Oscar Predictions – Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

If you’d told me in the spring that Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was better suited for an Animated Feature Oscar nomination than Disney’s Lightyear or Strange World, I might’ve questioned your awards prognosticating abilities. With its embargo lifted prior to the December 21st theatrical bow, this appears to be the case.

The DreamWorks Animation sequel is being praised as equal to or better than the 2011 predecessor. You may remember that it’s originally a spin-off from the massive Shrek franchise. Joel Crawford (who last made The Croods: A New Age) directs as Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek return to voice the title kitty and his love interest. Other performers behind the mic include Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, John Mulaney, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

Early reviews have this at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s beyond the 86% that the first Boots earned (we are still at under 10 write-ups so it could come down). The aforementioned Shrek from 2001 is actually the first movie to win the Academy’s animated prize. In 2004, Shrek 2 was nominated but lost to Disney’s The Incredibles. The third and fourth tales of the jolly green monster didn’t make the cut. However, Puss in Boots was among 2011’s quintet. Rango took the gold.

This is a strange year in the Animated Feature race. Of Disney’s trio of hopefuls, only Turning Red appears safe for inclusion. The frontrunner is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio from Netflix. The steamer’s Wendell and Wild and My Father’s Dragon could also get in. We have A24’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and The Bad Guys (also from DreamWorks). I haven’t had Puss in Boots: The Last Wish in the top 10 of possibilities. After seeing the initial reaction, it definitely will make that jump. When I update my projections on Thursday, it could even enter the high five. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Strange World

Disney, be it through their traditionally animated works or especially Pixar, has had a stranglehold on the Best Animated Feature race at the Oscars. The category began in 2001. Of the 21 winners, 15 are from the Mouse Factory. That includes 9 out of the last 10 (the outlier is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).

The Disney domination appears fragile in 2022. Their adventure tale Strange World, focused on a legendary group of explorers, hits multiplexes over the Turkey Day weekend. Don Hall and Qui Nguyen direct with a voice cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu.

With its review embargo up, the Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 72%. That’s pretty low for this studio’s product. The Pixar offering from earlier in the year, Turning Red, sits at 95%. Now that World has been seen, it appears Red is Disney’s strongest contender to take the Academy’s prize. In fact, Strange World could miss the top five altogether.

However, Red is expected to come up short to Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio from Netflix. We were waiting to see if Strange could present a challenge. It will not and my Oscar prediction posts will continue…

Strange World Box Office Prediction

The last time Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal played father and son, it was nearly 20 years ago in Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow. For the upcoming holiday, they’re family again in the Mouse Factory’s animated Strange World (out Wednesday November 23rd). Voicing a pair of explorers in the sci-fi themed adventure, Don Hall (who made Big Hero 6 and Raya and the Last Dragon) and Qui Nguyen direct. Other voices getting in on the action include Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu.

Disney is no stranger to releasing high profile product over the long Turkey Day frame. Sometimes that’s Pixar material or traditionally drawn fare such as this. Frozen remains the gold standard. It debuted to $67 million for the Friday to Sunday portion of Thanksgiving weekend with $93 million when counting Wednesday and Thursday. Other Disney releases like Moana and Coco made off with $82 and $72 million over their respective first five. On the other hand, The Good Dinosaur grossed just under $40 million from Friday to Sunday in 2015 with $55 million for the extended period. Perhaps the best comp is last year’s Encanto. It made $27 million for the three-day with $40 million for the five.

The buzz seems strangely quiet considering the studio pedigree. I would argue Encanto had more heat before it opened. Strange could manage only a second place start behind the third outing for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (which does give Disney a one-two punch for the weekend). This might open a little closer to Dreamworks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar from eight Thanksgivings ago at $25 million (Fri-Sun) and $35 million (Wed-Sun). It might even fall short of that.

Strange World opening weekend prediction: $19.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $26.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Devotion trailer, click here:

For my Bones and All prediction, click here:

For my The Fabelmans prediction, click here:

One Piece Film: Red Box Office Prediction

Having grossed nearly $150 million in Japan and other territories, animated fantasy adventure One Piece Film: Red arrives on November 4th. The 15th feature in the franchise that began in 2000, the Toei Animation title comes from director Gorõ Taniguchi.

This is the same studio that gave us Dragon Ball Super: Broly and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. The former made nearly $10 million in its opening frame in January 2019 while Super Hero swooped to a remarkable $21 million start in August.

One Piece is currently the highest grosser of the year in Japan. Comparisons to Dragon Ball are tricky since the predecessors in this series have not received wide North American distribution. One Piece: Stampede preceded this and made just over $1 million domestically in 2019.

A further complication is that I’ve yet to see a screen count. The aforementioned Super Hero flew to its $20M+ premiere in 3000 venues. I doubt this will reach those numbers. That said, I’ve underestimated this genre before and it seems sensible to project this could debut right above or right below $10 million.

One Piece Film: Red opening weekend prediction: $10.2 million

For my The Banshees of Ininsherin prediction, click here:

Oscar Predictions: My Father’s Dragon

It could be time to admit that I’ve slept on My Father’s Dragon when it comes to Oscar consideration. Based on the 1948 children’s book by Ruth Stiles Gannett, the 2-D fantasy makes its way to Netflix on November 11th. It had its unveiling at the London Film Festival. Dragon is the fifth animated feature from Cartoon Saloon and their track record is, shall we say, fire.

The Irish outlet is 4 for 4 when it comes to getting their pics nominated for Best Animated Feature: 2010’s The Secret of Kells, 2014’s Song of the Sea, The Breadwinner from 2017, and 2020’s Wolfwalkers. Despite their success rate getting their product in the final quintet, they’ve yet to win.

Dragon is directed by Nora Twomey, who co-directed Kells and solo helmed The Breadwinner. The sprawling voice cast includes Jacob Tremblay, Gaten Matarazzo, Golshifteh Farahani, Jackie Earle Haley, Whoopi Goldberg, Dianne Wiest, Rita Moreno, Chris O’Dowd, Judy Greer, Alan Cumming, Yara Shahidi, Mary Kay Place, Leighton Meester, and Ian McShane.

Reviews are just beginning to trickle out of London and so far so good. The initial buzz indicates this should be a contender. Like its earlier efforts, I’d say it’s a viable film for nomination and not a victory. My last estimates had it ranked seventh… pretty low for a production company with the aforementioned history.

Yet there could be roadblocks on the Saloon’s road to five in a row. The main one is internal competition from Netflix itself. Most prognosticators (myself included) have Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio from the streamer listed in first place. Even though that’s sight unseen, the pedigree would suggest it’ll be Netflix’s biggest push for the gold statue. Others that the company could be focused on include this summer’s acclaimed The Sea Beast and Wendell and Wild from Jordan Peele, which debuts later this month and nabbed positive feedback at the Toronto Film Festival.

That’s four legit contenders from Netflix and Disney (for one) will have something to say about them achieving four nominations (they won’t). Something’s gotta give and we’ll see how the next few weeks play out to determine which movies from the quartet don’t make the dance. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Wendell & Wild

Henry Selick burst onto the stop-motion big screen animation scene nearly 30 years ago with The Nightmare Before Christmas and continued on with James and the Giant Peach and Coraline (which received a Best Animated Feature). Note that the category didn’t exist when Christmas and Peach came out. His first feature in 13 years is Wendell & Wild, which premiered at Toronto and hits Netflix on October 28th (with an awards qualifying run a week prior).

A familiar comedic duo, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, voice the demon sibling title characters. Other performers behind the mic include Lyric Ross, Angela Bassett, James Hong, and Ving Rhames. The Canadian debut yielded a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Most reviews are not overwhelming raves and I don’t see this winning the top prize. Netflix’s biggest contender could be the forthcoming Pinocchio from Guillermo del Toro. I also wouldn’t discount their acclaimed The Sea Beast from earlier this year. Wild could easily make the top five when the dust settles though I wouldn’t say it’s a slam dunk. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Box Office Prediction

Over three and a half years ago, Dragon Ball Super: Broly significantly exceeded expectations stateside. As summer closes out, the follow-up Super Hero hopes to do the same. The martial arts fantasy from Toei Animation is actually the 21st feature in the long running Japanese franchise. Tetsuro Kodama directs.

The pic already did brisk business in its native country when it opened in June. Over the long MLK frame in 2019, Broly got a kickstart to the weekend with a Wednesday bow. In its first two days of release, it captured $10.4 million with a six-day overall haul of over $22 million.

Hero is not slated for a hump day start nor is it premiering over a holiday. That makes comparisons to Broly a little tricky. There’s no doubt that this genre is extremely front loaded and I certainly see it hitting double digits. It could find itself in a battle for #1 with the Idris Elba headlined survival thriller Beast. Both could be competing for some of the same eyeballs. I’ll project $12-14 million is where this lands and that puts it barely behind where I have Beast at.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero opening weekend prediction: $13.2 million

For my Beast prediction, click here:

Beast Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Luck

Apple TV and a new production company are hoping luck comes their way this Friday with the release of the animated fantasy comedy Luck. From director Peggy Holmes, the inaugural offering from Skydance Animation comes with a reported eye popping budget of $140 million. Featuring the voices of Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Lil Rel Howery, and Pixar vet John Ratzenberger, this was originally slated for theaters last summer before going the streaming route.

Reviews might indicate the reasoning. Luck stands at a jeopardous 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. That kind of reaction indicates it could struggle to find eyeballs on Apple. And it certainly confirms that it will not find any luck finding its way into the Best Animated Feature conversation. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: DC League of Super-Pets

The Warner Animation Group kicked off nearly a decade ago with 2014’s The Lego Movie. This Friday, their 10th effort under the production banner is DC League of Super-Pets. It comes from director Jared Stern (who wrote The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie) and features the voices of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson as Batman and Superman’s respective canine pals.

While some of their titles have performed pleasingly at the box office, none of the pics have caught the attention of awards voters. Super-Pets currently sits at a decent 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet if Lego and its spin-offs and sequels didn’t block space on the Best Animated Feature final five, the competition from Disney and others will likely freeze this out too. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

DC League of Super-Pets Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (07/27): I am revising my estimate down considerably- from $42.6M to $33.6M

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart already share a successful cinematic history via Central Intelligence and the Jumanji franchise. On July 29th, they reunite to respectively provide the voices of Superman and Batman’s canine companions in the animated DC League of Super-Pets. The Warner Animation Group superhero tale (or rather… tail?) is directed by Jared Stern, who did work on the studio’s The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie. John Krasinski voices the Man of Steel while Keanu Reeves does so for the Caped Crusader. Other familiar names contributing vocal work are Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, Thomas Middleditch, Ben Schwartz, Marc Maron, and Olivia Wilde.

The Legion of Super-Pets from the DC Comics dates all the way to 1962 and their connection to their iconic masters could get plenty of kids to the multiplexes. It might even get their parents slightly interested. The summer of 2022 has been unpredictable when it comes to animated features. Lightyear was a rare disappointment for Disney/Pixar and Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank outright bombed last weekend. On the other hand, Minions: The Rise of Gru was a massive hit that’s currently rising to a $300 million plus domestic haul. The Bad Guys was also a solid performer in the spring.

So what league will this premiere in? Estimates have it in the $40-50 million range. I see no reason why it would greatly exceed or fall short of expectations. I’m thinking it starts in the low to mid 40s though getting above $50 million is certainly doable.

DC League of Super-Pets opening weekend prediction: $33.6 million