August 6-8 Box Office Predictions

James Gunn’s version of The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max streaming this Friday and it’s got surprisingly terrific reviews as a bonus feature to bring viewers out. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

The Suicide Squad Box Office Prediction

The first Squad from 2016 (the one without the THE in front of the title) landed just a 26% Rotten Tomatoes score while THE reboot is perched at an unexpectedly lofty 96%. However, with the Delta variant in play and the availability to HBO subscribers, I have this Squad achieving a low to possibly mid 40s start.

Margot Robbie and her devious friends represent the only newcomer. Jungle Cruise opened a bit above most projections (including mine). The question is whether its Disney Plus simultaneous debut will cause it to drop precipitously like Black Widow and other recent titles. I suspect the sophomore frame dip may not be quite as severe and mid 50s is my forecast.

The holdover battle for the #3 spot could be close between M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, critical favorite The Green Knight, and Black Widow. I actually think Widow could rise from 4th to 3rd with the smallest drop (assuming Old falls about 50%). Knight, despite the laudatory reviews and a larger than expected debut, only nabbed a C+ Cinemascore grade and that could mean a 60% range dip is in the cards.

And with that, my top 5 take on the frame ahead:

1. The Suicide Squad

Predicted Gross: $40.8 million

2. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $15.5 million

3. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $3.7 million

4. Old

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million

5. The Green Knight

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (July 30-August 1)

Disney had reason to celebrate over the weekend as Jungle Cruise with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt opened at the high end of projections. The theme ride based adventure, sporting mostly positive reviews, landed with $35 million (ahead of my $28.4 million estimate). Additionally, the studio’s streamer Disney Plus reported $30 million in rental action. That’s about as rosy as scenario possible given the continuing complications for theaters.

Old dropped to second with a near 60% plummet at $6.8 million, in line with my $6.6 million take. It’s earned $30 million so far and that’s decent considering the small budget.

The Mouse Factory wasn’t the only studio that exceeded projections as The Green Knight was third with $6.7 million – well beyond my meager $3.4 million guesstimate. As mentioned above, the middling audience reaction could halt its momentum in weekend #2, but that’s certainly a better start than anticipated.

Black Widow was fourth with $6.4 million (I said $5.6 million) to bring its tally to $167 million.

Matt Damon’s Stillwater premiered in fifth with a muted $5.1 million. That’s right in line with my $5.2 million estimate as mostly solid reviews couldn’t bring adult moviegoers out in substantial fashion.

Space Jam: A New Legacy was sixth with $4.2 million (I was close with $4.5 million) for a three week $60 million total.

Lastly, Snake Eyes nosedived in its second outing after a disastrous opening with $4 million (I said $4.7 million). The ill-fated G.I. Joe reboot has amassed just $22 million.

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

Oscar Watch: The Green Knight

David Lowery has had the critics on his side for years with efforts including Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, A Ghost Story, and The Old Man & the Gun. His filmography has been called out by critics associations, but his pictures have yet to garner any Oscar attention.

Could that change with The Green Knight? Coming out Friday, the medieval fantasy had its embargo lifted today and the results are encouraging. Sporting a 93% Rotten Tomatoes score, it’s being called an epic experience with lush visuals. The lead performance of Dev Patel is also highly praised.

It will be interesting to see if distributor A24 mounts a major campaign. They could be preoccupied with The Tragedy of Macbeth from Joel Coen which is out this autumn.

Patel could be in the mix though I suspect he’s a bit of a long shot. He’s been nominated once before for Lion in supporting and drew some chatter that never panned out for The Personal History of David Copperfield. Costar Alicia Vikander (2015 Supporting Actress winner for The Danish Girl) might see a more serious campaign for Blue Bayou.

My hunch is that Knight could succeed in being Lowery’s first feature to get a nomination or two and that it could be in tech races. Visual Effects and Costume Design spring to mind. The Score is also getting kudos. I would also add that it’s highly possible Knight could be ignored altogether.

Bottom line: The Green Knight will need to sustain momentum over the season to be a competitor. Strong reviews could help the cause. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Green Knight Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (07/28): The theater count has been put out at approximately 2500, which is higher than I expected. Therefore I am revising my estimate up from $2.2M to $3.4M

David Lowery has become a favorite indie director of the critics with pics like Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story. This Friday, he goes the bigger Arthurian medieval fantasy route with The Green Knight. Originally scheduled for May 2020 before its COVID delay, Knight stars Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, and Ralph Ineson.

A24 is handling distribution duties and early word of mouth is positive (as has been the case with the filmmaker’s previous efforts). How this translates to box office business is certainly questionable.

I have yet to see a theater count and that could alter my forecast, but my feeling is that this starts quite low as it struggles to find an audience.

The Green Knight opening weekend prediction: $3.4 million

For my Jungle Cruise prediction, click here:

Jungle Cruise Box Office Prediction

For my Stillwater prediction, click here:

Stillwater Box Office Prediction

Oscar Watch: Red Rocket

Former MTV VJ’s turned actors is not a new phenomenon. For the kids in the crowd, that network MTV used to play videos of our favorite musical artists back in the day. Bill Bellamy headlined How to Be a Player in the late 90s. Karen Duffy was a henchwoman in Dumb and Dumber. And, of course, there’s the many contributions from Pauly Shore to the cinematic universe.

None of these performances garnered awards buzz, but Simon Rex appears poised to change that dynamic after his work on the network a quarter century ago. Rex is the star of Red Rocket, which has screened at Cannes. He’s no stranger to silver screen as he costarred in volumes 3-5 of the Scary Movie series.

This one is a whole new ball game courtesy of director Sean Baker. Four years ago, he made the acclaimed The Florida Project. It probably came close to Best Picture and Original Screenplay nods, but didn’t get there. Willem Dafoe was nominated for Supporting Actor. Baker (along his cowriter Chris Bergoch) are also responsible for 2015’s heralded Tangerine.

Red Rocket casts Rex as a former adult film performer who returns to his rural Texas uptown. A gander at the actor’s Wikipedia page will inform you there’s some meta activity happening here. Early reviews offer praise for the lead and picture itself.

So will this be the Academy breakthrough for Baker and company that The Florida Project couldn’t eventually reach? Some critics are saying it doesn’t quite match the filmmaker’s predecessor in terms of overall quality. Distributor A24 will surely mount a campaign and I believe that will include Suzanna Son in Supporting Actress as reviews are also singling her out.

We don’t know yet how crowded Best Actor will be, but I suspect Rex and his costar will at least be on the radar moving forward. Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay could be more of a challenge. One thing’s for certain: nomination or not, this will be the closest a former VJ gets to the big show. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: After Yang

South Korean filmmaker Kogonada became a critical darling in 2017 with the release of his debut Columbus. The romance earned plenty of mentions on the top ten lists of critics, but only garnered awards nods with the independent ceremonies.

The Cannes Film Festival marks the premiere of his sophomore effort After Yang. The sci-fi drama stars Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith (of Queen & Slim), Haley Lu Richardson, Justin H. Min, Sarita Choudhury, and Clifton Collins Jr. Some of the reviews indicate this could also pop up on some end of year best of countdowns.

2015’s Ex Machina is being mentioned frequently a comparison in terms of quality and the fact that androids are prominently featured. That Alex Garland effort scored an Oscar nod in Original Screenplay and victory for its Visual Effects. With an early 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, could After Yang also come before the minds of voters?

First things first – it is uncertain at the moment when Yang will be released. However, the positive buzz likely means A24 will get it out before year’s end. If so, Adapted Screenplay seems to be the biggest possibility. And just perhaps its acclaim could lead to a shot at the big dance. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Zola

Janicza Bravo’s Zola (or @zola) is certainly a film of its time. The biographical dramedy is based on a series of Tweets that went viral and led to a Rolling Stone article. Taylour Paige is the title character – a part-time stripper whose adventures in Tampa are chronicled here. Costars include Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo, Ar’iel Stachel, and Ts Madison.

Released Wednesday on approximately 1400 screens, Zola is picking up some buzz following its well-regarded screening at Sundance in January. It should make its meager $3 million budget back in its first few days of release. Critics have taken notice too and it sports an 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating. As a side note – this was originally slated for James Franco to direct before his personal scandals canceled that possibility.

Distributor A24 could mount an awards campaign. Paige turned some heads late last year in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and is being heralded with this headlining showcase. Zola could also be the first Adapted Screenplay contender originated from the omnipresent social media platform.

My guess is that the subject matter may be a tad too left field for the Academy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some critical branches have this on their radar screen at the end of the year. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Minari

My Case of posts for the Best Picture nominees of 2020 continues with fourth entry Minari. If you missed my previous takes on The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Mank, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/16/oscars-2020-the-case-of-the-father/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/17/oscars-2020-the-case-of-judas-and-the-black-messiah/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/18/oscars-2020-the-case-of-mank/

Let’s get to the Sundance sensation!

The Case for Minari

Like its fellow nominees The Father and Promising Young Woman, this American drama about Korean immigrants burst onto the awards scene early in 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival. Minari won the festival’s Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award and has developed staying power throughout the season. On Oscar nomination morning, it tied five other pics with six nods. That includes Director (Lee Isaac Chung), Actor (Steven Yeun), Supporting Actress (Yuh-jung Youn), Original Screenplay, and Score. This is exactly the kind of feel-good crowd pleaser that could be a trendy upset pick over a frontrunner like Nomadland and its stock has seemed to rise in recent weeks.

The Case Against Minari

As mentioned, there is a frontrunner. Additionally, only one Best Picture recipient in nearly four decades missed a Film Editing nod (2014’s Birdman and that was for good reason) so Minari would be seriously going against tradition in that sense.

The Verdict

Minari could go two ways on Oscar evening. This could end up being embraced by voters, following Sundance’s lead with a Picture win and others down the line (Supporting Actress certainly seems doable). Or it could end up going 0 for 6. The latter is more likely, but distributor A24 has done a remarkable job keeping this as an outside contender.

My Case Of posts will continue with Nomadland…

Oscar Watch: First Cow

Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in August of 2019 to very solid reviews before moving to the Berlin Film Festival. The 19th century set drama taking place in the Oregon Territory stands at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and represents another critical darling from the indie director.

After a limited and abbreviated theatrical run in March that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cow is now available for streaming today. Being that it’s one of the most acclaimed releases so far in 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised if distributor A24 makes an awards play for it.

That could be a tall order. Reichardt’s previous effort Certain Women with Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart also nabbed kudos from the critical community, but was ignored by Oscar voters. Her latest could easily see the same result, but with the uncertainty of the year’s calendar – a play for for Picture or Adapted Screenplay is at least feasible. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: A Midyear 2020 Report

It might be hard to fathom, but we are at the midpoint of this experience we call 2020. As COVID-19 and social issues dominate the landscape, the cinematic world has necessarily taken a backseat to the times. The Academy recently announced that the Oscars will be delayed until April 2021 and that movies premiering in January and February of that year will be eligible for consideration. This is in addition to previous notice that streaming pictures that forgo a theatrical release will also be able to nab nominations at that ceremony.

Since theaters have essentially been shuttered since March and with several festivals (the normal breeding grounds for awards hopefuls) either canceled or significantly modified, a midyear report on Oscar contenders is, to put it mildly, challenging.

Yet… here goes! As awards followers already know, the bulk of serious contenders aren’t  typically released until fall anyway. In fact, the earliest release of the nine Best Picture nominees last year was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which came out in late July. The remaining 8 had autumn and winter dates.

The Sundance Film Festival from January did give us some potential contenders. Florian Zeller’s The Father was acclaimed and it could score nods for previous winners Anthony Hopkins in lead actor and Olivia Colman in Supporting Actress. The biographical tale of feminist icon Gloria Steinem finds several actresses playing her at different ages. Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander (they also both have gold statues) are among them and could be potential nominees. Previous nominee Carey Mulligan garnered solid reviews for Promising Young Woman. 

And there’s Minari. The South Korean family drama starring Steven Yeun won the Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance. I wouldn’t sleep on its chances with the right marketing push from its studio A24. That same studio has the 19th century set indie First Cow, which also has its ardent admirers. They would need to make a major push in order for Oscar to notice it.

For movies that have actually come out, the Jane Austen inspired Emma saw positive notices for lead Anya-Taylor Joy. Ben Affleck got some of the best reviews of his career with the basketball drama The Way Back. Pete Davidson’s starring debut in The King of Staten Island drew mostly praise. And Elisabeth Moss starred in the hit The Invisible Man and it’s a possibility she could be recognized even though acting nominations in horror flicks are rare. Neither Toni Collette (Hereditary) in 2018 or Lupita Nyong’o (Us) last year could pull it off. Moss could also be recognized for Shirley, a drama that debuted at Sundance and is already available via streaming.

Then there’s Netflix’s Da 5 Bloods from Spike Lee. The director saw his last picture, BlacKkKlansman, receive numerous nominations and win Adapted Screenplay. I would posit that Bloods stands the best chance at multiple nods including possibly Picture and Director. Delroy Lindo (though it’s not clear whether he’d be campaigned for in lead or supporting) seems highly likely to be recognized. And if he’s campaigned for in Best Actor (which he probably should be), it could open the door for Clarke Peters or Jonathan Majors to make the cut in supporting.

In other races – Pixar’s Onward could compete in Animated Feature, though Disney could save their muscle for the upcoming Soul. Look for Emma to nab a Costume Design nod.

And we shall leave it there for now, folks! As readers of the blog know, expect more Oscar Watch posts to come your way as titles screen. Typically it’s late August when I start my weekly predictions and hopefully that’s a tradition that can be kept in this crazy thing we call 2020…

Oscar Watch: Gloria Bell

After premiering last autumn at the Toronto Film Festival, Gloria Bell hits theaters in limited fashion on Friday. The film is a remake of Sebastian Lelio’s 2013 Chilean comedic drama that was met with acclaim. Those strong reviews have greeted the American version (100% on Rotten Tomatoes), which again features Lelio behind the camera. It’s the filmmaker’s follow-up to 2017’s A Fantastic Woman, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature.

Julianne Moore plays the title role and critics have lavished praise for her work. Costars include John Turturro, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Holland Taylor, Sean Astin, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Rita Wilson.

A24 acquired Gloria after its screening up north. Even with the March release, it’s likely that the studio will make a significant push for Moore to receive her sixth Oscar nod. Her fifth nomination was the lucky one in 2014 when took the statue in Best Actress for Still Alice. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the sole focus is on Moore being recognized, similar to Glenn Close in 2018 for The Wife.

Bottom line: it’s early, but Moore could be in the mix yet again. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…