Representing the longest drought between entries, it’s been nearly four and a half years without Optimus onscreen. Paramount is hoping audiences will be primed for the franchise’s return as Transformers: Rise of the Beasts debuts on June 9th. This is the seventh installment of the series that started in 2007 with Michael Bay helming the first five. He produces while Steven Caple Jr. (best known for Creed II) directs. The non-voiceover cast includes Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Vélez, Tobe Ngigwe, and Michael Kelly. Those voices behind the various title bots include Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Lisa Koshy, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Pete Davidson, Colman Domingo, John DiMaggio, and David Sobolov.
Beasts serves as a direct follow-up to 2018’s Bumblebee and a prequel to editions I-V. The Transformers pics have certainly seen their fortunes fade in recent years. Domestically the peak was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which earned $402 million overall stateside. The first three titles all grossed north of $300 million. By 2017, Transformers: The Last Knight managed $130 million. Bumblebee was a smidge under at $127 million.
To be fair, expectations for Bumblebee weren’t nearly as high and it rode decent reviews and solid buzz to a commendable leg out over the holidays. The lengthy break may not help Beasts and there’s no returning human stars from previous adventures.
This only needs to top $21 million to avoid a franchise low three-day beginning. It should have no trouble there. The better comp is probably The Last Knight which premiered with $44 million for its Friday to Sunday take (though it made $68 million when you count its Wednesday start). I’ll say Beasts falls a bit shy of that.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opening weekend prediction: $42.2 million
Get those pens (not pencils) ready for one nominee in the Animated Feature race at the 96th Academy Awards. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is out this weekend. The sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is drawing similar reactions to its predecessor. That means some serious raves as it currently stands at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (on par with the 97% for part 1).
In December 2018, Into upended the animated category. Any hope that Incredibles 2 or Isle of Dogs held for taking the prize fell by the wayside upon its release. That happened late in the calendar for the first Spidey. We are not even at the midpoint of 2023 and Across has established itself as the strong frontrunner. Pixar’s Elemental, which drew so-so chatter from Cannes, may even struggle to make the final cut of five nominees.
Across is guaranteed a slot and is a huge threat to win no matter what follows in the next few months. It is only the first half of two sequels as Beyond the Spider-Verse follows in March of next year. You can safely assume it might be a hopeful for the 97th Academy Awards.
As for other competitions, I suppose Adapted Screenplay is feasible if Sony were to make a dedicated push. Critics are also pointing out the visual effects. Yet animated titles struggle to get noticed in that particular derby. It’s more likely this will stick to Animated Feature and it could very well stick the landing. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
30 years after his debut The Scent of Green Papaya was nominated in the international picture race at the Oscars, Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung could see his latest The Pot-au-Feu achieve the same.
Set in the late 19th century, the French romance centered around the culinary arts features Juliette Binoche (Supporting Actress winner for 1996’s The English Patient) and Benoît Magimel. The Rotten Tomatoes reaction is strong with a 100% current rating.
In 1993, Papaya won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and nabbed a final five spot in Best Foreign Language Film (now International Feature Film). At this year’s ceremony in the south of France, Hung was honored with the Best Director statue.
If France makes this their selection for IFF at the 96th Academy Awards, look for this to potentially be on the menu. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swings into multiplexes for a highly likely first place debut while The Boogeyman lurks for a start in third position. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newcomers here:
Spidey is the follow-up to 2018’s Oscar-winning animated adventure Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In addition to plenty of awards, it had an A+ Cinemascore grade and nearly $200 million in domestic sales. Anticipation should be elevated for the sequel (with part 3 coming next year). That’s why some estimates have this as lofty as $100 million. I’m a tad more conservative, but I’ll say it clears $90 million.
The Boogeyman should take advantage of its PG-13 rating, the connection to Stephen King for the source material, and that there’s been a slight lull between horror flicks. Heck – it probably helps that it’s called The Boogeyman. I could see this opening similarly to The Black Phone and Smile. That would mean high teens or low 20s for a solid third place showing.
Memorial Day weekend champ The Little Mermaid should drop to second after a mixed bag of a debut (more on that below). A mid 50s dip (similar to the live-action Aladdin four years ago) would mean a number slightly north of $40 million.
The 4-5 slots should belong to sequel holdovers Fast X and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. It could be a close race between the two as they each may earn a tad over $10 million.
Here’s how I see it looking:
1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Predicted Gross: $96.4 million
2. The Little Mermaid
Predicted Gross: $40.5 million
3. The Boogeyman
Predicted Gross: $17.7 million
4. Fast X
Predicted Gross: $10.1 million
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Predicted Gross: $9.6 million
Box Office Results (May 26-29)
As expected, Disney’s The Little Mermaid (updating the 1989 classic) swam to the top of the charts. It did so on the lower end of its expected range. Over the four-day holiday, the total was $118.8 million. That’s below my take of $132.1 million. While nowhere near the starts of Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King from 2017 and 2019, it is on pace with what Aladdin accomplished over Memorial Day four years back.
Fast X slipped to second with $28.5 million and that managed to exceed my $25.4 million estimate. Vin Diesel and company have seen the beginning to the end of their two-decade long franchise earn $113 million thus far.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was third with $26.8 million, on target with my $26 million call. The MCU threequel stands at $306 million.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie took fourth place with $8.2 million (I said $7.6 million) to bring its massive haul to $560 million.
Spots 5-7, as anticipated, went to three newcomers. I didn’t correctly call their placements. The Machine with popular standup and podcaster Bert Kreischer was fifth with $5.8 million, ahead of my $3.7 million forecast. While not spectacular, it’s on the better end of its predicted range.
About My Father, featuring another popular standup Sebastian Maniscalco alongside Robert De Niro, was on the lesser end of the range. The family comedy was sixth with $5.3 million. I said a touch more at $6.2 million.
Finally, Gerard Butler’s action pic Kandahar bombed in seventh with only $2.8 million. I was more generous at $4.2 million.
And that does it for now, folks! Catch my podcast where I discuss all things box office by searching Movies at the Speed of Speculation wherever you like to stream. Until next time…
For about the first hour of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the stakes feel about as high as ordering a cheesesteak. I guess given the setting of Philly, maybe that’s something to be taken seriously. In the second half, the Phillies Stadium and I assume the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are in danger of being decimated Independence Day style (or countless comic book action flicks).
With nearly the entire team returning including director David F. Sandberg, part 2 of the DC Comics property is unwieldy in its tone. The happy-go-lucky vibe of Shazam! and Zachary Levi’s enjoyable performance made it worth a view. It was also, to be fair, mostly forgettable and clearly worked better as a one-off.
You may recall (or not) that high schooler Billy Batson (Asher Angel) received the abilities of Shazam from Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the 2019 original. This gave him the form of Levi’s red caped superhero yet it did not grant him wisdom beyond his teenage mind. Billy/Shazam still managed to outwit Mark Strong’s mad scientist with the help of his foster care siblings who were also soon bestowed with superhuman strengths. That includes brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer as younger and Adam Brody in grownup spandex form) and he has a unique love interest
Anne (Rachel Zegler from West Side Story) is the new girl at school who looks amazing for her age. She’s actually Anthea, the centuries old daughter of Greek god Atlas. Her other sisters are Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and they are determined to reclaim powers taken from them ages ago. The Daughters of Atlas look far apart in age. Lucy Liu’s middle child is the Jan Brady of this bunch as she’s got the most up her sleeve. Young Anne (she’s only 6000 it’s revealed) is the sweet one who might not be bent on world destruction after all. And despite Mirren’s presence, the trio’s motivations aren’t particularly spellbinding. Once again we have a comic book adaptation where the villains are a weakness. The MCU and this DCEU are frequent offenders.
Four years ago, it was easier to root for Levi’s charming underdog of a title character. Gods just never clicks and average CG and action sequences keep the mediocrity intact. Standard wizardry is ordered in this follow-up. The result is that I could have done witout it (spelling error intended, Philadelphians).
As the month of May closes out, we arrive at my post Cannes forecast for the 96th Academy Awards! There were heavy hitters premiering in the south of France and buzz to discuss for several of them.
One year ago, Triangle of Sadness took the Palme d’Or (the fest’s top prize) and it eventually became a Best Picture contender at the Oscars. Ruben Östlund, Triangle‘s director who served as this year’s jury president, was also nominated for his behind the camera work.. In 2023, Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall won the biggest honor. The French courtroom drama established itself as a major factor in International Feature Film and it is feasible that it could nab a slot in the eventual BP ten.
Other films that solidified their statuses as Academy bait? We start with Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. The three and a half hour epic maintains its #1 position in Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Lily Gladstone), and Supporting Actor after many raves at Cannes. However, the Supporting Actor in first is Robert De Niro and not Jesse Plemons, who was perched there two weeks ago. Reviews indicate it’s De Niro who should have the better shot.
Let’s be clear. My rankings right now reflect who I believe will be nominated and not necessarily who I think will win (it’s simply too early for that). Killers looks to be in a fantastic position for multiples nods after its unveiling.
Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest is right behind Moon as far as significant chatter out of the festival. The Holocaust drama could contend in Pic and Director. So could lead actress Sandra Hüller. Yet she might have an even stronger chance for her performance in Anatomy of a Fall.
For May December from Todd Haynes, reviews were quite solid. Its best chances at inclusion could be for its trio of actors Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton. We’re still not sure if Portman and Moore will be co-campaigned for lead. For now I’m slotting the former in Actress and the latter in supporting.
Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City drew plaudits though mixed reaction elsewhere. I’m skeptical of its chances (though it could play in down-the-line races like Production Design and Score).
Then there’s the features that dropped out of contention. Pixar’s Elemental won’t be the first studio title to vie for BP since Toy Story 3. It might be lucky to get an Animated Feature mention after some lackluster reaction. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will not be a Top Gun: Maverick style hopeful for Oscars. And the fest’s opener Jeanne du Barry with Johnny Depp might get a Costume Design nod and that’s all.
In 2022, I made predictions for the 95th Academy Awards on this same day. It yielded 3 of the eventual 10 BP nominees with eventual winner Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, and Women Talking. Four others (Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick) were named in Other Possibilities. I wasn’t ready to anoint Triangle of Sadness despite its Cannes hardware. In Director – I correctly named the victorious Daniels for Everything Everywhere and Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans. With Best Actress, I had Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere) who would take the gold. Cate Blanchett (Tár) and Ana de Armas (Blonde) were Other Possibilities. I will note that I had Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans) listed in supporting and she was nominated in lead. For Actor, winner Brendan Fraser (The Whale) were correctly called with Austin Butler (Elvis) listed. Both Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun) were Other Possibilities. None of the five contenders in Supporting Actress were rightly placed. I did have winner Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere), her costar Stephanie Hsu, and Hong Chau (The Whale) in Other Possibilities. Finally, Ke Huy Quan (who took the statue) for Everything Everywhere was the only correctly tagged performer in Supporting Actor.
OK… deep breath. With all that context, let’s see where everything and everyone ranks…
1. Killers of the Flower Moon (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)
2. The Color Purple (PR: 3) (+1)
3. Past Lives (PR: 2) (-1)
4. Dune: Part Two (PR: 4) (E)
5. Oppenheimer (PR: 5) (E)
6. Saltburn (PR: 7) (+1)
7. The Zone of Interest (PR: 15) (+8)
8. The Holdovers (PR: 8) (E)
9. Air (PR: 9) (E)
10. Poor Things (PR: 6) (-4)
11. May December (PR: 10) (-1)
12. Maestro (PR: 11) (-1)
13. Anatomy of a Fall (PR: Not Ranked)
14. Challengers (PR: 14) (E)
15. Blitz (PR: 13) (-2)
16. Barbie (PR: 12) (-4)
17. Napoleon (PR: 18) (+1)
18. Rustin (PR: 20) (+2)
19. Flint Strong (PR: 17) (-2)
20. Bob Marley: One Love (PR: 16) (-4)
21. The Nickel Boys (PR: 21) (E)
22. The Book of Clarence (PR: 22) (E)
23. The Killer (PR: 19) (-4)
24. Asteroid City (PR: 25) (+1)
25. Ferrari (PR: 23) (-2)
1. Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (E)
2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part Two (PR: 3) (+1)
3. Blitz Bazawule, The Color Purple (PR: 4) (+1)
4. Celine Song, Past Lives (PR: 2) (-2)
5. Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest (PR: 14) (+9)
6. Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer (PR: 6) (E)
7. Emerald Fennell, Saltburn (PR: 7) (E)
8. Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things (PR: 5) (-3)
9. Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall (PR: Not Ranked)
10. Alexander Payne, The Holdovers (PR: 9) (-1)
11. Bradley Cooper, Maestro (PR: 13) (+2)
12. Ben Affleck, Air (PR: 11) (-1)
13. Ridley Scott, Napoleon (PR: 15) (+2)
14. Greta Gerwig, Barbie (PR: 10) (-4)
15. Steve McQueen, Blitz (PR: 12) (-3)
Todd Haynes, May December
1. Fantasia Barrino, The Color Purple (PR: 1) (E)
2. Greta Lee, Past Lives (PR: 2) (E)
3. Emma Stone, Poor Things (PR: 3) (E)
4. Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall (PR: Not Ranked)
5. Natalie Portman, May December (PR: 5) (E)
6. Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (PR: 4) (-2)
7. Carey Mulligan, Maestro (PR: 7) (E)
8. Zendaya, Challengers (PR: 8) (E)
9. Margot Robbie, Barbie (PR: 6) (-3)
10. Saoirse Ronan, Blitz (PR: 9) (-1)
11. Kate Winslet, Lee (PR: 11) (E)
12. Annette Bening, Nyad (PR: 12) (E)
13. Sandra Hüller, The Zone of Interest (PR: 13) (E)
14. Ryan Destiny, Flint Strong (PR: 14) (E)
15. Jane Levy, A Little Prayer (PR: Not Ranked)
Regina King, Shirley
Amy Adams, Nightbitch
1. Colman Domingo, Rustin (PR: 1) (E)
2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 2) (E)
3. Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers (PR: 4) (+1)
4. Barry Keoghan, Saltburn (PR: 3) (-1)
5. Kingsley Ben-Adir, Bob Marley: One Love (PR: 8) (+3)
6. Bradley Cooper, Maestro (PR: 5) (-1)
7. Teo Yoo, Past Lives (PR: 7) (E)
8. Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer (PR: 6) (-2)
9. Anthony Hopkins, Freud’s Last Session (PR: 11) (+2)
10. Joaquin Phoenix, Napoleon (PR: 10) (E)
11. David Strathairn, A Little Prayer (PR: Not Ranked)
12. Matt Damon, Air (PR: 9) (-3)
13. Ed Harris, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (PR: 13) (E)
14. Mike Faist, Challengers (PR: 12) (-2)
15. John David Washington, The Piano Lesson (PR: 14) (-1)
Andrew Scott, Strangers
Best Supporting Actress
1. Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (E)
2. Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple (PR: 2) (E)
3. Taraji P. Henson, The Color Purple (PR: 3) (E)
4. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers (PR: 4) (E)
5. Julianne Moore, May December (PR: 6) (+1)
6. Viola Davis, Air (PR: 5) (-1)
7. Rosamund Pike, Saltburn (PR: 7) (E)
8. Lashana Lynch, Bob Marley: One Love (PR: 9) (+1)
9. Audra McDonald, Rustin (PR: 8) (-1)
10. Halle Bailey, The Color Purple (PR: Not Ranked)
11. Aunjanue Ellis, The Nickel Boys (PR: 11) (E)
12. Tilda Swinton, The Killer (PR: 10) (-2)
13. Danielle Deadwyler, The Piano Lesson (PR: 13) (E)
14. Jodie Foster, Nyad (PR: 14) (E)
15. Vanessa Kirby, Napoleon (PR: Not Ranked)
Claire Foy, Strangers
Rebecca Ferguson, Dune: Part Two
Best Supporting Actor
1. Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 4) (+3)
2. Willem Dafoe, Poor Things (PR: 2) (E)
3. Colman Domingo, The Color Purple (PR: 10) (+7)
4. Charles Melton, May December (PR: 8) (+4)
5. John Magaro, Past Lives (PR: 3) (-2)
6. Samuel L. Jackson, The Piano Lesson (PR: 5) (-1)
7. Ryan Gosling, Barbie (PR: 6) (-1)
8. Richard E. Grant, Saltburn (PR: 11) (+3)
9. Ben Affleck, Air (PR: 7) (-2)
10. Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (-9)
11. Brian Tyree Henry, Flint Strong (PR: 13) (+2)
12. Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things (PR: 9) (-3)
13. Corey Hawkins, The Color Purple (PR: Not Ranked)
14. Glynn Turman, Rustin (PR: 15) (+1)
15. Ben Foster, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (PR: 14) (-1)
At the 91st Academy Awards, Disney/Pixar (a frequent winner in the Best Animated Feature derby at the Oscars) had Incredibles 2 in contention. Yet it came up short to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. At last year’s ceremony, the studio’s Turning Red was never much of a threat to win and their summer release Lightyear received mixed reactions and didn’t make the cut. Similar elements could be in play for the 96th Oscars and Pixar’s 27th picture Elemental.
Out stateside on June 16, the computer-animated dramedy closed out the Cannes Film Festival. Buzz from France is fairly troubling. The Rotten Tomatoes meter, based on a handful of reviews, is 60%. Peter Sohn directs. He’s best known for 2015’s The Good Dinosaur, which underperformed at the box office and failed to register with the Academy. Voiceover artists include Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Catherine O’Hara, Joe Pera, and Matt Yang King.
This is Pixar’s one at bat for 2023 and prospects look iffy. We may have a frontrunner emerging with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse opening this weekend. Look for my Oscar Predictions post on it shortly. Even if Elemental manages to make the quintet vying for gold, the chances of a victory look non-existent. If it doesn’t catch on at the box office like Lightyear (and that’s certainly possible), it could get left out altogether. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
It’s been nearly 40 years since Paris, Texas from Wim Wenders won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1987, he took the Best Director prize at the fest for Wings of Desire. The German filmmaker is back in the south of France with his drama Perfect Days starring Koji Yakusho, Arisa Nakano, and Tokio Emoto.
There’s another honor that Wenders can add to his Cannes accomplishments. At the awards ceremony for their best in show today, Yakusho was named Best Actor for his work. Reviews in general have been laudatory and it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
That said, I’m not sure the critical reaction is effusive enough for it to contend in anything beyond International Feature Film. Japan or German could choose to make it their submission. If they do, it’s got a shot but is far from guaranteed placement. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
20th Century Studios is hoping plenty of viewers will be creeped out by The Boogeyman on June 2nd. The PG-13 horror pic is based on a half century old short story by Stephen King with Rob Savage directing. Cast members include Sophie Thatcher (no relation that I’m aware of), Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, and David Dastmalchian.
Budgeted at just over $40 million, this was originally slated for a streaming premiere on Hulu. Encouraging test screenings changed the plan and now it’s being unveiled in approximately 3000 venues.
This genre has seen its share of successes as of late. There are two comps from 2022 that seem appropriate. The Black Phone was a summer release with some similar themes and based on a novel by King’s son Joe Hill. It started off with $23.6 million. Last fall’s Smile is similar in the sense that it was supposed to roll out on Paramount+ and the pattern was altered due to its positive audience scores. A $22.6 million debut was the result.
The Rotten Tomatoes score is 64%. While under the 83% of Phone and 79% from Smile, that’s just fine to keep the buzz decent. I can’t find a compelling reason why this wouldn’t hit the mid to high teens or low 20s as well.
The Boogeyman opening weekend prediction: $17.7 million
For my Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse prediction, click here:
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swings into multiplexes on June 2nd and hopes to start the month off on a high note. The animated sequel is the follow-up to 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse, which drew widespread critical acclaim resulting in a Best Animated Feature Oscar. It also grossed nearly $200 million domestically and $384 million worldwide.
There’s a trio of directors in Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson. Shameik Moore is back behind the mic as Miles/Spidey. Other performers voicing additional versions of the hero and other characters include Hailee Steinfeld (back as Spider-Woman), Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Daniel Kaluuya, Oscar Isaac, Greta Lee, Shea Whigham, and Andy Samberg.
Parts 2 and 3 of the franchise were assembled at the same time. Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse is slated for March 2024. In December 2018, part 1 started out with $35 million before legging out impressively to a $190 million stateside haul. Achieving a rare A+ Cinemascore rating, it stands to reason that audiences should be pumped for the sequel.
In the summer (as opposed to December), tentpoles are expected to post a gigantic opening immediately. Some forecasts have their projection as rosy as $120 million. That’s certainly possible, but I’ll temper expectations a bit and say $90-100 million is probably where this Verse starts.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse opening weekend prediction: $96.4 million