2022: The Year of Tom Cruise

As I do annually when the year winds down, it’s time to take a look at the performers who made significant impacts on the silver screen in the previous 12 months. I’ll do so with 6 of them in the coming days.

For 2022, that list has to begin with Tom Cruise. Before May, the biggest opening in the superstar’s near 40 years of headlining pictures was 2005’s War of the Worlds at $64 million. That’s right. Even though he’s consistently been one of Hollywood’s most bankable figures, there were no premieres north of $100 million. In fact, only three of his titles exceeded $200 million domestically: Mission: Impossible II, the aforementioned Worlds, and Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

There was understandable skepticism when Top Gun: Maverick was finally green lit. Would crowds turn out for the sequel to a relic from the mid 80s? It arrived in multiplexes after many COVID delays some three years plus after filming wrapped.

What it did at the box office was astounding and very important in preserving the viability of the theatrical experience. This wasn’t a superhero franchise entry with the dollars already built in. Maverick brought out moviegoers who hadn’t ventured out to the multiplex in a couple of years. Some of them went for repeat viewings.

It nearly doubled Cruise’s previous best with $126 million over the Friday to Sunday of the Memorial holiday weekend and $160 million for the four-day. Then the money kept holding on. It even returned to 1st place over two months after its release for the Labor Day frame. All in all, Maverick soared to $718 million domestically and nearly a billion and a half worldwide. The ripple effect of its success is evident even in humorous ways. Another continuation of an 80s blockbuster coming soon sees Eddie Murphy back in his signature role. The title? Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley (!!!).

In the year where he turned 60, Tom Cruise experienced easily the largest hit and cultural phenomenon of his career. Millions of people saw the preview for next summer’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One play in front of it. It might be the most talked about trailer of 2022 that doesn’t involve a demonic doll dancing.

At a time when true movie stars are hard to come by, audiences turned to a reliable one in 2022. It was indeed his year. These posts will continue with another legend who turned 60 and got the role (multiples ones) of a lifetime…

Oscar Predictions: Retrograde

Documentarian Matthew Heineman is no stranger to tackling hot button issues and awards voters have rewarded his features in the past. 2015’s Cartel Land was an Oscar nominee for Documentary Feature. Additional acclaim was bestowed upon 2017’s City of Ghosts and last year’s The First Wave, which took us into a NYC hospital at the height of the COVID epidemic. Heineman’s lone fictional work was 2018’s A Private War, in which Rosamund Pike nabbed a Golden Globe Best Actress nod in the Drama competition.

His latest is the Nat Geo produced Retrograde, recounting America’s final nine months in the Afghanistan War. It’s out already on an awards qualifying run prior to a December 11th Hulu bow. Initial reviews are typical for the filmmaker at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Both Ghosts and Wave didn’t make the Academy’s cut. If Retrograde can manage to make the shortlist, it could certainly vie for one of the five spots. Based on recent history, I’m not yet comfortable slotting it there. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

June 24-26 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (06/23): On the eve of its premiere, I am revising my Elvis prediction from $42.6M to $35.6M. That still gives it the #1 slot over Top Gun: Maverick… barely.

In what should be an intriguing and potentially unpredictable weekend to close out the June box office, Baz Luhrmann’s musical biopic Elvis and critically lauded horror pic The Black Phone debut. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

Elvis Box Office Prediction

The Black Phone Box Office Prediction

There’s plenty of possibilities for how the top 5 will look. While there’s no doubt about which quintet will populate the list, the order is up for grabs. I believe Elvis will open closer to the $51 million of Bohemian Rhapsody than the $25 million of Rocketman. That should be enough to earn it the title of Box Office King.

However, if it does premiere in the mid to late 20s range, the chances of a #1 start are considerably lower. We could legitimately see Top Gun: Maverick rise from 3rd to 1st. With a projected dip in the low to mid 20s, it should at least rise to 2nd place. That’s assuming current two-week champ Jurassic World: Dominion loses more than half its audience in its third go-round and Lightyear also sees a sophomore fall of around 55%. I’m assuming both.

And there’s the wild card that is The Black Phone. Horror titles often outdo expectations and with its aforementioned solid reviews, that could apply here. I’m sticking with a debut of just under $20 million and that would likely mean a fifth place reception.

Here’s how I envision perhaps the most fascinating box office weekend so far in the pandemic era looking:

1. Elvis

Predicted Gross: $35.6 million

2. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $34.8 million

3. Jurassic World: Dominion

Predicted Gross: $28.3 million

4. Lightyear

Predicted Gross: $23.2 million

5. The Black Phone

Predicted Gross: $18.6 million

Box Office Results (June 17-19)

In a major upset, Jurassic World: Dominion remained #1 for the second frame with $59.1 million. That’s stronger than my $54.8 million estimate as the threequel is up to $250 million in its first ten days. That’s $15 million under where predecessor was at four summers ago.

Jurassic‘s reign was unexpected because Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story spinoff Lightyear was widely anticipated to rule the charts. Instead it grossed $50.5 million for second place. That’s, ahem, $35 million under my projection of $85.5 million and less than half of what Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4 made out of the gate. There’s plenty of think pieces out there for why Lightyear was a disappointment. It includes theories about politics, Disney Plus being the same day distributor for recent Pixar material, and the absence of Tim Allen as the voice of the title character. Any way you slice it, it’s a shocker.

Top Gun: Maverick continued its amazing run in third with $44.6 million – dropping a scant 14%. I was lower at $36 million. The biggest hit of the year (and of Tom Cruise’s career by far) is flying at $466 million as its domestic haul will reach $500 million shortly. As mentioned, if Elvis doesn’t reach my projection, it could see a return to the top spot. I wrote more about Maverick‘s unreal performance yesterday on the blog and it’s here:

Top Gun: Maverick – Lightyears Ahead of Expectations

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was fourth with $4.4 million compared to my $3.4 million take. The tally is $405 million.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie rounded out the top five with $1.1 million. I incorrectly had it outside the high five. It’s made $29 million.

I figured The Bad Guys would be fifth, but it was sixth with $1 million (I said $1.5 million)/ The overall take is $94 million.

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

The Bob’s Burgers Movie Box Office Prediction

I will readily admit that I’m no expert when it comes to this prediction as I’ve never seen an episode of Bob’s Burgers. The cinematic adaptation is slated to debut over Memorial Day weekend. Based on the Fox series that began in 2011 and recently completed season #12, Bernard Derriman directs. Voice actors participating from the show include H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts, Zach Galifianakis, and Kevin Kline. Familiar faces joining the fun are Aziz Ansari, Gary Cole, Jenny Slate, and Stephanie Beatriz.

Burger’s was originally ordered up for summer of 2020 before its COVID delays. The TV program certainly has its dedicated admirers, but I’m not convinced it will translate to a robust holiday weekend. Plenty of fans could simply wait until it’s available to stream. In other words, this might make about a tenth of what The Simpsons Movie made ($74 million) for its beginning.

I’ll also confess that I could be underestimating this based on my unfamiliarity with the source material. A four-day take near $20 million would be pleasing for the studio considering the reported $60-70 million price tag. I’m not willing to go that high.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie opening weekend prediction: $9.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $11.6 million (Friday to Monday)

For my Top Gun: Maverick prediction, click here:

Top Gun: Maverick Box Office Prediction

Top Gun: Maverick Box Office Prediction

***And a final update for Top Gun: Maverick as my prediction rises again to $113.4 million for the three-day and $138 million for the four-day. That it gives it the #2 all-time Memorial Day for both frames.

***Blogger’s Update (05/25): Significantly up-ticking my estimate once again. Now projecting a three-day of $103.7M (good for second biggest Memorial Day Friday to Sunday) and $124.4M for the four-day (third largest all-time). Sky is increasing the limit…

**Blogger’s Update (05/24): Estimate updated from a three and four-day projection, respectively, of $75.6M and $98.8M to $86.6M and $104.9M. That now gives Maverick the #7 largest Memorial Day weekend three-day and #6 four-day

It could be a record breaking memorable weekend for Tom Cruise as Top Gun: Maverick finally lands in theaters. The long gestating sequel arrives 36 years after the original made Cruise a superstar. The wait was only supposed to be 33-34 years, but production delays and COVID postponements altered the plan.

Joseph Kosinki, who previously directed the lead in 2013’s Oblivion, directs. Costars include Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, Monica Barbaro, and Val Kilmer reprising his role as Iceman. Critics have certainly indicated this is worth the wait. Budgeted at a reported $150 million, reviews are impressive with a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score. There’s even Oscar buzz as it will surely be a contender in Sound and Song (with Lady Gaga crooning “Hold My Hand”).

Paramount is hopeful that Maverick will take the breath and money away from moviegoers over the Memorial Day frame. The loud buzz generated by critics should make this soar even higher than previously anticipated.

In doing so, we could see Tom cruise to a personal best opening. Somewhat surprisingly, his all-time largest opening is War of the Worlds at $64 million for the traditional Friday to Sunday period. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (the last flick to feature Cruise four years ago) is close behind at $61 million.

Maverick will, of course, have a four-day tally. That’s familiar territory for Cruise as the first three Mission: Impossible tales premiered over Memorial Day with the second one doing $70 million from Friday to Monday. However, it opened on the Wednesday before to bring its gross to $91 million.

First things first. I do believe Tom’s latest sequel will achieve his highest three day take ever. I also suspect there will be some projections for Maverick that will be too high. A four-day take of over $100 million is absolutely doable (and my prediction could rise in the coming days), but I’m skeptical. That’s uncharted territory for Mr. Cruise. A Friday to Sunday haul in the mid 70s seems likelier. If that happens, it should achieve mid 90s for the whole frame. That would give it the ninth best Memorial 3 day start – in between Solo: A Star Wars Story ($84 million) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($72 million). It would rise a spot to 8th for the four-day between the same two features at $103 million and $90 million, respectively. And that would be a memorable start indeed.

Top Gun: Maverick opening weekend prediction: $113.4 million (Friday to Sunday); $138 million (Friday to Monday)

For my The Bob’s Burgers Movie, click here:

The Bob’s Burgers Movie Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions – Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick was supposed to arrive a mere 34 years after its iconic predecessor. Due to numerous COVID delays, it now hits theaters on May 27th and some 36 years behind the original. By nearly all accounts, Tom Cruise and the filmmakers have landed the plane.

Ahead of its Cannes premiere, the review embargo has lapsed for Maverick and the Rotten Tomatoes score is a sizzling 96%. Nearly all critics are calling it an improvement over the ’86 blockbuster and it could be in line to give Cruise his largest opening and overall hit of his career (my box office prediction will arrive next week).

Three and a half decades back, part one caught the attention of Academy voters in four categories. The Berlin theme “Take My Breath Away” won Best Song and Gun nabbed nods for Film Editing, Sound, and Sound Effects Editing. All those races are in play again in one form or another.

Best Sound has been condensed to one category and it’s a near lock that the sequel will play there. Film Editing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects are also possibilities. Then there’s the sound of Lady Gaga’s voice. The superstar contributed the track “Hold My Hand” and it could be hard to beat. Ms. Gaga is poised for her third Song nomination behind 2015’s “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground and “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (which won). She also shares Score credit with Hans Zimmer (who just won a trophy for Dune) and Harold Faltermeyer (best known for his Beverly Hills Cop tune “Axel F”).

Let’s assume Sound and Song are gimmes. With the aforementioned others, we could be looking at a handful of mentions. Will the Academy go beyond the tech derbies? It looks like Maverick will be a gigantic earner and crowdpleaser. I have no doubt there will be a push from Paramount for Best Picture recognition and Cruise in Best Actor. If so, it would be his fourth acting nod. There were two in lead for 1989’s Born on the Fourth of July and 1996’s Jerry Maguire and a supporting mention for 1999’s Magnolia. He’s never made a victorious trip to the podium.

I’m skeptical about it playing in the major leagues, but wins in Sound and Song are doable. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Memory Box Office Prediction

Can Memory reverse the string of forgettable Liam Neeson pics we’ve seen lately or will it fall in line with his recent underwhelming performers? Slated for April 29th, this casts him as an assassin dealing with cognitive lapses. Martin Campbell (who kicked off the Brosnan and Craig 007 eras with Goldeneye and Casino Royale) directs. He most recently helmed the lackluster The Protege with Maggie Q and Michael Keaton.  Costars include Guy Pearce (who starred in the acclaimed Memento which covered similar themes) and Monica Bellucci.

It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Neeson resurged his career with Taken. This second life as an action star resulted in some hits, but there’s been more misses recently. The Marksman and Blacklight took in $3.7 and $3.5 million, respectively, in the COVID era. I see no reason why Memory wouldn’t suffer a similar fate and the gross may even dip a bit.

Memory opening weekend prediction: $3.3 million

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Box Office Prediction

J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World returns on April 15th with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third entry in a franchise that hasn’t spellbound audiences in the same way that Harry Potter did. David Yates, who made the last four Potter pics and previous two Beasts offerings, is back in the director’s chair. Familiar cast members are led by Eddie Redmayne alongside Jude Law (as the title character), Ezra Miller (in what may be his last appearance in the series due to offscreen controversies), Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, and Katherine Waterston. Speaking of offscreen controversies, Johnny Depp is no longer the villainous Grindelwald as Mads Mikkelsen now fills the role.

COVID and Depp’s recasting kept Secrets from its intended November 2021 debut. With an Easter premiere, Warner Bros is hoping this at least stays on par with predecessor The Crimes of Grindelwald. In 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them took in $74 million for its start with $234 million overall domestically. 2018 follow-up Grindelwald couldn’t match that as it conjured up a Wizarding World opening nadir of $62 million and $159 million total.

Reviews for Secrets are better than those of Grindelwald (60% vs. 36% on Rotten Tomatoes). I’m not sure that will matter all that much. I’m just not sensing the enthusiasm and the three and a half year wait shouldn’t help. This might earn about $15 million less than Crimes to set another low mark.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore opening weekend prediction: $48.1 million

For my Father Stu prediction, click here:

Father Stu Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Morbius

Jared Leto has an Oscar for his supporting work in 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club. That film won another trophy for Makeup and Hairstyling. Three years later, Leto’s turn as The Joker in Suicide Squad contributed to a victory in that same category. Last weekend, House of Gucci (featuring a much ballyhooed turn from Leto) lost the Makeup derby to The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Why am I bringing this up?

Well, it’s an excuse for Morbius and Oscar to appear as words together in a post. The Sony/Marvel production (which casts Leto as the vampire antihero) is finally making its way to theaters on Friday after numerous COVID delays. There’s been rumors that it’s not of the highest quality and the lapsed review embargo seems to prove that. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is a mere 19% at time of publication.

That said, some of this genre fare can still materialize in Visual Effects or Makeup and Hairstyling (like Suicide Squad). I would say Morbius has a better chance at multiple Razzie nominations than any from the Academy. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Box Office Prediction

Right before COVID changed the world as we knew it, 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog hit big at the box office. Based on the Sega video game franchise, it amassed the largest opening yet for its genre with $58 million from Friday to Sunday and $70 million for the four-day President’s Day frame.

Just over two years later, the sequel is out April 8th. Jeff Fowler returns to direct with Ben Schwartz reprising his vocal stylings at the title character. Colleen O’Shaughnessey and Idris Elba also lend their words while the live-action cast includes Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, and Shemar Moore.

Budgeted at a reported $110 million, part 2 will hope to approach the $149 million earned domestically by the original. It should have no trouble opening in first place. With the short amount of time between entries, I believe it should manage a low 60s start.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 opening weekend prediction: $62.5 million

For my Ambulance prediction, click here:

Ambulance Box Office Prediction

For my Everything Everywhere All at Once prediction, click here:

Everything Everywhere All at Once Box Office Prediction