Eternals Review

When the core group of Avengers assembled in their climactic battle for that classic shot from the 2012 film, it held power because we’d come to know them in previous MCU entries. By the time we got to 2019 as seemingly half of Hollywood was ready to take on Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, the same emotions were present. The mere fact that we were witnessing many members of Marvel’s extensive roster ready for action via high quality predecessors was impressive.

That’s a testament to what Kevin Feige and team had pulled off. For all the nitpicking about the franchise, it’s easy to forget the monumental achievement in bringing these heroes to life in 20 plus pictures and getting us back to care about them. That’s not an easy assignment and they pulled it off.

This brings us to Eternals, the 26th entry in the series. And it often feels like we are meant to feel the same sentiments that I’ve described above. There’s a problem with that. Chloe Zhao’s immersion into the MCU is tasked with introducing us to a brand new team of heroes in its 156 minutes. Most of them, quite frankly, aren’t very compelling. Comic book lovers may be familiar, but the masses aren’t. When Iron Man got the gang together nearly a decade ago, we knew the gang. Eternals, which loves it landscapes and sunsets silhouetting its protagonists, strains to properly introduce them. For a movie that feels long, it’s still short on character development and getting us to care about this team in ways we previously did. I admired plenty about this latest adventure, but it still stands as one of the MCU’s overall weakest experiences.

A prologue set in 5000 B.C. establishes the players. The Eternals are a group of immortals tasked with saving planets from Deviants, a lot of monstrous CGI creations. Their leader is Ajak (Salma Hayek), who takes her orders from the almighty Arishem. Each Eternal has their own set of powers. Sersi (Gemma Chan) can transform matter. Her love interest Ikaris (Richard Madden) can shoot freakin lasers from his eyeballs (think Cyclops). Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is the science nerd capable of advancing technology centuries ahead of time. And… we’re gonna be here all day if I keep this up, but a couple more. Sprite (Lia McHugh) can create illusions, but can’t hide the fact that she’ll look like a 12-year-old girl for eternity. Thena (Angelina Jolie) is capable of creating weapons from thin air. Yet she’s a weapon herself because she has a condition that causes her to turn against her counterparts and try to kill them.

The Eternals spend centuries on Earth taking on the Deviants and appear to achieve their mission in 1521. The band breaks up and they’re free to roam free on our Earthly soil, which Nomadland director Zhao frames in loving travelogue mode. Importantly, Ajak orders them not to interfere with the many conflicts that will transpire over the coming centuries. That means the Eternals are not involved when Thanos wipes out half the population in Avengers: Infinity War. They’re not showing up for house calls with Doctor Strange or assisting Hulk smash anything.

In present day, the Deviants resurface and they must assemble (!) again. Some have taken on unexpected careers. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Bollywood leading man with a trusty assistant (Harish Patel). He’s been a superstar for decades with the public believing his dad, granddad, and so on were different people. The real function for Nanjiani is to provide some comic relief in a story that needs it.. The actor and the superb Patel are up to the assignment. They might be the two characters I’d be excited to see return in future MCU tales.

On the flip side, the failed romance between Sersi and Ikaris is a yawner. And familiar faces like Hayek and Jolie aren’t given enough screen time to register. Barry Keoghan, always a compelling actor to watch, is Druig. He can manipulate minds and his superpower runs counter to his orders. Druig has the potential for a fascinating character arc yet, once again, the packed nature of the screenplay prevents it.

The look of Eternals is undoubtedly different than the MCU sheen we’re accustomed to. It has more of a real location feel as opposed to video game extravaganza. Some of the action sequences are well constructed. Others fall into the confused CGI jumble that’s hampered even some of the finest franchise flicks.

Here’s the bottom line – Eternals is by no means bad (even the middling stories in this series are quite watchable). It feels unnecessary because it never fully succeeds at making us understand why we need to be invested. Ajak’s hideaway in the present day is in South Dakota. Nothing that happens here made me think any Eternal will be carved into the Mt. Rushmore of Marvel’s cinematic universe.

**1/2 (out of four)

Eternals Box Office Prediction

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been unleashing product at a furious pace following COVID delays and that continues November 5th with Eternals. Arriving four months after Black Widow, two months following Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and a month a half before Spider-Man: No Way Home, this is the 26th MCU superhero tale in the massive series. Chloe Zhao, fresh off a Best Picture and Director win for Nomadland, directs with a cast featuring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie.

Originally scheduled for November 2020 before the pandemic altered Disney’s plans, this is the long anticipated adaptation of Jack Kirby’s comics that debuted over half a century ago. Surprisingly, initial buzz is mixed in a way Marvel rarely sees. The Rotten Tomatoes meter currently sits at 63%. That’s the lowest score of any MCU offering to date (just below Thor: The Dark World‘s 66%).

If there’s any franchise that’s teflon, it would be this one. Reviews shouldn’t matter too much, but the word-of-mouth could keep Eternals from reaching COVID era records. Venom: Let There Be Carnage has the best three day start of the period with $90 million. In July, Black Widow took in $80 million out of the gate. Over Labor Day weekend, Shang-Chi surpassed projections with $75 million from Friday to Sunday and $94 million when adding the Monday haul.

Had Eternals achieved the glowing chatter of Shang-Chi, I might be discussing an opening weekend of over $100 million. Now I’m skeptical. I believe it’s more likely that Eternals could debut on pace with what its MCU predecessor did during the first three days. That’s just fine, but it’s an adjustment down from what I would’ve figured even a week or so ago.

Eternals opening weekend prediction: $77.8 million

For my Spencer prediction, click here:

Spencer Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Eternals

Chloe Zhao was the big winner at the previous Academy Awards when Nomadland took Best Picture and she became the second female filmmaker to take the trophy for her direction. Her follow-up is a high profile one in Marvel’s Eternals, which opens November 5th and had its review embargo lifted today.

With an eclectic cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie, MCU entry #26 is undoubtedly one of 2021’s most anticipated blockbusters. However, critical reaction is certainly mixed. The 74% Rotten Tomatoes score is on the lower side for this series. Just this year, Black Widow stands at 79% while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings got to 92%.

Any thought of Zhao’s having two Best Picture winners or nominees in a row (or being mentioned again in Director) has fallen by the wayside. The one race where I did feel hope for Eternals sprung was in Visual Effects. That could still happen, but I’m not near as confident. Competition will be fairly strong. Dune is easily the frontrunner and will likely win. Other notable contenders include The Matrix Resurrections, Don’t Look Up, Godzilla vs. Kong, Nightmare Alley, Jungle Cruise, Finch, and Free Guy. And then there’s the other MCU rivals like Shang-Chi and the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

There could still be room for Eternals in VE, but I’m thinking it may on the outside looking in. Even some of the reviews aren’t gushing about the visuals. Bottom line: Eternals took itself out of the running for the big races and could be iffy in the one tech competition where I thought it stood an excellent shot. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Summer 2001: The Top 10 Hits and More

My annual recounting of the cinematic seasons that preceded 30, 20, and 10 years prior continues on the blog today with the summer of 2001! It was a frame dominated by an animated jolly green giant that kicked off a massive franchise for its studio.

As is tradition, I’ll run through the top 10 domestic grossers as well as other notables pics and some flops. If you missed my post covering 1991’s May-August output, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/26/summer-1991-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Let’s get to it!

10. Dr. Dolittle 2

Domestic Gross: $112 million

Eddie Murphy returned as the doc who talks to animals in this sequel that managed to cross the century mark, but failed to approach the $144 million earned by its 1998 predecessor. This would mark the end of Eddie’s involvement in the franchise, but a direct to DVD third helping came in 2006.

9. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Domestic Gross: $131 million

Angelina Jolie (fresh off an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted) headlined the video game adaptation that, despite weak reviews, spawned a sequel and an eventual reboot with Alicia Vikander that will soon get its own follow-up.

8. The Fast and the Furious

Domestic Gross: $144 million

We first saw Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and those souped up whips 20 years ago. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or haven’t heard of The Rock), this begat a franchise which is still running strong today. F9 is currently the #1 movie in America in this series that has topped a billion bucks.

7. American Pie 2

Domestic Gross: $145 million

Universal quickly green lighted this sequel to 1999’s smash hit comedy. The gross out gags in part 2 (which resulted in another theatrical effort in 2003 and numerous direct to DVD entries) stands as the largest worldwide earner of the bunch.

6. Planet of the Apes

Domestic Gross: $180 million

Tim Burton’s reimagining of the 1968 classic didn’t result in the new franchise that 20th Century Fox hoped for. Critics had their knives out for Mark Wahlberg’s lead performance and the surprise ending that didn’t pack the wallop of Charlton Heston’s encounter with the Statue of Liberty. The studio would get their successful trilogy a decade later beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which will be covered in 2011’s blog post).

5. Jurassic Park III

Domestic Gross: $181 million

Joe Johnston took over directorial duties from Steven Spielberg is this threequel. Sam Neill was back in this dino-tale that (while profitable) failed to reach the heights of the first two commercially. A reboot 14 years later would get the series back in billion dollar good standing.

4. Pearl Harbor

Domestic Gross: $198 million

Michael Bay’s romantic war epic failed with reviewers but still approached $200 million domestically and $450 million worldwide. Its six Golden Raspberry nominations topped its four Oscar nods.

3. The Mummy Returns

Domestic Gross: $202 million

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz returned for this adventure sequel to the 1999 hit that topped part 1 domestically by nearly $50 million. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would join the fun here and was rewarded with his spin-off (The Scorpion King) the next year. A third Mummy landed with disappointing results in 2008.

2. Rush Hour 2

Domestic Gross: $226 million

It was the best of times for director Brett Ratner and stars Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan as this action comedy built upon the grosses of the 1998 original. A third would follow six years later.

1. Shrek

Mike Myers as the title character ogre, Eddie Murphy stealing scenes with his voice work as Donkey, and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona proved that Disney wasn’t the only animation game in town. Shrek even competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in this DreamWorks game changer that resulted in three sequels and a stage musical.

And now for some other notables flicks from the summer that was:

The Princess Diaries

Domestic Gross: $108 million

Disney’s live-action fairy tale served as a breakout role for Anne Hathaway and a return to the studio for Julie Andrews for the first time since Mary Poppins. A 2004 sequel followed.

The Others

Domestic Gross: $96 million

With its own Sixth Sense style twist ending, this gothic horror pic with Nicole Kidman earned solid reviews and got genre fans to turn out.

Legally Blonde

Domestic Gross: $96 million

Shrek isn’t the only feature to spawn a Broadway treatment. So did this Reese Witherspoon hit which also resulted in a sequel and a third Blonde that is slated for May 2022.

Cats & Dogs

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Dr. Dolittle wasn’t the only animal game in town. This kiddie pic featuring featuring talking creatures also began a franchise.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Domestic Gross: $78 million

Long planned as a project for Stanley Kubrick (who passed away in 1999), Steven Spielberg directed this sci-fi visual feast with Haley Joel Osment. The film elicited strong reactions from critics and crowds (both positively and negatively). It may not have reached $100 million domestic, but it’s still a picture people like to debate about today and that’s more that can be said for most titles on this list.

Swordfish

Domestic Gross: $69 million

Hugh Jackman and John Travolta headlined this action pic which somewhat underperformed expectations. This is mostly known as the film that paid Halle Berry an extra $500,000 to go topless during a few seconds of screen time.

Moulin Rouge!

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Baz Luhrmann’s postmodern musical with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor scored 8 Oscar nominations and has its legions of fans that have endured over the past two decades.

Sexy Beast

Domestic Gross: $6 million

This crime drama is mostly known for its menacing supporting turn from Sir Ben Kingsley, who was rewarded with an Oscar nod.

Ghost World

Domestic Gross: $6 million

Terry Zwigoff’s dark comedy (based on a late 90s comic book) earned raves for its screenplay and for costars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi.

And now for some pictures that did not meet expectations:

America’s Sweethearts

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Yes, it may have approached $100 million, but this rom com starring Julia Roberts and featuring John Cusack, Billy Crystal (who cowrote), and Catherine Zeta-Jones didn’t come near what her previous blockbusters like My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, and Runaway Bride managed.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Domestic Gross: $84 million

Disney’s animated sci-fi adventure was a letdown that didn’t recoup its reported $100 million budget domestically. A hoped for franchise with TV spin-offs and Disneyland ride attraction never rose to the surface.

Scary Movie 2

Domestic Gross: $71 million

This rushed horror spoof follow-up to the 2000 surprise smash couldn’t get close to the $157 million of the original. However, this didn’t stop several sequels from following that achieved greater success.

Evolution

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Director Ivan Reitman and supernatural comedy sure worked well in 1984 with Ghostbusters. Not so much here in this DreamWorks flop with David Duchovny which earned less than half its budget in North America.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Tomb Raider was an example of a video game adaptation that made money. Not so here with this rendering of the popular role playing fantasy series that didn’t score with audiences.

Ghosts of Mars

Domestic Gross: $8 million

It wasn’t a good day at the box office for this science fiction flop from director John Carpenter and Ice Cube.

Pootie Tang

Domestic Gross: $3 million

Moviegoers didn’t turn out for this comedy written and directed by Louis C.K. that originated from a sketch on The Chris Rock Show (who costars). Despite the failed run at the box office, it has since become a cult hit.

And that does it for 2001, folks! Look for my post about summer 2011 in the coming days…

May 28-31 Box Office Predictions

In what is bound is to be the biggest box office weekend so far in the COVID-19 era, the Memorial Day frame marks the unofficial kickoff of the summer season at multiplexes. There are two genuinely high-profile debuts with John Krasinski’s horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II with Emily Blunt and Disney’s live-action remake Cruella with Emma Stone in the title role. My detailed prediction posts on the pair can be found here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/11/a-quiet-place-part-ii-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/19/cruella-box-office-prediction/

As I have said a lot recently, we are in unfamiliar territory. This is the first time in a long time where we have two major releases out in the same holiday weekend. Just as entities are opening up everywhere, the same can be said for theaters. I believe AQPII can top $40 million over its four day premiere with Cruella managing low to mid 20s. There is the lingering suspicion that either or both can outdo my estimates.

The rest of the top five will be filled with holdovers and they may experience smallish declines given the holiday. And with that, my top 5 projections from Friday to Monday for a weekend that Hollywood has been eagerly anticipating:

1. A Quiet Place Part II

Predicted Gross: $43.6 million

2. Cruella

Predicted Gross: $22.7 million

3. Spiral

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million

4. Wrath of Man

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

5. Raya and the Last Dragon

Predicted Gross: $1.6 million

Box Office Results (May 14-16)

As anticipated, it was the calm before the potential storming back of big grosses over this past frame. Spiral repeated at #1 in its sophomore outing with $4.5 million. It held up rather well for its genre ahead of my $4 million prediction. The overall gross for the gross out Saw sequel is $15 million.

Jason Statham’s Wrath of Man remained in second with $2.9 million. My estimate? $2.9 million! Total is $18 million.

Third place belonged to Angelina Jolie’s Those Who Wish Me Dead at $1.9 million compared to my $1.7 million take. The two week tally is $5 million.

Raya and the Last Dragon was fourth with $1.6 million, just under my projection of $1.7 million for $48 million.

Godzilla vs. Kong rounded out the top five with $1.4 million. I incorrectly had it outside my top five. At $96 million, the monster mash is inching ever so close to becoming the first $100 million domestic earner in the COVID era.

Finally, Demon Slayer was sixth at $1.3 million (which was my estimate) and it’s at $43 million overall.

And that’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

Those Who Wish Me Dead Review

Taylor Sheridan’s Those Who Wish Me Dead is the second recent Warner Bros/HBO Max venture that would have felt more common as a mid 90s release. Take an Oscar winner/nominee and put them in a generic thriller where you’re saving a kid from generic assassins or solving the crimes of a demented mass murderer. Let the guilty pleasures commerce. In the serial killer genre, we saw it early this year with Denzel Washington and The Little Things. This one reminds me of titles like The Client with Susan Sarandon or The River Wild with Meryl Streep (the latter especially since it deals with forces of nature).

I’ll confess that I’ve developed a soft spot for material like this. It takes me back to a simpler time a quarter century ago where blockbusters didn’t primarily involve CG spectacles. And, yes, when movies like this took up whole shelves at Blockbuster and were rated R for non-gimmicky reasons.

Hannah (Angelina Jolie) is a smokejumper in Montana assigned to desk duty due to a wildfire that ended in tragedy. That demotion places her in a lookout tower with gorgeous natural settings that clash with her unnatural hair extensions. The monotony of her assignment takes a turn when she comes across Connor (Finn Little). The preteen is on the run from assassins (Nicholas Hoult and Aiden Gillen) who offed his forensic accountant dad. Why did his father meet his demise? The screenplay doesn’t much delve into that, but you might be interested to know that Tyler Perry has something to do with the dirty deed.

As Hannah attempts to bond with Connor, the killers frantically try to find them. Jon Bernthal is Ethan, a local sheriff with ties to the boy and he happens to be Hannah’s ex-boyfriend. He helps run a survivalist school with his expectant wife Allison (Medina Senghore) and they make it tricky for the bad guys to complete their business. This is an example of where Sheridan’s screenplay (with Michael Kortya and Charles Leavitt) hints at more compelling directions it might have gone in. When Allison gets to show her abilities while in danger and quite pregnant and on horseback, I couldn’t help but think a script about her handling these thugs would have been more rewarding.

With Jolie, she doesn’t have much of a character to work with. Her backstory involving past career missteps is thin. Her rapport with Little (in a solid performance) does have some highlights. Sheridan has created far more memorable moments in his previous written and directed works like Sicario and Hell or High Water. He’s continually shown an ability to make his scouted locations a gripping participant. That holds true with the Montana wilderness and the fire that eventually rips through it.

With Those Who Wish Me Dead, this is where words like serviceable get overused. It is, however, accurate. I found myself reasonably entertained during its brisk 100 minutes and the 90s throwback feeling makes it easier to forgive lapses in logic. This is hardly a towering achievement, but the inferno didn’t bore.

*** (out of four)

May 14-16 Box Office Predictions

It’s been a minute since we have had four new releases to ponder, but that’s the situation this weekend as theaters continue to open their doors. The ninth pic in the Saw franchise Spiral, Angelina Jolie’s thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead, the Zack Snyder directed zombie fest Army of the Dead, and tech suspense flick Profile all open on Friday. My detailed prediction posts on the quartet can be found here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/05/spiral-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/06/those-who-wish-me-dead-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/07/army-of-the-dead-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/07/profile-box-office-prediction/

Spiral should have no trouble scoring a #1 premiere. The question is: what kinda Saw bucks are we talking? I think this could certainly over perform (word of mouth is decent), but my estimate puts it in line with the last entry in the series – 2017’s Jigsaw. 

The runner-up slot should go to Ms. Jolie and her joint venture with Warner Bros/HBO Max. However, unlike the recent Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat, a start north of $10 million (and certainly $20 million) seems unlikely.

Blogger’s Note: Dead prediction downgraded to $3.8 million

Jason Statham’s Wrath of Man should fall to third after its opening met expectations (more on that below). I anticipate his latest action tale to lose a bit more than half its audience.

Here’s where things get a little interesting. Army of the Dead is the first Netflix release to open on a fairly wide screen count (at least 600). If that holds, the potential for a $2-$3 million haul is feasible. It could even do more. What’s unknown at this juncture is whether the streaming giant will actually report its grosses. They haven’t in the past in their limited theatrical runs, but we are venturing into new territory. With this question unanswered, I’ll be doing a top five that includes Army and one that does not.

As for Profile, it’s hitting a large 2000 screens. Yet I suspect its low profile and my predicted $1.2 million forecast could prevent it from making the top five in either scenario.

And with that, here’s my two versions of this weekend’s top five:

1. Spiral

Predicted Gross: $16.1 million

2. Wrath of Man

Predicted Gross: $3.9 million

3. Those Who Wish Me Dead

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

4. Army of the Dead

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

5. Raya and the Last Dragon

Predicted Gross: $1.4 million

***If no Army grosses, Raya would move up to #4 and I’ll say Demon Slayer is fifth with $1.3 million

Box Office Results (May 7-9)

As mentioned, Wrath of Man took the pole position and met expectations with $8.3 million. How much did it meet them? It certainly met mine as my projection was $8.3 million!

Demon Slayer dropped to second with $2.7 million, on par with my $2.9 million estimate. Its three-week tally is $39 million.

Also in its third frame, Mortal Kombat was third with $2.4 million compared to my $2.7 million take. Overall gross stands at $37 million.

Godzilla vs. Kong was fourth with $1.9 million (I said $2 million). The monster mash continues to inch toward the century mark at $93 million.

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon flew off with another $1.9 million. I incorrectly had it outside the top five. It has earned $43 million.

Finally, the Billy Crystal/Tiffany Haddish dramedy Here Today showed zero staying power as it opened in seventh with $1 million. I was a bit more generous at $1.5 million.

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

Profile Box Office Prediction

After first premiering at the Berlin Film Festival over three years ago, Focus Features is releasing Profile on May 14. The thriller comes from Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov and features Valene Kane as a journalist who goes undercover online and becomes entangled with ISIS. Based on a non-fiction novel, the film costars Shazad Latif and Christine Adams.

The reviews from Europe back in 2018 gave Profile a so-so 60% Rotten Tomatoes score. Somewhat surprisingly, the estimated screen count is a hefty 2000 for this low-budget pic made for a reported $2.3 million. I’m not sure domestic audiences are much aware of its existence and there’s competition next weekend with horror titles Spiral and Army of the Dead and the Angelina Jolie led thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead.

Profile may be lucky to earn half of its puny price tag back out of the gate.

Profile opening weekend prediction: $1.2 million

For my Spiral prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/05/spiral-box-office-prediction/

For my Those Who Wish Me Dead prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/06/those-who-wish-me-dead-box-office-prediction/

For my Army of the Dead prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/07/army-of-the-dead-box-office-prediction/

Those Who Wish Me Dead Box Office Prediction

Bloggers Update: Prediction downgraded to $3.8 million

Angelina Jolie tries to heat up the box office on May 14 with the simultaneous theatrical and HBO Max release of Those Who Wish Me Dead. The thriller casts Jolie as a fire warden attempting to protect a young boy whose father was murdered by assassins. Taylor Sheridan, director of Wind River and co-creator of the hit series Yellowstone, serves behind the camera. Costars include Finn Little, Nicholas Hoult, Jon Bernthal, and Tyler Perry.

Warner Bros. has had successes recently with their strategy of putting their product on the big screen and thru HBO’s streaming platform. This resulted in impressive openings for Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat over the past two months. This one could be a tougher sell due to it not being part of a known franchise.

Dead will need to rely on an adult crowd turning out and Jolie’s star power. One recent comp is The Little Things with Denzel Washington. Also a Warner/HBO venture, the thriller opened domestically with $4.8 million. More theaters have opened their doors since and capacity has increased. That leads me to think that Jolie’s latest could exceed that gross, but perhaps not by much. If my estimate holds, Dead should place second next weekend behind Spiral: From the Book of Saw.

Those Who Wish Me Dead opening weekend prediction: $3.8 million

For my Spiral: From the Book of Saw prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/05/spiral-box-office-prediction/

For my Army of the Dead prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/07/army-of-the-dead-box-office-prediction/

For my Profile prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/07/profile-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The One and Only Ivan

Disney’s streaming service combines humans and familiar faces voicing creatures this weekend with the release of The One and Only Ivan, based on the 2012 children’s book by K.A. Applegate. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the family friendly fantasy features Bryan Cranston, Ramon Rodriguez, and Ariana Greenblatt in front of the camera. Stars including Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Brooklyn Prince, and Chaka Khan (!) lend their voices as gorillas, elephants, and dogs.

In what is now a familiar story on this blog, Ivan was intended for theatrical release last Friday before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the plans. It is now hitting the Disney+ service this weekend. Why an Oscar Watch post for this unlikely contender? Fair question as even a Visual Effects nod is probably a long shot. Reviews out today are decent, but not overwhelmingly positive with a current 64% Rotten Tomatoes score.

There is, however, a solid shot for Ivan to come under Academy consideration and that’s with Original Song. It was announced this week that Diane Warren has written the track “Free” that will play over the end credits. Performed by Charlie Puth, the song is another possibility in a lengthy list of Warren’s works that could vie for a nomination.

Diane Warren has been nominated in the Original Song race 11 times over four decades. This began with “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from 1987’s Mannequin and runs through last year with “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough. In between, we have massive hits like Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close and Personal and the Aerosmith ballad “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” from Armageddon in the 90s. Despite the multitude of nods, Warren has never made the trip to the podium.

I doubt that “Free” would earn her the win, but a 12th nomination is certainly feasible. It remains to be seen how this particular category will play out in the coming months. Billie Eilish’s title track for the upcoming 007 adventure No Time to Die will likely make it in the final five.

Bottom line: Original Song could mark the one and only nod for Ivan next year. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…