Antlers Review

As long as you feed The Beast and give it enough of what it wants, that might prevent it from harming others. That’s the prevailing message of Scott Cooper’s Antlers and it’s not a particularly fresh one as the foul stenches and stretches of the storyline play out. It attempts to balance body horror and creature feature elements with an abuse allegory and a tale of moral and environmental decay. With an assist from Guillermo del Toro on the production side, the pic ultimately bites off more than it can chew. This is also an issue for the title character terrorizer who leaves half devoured carcasses lying around.

The setting is the desolate Oregon town of Cispus Falls where lines for store front recovery centers appear to outnumber any other facade. In the opening, Frank Weaver (Scott Haze) has taken his youngest son Aiden (Sawyer Jones) his workplace of an abandoned mine shaft turned meth lab. Frank and his buddy leave the youngster waiting in the truck while they break up their bad deeds below. An attack by an unseen animal force begins the carnage that leaves longstanding marks on the Weaver family.

Flash forwarding above ground and weeks later, Aiden’s older brother Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas) is an outcast who rushes to collect roadkill as his after school activity. Bringing the critters home with him, what lies behind a locked door shows the current condition of dad and Aiden. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who just feasted.

Lucas’s behavior catches the attention of his teacher Julia (Keri Russell). She’s recently moved back from California after two decades and in with her brother Paul (Jesse Plemons), who’s the Sheriff around these parts. The two share a caring but sometimes strained bond in their family home. Their mother passed long ago and their father more recently. Brief flashbacks and more expository dialogue reveal an abusive past. Julia recognizes signs of mistreatment in her pupil while not imagining the extent of it.

I did appreciate much about the atmospheric touches and gorgeous cinematography in Antlers – even if it’s focused on some grisly occurrences. The Weavers fall prey to an ancient Native American evil spirit known as a Wendigo which causes the cursed subjects to become cannibalistic and ravenous. This is mostly explained by the town’s ex-sheriff played by Graham Greene and it’s not a tale that the picture seems preoccupied in mining for material. There is a tone of seriousness that prevents this from ever becoming campy. Perhaps a little of that could have helped.

There’s no faulting the performances as Russell and Plemons commit and Thomas is believable as the malnourished child who must become an adult before he should. The problem lies with committing to too many ideas and giving the short shrift to all of them. There are worse flaws to be had and Antlers never feels like a regurgitation of previous works (though its themes are familiar). Devotees of highbrow horror might be satiated, but I found myself hungering for Cooper, del Toro, and company to pick a plot line and explore it a little more.

**1/2 (out of four)

November 5-7 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (11/03): I’ve seen some unconfirmed data indicating Spencer will open on just under 1000 screens. If that holds true, I’m revising my estimate from $4.6M to $4.1M.

Blogger’s Update (11/02): Even though I don’t have a theater count at press time, I am factoring in the opening of Spencer to my estimates. My detailed prediction for it is here:

Spencer Box Office Prediction

My $4.6M projection puts it in the top five so it’s now a top 6 for the weekend ahead!

The third of four 2021 Marvel Cinematic Universe titles hits this weekend (thanks to some COVID delays) with Chloe Zhao’s Eternals. It’s eagerly awaited, but it also faces some unusual challenges for the MCU. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Eternals Box Office Prediction

The buzz for Eternals is mixed in a way that its studio isn’t accustomed to. Sitting at 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, the pic has the lowest RT score of the 26 MCU entries dating back to 2008. That has caused me to revise my estimate down just a touch, but I still believe mid to high 70s is the probable haul.

Unsurprisingly, Eternals is the only wide release as November dawns. Dune, after two weeks on top, may lose around 50-55% of its audience for second place with No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage providing a sequel heavy presence in the rest of the top five.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, after being the top newcomer this past weekend, should drop precipitously around 70% (like its predecessor) and fall outside the high five flicks.

With that, here’s how I see it looking:

1. Eternals

Predicted Gross: $77.8 million

2. Dune

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million

3. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $4.8 million

4. Spencer

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

5. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

6. Halloween Kills

Predicted Gross: $3 million

Box Office Results (October 29-31)

I supersized my normal estimates with a top ten due to the prevalence of newbies over the Halloween frame. All but one, as I predicted, fell outside the top five.

As anticipated, Dune reigned supreme in its sophomore outing. However, it fell more than I figured. The $15.4 million take didn’t match my $18.5 million and the two-week tally is $69 million.

Other holdovers held a bit sturdier than I thought they would. Halloween Kills was second with $8.7 million compared to my $6.1 million projection and it’s up to $85 million with the century mark in view.

No Time to Die was third with $7.7 million (I said $6.3 million) and Mr. Bond has reached $133 million.

My Heroes Academia: World Heroes’ Mission was the best performing newbie at $6.4 million, on pace with my $6.1 million prediction.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage rounded out the top five with $5.7 million, on pace with my forecast of $5.6 million. Total is $190 million as it approaches double century territory.

Antlers debuted in sixth with a mediocre $4.2 million. It did surpass my take of $3.2 million.

Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho started out in seventh with just $4.1 million, not matching my $5.2 million estimate.

Ron’s Gone Wrong was eighth in weekend #2 at $3.7 million (I went with $4.1 million) as the animated feature has drawn in only $12 million.

The Addams Family 2 followed in ninth with $3 million and I was close at $3.3 million for $52 million overall.

Finally, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch expanded to nearly 800 screens and took tenth at $2.6 million. I was more hopeful with $3.8 million.

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

October 29-31 Box Office Predictions

Halloween weekend brings five (yes five) pictures either debuting or expanding nationally. Some of them may not treat theirselves to a top 5 finish. The contenders are Edgar Wright’s 60s set psychological horror pic Last Night in Soho, Scott Cooper’s creature feature Antlers, Wes Anderson’s latest comedy The French Dispatch, Japanese animated sequel My Heroes Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, and Amanda Seyfried in the drama A Mouthful of Air. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the quintet at these links:

Last Night in Soho Box Office Prediction

Antlers Box Office Prediction

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Box Office Prediction

The French Dispatch Box Office Prediction

A Mouthful of Air Box Office Prediction

I’ll begin with the low hanging fruit. Mouthful is only opening in 800 theaters and has barely been advertised. My tiny $846,000 estimate leaves it outside of the top ten.

Of all the premieres, I suspect Academia could actually make the most and it might be the only one in the top 5. This is based on the assumption that Soho and Antlers will both struggle.

The French Dispatch is more of a question mark. It debuted in 52 venues this weekend and its $1.3 million take (good for ninth place) represents the highest per screen average in the COVID era. However, that could be misleading as it expands across the nation and non-Anderson fanatics may not turn out.

As for holdovers, Dune met expectations in its start (more on that below) and seemed to garner the audience stamp of approval with an A- Cinemascore. It should easily maintain the top spot and I’ll say a 50-55% dip is most feasible. Halloween Kills, No Time to Die, Academia, and maybe even Venom (or Soho or Antlers or Dispatch if they exceed my forecasts) could battle it out for the runner-up position.

With all the new product, my typical top 5 expands to a top 10 as we close out October. Here’s how I see it:

1. Dune

Predicted Gross: $18.5 million

2. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $6.3 million

3. Halloween Kills

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

4. My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

5. Venom: Let There Be Carnage 

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million

6. Last Night in Soho

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

7. Ron’s Gone Wrong

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

8. The French Dispatch

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

9. The Addams Family 2

Predicted Gross: $3.3 million

10. Antlers

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million

Box Office Results (October 22-24)

Despite its simultaneous availability on HBO Max, Denis Villeneuve’s long awaited sci-fi epic Dune performed in the range of anticipation with $41 million, just under my $42.8 million prediction. Considering its streaming dollars, that should certainly be enough for the expected part II.

Halloween Kills was slashed steeply in weekend #2 with $14.4 million. I was a tad higher at $15.4 million. The middle pic in the trilogy is up to a solid $73 million.

No Time to Die was third with $12.2 million, right on pace with my $12.1 million take. The 25th Bond adventure sits at $120 million.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage took fourth with $9.3 million (I said $9.5 million) for $182 million overall.

Finally, the animated Ron’s Gone Wrong didn’t connect with family audiences. Despite complimentary critical reaction, it opened in the five spot with $7.3 million (not matching my $8.4 million projection).

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

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Box Office Prediction

Just prior to the COVID era in February 2020, the second feature in the animated superhero franchise from Japan My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising took in $5.8 million at the domestic box office. From director Kenji Nagasaki, the Toho distributed pic placed fourth on the charts and ended its stateside run at $13.5 million.

On October 29th, the follow-up hits multiplexes. My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission debuted in its home country back in August. Earning $29 million, it became the highest grossing entry in the series thus far. Will American audiences turn out again?

I don’t see why not. This particular genre has a devoted fanbase that should show up in similar numbers to its predecessor. In fact, I suspect Heroes could outgross the competition (Last Night in Soho, Antlers) opening directly against it. I’ll give this third Mission a slight bump over what part II achieved.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission opening weekend prediction: $6.1 million

For my Last Night in Soho prediction, click here:

Last Night in Soho Box Office Prediction

For my Antlers prediction, click here:

Antlers Box Office Prediction

For my The French Dispatch prediction, click here:

The French Dispatch Box Office Prediction

For my A Mouthful of Air prediction, click here:

A Mouthful of Air Box Office Prediction

Antlers Box Office Prediction

With a production assist from the king of creature features Guillermo del Toro, the supernatural horror tale Antlers crosses into theaters October 29th. From Black Widow and Hostiles director Scott Cooper, the pic is finally hitting screens a year and a half after its COVID postponement. Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, and Amy Madigan star.

The Searchlight pictures production has scored decent reviews and it stands at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Coming out Halloween weekend, Antlers is genre material in a market that’s been saturated with it. Last Night in Soho opens against it while Halloween Kills will be in its third frame.

Despite the mostly positive critical reaction, I don’t really see this registering with mainstream audiences. The competition won’t help and there’s no star power to draw crowds in. Furthermore the trailers and TV spots may make it look simply too strange to have widespread appeal. I could see this earning about as much as The Night House, which opened in August to a mere $2.9 million. If so, Antlers won’t approach the top five during its scary weekend.

Antlers opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

For my Last Night in Soho prediction, click here:

Last Night in Soho Box Office Prediction

For my My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission prediction, click here:

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Box Office Prediction

For my The French Dispatch prediction, click here:

The French Dispatch Box Office Prediction

For my A Mouthful of Air prediction, click here:

A Mouthful of Air Box Office Prediction

Last Night in Soho Box Office Prediction

Edgar Wright’s latest vehicle Last Night in Soho zooms into theaters October 29th, four years after his massive success Baby Driver. The psychological horror thriller, set in mid 60s London, features Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp, and Diana Rigg in her final role.

Soho premiered at the Venice Film Festival in early September and garnered  mixed buzz. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is parked at 70%. The overseas reaction took the pic out of awards contention but Focus Features is hoping horror fans turn out on Halloween weekend.

That could be a challenge. This doesn’t look like your average genre fare and that could keep younger viewers away. It also has Antlers debuting against it and, perhaps most notably, Halloween Kills will be in its third frame. We have seen time and again that original material hoping for an adult crowd has struggled at multiplexes in recent times.

I assume that struggle will apply here. The studio is probably hoping for a $10 million start. Soho may be lucky to reach half of that figure.

Last Night in Soho opening weekend prediction: $5.2 million

For my Antlers prediction, click here:

Antlers Box Office Prediction

For my My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission prediction, click here:

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Box Office Prediction

For my The French Dispatch prediction, click here:

The French Dispatch Box Office Prediction

For my A Mouthful of Air prediction, click here:

A Mouthful of Air Box Office Prediction