Beast Box Office Prediction

Idris Elba faces single fatherhood and a murderous lion in the survival thriller Beast when it opens August 19th. It comes from Balthasar Kormakur, who recently directed nature related efforts Everest and Adrift. Costars include Sharlto Copley, Iyana Halley, and Leah Sava Jeffries. The selling point for the Universal Pictures pic is, of course, the big cat hunting Elba and family in the South African setting.

Beast should find itself in position for a #1 opening with Bullet Train in its third weekend. That said, the Japanese animated adventure Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero could certainly give it a run for its money.

Estimates have this as low as $10 million or in the $15 million range. Approaching or slightly exceeding the latter seems more likely as long as buzz is decent (early word-of-mouth is encouraging). Higher teens even seems doable, but I’m not ready to go into that mode as of yet.

Beast opening weekend prediction: $14.8 million

Elvis Review

Bad Luhrmann’s Elvis succeeds much in the same way that Bohemian Rhapsody did. Which is to say that it doesn’t always succeed, but it frequently captures the musical spirit of its subject impressively. Or maybe the magnetism of Elvis Presley or Freddie Mercury and lively performances from the actors portraying them is simply overpowering.

From Moulin Rouge! to The Great Gatsby and more, Luhrmann’s stylized productions have always flashed a bigger than life vibe. Mr. Presley is a sensible icon for him to cover. Austin Butler plays The King. Before he inhabits the role (and he does), we see the poor Mississippi youth who catches musical inspiration in two ways. One is the sacred in the gospel church. The other is more profane in the sweat drenched blues sessions nearby.

The melding of each eventually makes him the best selling solo artist of all time. Narrating that four decade long journey is Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), his corrupt and crafty manager. Their union is the rocky constant in a triumphant and turbulent career that includes the popularization of rock and roll to the masses. The two and a half hour plus biopic is told in a sometimes Forrest Gump style journey through history that somewhat clumsily brings the MLK and RFK Jr. assassinations into the fold. Of course, it also includes the known greatest hits and misses. Iconic wiggles. The close knit and cut short relationship with his mother (Helen Thomson). A hoped for James Dean style film career stalled. The marriage to younger Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge). Pills and guns.

Much of this is familiar territory for this genre. In fact, one could say Elvis’s trajectory is perfectly suited for it. A star is born. And the star’s light goes out too soon. Unlike the aforementioned Gump, Hanks is not among the strongest aspects. Buried in makeup that doesn’t make you forget it’s Hanks buried in makeup, his acting borders on cartoonish parody. If their relationship is meant to be the emotional core, the screenplay falters in that regard.

Where Elvis builds its momentum is in Butler’s dynamism. To offer that he’s  utterly convincing even in the live hip shaking portions says it all. Those sequences are rhapsodic and a wise use of Luhrmann’s overwhelming brand of storytelling.

*** (out of four)

August 12-14 Box Office Predictions

There’s a trio of pics debuting or expanding this weekend, but they could all find themselves outside of the top five. A24’s slasher comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies hopes to build on its impressive NY/LA limited release while the Diane Keaton comedy Mack & Rita and survival thriller Fall premiere. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Bodies Bodies Bodies Box Office Prediction

Mack & Rita Box Office Prediction

Fall Box Office Prediction

Both Bodies and Fall are expected to hit around 1200 screens. That’s low and limits their range. Let’s start with Fall as its lack of promotion could find it failing to even make $1 million. I’m projecting $872,000 and that obviously leaves it well outside the high five (and ten for that matter).

Bodies is a bit tougher to figure out. In six venues in our nation’s two largest cities, it took in a robust per screen average of nearly $40k. Yet as I mentioned in my individual post, I’m skeptical that this plays well in the middle of the country. My $4.4 million estimate also leaves it on the outside looking in.

Mack & Rita also seems to be suffering from lack of awareness. I’m only going with $2.6 million as this should come and go in multiplexes quickly.

With the newcomers out of the way, that leaves holdovers to talk about. Sony’s Bullet Train with Brad Pitt opened right on track with reasonable expectations (more on that below) and it should have no trouble remaining in the top spot again. With minimal competition, it could slide in the mid 40s in the best case scenario. That said, if you look at action titles of early August past, a drop in the low 50s to mid 50s seems just as likely. DC League of Super-Pets should stay in second… with a caveat.

If Top Gun: Maverick continues percentage drops in the teens (and there’s no reason to think it won’t), it should re-enter the top 5. Nope could drop out altogether with Thor: Love and Thunder and Minions: The Rise of Gru battling it out for the 4 spot alongside Bodies Bodies Bodies. There’s even a chance Maverick could go from #6 to #2.

Here’s how I see the charts playing out and I’ll expand it to a top ten this time around:

1. Bullet Train

Predicted Gross: $14.1 million

2. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million

3. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $6.2 million

4. Thor: Love and Thunder

Predicted Gross: $5.4 million

5. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

6. Bodies Bodies Bodies

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million

7. Nope

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

8. Where the Crawdads Sing

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

9. Mack & Rita

Predicted Gross: $2.6 million

10. Easter Sunday

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

Box Office Results (August 5-7)

Bullet Train came in right where I thought it would with $30 million (my call  was $29.7 million). While it certainly didn’t exceed expectations, it’s a perfectly decent opening and its overseas grosses are solid. The B+ Cinemascore indicates a somewhat fair-weather reaction so it’s worth monitoring how it holds up. As mentioned, the lack of competition should help.

DC League of Super-Pets had a stiffer sophomore fall than I anticipated with $11 million compared to my $13.6 million take. The two-week total is a muted $44 million.

Nope saw a drop of over 50% once again with $8.5 million, in range with my $8.1 million prediction. The three-week tally is approaching nine digits at $97 million.

Thor: Love and Thunder was fourth at $7.7 million (I said $8.3 million) as the MCU sequel became the highest pic in the franchise by eclipsing 2017’s Ragnarok. Total is $316 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru rounded out the top five with $7.1 million (I went with $6.9 million) for a $334 million haul.

Finally, the Jo Koy comedy Easter Sunday struggled in its start in 8th place with $5.4 million, just under my $5.6 million estimate.

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

They/Them Review

John Logan’s directorial debut They/Them tries to mix social commentary with the slasher genre. The result doesn’t feel sharp or incisive and it especially doesn’t provide many scares. Logan has written many a screenplay (from Gladiator to The Aviator to Skyfall) and it’s a little shocking how much of a misfire this blend ends up being.

A group of teens and young adults arrive at the Whistler Camp run by Owen (Kevin Bacon) and wife Cora (Carrie Preston). It’s billed as a conversion camp for the LGBTQ community though Owen insists the experience is all about finding your true self. Their educational methods are soon discovered to be on the bizarre and barbaric side with non-binary Jordan (Theo Germaine) as the most vocal critic. Another skeptic is Molly (Anna Chlumsky), a newly employed nurse at the facility. She’s the only member of the staff not drinking the Kool-Aid.

In addition to the horror of Owen’s work, there’s a potential Friday the 13th situation happening with a masked killer on the grounds. That part of the storyline is put on the back burner mostly until the third act and the eventual twists are pretty obvious.

For the majority of its length, They/Them struggles mightily with its tone. We have glimmers of camp (including a cringe worthy Pink singalong) and then a therapy session that goes for Get Out vibes and fails. Some of the performances are decent. A small subplot about deeply closeted high schooler (Anna Lore) and her budding romance with the more confident Veronica (Monique Kim) might have been interesting in a different movie.

Despite the clever title with a double meaning (they slash them), the picture itself never solves its own identity crisis. By doing so, it certainly does a disservice to the issues it tries to explore.

*1/2 (out of four)

Thirteen Lives Review

What kind of commitments did Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have that they missed the chance to make Thirteen Lives? It’s right up their disaster to screen alley, but instead Ron Howard is retelling the summer of 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue that seemed like a mission of impossibility.

In Thailand, a soccer team consisting of 12 preteen to teenage boys and their coach are stranded in the cavern when heavy rains follow their post practice journey to the dwelling. Their entrapment immediately brings thunderous media attention from around the globe and offers of assistance that ballooned to 5,000 people getting involved.  The Governor of the territory (Sahajak Boonthanakit) must walk the a fine line communicating to the panic stricken families and a curious throng of journalists and onlookers.

It’s two Brits who are a focal point for the operation with experienced divers Richard Stanton (Viggo Mortensen) and John Volanthen (Colin Farrell). Local villagers band together to divert ten of millions in gallons of water from submerging the cave. Richard and John must come up with a plan to get the team out before the coming monsoon creates that eventuality. This eventually involves brining in Aussie Harry Harris (Joel Edgerton), whose medical expertise will come in handy more so than his diving skills.

To put it succinctly – this film is an amazing story told capably. You may find yourself more wowed by it if you don’t know much about what happened four summers ago. This statement also holds true if you didn’t see the Nat Geo doc The Rescue about this assignment. Howard and screenwriter William Nicholson cover snippets of multiple facets of the 18 day ordeal such as the politics involved and the excruciating waits of the boys loved ones.

The most captivating parts involve the intricacies of the rescue and the claustrophobic methods for it to be successful. Mortensen and Farrell’s convincing interplay helps. We know the outcome and Lives can often feel a little repetitive. The 2 hour and 20 minute runtime feels occasionally bloated and the first hour in particular is bumpy. It may not be the best title dealing with the subject. It’s not Howard’s best movie with the number 13 in the name thanks to a Tom Hanks led mission much further above ground. This is still a worthwhile journey.

*** (out of four)

Fall Box Office Prediction

The survival thriller Fall opens on approximately 1200 screens on August 12th. Directed by Scott Mann (best known for the Dave Bautista/Pierce Brosnan 2018 action flick Final Score), the climbing tale’s cast includes Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Mason Gooding, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

A Lionsgate release, Fall‘s promotion seems to be non-existent. This is a prime example of a mid-August release where the studio seems to have zero confidence. I’m a little surprised it’s even hitting theaters.

The aforementioned Score couldn’t even clear a million dollars at the box office though it never approached 1200 venues. Fall may struggle to average over $1,000 per screen upon release. This may not reach $1 million in the first three days.

Fall opening weekend prediction: $872,000

For my Bodies Bodies Bodies prediction, click here:

Bodies Bodies Bodies Box Office Prediction

For my Mack & Rita prediction, click here:

Mack & Rita Box Office Prediction

Bodies Bodies Bodies Box Office Prediction

The slasher satire Bodies Bodies Bodies opened in six theaters exclusive to New York and L.A. yesterday and it appears to be doing brisk business. From director Halina Reijn, the A24 pic (sporting a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes) stars Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace, and Pete Davidson (who’s in the news this weekend due to his reported breakup with Kim Kardashian).

Early reports have Bodies laying down an approximate $240-250k gross for its coastal limited release. That equates to roughly a $40k per theater average and that’s impressive.

Whether that translates to a sizable rollout next weekend when it grows to around 1200 screens is a murkier question. Performing well in America’s two largest cities is one thing while nabbing eyeballs in the heartland and elsewhere is another.

My hunch is that this won’t quite hit $5 million in the expansion on August 12th, but it could have the capacity to surprise.

Bodies Bodies Bodies (wide) opening weekend prediction: $4.4 million

For my Mack & Rita prediction, click here:

Mack & Rita Box Office Prediction

For my Fall prediction, click here:

Fall Box Office Prediction

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

My latest Final Five post brings us to 2012 and the Oscars that occurred nearly a decade ago. If you’re reading this series for the first time, this is where I whittle the 8-10 Best Picture nominees from every year since 2009 to five. As you may know, it was in 2009 that the Academy stopped listing a quintet of movies for the big prize and expanded it upwards. If you missed my write-ups about 2009, 2010, and 2011 – you can access them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

As we do with each year, we start with the obvious. Ben Affleck’s Argo certainly would have made the cut since it won BP. 2012 was a strange year with the Academy’s voters. Argo emerged as the first film since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy where the BP recipient’s director wasn’t nominated in that category. It’s happened twice since with 2018’s Green Book and last year’s CODA. I will admit that picking a fifth entry was challenging. The other 3 besides Argo seem pretty clear. Let’s get into it!

Amour

Michael Haneke’s French drama was the easy winner of Foreign Language Film and nabbed 3 other nods: Director, Actress (Emmanuelle Riva), and Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can certainly be made. I would venture that with only five, the narrative would’ve been that it had no trouble in the foreign race and that would be the reward.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This micro-budgeted indie fantasy from Benh Zeitlin scored a surprise directing nod as well as Actress (Quvanzhane Wallis) and Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. It received the least amount of nominations of the nine nominees and won none of its four mentions. That said, it’s not entirely out of the question that it could have snuck in.

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino scored the biggest hit of his career with this Western which won Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz). It also received nods for Cinematography and Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can be made yet again (especially with the Original Screenplay victory). That said, misses for directing and editing are indications that it might have just missed.

Les Miserables

With 8 nominations and wins for Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway), Sound Mixing, and Makeup and Hairstyling, the adaptation of the famed musical was one of the biggest box office performers of the bunch.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No… and stop me if you’ve heard this before… but an argument could be made. Like Django, the directing and editing omissions prevent me from saying it is top five.

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s visually striking adaptation of a bestseller tied with most nominations (11). Lee would win for his behind the camera work and it would pick up gold statues for Score, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. Unlike our last two contenders, it did receive an editing nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Furthermore, it was probably the runner-up for the win.

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s historical tale was the other movie to receive 11 nominations. The sole win was for Daniel Day-Lewis’s embodiment of the 16th POTUS in Best Actor.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 1 for 11 showing, the sheer number of nods strongly suggest its inclusion.

Silver Linings Playbook

With 8 nominations and Jennifer Lawrence taking Best Actress, this was the rare pic that scored nominations in all 4 acting derbies. Unlike Lawrence – Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver didn’t win their respective races. This was also up for David O. Russell’s direction, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes – based on where else it landed attention.

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker won Sound Editing. Jessica Chastain was up for Actress with Original Screenplay and Editing nods making it five overall. Bigelow’s snub in the directing race was unexpected.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, but this is the one I’m most unsure about. One could easily make the case for Amour or Beasts or Django or Les Miserables. The fact that this had the screenplay nod and editing made me pick it.

So in my view your abbreviated 2012 BP lineup would be:

Argo

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty 

2013 is up next!

Mack & Rita Box Office Prediction

Diane Keaton headlines the comedy Mack & Rita as the Gravitas Venture title hopes to bring in a female crowd in these late summer box office dog days. Out August 12th, costar Elizabeth Lail is magically transformed into her older self who is played by the legendary Oscar winner. Katie Aselton, who appeared in Keaton’s 2018 hit Book Club, directs and the supporting cast includes Taylour Paige, Simon Rex, Loretta Devine, and Wendie Malick.

The studio would love a Book Club size gross. It delivered just shy of $70 million and a sequel is coming in May 2023. That appears highly unlikely as Rita seems to be flying well under the radar. I have yet to see a theater count and that could alter my projection. I suspect this will be lucky to earn what Keaton’s 2019 dud Poms accomplished which was $5.4 million out of the gate. This may earn about half of that figure.

Mack & Rita opening weekend prediction: $2.6 million

For my Bodies Bodies Bodies prediction, click here:

Bodies Bodies Bodies Box Office Prediction

For my Fall prediction, click here:

Fall Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: They/Them

At first glance, even writing an Oscar predictions post for They/Them might seem a little silly. The slasher pic set at a conversion camp premieres on Peacock tomorrow and reunites Kevin Bacon with the bloody genre 42 years after Friday the 13th. 

It doesn’t seem as silly considering it’s the directorial debut of John Logan. He also serves as sole writer for the project and he’s a three-time Academy nominee for his penned works: 2000’s Gladiator, 2004’s The Aviator, and 2011’s Hugo. 

Yet despite his scripting a trio of Best Picture nominees, reviews for this Blumhouse produced offering are mixed at best. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is currently at 50%. That makes this equation simple as They/Them will nab as many Academy mentions as Friday the 13th. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…