Tulip Fever Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/25): The reported theater count of only 600 screens has caused my revision to be lowered to $1.9 million.

There’s only new picture opening over the long Labor Day weekend and it’s unlikely to blossom into any sort of hit. Justin Chadwick’s Tulip Fever finally makes it to the big screen with a cast that includes Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Judi Dench, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis, Matthew Morrison, and Cara Delevingne.

The reported $25 million production from the Weinstein Company has had a long and delayed journey to the silver screen. Tulip was shot over three years ago and was originally slated to debut in theaters last summer before the studio’s financial woes got in the way. It was then rescheduled for February of this year. Finally, it was supposed to debut this coming weekend before the Weinstein Company chose to release it wide (with little fanfare) just days ago as the sole release over the holiday weekend.

This does not bode well for its chances stateside. Even though there’s little competition, I’d say its best scenario is earning the $6.1 million captured by last year’s Labor Day release The Light Between Oceans (also starring Vikander). However, I’m not convinced it even manages that (a theater count when released will help). For now, I’ll say a debut between $4-$5 million is my diagnosis.

Tulip Fever opening weekend prediction: $1.9 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Hazlo Como Hombre prediction, click here:


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Box Office Prediction

Director Luc Besson has cultivated a following over the past quarter century and the devotion of his admirers will be put to the test when Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets debuts next weekend. The big-budget sci-fi pic is based on a popular French comic book series and it’s been a passion project for Besson for many years.

Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Rihanna, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, and Rutger Hauer are among the cast in this production which reportedly cost at least $180 million to produce. Some of Besson’s works have turned into ones with devoted cult status, including 1994’s The Professional and 1997’s The Fifth Element. His last pic, 2014’s Lucy, was a box office success. However, that may have had more to do with Scarlett Johansson’s involvement fresh off The Avengers.

Critical reaction thus far has been a treat to follow. It stands at a decent 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many writers praising its visuals and sheer audacity. Yet it’s not often a picture with that high a Tomatoes score is also deemed by The Hollywood Reporter as the worst movie watching experience of the year.

Valerian is expected to and will likely do considerably better overseas than stateside. Competition on this side of the pond is significant – Dunkirk opens the same weekend, War for the Planet of the Apes will be in its sophomore weekend, and Spider-Man: Homecoming in its third.

My suspicion is that Besson’s latest could rank third among the newbies next weekend. That would be behind Dunkirk (which is a given) and Girls Trip (which is starting to look like a sleeper hit). Bottom line: the studio better bank on a pleasing European haul.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets opening weekend prediction: $17.8 million

For my Dunkirk prediction, click here:


For my Girls Trip prediction, click here:


A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness is a visually sumptuous experience that deserves a fascinating plot to go with the scenery. It’s not really there, however, so we’re left with an eye popping failure that goes on far too long. Spending two and a half hours in the Swiss Alps isn’t so bad at times, but I wish the screenwriter had realized the story is essentially nothing new. There’s shades of Shutter Island (not just because its lead resembles a younger Leo DiCaprio), plenty of Gothic horror entries, and even a Marathon Man school of dentistry moment. Does it add up to a satisfying whole? Not so much.

Dane DeHaan stars as Lockhart, a workaholic at an NYC financial firm who is tasked with traveling across the ocean to retrieve a coworker. That individual is Pembroke (Harry Groener), the company’s CEO who has gone MIA and is holed up at a mysterious “wellness center” in the mountains of Switzerland. The firm needs him back as they are mired in a trading scandal and forthcoming merger. Lockhart, with his unbridled ambition, is eager to do it.

Once there, he discovers a place filled with some of the world’s 1% trying to improve their lives. It’s run by the mysterious Dr. Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs), who encourages Lockhart and his clientele to be drinking the water fed to them continuously. We suspect it’s not just to keep hydrated due to the altitude.

Lockhart is also told that once you’re at the lush spa, you don’t leave and he discovers this the hard way. His seemingly interminable stay (it sometimes feels that way for us too) acquaints him with Hannah (Mia Goth), a mysterious young girl who still acts far younger than she should. It is this duo that tries to discover the truth behind their surroundings.

A Cure for Wellness is a triumph of production design and other technical aspects. Verbinski, the director of Mousehunt and the American version of The Ring and first three Pirates of the Caribbean pics, has shown these abilities before. If only that pesky story were more original. If only the characters inhabiting this peculiar land were more developed. For instance, Dehaan’s lead character is saddled with a familiar backstory of Daddy issues. Two and a half hours is too much time to be spent here no matter how gorgeous it looks.

** (out of four)


A Cure for Wellness Box Office Prediction

The cinematic stylings of director Gore Verbinski returns to screens next weekend when A Cure for Wellness opens. The horror thriller set in the Swiss Alps finds Dane DeHaan as a businessman trapped in a mysterious “wellness” center. Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth costar. Its trailer is filled with striking visuals that have part of Verbinski’s repertoire. The filmmaker had some massive hits with The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean and its first two sequels. However, his previous effort The Lone Ranger was an expensive dud.

While the previews look fascinating, reviews have not been very strong and it stands at just 36% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Its two and a half hour running time (something several critics have noted as a flaw) could also be a detriment, as well as competition for the same audience from John Wick: Chapter 2 and The Great Wall.

Wellness is highly likely to place third among the trio of newcomers debuting over Presidents Day weekend and it could struggle to place in the top five. I’ll say a low double digits premiere is the diagnosis here.

A Cure for Wellness opening weekend prediction: $10.2 million

For my The Great Wall prediction, click here:


For my Fist Fight prediction, click here:


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Movie Review

It’s a feeling that I simply couldn’t shake when I watched 2012’s reboot The Amazing Spider-Man: this movie isn’t necessary. Yet it was. If Sony Pictures wanted to keep the rights to the Spidey brand (and did they ever), a new pic had to be produced. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst weren’t interested in a fourth entry so the franchise was started over just ten years after it began.

However, that didn’t mean it felt necessary… Sony’s financial consideration aside. Too often The Amazing Spider-Man felt like a remake of 2002’s original and there was no reason to have one. There were silver linings. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spidey and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was stronger than the Maguire/Dunst dynamic. Come to think of it… that was about the only silver lining in director Andrew Webb’s playbook. The rest of the pic was reasonably entertaining but familiar… way too familiar.

This brings us to the inevitable sequel in which the filmmakers (Webb returns behind the camera) inexplicably make the same errors that sunk the original trilogy by the time the mediocre Spider-Man 3 entered multiplexes in 2007. Too many villains. Too many subplots you don’t care about. It’s the same problems that have hindered Batman and Iron Man flicks in their weakest entries, too.

New characters include Jamie Foxx as Electro/Max Dillon, an Oscorp employees who worships Spider-Man and then finds himself as his nemesis when an electrical accident turns him into a super villain. His character is not terribly interesting and Foxx’s performance is not among his strongest.

Dane Dehaan is Harry Osborn, who takes over his Dad’s corporation following his death. Harry finds out he’s terminally ill and believes he needs Spidey’s blood to keep him alive. He doesn’t know his best childhood friend Peter Parker is also… well, you know. Complications ensue and an iconic baddie from Spidey lore enters the picture. Dehaan gives the role his all, but by the time his metamorphosis occurs, you’re checking your watch.

There’s also Paul Giamatti in a curiously small role as a Russian mobster who you won’t care about and where the character’s incredibly talented and Oscar nominated actor hams it up pretty embarrassingly.

And Sally Field is back as Aunt May with Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz returning in flashback sequences as Peter’s parents. Denis Leary as Gwen’s late father is also seen, but not heard.

The picture’s only strength lies in the genuine chemistry of Garfield and Stone, just like in the first. It’s not enough. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has that unmistakable whiff of needlessness that plagued its predecessor. There’s a sequence in the beginning when Gwen and Peter are having a quarrel and she sadly says, “You have done this again and again, Peter Parker! I can’t live like this.” We’ve seen that scene between Spidey and his girl again and again… and again… and again. We’ve seen the breakup of Peter and Gwen… and Peter and Mary Jane. And we’ve seen it too much in the past 12 years. Sony Pictures needs to keep the gravy train rolling, but I can live without this fading franchise.

** (out of four)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Box Office Prediction

Two summers back, the Spidey franchise was rebooted with Andrew Garfield in the title role and summer 2014 kicks off with its sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on Friday. Emma Stone is back as Gwen Stacy as is Sally Field as Aunt May, with a trio of villains joining the mix. They are Jamie Foxx as Electro, Paul Giamatti as Russian mobster Aleksei Sytsevich, and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, who will likely become the Green Goblin at some point. Marc Webb, who helmed the original, is back behind the camera.

Interestingly, among the four current Spidey flicks, each has grossed less than the previous one. Here’s the stats:

Spider-Man (2002): $403 million

Spider-Man 2 (2004): $373 million

Spider-Man 3 (2007): $336 million

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012): $262 million

Judging the opening gross of this sequel based on its 2012 predecessor is a bit tricky because it opened over the Fourth of July weekend. While its Friday to Sunday gross was $62 million, it rolled out over a six-day period beginning on a Tuesday with $137 million.

I think the real question here is whether or not The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will have the biggest superhero opening so far this year. In other words – can it top the $95 million opening that Captain America: The Winter Soldier accomplished a month ago?

As I see it, the possibility of Spidey topping $100 million out of the gate is real. It pretty much has the weekend to itself and has the advantage of being the first high-profile summer 2014 blockbuster. On the other hand, the original wasn’t exactly beloved and the low end opening possibility to me would be around $75 million – which would be considered a bit of a letdown.

My spidey sense tells me this won’t quite reach what Captain America did, but it’ll come close.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opening weekend prediction: $90.1 million

This Day in Movie History: February 6

As the 2014 Winter Olympics gets underway in Sochi – how appropriate that on This Day in Movie History – February 6 – 10 years ago, Miracle opened in theaters. The picture focused on the 1980 U.S. Hockey team’s victory over the heavily favored Soviet team at the Winter Olympics and cast Kurt Russell as head coach Herb Brooks. Miracle was a hit with audiences ($64 million domestic) and critics (80%) on Rotten Tomatoes.

As for birthdays, Rip Torn is 83 today. He made his debut in the 1956 film Baby Doll and would soon have a significant part in Pork Chop Hill with Gregory Peck. He played Judas in 1961’s King of Kings. Over recent history, Torn has been known mostly for comedic roles including as a cast member of HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show”. More recent appearances include the first two Men in Black flicks and Dodgeball.

Dane Dehaan is 28 today. He first came onto the scene in the lead role in 2012’s unexpected hit Chronicle. He has since appeared in Lincoln, Lawless, and Kill Your Darlings. This summer Dehaan will take over the part of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where he’ll likely morph into the Green Goblin at some juncture.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between Mr. Torn and Mr. Dehaan:

Rip Torn was in Men in Black with Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones was in Lincoln with Dane Dehaan

And that’s today – February 6 – in Movie History!