2019 Midyear Oscar Report

We are officially at the midpoint of this thing called 2019 and that means a midyear Oscar report is before you today on the blog. First things first: as awards watchers already know, the bulk of the eventual nominees will come your way in the second half of the year. It will likely be festivals such as Toronto and Venice that produce their initial screenings.

We have, however, already had Cannes and Sundance producing first looks at some contenders. The most high profile is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is out July 26 but debuted in the French Riviera. The celebrated auteur’s ninth feature immediately became a player in Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor), Brad Pitt (probably Supporting Actor), and Margot Robbie (Supporting Actress), as well as down the line tech races.

Cannes also served as the launching point for two contenders in the newly termed Best International Feature Film. They are Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory and Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which won the Palme d’Or. With Glory, expect lots of chatter for its star Antonio Banderas to receive his first nod in Actor.

As for other possibilities in the lead Actor derby, we have Taron Egerton’s portrayal of Elton John in Rocketman. If Rami Malek could take home the gold last year for Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s certainly feasible that Egerton will have his supporters. Cannes also debuted  the horror pic The Lighthouse with raves for Willem Dafoe. And though it’s a reach, there could be a push for Robert Downey Jr. to garner recognition for his decade plus embodiment of Tony Stark/Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame.

When it comes to Endgame, I would anticipate talk for a Picture nod, especially after Black Panther became the first comic book pic to get one last year. At this juncture, I’ll say it gets plenty of chatter and no nomination. Yet that paradigm could shift.

Sundance gave us the true life political drama The Report. That pic features both Adam Driver and Annette Bening in roles that drew acclaim. It’s out stateside in late September and is one to keep an eye on.

2019 has produced numerous female lead performances that could all be classified as dark horse contenders. The list includes Lupita Nyong’o (Us), Julianne Moore (Gloria Bell), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell), Elle Fanning (Teen Spirit), Florence Pugh (Midsommar), and Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose).

Despite its disappointing box office grosses, Olivia Wilde’s coming of age comedy Booksmart might be considered in Original Screenplay. Same goes for The Farewell ahead of its release in a couple weeks.

For Best Animated Feature, Toy Story 4 looks to be a slam dunk for a nomination and that also holds true for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Already released titles such as Missing Link and The Secret Life of Pets 2 are likely on the outside looking in.

As for documentaries, keep an eye on Apollo 11, The Biggest Little Farm, and Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese. I would say Apollo is a strong contender for inclusion.

And that’s your report, ladies and gentlemen! Get ready for a whole bunch of Oscar speculation in the second half of the year…

May 31-June 2 Box Office Predictions

After a sizzling debut over the long Memorial Day weekend, Aladdin could slip to third as two heavy hitters join the fray: monster sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters and critically lauded Elton John biopic Rocketman. We also have low budget Blumhouse horror pic Ma with Octavia Spencer that has breakout potential. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of the newcomers here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/23/godzilla-king-of-the-monsters-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/23/rocketman-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/24/ma-box-office-prediction/

Godzilla should manage to stomp the competition, but I do have it coming in lower than its 2014 predecessor and just under what 2017’s Kong: Skull Island achieved. As for Rocketman, there’s Oscar nod buzz for star Taron Egerton and the genre heat from last fall’s smash Bohemian Rhapsody. I have it debuting with about $15 million less than the Queen flick, but that still means mid 30s.

As for Ma, I have it over tripling its puny $5 million budget for fourth place. Aladdin may experience a mid 50s dip after ruling the holiday and John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum should round out the top five.

And with that, my forecast for the weekend:

1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Predicted Gross: $58.7 million

2. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $40.3 million

3. Rocketman

Predicted Gross: $36.1 million

4. Ma

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million

5. John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum

Predicted Gross: $12.7 million

Box Office Results (May 2427)

Despite a poorly received first trailer and questions about its potency with audiences, Disney’s Aladdin exceeded all expectations and granted the studio’s money-making wishes with $116.8 million. That blew away my $74.8 million estimate.

John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum dropped to second with $30.9 million over the four-day, topping my $27 million take. The Keanu Reeves action sequel is already at $107 million in two weeks and has the set the franchise record domestically.

Avengers: Endgame was third with $22 million (I said $22.5 million), hitting an astonishing $803 million.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu was fourth with $17.2 million compared to my $16.4 million projection and $120 million thus far.

All newbies without a blue genie struggled. Horror superhero tale Brightburn was fifth with $9.6 million. I was right on target at $9.7 million. Acclaimed high school comedy Booksmart was sixth with $8.7 million. Again, I was on the money with an $8.6 million prediction.

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

May 24-27 Box Office Predictions

It’s Memorial Day at the box office with Disney looking to dominate the four-day holiday weekend with their live-action rendering of Aladdin starring Will Smith. We also have the superhero horror flick Brightburn and critically acclaimed high school comedy Booksmart. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/14/aladdin-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/15/brightburn-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/17/booksmart-box-office-prediction/

There’s little doubt that the Fresh Prince’s genie will open at #1. How much it makes is very much in question. My mid 70s forecast is toward the lower end of estimates. While it’s always risky to underestimate the vaunted Mouse Factory marketing machine, they’ve already had one under performer weeks ago with Dumbo and reaction to this particular remake seems mixed.

Slots 2-4 are likely to be held by holdovers and that starts with John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum after its dynamite debut (more on that below). Its gross is probably a bit front loaded, so a dip over 50% wouldn’t be surprising.

On the other hand, Avengers: Endgame should follow the path of other MCU titles that premiered in late April or early May with a minor drop in the 20s. I have Pokemon Detective Pikachu slated for a mid 30s subtraction.

As for the newcomers, both have breakout potential but I’m hesitant to pull the trigger on either exceeding expectations. Brightburn should fare a bit better than Booksmart, if for no other reason than its higher screen count.

And with that, a top 6 take on my Friday to Monday predictions:

1. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $74.8 million

2. John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum

Predicted Gross: $27 million

3. Avengers: Endgame

Predicted Gross: $22.5 million

4. Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Predicted Gross: $16.4 million

5. Brightburn

Predicted Gross: $9.7 million

6. Booksmart

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

Box Office Results (May 1719)

John Wick: Chapter 3Parabellum sped to a terrific start and zoomed past most projections, including mine. The Keanu Reeves sequel made $56.8 million compared to my $45.8 million estimate. That sets the franchise record by over $25 million and is good for Mr. Reeves second largest opening ever behind The Matrix Reloaded.

Avengers: Endgame dropped to second after three weeks on top with $29.9 million, in line with my $28.5 million prediction. The massive tally is at $771 million.

In its sophomore outing, Pokemon Detective Pikachu was third with $25.1 million. I was right there at $25.2 million as it approaches the century mark with $94 million.

A Dog’s Journey flopped with just $8 million in fourth compared to my $11.8 million projection. That’s less than half of what predecessor A Dog’s Purpose achieved. Woof.

The Hustle rounded out the top five with $6.1 million (I said $7.1 million) for $23 million overall.

Finally, YA romance The Sun Is Also a Star had a dim start in eighth with just $2.5 million. I went higher at $5.5 million.

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

Booksmart Box Office Prediction

The best known actress involved with Booksmart is making her directorial debut and is not in front of the camera. Yet the pic is riding a wave of critical kudos since its premiere at South by Southwest in March. The comedy is centered on two teenage girls and their last day of high school. Olivia Wilde makes that aforementioned first turn in the captain’s chair. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein (best known as Saoirse Ronan’s bestie in Lady Bird) are the two graduates. Costars include Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis (Wilde’s hubby).

Booksmart stands at a super fresh 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It could still face hurdles when it opens over the long Memorial Day weekend. Opening on approximately 2300 screens, I’m skeptical as to its awareness factor among general audiences. This could be a slow builder if word-of-mouth takes off or become a cult hit following the theatrical release.

I’ll say a debut in the upper single digits is where this starts out at.

Booksmart opening weekend prediction: $8.6 million

For my Aladdin prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/14/aladdin-box-office-prediction/

For my Brightburn prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/15/brightburn-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Booksmart

Critics focused on the raunchy high school comedy Booksmart as one of the highlights coming from this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The film marks the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde. It stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, best known as Saoirse Ronan’s bestie in Lady Bird. Costars include Billie Lourd, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis.

The film doesn’t open until Memorial Day weekend, but the loud buzz could certainly assist in making it a sleeper hit. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 100% currently. Could awards voters take notice? It’s doubtful. Feldstein is said to have a breakout role here. If there is any nomination chatter, it could center on the Original Screenplay from its four screenwriters – Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silverman. That said, if last year’s acclaimed Eighth Grade couldn’t gain any traction, that doesn’t bode well here.

Bottom line: Booksmart is one to watch out for when it comes to box office surprises. Academy nods would surprise a lot more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…