blumhouse horror pic Ma with Octavia Spencer that has breakout potential. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of the newcomers here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/23/godzilla-king-of-the-monsters-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/23/rocketman-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/24/ma-box-office-prediction/

Godzilla should manage to stomp the competition, but I do have it coming in lower than its 2014 predecessor and just under what 2017’s Kong: Skull Island achieved. As for Rocketman, there’s Oscar nod buzz for star Taron Egerton and the genre heat from last fall’s smash Bohemian Rhapsody. I have it debuting with about $15 million less than the Queen flick, but that still means mid 30s.

As for Ma, I have it over tripling its puny $5 million budget for fourth place. Aladdin may experience a mid 50s dip after ruling the holiday and John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum should round out the top five.

And with that, my forecast for the weekend:

1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Predicted Gross: $58.7 million

2. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $40.3 million

3. Rocketman

Predicted Gross: $36.1 million

4. Ma

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million

5. John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum

Predicted Gross: $12.7 million

Box Office Results (May 2427)

Despite a poorly received first trailer and questions about its potency with audiences, Disney’s Aladdin exceeded all expectations and granted the studio’s money-making wishes with $116.8 million. That blew away my $74.8 million estimate.

John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum dropped to second with $30.9 million over the four-day, topping my $27 million take. The Keanu Reeves action sequel is already at $107 million in two weeks and has the set the franchise record domestically.

Avengers: Endgame was third with $22 million (I said $22.5 million), hitting an astonishing $803 million.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu was fourth with $17.2 million compared to my $16.4 million projection and $120 million thus far.

All newbies without a blue genie struggled. Horror superhero tale Brightburn was fifth with $9.6 million. I was right on target at $9.7 million. Acclaimed high school comedy Booksmart was sixth with $8.7 million. Again, I was on the money with an $8.6 million prediction.

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

Oscar Watch: Pain and Glory

It’s been over three decades since Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar was first on the radar screen of Oscar voters. In 1988, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown nabbed a nod for Foreign Language Film. Eleven years later, All About My Mother won the award. In 2002, Almodóvar won for his original screenplay for Talk to Her.

This year’s Cannes Film Festival has provided further chances for the auteur to garner favor from the Academy. Pain and Glory casts Antonio Banderas as an aging director focused on his past. The drama has earned praise from critics as it stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. If the pic turns out to be Spain’s selection for the newly termed Best International Feature Film, it could definitely get in. An inclusion for Almodóvar’s script is also possible.

Another opportunity lies with Banderas. The veteran actor has never been nominated and he’s earning kudos here (he won Best Actor at Cannes). The French festival has given us three other contenders in the lead actor space: Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman and Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Bottom line: it’s been some time since Almodóvar has been a factor come Oscar time, but Pain and Glory could change that. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Parasite

Director Boon Joon-ho has been a critical darling for years with works including The Host and Snowpiercer. He may now reach the radar of Oscar voters as his dark comedy Parasite debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and today won the Palme d’Or.

This is the first Korean picture to take the festival’s top prize. If South Korea opts to make Parasite its selection for the newly dubbed Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Film), it stands a serious shot at inclusion. If it were to do so, Parasite would be the first Oscar nominee from that nation.

Bottom line: the Cannes Film Festival (as usual) has provided possibilities when it comes to overseas Academy players. Count this as one of them.

Serenity Movie Review

Steven Knight’s Serenity plays like a concept thought up after a long day and night of smoking weed. That concept, at least theoretically, would seem crazy and illogical in the morning. Yet somehow that realization never dawned on the writer and director and now we have Oscar winners starring in it. Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway could have easily spent the weeks filming this relaxing on an island similar to the beautiful one where this is set. They made this instead and it will forever be on their record.

The Lincoln pitchman plays Baker Dill, a hard drinking fishing boat captain. He lives in Plymouth, a tropical locale surrounded by water and an elusive tuna fish that he’s obsessed with catching. One day his ex flame Karen (Hathaway) shows up. They were high school sweethearts whose romance was cut short when he was deployed overseas. They have a teenage son who doesn’t see his dad anymore, but they seem to share an almost (ahem) interstellar connection. Karen is now married to abusive monster Frank (Jason Clarke). She offers Baker $10 million dollars to take him out – on the boat and in the murderous sense. He initially rejects the idea, but a bizarre (and I do mean bizarre) twist complicates matters.

There’s really no more plot left to ponder unless I enter spoiler territory. And if you wish to see Serenity (which you’ll likely regret), I won’t be the one to spill the beans. The film often plays like a hammy noir complete with overacting from its two Academy Award recipients. Djimon Hounsou turns up as the captain’s first mate while Diane Lane is his love interest. Her character solely exists for exposition conversations after they have sex.

Serenity succeeds or fails based on a willingness to buy the whacked out concept. For me, it certainly failed. I am almost in awe that Knight got the money to try. By its conclusion, it attempts to tug your heartstrings with more force than it takes to reel in that giant tuna fish. It succeeded more in tickling my funny bone and in an unintentional way.

*1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: The Secret Life of Pets 2

2019 is shaping up to be a year where the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars could be dominated by sequels. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World already opened to raves and seems destined for a nod just like its two predecessors. Disney has Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 on deck.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is Universal’s shot at Academy recognition. It’s out on June 7, following up on the 2016 animal tale smash hit. Early reviews indicate part deux is an overall improvement in quality. The first Pets achieved a 73% Rotten Tomatoes rating while this currently sits at 91%.

This puts the likely mega blockbuster in contention, but it’ll need to stick around in a competition where the three previously mentioned sequels may well garner more votes. Only time will tell if that’s feasible. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…