John Cena follows the career path of fellow grappler Dwayne Johnson with the release of Playing with Fire next weekend. The family comedy casts him as a firefighter caring for rambunctious kids along with his coworkers. Andy Fickman directs and the cast includes Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, Brianna Hildebrand, Dennis Haysbert, and Judy Greer.
The Paramount release is essentially taking the studio’s Instant Family slot from last year. That pic scored a fairly decent $14.7 million for its start and legged out to a $67 million domestic gross. Cena hasn’t proven himself to be a player in this genre, however, and I’d say Mark Wahlberg’s star power is a bit brighter.
The best hope for Fire is that it develops small dips in subsequent weekends if word of mouth is solid, but I believe it’ll be fortunate to reach double digits in its premiere.
Playing with Fire opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million
Known for his mega budget disaster flicks such as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, director Roland Emmerich tries his hand at a World War II epic next weekend with Midway. Budgeted at $75 million (pretty low considering the reported $165 million price tag for his 2016 dud sequel Independence Day: Resurgence), the cast includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Woody Harrelson.
I do not expect this to be Emmerich’s Saving Private Ryan or Dunkirk. Those WWII efforts had critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. This does not. There will be competition for the adult and action crowd with the debut of Doctor Sleep and second frame for Terminator: Dark Fate.
IMAX elevated pricing could help a bit, but I doubt it. My suspicion is that Midway posts middling to poor numbers in the low teens for an inauspicious start.
The Yuletide rom com Last Christmas presents itself in theaters next weekend from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig. If you’re hoping it features the classic Wham! holiday track in its soundtrack, you’re in luck as it plays (as well as some unreleased songs by the late lead singer George Michael). Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians fame headline. Costars include Golding’s Rich mother Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson (who co-wrote the script).
While its two leads don’t really have a track record opening a film, this should succeed in bringing in a female audience (and perhaps some fans of Mr. Michael). Even though the genres are different, this could premiere with similar numbers to Feig’s previous effort A Simple Favor ($16.1 million).
I’ll say that range is likely as Christmas hopes to leg out solidly in the weeks ahead.
Last Christmas opening weekend prediction: $16.9 million
Doctor Sleep hopes to shine at the box office next weekend. The horror pic is not just an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 novel, which is the legendary author’s sequel to his 1977 work The Shining. It also serves as a follow-up to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic. Mike Flanagan, who’s adapted King before with Netflix’s Gerald’s Game, is behind the camera. Ewan McGregor stars as Dan Torrance, the adult version of the child that Jack Nicholson tormented almost 40 years ago. Costars include Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Bruce Greenwood, and Cliff Curtis.
There’s no doubt that the cinematic version of The Shining has cemented its status as a genre landmark (even though King himself is famously not a big fan). The author has praised this and early word of mouth based off screenings is positive.
That said, 39 years is a long time ago. Interestingly, there’s a comp to be considered with 2017’s Blade Runner 2049. That sequel was also following an early 80s picture with a sterling reputation. Yet it came in well below expectations with a $31.5 million domestic premiere. Horror viewers tend to skew young, so it’s a legitimate question as to their affinity for the 1980 predecessor.
With all that considered, I’ll predict the Doctor is good for a mid 20s showing. This might be appointment viewing for some, but I’m skeptical it reaches over $30 million.
Doctor Sleep opening weekend prediction: $24.8 million
Since 2016, the NBC drama This Is Us has kept viewers in a perpetual state of tears and it’s been a massive hit for the network. As the show’s popularity has continued, the various leads on the family affair have seen their movie offers increase.
When looking at how Oscar voters could reward the work of these actors that have garnered plenty of Emmy nods, there’s some we can quickly discount. Don’t look for Milo Ventimiglia to contend for The Art of Racing in the Rain. His onscreen wife Mandy Moore won’t get supporting actress attention for next weekend’s Midway. Justin Hartley will not be feted for Little or Jexi. And while A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood could see Tom Hanks receive another nomination, the same won’t hold true for Susan Kelechi Watson.
That brings us to Watson’s TV hubby Sterling K. Brown. His big screen family drama Waves has gotten raves on the film festival circuit. It would appear his performance is most likely to appear on the radar of the awards crowd. Yet there’s a problem. 2019’s crop of supporting actor possibilities is packed. The list includes the aforementioned Hanks in Neighborhood, Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, both Al Pacino and Joe Pesci for The Irishman, Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes, Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse, and Jamie Foxx for Just Mercy. The race simply might be too crowded for Brown.
Surprisingly, the best chance for an Us thespian to get into the Academy derby might come in an unexpected category. This spring’s faith based release Breakthrough featured Chrissy Metz in the cast. Her acting will not be honored. However, Metz did cut an original song for the soundtrack titled “I’m Standing With You”. The songwriter is Diane Warren and she’s no stranger to Oscar. Warren has landed ten nods for her work, including songs from the last two years – “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall and “I’ll Fight” from RBG. The Best Original Song race is still uncertain, but Disney appears bound to get in with expected selections from Toy Story 4, Frozen II, Aladdin, and The Lion King. There’s also tracks from Rocketman and Cats that could factor in. Still, Metz’s pipes probably have the highest chance for recognition over the acting skills of her fellow cast members.
The November box office kicks off with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature character back in theaters and three other newcomers vying for attention. In addition to Terminator: Dark Fate, we have the historical biopic Harriet, animated comedy Arctic Dogs, and Edward Norton’s period piece crime drama Motherless Brooklyn. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the quartet here:
I’ll begin with the low hanging fruit that I don’t expect to place in the top five. Dogs comes from the upstart Entertainment Studios, which has no track record with family fare. My $4.5 million forecast reflects its lack of visibility among kiddos and their parents. Brooklyn was looked at as a potential awards contender before festival screenings and its mixed reaction killed that notion. Premiering in a smallish 1250 theaters, I’m projecting a meager $3.2 million.
There is little doubt that Dark Fate (reuniting the former California Governor with his Terminator 2: Judgment Day costars Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong) will top the charts, but its range of possibility is the real question mark. My high 30s estimate gives it a so-so start that outdoes 2015 predecessor Genisys.
It was a photo finish last weekend between Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Joker. However, even though Arnold serves as more direct competition for the latter, I expect Joker will experience a lower decline than Evil and maintain its #2 standing for the third frame in a row.
Like Brooklyn, Harriet also lost its hoped for Oscar luster once reviews came out. My mid single digits projection gives it a slight edge in fourth over The Addams Family.
And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:
1. Terminator: Dark Fate
Predicted Gross: $38.1 million
Predicted Gross: $12.2 million
3. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Predicted Gross: $10.2 million
Predicted Gross: $8.2 million
5. The Addams Family
Predicted Gross: $7 million
Box Office Results (October 25-27)
It doesn’t get much closer than this as Disney edged out Warner Bros for supremacy with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil clinging to #1 at $19.3 million, just under my $20.4 million prediction. The underperforming sequel stands at $66 million.
The supremely over performing Joker was second with $19.2 million, just over my $18.6 million projection for a tally of $277 million.
The Addams Family held up well and placed third with $12 million (I said $11.2 million). Total is $73 million.
Just behind in fourth and dropping hard in weekend #2 was Zombieland: Double Tap with $11.8 million. I went higher at $13.8 million. The two week earnings are $47 million.
The weekend’s highest newcomer was horror pic Countdown, rounding out the top five with $8.8 million (not hitting my $10.3 million take).
Black and Blue was sixth, premiering with $8.3 million. I didn’t give it enough credit with my $4.8 million estimate.
Finally, the long delayed The Current War was ninth with a dim $2.6 million. It did manage to build upon my $1.7 million projection.
And that does it for now, folks! Until next time… I’ll be back!
I fear that Haley (Kaya Scodelario) will have trouble running into her school’s mascot after the events that transpire in Crawl. She’s a college student attending the University of Florida and she gets the literal treatment to gator chomps. When a Category 5 Hurricane is poised to make landfall, Haley goes searching for searching for her dad Dave (Barry Pepper). Flashbacks show him pushing juvenile Haley hard in the sport of swimming. Their relationship is strained, though that nautical training sure comes in handy here.
When she finds him and their dog Sugar, he’s trapped in the old family home and there’s not one, but two alligators skulking around while the rain pounds away. The pair must use their survival skills to battle all the elements and try to turn their tormentors into boots or luggage (as the former California Governor said in the Arnold not so classic Eraser).
Crawl is short (87 minutes), unambitious, and straightforward. Those adjectives will apply to this review. It’s certainly watchable and clips right along. The gators look pretty menacing and the underwater camerawork is stellar. Director Alexandre Aja has covered this stuff before in Piranha 3D. This is primarily a two person show with Scodelario and Pepper, though you may find yourself rooting hardest for Sugar to pull through. His bark occasionally assists in avoiding the creatures bites.
Even with the brisk running time, the occasional callbacks to the father/daughter dynamic seems tacked on. After all, the exposition of Dave using coaching terms to get Haley to do the breaststroke isn’t exactly Quint recounting the events of the USS Indianapolis. And this Jaws knockoff is a standard and sometimes effective diversion.