Oscar Watch: The Lion King

Disney’s live-action rendering of its 1994 classic The Lion King is out next weekend and it’s expected to make a killing at the box office. The computer generated saga from director Jon Favreau is among a quartet of Mouse Factory updates of their animated filmography out in 2019.

Reviews are out today and it’s a mixed bag. Even the majority of positive reviews essentially say it’s a carbon copy of the original. Even the majority of negative reviews seem impressed with its state of the art visuals.

The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 59% and that’s right in range with the 57% that Aladdin received two months ago. That certainly puts this out of Best Picture range. However, I look for this to be a serious player in Visual Effects. If so, it would follow Favreau’s 2016 smash The Jungle Book and it won the award. This has a shot at following suit. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Lion King Box Office Prediction

Disney’s live action reimagining of The Lion King roars into theaters next weekend a quarter century after the classic animated tale. Jon Favreau, who has some experience in the genre with 2016’s $364 million grosser The Jungle Book, directs. The computer animated animal epic features the voices of many recognizable faces. They include Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, and James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa.

Expectations are sky high and it’s easy to see why. The Mouse Factory has achieved massive successes in this unique sub genre and have done so very recently. This May’s Aladdin now stands at over $321 million in domestic earnings. The high water mark is from 2017 with Beauty and the Beast. It opened to $174 million and topped out at $504 million total.

The 1994 original was a phenomenon, taking in $422 million. And that was 25 years ago and would be over $800 million when adjusted for inflation. It still stands as the fourth highest grossing animated feature of all time.

Considering those gaudy numbers, The Lion King is likely to make a killing and set a new record for the studio’s remakes. $200 million is reachable in my view, but I’ll put it a bit under that.

The Lion King opening weekend prediction: $192.7 million

Annabelle Movie Review

Annabelle was rushed into production after summer 2013’s The Conjuring turned out to be a huge hit and one of the better genre flicks in recent memory. The title character is a wide-eyed, creepy doll who turned up memorably in a supporting role in the aforementioned production. Here she gets her own feature and it feels exactly like a rushed project meant to tide fans over until the legitimate Conjuring sequel. Annabelle was shot on a smaller budget and looks cheaper.

The picture deems it necessary to open with a title card explaining the history of dolls and then footage of The Conjuring to remind us why we just spent our dough. We flash back to 1969 (one year prior to Conjuring’s haunted happenings) where dull Dr. John (Ward Horton) and pregnant wifey Mia (Annabelle – woah – Wallis) gain the attention of our demonic doll after some cult figures (think Manson) invade their home. Moving doesn’t help. Annabelle has no issues making the journey to Pasadena with our non-descript couple. Alfre Woodard turns up as a bookstore owner who helps Mia understand what’s happening with Tony Amendola in the well worn role as a priest trying to assist.

Annabelle tries to generate its scares though sound effects and lingering shots of our doll staring. We keep waiting for those huge eyes to move. It all worked much better in The Conjuring and especially in Rosemary’s Baby, which director John Leonetti pays occasional tribute to. Most distressingly, the tone is far too somber. It’s about a crazy and vengeful kids doll after all. Chucky might’ve helped. There are a couple of mildly hair rising moments, but not near enough. This was designed to provide leftovers to hungry Conjuring fans but it’s unlikely to satisfy.

** (out of four)

Annabelle Box Office Prediction

When The Conjuring became one of summer 2013’s unexpected hits, one of its most memorable characters wasn’t a human one. Rather it was the creepiest and most demonic doll since Chucky named Annabelle. And now she’s got her own self-titled prequel/spinoff picture opening Friday.

Conjuring director James Wan serves as producer while that film’s cinematographer John R. Leonetti directs. Human stars include Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, and Alfre Woodard. Let’s face it, though: the real star is Annabelle the doll and this pic will succeed or fail based on whether audiences want to see her in her own self-contained flick.

My guess is that many horror fans may simply wait to get their Conjuring fix until the actual sequel opens in October 2015. Still, Annabelle should top $20 million in its debut while not reaching close to the $41 million The Conjuring earned out of the gate.

Annabelle opening weekend prediction: $21.2 million

For my Gone Girl prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/09/28/gone-girl-box-office-prediction/

For my Left Behind prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/09/29/left-behind-box-office-prediction/