Dolittle Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (01/15): Revising prediction down to $22.3 million

Robert Downey Jr. can speak to animals in Dolittle, but will the film speak to family audiences when it opens next weekend? The pic takes the well known character (previously played by Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy) and places him in a pricey $175 million budgeted adventure. Stephen Gaghan, known for directing the 2005 political thriller Syriana, is the rather surprising choice for behind the camera duties. Our marvelous cinematic Iron Man leads the human cast that also includes Harry Collett, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jessie Buckley, and Jim Broadbent. Many familiar faces are responsible for voicing the animal cast. That list includes Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, and Marion Cotillard (four Oscar winners among them!).

Dolittle was slated to be released last spring before it underwent reportedly extensive reshoots. The release of a property like this with its budget and leading man in late January is a bit curious and perhaps concerning.

Opening over the long MLK weekend, Dolittle will be in a battle for first place with Bad Boys for Life. Gauging the box office prowess of Downey is tricky nowadays since he’s pretty much only been Tony Stark over the past several years (those movies sell themselves).

Family audiences have had plenty of titles to choose from in the past month including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Spies in Disguise, and Jumanji: The Next Level. All three should bring in decent amounts of cash over the long frame. However, even with shaky buzz, Dolittle should hit mid to high 20s over the four days and north of $30 million is feasible. That puts it in second position based on my Bad Boys forecast or perhaps even third behind the second frame of 1917.

Dolittle opening weekend prediction: $22.3 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Bad Boys for Life prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/08/bad-boys-for-life-box-office-prediction/

Dolemite Is My Name Movie Review

There are plentiful amounts of F bombs thrown out in Dolemite Is My Name. They are the kind that you associated with Eddie Murphy years ago. The F no longer stands for the family fare he starred in that bombed at the box office. Think Pluto Nash. Or Meet Dave. Or Imagine That. No, this belongs in a small sub genre of pictures where some of the players here have had involvement before. Dolemite tells the true story of a man breaking into the movie business with wide eyed spirit and contagious tenacity. The quality of the material produced is secondary.

Murphy is Rudy Ray Moore, who’s working at a record shop in L.A. when we begin. He has dreams of stardom, but the general consensus is that his time has passed. Rudy just won’t let that happen as he develops a comic persona that is one part rhyming (he ended up being a huge influence in the hip hop community), one part glorious 70s outfits of the era, and all parts raunchy as hell.

He achieves success in the underground comedy world where his records sell, but a screening of the Billy Wilder pic The Front Page gives him another idea. Rudy doesn’t see humorous material on the screen for the black audience and he’s going to be the one to give it to them. Obtaining financing (even at the height of the blaxploitation genre) is next to impossible so he’s creative in his methods.

Surrounding Rudy is a colorful (especially the clothes) and eclectic group of collaborators who aren’t entirely sure what they’ve gotten themselves into. They include actor D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes, having a ball). He never fails to remind others that he had a big part in Rosemary’s Baby and only joins the picture when he’s allowed to direct. Keegan-Michael Key is the screenwriter who thinks he’s making the kind of serious drama he writes for the stage. When kung fu and set shattering sex scenes take precedence, that notion is dispelled. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a scene stealer as Lady Reed, Rudy’s stand-up partner plucked out of a Southern bar.

Screenwriters Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander have travelled this road before with Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Murphy gave one of his finest performances 20 years ago in Bowfinger, where his costar Steve Martin was a director with unbridled and naive enthusiasm. The Disaster Artist with James Franco mined similar territory. So while Dolemite does feel familiar in its beats, it has its own brand of passion for its unlikely star.

We have the headliner to thank for it. This is Live From Netflix and is indeed Eddie Murphy’s show. The performer seems more inspired than he has in some time. It might help if you’re a Dolemite devotee (Murphy and many of the cast members are). Yet this is an entertaining watch either way as we watch a legend in his element.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Dolemite Is My Name

Ahead of its October 25 Netflix release, Dolemite Is My Name introduced itself to critics this weekend at the Toronto Film Festival. Seen as a comeback role for Eddie Murphy, early reviews suggest it’s just that. Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, who was instrumental to ushering in the blaxploitation genre of the 1970s with his title character. Craig Brewer, best known for helming Hustle & Flow, directs with a supporting cast including Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Snoop Dogg, and T.I.

In 2006, Eddie was seen as the front runner in Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls. He was upset by Alan Arkin’s work in Little Miss Sunshine. This has been eyed as his first chance at Academy attention since. The issue could be significant competition in a Best Actor derby that appears stacked already.

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski wrote the original screenplay and they’ve specialized in highlighting colorful entertainment figures in Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon. Once again, they could face trouble nabbing nods as that writing race is jam packed.

So while Dolemite should succeed in garnering the kind of praise its star hasn’t seen for some time, awards chatter might be elusive. There could be one noteworthy exception. Ruth Carter’s costume design has been noted in numerous write ups. Just last year, she became the first African-American to win that category for Black Panther. She could find herself in the mix again. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Sausage Party Movie Review

The comedic team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (they were childhood friends) was first witnessed by mass audiences in 2007’s inspired Superbad. That pic was conceived by the duo when they were young and that teen spirit infused it with a refreshing authenticity. Their cinematic marriage has since shown their fondness for raunchiness and weed. Nothing has quite hit the effectiveness of their first collaboration. Some have come pretty darn close (Pineapple Express, This is the End) while others have come up a bit shorter (The Watch, The Interview, The Night Before). Most of their works have performed well or at least decently at the box office (The Watch is a notable exception) and Sausage Party is the kind of movie you get to make when studios let you do whatever you want. It ends up on the higher scale of their work.

Party gives us the rare instance of a truly R rated animated flick. Rogen and Goldberg’s affection for vulgarity is on full display and one suspects it was green stuff other than money that may have assisted in coming up with the concept. Here it is: the food and products in your local grocery store are alive and blissfully unaware of what happens to them after they walk out of the sliding doors. Rogen’s Frank is a sausage and Kristin Wiig’s Brenda is a bun and they’ve been waiting to connect once they break out of their respective packages. In their understanding, this will occur once they’re purchased by the Gods (who are actually just your everyday consumers) and enter the Great Beyond outside of Shopwell’s.

A returned jar of honey mustard (voiced by Danny McBride) tries to warn his market friends of what lies ahead when their dream of freedom is met. Many are skeptical and what’s often most surprising about Sausage Party is its allegorical themes pertaining to religion and sex with some expected drug humor thrown in. It’s also chock full of bad puns (some quite hilarious) and plenty of the living products representing their stereotypes. The most obvious and amusing example? The villain of the establishment (voiced by Nick Kroll) is literally a Douche. We also have Sammy the Bagel, giving Edward Norton a chance to be funny and essentially do a Woody Allen impersonation and his ex-girlfriend Salma Hayek coming out of her shell as Theresa del Taco.

As mentioned, Goldberg and Rogen are free to do what they want here and Sausage Party does have plenty of uproariously inappropriate moments. There are also times when their out there idea is funnier in concept than actual execution. Additionally, the final gag practically begs for a post-credits sequence that never materializes. Still, at a brisk 88 minutes, this Party is fresh enough for consumption of its creators fans.

*** (out of four)

Sausage Party Box Office Prediction

It’s a banner year for animated movies at the box office (excluding the freezing out of Ice Age: Collision Course), yet a very different one opens next weekend with Sausage Party. The 3D animated flick comes from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and it is definitely not meant for the little ones.

Supermarket produce comes to life in the very hard R comedy that features a whole lotta familiar voices other than Mr. Rogen’s. They include Kristin Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, Edward Norton, and Salma Hayek. Made for a quite reasonable $30 million, this has been a passion project for Rogen and company and took years to get produced. Early reviews have been strong – it holds a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes (no word yet on whether actual rotten tomatoes are featured in this).

If there’s one genre where not a whole lot of data exists – adult animated pics would be one of them. 1996’s Beavis and Butthead Do America opened to $20.1 million and 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut earned $11.3 million. Word of mouth could certainly help here but in the end, I envision this performing similarly to some other Rogen features. This is The End earned $20.7 million in its initial weekend and this summer’s Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising disappointed with $21.7 million. That seems like a reasonable range for this Party and I’ll put it at just below $20M.

Sausage Party opening weekend prediction: $19.4 million

For my Pete’s Dragon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/03/petes-dragon-box-office-prediction/

For my Florence Foster Jenkins prediction, click here:

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

Oscar Watch: Zootopia and Sausage Party

Two wildly different 2016 animated features could both find themselves in the Best Animated Feature category come Oscar time next year.

The first is Disney’s Zootopia, which has ruled the box office kingdom for the last two weeks and looks to reach an eventual gross of $275-$300 million domestically. With a fantastic 99% Rotten Tomatoes score and bragging rights for being the biggest opener of all time for a traditionally animated tale, there is little doubt it will be among the five nominees. It could even win, though its biggest competitor might be Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory, which is out this summer.

Our second possibility is Sausage Party, which screened in a rough cut at the South by Southwest Festival last night. Billed as the first hard R rated CG flick, Party comes from the minds of Seth Rogen and his writing/producing partner Evan Goldberg. In addition to Mr. Rogen, featured voices include Kristin Wiig, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Edward Norton, and Salma Hayek. It’s not out until August, but word of mouth from the festival is strong and this looks to be a potential sleeper hit come summer. This isn’t your typical animated material that the Academy would recognize, but it might be tough for them to ignore.

We’ll see how this race plays out as more competition is released in the coming months, but we may already have a couple of major possibilities in the mix.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Box Office Prediction

Nearly five years after the original turned into a somewhat minor cult classic, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 hits theaters this Friday and will attempt to at least make what its predecessor accomplished in 2010.

The R rated sequel was supposed to come out this past Christmas, but the studio pushed it to a less competitive February spot. Machine 1 star John Cusack opted not to return for the follow-up, but Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke and Chevy Chase are back to reprise their roles with Adam Scott thrown into the mix.

The original premiered to a decent $14 million with an eventual solid gross of $50 million stateside. I have serious doubts as to whether this sequel can match that. The first certainly has its fans (I count myself among them) yet there doesn’t seem to be a big clamor for a second helping. Even some admirers of the 2010 pic could opt to wait for VOD.

As I see it, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 may struggle to even reach double digits out of the gate and, ultimately, I don’t believe it will.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 opening weekend prediction: $8.3 million

For my McFarland, USA prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/02/15/mcfarland-usa-box-office-prediction/

For my prediction on The DUFF, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/02/15/the-duff-box-office-prediction/