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…

February 4-6 Box Office Predictions

February kicks off with two new entries that should place 1-2 on the charts. Johnny Knoxville and his pranksters return in Jackass Forever and the Roland Emmerich disaster pic Moonfall starring Halle Berry are the debuts and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Jackass Forever Box Office Prediction

Moonfall Box Office Prediction

It’s been years since we’ve seen a Jackass experience and I do question if younger viewers aren’t as familiar with the franchise. On the other hand, no film in the series (including 2013 spinoff Bad Grandpa) has opened below $20 million and I won’t predict that this will. My low 20s forecast easily puts it in first place.

As for Moonfall, I’ve got it premiering in the same range as 2017’s Geostorm and that’s in the lower double digits range. That should certainly be good for second, but is weak considering the reported $140 million price tag.

The trio of S sequels that have reigned supreme in the last couple of weeks – Spider-Man: No Way Home, Scream, Sing 2 – should all slide 2 spots and populate the rest of the top five.

Here’s how I see it shaking out:

1. Jackass Forever

Predicted Gross: $21.8 million

2. Moonfall

Predicted Gross: $12.8 million

3. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $8.1 million

4. Scream

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million

5. Sing 2

Predicted Gross: $3.6 million

Box Office Results (January 28-30)

In a weekend that saw no major releases, Spider-Man: No Way Home easily ruled for the sixth out of its seven weekends. The MCU sensation took in another $11 million, reaching a tad higher than my $10.3 million projection. It stands just $25 million away from overtaking Avatar as the third biggest domestic earner of all time.

Scream was in the runner-up position again and it held better than I anticipated. The horror sequel made $7.2 million in its third frame compared to my $5.5 million estimate and it’s grossed $62 million.

Sing 2 was third with $4.6 million, edging my $4.2 million take and it’s up to $134 million.

Redeeming Love was fourth in its sophomore outing with $1.7 million (I said $1.8 million) for $6 million overall.

The King’s Man rounded out the top five at $1.6 million (I went with $1.3 million). Tally is $33 million.

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

The Jigsaw Files: Saw 3D (2010)

The Jigsaw Files continues with 2010’s Saw 3D (also known as Saw: The Final Chapter) and it is of course not the final chapter as evidence by Spiral currently being #1 at multiplexes. Lionsgate termed it the endgame after the disappointing financial performance of Saw VI. Like all horror series, it’s never truly dead. As in all Saw flicks, even if characters are dead, they still manage to appear in the abundance of flashbacks we have seen time and again.

In the early moments of the seventh entry, we do see something very rare and that’s daylight. One of the traps from Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) actually happens in a setting that’s not a dingy dungeon. It happens in a crowded business district where spectators get to witness Hoffman’s handiwork. I must admit it was odd to see one of these games play out in a location that doesn’t make the grossest porta potty you’ve ever experienced look like the Taj Mahal.

That’s about the only new development to be found. Saw 3D brings back director Kevin Greutert for the second time in a row along with familiar screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. The plot primarily hinges on Hoffman’s freshest game targeting Bobby (Sean Patrick Flanery). He makes his living by claiming to be a Jigsaw survivor and reaping the book sale profits. The problem is he’s lying and that doesn’t sit well with Hoffman. The investigator trying to halt everything is Gibson (Chad Bonella, overacting even for a Saw pic).

Since this is the “last” chapter, we do finally get some answers on just what the heck happened to Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). He was last seen footless all the way back in the 2004 original. Yet the answers provided aren’t exactly satisfying. This is also marks the least screen time for the OG gamesman Tobin Bell. His ex-wife Jill (Betsy Russell) easily doubles his minutes. As mentioned before, the switch from Bell’s Jigsaw to Hoffman always marked a shift in quality for this franchise.

In 2009, a little movie called Avatar set all kinds of box office records. This may have been a factor in the 3D technology being employed here. I didn’t see this in the theater and I suppose the flying body parts coming at you on a giant screen could have added something…

I kind of doubt it. Seven features in, the Saw productions have run out of creative juice. One could argue that happened after the third one and I wouldn’t argue. The return of Elwes isn’t the boost as you may wish. Saw 3D has one foot planted in monotonous traps and departed voices from the past. That other foot is long sawed off and sought after thrills from #7 are tough to find.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Jigsaw (2017)…

My previous Jigsaw File posts can be accessed here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/09/the-jigsaw-files-saw-2004/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/09/the-jigsaw-files-saw-ii-2005/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/10/the-jigsaw-files-saw-iii-2006/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/11/the-jigsaw-files-saw-iv-2007/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/11/the-jigsaw-files-saw-v-2008/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/16/the-jigsaw-files-saw-vi-2009/

Paramount Changes

And the release dates keep shifting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier today, Disney announced sweeping changes to their future slate of projects (affecting Mulan and the Star Wars and Avatar franchises) and I covered it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/23/mickey-mouse-blinks/

That follows word from Warner Bros. on their shifting of Tenet, which I covered here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/20/tenet-falls-back/

Now it’s Paramount’s turn. There were a number of changes announced this evening, but I’ll cover the two most significant. Tom Cruise’s return to one of his signature roles was originally slated for July 12th of this year. If you think about it, it would almost surely be the #1 or #2 movie in America right now in an alternate universe. The long gestating sequel was then pushed back to December 23rd. And now its release has been delayed nearly a full year with an expected date of July 2, 2021.

A Quiet Place II was right around the corner when COVID hit with a March 18th premiere. The virus changed that plan to a Labor Day rollout. This sequel is now scheduled for April 23, 2021 – postponing its release by over a year from its intended landing.

It’s fair to say that this week has seen the most heavy hitters fall back. And as we’ve learned in 2020, expect plenty more changes and adjustments ahead.

Mickey Mouse Blinks

Today marked even more release shifting in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and it’s a lot of news of Disney. The Mouse Factory, to no one’s surprise, has moved their live-action remake of Mulan from August 21st to that date we’re all growing accustomed to… (say it together now) TBD.

That’s not all. Two of the studio’s biggest franchises saw their anticipated sequels, spin-offs, and reboots pushed back one year. The as yet untitled next episodes of Star Wars will not begin until December 2023 (with follow-up pics now slated for 2025 and 2027).

James Cameron’s four (yes, four) sequels to Avatar are delayed yet again. Part two is now pegged for December 2022 with parts 3, 4, and 5 now planned for December 2024, 2026, and 2028.

And… that’s not all. Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile (his follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express) has been pushed back two weeks from October 9th to October 23rd of this year (we’ll see it that holds). Mr. Branagh has already seen a COVID change a few weeks back when his critically reviled Artemis Fowl scrapped its theatrical bow in favor of a Disney+ debut.

Some other developments: Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel changed from Christmas 2020 to October 2021. Wes Anderson’s eagerly awaited (and potential Oscar contender) The French Dispatch saw its October 2020 premiere altered to… (say it again) TBD.

This follows the announcement from Warner Bros. earlier this week that Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (long seen as the first real COVID test for theaters) is now a TBD property after its hoped for August rollout. After the Tenet news, the ball was passed to Mulan. Not anymore.

Now the paradigm shifts again… to Disney. One could say that the MCU’s Black Widow is now the first massive blockbuster scheduled to debut on November 6th. Let’s see if it stays that way in our new cinematic universe.

May 10-12 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (05/08): I am downgrading my Pikachu estimate from $74.8 million to $64.8 million and now giving Endgame a third weekend atop the charts

I’m predicting a photo finish as Avengers: Endgame gets legitimate competition in the form of Pokemon Detective Pikachu featuring the vocal stylings of Ryan Reynolds this weekend. We also have a pair of comedies marketed to the female crowd: Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake The Hustle and Diane Keaton cheerleading flick Poms. In more limited release, there’s the biopic Tolkien with Nicholas Hoult. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of the newcomers here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/pokemon-detective-pikachu-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/the-hustle-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/02/poms-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/04/tolkien-box-office-prediction/

About that photo finish… estimates for Pokemon are all over the map and they have been dropping a bit in recent days. I’ve landed with it having a debut in the mid 70s range. That puts it where I expect Endgame to be. If the record breaking superhero epic manages to top $68 million this weekend, it will achieve the second best third weekend of all time behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That would match what it did this past weekend (more on that below).

I’m giving Pikachu an ever so slight edge to nab the #1 spot. We shall see if that changes as the week goes on.

As for the fresh comedies, The Hustle and Poms should get the three and four spots, respectively. I’ve downgraded both of my forecasts today, especially after seeing the disappointing gross of Long Shot.

Tolkien is only hitting a smallish 1300 screens and my $3.1 million projection leaves it outside the top five. Speaking of the five position, that could be interesting as The Intruder, Long Shot, and UglyDolls could all get it depending on their sophomore dips. I’ll give Long Shot a minor edge.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Avengers: Endgame

Predicted Gross: $71.2 million

2. Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Predicted Gross: $64.8 million

3. The Hustle

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million

4. Poms

Predicted Gross: $8.7 million

5. Long Shot

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million

Box Office Results (May 35)

Avengers: Endgame finally found a record it couldn’t smash this weekend, though I’m sure Disney isn’t too upset about that. In its second weekend, it grossed $147.3 million and that fell under my $153.6 million estimate. That’s also just under the $149 million earned by The Force Awakens in its second weekend, so it had to settle for runner-up record status. With $621 million in the bank, Endgame is already the #9 domestic earner in history. Even more impressively, the film is already #2 worldwide as it surpassed Titanic and is behind only Avatar.

All new titles came in under expectations. As predicted, thriller The Intruder performed the best in second with $10.8 million. While quite a bit under my $15.2 million estimate, it’s a solid performance considering it cost a scant $8 million to produce.

Long Shot with Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron couldn’t connect with audiences despite solid reviews. Its third place showing was only $9.7 million compared to my $13.1 million projection.

The news was even worse for the animated UglyDolls. It bombed in fourth with $8.6 million. I went higher at $13.8 million.

Captain Marvel rounded out the top five with $4.2 million (I said $5.9 million). Total stands at $420 million.

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

Oscar Watch – Alita: Battle Angel

James Cameron is no stranger to Oscar attention with Titanic winning Best Picture 21 years ago and Avatar picking up a slew of nominations in 2009. In two weeks, he serves as co-writer for Alita: Battle Angel along with Laeta Kologridis. It’s directed by Robert Rodriguez. The pic is based on a well-known series of cyberpunk graphic novels from Japan. Rosa Salazar voices the title character and provides motion capture work for her movements in this mix of live and CG action.

Reviews are out and they’re skewing negative, along with some positive here and there. The Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 44%. A lot of the critics are particularly picking apart the screenplay and that’s not an uncommon knock on Cameron’s writing.

Alita comes with a reported budget upwards of $200 million and it’s being seen as a potential costly flop stateside (foreign grosses could be a different story). While this clearly won’t contend for major categories in awards season, the state of the art visuals have been praised. And it’s worth noting that Cameron’s directorial efforts Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Titanic, and Avatar all won Best Visual Effects at the Oscars.

That said, there’s plenty of eye-popping blockbuster feasts on the schedule in 2019 (Avengers: Endgame and the next Star Wars included). With the possibility of negative buzz enveloping it, this may not even be a slam dunk in that category. In that sense, it could be similar to 2017’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which also had poor word-of-mouth and missed out in its most obvious slot for recognition. If this manages a nod, the two Sound races are possible as well.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S7jIbKhZdQA