The Depths of Hellboy

Over the past year and change, the superhero genre has been flush with massive successes such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, and current box office champ Shazam!, which has dutifully met expectations. The upcoming Avengers: Endgame is looking to set the all time opening record in two weeks. Something was bound to eventually get lost in the shuffle and that turned out to be Hellboy this weekend.

The film rebooted the Dark Horse Comics franchise that debuted in 2004 with Guillermo del Toro behind the camera and Ron Perlman as the horn clad anti-hero. A 2008 sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, built on the grosses of its predecessor.

Neil Marshall took over directorial duties for the new Hellboy with David Harbour of “Stranger Things” cast as the title character. All along the way, the marketing campaign seemed curiously muted. It was as if Lionsgate might have known they had a dog on their hands. And they did. The review embargo didn’t lift until late this week. Rotten Tomatoes has been ripe with bad critical reaction with a 15% score. CinemaScore audiences haven’t been kind either with a lowly C rating.

On Sunday, the initial results have Hellboy in third place with just $12 million. Not only is that behind the second frame of Shazam!, it’s after the debut of the Regina Hall comedy Little. To put that in perspective, the 2004 Hellboy made $23 million out of the gate. The Golden Army took in $34 million. For both of those films, the opening weekends represented a hefty chunk of the overall earnings. In the case of the second installment, it fell hard in its sophomore frame due to another comic boom sequel premiering called The Dark Knight. With its toxic word of mouth, I expect this version to tumble at least 60% in weekend #2 and probably more.

If there’s any silver lining for the studio, it’s that the reboot cost a reported $50 million. That’s certainly low on the scale for this genre. Yet we can be sure this iteration of the character is a one-off. And we’ve found out what the depths of Hellboy are on a financial level and it’s not pretty.

Aquaman Movie Review

In movies nowadays, the superhero genre has become so popular that a rule now applies to well-known thespians. You can play a hero or then you act long enough to see yourself become the villain. Or vice versa. Patrick Wilson was a good guy in Watchmen and now he’s a bad guy in Aquaman. Willem Dafoe was the key villain in SpiderMan, but he’s an ally to the title character here. As for Nicole Kidman, she was Bruce Wayne’s love interest in Batman Forever. Now she’s Aquamom.

This is all in a feature-length experience that HBO’s “Entourage” treated with humor. The thought back then… who would really buy this comic book creation in his own two-hour saga? Director James Wan’s weird but often endearing take ups the ante by padding nearly an extra half hour. It sorta works. It does by knowing that it’s silly most of the time despite occasional meanderings into thinking it belongs in Lord of the Rings territory. While it doesn’t, some of the battle scenes approach that grandeur.

We’ve seen Aquaman before in the DC Extended Universe. He was introduced briefly in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which I still think is a little better than its reputation) and his role was expanded in the sub par Justice League. He gets the whole origin treatment here. In 1985, the Queen of Atlantis names Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) washes up on shore after a storm in Maine. She makes the acquaintance of the local lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) and Splash style romantic sparks fly. Leaving her King hubby behind underwater, Atlanna and her new flame bear a son named Arthur and that little tyke eventually becomes the heavily tattooed punk rockish muscle man embodied by Jason Momoa.

As we witnessed in the previously mentioned pics, Momoa’s Aquaman becomes a mysterious superhero above water when not chugging beers with Dad. Atlanna, on the other hand, is long gone after being hunted down by her husband’s henchmen and returning below the surface so her new family isn’t harmed. She’s said to be dead.

Soon enough, Arthur is pressured to see Atlantis for the first time. His half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) is hell-bent on becoming the ruling Ocean Master. That means the destruction of Earth is on his to do list. Mera (Amber Heard) is the daughter of an Atlantean  King (Dolph Lundgren) allied with Orm. She disagrees with her father and along with Arthur’s old mentor (Willem Dafoe), they attempt to recruit our hero to become the King himself.

The family drama is a very familiar plot point in most movies in the genre – no matter which cinematic universe it takes place in. This is no exception. Orm is the Loki to Aquaman’s Thor, but he’s not near as memorable. Mera is the love interest and she has some humorous moments due to her unfamiliarity with our land. Those light moments reminded me of Gal Gadot’s acclamations to her fresh surroundings in Wonder Woman. And while we’re talking similar plot themes, this will remind you of Black Panther from time to time.

There’s only so much you can accomplish with this well-worn origin stuff, but James Wan conjures up a visually vibrant tale with an engaging lead. Momoa’s Aquaman is a bit of a Hulk like creation who seems impervious to harm. Frankly, the tension is a bit watered down because it seems like he could swat Orm off like a fly. Yet the action sequences are effective when they’re not too weighed down in confusing CG mayhem. The best one takes place in Italy when all the players remain dry. Aquaman is worth the watch, despite its flaws, as it builds plenty of worlds we’ll see again and with more details. This uses what seems like a record of title cards to tell us where we are as the plot moves along. Unlike other films where we might see “St. Louis” with The Arch in frame, they’re necessary here. Most of the places we visit come with acceptable levels of entertainment value.

*** (out of four)

Shazam! Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (04/04): On the eve of its premiere, my estimate has changed from $59.5 million to $52.5 million

The DC Extended Universe adds another cinematic hero to its stable with the release of Shazam! next weekend. The tale of a teenager who morphs into a superhero was first introduced in comic book pages nearly 80 years ago. David F. Sandberg directs with Zachary Levi as the title character and Asher Angel as his younger self. Costars include Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, and Grace Fulton.

Said to heartfelt and funny, Shazam! is already a winner with critics and sporting a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score. DC, while not quite up to MCU levels, has been hitting its stride lately with mega performers like Wonder Woman and Aquaman. There were previews of this that surprisingly managed to outdo what Jason Momoa’s creation did late last year. However, that was during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

The range expected is $40-$60 million. I have a hunch its good word of mouth will propel it to the upper reaches of those expectations. It’s feasible the range could be surpassed, but I’ll say high 50s.

Shazam! opening weekend prediction: $52.5 million

For my Pet Sematary prediction, click here:

For my The Best of Enemies prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: Shazam!

The DC Extended Universe branches out to lesser known source material on April 5 with the release of Shazam! The superhero tale puts a teenage boy in the body of an adult crime fighter with David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation) directing and Zachary Levi in the title role.

The character has been around since 1940 and this big screen treatment is receiving praise based on its early screenings. Critics are calling this sweet and funny and continuing in the more lighthearted vein that DC has employed lately with hits like Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

With a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, could Shazam! resonate with Oscar voters? It’s doubtful. If the aforementioned DC efforts couldn’t land a single nod, it’s tough to envision any for this.

Bottom line: Shazam! should be another box office success for the revitalized franchise, but don’t expect awards chatter to follow. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

February 8-10 Box Office Predictions

After a sleepy box office weekend that’s normal for when the Super Bowl is played (which was sleepy as well), things pick up considerably in this second frame of February. There’s four newcomers that could populate those top four slots. They are the animated sequel The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Taraji P. Henson comedic remake What Men Want, Liam Neeson action thriller Cold Pursuit, and horror flick The Prodigy. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

The Lego follow-up should have little trouble topping the charts, but I have it debuting significantly under the $69 million achieved by its predecessor four years ago.

I have What Men Want placing a strong second with Cold Pursuit having a middling start in third. The five-spot could be a battle between The Prodigy and holdover The Upside. The latter should experience a smaller drop than three-week champion Glass, which means it may fall from first to sixth.

And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Predicted Gross: $48.6 million

2. What Men Want

Predicted Gross: $26.4 million

3. Cold Pursuit

Predicted Gross: $12.8 million

4. The Prodigy

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

5. The Upside

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

Box Office Results (February 13)

Super Bowl weekends are never bountiful ones at multiplexes and that held true this year. It was the worst SB frame in 19 years. Glass stayed in 1st with $9.5 million, cutting close to my $9.8 million prediction. Its total is $88 million.

The Upside was close behind in second with $8.6 million (I said $9.1 million) for $75 million overall.

Action flick Miss Bala was the sole newbie and it was third with $6.8 million, ahead of my $5.8 million forecast. That’s nothing special, but not too shabby considering the reported $15 million budget.

Aquaman was fourth with $4.8 million (I said $5 million) for $323 million total. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse rounded out the top five with $4.5 million (I said $4.6 million). The Oscar favorite for Best Animated Feature is up to $175 million.

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

February 1-3 Box Office Predictions

It should be an extremely quiet weekend at the box office, as it typically is during the Super Bowl frame. There’s only one wide release out and it’s the Gina Rodriguez led action thriller Miss Bala. You can peruse my detailed prediction post for it here:

I’m not expecting Bala to reach double digits and my estimate probably puts it in third place behind current holdovers Glass and The Upside (it could go lower). It’s quite possible that no picture will hit double digits this weekend as the 1-2 combo should hover right around that mark.

The rest of the top five should be held by Aquaman and The Kid Who Would Be King, but with the possibility that SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse could vault over King after its weak debut. I’ll say that happens. It’s also feasible that the drop for Green Book could be insignificant and it could jump into the top five. I’ll put it just behind Spidey, however.

With that, my projections for the uneventful frame ahead:

1. Glass

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million

2. The Upside

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million

3. Miss Bala

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

4. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $5 million

5. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million

Box Office Results (January 2527)

Glass held the top spot with an expected hefty sophomore dip at $18.8 million, in line with my $19.6 million estimate. The M. Night Shyamalan mashup, with middling audience and critical reaction, has made $73 million (which is nearly three times its meager budget).

The Upside continued its strong holdings in second with $11.9 million (I said $9.8 million) for a three-week tally of $62 million.

Aquaman was third with $7.2 million compared to my $6.4 million prediction. The DC tale is up to a terrific $316 million.

The aforementioned King Arthur based family flick The Kid Who Would Be King got off to a poor start in fourth with just $7.1 million, under my take of $10.8 million.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse rounded out the top five with $6.1 million (I said $5.2 million) for $169 million overall.

Finally, the Matthew McConaughey/Anne Hathaway crime thriller Serenity bombed in eighth position with only $4.4 million. I was a bit higher at $5.1 million.

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

January 25-27 Box Office Predictions

Two new titles attempt to gather eyeballs this weekend with the kiddie rendering of the King Arthur legend The Kid Who Would Be King and Matthew McConaughey/Anne Hathaway thriller Serenity. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

I’ll say the Kid manages to just top double digits and that could give it a second place showing. As for Serenity, my mid single digits forecast of $5.1 million puts it just outside the top five in sixth.

Current champ Glass should have little trouble staying in first place, but I am predicting a sophomore frame drop of over 50% due to middling critical and audience reaction.

Holdovers The Upside, Aquaman, and SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse should round out the top half of the charts. As for Dragon Ball Super: Broly, it debuted with terrific results this past weekend (more on that below). However, I anticipate a front-loaded nature for its earnings and a fall in the mid 50s range. That puts it outside the top 5 in my view.

Here are my projections for the weekend ahead:

1. Glass

Predicted Gross: $19.6 million

2. The Kid Who Would Be King

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million

3. The Upside

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million

4. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $6.4 million

5. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (January 1821)

The long MLK weekend saw M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass rule with the third highest opening of this particular holiday at $46.5 million. That is a bit below expectations and under my $58.1 million estimate. However, it nearly doubled its reported $25 million budget in four days.

The Upside went down to second with $18.3 million, ahead of my $15.4 million prediction. The Kevin Hart/Bryan Cranston comedic drama stands at a strong $46 million after two weeks.

Aquaman was third with $12.7 million (I said $13.8 million) as it crossed the triple century mark at $306 million.

The aforementioned Dragon Ball Super: Broly was fourth with a fantastic $11.9 million over the traditional weekend and $22 million since its Wednesday premiere. I’ll sheepishly admit that the anime feature was not properly on my radar and I didn’t do a projection for it.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse was in the five-spot with $10.1 million compared to my guesstimate of $8.3 million. Overall haul is $161 million.

A Dog’s Way Home was sixth at $9.9 million (I said $9.1 million) for a two-week tally of $24 million.

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