Bumblebee Movie Review

Steven Spielberg has executive produced all five Transformers movies prior to Bumblebee and he holds that title here. Yet it’s in this prequel/spin-off that his influence feels the most pronounced. In the case of this franchise, that’s a welcome development. Michael Bay’s quintet of loud metal on metal action orgies that began in 2007 are generally nonsensical explosion excuses with occasional jaw dropping moments. Travis Knight, taking over directorial duties, gives Bumblebee a heart and the loudest audio belongs to the terrific 80s soundtrack.

This is a prequel and the happenings occur in 1987, which explains The Smiths, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears providing the tunes. A prologue on the planet Cybertron shows our title character (voiced by Dylan O’Brien) being sent to Earth by Optimus Prime in order to escape death by The Decepticons. He crash lands, of all places, right in the middle of a military training exercise in California where no nonsense Colonel Jack Burns (John Cena) assumes him to be a hostile creature. Bumblebee manages to transform into that iconic 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, but not after being rendered mute when his voice box is disabled. By the way, this all happens in like ten minutes. Pacing is not an issue in this picture, unlike other bloated Transformers flicks.

That Beetle ends up in a junkyard frequented by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a gear head who’s just turned 18. It’s her storyline that brings the Spielberg vibes front and center. She’s experienced parental loss as her beloved father has passed. She’s an outcast in the suburbs. Charlie has an awkward pending romance with her neighbor (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). There’s also a resistance to diving (even though she’s a terrific diver) that we correctly assume will figure into the plot. She also works at a low rent amusement park that looks straight outta Adventureland. When she commandeers the Volkswagen, she discovers the giant yellow extraterrestrial and befriends him. Their relationship is quite E.T. like, if that alien had tires strapped to his back and communicated through radio waves playing Steve Winwood.

Knight, maker of the acclaimed Kubo and the Two Strings, is making a Transformers experience that could have been made in the 80s. And it mostly works. There’s only so much he can do with the fight scenes after the Decepticons (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) track Bumblebee to this planet. The tech team here manages to make them easier to follow than Bay’s mashups. So when Colonel Burns and other dumber than they should be government types get involved in the plot, I found myself actually caring a bit. That’s due to screenwriter Christina Hodson’s establishment of Charlie as a full fledged character and Steinfeld’s work elevating her. Her charming interaction with Bee is enough to warrant something the Transformers epics don’t get and that’s a recommendation.

*** (out of four)

January 11-13 Box Office Predictions

Three newbies make their way to the screen this weekend as canine tale A Dog’s Way Home, Kevin Hart/Bryan Cranston comedic drama The Upside, and the Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller Replicas debut. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/02/a-dogs-way-home-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/02/the-upside-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/03/replicas-box-office-prediction/

Even with the trio of openings, it appears Aquaman will glide into a fourth straight weekend atop the charts with a high teens take. The superhero saga’s reign will certainly end the following weekend with Glass being unveiled.

Other titles will likely struggle to reach the teens. I have Dog’s managing a #2 showing with The Upside not far behind.

Replicas appears to be getting dumped and my $3.4 million projection leaves it well outside the top five. We have an expansion with On the Basis of Sex, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic that’s performed well in limited release and is slated for approximately 2000 screens Friday. I’ll put its number at $7.9 million. I believe that gets it to a 7th place rollout.

Returnees Escape Room and Mary Poppins Returns are my picks for the rest of the high-five and here’s the estimates:

1. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $17.7 million

2. A Dog’s Way Home

Predicted Gross: $12.8 million

3. The Upside

Predicted Gross: $11.6 million

4. Escape Room

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

5. Mary Poppins Returns

Predicted Gross: $8.8 million

Box Office Results (January 46)

As anticipated, Aquaman logged another frame in first place with $31 million, topping my $27.9 million projection for an impressive $260 million three-week total.

New horror thriller Escape Room made off with a terrific $18.2 million start in second, more than doubling its meager $9 million budget.

Mary Poppins Returns fell to third in its third weekend with $15.8 million compared to my higher $18.7 million prediction. Total tally is $138 million.

Bumblebee was fourth with $13.2 million (I said $12.2 million) as it sniffs the century mark at $97 million.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse rounded out the top five with $13.1 million, slinging beyond my $10.9 million forecast. It’s made $133 million thus far.

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

January 4-6 Box Office Predictions

Happy New Year and welcome to the first box office predictions for 2019. It should be a weekend led by holiday holdovers with the only newcomer being horror pic Escape Room. You can find my detailed prediction post on it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/28/escape-room-box-office-prediction/

My low teens projection puts the newbie in the #3 slot, behind returning champions Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns, with Bumblebee and SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse filling out the rest of the top five.

Let’s see how I have the high-five playing out:

1. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $27.9 million

2. Mary Poppins Returns

Predicted Gross: $18.7 million

3. Escape Room

Predicted Gross: $13.8 million

4. Bumblebee

Predicted Gross: $12.2 million

5. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $10.9 million

Box Office Results (December 2830)

2018 was a record year at multiplexes and it closed out with Aquaman repeating in first place with $52.1 million, in range with my $53.8 million forecast. The DC superhero tale has amassed $189 million total.

Mary Poppins Returns was in the runner-up position yet again with $28.3 million compared to my $26.5 million estimate. The Disney sequel stands at $99 million.

Bumblebee was third with $20.9 million (I said $21.4 million) for $67 million overall.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse was fourth with $18.8 million, a touch higher than my $17.3 million take. The acclaimed animated feature crossed the century mark at $104 million.

The Mule rounded out the top five with $12.1 million, in line with my $11.5 million prediction. The Clint Eastwood thriller has made $61 million.

Vice was sixth and made the most of the two Christmas openers with $7.7 million over the traditional frame and $17.6 million since its Tuesday debut. The Dick Cheney biopic managed to top my respective estimates of $7.2 million and $14.8 million.

The critically lambasted Holmes & Watson had an underwhelming start in seventh with $7.4 million from Friday to Sunday and $19.8 million since Christmas Day. It came in under my projections of $11.3 million and $23 million.

Second Act was eighth in its sophomore frame at $7.3 million (I said $7.9 million) for a tally of $21 million.

Ralph Breaks the Internet was ninth at $6.7 million, ahead of my $5.2 million prediction. It’s up to $175 million.

The Grinch had a hefty drop-off in 10th at $4.1 million, well under my $7.3 million forecast. The total gross is $265 million.

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

Box Office Predictions: December 28-30

It’s Christmas Week at the box office as the merrily confusing week officially gets underway tomorrow! We have two newbies debuting on Christmas Day with the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy Holmes & Watson and Adam McKay biopic Vice starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/18/holmes-watson-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/19/vice-box-office-prediction/

As I see it, both risk not making the top five as I deduce Watson will premiere with low double digits over the traditional three-day portion of the frame with Vice under that. Returning holiday offerings often see increases in their grosses from the previous weekend. I expect that to benefit titles such as Mary Poppins Returns, Bumblebee, SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse, and The Mule as well as Second Act and The Grinch further down the chart.

Poppins came in below expectations this past weekend. If you’d asked me a week ago, I would’ve strongly suspected the Disney sequel would rise to top spot this weekend and knock current champ Aquaman down to second. Now, even though I expect the waterlogged superhero to have a decline in its sophomore frame, I feel it should manage to maintain the #1 position pretty easily.

As I close the box office predicting year out, let’s expand the list to my top 10 projections as I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

1. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $53.8 million

2. Mary Poppins Returns

Predicted Gross: $26.5 million

3. Bumblebee

Predicted Gross: $21.4 million

4. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $17.3 million

5. The Mule

Predicted Gross: $11.5 million

6. Holmes & Watson

Predicted Gross: $11.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $23 million (Tuesday to Sunday)

7. Second Act

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

8. The Grinch

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million

9. Vice

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $14.8 million (Tuesday to Sunday)

10. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (December 2123)

The pre-Christmas frame saw a slew of new debuts and they nearly all came in with less than I anticipated. It’s worth noting that most of these holidays numbers are not yet final and I’ll fill in those verified grosses once they occur.

As expected, Aquaman logged the #1 spot with $68 million, under my $77.3 million. I expect the DC effort to dip in the mid 20s this coming weekend. When factoring in early preview numbers, it’s made $72.7 million thus far.

Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns opened in second with less with anticipated returns grossing $23.5 million over the weekend and $32.3 million since its Wednesday beginning. That’s quite a bit under my respective projections of $34.8 million and $52.2 million. The well-reviewed sequel will hope for leggy earnings as the weeks roll along.

Bumblebee took third with $21.6 million, premiering under my $26.2 million prediction. The Transformers prequel actually had the best critical reaction of the newcomers and also has a shot of playing well in the coming weeks.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse fell to fourth in its sophomore outing with $16.6 million (I was higher at $20.1 million). The acclaimed animated hero tale is up to $64 million.

Clint Eastwood’s The Mule rounded out the top five at $9.5 million (I said $10.2 million) for $35 million at press time.

Jennifer Lopez’s romantic comedy Second Act debuted in seventh place with $6.4 million. I was right there at $6.5 million.

Finally, the poorly reviewed Steve Carell drama Welcome to Marwen was a massive flop in ninth place with $2.3 million, not even matching my $3.8 million take. This is quite the costly bomb for its studio.

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

Box Office Predictions: December 21-23

Blogger’s Note (12/18/18): Some updates as Aquaman estimate have risen and Mary Poppins Returns has dwindled a bit.

Hollywood is hoping that Yuletide cheer is spread among a host of newcomers opening this weekend. We have superhero fish tale Aquaman, Disney sequel Mary Poppins Returns arriving over a half century following its classic predecessor, Transformers franchise prequel Bumblebee, Jennifer Lopez rom com Second Act, and the Robert Zemeckis drama Welcome to Marwen starring Steve Carell. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on all of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/aquaman-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/10/mary-poppins-returns-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/bumblebee-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/14/second-act-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/15/welcome-to-marwen-box-office-prediction/

Expectations for Aquaman have floated upwards in recent days with decent reviews and terrific numbers overseas. It seems destined to rule the charts with a mid 70s performance and the possibility of rising even higher.

Mary Poppins Returns gets an early start on Wednesday and the runner-up spot appears to be a given. It’s also benefiting from mostly strong critical reaction and some Oscar chatter.

Speaking of critics, we were all taken aback when Bumblebee achieved its own positive buzz with a current 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (that’s better than the last four movies in the series… combined). Having the best reviews of a Transformers pic should certainly help , but competition is seriously steep and the franchise has been on the downside. I’ve got it pegged for mid 20s, but don’t be surprised if it over performs.

With Second Act estimated at $6.5 million and Welcome to Marwen (which seems DOA) at $3.8 million, that would put both of them outside the top 5. Last weekend’s top two earners Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Mule should fill out the rest of high-five.

And with that, here’s those merry projections:

1. Aquman

Predicted Gross: $77.3 million

2. Mary Poppins Returns

Predicted Gross: $34.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $52.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

3. Bumblebee

Predicted Gross: $26.2 million

4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Predicted Gross: $20.1 million

5. The Mule

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

 

Box Office Results (December 14-16)

The Spider-Man character, through seven films this century, has never failed to open at #1. The streak held as the acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse took in $35.3 million, not quite reaching my $43.4 million forecast. With an A+ Cinemascore grade, this should play well throughout the holiday season. I do expect a drop of just over 40% coming up considering the level of competition, but that should subside the following weekend.

Clint Eastwood’s The Mule got off to a solid start in second as a prime option for older moviegoers. The thriller took in $17.5 million and I was as close as can be with $17.6 million. Like Spidey, it may dip about 40% and then level off well in coming weekends.

The Grinch was third with $11.7 million (I said $10.8 million) to bring its total to a pleasing $239 million.

Ralph Breaks the Internet dropped to fourth after three weeks at #1 with $9.2 million, in line with my $9.7 million estimate. The Disney sequel has taken in $154 million.

Mortal Engines staked its claim for biggest flop of the year as the Peter Jackson penned sci-fi adventure stalled in fifth place with just $7.5 million. I was higher at $12.4 million. That doesn’t bode well when its reported budget was $100 million.

Finally, the PG-13 Once Upon a Deadpool failed to attract many eyeballs in 11th place with $2.6 million – under my $4.2 million prediction. The good news? The very R-rated sequel that preceded it this summer was already at about $315 million domestic.

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

Bumblebee Box Office Prediction

Times have changed in significant ways for the Transformers franchise that started eleven years ago. They manifest themselves with the release next weekend of Bumblebee, a prequel to the multi-billion series. For starters, Michael Bay is not in the director’s chair for the first time after making the first five. Travis Knight, most known for the acclaimed animated Kubo and the Two Strings, takes over those duties. Hailee Steinfeld headlines the 1980s set tale alongside John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, and the voice of Dylan O’Brien as the title Autobot.

A second major difference: Bumblebee is unexpectedly getting very good reviews with a current Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97%. Nearly every sequel since the 2007 original has been critically lambasted while still bringing in the bucks. Positive word-of-mouth should only help, but competition is fierce as the holidays approach. Two days before this debuts, Mary Poppins Returns is out and will take away family audiences. Opening directly against it is Aquaman, which will siphon away action fans.

Which brings us to point #3 – expectations have fallen for the franchise and Paramount hopes its best revenge is better than anticipated returns. This will almost surely have the smallest premiere of the series. That’s even with the caveat that four of the five Transformers pics got early jumps and opened during the middle of the week. The series showed rust in the summer of 2017 when The Last Knight had a $44 million traditional Friday to Sunday rollout and a $130 million domestic haul (by far the lowest of the quintet).

Add all that up and I’m not convinced the pleasing critical (ahem) buzz gets this beyond mid 20s considering its venerable competitors.

Bumblebee opening weekend prediction: $26.2 million

 

For my Aquaman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/aquaman-box-office-prediction/

For my Mary Poppins Returns prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/10/mary-poppins-returns-box-office-prediction/

For my Second Act prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/14/second-act-box-office-prediction/

For my Welcome to Marwen prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/15/welcome-to-marwen-box-office-prediction/

Aquaman Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (12/18/18): Update here as I’m increasing my $74.3 million estimate up to $77.3 million.

We don’t have Vincent Chase from TV’s “Entourage” starring in it as portrayed on that show years ago with James Cameron directing. Yet DC Comics hero Aquaman finally gets his stand-alone experience next weekend. Instead it’s Jason Momoa reprising his role as the waterlogged warrior after first seeing him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. James Wan, who made the Conjuring entries and Furious 7, directs. The supporting cast includes Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, and Nicole Kidman. In a bit of irony, Julie Andrews has a voice-over while Mary Poppins Returns serves as competition over the pre-Christmas frame.

Aquaman marks the sixth DC Extended Universe feature that began in 2013 with Man of Steel. The lowest grossing opener of the series was Justice League in November of last year with $93 million. All others (Steel, BvS, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman) took in over $100 million. Forecasts and expectations aren’t as high here, but Warner Bros is certainly hoping for a sizable hit. The film opened in China last weekend to robust results. Reviews are fairly solid with a current Tomato rating of 78%.

No previous DC Universe production has premiered in the crowded holiday month of December. Direct competition comes from both Poppins (family crowd) and Bumblebee (action crowd). With Disney’s famous nanny getting a two-day jump on Wednesday, Aquaman appears in good position to grab the #1 spot.

My feeling is that it will do so with a gross in the mid 70s.

Aquaman opening weekend prediction: $77.3 million

For my Mary Poppins Returns prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/10/mary-poppins-returns-box-office-prediction/

For my Bumblebee prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/bumblebee-box-office-prediction/

For my Second Act prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/14/second-act-box-office-prediction/

For my Welcome to Marwen prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/15/welcome-to-marwen-box-office-prediction/

Mary Poppins Returns Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (12/18/18): My estimate has been revised down a bit to a low to mid 30s three-day and low to mid 50s five-day

to Arriving 54 years after its beloved predecessor and with the same awards buzz, Disney unveils Mary Poppins Returns on Wednesday next week. The musical fantasy casts Emily Blunt in the role made famous by Julie Andrews, who won an Oscar as the iconic nanny. Blunt is expected to get a nod as well. Rob Marshall, the man behind 2002 Best Picture winner Chicago and most recently Into the Woods, directs. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep are included in the supporting cast. So is Dick Van Dyke, as an offspring of the role he played in the original.

Though official reviews aren’t out yet, buzz from screenings has been glowing and it’s already popped up on numerous top ten lists and major Academy precursors. The Mouse Factory marketing machine is second to none and anticipation is high. Furthermore, Poppins gets a two-day jump on its Christmas weekend competition, most notably Aquaman and Bumblebee.

It’s worthy of note that many holiday offerings greatly expand their grosses on subsequent weekends and aren’t nearly as front loaded as summer pics. That is probable here as I expect Poppins to experience a long and robust run.

The Wednesday debut probably means it’ll come in second to Aquaman, which opens Friday. I have a strong hunch you’ll see at #1 eventually. One fair comp is last year’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It also came out on Wednesday, taking in $36 million for the traditional weekend frame and $52 million when factoring the extra two days. The key number? It legged out to $404 million domestically.

I am counting on a similar track here and estimating it manages to fly a bit higher. I’ll say this reaches high 30s to low 40s from Friday to Sunday and get high 50s with Wednesday and Thursday accounted for.

Mary Poppins Returns opening weekend prediction: $34.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $52.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Aquaman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/aquaman-box-office-prediction/

For my Bumblebee prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/11/bumblebee-box-office-prediction/

For my Second Act prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/14/second-act-box-office-prediction/

For my Welcome to Marwen prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/15/welcome-to-marwen-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Bumblebee

Alright, stay with me here. You might be thinking it’s silly to see a post with Bumblebee and Oscar Watch in the same title. However, let us not forget that the Transformers franchise (despite mostly negative reviews) has garnered seven nominations from the Academy over the last decade plus.

In 2007, the original film received three nods (Best Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing). Two years later, sequel Revenge of the Fallen got a Sound Mixing mention. In 2011, Dark of the Moon nabbed the same three category nods as part one. Follow-ups Age of Extinction and The Last Knight went empty-handed in the Academy’s tech categories.

This brings us to Bumblebee, the 1980s set prequel that opens on December 21. Critical reaction has been surprisingly strong and it stands at 100% at the moment on Rotten Tomatoes. Many reviews suggest it’s the best of the series.

Last week, the pic made the shortlist of 20 entries eligible for Best Visual Effects. Therefore, it’s got a chance and the sound races could come into play as well. My feeling is that some other high-profile blockbusters will get in before this. Yet I wouldn’t totally count it out based on the positive notices.

Bottom line: this franchise has shown its ability in three categories to get attention. Bumblebee has an outside chance at recognition. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Oscars Go “Popular”: An Analysis

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dropped a rather big bombshell today with some announced changes to their Oscar telecast. First off, they’re claiming the show will now be just three hours (I’ll believe it when I see it). Additionally, some categories (I imagine numerous tech ones) will be announced live during commercial breaks and then edited into the show later. This probably won’t make the individuals in those races happy, but it should speed up the program.

However, the most noticeable and interesting change is the addition of a new category (something the Academy rarely does). The addition is described as “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film”. No other details have been provided, but this would appear to be an attempt by the Academy to include blockbusters that haven’t made the cut in Best Picture.

So what does that mean? What is the criteria? That was not announced today and it will be fascinating to see what such criteria is. Could it be a particular gross… say over $100 million domestically? Could it be the number of the theaters a movie is released in? Time will tell and hopefully these details will be revealed shortly. It isn’t even immediately clear that these changes will all be in effect for the 2019 telecast, but I imagine they will be.

Even though nothing is totally clear at press time, that won’t stop me from speculating and asking, “What if this category had been in effect in previous years?”

Before that, let’s start with this year. If there is a Best Popular Film category in 2018, that greatly increases the chances of Marvel’s Black Panther and horror smash A Quiet Place getting nods. There’s also Mission: Impossible – Fallout (the most acclaimed entry in the franchise) or perhaps Avengers: Infinity War. Pixar will certainly see Incredibles 2 nominated in Best Animated Feature, but it could make a play here as well. And we still have fall releases like Mary Poppins Returns and A Star Is Born out there.

There will be plenty of speculation as to whether Black Panther will be the first superhero pic to nab a Best Picture nomination. There is little doubt it would be recognized in this new category.

It’s been discussed on this blog previously about the 2008 Oscars which omitted The Dark Knight in the Best Picture derby. That development was likely responsible for the Academy changing its rule of five nominated films to anywhere between five and ten. Yet it would appear the Academy still isn’t satisfied with major hits being included.

Let’s consider last year. Of the nine Best Picture nominees, only two grossed over $100 million – Get Out and Dunkirk. If the Popular Film category had existed a year ago, I imagine both features would have achieved double nominations. Assuming this new category contains five nominees (something not revealed yet), what would the other three have been? There’s plenty of blockbusters to choose from: Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, It, Logan, Coco, The Greatest Showman, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder, and Baby Driver. 

Here’s my best guess of what a Best Popular Film slate would have looked like in 2017:

Dunkirk, Get Out, Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman

And I’m thinking Get Out would have won.

In 2016, you might have seen Deadpool and The Jungle Book as Popular picks.

In 2015, there could have been room for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Straight Outta Compton.

2014? Perhaps Guardians of the Galaxy and Gone Girl. 

Heck, let’s go way back. Would Jurassic Park have won Best Popular Film in 1993? I don’t think so. I bet it would have gone to The Fugitive, which nabbed an actual Best Picture nomination.

Of course, there would have been years where Best Picture and Best Popular Film match. 1994 with Forrest Gump. 1997’s Titanic. 2000’s Gladiator. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003.

Back to today. I would say this new category seems tailor-made for Black Panther. Does that mean its chances for a Best Picture nod are now diminished because voters figure it runs away with this? Perhaps. And that’s why I’m not too wild about this change at the moment. This has the potential to look like a desperate play by the Academy. At the least, it’s an acknowledgment that audience favorites and Academy favorites don’t often match.

That said, let’s see what the criteria is and I’ll judge from there. It’s a new era at the Oscars… one where Bumblebee stands a shot (however remote) at Oscar glory!