Author Archives: toddmthatcher

Mary Poppins Returns Box Office Prediction

Arriving 64 years after its beloved predecessor and with the same awards buzz, Disney unveils Mary Poppins Returns on Wednesday next week. The musical fantasy casts Emily Blunt in the role made famous by Julie Andrews, who won an Oscar as the iconic nanny. Blunt is expected to get a nod as well. Rob Marshall, the man behind 2002 Best Picture winner Chicago and most recently Into the Woods, directs. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep are included in the supporting cast. So is Dick Van Dyke, as an offspring of the role he played in the original.

Though official reviews aren’t out yet, buzz from screenings has been glowing and it’s already popped up on numerous top ten lists and major Academy precursors. The Mouse Factory marketing machine is second to none and anticipation is high. Furthermore, Poppins gets a two-day jump on its Christmas weekend competition, most notably Aquaman and Bumblebee.

It’s worthy of note that many holiday offerings greatly expand their grosses on subsequent weekends and aren’t nearly as front loaded as summer pics. That is probable here as I expect Poppins to experience a long and robust run.

The Wednesday debut probably means it’ll come in second to Aquaman, which opens Friday. I have a strong hunch you’ll see at #1 eventually. One fair comp is last year’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It also came out on Wednesday, taking in $36 million for the traditional weekend frame and $52 million when factoring the extra two days. The key number? It legged out to $404 million domestically.

I am counting on a similar track here and estimating it manages to fly a bit higher. I’ll say this reaches low to mid 40s from Friday to Sunday and get mid 60s with Wednesday and Thursday accounted for.

Mary Poppins Returns opening weekend prediction: $45.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $65.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

The Critics Choose Their Buffet

The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their nominees for the Critics Choice Awards today, with the show itself airing January 13. Unlike some precursors, it truly can be a window of what’s to come with Oscar nods… with a significant caveat.

This particular awards ceremony lists six to seven performers and directors in those races. Therefore we know one or two nominees won’t make the cut for the gold statue. As for Best Picture, they do name ten and that’s the highest number the Academy can honor. Critics Choice has a large number of categories, but we shall focus on the top six in today’s analysis and use the last three ceremonies for historical context.

Best Picture

Nominees: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice

In 2015, all eight Oscar nominated films were named here. In 2016, it was eight of the nine Academy honorees named, with Hidden Figures missing the Critics cut. Last year, it was 8/9 again with Phantom Thread as the outlier.

The 10 nominees this year exactly match my current top 10 Oscar possibilities. These selections serve as potential bad news for titles such as Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Eighth Grade, First Reformed, Crazy Rich Asians and Widows. If any of them make it in, First Man is likely the most vulnerable.

Best Director

Nominees: Damien Chazelle (First Man), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Peter Farrelly (Green Book), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), Adam McKay (Vice)

Three and five and four. Those are the respective number of nominated directors here from 2014-2016 that made the Academy cut.

The story here is the surprising omission of Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk. Whether that is a sign of something to come is questionable. Chazelle, Farrelly, and McKay might have helped themselves a bit today.

Best Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Ryan Gosling (First Man), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

2015 saw a five for five match while the last two years have seen four Critics nominees receive Oscar love. As in the previous two races, First Man got a boost yet again for the box office disappointment that had previously underwhelmed in precursors. This list not including Robert Redford’s work in The Old Man & The Gun could mean the end of the road for his potential inclusion.

Best Actress

Nominees: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Simple math here. Over the past three years, the five women listed for the Best Actress Oscar have all been mentioned here. By the way, the three winners match as well.

This year is crowded for Best Actress (more so than Actor). Today’s nominations could be best news for Viola Davis (Widows), Nicole Kidman (Destroyer), Julia Roberts (Ben Is Back), Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots), and Rosamund Pike (A Private War).

As for actual nominees, Aparicio and Collette helped their momentum to potentially dislodge one or two of the others.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born), Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Unlike the last race, 2015 and 2016 saw four Critics recipients here get Academy attention. Last year, it was three. While Jordan helped himself, we could still see Sam Rockwell (Vice) or possibly Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite) in the mix.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams (Vice), Claire Foy (First Man), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Five for five match three years ago and four for five the last two years. Right now, these six women are my top six Oscar contenders. If there’s a name not here that could sneak in for Academy voters, perhaps it’s Natalie Portman in Vox Lux, though it’s weak limited release debut over the past weekend doesn’t help at all.

It never lets up this time of year with Awards prognosticating. SAG nods will be unveiled Wednesday. I’ll have predictions up in short order with reaction up soon after!

Box Office Predictions: December 14-16

An onslaught of holiday offerings begin this weekend as a trio of newbies swing into multiplexes. They’re likely to populate the top 3 spots and give a jolt to a typically sleepy post Thanksgiving box office frame. We have the critically acclaimed animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Clint Eastwood’s true-life dramatic thriller The Mule, and Peter Jackson penned dystopian adventure Mortal Engines. You can peruse my detailed individual prediction posts on them here:

Just as all six Spidey features have debuted at #1 over the past decade and a half plus, so shall Spider-Verse. It should do so rather easily with an estimated take in the upper 40s.

I do believe enough Eastwood fans will turn out for The Mule to be #2. It hopes to play well throughout the holiday season with adult moviegoers.

With a reported $100 million budget, Mortal Engines is shaping up to be a costly flop, though it should still manage a third place showing.

The rest of the top five should be some family leftovers and I’ll predict The Grinch manages to outdo Ralph Breaks the Internet, which has held the top spot for the past three weeks.

I also need to mention Once Upon a Deadpool, which premieres this Wednesday. As you may have read, this is a PG-13 version of this summer’s Deadpool 2 with 20 minutes of new footage. It’s slated to open on approximately 500 screens and I haven’t done an individual prediction post for it. It’s a real mystery as to how it performs, but I certainly don’t believe it will be in the top five. This could fluctuate for sure – but I’ll say it makes $4.2 million from Friday to Sunday.

And with that, my top 5 predictions for the weekend ahead:

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Predicted Gross: $48.4 million

2. The Mule

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

3. Mortal Engines

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million

4. The Grinch

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million

5. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Predicted Gross: $9.7 million

Box Office Results (December 7-9) 

It was expected to be a quiet weekend with no new wide releases out. It certainly was as Ralph Breaks the Internet topped the charts for the third time with $16.2 million, in line with my $16.7 million estimate. The Disney sequel has amassed $140 million so far. This was only the third weekend of 2018 where the #1 pic didn’t reach $20 million and it’s certain to be the last.

The Grinch was second with $15 million (I said $14.2 million) for an overall tally of $223 million.

Creed II was third at $9.9 million – right there with my $10.1 million prediction. It’s approaching the century mark at $96 million in three weeks.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald made $6.9 million for fourth (I said $6.2 million). The wizarding world sequel’s gross is at $145 million.

Bohemian Rhapsody rounded out the top five with $6.1 million (I projected $5.9 million) for $173 million. $200 million could be in its sights if it continues to hold well.

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

L.A. Loves Roma

Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican drama Roma continued its precursor love today as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded it Best Film. While that’s certainly a feather in the cap for something that’s a near lock for a Best Picture nod, it’s not necessarily a harbinger of what’s to come. Only once in this decade have the LAFCA and the Academy agreed on their top race  – 2015’s Spotlight.

While Cuaron’s effort got the big prize, the filmmaker himself came in second in directing to a surprise selection of Debra Granik for Leave No Trace. Her name hasn’t surfaced much for Academy consideration and I currently do not have her in my top 10 possibilities. Ironically, only two directors this decade have shared the Oscar and this category. One is Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water last year. The other? Cuaron for 2013’s Gravity.

Three of the acting winners are seen as strong players for the Oscars: Ethan Hawke (First Reformed) in Actor, Olivia Colman for The Favourite in Actress, and Supporting Actress victor Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. In Supporting Actor, Steven Yeun won for his work in the South Korean mystery Burning. He’s been nowhere on Oscar’s radar and likely won’t be.

With Roma taking Best Film overall, the LAFCA had a tie in their Foreign Film race between Burning and Shoplifters.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? got some attention, taking Screenplay over runner-up The Favourite. That could help its already decent chances at an Adapted Screenplay nod down the road.

Another surprise came in their documentary pick – the Netflix release Shirkers from Singapore. It has not been discussed much in what’s seen as a crowded field of selections.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse took Animated Film, further positioning itself as the main rival to Pixar front-runner Incredibles 2.

My updated Oscar predictions will be up Thursday!

Oscar Watch: Mortal Engines

The big-budget dystopian adventure Mortal Engines is out next weekend and signs are pointing to a sub par performance at the box office. While it’s directed by first timer Christian Rivers, it comes from the writing team of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens. This is the trio behind the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises, as well as 2005’s King Kong remake.

Those pictures have a slew of technical Oscar nominations and wins to their credit. So it’s worth wondering if Engines could compete in some of those races. Unlike most of the aforementioned pics, reviews are not strong here with a current rating of 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, Visual Effects and the two sound categories could potentially be in play.

My feeling is that only Visual Effects is possible and that could be a stretch. MCU titles Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther likely have their spots reserved with a third (AntMan and the Wasp) in the mix. Disney also has Mary Poppins Returns and Solo: A Star Wars Story competing. Other serious contenders include First Man and Ready Player One.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t completely dismiss Engines as a contender for Visual accolades, but don’t count on it. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Throwback Review: Poseidon

We’re gonna need a more interesting boat. That was basically the constant thought running through my mind while watching 2006’s Poseidon, the big-budget loose remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure. I never saw it when it was released a dozen years ago. Neither did plenty of other moviegoers as this proved to be a costly flop for Warner Bros. I understand why.

The remake comes from Wolfgang Petersen, maker of far more successful action entries like Air Force One, The Perfect Storm, and Troy. With Storm and his 1981 acclaimed feature Das Boot, he’s a filmmaker who’s charted unstable waters before. Poseidon takes place on a luxury cruise liner on New Years Eve. The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and midnight smooching is a short-lived celebration because a nasty wave capsizes the ship.

Sadly, there’s not many interesting characters around the disaster. Pro poker player Dylan (Josh Lucas) is a former Navy man who assumes the action hero role. He’s overshadowed by former New York City Mayor Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell). This is because Russell is a far more engaging performer and we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him in these precarious situations. He escapes relatively unscathed. Ramsey has his daughter (Emmy Rossum) and boyfriend (Mike Vogel) with him. They have a perfunctory subplot about getting engaged with Rossum essentially in the same role she played in The Day After Tomorrow. Jacinda Barrett is a single mom with a young son among the survivors. Kevin Dillon is a sleazy gambler whose fate seems certain upon meeting him. And there’s Richard Dreyfuss, whose character apparently has suicidal tendencies that are rapidly forgotten within the first fifteen minutes. His character is indicative of the script’s laziness. It begins to give him a back story and then develops amnesia.

None of this would matter as much if the special effects carried the day. And Poseidon has its moments of visual splendor, but not enough to lift its quality above water. Even the 98 minute running time suggests its team might’ve known they didn’t have much to work with. This is one hour of an uninteresting group trying to get off the sinking boat. You’re better off never boarding.


Oscar Watch: Bumblebee

Alright, stay with me here. You might be thinking it’s silly to see a post with Bumblebee and Oscar Watch in the same title. However, let us not forget that the Transformers franchise (despite mostly negative reviews) has garnered seven nominations from the Academy over the last decade plus.

In 2007, the original film received three nods (Best Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing). Two years later, sequel Revenge of the Fallen got a Sound Mixing mention. In 2011, Dark of the Moon nabbed the same three category nods as part one. Follow-ups Age of Extinction and The Last Knight went empty-handed in the Academy’s tech categories.

This brings us to Bumblebee, the 1980s set prequel that opens on December 21. Critical reaction has been surprisingly strong and it stands at 100% at the moment on Rotten Tomatoes. Many reviews suggest it’s the best of the series.

Last week, the pic made the shortlist of 20 entries eligible for Best Visual Effects. Therefore, it’s got a chance and the sound races could come into play as well. My feeling is that some other high-profile blockbusters will get in before this. Yet I wouldn’t totally count it out based on the positive notices.

Bottom line: this franchise has shown its ability in three categories to get attention. Bumblebee has an outside chance at recognition. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…