June 14-16 Box Office Predictions

A variety of new pictures debut or expand this weekend with franchise reboot Men in Black: International, another franchise reboot Shaft, critically appreciated comedy Late Night, and not so critically appreciated comedy The Dead Don’t Die hitting screens. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/05/men-in-black-international-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/06/shaft-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/__trashed/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/the-dead-dont-die-box-office-prediction/

With Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson taking over lead roles from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, International hopes to bring in a new generation of alien crime fighter aficionados. Yet this could go the way of last weekend’s Dark Phoenix, which set a franchise low for an opening weekend. I predict that a low 30s haul will achieve that dubious mark, but it should have little difficulty hitting #1.

My mid teens estimate for Shaft should put it in third after the sophomore frame of current champ The Secret Life of Pets 2, which itself suffered from an acute case of sequelitis.

The rest of the top five should be filled by holdovers Aladdin and Phoenix, which I anticipate having a severe drop just like Godzilla: King of the Monsters did in its second weekend.

As for Late Night, it had a terrific limited release on just four screens this past weekend, but it could face some difficulties with its 1500 theater release. My $4.5 million forecast puts it outside the top five. Same for The Dead Don’t Die, which I have at $1.8 million at its approximately 550 theater count.

And with that, my top five estimates for the weekend ahead:

1. Men in Black: International

Predicted Gross: $30.7 million

2. The Secret Life of Pets 2

Predicted Gross: $23.4 million

3. Shaft

Predicted Gross: $16.8 million

4. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $15.7 million

5. Dark Phoenix

Predicted Gross: $11.8 million

Box Office Results (June 79)

It was not a good weekend to be a sequel as the two newbies placed 1-2, but with significantly less cash than their predecessors. The Secret Life of Pets 2 was first with $46.6 million, well under my estimate of $65.2 million. That’s not even half of the $104 million achieved by its 2016 predecessor and with Toy Story 4 on the horizon, it could fade quickly.

The X-Men franchise cratered as Dark Phoenix was second with $32.8 million compared to my $45.3 million projection. The previous lowest premiere in the series occurred in 2013 when The Wolverine made $53 million out of the gate. This fell more than $20 million under that. Studio Fox didn’t even bother sugarcoating it… it’s a serious flop. New owner Disney will need to figure out a new way to make this series of characters viable into the future.

Aladdin was third with $24.6 million (I said $26.5 million) for a three-week tally of $232 million.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters fell hard in its second frame with $15.4 million, under my $16.9 million prediction. It’s at $78 million.

Rocketman was fifth in its sophomore outing at $13.8 million (I said $14.9 million) for a ten day total of $50 million.

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

The Dead Don’t Die Box Office Prediction

Indie darling Jim Jarmusch gets into the zombie game this weekend with The Dead Don’t Die. The comedy was selected to open the Cannes Film Festival last month and it comes with an all-star cast that includes Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, RZA, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, and Carol Kane.

Prior to its French debut in May, the pic was looked at as a potential summer sleeper. However, the Cannes buzz has potentially slowed its walk toward box office success. Reviews were very mixed and it currently holds just a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Jarmusch’s largest domestic earner is Broken Flowers, his 2005 collaboration with Murray. It earned $13 million and is the only title in the director’s catalogue to top $10 million. Audiences dig zombies but with so-so reaction and a smallish theater count of 550, I’m not even certain this will top Flowers.

I’ll predict a sluggish performance for the Dead.

The Dead Don’t Die opening weekend prediction: $1.8 million

For my Men in Black: International prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/05/men-in-black-international-box-office-prediction/

For my Shaft prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/06/shaft-box-office-prediction/

For my Late Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/__trashed/

Late Night Box Office Prediction

After achieving the highest limited per theater average of 2019, Late Night expands nationwide this weekend and hopes to attract eyeballs outside of major markets. The dramedy first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to sturdy reviews and it stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Nisha Ganatra, the film casts Emma Thompson as a talk show host who hires Mindy Kaling as her first female writer. Kaling wrote the screenplay. The supporting cast includes Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan.

Over this past weekend, Late Night debuted in four theaters and raked in nearly $250,000. As mentioned, that’s strong enough to set the year’s best rollout for a platform release. Even with that designation, the pic could have issues reaching a mainstream audience. Original comedies have struggled recently and that includes those with positive critical reaction (Long Shot being a recent example).

Mid single digits is likely where this ends up as this plays in around 1500 theaters.

Late Night opening weekend prediction: $4.5 million

For my Men in Black: International prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/05/men-in-black-international-box-office-prediction/

For my Shaft prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/06/shaft-box-office-prediction/

For my The Dead Don’t Die prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/the-dead-dont-die-box-office-prediction/

Shaft Box Office Prediction

The third generation of the Shaft family debuts in theaters next weekend with Jessie Usher playing an FBI agent in the action pic. Arriving nearly 50 years after Richard Roundtree played John Shaft and almost two decades after Samuel L. Jackson played his nephew, both actors are present in the newest iteration. Tim Story (maker of the Ride Along pics) directs with a supporting cast including Alexandra Shipp, Regina Hall, and Method Man.

Reportedly made for a smallish $30 million budget, the studio behind Shaft would love to match the $21 million opening weekend debut of the 2000 Jackson led summer flick. Tracking puts in right in that range. However, we’ve seen reboots disappoint in 2019.

I’ll say this gets to mid to high teens and considering the price tag, that’s not too shabby.

Shaft opening weekend prediction: $16.8 million

For my Men in Black: International prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/05/men-in-black-international-box-office-prediction/

For my Late Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/__trashed/

For my The Dead Don’t Die prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/the-dead-dont-die-box-office-prediction/

Men in Black: International Box Office Prediction

The Men in Black are back onscreen for the first time in seven years, but they look a lot different this time around. Subtitled International, this is a sequel/reboot of the franchise that ruled the summer 22 years ago. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are nowhere to be found. Instead it’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in the lead roles with F. Gary Gray taking over directorial duties from Barry Sonnenfeld. The supporting cast includes Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Liam Neeson, and Emma Thompson (reprising her role from 2012’s MIB3).

Despite its two stars being part of this season’s behemoth Avengers: Endgame, audiences might be skeptical to revisit a two decade old series that they identified with Smith (currently headlining the hit Aladdin). Comparing the opening grosses of the MIB trilogy that preceded it is tricky. All three opened over holiday weekends with the first two over July 4th and the third over Memorial Day weekend. Their traditional Friday to Sunday grosses were consistent in the low to mid 50s. When factoring in the extra holiday additions, parts one and two got into the 80s with #3 nearing $70 million. It’s worth mentioning that each entry earned less domestically overall than the previous one.

Men in Black: International, holiday or no holiday, looks bound for the lowest premiere yet in the franchise. I’ll say low 30s.

Men in Black: International opening weekend prediction: $30.7 million

For my Shaft prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/06/shaft-box-office-prediction/

For my Late Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/__trashed/

For my The Dead Don’t Die prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/the-dead-dont-die-box-office-prediction/

Us Movie Review

Any fears of a sophomore slide are quickly dispelled by we the audience in Us, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his blockbuster cultural milestone Get Out from 2017. That Oscar nominated debut defied genre. Yes, it was sort of a horror flick but it brought in a racial subtext that got crowds talking. I believe Get Out gets better with every viewing and I suspect this will too.

Us, in some respects, is more of a traditional fright fest in comparison to the auteur’s first feature. There’s more jump scares, and more overall freak out moments. Yet there’s a whole lot of allegorical treatment on (yes) race, but also class and the concept of nature vs. nurture. Peele’s second pic furthers the notion that he’s an immensely talented filmmaker with lots to say. Us also leaves more up for interpretation than Get Out. It’s messier and that’s not really a criticism.

Lupita Nyong’o is Adelaide, the matriarch of the Wilson family. She’s married to the slightly goofy Gabe (Winston Duke) with two young children Zora and Jason (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex). We first meet Adelaide in flashback circa 1986 as a little girl accompanying her parents to the beach in Santa Cruz. She wanders into a funhouse where she encounters a hall of mirrors. Instead of only seeing her reflection, she encounters her scary doppelgänger. The event literally leaves her speechless for an extended period of time.

We flash forward to over three decades later with her brood and they’re vacationing at their lake house in the same area. She’s talking now and has tried her best to repress that childhood event. The family meets up with their wealthy, boozy, and snobby friends (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker) at the same beach. Soon enough, Adelaide is unable to bury what happened in 1986.

It turns out that doppelgänger (named Red) is back and she brings along sadistic doubles of the whole family to terrorize them. Red (naturally also played by Nyong’o) speaks in a genuinely hair raising whisper. Referred to as The Tethered, the versions of Gabe and the two children are also creepy and with murder on their minds. This is the section of the film where the gory action kicks into overdrive.

Without spoiling the rest, Us goes about answering the questions of why characters have these bloodthirsty counterparts. It’s horror, it’s government conspiracy, it’s very funny at times. The use of music (from the terrific Mike Gioulakis score to inventive spins of classic hip hop hits “I Got 5 On It” and “F*** The Police”) is expertly placed.

Lupita Nyong’o, in her dual role, is terrific. Switching between a mom in protection mode of her rather normal family to a mom orchestrating that normal family’s demise, it’s quite a role to pull off and she certainly does. Actors in this genre rarely get awards attention and the Supporting Actress winner from 12 Years a Slave deserves it. Duke (and Moss and Heidecker) bring the comic relief.

In some respects, I look at Us as the Unbreakable for Peele if Get Out is his The Sixth Sense. Why the M. Night Shyamalan comparison? Sixth Sense was a massive hit that also nabbed a Best Picture nod. Unbreakable was his breathlessly awaited next movie. It was appreciated by some and confounded others by not being as easily accessible. Those same issues apply to Us. However, just as the reputation for Unbreakable grew with time, I suspect that will hold true for Peele’s second turn. I don’t know if I’d say Us quite matches the potency of Get Out, but I think it could on subsequent screenings. For my first viewing, it definitely provided a whole lot to appreciate as this director continues to show he’s a force behind the camera.

***1/2 (out of four)

June 7-9 Box Office Predictions

If there’s a theme to this first full June weekend at the box office, it might be sequels not matching up to what’s come before. The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Dark Phoenix are the two newbies hitting screens and you can peruse my detailed predictions for each of them here:

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

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

The original Pets got off to an animated start three summers ago with $104 million. Part 2 is not expected to match it and I’m going with a mid 60s beginning. It should still face no issues topping the charts as the prospects for Dark Phoenix look dim.

It’s the final entry in the current iteration of the X-Men Universe and buzz appears lackluster (especially after the ho-hum reaction to 2016’s XMen: Apocalypse). My mid 40s take gives it the worst premiere of any X title thus far.

As for holdovers, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was a big disappointment and I anticipate a sophomore decline in the mid 50s range. That could drop it to fourth place with Aladdin in third and Rocketman rounding out the top five.

Here’s how I have the top 5 panning out:

1. The Secret Life of Pets 2

Predicted Gross: $65.2 million

2. Dark Phoenix

Predicted Gross: $45.3 million

3. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $26.5 million

4. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Predicted Gross: $16.9 million

5. Rocketman

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

Box Office Results (May 31June 2)

As mentioned, Godzilla: King of the Monsters landed with a thud with $47.7 million – well below my $58.7 million projection. The reported $200 million dollar production made just over half of what 2014’s Godzilla ($91 million) took in for its start. Additionally it couldn’t reach the heights of 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and its $61 million rollout. The two creatures will face each other next spring in Godzilla vs. Kong.

Aladdin was second with $42.8 million in weekend #2 and held up a bit better than my $40.3 million estimate. The Disney live-action hit has amassed $185 million total.

The Elton John biopic Rocketman had a decent start in third with $25.7 million. I thought it would fly higher at $36.1 million. It’s still a fine opening for an R rated counter programming offering in blockbuster season, though it is just half of what Bohemian Rhapsody accomplished a few short months ago.

Blumhouse horror pic Ma with Octavia Spencer was fourth and landed in line with expectations at $18 million (I said $17.2 million). Considering its tiny $5 million price tag, it’s yet another profitable success for the studio.

John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum was fifth with $11 million (I went with $12.7 million) as it brought its earnings to $125 million.

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