September 30-October 2 Box Office Predictions

Horror pic Smile and Bros, the first gay rom com from a major studio, look to lead the end of September/early October box office. Both are getting solid notices with respective Rotten Tomatoes scores of 79% and 95%. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:

Smile Box Office Prediction

Bros Box Office Prediction

Smile has had a shrewd marketing campaign with a creepy teaser trailer that played in front Top Gun: Maverick all summer (so a lot of moviegoers saw it). My mid to high teens projection should put it in first place.

That’s unless Bros with Billy Eichner exceeds forecasts. However, my low teens estimate would give it runner-up status. I would not be surprised if it legs out well in subsequent weekends (I suspect word-of-mouth will be strong). **Speaking of forecasts, as of this writing, it remains to be seen if Hurricane Ian could negatively impact the weekend ahead.

With a B- Cinemascore, current champ Don’t Worry Darling could be headed towards a hefty sophomore drop after its solid premiere (more on that below). A mid to high 50s fall is possible. It should hold the 3 spot though The Woman King could give it a run for its money.

King and the Avatar re-release should fill out the rest of the top five and here’s how I envision it panning out:

1. Smile

Predicted Gross: $18.7 million

2. Bros

Predicted Gross: $12.1 million

3. Don’t Worry Darling

Predicted Gross: $8 million

4. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $7.4 million

5. Avatar

Predicted Gross: $6.6 million

Box Office Results (September 23-25)

Don’t Worry Darling, the much publicized thriller from Olivia Wilde and starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, started out strong and diminished throughout the weekend. Taking in $19.3 million, it just outdid my $18.9 million projection. It looked like $20 million plus was likely with a $3 million Thursday night start until it dwindled. With a reported $35 million budget, it’s a pleasing debut regardless.

The Woman King fell to second with $11 million, under my $13.2 million take. The acclaimed historical epic with Viola Davis has made $36 million in its first ten days.

Three months ahead of its long in development sequel, James Cameron’s Avatar was re-released and earned $10.5 million for third (surging beyond my $8.5 million projection). The fourth highest grossing domestic earner of all time is now at $771 million with that extra coin.

Barbarian continued its meager declines with a fourth place showing of $4.8 million. I was right on target with $4.9 million as the critically appreciated horror flick has made $28 million.

See How They Run was fifth in its sophomore outing and I incorrectly had it outside of the quintet. With $1.9 million, the weak two-week tally is $6 million.

Pearl was sixth as it also made $1.9 million. My guess? $1.9 million! Like Run, $6 million is its the total.

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

September 23-25 Box Office Predictions

Olivia Wilde’s psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling with Florence Pugh and Harry Styles will test the “all publicity is good publicity” theory when it opens this weekend. We also have the re-release of James Cameron’s 2009 phenomenon Avatar ahead of the December debut of sequel Avatar: The Way of Water. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both here:

Don’t Worry Darling Box Office Prediction

Avatar Box Office Prediction

Darling, with my projected high teens start, should manage a first place showing. Yet it may need to worry a little about the sophomore hold of The Woman King (more on its opening below). I still think the former should edge the latter fairly easily.

Avatar is a little tricky to project (the reported 1800 screen count is lower than I would’ve thought). $10 million could be a reach and my estimate is in higher single digits. Either way, it’s looking at 3rd place.

As for the rest of the top 5, it should be filled with horror holdovers Barbarian and Pearl. 

Here’s how I see it:

1. Don’t Worry Darling

Predicted Gross: $18.9 million

2. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $12.4 million

3. Avatar

Predicted Gross: $8.5 million

4. Barbarian

Predicted Gross: $4.9 million

5. Pearl

Predicted Gross: $1.9 million

Box Office Results (September 16-18)

Viola Davis and company were crowned box office champions as The Woman King made $19 million. That’s better than my $14.7 million prediction as the historical action tale opened on the north end of its anticipated range. There’s better news still as it’s only the second 2022 release to nab an A+ Cinemascore grade (the other is Top Gun: Maverick). That should mean minimal drops in coming weekends and I only have it falling about 15% in weekend #2.

Barbarian held up well in its follow-up frame (especially for a horror pic) with $6.5 million (I was lower at $5 million). The critically heralded scary movie has made $21 million in ten days.

The fright fest competition may have hurt Pearl, which opened in third with $3.1 million (in line with my $3.4 million take). That’s more than a million under what its spring predecessor did out of the gate.

Audiences weren’t into solving the mystery of See How They Run as the Saoirse Ronan/Sam Rockwell caper posted a fourth place debut with $3 million (I was close with $3.2 million).

Finally, Bullet Train rounded out the top five with $2.5 million. This is on track with my $2.3 million estimate and the total is $96 million.

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

Avatar Box Office Prediction

20th Century Studios is hoping moviegoers are ready for a return trip to Pandora (and its Papyrus font) when it re-releases Avatar into multiplexes on September 23rd. It arrives three months before James Cameron’s long gestating sequel Avatar: The Way of Water. The original 2009 3D tale revolutionized that technology and it broke the director’s own record to become the highest grossing domestic earner of all time. (topping Titanic). That designation stood for six years until Star Wars: The Force Awakens came along.

Journeying to approximately 1800 venues, Avatar will look to add to the $760 million already in its coffers. The best case scenario is that it could top the charts over Don’t Worry Darling or The Woman King. A far likelier outcome, in my view, is a third place showing in the high single digits.

Avatar re-release opening weekend prediction: $8.5 million

For my Don’t Worry Darling prediction, click here:

Don’t Worry Darling Box Office Prediction

September 9-11 Box Office Predictions

Despite some encouraging early word-of-mouth, horror flick Barbarian could be fairly quiet out of the gate as the only wide release this weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on it here:

Barbarian Box Office Prediction

My estimate easily puts it in the top spot, but that’s cold comfort considering I’m projecting a second weekend in a row with no title topping $10 million.

On the more limited front is the Indian adventure Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva. I didn’t do an individual post for it, but the reported 750 venues should limit its potential. With a caveat that this may over perform, I’ll say it manages a fourth place start (though it could just as easily be 2nd or 3rd).

Holdovers Top Gun: Maverick, Bullet Train, and DC League of Super-Pets should fill out the remainder of the high five. Here’s how I see it:

1. Barbarian

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

2. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

3. Bullet Train

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

4. Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million

5. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $3 million

Box Office Results (September 2-5)

On its 102nd day of release, Top Gun: Maverick returned to the top spot over a desolate Labor Day weekend with $7.9 million (surpassing my $6.2 million prediction). Tom Cruise’s sequel surpassed Black Panther to become the 5th largest domestic grosser of all time. The total is $701 million. Fifth place is likely where it will stay as #4 is Avatar ($760 million) and it’s got a re-release coming in two weeks before the December sequel.

Bullet Train was second with $7.5 million, ahead of my $6 million projection as it has pulled in $88 million over five weeks. Now might be a good time to mention that National Cinema Day, which priced films for $3 at major chains, probably helped push the numbers up a bit over the holiday.

DC League of Super-Pets was third with $6.7 million (I underplayed it at $4.3 million). The National Cinema Day bump got it to $82 million.

Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Edition added 11 minutes of extra footage and $6.5 million to its considerable coffers. That’s in range with my $7 million guesstimate. Spidey has swung $811 million in the bank.

The Invitation rounded out the top five at $6.1 million (besting my $4.6 million take) for a two-week total of $15 million.

Beast was sixth with $5 million compared to my call of $4.1 million for $26 million overall.

Minions: The Rise of Gru was seventh with $4.5 million and I did not project it. The franchise blockbuster sits at $360 million.

The Jaws re-release was 8th with $3.3 million, on target with my prediction of $3.1 million.

Finally, the Regina Hall/Sterling K. Brown satire Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. found no love with $1.7 million for 14th place. I said $2.4 million.

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

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

And now for a new category on my blog that will update itself yearly after 13 initial posts covering 2009-21. It’s a simple concept. In 2009 – the Academy shifted their rules from a set amount of five Best Picture nominees to 10. That lasted for 2 years. In 2011, the number could fluctuate anywhere from 5-10. In most years, the magic number was 8 or 9 (it was never less than 8). Last year, the big race reverted back to a definite 10.

So… what if it hadn’t? What if 5 nominees was never altered? Well, Oscar speculators like yours truly would have to write posts predicting what would’ve been the final five. So that’s what this is all about.

Naturally it begins with 2009. Before that, something from 2008 might’ve contributed to the shift when The Dark Knight famously missed BP even though it was a critical darling and box office smash. A shift to 10 allowed popcorn favorites and smaller titles to make the cut. And they did.

When it comes to whittling down from 10 (or later 8 or 9) to five, there’s plenty of factors in play. What else did the movie get nominated for or win? Some races are more important than others like Director and Editing or the Screenplay derbies.

Yet it’s far from an exact science. This is educated guesswork based on Oscar history. I’ll walk through each title and give an ultimate Yes or No on whether it makes the five. The first is automatic and that’s whatever won. In 2009 that honor belonged to…

The Hurt Locker

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes because it won Best Picture.

The other 9? That’s where it gets interesting. Let’s take them alphabetically, shall we?

Avatar

When Oscar nominations rolled out near the beginning of 2010, James Cameron’s 3D sensation was basking in the glow of becoming the biggest movie ever. That meant he was breaking his own record from 13 years earlier with Titanic. Cameron was nominated for Director – losing to ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for Locker. The film also didn’t manage a Screenplay nod though Cameron is known more for his technical prowess than writing skills. On the tech side it managed 7 nods and won three (Art Direction, Cinematography, Visual Effects). So…

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Though it lost a number of its nods to Locker, the gargantuan grosses would’ve been enough for it to advance.

The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock’s crowd pleasing football drama made her an Oscar winner. Yet those are the only two nominations it received as it couldn’t make the Adapted Screenplay shortlist. In fact, Avatar and this are the only two BP nominees not to see their scripts mentioned.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. This is a perfect example of a blockbuster getting in due to the expansion that wouldn’t have with just five.

District 9

Neill Blomkamp’s acclaimed sci-fi tale was a surprise summer hit and he’s yet to replicate its mix of audience and critical appreciation. It was nominated in three other races – Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, and Film Editing. No wins.

Does It Make the Final Five?

This one is actually close for me. The screenplay and editing nods certainly make it doable. If it had landed Director, I’d probably say yes. A bit of a coin flip, but I’ll land on No.

An Education

The coming-of-age pic scored Carey Mulligan an Actress nod as well as Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that it could’ve snuck in, but gotta go No. It missed a Golden Globe nod for example and a lot of the focus was on Mulligan’s work.

Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino’s WWII opus was his return to significant awards attention 15 years following Pulp Fiction. In addition to the Pic nod, he was nominated for his direction and screenplay (losing both to Locker). Other nominations: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Film Editing, and a Supporting Actor victory for Christoph Waltz.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The 8 nominations are enough to indicate as much.

Precious

The breakthrough drama from Lee Daniels scored five other mentions for Directing, Gabourey Sidibe in Actress, Mo’Nique in Supporting Actress (a victory), Adapted Screenplay (another win), and Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay win puts it over the top.

A Serious Man

The Coen Brothers dark comedy received just one other nod for their screenplay with acclaimed lead Michael Stuhlbarg missing the Best Actor cut.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Even with the love for its brotherly makers – No.

Up

As far as I’m concerned, the Pixar masterpiece’s first few minutes should win Best Picture every year. The tearjerker was a rare animated Best Picture contender and it contended for four others. It obviously won Animated Feature as well as Original Score in addition to mentions in Original Screenplay and Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

I’m saying No, but I’m not sure of that. I’d probably put it sixth.

Up in the Air

Our other Up contender is Jason Reitman’s workplace dramedy which received six nods. The others were Director, Actor (George Clooney), Supporting Actress (both Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick), and Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. While it retrieved no statues, I think it would’ve just edged other hopefuls such as Up or District 9.

So that means if 2009 had just five Best Picture nominees, I believe they would’ve been:

The Hurt Locker (winner)

Avatar

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

Up in the Air 

An important note – the movies here match the five Best Director nominees. That’s rare and that will be rare in subsequent postings on years that follow. From 2000-2008 that only occurred twice (2005 and 2008). So don’t get used to it.

I shall return soon with my rumblings and final five for 2010!

July 1-4 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (06/30): On the eve of its premiere, upping my Minions estimate from $78.4M to $86.4M

Coming off a weekend where four pictures posted grosses north of $20 million (a first since 2018!), Minions: The Rise of Gru looks to set box office fireworks and rule the holiday weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Minions: The Rise of Gru Box Office Prediction

The five-year wait between entries for the Despicable Me/Minions franchise could limit its potential a bit. However, my projected four-day haul approaching $80 million will easily give it the gold.

As for holdovers, Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick should duke it out for second position. While the former edged Maverick for a #1 debut (more on that below), look for Tom Cruise and company to have a better hold and likely maintain runner-up status. It’s also important to remember that overall declines for most pics should be smaller than normal considering that July 4th falls on Monday.

Jurassic World: Dominion and The Black Phone should slide spots to 4th and 5th. There’s a slight chance Phone could experience a hefty slide (due to its being in the horror genre) and Lightyear stays fifth. However, given the Pixar pic’s underperformance and hefty sophomore dip, I don’t anticipate that being the case. Plus Phone nabbed a B+ Cinemascore grade which is just fine for that genre.

With that – let’s make it a top 6 forecast and remember these are projections for Friday to Monday given the Independence Day frame:

1. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $86.4 million

2. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $29.8 million

3. Elvis

Predicted Gross: $23.2 million

4. Jurassic World: Dominion

Predicted Gross: $17.3 million

5. The Black Phone

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million

6. Lightyear

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

Box Office Results (June 24-26)

In one of the closest finishes in recent box office times, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis was crowned king with $31.2 million. While not quite matching my $35.6 million prediction, it’s a solid number for an adult skewering musical biopic.

Top Gun: Maverick continued its epic run in second with $29.6 million. Like with Elvis, I was a little high at $34.8 million. In five weeks of release, the spectacularly performing sequel has amassed $520 million. That’s the third all-time #5 frame behind Avatar and Titanic. 

Jurassic World: Dominion fell to third after two weeks on top with $26.7 million, just under my $28.3 million take. The dino saga stands at a sturdy $303 million.

Critically appreciated fright fest The Black Phone opened in fourth with $23.6 million – ringing up a more impressive number than my $18.6 million projection. Considering its budget is only a reported $18 million, this will be yet another profitable venture for Blumhouse.

Finally, Lightyear slid from second to fifth. Crashing harder than anticipated in its second orbit after an unimpressive start, the Pixar spinoff made $18.1 million (I said $23.2 million). The two-week tally is a muted $89 million after ten days. For comparison sake, I had it making $85 million in its first three days.

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

Top Gun: Maverick – Lightyears Ahead of Expectations

I’ve been at this box office predicting game for quite some time. If it gets stale for even a moment, something will come along to shock you. That happened this weekend. Twice.

First there’s the massive underperformance of Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear, which is barely topping $50 million for second place behind Jurassic World: Dominion. I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow,  but it’s not often a tentpole release comes in over $30 million behind your (and many other prognosticators) estimates. It made less than half of the fourth Toy Story tale three years ago.

Today, however, it’s all about Top Gun: Maverick. If you’d told me a month ago that the long gestating Tom Cruise sequel would score the second (you read that correctly) best fourth weekend of all time, I wouldn’t have believed it. That’s second only to the fourth frame of Avatar. Better than any Star Wars episode. Better than any MCU adventure. Better than Titanic. 

Maverick, with its soaring reviews and word-of-mouth, has undeniably become a phenomenon. Its $44 million estimated haul this weekend brings its domestic tally to an astonishing $466 million. That’s already $200 million over Cruise’s previous largest stateside hit – 2005’s War of the Worlds. A gross of over $600 million in the US and Canada seems assured in addition to a worldwide total topping $1 billion.

To say this is lightyears ahead of expectations is one heckuva understatement. This is the rare breed of picture that is appealing to all ages and genders and is clearly warranting repeat viewings. I suspect Oscar voters will take notice. Categories like Editing, Sound, and Visual Effects are obviously on the table. So too is Lady Gaga’s theme song “Hold My Hand” which might be an early frontrunner to win. And with these mind boggling earnings – Oscar voters could vault this into Best Picture contention and Tom Cruise could be in the mix for Best Actor. That’s far from guaranteed… yet it was unthinkable before its release.

The word phenomenon doesn’t come around much with box office forecasting. When 2002’s Spider-Man made $114 in its first weekend, that word applied because no pic had done so before. The domination of Titanic when many thought it would be a flop definitely fits the bill. So does James Cameron’s follow-up Avatar (ironically its sequel seems destined to compete with Maverick for some tech Oscars). The MCU juggernaut has a handful of examples.

Top Gun: Maverick is a phenomenon and in its fourth outing, the buzz is towering over everything else in 2022.

22 for ’22: Oscars Early Look

It’s been an entire week since The Slap… check that, the 94th Academy Awards where CODA parlayed its Sundance buzz from January 2021 all the way to a Best Picture victory.

That also means I’ve managed to wait a whole week without speculation for the next Academy Awards which will hopefully be a slap free zone. So what are some titles that could be vying for attention?

On May 27th and after numerous delays, Top Gun: Maverick will find Tom Cruise returning to his iconic role some 36 years after the original. There’s a decent chance it could be up for similar prizes that its predecessor landed like Sound, Film Editing, and Song (courtesy of Lady Gaga apparently). Visual Effects is a possibility as well.

My weekly Oscar prediction posts won’t begin until mid to late August. In the meantime, you’ll get individualized write-ups for pics that open or screen at festivals.

Yet for today – I feel the need. The need to identify 21 other 2022 titles that might end up on the Academy’s radar. Enjoy!

Armageddon Time

Despite acclaimed movies like The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra, James Gray has yet to connect with awards voters. This drama, rumored to be centered on his Queens upbringing, is the next hopeful and features a stellar cast including Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeremy Strong. Release Date: TBD

Avatar 2

The 2009 original amassed nine nominations and won took home three. The first sequel (there’s three more on the way) arrives in December from James Cameron. Will it capture the critical and box office magic of part one? That’s impossible to know at this juncture, but one can safely assume it’ll be up for some tech categories like Sound and Visual Effects. Release Date: December 16th

Babylon

Damien Chazelle is no stranger to the big dance. Whiplash was a BP nominee and J.K. Simmons won Supporting Actor. Chazelle took Director for his follow-up La La Land along with Emma Stone’s Actress victory and it almost famously took BP. First Man nabbed four nominations, but missed the top of the line races. Babylon is a period drama focused on Hollywood’s Golden Age and should be right up the Academy’s alley. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Tobey Maguire. Release Date: December 25th

Canterbury Glass

Robbie also turns up in David O. Russell’s latest ensemble piece. Anytime he’s behind the camera, Oscar nods typically follow (think The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). Slated for November, the dramedy also features Christian Bale, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, and… Chris Rock. Release Date: November 4th

Elvis

Arriving in June but with a Cannes unveiling in May, Baz Luhrmann’s musical bio of The King stars Austin Butler in the title role and Tom Hanks as The Colonel. If this doesn’t contend for the major awards, I would still anticipate potential tech recognition (Production Design, Sound, etc…). Release Date: June 24th

Empire of Light

Sam Mendes was likely in the runner-up position in 2019 for Picture and Director (behind Parasite) with 1917. His follow-up is an English set romance starring Olivia Colman (who would be going for her fourth nomination in five years), Michael Ward, and Colin Firth. Release Date: TBD

Everything Everywhere All at Once

From two filmmakers known collectively as Daniels, Once is already out in limited release with spectacular reviews (97% on RT). The sci-fi action comedy might be too bizarre for the Academy, but I wouldn’t count it out as its admirers are vocal. Picture, Director, Actress (Michelle Yeoh), and Original Screenplay are all on the table. Release Date: out in limited release, opens wide April 8th

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg directs a semi-autobiographical tale and cowrites with his Lincoln and West Side Story scribe Tony Kushner. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Paul Dano. Needless to say, this is a major contender on paper. Release Date: November 23rd

Killers of the Flower Moon

Alongside The Fabelmans, this might be the most obvious nominee from a personnel standpoint. Martin Scorsese helms this western crime drama featuring Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, and his two frequent collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Apple TV just became the first streamer to get a BP victory with CODA. This could be the second in a row. Release Date: November

Poor Things

In 2018, The Favourite scored a whopping ten nominations. Based on an acclaimed 1992 novel, Poor Things is Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up and it reunites him with Emma Stone along with Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, and Mark Ruffalo. The plot sounds bizarre but it could also be an Oscar bait role for Stone and others. Release Date: TBD

Rustin

One of Netflix’s contenders is George C. Wolfe’s profile of gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (played by Colman Domingo). In 2020, Wolfe directed Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman to nods for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Look for Domingo to be a competitor and the supporting cast includes Chris Rock (maybe he will be back at the show), Glynn Turman, and Audra McDonald. Release Date: TBD

See How They Run

The 1950s set murder mystery could provide 27-year-old Saoirse Ronan with an opportunity to land her fifth nomination. Sam Rockwell, David Oyelowo, Adrien Brody, and Ruth Wilson are among the supporting players. Tom George directs. Release Date: TBD

She Said

Five years after the scandal rocked Hollywood, She Said from Maria Schrader recounts the New York Times sexual misconduct investigation into Harvey Weinstein. Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, and Patricia Clarkson lead the cast. Release Date: November 18th

The Son

Florian Zeller won Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020 for The Father along with Anthony Hopkins taking Best Actor. This follow-up (based on the director’s play) finds Hopkins reprising his Oscar-winning part in supporting fashion. Other cast members seeking awards attention include Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby. Release Date: TBD

TAR

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Todd Field behind the camera. Previous efforts In the Bedroom and Little Children received 8 nominations between them. A decade and a half following Children comes this Berlin set drama with Cate Blanchett, Noemie Merlant, and Mark Strong. Release Date: October 7th

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Scheduled for a Cannes bow in May, Longing is a fantasy romance from the legendary mind of George Miller (who last made Mad Max: Fury Road which won six tech Oscars). Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton star. Release Date: TBD

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Mickey Rourke to a comeback narrative nod for 2008’s The Wrestler. Two years later, his follow-up Black Swan earned Natalie Portman a statue. Brendan Fraser is hoping for the same treatment with The Whale as he plays a 600 pound man attempting to reconnect with his daughter. Costars include Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, and Samantha Morton. I’d expect Makeup and Hairstyling could also be in play with this. Release Date: TBD

White Noise

Not a remake of the Michael Keaton supernatural thriller from 2005, this is Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to Marriage Story. Based on a 1985 novel, it’s the filmmaker’s first picture based on other source material. Marriage landed three acting nods (with Laura Dern winning Supporting Actress). The cast here includes frequent Baumbach collaborator Adam Driver, real-life partner Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Andre Benjamin, Alessandro Nivola, and Don Cheadle. This could be Netflix’s strongest contender. Release Date: TBD

The Woman King

Expect this West Afrian set historical epic from Gina Prince-Bythewood to be heavily touted by Sony with awards bait roles for leads Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu. The supporting cast includes John Boyega and Lashana Lynch. Release Date: September 16th

Women Talking

Based on a 2018 novel, Sarah Polley writes and directs this drama focused on eight Mennonite women and their story of abuse. The sterling cast includes Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Claire Foy, and Rooney Mara. Release Date: TBD

And that’s just a small preview of the features that could materialize for the 95th Academy Awards! As always, the speculation on this site will continue throughout the year and into the next. Stay tuned…

February 18-21 Box Office Predictions

The video game adaptation Uncharted with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg looks to rule the #1 spot over the four-day President’s Day weekend while Channing Tatum’s directorial debut Dog hopes for a solid second place showing. They’re the newbies coming on Friday and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

Uncharted Box Office Prediction

Dog Box Office Prediction

While reviews are mixed (50% currently on Rotten Tomatoes) for Uncharted, it should easily take a commanding lead for the POTUS frame. My low to mid 30s take puts it at about two and half times the gross of Dog, which finds Mr. Tatum in his first starring role in nearly half a decade.

As for holdovers, the long weekend should allow for smallish drop-offs. We’ve seen that play out previously during the mid February time period. Death on the Nile, following its mediocre start, might flirt with staying in double digits (I have it just under) with Spider-Man: No Way Home (that other Holland pic), Marry Me, and Jackass Forever filling out the rest of the chart.

Here’s how I envision the top 6 and these are estimates over the Friday to Monday holiday:

1. Uncharted

Predicted Gross: $33.7 million

2. Dog

Predicted Gross: $13.3 million

3. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million

5. Marry Me

Predicted Gross: $6 million

6. Jackass Forever

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million

Box Office Results (February 11-13)

As mentioned, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile (his follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express) went a bit off the tracks with $12.8 million. That’s shy of my $14.3 million projection and it’s less than half of what Orient accomplished out of the gate.

Jackass Forever dropped to second with $8 million. The 65% drop was the largest of the five picture franchise and under my prediction of $11.3 million. The prankster sequel stands at $37 million after ten days.

Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson couldn’t get audiences to fall for them as Marry Me debuted in third with $7.9 million. That didn’t match my expectation of $11.2 million. Its simultaneous Peacock streaming start might have caused many couples to simply view from home.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was fourth with $7.5 million (I said $7.1 million) for $759 million overall. The MCU smash is just $1 million away from Avatar and becoming the third largest domestic earner of all-time (obviously it will hit that mark this week).

Liam Neeson’s latest revenge thriller Blacklight performed in line with his other COVID genre tales Honest Thief and The Marksman. The fifth place tally was $3.5 million, in range with my $3.8 million estimate.

Finally, Moonfall took a giant step down to #8 and fell 70% with $2.9 million in its sophomore outing (I was a little more generous with $3.5 million). Sing 2 and Scream managed to leap it for the sixth and seventh spots. The putrid gross is just $15 million.

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

February 11-13 Box Office Predictions

It’s been pretty easy to predict each weekend’s #1 film for a while – a lot of Spidey, a one-week interruption by Scream, and Johnny Knoxville and his pranksters in Jackass Forever. That gets a little more complicated this time around as three new pics enter the marketplace: Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express follow-up Death on the Nile, the Jennifer Lopez/Owen Wilson musical rom com Marry Me, and the latest Liam Neeson revenge saga Blacklight. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the trio right here:

Death on the Nile Box Office Prediction

Marry Me Box Office Prediction

Blacklight Box Office Prediction

Let’s start with Blacklight. Had this Neeson led tale (his granddaughter gets taken in it) come out in February a decade ago, we might be having a different conversation. However, grosses for these genre exercises with the actor have dwindled over the past couple of years (see Honest Thief and The Marksman). Therefore my $3.8 million estimate puts it at the tail end of the top five.

Then there’s Marry Me. It’s shrewdly placed during Valentine’s Day weekend where couples could be searching out something to view on date night. They will have the opportunity to do so with Marry Me in the theater and on Peacock and that could eat into the earnings. I have it barely topping double digits, but will admit that it could over perform and even snatch the #1 spot.

Jackass Forever is the fifth feature in the 20-year-old franchise and the fifth to open at #1. Looking over previous sophomore frame dips for earlier pics, I was surprised at their low drops. For 2002’s Jackass: The Movie, it was 44%.  2006’s Jackass: Number Two fell 49% while 2010’s Jackass 3D was the steepest at 57% (it was coming off a massive $50 million premiere). Spinoff Bad Grandpa in 2013 only had a 37% decline. I’ll say Forever loses about 50% That could be good enough for anywhere from the 1-3 slot depending on how Nile and Marry pan out. There could be a photo finish for that two spot.

Murder on the Orient Express tracked a solid $28 million haul just over four years ago. Yet it didn’t leg out particularly well and I question whether audiences are truly excited for another dose of Hercule Poirot and his many suspects. I suspect it should still make around half of what its predecessor took in. That would get it to #1, but we’re in a situation where we could have three genuine contenders for the top spot.

Spider-Man should stay in the top five with Moonfall potentially dropping out. The Roland Emmerich disaster tale managed just a C+ Cinemascore grade to go with its weak opening. A sophomore fall in the 60% range appears likely.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a certain game between the Bengals and Rams taking place Sunday. We usually don’t see three high-profile releases on Super Bowl weekend and it’s fair to assume grosses will take a hit on that date.

Here’s how I see it shaking out for your top 6:

1. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $14.3 million

2. Jackass Forever

Predicted Gross: $11.3 million

3. Marry Me

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

5. Blacklight

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

6. Moonfall

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million

Box Office Results (February 4-6)

The Jackass franchise is five for five when it comes to opening #1 at the box office. Jackass Forever performed in line with estimates at $23.1 million, a touch ahead of my $21.8 million projection. It ranks fourth in terms of the quintet of debuts (just ahead of the original), but it’s certainly an impressive number given the circumstances.

As for Roland Emmerich’s disaster pic Moonfall… not so much. The big budget ($140 million) lunar saga cratered with only $9.8 million (I went higher with $12.8 million). As mentioned above, expect a precipitous drop in its sophomore frame.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was third with $9.5 million, swinging a bit above my $8.1 million take. The total has reached $748 million as it inches ever closer to 3rd domestically all-time (currently held by Avatar with $760 million).

Scream was fourth with $4.7 million (I said $4.4 million) and it’s scared up an overall tally of $68 million.

Sing 2 rounded out the top five with $4.2 million compared to my $3.6 million estimate. Total is $139 million.

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