Oscar Watch: Aladdin

Just a day before its theatrical release, Disney’s live-action update of Aladdin had its review embargo lifted. The big-budget fantasy, which casts Will Smith in the genie role made iconic by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated feature, could’ve certainly fared worse. Based upon fears from a poorly received first trailer, some wondered if the pic would be a disaster. Most critics, while certainly mixed with some negative, haven’t been too harsh. It stands at 60% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Particular praise has gone to the performances of Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, who respectively play the title character and Princess Jasmine.

When it comes to these updates of studio classics, many in the past decade have scored technical nods. This includes Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. In 2019, Aladdin will find itself competing for space with three other Disney live-action renderings: the already released Dumbo, this summer’s The Lion King, and this winter’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Don’t be surprised if The Lion King gets the lions share of attention.

That said, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling could be the two best possibilities here. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Dumbo

Disney’s live-action version of their 1941 classic Dumbo arrives in theaters on Friday and the review embargo was lifted today. Tim Burton’s take on the flying elephant is the first of four Mouse Factory updates on their animated tales hitting screens in 2019.

The advance word out is quite mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 51%. No one seriously expected this would contend for Best Picture, but previous Disney updates in recent years have fared well with Oscar voters with technical nods.

Burton’s own Alice in Wonderland in 2010 won Best Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and landed a nomination in Visual Effects. Costume Design nods were received by Maleficent in 2014 and by Cinderella the following year. In 2016, The Jungle Book emerged victorious in Visual Effects. Beauty and the Beast nabbed nods for Production and Costume Design.

That’s a solid track record. Where’s that leave Dumbo? Tough to say at this juncture. Even the negative skewing reviews have praised the visuals. Yet there will be a lot of competition and that includes the other three live-action updates arriving later: Aladdin, The Lion King, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Even more potentially serious competitors include Avengers: Endgame and the next Star Wars.

Costume Design and Production Design remain more realistic possibilities. Bottom line: Dumbo could continue the recent tradition of this sub genre getting down the line category attention, but competition will be key. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Dumbo Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/27): My Dumbo prediction has dropped from $65.6 million to $55.6 million.

With Tim Burton at the helm, Disney’s live-action rendering of Dumbo flies into theaters next weekend. The elephant tale (based on the Mouse Factory’s 1941 animated feature) is headlined by Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, and plenty of CG effects.

This is the first live-action remake from the studio in two years, following up on the monstrous success that was Beauty and the Beast. That lapse in their sub genre won’t apply to 2019 as there’s three more on the way – Aladdin in May, The Lion King in July, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil this October.

It’s also not Burton’s first foray remaking Disney classics. 2010’s Alice in Wonderland was a huge hit that grossed $116 million for its start. When it comes to Beauty, Aladdin, and Lion King, they have the advantage of being based on 90s efforts as opposed to a title released 50 years prior.

Expectations for Dumbo aren’t quite as lofty and they’re in the $60-$70 million premiere range. That sound about right and I’ll put it right in the middle of those numbers, similar to what Cinderella achieved in 2015.

Dumbo opening weekend prediction: $55.6 million

For my Hotel Mumbai prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/hotel-mumbai-box-office-prediction/

For my Unplanned prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/unplanned-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beach Bum prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/the-beach-bum-box-office-prediction/

A Wrinkle in Time Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/07): I am revising my estimate from $42.8 million to $37.8 million, meaning I have it debuting at #2

What film could knock Disney’s Black Panther off its perch atop the box office charts after its momentous performance? Well, it should be another Disney property as A Wrinkle in Time debuts next Friday. Based on the famed and acclaimed 1962 novel from Madeleine L’Engle, the sci-fi fantasy comes from Selma director Ana DuVernay and marks the biggest budgeted feature ever (a reported $103 million) from an African-American female director. The cast includes Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Gugu-Mbatha Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena, and Storm Reid.

The Disney marketing machine is certainly a formidable one and familiarity with the source material and high-profile actors should serve as a benefit. One potential hindrance: while reviews are embargoed until March 7, initial word-of-mouth from screenings has been mixed.

On the low end, Wrinkle could see a debut in the mid 30s. However, I feel it will manage to climb higher with low 40s gross that could certainly reach as a high as $50 million. I don’t see it hitting the high 60s grosses that Disney’s live-action adaptations like Maleficent or Cinderella managed. That should be enough to allow the Mouse Factory to hold the 1-2 position next weekend with this and Panther.

A Wrinkle in Time opening weekend prediction: $37.8 million

For my The Strangers: Prey at Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/28/the-strangers-prey-at-night/

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/

Who Should Play Donald Trump?

This news should come as no surprise as HBO has announced they will be producing a miniseries in the near future focusing on the 2016 Presidential Election. The effort will come from the team behind Game Change, which told the tale of Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) in her quest to become John McCain’s (Ed Harris) VP in 2008. Game director Jay Roach will be behind the camera.

There is little doubt the project will heavily focus on the man who became the 45th President of the United States. So that begs the question: who will play Donald Trump? I imagine this will be the focus on much speculation until an announcement is made, so I’ll get in on it too. I’ve come up with a dozen interesting choices outlined in this here post. However, before we move to that, let’s discuss some choices that are sure to bandied about.

Name one: Alec Baldwin. Of course, he may be the first actor people think of due to his portrayal of the President on SNL. Yet I find it extremely unlikely that Baldwin would be interested (he’s already announced his impression of POTUS on SNL is soon coming to an end). The filmmakers themselves also might not be wild about casting the performer only known for an exaggerated comedic take on Trump.

Then there’s some big names that might be given the role if they’re interested. Two that spring to mind immediately: Kevin Spacey and Bryan Cranston. Here’s another – Matthew McConaughey. After all, he’s worked with HBO before on “True Detective”.

Yet I wish to delve a bit deeper into Hollywood’s rolodex for some other names. Here’s a dozen of them for your consideration:

Tom Berenger

This choice seems unlikely as he’s probably not a big enough name anymore, but he’s the right age (67) and he does kind of bear a resemblance to POTUS. It’s been over three decades since Berenger was Oscar nominated for Platoon, but he’s popped up occasionally in recent years in pics like Training Day and Inception. 

Kenneth Branagh

The Irish actor has been known more lately for his work behind the camera, including 2015’s Cinderella. Later this year, he directs and stars in the remake of Murder on the Orient Express. That should be a high-profile project and could dovetail well into this very high-profile experience.

Kevin Costner

Coming off a supporting role in the blockbuster Hidden Figures, I question whether Costner could get the look down. Yet he’s a big star who HBO would probably consider.

Russell Crowe

This is a possible example of HBO going with the Oscar winner if he wants to do it. Crowe would be a huge actor to cast in the part and he could potentially add Emmy winner to his award shelf.

Thomas Haden Church

The Oscar nominee for 2004’s Sideways is currently on HBO right now alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in “Divorce”. I could see him pulling off the look for Trump and see him as an intriguing prospect. Possible issue: big enough name?

Greg Kinnear

Another Academy Award nominee for 1997’s As Good As It Gets, it’s been awhile since Kinnear has had a major showcase role. I could see him totally pulling this off and he’s near the top of my choices.

Viggo Mortensen

Mr. Mortensen could be a fascinating pick and he’s coming fresh off an Oscar nod for Captain Fantastic. Like Kinnear, this pick would fascinate me.

Edward Norton

Like Crowe, this would be an example of a major movie star taking on the part. Norton can be a chameleon and I like this idea.

Bob Odenkirk

The Emmy winner for “Better Call Saul” could nail this part, I suspect. He’s shown both dramatic and comedic chops in his body of work.

Kurt Russell

Russell is simply one of my favorite actors period. He’s more versatile than he gets credit for and I totally buy him making this work.

James Spader

Another high-profile choice due to his exposure on “The Blacklist”, he’s toward the top of my personal choices.

Owen Wilson

Of all the choices here, I could really see him getting the look down. The big question: could his very distinctive voice pull off the tones of The Donald?

So there you have it! What actors not mentioned do you feel could step into the President’s shoes? And how about this question: how will Donald Trump react to his casting on Twitter??

 

Beauty and the Beast Box Office Prediction

Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast arrives in theaters next weekend and it looks poised for quite a fantastic opening. Bill Condon serves behind the camera (he directed the last two Twilight installments recently) with Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Costars include Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Emma Thompson.

The Mouse Factory has had tremendous success with their reboots of their classic animated tales. 2014’s Maleficent took in $241 million stateside. The following year, Cinderella cleared $200 million. Last year’s The Jungle Book scored even more impressively with $364 million.

Beauty stands a great shot at outdoing them all. For starters, the 1991 original is beloved (it was the first animated feature to nab a Best Picture nomination). The Disney marketing machine has been in high gear and turnout among youngsters and females in particular should be substantial. Reviews (while not gushing) have been solid and it stands at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.

There is little doubt that this will post 2017’s largest opening so far. Just how high can it go? I am predicting it will achieve one of the top ten domestic premieres of all time. My estimate puts it at #10, right in between The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight for a truly beast mode roll out.

Beauty and the Beast opening weekend prediction: $158.8 million

For my The Belko Experiment prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/10/the-belko-experiment-box-office-prediction/

 

Oscar Watch: Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s live-action version of their acclaimed 1991 animated tale (as old as time) Beauty and the Beast is out next weekend. It’s a safe bet that it makes a killing at the box office. It could approach the $364 million territory that The Jungle Book achieved last year and will almost certainly post 2017’s biggest opening thus far, overtaking Logan.

Let’s not forget: the quarter century plus version of Belle and her Beastly beau was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture. Any chance that this rendering of the classic story could follow suit?

Short answer: no. Beast currently sits at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a decent score but way under the 95% reached by Jungle and that couldn’t get a Picture nod. That said, Beauty could be a factor in some down the line categories. Production Design, Visual Effects, and Makeup and Hairstyling are all possibilities. Where it’s most likely to show up is in Costume Design, where the studio’s recent remakes of Cinderella and Maleficent both scored nominations.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Pete’s Dragon Box Office Prediction

The Disney live-action remake train keep rolling along next weekend as Pete’s Dragon debuts in theaters. The Mouse Factory has found great success in the past couple of years taking their storied animated hits of decades past and repackaging and re-imagining them with real actors and tons of CG effects.

Pete’s Dragon, however, is a slightly different story. Unlike Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book (and next year’s Beauty and the Beast for that matter), the pic this is based on is not considered a classic. The Disney Dragon ‘toon opened in 1977 at a time when the studio was in a downturn in their animation department. It was only a mild box office performer and reviews weren’t too strong.

The fact that Disney has been on a roll lately should help Pete and his magical dragon change the narrative somewhat with this property. David Lowery (best known for directing the low budget indie drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is behind the camera. Oakes Fegley plays the title character (the Pete part) while the dragon is handled by Weta Digital. Costars include Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, and Karl Urban. Early reviews have been mostly positive with an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Let’s start here: this has no real chance of reaching the heights of the live action reboots before it. 2014’s Maleficent made $69 million for its start. Last year’s Cinderella earned $67 million. This spring’s The Jungle Book made $103 million. Dragon may be lucky to make half of any of those titles in its opening. Disney should be pretty happy if this manages to top $35 million, but my prediction reflects a belief that just over/under $30 million is the more likely scenario.

Pete’s Dragon opening weekend prediction: $29.8 million

For my Sausage Party prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/03/sausage-party-box-office-prediction/

For my Florence Foster Jenkins prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/03/florence-foster-jenkins-box-office-prediction/

Top 25 Highest Grossing Actresses of All Time (5-1)

Today we reach the final installment of my listing of the Top 25 Highest Grossing Actresses in box office history with the top five!

Here are the five ladies that have grossed the most stateside:

5. Julia Roberts

Career Earnings: $2.7 billion

Franchises: The Ocean’s pictures

Highest Grossing Picture: Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – $183 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 11 (Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Erin Brockovich, Hook, Notting Hill, Valentine’s Day, Sleeping with the Enemy, The Pelican Brief)

Lowest Grosser: Fireflies in the Garden (2011) – $70,000

Overall Rank: 30

4. Helena Bonham Carter

Career Earnings: $2.7 billion

Franchises: Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland

Highest Grossing Picture: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – $381 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 9 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Cinderella, Planet of the Apes, Les Miserables, The King’s Speech)

Lowest Grosser: The Theory of Flight (1998) – $73,000

Overall Rank: 28

3. Cate Blanchett

Career Earnings: $2.8 billion

Franchises: Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit

Highest Grossing Picture: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – $377 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 10 (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Cinderella, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Robin Hood, The Aviator)

Lowest Grosser: Little Fish (2006) – $8,000

Overall Rank: 27

2. Cameron Diaz

Career Earnings: $3 billion

Franchises: Charlie’s Angels, Shrek

Highest Grossing Picture: Shrek 2 (2004) – $441 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 11 (Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek Forever After, There’s Something About Mary, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, The Mask, Vanilla Sky, Bad Teacher)

Lowest Grosser: Head Above Water (1997) – $32,000

Overall Rank: 19

  1. Scarlett Johansson

Career Earnings: $3.3 billion

Franchises: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Highest Grossing Picture: The Avengers (2012) – $623 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 7 (The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, The Jungle Book, Lucy)

Lowest Grosser: A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004) – $164,000

Overall Rank: 9

And there you have it, my friends! Your 25 highest grossing females in the history of the movies…

Todd’s 2015 Oscar Winner Predictions: Round 1

It’s been two days since the Oscar nominations came out, allowing some time to pass to digest what and who is being recognized. After numerous posts prognosticating the nominations, we now arrive at this question: What Will Win??

Today brings my initial round of guesses on the movies and performers that I believe will get their gold statues. I will definitely have a second and final round posted probably two to three days before the February ceremony.

Let’s get to it:

BEST PICTURE

First off, there are four selections that basically should be happy with the nomination: Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Martian, and Room. Mad Max: Fury Road is a major long shot. That leaves a three picture race and indeed it is. Between The Big Short, The Revenant, and Spotlight – this is truly a competitive category this time around. I’m currently giving the ever so slight edge to Spotlight, which has been considered the soft front runner for a while now. Be warned though: the other two are hot on its heels.

PREDICTED WINNER: Spotlight

BEST DIRECTOR

Tom McCarthy’s work in Spotlight could be honored with outside chances for Adam McKay (The Big Short) or George Miller (Mad Max). Lenny Abrahamson’s surprise nomination for Room succeeded in screwing up people’s predictions. He has no chance to win. Yet I’ll go with the Academy honoring Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s direction in The Revenant, just one year after he received the prize for Birdman.

PREDICTED WINNER: Inarritu

BEST ACTOR

We will make this simple: it appears that Leonardo DiCaprio is finally going to win a statue for The Revenant. He is the very heavy favorite and if he doesn’t emerge victorious, it would probably constitute the largest upset of the evening.

PREDICTED WINNER: DiCaprio

BEST ACTRESS

Like lead Actor, there is a front runner here with Brie Larson in Room. Unlike Actor, the possibility for an upset is real with both Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) and Saoirse Ronan. I’ll stick with Larson though. Cate Blanchett (Carol) and Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) seem like non factors.

PREDICTED WINNER: Larson

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

This was an incredibly difficult category to predict with about 12 performances in the running. Now that we know the nominees, this is a race ripe for an upset. Any of the five – Christian Bale (The Big Short), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Sylvester Stallone (Creed) – are feasible recipients. Rylance has won some precursors, but like the Golden Globes, I’ll project that sentimentality wins out with Stallone standing center stage.

PREDICTED WINNER: Stallone

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

No major front runner here but Alicia Vikander had a great year with another heralded role in Ex Machina. I’ll predict her work in The Danish Girl eeks out a win over Rooney Mara (Carol), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Globes winner Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), and Rachel McAdams (Spotlight).

PREDICTED WINNER: Vikander

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Short and sweet here – Spotlight is the heavy front runner here and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win here. I’m much more confident in predicting a victory for it here than in Picture.

PREDICTED WINNER: Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Martian or Room have outside shots, but this looks like a win for The Big Short.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Big Short

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Anomalisa has its hardcore fans, but Pixar’s Inside Out is the big favorite.

PREDICTED WINNER: Inside Out

BEST FOREIGN FILM

Easy pick. Son of Saul is a huge front runner. Mustang is the only completion.

PREDICTED WINNER: Son of Saul

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Amy, chronicling the career of the late singer Amy Winehouse, is the favorite. For now, however, I’m going with an upset pick in the form of Cartel Land.

PREDICTED WINNER: Cartel Land

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The legendary John Williams could be in the running for his latest Star Wars score, but I’ll predict the Academy honors another legend: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Hateful Eight

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Was very surprised to see “See You Again” from Furious 7 snubbed. To me, that would have been the main competition for “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground, performed by Lady Gaga.

PREDICTED WINNER: “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground

BEST SOUND EDITING

I believe these sound categories will come down to a battle between Mad Max and Star Wars, with The Revenant as a spoiler. For now, I’m splitting the difference.

PREDICTED WINNER: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST SOUND MIXING

See above.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Once again, I see this as a contest between Chewbacca and Max. I’ll give Max the slight edge.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

This is another tough one with Mad Max maintaining a small edge over The Revenant and The Martian.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Hateful Eight stands a chance here, as does Mad Max. However, I believe Emmanuel Lubezki will take home his third Oscar in a row for The Revenant.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Revenant

BEST EDITING

This race often matches Picture and could here with Spotlight. The Big Short, Mad Max, and The Revenant are in the mix. This is practically a coin flip for me right now so don’t be shocked if this changes.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Big Short

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Only three nominees here and Mad Max and The Revenant are likely the only two winner possibilities.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Sandy Powell could split her own vote between Carol and Cinderella. Mad Max and The Danish Girl are in the running, but I’ll go with Powell and her work in Carol.

PREDICTED WINNER: Carol

And there you have it! My first Oscar winner predictions.