Tom & Jerry To The Rescue (?)

An age old cat and mouse contest is widening the eyeballs of box office prognosticators and theater owners courtesy of Tom & Jerry. The mix of live-action and animation reboot of a cartoon dating back to 1940 premiered simultaneously in multiplexes and HBO Max yesterday. This is how Warner Bros. is handling all their product in 2021 as we have already witnessed with The Little Things and Judas and the Black Messiah (and soon Godzilla vs. Kong). Reviews for the pic are certainly not rosy with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 23%. And with the uncertainty of the box office for nearly a year, expectations weren’t much either.

Let’s be clear: in non COVID times, Tom & Jerry heading toward a $13-$14 million opening would be considered pretty disappointing. How times have changed. When considering that millions of subscribers could simply cue it up from the comfort of home and with around half of theaters still shuttered, an estimated $12 million start is impressive. Should this number hold, it would mark the second biggest opening gross of the Coronavirus era (behind only Wonder Woman 1984).

That’s more than The Croods: A New Age managed over Thanksgiving and it legged out to over $50 million domestically. There’s no reason to think the iconic cat and mouse won’t do the same. This is also music to the ears of Disney as they prepare to release their animated Raya and the Last Dragon next weekend (along with a Disney Plus rollout).

However, this news really must be encouraging to theaters chains and owners. This is a sign that family audiences in particular will turn up for new product even if it’s available on the couch. As for material outside of that genre, the jury is still out and lots of attention should turn to the aforementioned battle of two other famous creatures (Godzilla vs. Kong) in one month. One thing seems clearer today: the outlook for theaters, while still in flux, got a little rosier.

The Addams Family Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (10/10): My estimate has risen from $21.7 million to $26.9 million

Snapping into theaters over a half century after the TV series and over a quarter century after the two film versions of that show, an animated version of The Addams Family debuts next weekend. Originally based on the Charles Addams comics, this iteration of the macabre clan sounds like something Tim Burton should have his fingerprints all over. And indeed, he was once attached to direct it. However, it’s Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan (who last made the R rated Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg toon Sausage Party) shepherding the project. Voices of the family include Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara and Bette Midler, in addition to Allison Janney and Elsie Fisher.

Attempting to reach a kiddie audience pre Halloween (and a week before Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is out), it could be a somewhat tough sell for youngsters unfamiliar with the source material. That applies to the small screen 1960s version and the 1990s big screen one. In fact, this may not hit the $24 million achieved by 1991’s first live action Addams out of the gate (1993 sequel Addams Family Values didn’t fare as well).

I do envision this managing a debut of over $20 million, but perhaps not by much. That would likely put it in third place behind Joker and Gemini Man.

The Addams Family opening weekend prediction: $26.9 million

For my Gemini Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/01/gemini-man-box-office-prediction/

For my Jexi prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/02/jexi-box-office-prediction/

Greta Box Office Prediction

Opening on a surprisingly large 2000 screens this weekend is Greta, a horror thriller from veteran Irish director Neil Jordan. The film is headlined by Elle star Isabelle Huppert and Chloe Grace Moretz with a supporting cast including Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, and Stephen Rea (who starred in Jordan’s 1992 Oscar contender The Crying Game).

The pic screened last fall at the Toronto Film Festival to mostly positive notices. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 67% currently. I will admit that I was a bit shocked when I saw its large theater count. This is normally the type of feature that opens in limited fashion and hopes to gain steam.

I’ll say that Greta has trouble landing the adult audience it’s catering to and struggles to reach mid single digits.

Greta opening weekend prediction: $5.6 million

For my Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/23/tyler-perrys-a-madea-family-funeral-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Suspiria

Most horror remakes would not warrant an Oscar Watch post. However, when it’s an update of the 1977 Dario Argento cult classic and it’s directed by Luca Guadagnino – we come to the 2018 version of Suspiria.

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival this weekend and it’s said to be a blend of gore and dance that departs significantly from its source material. Early critical reaction is very mixed and its drawn some comparisons to last year’s mother! That could be a sign that audiences could be baffled by this concoction.

Guadagnino saw his previous work, 2017 Call Me by Your Name, nab a Best Picture nomination. That will not happen here and I don’t expect it to play any role in other high-profile categories, including the performances of Dakota Johnson or Tilda Swinton.

The new Suspiria is said to place a greater emphasis on dance sequences. If there was an Oscar for Best Choreography, this could be a shoo-in. There could be the possibility of recognition in Production Design or for Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke’s Original Score, but Suspiria is more likely to be a non-factor come Oscar time.

Bottom line: expect Suspiria to get lots of publicity, divide audiences, and generate controversy. Don’t expect awards attention.

The film comes out domestically on October 26. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Blond Ambition: Who Should Play Madonna?

There’s a well known thing in Hollywood referred to as The Black List, a compilation of screenplays that have yet to be produced. Executives in the film industry vote on which ones that they think are the best. Since the inception of the list in 2005, some that have made it on there eventually became awards worthy material. This includes eventual Best Picture winners Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, Argo, and Spotlight. There’s Best Picture nominees like Babel, Juno, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, Whiplash, American Sniper and The Revenant. We have hit movies of all genres including Superbad, The Fighter, The Hangover, Arrival, and John Wick.

The 2016 Black List was released today and the pic that received the most votes caught my eye. It’s Blond Ambition, a biopic about Madonna that’s set in the 1980s as she was a struggling artist in NYC before becoming the world’s most famous Material Girl. Elyse Hollander is the screenwriter and it’s probably safe to assume this will be on the silver screen in relatively short order.

A well made Madonna biopic (paging Damien Chazelle to direct) could be quite a sight to behold. And, of course, it got me thinking. Who should play her? There’s always the option of casting an unknown. After all, taking on the role of music’s most successful female artist might work better with a performer unfamiliar to our eyes.

Yet one name in particular entered my mind when I read the news today: Chloe Grace Moretz. I think she could pull it off. Even if the film took a couple of years to get off the ground, she’s only 19 right now and would certainly fit the age appropriate timing of that are in its subject’s life. I also thought of Greta Gerwig and she could be interesting, but she’s in her early 30s and Madonna would be in her early to mid 20s here. It could still work though.

What say you? What other actresses could potentially do justice to Madge?

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Movie Review

As has been discussed on the blog before, comedy is typically the genre that lends itself least to sequels. A major reason: most of ’em aren’t made with a planned follow-up in mind and therefore contrivances must be invented for them to exist.

This general rule applies to Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, which arrives two years after the success of the original. In 2014, the teaming of Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne vs. Zac Efron’s wild frat next door was a mostly effective raunchy pic with a couple of gags (air bags) that soared. $150 million domestic later, returning director Nicholas Stoller and his stars picked a pretty simple premise for another installment. Put a sorority there instead of a frat and watch similar hijinks ensue!

This happens when college freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) goes to pledge at sororities and discovers they aren’t allowed to hold the wild bashes that their male counterparts are. So she enlists some other girls and Beastie Boys’s it beside the Radners (Rogen, Byrne) who are now expecting their second child. Kappa Nu is formed with an assist from Teddy (Efron), who’s still a bit salty from what went down when he inhabited the property. He’s also painfully still a man-child and the screenplay does get some decent mileage out of that (his changed friendship with frat bro Dave Franco is an example).

As with the first Neighbors installment, games of one upmanship (or upgirlship I guess) go down. The Radners are terrified because the house is in escrow as they’re set to become suburbanites and the new tenants might not appreciate the newly minted party pad. Shelby and her newfound sisters are determined to stay. And if that all sounds a lot like 2014, it is. Same story, different gender.

Rising gets a some solid chuckles out of exploiting the physique of both Mr. Efron and Mr. Rogen. The best moments come from our lead couple acting as de facto parents to Teddy, yet they’re few and far between. This is due to the familiar tale of Kappa Nu and their schemes that involve some serious felonies that the frat guys would’ve balked at.

There have been plenty of comedic #2’s far worse than this. The trio of Rogen, Byrne, and Efron do give it their all and don’t just go through the motions. Still – this one feels mostly uninspired despite the talent involved and keeps that general comedy sequel rule intact.

**1/2 (out of four)

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Box Office Prediction

Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne are back experiencing homeowner drama in a hopefully funny way with Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, out next weekend. This time, it’s the ladies turn to wreak havoc on Mr. Rogen’s famiy with Chloe Grace Moretz leading the way. Nicholas Stoller returns to direct with Dave Franco and Ike Barinholtz back in supporting roles.

Two years ago, Neighbors turned into a major summer hit with a $49 million opening and $150 million domestic gross. A sequel was quickly greenlit and here we are today with the follow-up hoping to match its predecessor’s numbers.

It could be tough to do. There is some genre competition with Russell Crowe/Ryan Gosling’s The Nice Guys opening on the same day. Additionally, many comedic sequels open under the original in general. The fact that only two years has passed could help though. Reviews have been decent as it stands at 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, just under the 73% of the first.

I’ll predict Neighbors 2 rises to just under $40M, about $10M less than what came before it and it’ll probably manage to just reach triple digits when all is said and done.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opening weekend prediction: $38.2 million

For my The Angry Birds Movie prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/11/the-angry-birds-movie-box-office-prediction/

For my The Nice Guys prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/11/the-nice-guys-box-office-prediction/

The 5th Wave Box Office Prediction

Adapted from a popular 2013 YA novel by Rick Yancey, Chloe Grace Moretz stars in the alien invasion flick The 5th Wave, out next weekend. Costarring Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Maria Bello, and Liev Schrieber, Columbia Pictures hopes to capture the wave of hunger gaming, diverging, and maze running that have made those entries into hits.

Reviews are negative so far with just a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and there doesn’t seem to be much excitement generated around this. As I see it, this has little hope of breaking out like the aforementioned movies. I see this performing similarly to The Giver, which debuted to $12.3 million in the summer of 2014.

The 5th Wave opening weekend prediction: $11.4 million

For my Dirty Grandpa prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/01/14/dirty-grandpa-box-office-prediction/

For my The Boy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/01/15/the-boy-box-office-prediction/

The Equalizer Movie Review

The Equalizer shares primarily its name only with the 1980s show it got its moniker from and much more with Taken and Denzel Washington’s own Man on Fire. Reuniting with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, the picture aims to be nothing more than finding clever ways for its star to violently kill bad guys. In that sense, Fuqua’s stylish work and Denzel’s restrained cool (at least in outward personality) often work here. Expectations for anything else than that should be tempered.

Our headliner is Robert McCall, who is unquestionably the Jack Bauer of hardware store employees. He spends his days there and his nights at a diner where he strikes up a friendly relationship with Teri, a teenage hooker with a heart of gold (Chloe Grace Moretz) who’s also an aspiring singer. Why the filmmakers didn’t give her a child with debilitating asthma or other medical ailment to complete the troika of movie cliches is unknown. Speaking of Russian numbers, five is the number of well connected mobsters from that country that McCall offs when he gets involved with Teri’s affairs. And that leads to a whole lotta Denzel bad assery for the pic’s padded two hour plus running time.

If you hadn’t guessed, McCall is no average hardware store employee. His background is only glossed over but there’s been involvement with Black Ops and the CIA. We get a scene with Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman that provides a little insight. Yet The Equalizer doesn’t spend much time on character development. After all, there’s vengeance to be doled out. McCall’s glory days of government service may have provided quite a satisfactory viewing experience. It would certainly be more insightful than the several minutes of screen time where McCall helps an overweight employee become a security guard.

Back to the vengeance. It’s no secret that Denzel does this kind of thing better than most. If not for his participation, this might be a direct to VOD release. The decision to make his character an indestructible killing machine saps a good bit of tension away. The Russian mobsters are no different than ones you’ve seen before. It comes down to this – if you thought Taken was pure action bliss, sign up. This is about on Man on Fire level for me: not one of Denzel’s more memorable entries, but OK.

McCall’s employment locale of Home Mart does provide him with some clever tools to dispense of his prey. One suspects, though, that if he’d worked at Burger King, it’d be no different. He would’ve figured out a method to decapitate baddies with a Whopper wrapper and dislodge tracheas with a chicken fry. He’s just that resourceful.

**1/2 (out of four)

Carrie (2013) Movie Review

When Stephen King heard of a new remake for Carrie, his reaction was this: “The real question is why, when the original was so good?”

Right you are Mr. King and he’s pretty much written my movie review of Kimberly Peirce’s rehashing of the 1976 Brian De Palma classic with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, based on King’s first published novel. It’s not that the 2013 version is terrible. It’s not that Chloe Grace Moretz doesn’t deliver a solid performance as the telekinetic teenager who has a very tragic prom. And Julianne Moore is incapable of giving a bad performance and manages respectably taking on the supremely creepy mother role that Piper Laurie perfected nearly three decades ago.

It’s just that this feels so unnecessary. Since De Palma’s work 27 years ago, an unwanted sequel came out in 1999 and an unwanted NBC TV remake was released in 2002. Now this. None of them performed too well and that’s easy to understand. 1976’s Carrie holds up remarkably well and any generation can simply revisit it.

There are tweaks here and there in the remake, but none of them add much of anything. The basic story is intact and the most famous lines from the original remain. The biggest difference is the ending which is a bit surprising because the ’76 version had a terrific one. For those unfamiliar with the plot, I’ll save you some trouble. Just go watch the De Palma flick. It’s worth your time and this version isn’t. I can’t put it any better than the source material’s author. So listen to Stephen King, kids!

** (out of four)