Oscar Watch: Wolfwalkers

Disney/Pixar isn’t the only entity with a sterling track record in the Best Animated Feature race at the Oscars. Irish outlet Cartoon Saloon has seen all three of their features nominated in the category. In all these instances, their product lost to a film with Disney and Pixar stamped on the credits.

Saloon’s fourth title is the environmentally conscious adventure Wolfwalkers, which screened at the Toronto Film Festival over the weekend. It is Saloon’s third collaboration with filmmaker Tomm Moore (who co-directs alongside Ross Stewart). His 2009 effort The Secret of Kelis scored a nod and lost to Up. Follow-up Song of the Sea fell short to Big Hero 6. The studio’s third feature – 2017’s The Breadwinner – made the final five with Coco emerging as the victor.

Early reviews from Toronto indicate that Wolfwalkers is another winner and it seems bound for nomination #4 for the Saloon. The pic is slated for stateside distribution later this year via Apple TV. Yet Pixar awaits with the impending release of Soul, which is currently seen as the favorite to take the gold.

Bottom line: Cartoon Saloon should make it 4 for 4 in Best Animated Feature. Beating the Mouse Factory looks to be its ongoing challenge. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Onward Box Office Prediction

The 22nd Pixar pic in the past quarter century debuts next weekend with Onward. The fantasy flick comes from director Dan Scanlon, who also made the sequel Monsters University in 2013. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt lead a voice cast that includes Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, Mel Rodriguez, Wilmer Valderrama, Tracey Ullman, Dave Foley, and John Ratzenberger.

Per usual for Pixar, reviews are strong with a current 85% Rotten Tomatoes score. Some critics have said this isn’t quite in the league of their classics. Interestingly, this is the first selection from the studio not to open in either summer or fall (with the vast majority having premiered in June or November).

That could have the effect of making Onward not seem like the event debut that most Pixar offerings are. There is also some family competition from holdovers Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild. Still, Disney knows how to market their product. Only three of the Pixar titles that had wide releases have made under $50 million out of the gate. I expect this will top that, but $60 million could be a slight reach. I’ll say mid 50s is the likely scenario – on par with non-Pixar Mouse Factory pictures such as Big Hero 6 and Ralph Breaks the Internet. 

Onward opening weekend prediction: $54.3 million

For my The Way Back prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/27/the-way-back-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Missing Link

The stop-motion animated adventure Missing Link hits theaters next weekend and it’s the latest effort from the studio Laika. Reviews have been sturdy for the Bigfoot tale featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, and Zach Galifianakis. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 91%.

When it comes to Oscar nominations for their material, Laika has quite the batting average… as in 100%. For their four previous efforts, they’ve also all lost to Disney titles. In 2009, Coraline lost to Up. ParaNorman came up short to Brave in 2012. In 2014, it was Big Hero 6 over The Boxtrolls. Two years later, Kubo and the Two Strings couldn’t emerge over Zootopia.

Could history repeat itself? Absolutely. While critical reaction is solid, Link has little chance at winning the Best Animated Feature award. And, yes, Mouse Factory competition is legit with sequels Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2. There’s another sequel already released from DreamWorks – How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – that also looks to nab a nod.

With five slots, there’s a chance Link could be the first Laika flick to miss a nomination. However, their track record is considerable and I wouldn’t count it out. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch – How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

We are just two days into the new year, but it’s already time for my first Oscar Watch post of 2019. That’s because How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World comes out in Australia tomorrow before its stateside release on February 22. Early reviews are out and the third and final installment of the Dreamworks Animation franchise is receiving solid ones. The action fantasy sequel stands at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

In 2010, the original Dragon nabbed a Best Animated Feature nod at the Oscars. Four years later, part 2 accomplished the same. Both pictures lost to titles coming from the mighty Mouse Factory – Toy Story 3 and Big Hero 6, respectively. The Disney competition will be fierce this year with Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2.

That said, even at this extraordinarily early date, the latest Dragon already looks like a serious contender for a nomination given the history of the series. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Grinch Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note: on the eve of its premiere, I’m giving this a bump from $56.4 million to $63.4 million

Illumination Entertainment’s The Grinch looks to be a profitable one when it hits theaters next weekend. The animated take on the Dr. Seuss classic features the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as the grumpy Christmas hating character. Other voice over work is provided by Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury, and Pharrell Williams. Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney (who co-directed Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets) are the filmmakers.

In 2000, the live-action version of this tale with Jim Carrey was a massive smash for Universal (Illumination’s parent company). There has been plenty of family pics over the last couple of months and The Grinch will get plenty more competition in following weekends. Both Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Ralph Breaks the Internet are on deck.

That said, Illumination has had an impressive track record during this decade with the Despicable Me/Minions franchise and Pets. This is their first foray into the month of November, but plenty of other studios have planted their animated flag into the same time frame. In 2012, Wreck-It Ralph took in $49 million for its start. Two years later, Big Hero 6 made $56 million. In 2015, The Peanuts Movie started with $44 million and Trolls premiered to $46 million a year later. Yet the best comp could end up being 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which bowed to $55 million. I’ll put it just over that as this Grinch looks to leg out well throughout the holiday season.

The Grinch opening weekend prediction: $63.4 million

For my The Girl in the Spider’s Web prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-box-office-prediction/

For my Overlord prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/overlord-box-office-prediction/

Trolls Box Office Prediction

Viral intrigue hits multiplexes as Trolls, a timely thriller about Internet irritants, debuts next weekend. OK, the 3D animated musical kiddie pic is actually about those dolls with the funky spiked up hair and it hopes to capture a sizable family audience.

The Dreamworks effort comes with a reported $120 million budget and features the voices (both spoken and in song) of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, and James Corden. The soundtrack has already yielded Timberlake’s summer smash “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”. Reviews thus far have been surprisingly quite positive and it stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Early November has been fertile ground for animated fare in recent years past. Some of the original titles and their opening grosses include: 2007’s Bee Movie ($38M), 2010’s Masterminds ($46M), 2012’s Wreck-It-Ralph ($49M), 2014’s Big Hero 6 ($56M), and last year’s The Peanuts Movie ($44M). There is one significant factor standing in the way of Trolls potentially achieving those numbers and that would be Marvel’s Doctor Strange, which debuts directly against it. While the wild haired characters of this may be looking to siphon off an even younger audience (and their parents), Strange should undoubtedly succeed in bringing in families as well.

That said, I expect Trolls to manage a mid-30s roll out and likely play well into the month of November.

Trolls opening weekend prediction: $34.6 million

For my Doctor Strange prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/10/25/doctor-strange-box-office-prediction/

For my Hacksaw Ridge prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/10/26/hacksaw-ridge-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Finding Dory

When it come to their movies getting nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, Pixar is in a class by itself. This specific category was created in 2001. Of the 15 pictures that have won, 8 have come from Pixar. They include 2004’s The Incredibles, 2007’s Ratatouille, 2008’s Wall-E, 2009’s Up, 2010’s Toy Story 3, 2012’s Brave, and 2015’s Inside Out.

And the first Pixar pic to claim the prize? 2003’s Finding Nemo and its long in the works sequel Finding Dory is out Friday. Will Dory become the 9th studio entry to take home the gold statue? After all, it has a glowing 94% Rotten Tomatoes score and could be the summer’s biggest hit.

Well… Not so fast. It’s also worth noting that in 2013 and 2014, two traditional Disney animated flicks took the Oscar with Frozen and Big Hero 6. While Finding Dory will unquestionably score a nomination, its main competition appears now to be Zootopia. That Disney animated traditional title, released in March, became a box office phenomenon itself (a billion worldwide) and holds an even better 98% RT rating. I would maintain that the animals of Zootopia currently hold the edge, with Dory swimming a bit behind it.

 

Oscar Recap 2014

Well it’s been nearly 24 hours since the 87th edition of the Academy Awards reached its conclusion and somewhere Neil Patrick Harris is still trying to make that “secret Oscar ballot” gag work. The show was, as usual, a mixed bag that went on far too long. It featured some solid musical numbers (Common and John Legend, Tim McGraw) and a truly memorable one with Lady Gaga paying tribute to the 50 year old Sound of Music, complete with a Julie Andrews cameo at the end.

Being the host is largely a thankless job but NPH did OK. I don’t think his performance was strong enough to warrant a return engagement, but you never know. I still say let Fallon and Timberlake do it or bring in Louis C.K. to really make things unpredictable.

There were some genuinely humorous bits like John Travolta making nice with Idina Menzel after butchering her name last year, but not close to enough to justify its laborious length which ran past midnight.

It was a mediocre ceremony that was truly made fascinating only by the real suspense generated with the top awards. OK, it was a given that Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette would take home acting trophies and they did. I admittedly let my heart and not mind pick Michael Keaton over Eddie Redmayne and was unsurprisingly proved wrong.

The genuine suspense came with Best Picture and Director where there was a real coin flip between Birdman and Boyhood. It got even more confusing when both The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash started winning in categories they weren’t expected to. Could a massive upset be brewing with one of them?

Yet when Birdman took the Original Screenplay award over expected winner Budapest, it started to look like a good night for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s movie. He would win the Director prize and the film would win the biggest race of all.

This left Boyhood as the evening’s loser, picking up only Supporting Actress for Arquette. Birdman and Budapest won four awards with Whiplash at three. Interestingly, this Oscars had the rare occasion of all eight nominated features winning at least one race. My predictions were as uneven as the show… 12 for 20 and that is on the low end for this humble blogger.

So, all in all, a ho hum affair with some solid moments sprinkled throughout. By the end of the show, however, it wasn’t only Octavia Spencer that appeared exasperated by that flat NPH ballot gag.

Todd’s FINAL Oscar Winner Predictions

Well here we go! The Oscars honoring the best of 2014 in film air this Sunday and after many round of predictions, it’s time to man up and pick up the winners for the final time in all major categories, minus documentary and short film contenders. For each race, I will predict the winner and a runner-up. On Sunday evening or Monday, I’ll post a recap of how I did.

Let’s get to it:

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

Runner-Up: Birdman

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Winner: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Runner-Up: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Runner-Up: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Runner-Up: Reese Witherspoon, Wild

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Runner-Up: Edward Norton, Birdman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Runner-Up: Emma Stone, Birdman

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-Up: Birdman

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Winner: The Imitation Game

Runner-Up: Whiplash

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Predicted Winner: Ida

Runner-Up: Leviathan

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Predicted Winner: Big Hero 6

Runner-Up: How to Train Your Dragon 2

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-Up: Into the Woods

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Predicted Winner: Birdman

Runner-Up: Unbroken

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Predicted Winner: Into the Woods

Runner-Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST EDITING

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

Runner-Up: Whiplash

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-Up: Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST SOUND MIXING

Predicted Winner: American Sniper

Runner-Up: Birdman

BEST SOUND EDITING

Predicted Winner: Birdman

Runner-Up: American Sniper

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Predicted Winner: Insterstellar

Runner-Up: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

BEST SCORE

Predicted Winner: The Theory of Everything

Runner-Up: The Imitation Game

BEST SONG

Predicted Winner: “Glory” from Selma

Runner-Up: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

My predictions reflect a belief that the following pictures will win multiple awards: Birdman (4) and Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel with 3.

And there you have it…. My final Oscar predictions! We shall see how I do come Sunday evening.

 

Box Office Predictions: December 19-21

It’s a busy pre-Christmas box office weekend as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and Annie all make their debuts. Additionally, the Reese Witherspoon drama Wild expands its theater count to approximately 850 screens. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each at the following links:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/13/the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/13/night-at-the-museum-secret-of-the-tomb-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/14/annie-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/15/wild-box-office-prediction/

As you can see, The Hobbit should easily rule the weekend, however its Wednesday unveiling (unlike its two predecessors) should give it the lowest three day start of the franchise.

I expect Night at the Museum to open lower than its two predecessors, while Annie should see a lackluster beginning. Opening on less than a third of its competitors, Wild should manage a respectable sixth place debut.

As for holdovers, this weekend’s champ Exodus: Gods and Kings underwhelmed out of the gate and its drubbing from critics and moviegoers (a troubling B- Cinemascore) means it should suffer a hefty fall. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 should round out the top five.

With that, my top six predictions for the weekend:

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Predicted Gross: $67.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $93.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

2. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Predicted Gross: $25.4 million

3. Annie

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

4. Exodus: Gods and Kings

Predicted Gross: $9.7 million (representing a drop of 59%)

5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Predicted Gross: $8 million (representing a drop of 37%)

6. Wild

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

Box Office Results (December 12-14)

Its #1 opening was never really in question, but as mentioned above, Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings disappointed with a middling $24.1 million premiere. This is much less than my projected $35.5M. Clearly the negative buzz hindered it and a steep fall (especially with Hobbit competition) seems inevitable.

The Hunger Games three-quel slipped to second with $12.6 million, a bit higher than my $11.4M prediction. It stands at $276M in four weeks and while that’s nothing to sneeze at, it will be the lowest domestic earner of the franchise to date.

Penguins of Madagascar continued its unimpressive run with $7.2 million, in line with my $6.9M estimate. Its total is at $58M.

The acclaimed Chris Rock comedy Top Five debuted fourth with $6.8 million, well under my generous $11.6M prediction. While I certainly gave it too much credit, this is a fairly solid haul for a picture than opened on less than 1000 screens.

Disney’s hit Big Hero 6 was fifth with $6 million (I predicted $5.4M). It’s grossed $185M to date.

And that’s all for now, my friends! Until next time…