The Oscars Go Streaming

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed the operation of movie theaters for the past two months and that looks to continue into the foreseeable future in many states across the nation. For someone who has a blog that focuses on a lot on Oscar forecasting, this has raised numerous questions. The primary one is: could there really be an Oscar telecast for 2020 pictures next year if there’s little product being released? And I certainly don’t think Sonic the Hedgehog or Birds of Prey will sweep the ceremony in February 2021.

A significant part of the answer to that question was revealed today. The Academy, after an internal Zoom conference, announced that streaming and VOD product will indeed be eligible for Oscar consideration. You may ask – weren’t Netflix and other streamers already being nominated? After all, 2019 saw Best Picture and/or acting nods for The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes. Well, not really. The previous rule was that each streaming entry had to screen in Los Angeles for a one week awards qualifying run. That rule (at least for 2020) has been abolished.

So what does that mean? The uncertainty surrounding the opening of theaters could mean a lot more features hitting Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and any other VOD platforms. We have witnessed this already with Trolls World Tour landing on small screens when it was supposed to hit multiplexes. That’s not all. Just yesterday, Judd Apatow’s latest comedy King of Staten Island starring Pete Davidson skipped its theatrical run and opted for a June VOD date. The Lovebirds, which reunites Kumail Nanjiani with his The Big Sick director Michael Showalter, arrives May 22 on Netflix. The Seth Rogen comedy An American Pickle will now premiere on HBO Max.

With today’s announcement, I suspect we could see many Oscar contenders (especially lower budget ones) make the streaming move. And with the uncertainty regarding film festivals like Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and Telluride (typically the launching pads for such content), this could be the easiest way to get such features to the masses around the same time frame.

My Oscar coverage, when it’s available, will continue here!

March 6-8 Box Office Predictions

March ushers in two new releases with Pixar’s Onward featuring the vocal stylings of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt and the sports drama The Way Back with Ben Affleck. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the pair here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/27/onward-box-office-prediction/

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

The latest Pixar adventure is the first to be released outside of the summer or winter frames. This lends to some uncertainty about the opening range. Reviews are sturdy, but with many critics saying it’s not quite up to the level of their classics. Onward isn’t anticipated to hit the highest levels of the studio’s debuts either, but upwards of $50 million is still likely.

The Way Back could struggle to find an audience. I will say there’s a chance this could over perform with adult audiences and sports fans as Mr. Affleck has been making the rounds on ESPN and similar platforms. However, the probable scenario is a gross under double digits.

As for holdovers, The Invisible Man finally broke the 2020 horror glut and was quite visible with genre fans (more on that below). With solid word-of-mouth, this could avoid the hefty sophomore drop-offs that many scary pics experience (especially with no real competition for its audience). I’m predicting a slide of only around 40% and an easy runner-up showing.

Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild should each dip in the mid 40s with the newly arrived Pixar competition. And with that, my top 5 take:

1. Onward

Predicted Gross: $54.3 million

2. The Invisible Man

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million

3. Sonic the Hedgehog

Predicted Gross: $9 million

4. The Way Back

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

5. The Call of the Wild

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

Box Office Results (February 28-March 1)

As mentioned, we have seen a string of horror genre disappointments this year. Blumhouse changed that dynamic as The Invisible Man, coming off fine reviews, took in $28.2 million. While that didn’t match my $33.8 million estimate, the start quadruples its measly $7 million budget and I expect a healthy run ahead.

Sonic the Hedgehog was second with $16.2 million, a bit above my $14.9 million projection. In three weeks, the Sega based hit stands at $128 million.

The Call of the Wild placed third in its second outing with $13.3 million, a tad under my $14.5 million forecast. Tally is $46 million.

The anime superhero flick My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising expanded wide and was fourth with $5.7 million ($9.1 million overall). I incorrectly had it outside the top five.

The five spot belonged to Bad Boys for Life at $4.3 million (I said $3.6 million) as the sequel nears the double century mark with $197 million.

Birds of Prey was sixth with $4.1 million compared to my $3.2 million take. It’s made $78 million.

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

February 28-March 1 Box Office Predictions

As February ends and March begins at the box office, we have one new wide release out this weekend. Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man with Elisabeth Moss hopes to reverse the 2020 trend of horror pics posting unimpressive grosses. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/19/the-invisible-man-box-office-prediction/

With impressive early word-of-mouth, I’m estimating that Invisible will be quite visible to genre fans and easily top the charts with a low to mid 30s haul. If that occurs, it will more than quadruple its measly $7 million budget out of the gate.

The battle for #2 should be closer with holdovers Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild, which exceeded expectations in its start (more on that below). I’ll give Sonic a slight edge. The rest of the top five should consist of returnees Bad Boys for Life and Birds of Prey. And with that, my take on the frame ahead:

1. The Invisible Man

Predicted Gross: $33.8 million

2. Sonic the Hedgehog

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

3. The Call of the Wild

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million

4. Bad Boys for Life

Predicted Gross: $3.6 million

5. Birds of Prey

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million

Box Office Results (February 21-23)

Sonic the Hedgehog was expected to easily repeat at #1 in its sophomore outing. However, the Sega based action comedy just held onto the top spot at $26.1 million (a bit under my $30.2 million projection). The film has still outperformed estimates as it stands at $106 million after ten days.

The close call came at the hands of The Call of the Wild. Harrison Ford and his CGI hound was second and debuted well at the top of its range with $24.7 million. I was much lower at $14.6 million. The downside? Call has a reported budget of $125 million.

Birds of Prey was third with $6.8 million compared to my $7.9 million estimate. In three weeks, the disappointing DC flick is at $72 million.

Bad Boys for Life was fourth at $5.8 million (I said $6.5 million) as it nears the double century mark with $191 million.

Finally, Brahms: The Boy II was fifth and also made $5.8 million. The sequel is another example of horror fans tuning out this year. My forecast of $5.5 million was on target.

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

February 21-23 Box Office Predictions

After a fantastic opening over the long weekend, Sonic the Hedgehog looks to fend off two new challengers: Harrison Ford and his CGI dog in The Call of the Wild and horror sequel Brahms: The Boy II with Katie Holmes. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/12/the-call-of-the-wild-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/13/brahms-the-boy-ii-box-office-prediction/

Sonic might lose about half its Friday to Sunday premiere audience, but that should be enough to easily top the charts for the second frame in a row. The runner-up position should go to Wild, but with a muted low teens start. Birds of Prey is likely to fall from second position to third.

I haven’t seen much anticipation for the return of Brahms and have it in fifth place. My guess is that the drop for Bad Boys for Life should be less than the sophomore frame falls of Fantasy Island and The Photograph. I look for both of them to fall out of the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Sonic the Hedgehog

Predicted Gross: $30.2 million

2. The Call of the Wild

Predicted Gross: $14.6 million

3. Birds of Prey

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

4. Bad Boys for Life

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million

5. Brahms: The Boy II

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million

Box Office Results (February 14-17)

Topping Detective Pikachu for the all-time best video game adapted debut, Sonic the Hedgehog opened at the very highest end of expectations over the Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day frame. From Friday to Monday, the Jim Carrey led pic took in $70 million and that blasted past my meager $51.8 million projection. As mentioned above, it should repeat in first this weekend.

Birds of Prey was second with $19.7 million, on target with my $19.5 million estimate. Its unimpressive two-week tally is $61 million as it should struggle to reach the century mark.

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island was third at $13.7 million, which isn’t bad considering its low budget. I was a tad lower at $11.6 million. Look for it to fade quickly.

Romantic drama The Photograph was fourth and came in at the low end of its range with $13.2 million. I gave it more credit with a $17.4 million projection. My suspicion is that this Photograph fades fast as well.

Rounding out the top five was Bad Boys for Life with $13.1 million with a strong hold and well ahead of my $10 million estimate. The threequel is up to $183 million.

Finally, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Will Ferrell sputtered in 10th with $5.1 million. It did post slightly ahead of my $4.1 million forecast.

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

February 14-17 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (02/12): My Sonic the Hedgehog estimate has risen significantly from $38.7 million to $51.8 million

It’s a four-day weekend at the box office with four new titles premiering: video game adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog, low-budget Blumhouse horror pic Fantasy Island, romantic drama The Photograph with Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield,and the Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Will Ferrell comedic drama Downhill. You can peruse my detailed individual prediction posts on the quartet here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/06/sonic-the-hedgehog-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/06/fantasy-island-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/08/the-photograph-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/09/downhill-box-office-prediction/

Let’s start with Downhill, which screened last month at Sundance to middling reviews. With a small 1500 theater count, my $4.1 projection leaves it outside of the top five.

As for the rest of the newbie trio, I expect them to be in the high five. Sonic should easily be the leader with my high 30s forecast, dropping the underwhelming Birds of Prey (more on that below) to #2.

The Photograph has breakout potential and my low teens estimate puts it in third. I’m skeptical that Fantasy Island finishes higher than fourth in the low double digits. The five spot could be a contest between holdovers Bad Boys for Life and 1917, which could dip a bit more than I originally anticipated since it lost Best Picture to Parasite.

And with that, my take on the long weekend:

1. Sonic the Hedgehog

Predicted Gross: $51.8 million

2. Birds of Prey

Predicted Gross: $19.5 million

3. The Photograph

Predicted Gross: $17.4 million

4. Fantasy Island

Predicted Gross: $11.6 million

5. Bad Boys for Life

Predicted Gross: $10 million

Box Office Results (February 7-9)

As mentioned, it was a lackluster start for DC Extended Universe spin-off Birds of Prey with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn character. Expected to gross around $50 million, the pic got its wings clipped with only $33 million, way under my $55.6 million prediction. Despite solid reviews, viewers weren’t as keen to see it as anticipated.

With Birds as the only new release over the weekend, holdovers all held better than I assumed. Bad Boys for Life dropped to second after three weeks in first with $12 million compared to my $9.8 million take. Total is $166 million.

1917 was third with $9.2 million, above my $7.1 million projection as it has reached $132 million thus far.

Dolittle was fourth at $6.5 million (I said $4.8 million) for $63 million overall as the flop will fail to make the century club.

Jumanji: The Next Level rounded out the top five at $5.5 million (I went with $4.5 million). The sequel is about to hit the triple century mark at $298 million.

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

Oscar Watch: Birds of Prey

Ok… here me out before you question why “Oscar Watch” and Birds of Prey are in the same post heading. The DC Extended Universe title, which debuted this weekend, is not going to garner 11 leading Oscar nods like Joker did. It is not going to earn star Margot Robbie a third nomination after 2017’s I, Tonya and 2019’s Bombshell. 

That said, critical reaction to Prey has turned out much better than expected with a current 82% Rotten Tomatoes score. On the flip side, early box office returns are undeniably disappointing. Tracking is showing this premiering in the mid 30s and that’s at least $15 million under projections.

No… the only reason this post exists is one category: Best Makeup and Hairstyling. And that’s because Ms. Robbie has been the Queen of this category recently. It all started in 2016 with Suicide Squad, of which Birds is a spin-off. In case you forgot Suicide Squad is an Academy Award winning picture, it is. Two years later, Robbie’s period piece Mary Queen of Scots received a nod and didn’t win. Tomorrow night, Bombshell is featured in the category and it’s the front runner to take it.

The Makeup and Hairstyling race expanded from 3 to 5 nominees just this year so the possibility of Birds flying to a nomination has increased. Obviously we are awfully early in 2020, but I wouldn’t bet against Margot in this particular competition. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscars 2019: The Case of Margot Robbie

My final Case of post in the Supporting Actress race focuses on Margot Robbie’s work in Jay Roach’s Fox News scandal drama Bombshell:

The Case for Margot Robbie

She’s had one heckuva 2019. In addition to her nominated role, she was also in contention for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood before the attention shifted to Bombshell. The actress was actually a double nominee at the BAFTAs for both pictures. Robbie will go into this weekend with the #1 film in America, reprising her Suicide Squad role in Birds of Prey. This marks her second nod in three years after being recognized in 2017 for I, Tonya.

The Case Against Margot Robbie

Based on precursors, this is definitely Laura Dern’s category to lose. Bombshell itself failed to garner recognition in Picture, Director, or for its screenplay.

The Verdict

Robbie can take solace in having the top movie on Oscar weekend, but it’s unlikely to end with winning one.

My Case of posts will continue with Quentin Tarantino’s direction in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

February 7-9 Box Office Predictions

The first full weekend of February features the Oscars on Sunday evening and an Academy nominee will certainly have the #1 picture domestically. Margot Robbie (nominated in Supporting Actress for Bombshell) headlines the only newcomer – her DC Comics spin-off Birds of Prey, featuring her demented Harley Quinn character. You can peruse my detailed prediction post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/29/birds-of-prey-box-office-prediction/

My mid 50s estimate puts it in first by a mile. The rest of the top five should consist of holdover action fare (Bad Boys for Life and potential Best Picture winner 1917) and family friendly material (Dolittle and Jumanji: The Next Level).

Here’s how I think that top 5 will look:

1. Birds of Prey

Predicted Gross: $55.6 million

2. Bad Boys for Life

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million

3. 1917

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

4. Dolittle

Predicted Gross: $4.8 million

5. Jumanji: The Next Level

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

Box Office Results (January 31-February 2)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence spent a third frame at #1 as Bad Boys for Life took in $17.6 million, a bit under my $19.8 million projection. The tally is up to $148 million.

1917 was second with $9.4 million compared to my $11 million take. The multiple Oscar nominee stands at $119 million.

Dolittle was third with $7.5 million (I said $6.9 million) as the troubled production has made $55 million.

The highest newcomer of the weekend (somewhat unexpectedly) is the horror flick Gretel & Hansel, opening in fourth with $6.1 million. That’s ahead of my $5.1 million forecast.

Jumanji: The Next Level was right behind in fifth with $6 million (I went with $5.6 million) for $291 million total.

In sixth was the second outing for Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen with $5.6 million. My guess? $5.6 million! $20 million is the overall gross.

Finally, the Blake Lively thriller The Rhythm Section tanked with $2.7 million in 10th place. I was way higher at $6.5 million.

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

Birds of Prey Box Office Prediction

When Margot Robbie walks the Oscar red carpet next Sunday evening as a Supporting Actress nominee for Bombshell, she will do so as an underdog in that category. On the bright side, it’s a near certainty that she’ll be starring in the #1 film in the United States. Robbie returns as DC Comics villain Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, her stand-alone continuation of her character first seen in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Cathy Yan directs with a supporting cast including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, and Ewan McGregor.

Graced with the lengthy subtitle and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, the eighth pic in the DC Extended Universe is not expected to hit Suicide Squad numbers ($133 million opening weekend) or last fall’s Joker ($96.2 million). As for the latter, projections are putting it at around half that figure.

Prey should be assisted by the fact that Robbie had an impressive 2019. In addition to her Academy approved work in Bombshell, she costarred in Quentin Tarantino’s hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. While the official Squad sequel won’t be ready until summer of 2021, Quinn was certainly regarded as one of the original’s bright spots.

As of now, the high end of estimates puts this in the mid 50s. I’m predicting it will achieve that and could even climber higher if positive buzz develops in the coming days.

Birds of Prey opening weekend prediction: $55.6 million