Oscar Watch: Toy Story 4

The fourth edition of Toy Story is unveiled in theaters next weekend and reviews are out today. It is the 21st film for Pixar that began in 1995 with… Toy Story. And when it comes to Oscar voters honoring the studio’s works, there’s a rich history.

Critics so far have given a 100% stamp of approval to the sequel. The Academy established the Best Animated Feature in 2001. There’s been 18 winners and half of them are Pixar pics. The studio has also nabbed two nods in Best Picture with 2009’s Up and 2010’s… Toy Story 3.

First things first: there is approximately zero doubt that part four will get Animated Feature recognition. And unless something special comes along in the second half of the year (perhaps Frozen 2?), it has an excellent shot at winning. It’s also feasible that it could land Pixar’s third Picture nod, but that is far less certain at this juncture.

Another category where Toy Story 4 could contend is Best Original Song. There’s two possibilities: Randy Newman’s “I Can’t Let Yourself Throw Away” and “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy”, which was written by Newman and is performed by country superstar Chris Stapleton.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Toy Story 4 Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/19)… and it’s a significant one. Revising my estimate down from to $191.5 million to $167.5 million.

With the release of Toy Story 4 next weekend, Pixar should have no problem having the top three animated openings of all time. The big question is whether or not it manages to have the largest so far. The sequel arrives nearly a quarter century after Toy Story kicked off the Disney owned Pixar phenomenon and nearly a decade since Toy Story 3. The iconic characters of Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) return along with the vocal works of Annie Potts, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, and the late Don Rickles. New actors joining the party include Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves. Josh Cooley makes his directorial debut.

Each chapter in this cinematic universe has seen its overall domestic gross increase with each entry. Part 3 took in $110 million in its first frame and legged out to $415 million. That predecessor currently has the fifth highest animated start ever. Toy Story 4 is in line to easily top that and more.

Last summer’s Incredibles 2 nabbed the record for the genre by a wide margin when it took in $182 million. Pixar also holds the #2 spot with 2016’s Finding Dory with $135 million. I don’t see Woody and Buzz’s fourth go round having any issue topping that and it could definitely hit the #1 designation.

I’ll say it falls just a manages a few million over the Incredibles sequel for a historic start.

Toy Story 4 opening weekend prediction: $167.5 million

For my Child’s Play prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/13/childs-play-box-office-prediction/

For my Anna prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/13/anna-box-office-prediction/

The Strangers: Prey at Night Box Office Prediction

It’s been nearly a decade since Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman were terrorized by sadistic home invaders in The Strangers. The horror flick turned into an unexpected hit early in the summer of 2008 with a $20 million opening and $52 million overall domestic gross.

With a new cast and director in tow, long gestating sequel The Strangers: Prey at Night enters theaters next weekend. Johannes Roberts, who directed his own surprise hit 47 Meters Down just last summer, is behind the camera with a cast led by Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson.

The question here is rather simple: will audiences have enough of a memory or fondness for the original to turn up? The horror genre has certainly seen its share of impressive performers lately and it could potentially fill the market niche.

That said, I’m skeptical. I’ll estimate that Prey earns less than half of what its predecessor accomplished some 10 years ago.

The Strangers: Prey at Night opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million

For my A Wrinkle in Time prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/28/a-wrinkle-in-time-box-office-prediction/

For my The Hurricane Heist prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/the-hurricane-heist-box-office-prediction/

For my Gringo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/gringo-box-office-prediction/

Fist Fight Movie Review

Fist Fight is not worth it. It’s not worth the involvement of a decent cast that’s provided laughs in other projects. It’s not even worthy of that bloopers reel that you just know is coming once its 91 minutes thankfully concludes. Even they’re not very funny.

This is a loose remake of 1987 cult comedy Three O’Clock High, a fun little exercise that’s earned its status as an under appreciated flick. The common thread is the long buildup to an eventual brawl in a high school. However, this time it’s the teachers and not the students. In one corner, we have wimpy English teacher Mr. Campbell (Charlie Day). In the other, we have intimidating history instructor Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube).

These two educators are in the last day of school when a dispute leads Cube to challenge Day to its title at 3pm once the bell rings. The circumstances leading to it are not particularly relevant, though they certainly call into question why Cube’s character should be anywhere near a classroom. That’s common here. Most of the characters from faculty to the kids are dumb and constantly doing dumb things. Jillian Bell, who stole scenes in 22 Jump Street, is that teacher we’ve all had who does meth and wants to hook up with the seniors. This is one example of several where the script goes for extreme vulgarity and non-PC humor. Nothing wrong with that, but it rarely lands with its crass chuckles attempts.

Cube scowls his way through. Day plays up the always nerve-wracked weakling. Somewhere in here is an attempted message about bravery and not backing down to powers that be. If only some of the talent here could have been brave enough to punch up this lackadaisical screenplay.

*1/2 (out of four)

Fist Fight Box Office Prediction

Ice Cube and Charlie Day headline the comedy Fist Fight, which hits theaters over Presidents Day weekend. A loose remake of the 1987 cult pic Three O’Clock High, costars include Tracy Morgan (in his first film after his auto accident), Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert, and Kumail Nanjiani.

Mr. Cube has had his share of laugh inducing hits and franchises over the years with Barbershop, 21/22 Jump Street, and Ride Along. Day is best known for TV’s “It Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and the Horrible Bosses flicks.

Fight pits Cube as a teacher challenging his fellow educator to a schoolyard brawl. With its simple concept, known stars in the genre, and really zero competition when it comes to comedies (save for Lego Batman I suppose), I’ll predict this manages a mid 20s four day debut. It could even fight for the highest opening among the two others newbies (The Great Wall, A Cure for Wellness) over the holiday weekend.

Fist Fight opening weekend prediction: $25.1 million

For my The Great Wall prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/09/the-great-wall-box-office-prediction/

For my A Cure for Wellness prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/09/a-cure-for-wellness-box-office-prediction/

Bad Santa 2 Box Office Prediction

Thirteen years after its predecessor opened over the Turkey Day weekend, Billy Bob Thornton’s booze fueled holiday cheer returns in Bad Santa 2. The original has hit cult status, but it’s worth noting that it did quite well in its initial theatrical run. In 2003, it debuted to $12.2 million over the Friday to Sunday holiday frame and $16.8 million counting its Wednesday and Thursday grosses. It eventually earned $60M domestic.

Mark Waters (maker of hits like Freaky Friday and Mean Girls) takes over directorial duties from Terry Zwigoff. Thornton is back in the title role alongside returnees Tony Cox and Brett Kelly, in addition to Kathy Bates and Christina Hendricks.

2016 has seen a consistent pattern of long gestating sequels not matching the grosses of the first. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bad Santa 2 followed the same trajectory. Reviews so far have been mixed to negative. I’ll predict this doesn’t match what we saw 13 years ago and struggles to top low to mid double digits for its five-day.

Bad Santa 2 opening weekend prediction: $8.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $10.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Moana prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/moana-box-office-prediction/

For my Allied prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/allied-box-office-prediction/

For my Rules Don’t Apply prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/rules-dont-apply-box-office-prediction/

The Neon Demon Movie Review

Five years ago, Nicolas Winding Refn made Drive, one of my absolute favorite pictures in years. The ultra stylish and occasionally extremely violent action thriller was light on plot, but heavy on atmosphere. I found it hypnotic. I was less enamored with Only God Forgives, the filmmaker’s follow-up two years later. Violent and fascinating to look at? Indeed it was and it had some good stuff in it. Yet I wrote at the time that it lacked soul and that’s something Drive had with the relationship between Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.

Now we arrive at The Neon Demon and that whole soulless thing pervades this experience even more so. Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, fresh out of some small town and in Los Angeles to become a model. She’s sixteen, but tells everyone she’s 19. Jesse is stunningly beautiful and knows it. So does everyone around her and it infects them with feelings of jealousy and lust. This includes two other models (Abbey Lee and Bella Heathcote) and a makeup artist (Jena Malone) who befriends our wide eyed beauty for a while. Then there’s the photographer (Karl Glusman) who has the hots for her and the manager of the fleabag motel (Keanu Reeves) she’s staying at that might, too.

The central concept of The Neon Demon is that being gorgeous can get you somewhere in life, but it can be dangerous as well due to how it affects others. We pretty much get that within the first 15 minutes and then Demon just keeps going. And going. Anyone familiar with the director knows he favors style over substance and there are some technically pleasing shots to behold. Drive had an interesting enough story to go with the tone and visuals. Forgives did some of the time. This mostly doesn’t. It’s an ugly film about beautiful people.

I found myself simply not caring where the plot went and atmospherics weren’t enough to hold my attention. Nor were the performances. None are bad, but none really rise above the material. The final act gives us a tone shift that may you have you either rolling your eyes or trying to keep your lunch down. We’ve come a long way from the thrill I felt awaiting Refn’s next picture after Drive. With Demon, he seems stuck in reverse.

*1/2 (out of four)