September 24-26 Box Office Predictions

Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looks to make it a clean sweep at #1 for the month of September this weekend. The only competitor standing in its way is Dear Evan Hansen, the adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Dear Evan Hansen Box Office Prediction

The fact that Hansen is garnering mixed reviews has me questioning whether it reaches double digits. I’m guessing no and that should put it in the runner-up position behind Rings, which may only drop in the low 30s.

Holdovers will populate the rest of the five as we await some potential October behemoths starting with Venom: Let There Be Carnage and continuing with No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, and Dune.

Until then, expect a rather quiet end to this month at multiplexes. Here’s how I envision the top five:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

2. Dear Evan Hansen

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

3. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

4. Cry Macho

Predicted Gross: $2.8 million

5. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

Box Office Results (September 17-19)

Shang-Chi steamrolled the rest of the weak competition in its third frame with $21.6 million. That’s just above my $20.1 million projection as the MCU juggernaut has amassed $176 million thus far with $200 million easily in its sights.

Free Guy dipped a scant 9% for second place in its sixth weekend with $5 million (I said $4.2 million). It has crossed the nine digit mark at $108 million.

The weekend’s top newcomer was Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho with a ho-hum $4.4 million compared to my more generous $6.4 million estimate. Perhaps its intended older demographic opted to view it on HBO Max or, with its mixed reviews, not at all.

Candyman was fourth with $3.5 million, holding up better than my $2.6 million take. Total is $53 million.

Keeping with the horror theme, Malignant dropped 50% in its sophomore weekend with $2.7 million. That’s decent for its genre and it’s generated plenty of chatter (good and bad) that might have assisted in a curiosity factor. In two weeks, it’s made $9 million. I incorrectly had it outside the top five.

That’s because Gerard Butler’s latest action thriller Copshop (despite a decent critical response) tanked with only $2.3 million in sixth. I went with $4.5 million.

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

Oscar Predictions: Cry Macho

Over the past three decades, Clint Eastwood has made two Best Picture winners (1992’s Unforgiven, 2004’s Million Dollar Baby) and directed three nominees (2003’s Mystic River, 2006’s Letters from Iwo Jima, 2014’s American Sniper). So it stands to reason that anytime we see a new feature from the legend, an Oscar predictions post is warranted.

His latest is Cry Macho and the Western themed drama (based on a 1975 novel) was in development before Clint had won any gold hardware. Fun fact: Burt Lancaster was once tapped to headline it. The pic hits theaters and HBO Max Friday and the embargo was lifted today.

Eastwood’s return to the genre he’s most known for is split down the middle as far as critical reaction. Macho has a 52% Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time. This never seemed like much of an awards contender in his long filmography and reviews confirm just that. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

September 17-19 Box Office Predictions

**Blogger’s Note (09/16): I am revising my prediction for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. It appears to be in more of a limited release than I anticipated so my estimate goes from $3.4 million to $1.7M. That puts it outside of the top five and allows Candyman the five spot.

A trio of newcomers are out Friday, but none stand much of a chance at dethroning Marvel’s sizzling Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. We have Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, Gerard Butler’s action thriller Copshop, and the Jessica Chastain led biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

Cry Macho Box Office Prediction

Copshop Box Office Prediction

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Box Office Prediction

I’m not projecting any of the newbies will hit double digits, but I’ll say Eastwood’s latest comes closest. I’m hedging a bit since Macho will stream on HBO Max. However, it should make enough to overshadow Copshop (though Butler has over performed in the past).

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a tricky one since there’s no screen count available at press time. The pic is garnering Oscar buzz for Chastain. My estimate could fluctuate. For now, I have it in a battle with Free Guy for the four spot.

As mentioned, Shang-Chi should have no issue making it three weeks on top. A low 40s drop might put it just over $20 million.

And with that, my take on the top 5:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $20.1 million

2. Cry Macho

Predicted Gross: $6.4 million

3. Copshop

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

4. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

5. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $2.6 million

Box Office Results (September 10-12)

It was a glorious weekend for Shang-Chi as it achieved the best sophomore frame of any feature during COVID. The MCU blockbuster took in $34.7 million, a tad below my $36.4 million prediction. The ten-day is up to an impressive $144 million. While Rings fell short of Black Widow‘s pandemic era best start, it held up considerably better for the follow-up.

Free Guy was second with $5.5 million as it crossed the century mark at $101 million. My projection? $5.5 million!

Despite plenty of internet chatter over the weekend due to its wild twists, James Wan’s horror flick Malignant stalled with audiences (though many may view it on HBO Max). It was third at $5.4 million, falling under my $7.6 million take.

Candyman held the four spot at $4.7 million (I said $5.1 million) as its made $47 million.

Jungle Cruise rounded out the top five with $2.3 million (I was right there at $2.4 million) and it sails in with $109 million overall.

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

Cry Macho Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (09/16): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my estimate down from $8 million to $6.4M

At age 91, Clint Eastwood is still averaging about a movie a year and his latest is Cry Macho. The Western themed drama is based on a 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash. The cinematic version has been in development for so long that Burt Lancaster and Roy Scheider were once attached (as was Arnold Schwarzenegger close to 20 years ago).

Per usual, Eastwood directs. He also stars and it marks his first appearance onscreen since 2018’s The Mule. Costars include Dwight Yoakam and Eduardo Minett. As a Warner production, it will also be simultaneously available on HBO Max.

The question is whether fans of the filmmaker will pack theater seats… or will Eastwood mostly be talking to empty chairs? The Mule kicked off to a solid $17.5 million start nearly three years back. It had the advantage of having a higher profile December release date and more buzz.

Older audiences with streaming access may opt to view it at home. It seems a little risky to underestimate the legendary nonagenarian, but I’ll project Macho doesn’t quite reach double digits.

Cry Macho opening weekend prediction: $6.4 million

For my Copshop prediction, click here:

Copshop Box Office Prediction

For my The Eyes of Tammy Faye prediction, click here:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Box Office Prediction

The Marksman Box Office Prediction

Liam Neeson headlines the first new wide release of 2021 with The Marksman next weekend. The action pic casts Neeson as a former Marine (with a particular set of skills I assume) protecting a young boy from harm by a Mexican cartel. Robert Lorenz, a frequent collaborator of Clint Eastwood, directs. Costars include Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, and Teresa Ruiz.

It goes without saying, but the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing many theater closures and limited audiences for fresh product. This looks to continue into the foreseeable future. That has made the forecasting of pictures quite a dubious proposition and I took a break for the last couple of months.

I shall try again. This is not Neeson’s first foray into available multiplexes during COVID. In October, Honest Thief debuted to $3.6 million stateside. Considering the circumstances, that was pretty decent. I suspect The Marksman won’t quite hit that target, but it should come pretty darn close.

The Marksman opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

Summer 2000: The Top 10 Hits and More

As I do every summer on the blog, I am looking back at the cinematic seasons of 30, 20, and 10 years ago and recounting the top ten hits, other notable pics, and some misfires. A week ago, I covered the summer of 1990 (when we all were “ghosted”). If you missed it, you can peruse it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/18/summer-1990-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Today brings us to the dawn of the new century. What struck me is that there weren’t a whole lot of outright flops, but the ones that were are rather significant bombs. Let’s take a trip down memory lane of 2000 and were we not entertained?!?!

10. The Patriot

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger teamed up with disaster flick specialist Roland Emmerich for this Revolutionary War era drama that managed to just achieve blockbuster status and barely top its reported $110 million budget stateside.

9. Big Momma’s House

Domestic Gross: $117 million

Negative reviews couldn’t prevent this Martin Lawrence comedy from nearly quadrupling its $30 million budget and spawning two eventual sequels. 30% also happens to be its Rotten Tomatoes score.

8. Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

Domestic Gross: $123 million

Eddie Murphy’s sequel to his 1996 hit certainly didn’t get the reviews of its predecessor, but it fell only $5 million short of the domestic gross of part 1 and introduced superstar Janet Jackson as his new love interest. Part 2 also greatly expanded Eddie’s work as other members of the Klump brood. As you can see from numbers 8 and 9, it was a big summer for comedians in fat suits.

7. Dinosaur

Domestic Gross: $137 million

The prehistoric Disney animated adventure is not one of their most talked about titles in recent decades, but it was still a profitable venture that grossed nearly $350 million worldwide.

6. What Lies Beneath

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Despite mixed reviews, Robert Zemeckis’s Hitchcockian thriller starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer landed big with audiences. Its filming schedule is a memorable one. Zemeckis was shooting Cast Away with Tom Hanks and there was a long break in filming so its star could shed weight and grow his long beard. It was enough time for the director to fit in Beneath. 

5. Scary Movie

Domestic Gross: $157 million

The summer’s biggest comedy was a Scream spoof from filmmaker Keenan Ivory Wayans. Shot for less than $20 million, it spawned four sequels and became its own franchise.

4. X-Men

Domestic Gross: $157 million

I recently wrote about the 20th anniversary of X-Men here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/14/x-men-at-20-a-look-back/

That post talks about its significant impact on the comic book genre that has dominated the 21st century.

3. The Perfect Storm

Domestic Gross: $182 million

Wolfgang Peterson’s fact based disaster drama with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg was not much of a hit with critics, but crowds were swept up in the waves.

2. Gladiator

Domestic Gross: $187 million

Ridley Scott’s historical action drama kicked off summer 2000 and made a global superstar out of Russell Crowe and provided a juicy supporting part for Joaquin Phoenix. The film became an Oscar darling – winning Best Picture and Crowe taking Best Actor. This is the rare summer popcorn pic that achieved awards glory.

1. Mission: Impossible 2

Domestic Gross: $215 million

This sequel cruised to the top spot of earners for the season. Now that there’s been six editions in the franchise, this John Woo directed experience is generally (and rightfully) considered the weakest of the bunch. Yet that didn’t prevent huge grosses.

And now for some other notable features:

Chicken Run

Domestic Gross: $106 million

This still stands as the highest grossing stop-motion animated feature of all time and it doubled its budget domestically. A sequel is in development, but it was recently announced that lead voice Mel Gibson will not be part of the proceedings.

Gone in 60 Seconds

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Despite poor reviews, Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie’s remake of the 1970s heist pic still zoomed (barely) past $100 million and was a solid performer overseas.

Me, Myself & Irene

Domestic Gross: $90 million

The Farrelly Brothers reunited with their Dumb and Dumber star Jim Carrey for this comedy that earned mixed reaction. This was nowhere near the hit that the brothers had two years earlier with their runaway success There’s Something About Mary, but it still made money.

Space Cowboys

Domestic Gross: $90 million

Clint Eastwood guided this “old guys in space” tale alongside Tommy Lee Jones to a very respectable gross and decent critical reaction.

Hollow Man

Domestic Gross: $73 million

Paul Verhoeven’s take on the H.G. Wells novel starred Kevin Bacon and earned a Visual Effects Oscar nomination (losing to Gladiator). While it didn’t make its budget back stateside, it ended up doubling its price tag when factoring in foreign markets. A direct to video sequel followed.

Shaft

Domestic Gross: $70 million

Samuel L. Jackson took over the iconic private dick role from Richard Roundtree (who costarred here) in this sequel from the late John Singleton. Christian Bale memorably plays a villain here. Another sequel followed in 2019 and it was an outright flop.

Bring It On

Domestic Gross: $68 million

Made for only $11 million, this teen cheerleading comedy was an unexpected hit that gave Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union a boost in their careers. Five direct to video sequels followed as well as a stage musical.

The Cell

Domestic Gross: $61 million

Despite so-so reviews, this twisty supernatural thriller with Jennifer Lopez easily topped its $33 million budget. It has continued to have ardent admirers including the late Roger Ebert, who awarded it four stars.

Coyote Ugly

Domestic Gross: $60 million

This tale about saloon life with Piper Perabo and John Goodman managed to take in over $100 million worldwide against a $45 million budget and has become a cult favorite since.

The Original Kings of Comedy

Domestic Gross: $38 million

A stand-up comedy pic grossing this much in theaters is notable. Spike Lee directed Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, and Cedric the Entertainer and audiences turned out.

As I mentioned, the total bombs aren’t plentiful here. However, they’re notable:

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Domestic Gross: $26 million

A pet project of Robert De Niro, this loose take on the 1960s animated series grossed a third of its budget domestically and was quickly forgotten.

Titan A.E.

Domestic Gross: $22 million

20th Century Fox had a big failure here at the start of the 21st century with this animated sci-fi tale with Matt Damon as a leading voice. The price tag was reportedly around $90 million and it made just $36 million worldwide.

Battlefield Earth

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Based on a work from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, audiences and critics savaged this sci-fi tale with John Travolta. It won a then record 7 Golden Raspberry Awards and was mocked relentlessly for its poor quality.

And that does it, folks! I’ll have 2010 recounted on the blog in the coming days…

Richard Jewell Movie Review

Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell continues his late career spate of no-frills dramas focused on recent events. This is a mostly successful and effective one which recounts the title character’s accusations of being responsible for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park Bombing in Atlanta. Eastwood and screenwriter Billy Ray spare no anger (sometimes subtle, sometimes above the surface) at the U.S. Government and the media for their contribution to his suffering. That is where Jewell has generated some controversy due its depiction of one reporter played by Olivia Wilde. Some of that material is indeed problematic, but the film overall is buoyed by a trio of terrific performances.

One of them is Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell. Working as a low-level security guard with deep reverence for law enforcement (he longs to be in that club), Jewell works the event that results in pipe bombs being detonated and he saves lives by discovering the knapsack that the devices are kept in. However, he also becomes the tragedy’s prime suspect. His two biggest investigators depicted here are Jon Hamm’s FBI agent and Wilde’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter. Richard’s support system include his lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) and his beloved mama Bobi (Kathy Bates).

Jewell’s credit as a hero is short-lived as the government and media hone in on him as the potential bomber. Hauser’s performance (he’s been memorable in smaller roles in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) is first-rate as he captures Jewell’s vulnerability and unwillingness to fight the system until it’s almost too late. Credit also goes to Rockwell and Bates. The scenes between this trio give the picture its greatest dramatic heft.

As mentioned, the treatment of Wilde and the FBI as a whole is a bit more complicated. Their story here has been called more fictionalized than the reality. I can only say that Wilde’s reporter in particular is written as more of a caricature. Yet the unfair treatment of Jewell is one that resonates with Hauser’s superb work assisting in a major way.

*** (out of four)

Oscars 2019: The Case of Adam Driver

My Case of posts for the acting contenders at this year’s Oscar brings us to the third performer in Best Actor… Adam Driver in Marriage Story. Here’s his story:

The Case for Adam Driver

2019 capped off an amazing decade for Driver. In addition to his high-profile role in the HBO series Girls, his filmography over the past few years has been remarkable. To give you an idea, here’s some of the directors he worked with in the 2010s: Clint Eastwood, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, Terry Gilliam, and Spike Lee. The latter filmmaker helped Driver get his first Oscar nod last year in Supporting Actor for BlacKkKlansman. 2019 saw his best year yet with his final portrayal as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and critical praise for the political drama The Report. Yet it’s his role as the divorcing husband to Scarlett Johansson in frequent collaborator Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story that garnered his greatest reviews thus far.

The Case Against Adam Driver

He’s still young enough that there’s little overdue for a win sentiment happening. Marriage Story has fallen behind in numerous categories with the exception of Laura Dern in Supporting Actress. Joaquin Phoenix has swept the key precursors.

The Verdict

Driver will likely place second in the voting behind the rising of Phoenix over the past few weeks.

My Case of posts will continue with the third competitor in Best Actress… Saoirse Ronan in Little Women!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Kathy Bates

My Case of posts on the major nominees for the Oscars brings us to our first contender for Supporting Actress – Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell. Let’s see what the verdict is for the veteran thespian:

The Case for Kathy Bates

She’s a critically acclaimed performer who’s excelled in drama, horror (earning an Emmy for TV’s American Horror Story), and comedy (she’s famously Adam Sandler’s Mama in The Waterboy). In 1990, she went from relative obscurity to winning the Best Actress Oscar for her terrifying role in the Stephen King adaptation Misery. Since then, she’s picked up two Supporting Actress nods for 1998’s Primary Colors and 2002’s About Schmidt. For her work in Clint Eastwood’s Jewell playing the title character’s mother, Bates also nabbed a Golden Globe nomination and a win from the National Board of Review.

The Case Against Kathy Bates

Even with the Globes recognition and NBR victory, she didn’t make the SAG cut. Her nomination was a bit of a surprise with most prognosticators assuming it might go to Annette Bening (The Report), Nicole Kidman (Bombshell), and especially Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. Her nomination represents the only one for Jewell, which had decent reviews but struggled mightily at the box office.

The Verdict

Considering her inclusion wasn’t totally expected, I would rank Bates 5th out of five in terms of likelihood for the win.

My Case of posts will continue with the second Best Actor hopeful… Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

Richard Jewell Box Office Prediction

Clint Eastwood continues to churn out film after film and his latest, Richard Jewell, keeps with his recent theme of fact based dramas recounting events of the past quarter century. Paul Walter Hauser (memorable in supporting roles in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) stars in the title role of the security guard falsely accused of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Costars include Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, and Olivia Wilde.

Jewell looks to bring in an adult audience amidst Christmas fare geared towards family crowds. With Eastwood at the helm, it could succeed. The director’s previous work, The Mule, debuted over the same mid December weekend last year to $17.5 million. Critics are mostly on his side here with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 88% and some awards chatter.

That said, I don’t believe Jewell will nab Mule numbers right away (it helped that Eastwood starred in the latter). This will hope to leg out as many grownup dramas do over subsequent holiday weekends. For its start, I believe low double digits to possibly low teens sounds about right.

Richard Jewell opening weekend prediction: $11 million

For my Jumanji: The Next Level prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/04/jumanji-the-next-level-box-office-prediction/

For my Black Christmas prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/05/black-christmas-box-office-prediction/