Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish go out of their comedic comfort zones next weekend with the release of TheKitchen. The crime thriller casts the two performers alongside Elisabeth Moss as the wives of incarcerated gangsters who take over Mob operations in New York. The late 70s set pic marks the directorial debut of Andrea Berloff and is based on a comic book miniseries. Costars include Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Brian d’Arcy James, Margo Martindale, Common, and Bill Camp.
If McCarthy and Haddish were headlining a high profile slapstick comedy, my estimate for TheKitchen would likely be considerably more (easily double). However, I’m skeptical that a wide audience is eager to see them in this. If solid reviews pop up in the coming days, that could potentially change the dynamic a bit. I think it’s going to have difficulty reaching double digits.
TheKitchen opening weekend prediction: $8.3 million
For my DoraandtheLostCityofGold prediction, click here:
Blogger’s Note (10/25/18): On the eve of its premiere, I am revising my estimate down from $10.2 million to $8.2 million
Gerard Butler headlines the action thriller Hunter Killer next weekend alongside Gary Oldman, Common, Linda Cardellini, and Toby Stephens. The submarine set pic comes out in the Halloween frame – which is typically a slow one at the box office. It will, at best, come in second to sophomore weekend for Halloween.
While there doesn’t seem to be much buzz for it, Butler has seen his recent efforts make a little more than anticipated. This includes Den of Thieves from earlier this year, which took in over $15 million. Even last year’s costly flop Geostorm still managed to make nearly $14 million.
I don’t see that kind of performance here, but I do think Killer could top double digits. On the other hand, it could debut on pace with something like Operation Finale from August. That action thriller didn’t even make $8 million over the long Labor Day frame.
This could be a bit high, but I’ve learned to spot Butler a couple million lately. I’ll say a gross between $10-$11 million is the likely scenario.
Hunter Killer opening weekend prediction: $8.2 million
For my Johnny English Strikes Again prediction, click here:
The Warner Animation Group sets the Legos aside momentarily when Smallfoot debuts next weekend. The 3D computer animated comedic musical (a twist on the Bigfoot story) comes from director Karey Kirkpatrick. He made the well-received Over the Hedge over a decade ago and the not so well-received live-action Eddie Murphy pic Imagine That in 2009. Channing Tatum, James Corden, LeBron James, Zendaya, Common, Danny DeVito, and Gina Rodriguez are among the voices heard here.
As mentioned, the current animation department at Warner Bros has mostly been giving us Lego titles as of late. One exception was 2016’s Storks. It also opened in September and made $21.3 million for its start. That is likely a far better comparison that anything involving those famous blocks.
A low 20s to mid gross should put this in second place next weekend behind the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School.
Nineteen year old actress Amandla Stenberg is most known for her work as Rue in the original HungerGames and the 2017 romance Everything, Everything (she also headlined this summer’s box office flop TheDarkestMinds). The Toronto Film Festival has screened TheHateUGive, George Tillman Jr.’s crime drama where Stenberg’s character witnesses the shooting of her childhood best friend.
Early reviews suggest it could be a breakout role for the performer. The supporting cast includes Regina Hall, Common, and Anthony Mackie. The pic is based on last year’s YA novel by Angie Thomas. Tillman Jr. has seen many of his pics achieve financial success, such as SoulFood, Barbershop and Notorious. Awards recognition has alluded him.
Bottom line: TheHateUGive will need to get noticed by audiences in order for that recognition to have any chance. While reviews are strong, I’d say Oscar nods are a long shot and that includes Stenberg.
The film is slated for release on October 19. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Unlike its surprise hit predecessor, no animals are harmed in the duration of John Wick: Chapter 2. However, dozens and dozens of other miscellaneous henchmen are. Especially their heads, which is a specialty of our title character to turn them into squib fodder.
2014’s John Wick gave our retired assassin (Keanu Reeves) a decent reason to use his killing skills. His dying wife gave him a dog as a gift and bad guys disposed of it (they also stole his sweet ride). This led to a shoot-em-up extravaganza that served as a comeback role for Reeves and one of the more distinctive action titles in a while. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch fashioned an ultra stylish, ultra violent, and occasionally ultra inventive experience. The first Wick burned with an intense, brooding and often humorous showcase for its star. Yet it also began building a world gleefully not grounded anywhere in reality that let the creative juices of screenwriter Derek Kolstad run free. This was especially evident in scenes at The Continental Hotel in New York City, a fancy establishment reserved for nefarious types who make their living from offing others.
It was time spent at that hotel that gave John Wick an air of something new and creative and it turns out there’s a Continental in Rome as well. That’s where the majority of the carnage here takes place. The sequel picks up right after the events of the original as Wick wraps up his business from the previous outing. He’s ready to go back to retirement with his new unnamed canine companion when an Italian baddie (Riccardo Scamarcio) visits his home. It turns out Wick made a deal with him some time ago to accept any job with no questions asked. Our villain’s task is to kill his sister so he can elevate his crime boss status and that brings Wick to Rome with an arsenal.
What follows is a lot of what we saw in the original – grandly choreographed sequences in which Wick uses his talents. This could run the risk of becoming redundant. There’s only so many ways of killing villains, but I’ll be damned if Wick doesn’t find some fascinating ways to do it. Still, it’s the little touches that make chapters 1 and 2 special from time to time.
For instance, I love the idea of an old school telephone company setting where the women working in the office look like goth versions of tellers from the 1950s. Their job is to pass along information when a hit is ordered (of which John is certainly subject to). I found myself interested in all the rules that the film’s enormous supply of assassins must abide by and the hints of larger syndicates. Some of those new professionals include Common (whose fights scenes with Wick are a highlight) and Ruby Rose as a mute vixen who hurls insults through sign language. Laurence Fishburne pops up as an underground (literally) crime leader whose group will probably play a larger role in the inevitable sequel.
While Wick’s motivations in this chapter aren’t quite as rage inducing as his departed pup, Chapter 2 recognizes the unique qualities that put chapter 1 above your typical genre material. Thankfully it keeps it at a level where I’m curious what the next chapter brings beyond the limitless supply of mercenaries whose cranial areas will be irreparably harmed.
This weekend sees the release of MeganLeavey, a tale of a real life wondrous woman. It stars Kate Mara in the title role of a US Marine corporal and her combat dog Rex. The Bleecker Street production costars Edie Falco, Common, Tom Felton, and Bradley Whitford.
It’s not easy to bet against a picture with military themes that could also appeal to dog lovers, but Leavey seems to be flying under the radar. Female audiences could also still be distracted by the sophomore frame of WonderWoman. I’ve yet to see a theater count at press time and that could alter my estimate. For now, I’ll say it falls below $4 million for a muted debut.
MeganLeavey opening weekend prediction: $3.3 million
In the fall of 2014, stylish action thriller John Wick exceeded box office expectations with it earned $14 million in its opening weekend and $43 million overall domestically. Since then, its cult status has grown and now Chapter 2 unfolds in theaters next weekend. Keanu Reeves returns in the title role and Chad Stahelski is back behind the camera. The sequel reunites Keanu with his Matrix costar Laurence Fishburne. Other supporting cast includes Common, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Ruby Rose (appearing in her third 2017 pic after January’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter).
Wick is debuting alongside two other sequels and spin-offs in the second weekend of February as The Lego Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker also premiere. There’s little doubt that this will place third among them, but I still look for it to eclipse the opening number of its predecessor.
I’ll forecast that Chapter 2 manages a high teens to low 20s rollout.
John Wick: Chapter 2 opening weekend prediction: $20.7 million
For my The Lego Batman Movie prediction, click here:
It was a good day for Ice Cube in 2002 when Barbershop debuted to $20.6 million with an eventual $75M domestic gross. It was another good day when its sequel Barbershop 2: Back in Business opened with $24.2 million and a $65M overall haul.
Twelve years later, Barbershop: The Next Cut marks the third entry in the franchise with Mr. Cube returning alongside series regulars Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, and Sean Patrick Thomas. Regina Hall, Nicki Minaj, J.B. Smoove, Tyga, and Common also join the cutting crew.
The Next Cut continues the all of a sudden hot 2016 trend of comedy sequels to pictures released early in the 21st century. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 has posted decent numbers. Zoolander – No. 2? Not so much.
My feeling is that fans of this franchise will welcome its return, even if it’s been 12 years (not counting its 2005 spin-off Beauty Shop). I believe the possibility of this over performing is significantly greater than underperforming and have it opening just below what 2004’s sequel managed.
Barbershop: The Next Cut opening weekend prediction: $23.1 million
Like Spielberg’s Lincoln that preceded it two years prior, Ana DuVernay’s Selma sidesteps the idea of a biopic and rather focuses on a short but integral passage of time in its subject’s life. The focus is on Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1965 Voting Rights marches in Selma, Alabama. The film provides a history lesson that takes strides to not portray its central figure purely as a saint – nor does its perspective shy away from criticism of President Lyndon B. Johnson, while also acknowledging his achievements.
The film opens with King (David Oyelowo) and wife Coretta (Carmen Ejojo) in Norway circa 1964 to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. They speak of an alternative lifestyle in the opening scene that doesn’t involve the constant threat of death and his constant search for equal rights and justice. The couple seems to know that this is only talk and it is not what he’s destined for. Back home, the recent signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) has done little in the South to allow African Americans the right to vote. And this sets off a decision by King to organize a march in Selma that is met with Johnson’s objections, though not near to the level of Alabama Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth).
Director DuVernay and screenwriter Paul Webb do not shy away from showing us the brutality that took place in this era in the South. We also witness the goodness of people of many faiths and races who come to lend their support to Dr. King in his efforts. It is not one march on Selma – it’s three. The first ends in violent resistance from the police. The second time it’s halted is due to a more surprising manner of resistance. The third is history. The filmmakers also tackle the Kings marital status, including Dr. King’s infidelities.
His political skills are shown as well and they are often as powerful as his oratory abilities. The scenes with King and LBJ have been challenged by some for inaccuracy, but this is not a documentary and I won’t judge it as such. My only drawback to these sequences are Wilkinson, a fine actor that’s simply not the right choice for the 36th POTUS.
The flaws don’t stop there. The complex relationship between King and Malcolm X is touched upon so briefly that it begs for further fleshing out. Adding familiar faces like Martin Sheen and Cuba Gooding Jr. for cameos threaten to take you out of the story than involve you more.
Where it delivers is its willingness to tell this important story as a real one. A human one. King is a great man, but is written as experiencing the doubts and insecurities that he must have had. Oyelowo nails the role and he excels at embodying MLK’s mannerisms and spirit.
Selma tells the story of imperfect men fighting for a more perfect union. The film is imperfect as well but it’s worthy of its important subject matter that might have occurred a half century ago, but still resonates on many levels today.
Liam Neeson is yet again back in action mode with Run All Night, out Friday. Since his reinvention as a B movie shoot em up lead seven years ago with Taken, Neeson has managed to star in a string of successful genre pics. This one finds him as an aging hitman with Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, and Common in the cast.
The advertisements have done little to make Run All Night look like anything other than a run of the mill entry into Neeson’s filmography. Perhaps the largest hindrance it faces is the fact that it arrives just two months following Taken 3. While that movie was successful, it made about $50 million less than the second pic and it probably gave many filmgoers their fill of Neeson inspired violence.
While the weak box office should guarantee it a second place debut (far behind Cinderella), I have a feeling this will open on pace with the actor’s September dud A Walk Among the Tombstones, which managed just $12.7 million out of the gate.
Run All Night opening weekend prediction: $12.1 million