Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swings into multiplexes for a highly likely first place debut while The Boogeyman lurks for a start in third position. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newcomers here:
Spidey is the follow-up to 2018’s Oscar-winning animated adventure Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In addition to plenty of awards, it had an A+ Cinemascore grade and nearly $200 million in domestic sales. Anticipation should be elevated for the sequel (with part 3 coming next year). That’s why some estimates have this as lofty as $100 million. I’m a tad more conservative, but I’ll say it clears $90 million.
The Boogeyman should take advantage of its PG-13 rating, the connection to Stephen King for the source material, and that there’s been a slight lull between horror flicks. Heck – it probably helps that it’s called The Boogeyman. I could see this opening similarly to The Black Phone and Smile. That would mean high teens or low 20s for a solid third place showing.
Memorial Day weekend champ The Little Mermaid should drop to second after a mixed bag of a debut (more on that below). A mid 50s dip (similar to the live-action Aladdin four years ago) would mean a number slightly north of $40 million.
The 4-5 slots should belong to sequel holdovers Fast X and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. It could be a close race between the two as they each may earn a tad over $10 million.
Here’s how I see it looking:
1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Predicted Gross: $96.4 million
2. The Little Mermaid
Predicted Gross: $40.5 million
3. The Boogeyman
Predicted Gross: $17.7 million
4. Fast X
Predicted Gross: $10.1 million
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Predicted Gross: $9.6 million
Box Office Results (May 26-29)
As expected, Disney’s The Little Mermaid (updating the 1989 classic) swam to the top of the charts. It did so on the lower end of its expected range. Over the four-day holiday, the total was $118.8 million. That’s below my take of $132.1 million. While nowhere near the starts of Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King from 2017 and 2019, it is on pace with what Aladdin accomplished over Memorial Day four years back.
Fast X slipped to second with $28.5 million and that managed to exceed my $25.4 million estimate. Vin Diesel and company have seen the beginning to the end of their two-decade long franchise earn $113 million thus far.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was third with $26.8 million, on target with my $26 million call. The MCU threequel stands at $306 million.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie took fourth place with $8.2 million (I said $7.6 million) to bring its massive haul to $560 million.
Spots 5-7, as anticipated, went to three newcomers. I didn’t correctly call their placements. The Machine with popular standup and podcaster Bert Kreischer was fifth with $5.8 million, ahead of my $3.7 million forecast. While not spectacular, it’s on the better end of its predicted range.
About My Father, featuring another popular standup Sebastian Maniscalco alongside Robert De Niro, was on the lesser end of the range. The family comedy was sixth with $5.3 million. I said a touch more at $6.2 million.
Finally, Gerard Butler’s action pic Kandahar bombed in seventh with only $2.8 million. I was more generous at $4.2 million.
And that does it for now, folks! Catch my podcast where I discuss all things box office by searching Movies at the Speed of Speculation wherever you like to stream. Until next time…
Blogger’s Note (05/24): I am revising my Kandahar prediction from $7.9 million to $4.2 million
Disney is hoping for a memorable holiday weekend as The Little Mermaid surfaces over the long frame. We have three other newcomers with Gerard Butler’s action thriller Kandahar, the father/son comedy About My Father with standup comic Sebastian Maniscalco and icon Robert De Niro, and the father/son comedy The Machine featuring standup comic Bert Kreischer and icon Mark Hamill. My detailed prediction posts on the quartet of newcomers can be accessed here:
There’s no doubt that Mermaid will bubble up to the #1 spot. The mystery is the number. While I don’t think it reaches the heights of other Mouse Factory live-action remakes like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, I do think it exceed the 2019 Memorial Day take of Aladdin. That said – there’s a wide range of possibility and my estimate is admittedly on the higher end compared to some others.
The real battle might be for the runner-up position. Fast X came in below its predecessor F9 (more on that below). It also received the same so-so B+ Cinemascore grade. A drop to the mid or high 20s could put it slightly behind the fourth weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which held impressively in the second and third outings. I’m going to give Star-Lord and company the slight edge over Vin Diesel and his cinematic family.
Butler has shown the ability to get his action flicks past $10 million and into the teens, but I’m not seeing much buzz for Kandahar. I’ll say it just reaches fourth place over The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
As you can tell from the descriptions, About My Father and The Machine have a lot in common. Both are tests for their leading men Maniscalco and Kreischer in their first headlining roles. Comedies have struggled at multiplexes lately and I believe these will. I think Father has a bit more broad appeal and I’ll give it sixth with The Machine trailing behind.
And with that, here’s how I envision the Friday to Monday Memorial weekend:
1. The Little Mermaid
Predicted Gross: $132.1 million
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Predicted Gross: $26 million
3. Fast X
Predicted Gross: $25.4 million
4. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Predicted Gross: $7.6 million
5. About My Father
Predicted Gross: $6.2 million
Predicted Gross: $4.2 million
7. The Machine
Predicted Gross: $3.7 million
Box Office Results (May 19-21)
Fast X continued the diminishing returns of the franchise though its dip wasn’t too far off from F9. The tenth pic in the 22-year-old series made $67 million (F9 did $70M) and that’s right in line with my $67.8 million prediction. As mentioned, I look for a hefty fall coming up. Luckily for Universal, the overseas grosses are solid (they need to be considering the reported $340 million sticker price).
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was second after two weeks on top with $32.4 million, on pace my with $33.5 million take. The three-week total is $266 million and, per above, I think it could stay parked in the runner-up position over the holiday.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie made $9.6 million for third compared to my $8.3 million forecast. The remarkable seven-week earnings are $549 million.
Book Club: The Next Chapter, after a poor debut, tumbled 55% in fourth with $3 million (I said $3.2 million). The rom com sequel has made a mere $13 million in ten days.
Finally, Evil Dead Rise was fifth with $2.4 million. My projection? $2.4 million! The horror pic has amassed $64 million in five weeks.
And that does it for now, folks! Catch my podcast… or Toddcast as I call it… by searching Movies at the Speed of Speculation on your favorite streaming platform. Until next time…
Disney’s The Little Mermaid surfaces in theaters over this Memorial weekend and it hopes to dominate the box office like the Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King live-action versions did. Rob Marshall, Oscar-winning director of Chicago who recently helmed Mary Poppins Returns, is behind the camera. Halle Bailey stars as Ariel with Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, and Javier Bardem among the supporting players.
The musical fantasy is, of course, a remake of 1989’s classic that won Oscars for Score and Original Song (“Under the Sea”). Another tune (“Kiss the Girl”) was also in contention. 34 years ago, Best Animated Feature didn’t exist at the Academy Awards. If it had, Mermaid almost certainly would’ve won (unless you think All Dogs Go to Heaven might have managed a shocking upset).
Could this Mermaid swim into contention for the 96th ceremony? Over the past decade, several efforts in this sub-genre have been nominated in different races. 2015’s Cinderella was up for its Costume Design. 2016’s The Jungle Book won Visual Effects. The following year it was Beauty and the Beast mentioned in Costume Design and Production Design. The Lion King in 2019 received a Visual Effects nod and 2021’s Cruella won Costume Design and contended in Makeup and Hairstyling.
Reviews for Mermaid are mixed with a 69% Rotten Tomatoes score. That’s better than The Lion King (52%) for example but nowhere near Jungle Book (94%). Some of the criticism is for its visual look and I’m skeptical it places among the final five. I’m also not feeling the love in the other aforementioned categories.
Original Song could be the saving grace. There are three new ditties in the remake with Bailey performing the ballad “For the First Time”. I would think it would be the track that the Mouse Factory campaigns for.
A lot of critics are praising Bailey herself. I highly doubt she is a possibility for Best Actress at the Oscars. However, a nom in Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes is doable depending on the competition in the next few months. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Back in 1989, Disney’s animated underwater musical fantasy The Little Mermaid helped usher in a new golden era for the studio. Over the past few years, the Mouse Factory has made a habit out of releasing live-action renderings of those classics. This includes the pics that immediately followed Mermaid in Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
It’s Ariel’s turn this Memorial Day weekend with Halle Bailey in the title role. Melissa McCarthy is Ursula and other supporting players include Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, and Javier Bardem. Rob Marshall, Oscar winning maker of Chicago as well as Mary Poppins Returns, directs.
Disney has mostly seen boffo results with this subgenre. This include four premieres over nine figures: 2016’s The Jungle Book ($103M), 2017’s Beauty and the Beast ($174M) and Aladdin ($116M) and The Lion King ($191M) from 2019. For Aladdin, that number represents the four-day Memorial weekend haul. Mermaid looks to swim in a similar financial pool as that effort. Anything below $100M would be a letdown.
I figure Mermaid will easily accomplish that goal. The original is beloved enough that the grown-ups who saw it 30 plus years ago should eagerly take their young ones. I’ll say the extended Friday to Monday gross may get beyond $130M.
The Little Mermaid opening weekend prediction: $132.1 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
After the 2008 Oscars, the Academy decided to expand the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. This rule would hold for 2009 and 2010 and then it shifted from anywhere between 5 and 10 (where it was typically 8 or 9). As of 2021, we’re back to a set 10.
Yet what if that had never happened? What if only five nominees from the last decade plus made the cut? My initial writeup where I predicted which five from 2009 would have done so can be found here:
Now we move to 2010. It was a year in which Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech led the evening with 11 nominations. It would win four – Director, Colin Firth for Best Actor, Original Screenplay, and the big prize Picture. So there’s 20% of our theoretical lineup.
As for the others, let’s take them one by one and I’ll give my thoughts on whether each would’ve made that other 80% of the quintet.
In 2010, Danny Boyle was coming off 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire. That little film that could cleaned up on Oscar night with 8 trophies including Picture. This survival drama with James Franco landed six nods. It won zero, but earned recognition in the Best Pic prerequisites that count like screenplay and editing.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Yes. This is a tough one. As you’ll see below, there are more than five pics that check important boxes. My hunch is that it would’ve nabbed the fifth slot (though you may feel differently when you read on and I tell you what doesn’t make my cut).
Darren Aronofsky’s intense balletic drama earned Natalie Portman an Actress statue and four other nods: Director, Cinematography, and Film Editing. Certainly the director and editing mentions are notable as is Portman’s victory.
Does It Make the Final Five?
No. When Picture and Director were both set at five, they rarely matched. 4 out of 5 directors matching the BP nominations was most common. Here’s an example where I don’t think a match would’ve occurred. The biggest reason? Of the 10 BP nominees, Swan is the only one that didn’t land a screenplay nod. That’s significant.
Mark Wahlberg’s passion project didn’t land him a nod, but it did for three of his costars. Christian Bale took home Supporting Actor while onscreen mother Melissa Leo won Supporting Actress (with Amy Adams also nominated). The direction, screenplay, and editing also were up for a total of 7 nominations.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Yes. The wins in the two acting races and the fact that it hit in all the key precursors give the relevant tale of the tape.
There’s speculation that the reason the Academy switched to 10 nominees is because Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was omitted from the five in 2008. His follow-up two years later did not miss the expanded cut. It won Oscars for half of its 8 nominations – Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. The other three nods besides Picture were Original Screenplay, Score, and Art Direction.
Does It Make the Final Five?
No. And here’s where some readers may disagree. I’m giving 127 Hours an ever so slight edge over this. Why? The 8 nods don’t mean much to me because the bulk of them are in tech races. By the way, The Dark Knight also received 8 nominations. Its misses are what make me skeptical as Nolan didn’t get in for his direction and it also wasn’t up for editing.
The Kids Are All Right
The family drama received acting mentions for Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo and for its original screenplay.
Does It Make the Final Five?
No. Too many heavy hitters this year and it was probably toward the bottom of the ten that got in.
The Social Network
David Fincher’s saga about the founding of Facebook won three of its 8 nods in Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Score.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Yes… easily. It was probably #2 behind King’s Speech in terms of winning Picture and Director.
Toy Story 3
The Pixar threequel holds the distinction of being the second animated title to make the BP list after Beauty and the Beast. On Oscar night, it won Animated Feature as well as Original Song and received an Adapted Screenplay nod.
Does It Make the Final Five?
No. The Academy probably would’ve been OK with it being a slam dunk Animated Feature winner if only five pics were in contention.
The Coen Brothers Western remake was behind only King’s Speech in terms of nominations with 10. Beside Picture – you had Director(s), Actor (Jeff Bridges), Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld), Adapted Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design. It went 0 for 10.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Yes. Despite the batting average, the sheer volume of nods indicates it would have still been included.
This indie drama introduced the Academy and many moviegoers to Jennifer Lawrence. She received a nomination as did her costar John Hawkes in Supporting Actor. Adapted Screenplay was in the mix too.
Does It Make the Final Five?
No but here is a prime example of a smaller film that received attention due to the broadening of the BP base.
So that means if there had been just five Best Picture nominees in 2010, I believe they would have been:
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
I will be back soon with my final five take on 2011!
It is officially summertime 2021 and that brings my annual seasonal three-part series where I take a look back at the top ten pics, flops, and other notable selections from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. That means I’ll begin with 1991 at a time where Arnold Schwarzenegger said hasta la vista to all competitors.
Let’s count down from #10 to numero Ah-nuld along with other entries worthy of discussion (both good and bad).
10. Doc Hollywood
Domestic Gross: $54 million
Michael J. Fox had a midsize hit with this fish out of water comedy about an uppity surgeon stuck in the rural south. It marks the star’s last solid performer that he headlined.
9. Boyz n the Hood
Domestic Gross: $57 million
John Singleton had one of cinema’s most memorable directorial debuts with this coming-of-age drama set in South Central. He would become the youngest filmmaker ever to be nominated at the Oscars and the critically hailed pic kickstarted the careers of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube.
8. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Domestic Gross: $60 million
Disney re-released their 1961 classic three decades after its release and picked up a cool $60 million for it. Later in 1991, the studio would begin another renaissance with Beauty and the Beast becoming the first animated film to nab a Best Picture nomination. Five years later, Glenn Close would headline the live-action version and another reboot, Cruella with Emma Stone, is currently in the top five.
7. What About Bob?
Domestic Gross: $63 million
Bill Murray had one of his signature roles as the multi-phobic patient tormenting shrink Richard Dreyfuss on his vacation. Apparently this comedy was a bit dramatic behind the scenes with the two leads having an actual antagonistic relationship.
6. Hot Shots!
Domestic Gross: $69 million
Spoofs were a hot commodity in the early 90s following the success of 1988’s The Naked Gun. Jim Abrahams, one of that film’s writers, created this sendup of Top Gun and many others that starred Charlie Sheen. A sequel would follow two years later.
Domestic Gross: $77 million
Ron Howard directed this firefighting drama that heated up the box office with Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, and a creepy Donald Sutherland as a pyromaniac. There was even a sequel released in 2019 with Baldwin and Sutherland that went direct to streaming and that I frankly forgot existed.
4. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear
Domestic Gross: $86 million
The spoofing love continued as Leslie Nielsen reprised his role as doofus detective Frank Drebin in this sequel to the 1988 classic. It couldn’t hold up the original, but it was better than part 3 which followed in 1994. And, needless to say, this was a simpler time for costar O.J. Simpson.
3. City Slickers
Domestic Gross: $124 million
As New Yorkers learning life lessons on a cattle drive, Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby starred in the comedy smash of the summer and costar Jack Palance even ended up with a Best Supporting Actor victory. A less regarded follow-up would come in 1994.
2. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Domestic Gross: $165 million
While his accent was spotty at best, Kevin Costner parlayed his Oscar success from the previous year’s Dances with Wolves into this blockbuster about the robbing from the rich and giving to the poor hero. The highlight was Alan Rickman’s sublime work as the Sheriff of Nottingham while critics mostly turned up their noses.
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Domestic Gross: $204 million
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s android went from being the bad guy in the 1984 original to the good robot in James Cameron’s sequel that gave us eye popping and revolutionary special effects and a dynamite Linda Hamilton returning as a buffed up Sarah Connor. There’s been four more entries in the franchise and none have matched the potency of this one.
Now let’s turn the focus to some other notable releases:
Thelma & Louise
Domestic Gross: $45 million
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis both scored lead actress Academy nods for Ridley Scott’s now iconic tale of feminism and revenge with an unforgettable ending. This also marked audiences falling in love with a then unknown actor by the name of Brad Pitt.
Domestic Gross: $43 million
Patrick Swayze starred in the previous summer’s high earner with Ghost. This surfing action pic from director Kathryn Bigelow paired the actor with Keanu Reeves and has amassed a deserved cult following. An unnecessary remake wiped out in 2015.
Domestic Gross: $38 million
Kenneth Branagh’s sophomore effort after the acclaim of his Shakespearian Henry V was this Hitchcock homage costarring his then wife Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia, and Robin Williams. As tributes to the Master of Suspense go, this is one of the best.
Domestic Gross: $38 million
Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr., and Whoopi Goldberg are part of the ensemble in this comedy set in the world of the afternoon melodramas that populate the airwaves. Not a big hit at the time, its reception has since grown.
Domestic Gross: $32 million
Spike Lee’s tale of an interracial couple played by Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra received critical kudos. The two most memorable performances come from Samuel L. Jackson as a crack addict and Halle Berry (in her feature debut) as his girlfriend.
Madonna: Truth or Dare
Domestic Gross: $15 million
As she often is, Madonna was ahead of the cultural curve with this documentary set during her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. This was reality programming before it exploded.
Domestic Gross: $6 million
The Coen Brothers pitch black comedy was the darling of the Cannes Film Festival, winning Picture, Director, and Actor for John Turturro. It would land three Academy nominations including Michael Lerner in Supporting Actor.
Now it’s time for the pictures that either didn’t land with audiences or critics (or both):
Domestic Gross: $46 million
Disney was hoping for a new franchise with this comic book based property. Yet the period adventure underwhelmed at the box office. This was a different era for the genre before the MCU changed everything. Director Joe Johnston, coincidentally, would go on to make Captain America: The First Avenger 20 years later.
Domestic Gross: $33 million
This seems hard to believe now, but Premiere magazine predicted this romance would be the largest grossing feature of the summer. Not so much. However, Julia Roberts was just coming off her smash breakthrough Pretty Woman. This didn’t land with audiences in the same way.
Only the Lonely
Domestic Gross: $25 million
Chris Columbus was basking in the box office bonanza that was Home Alone. This rom com with John Candy and Ally Sheedy that followed six months later didn’t cause many filmgoers to leave their homes.
Domestic Gross: $20 million
1990 was gave us lots of mobster fare such as GoodFellas, The Godfather Part III, and Miller’s Crossing. Crowds and critics didn’t take to the Christian Slater and Patrick Dempsey versions of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, respectively.
Domestic Gross: $17 million
Bruce Willis’s vanity project is considered one of the gargantuan flops in history. Grossing only about a fourth of its $65 million budget, it was awarded the Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture of the year.
Domestic Gross: $11 million
Based on a series of successful novels, audiences didn’t take to Kathleen Turner in the title role for this detective action comedy. It made less than half its budget.
Domestic Gross: $5 million
Also set in the world of soap operas, this marked another dud for John Candy in the same season.
Domestic Gross: $2 million
Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder are a classic combo with well-regarded comedies like Silver Streak and Stir Crazy. Even See No Evil, Hear No Evil in 1989, despite critical scorn, performed well. That’s not the case with their last collaboration (which reviewers also drubbed).
And that concludes my look back at summer 1991. Next up is the sweltering season of 2001!
More often than not, the Disney live-action remakes related to their animated classics have managed to score Oscar nominations in various technical races. Two days ahead of its Memorial Day weekend domestic bow, the studio’s Cruella (a reboot of their 1961 animated tale and the Glenn Close live-action features) has seen its review embargo lifted. It is widely expected that the Academy will reward it in some of the races that their previous features have been mentioned in.
The Rotten Tomatoes meter currently stands at a decent 72% with many critics praising Emma Stone (Best Actress winner in 2016 for La La Land) in the title role of the dog despising villainess. She’s unlikely to get much attention in the lead race, but should certainly find herself in the mix in the Musical/Comedy competition at next year’s Golden Globes… if there is a Golden Globes next year.
As mentioned, the Academy has been kind to the remakes over the last decade plus. Alice in Wonderland won Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and was nominated for Visual Effects. Nods for the costumes were also received by Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015). In 2017, Beauty and the Beast made the shortlist for Production and Costume Design. The Jungle Book (2016) was victorious in Visual Effects with Christopher Robin (2018) and The Lion King (2019) as nominees. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) nabbed a mention for its Makeup and Hairstyling. Last year’s Mulan got in for Costume Design and Visual Effects, winning neither.
All four categories mentioned are on the table for Cruella to varying degrees. Based on the buzz, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling are highly probable and could even be wins. Production Design is also feasible while Visual Effects could be more of a stretch due to expected competition.
Additionally, Florence and the Machine have contributed the original song “Call Me Cruella”. I wouldn’t bank on it making the final five in that race, but you never know (sometimes there’s surprises in that category).
Bottom line: Cruella is looking good for at least two Academy mentions and possibly more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Disney’s Cruella will try to scare up some box office business over the Memorial Day weekend after being delayed from its original December 2020 release date. The pic casts Emma Stone in the title role of the villainess as seen in the studio’s 1961 animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians and in the form of Glenn Close for two live-action flicks in the late 90s and early 00s. Craig Gillespie directs with a supporting cast including Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Mark Strong.
With a massive reported price tag of $200 million, Cruella hits theaters and Disney Plus premium on the same day. Home viewers will need to shell out $30 for couch watching, similar to Raya and the Last Dragon and the upcoming Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. It’s worth noting that Raya opened to $8.5 million in March under this platform. However, the holiday weekend and the fact that theaters are increasing capacity have set an understandably higher bar for Cruella.
Disney has had major success with their recent live-action remakes of animated classics, from The Lion King to Aladdin to The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast and more. Even the lower earners, like Dumbo, started out in the mid 40s. Obviously the dynamic has changed under COVID times. Some families may realize it’s more economical to pay the $30 compared to the cost of hauling the entire brood to the multiplex.
Early word of mouth is quite positive and that should help. I could easily foresee a low to mid 20s rollout for Ms. Stone, her likely to be Oscar nominated costumes, and company.
Cruella opening weekend prediction: $23.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
For my A Quiet Place Part II prediction, click here:
Glen Keane is a bit of a Disney legend having served as a character animator for classic titles including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. He’s also no stranger to Academy attention. Three years ago, he won an Oscar alongside collaborator Kobe Bryant for the short film Dear Basketball. On October 23, Netflix debuts his feature length directorial debut Over the Moon. The computer drawn musical features the voices of Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, John Cho, and Sandra Oh.
Early reviews are pretty encouraging. That said, Keane’s most notable competition comes from his former employer. Disney/Pixar’s Soul (which just announced a Disney+ streaming bow on Christmas Day) is rumored to be special and it’s been the strong front runner for Animated Feature for some time. That hasn’t changed and the real question is what’s the current runner-up.
Over the Moon could be it, but I’m beginning to believe Wolfwalkers might be in second position based on its fantastic critical reaction. Bottom line: expect Moon to be in the final five for animated fare. A win is far less likely. Also look for its Original Song titled “Rocket to the Moon” to get some attention in that category. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
After its theatrical release was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney’s live-action version of their 1998 animated tale Mulan is set to stream on Disney+ beginning tomorrow for a fee of $30. With a reported budget of around $200 million, this is certainly one of the highest profile features to ever (if ever) hit the PVOD circuit.
Over the past decade, the Mouse Factory has made billions of dollars with this sub genre of bringing their well-known drawn properties to a human scale. And there’s already a history of these pics garnering technical nominations at the Oscars.
The review embargo for Mulan lapsed on the eve of its release and reaction thus far is mostly on the positive side. Niki Caro’s remake is generating praise for its action sequences and overall visuals. Some of the reviews are a bit less kind. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is currently 73%. That’s a marked improvement over last year’s Aladdin (57%) and The Lion King (52%). Yet it falls short of the highs of The Jungle Book (94%) or Cinderella (84%). It’s actually right in range with 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, which scored 71%.
Let’s take that trip down memory lane for Disney’s output in this genre, shall we? In 2010, Alice in Wonderland won both Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and was nominated for its Visual Effects. 2014’s Maleficent also received a nod for its costuming and that happened a year later with Cinderella. In 2016, The Jungle Book was victorious for its Visual Effects. Beauty and the Beast received nominations the next year for Production Design and its costumes. Christopher Robin got a Visual Effects nod in 2019. And last year, The Lion King picked up a Visual Effects mention while Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling.
You’ll notice that none of these pictures landed attention in the major categories and I don’t expect that Mulan will change that. When it comes to down the line nominations, I do expect this will contend in Production Design and Costume Design especially. Visual Effects and Makeup and Hairstyling are also possibilities and maybe even Cinematography. And there’s also the matter of Best Original Song. Christina Aguilera, who sang the track “Reflection” over the end credits 22 years ago, has composed some original works here. She recently put out the single “Loyal Brave True” and it certainly could contend.
Bottom line: Mulan is unlikely to be the first live-action Disney remake to compete for the big prizes, but it should carry on the tradition of its technical achievements being noticed. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…