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

2021 BAFTA Nominations Reaction

For the second year in a row, the British Academy Film Awards (or BAFTAs) showed its unpredictable nature with some shocking omissions and unexpected inclusions. The last major precursor before Oscar nominations are unveiled Tuesday, I went 63 of 99 when it comes to races with a correlation to the Academy’s competitions. Truth be told – it coulda been worse considering the surprises we witnessed today.

Let’s break them down one by one with some commentary, shall we?

Film

Nominees: Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Dune, Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary: The BAFTAs delivered a great haul for Pizza. It and Don’t Look Up got in over my picks of The Tragedy of Macbeth and West Side Story (which both underwhelmed). Gut reaction says Power is in the lead.

Director

Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Audrey Diwan (Happening), Julia Ducournau (Titane), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), Aleem Khan (After Love)

How I Did: 4/6

Commentary: Wow – no Kenneth Branagh for Belfast or Denis Villeneuve for Dune! They miss with Anderson and Diwan taking the spots. Like with Film, Campion could be out in front.

Leading Actress

Nominees: Lady Gaga (House of Gucci), Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza), Emilia Jones (CODA), Renate Reinsve (The Worst Person in the World), Joanna Scanlan (After Love), Tessa Thompson (Passing)

How I Did: 3/6

Commentary: Surprises galore here! No Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos or Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter. I predicted both along with Claire Rushbrook for Ali & Ava. In their slots are Haim (continuing the Licorice love), Jones, and Thompson. I would also note no Kristen Stewart in Spencer after her SAG snub.

Now here’s an interesting stat – since 2013, the BAFTA Leading Actress recipient has matched the Oscar winner. So… are Kidman and Colman in trouble? Could Gaga be on her way to a gold statue? Does this show Haim’s potential strength at getting an Academy mention? Questions abound, but I know one thing – this year’s Actress race is as intriguing as last year’s.

Leading Actor

Nominees: Adeel Akhtar (Ali & Ava), Mahershala Ali (Swan Song), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up), Stephen Graham (Boiling Point), Will Smith (King Richard)

How I Did: 3/6

Commentary: Smith’s inclusion here (which I didn’t project) just might solidify him as the Oscar frontrunner (with Cumberbatch pretty close behind). Academy hopefuls Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick… Boom!) and Denzel Washington (Macbeth) were left out as was Daniel Craig in his swan song as Bond in No Time to Die. In their place – Smith, Ali (following up on his Globe nominated turn), and DiCaprio.

Side note – somehow, Denzel has never been nominated for a BAFTA.

Supporting Actress

Nominees: Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Ann Dowd (Mass), Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard), Ruth Negga (Passing)

How I Did: 4/6

Commentary: Dowd finally shows up! I must say – no huge shockers here as she and Ellis made it over Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) and Kathryn Hunter (Macbeth). We’ll see if DeBose’s potential sweep continues here.

Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mike Faist (West Side Story), Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Troy Kotsur (CODA), Woody Norman (C’Mon C’Mon), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)

How I Did: 3/6

Commentary: There was a double dose of Dog love for Plemons (who I didn’t predict) and Smit-McPhee (who I did and he could certainly win). I also went with Faist’s costar David Alvarez instead in a last minute switch that I now regret. And young Norman is responsible for the only nod for C’Mon C’Mon. I also went with Benicio del Toro for The French Dispatch and Jamie Dornan in Belfast. At this point, an Oscar nod for Dornan seems like a reach. Also worth noting is that, despite Pizza over performing, no Bradley Cooper.

Original Screenplay

Nominees: Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary: Here’s a list that may absolutely match the Oscar one. I said After Love over Richard (which had a solid day). Like with the Academy, this might be a Belfast v. Pizza showdown and considering how well the latter did, I might lean that way.

Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: CODA, Drive My Car, Dune, The Lost Daughter, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary: Went with West Side Story over Dune. This is Power‘s to lose.

Animated Film

Nominees: Encanto, Flee, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines

How I Did: 3/4

Commentary: Rather predictable list though I said Ron’s Gone Wrong instead of Luca.

Film Not in the English Language

Nominees: Drive My Car, The Hand of God, Parallel Mothers, Petite Maman, The Worst Person in the World

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary: No Flee here or Titane with God and Mothers in. Drive My Car is the favorite.

Documentary

Nominees: Becoming Cousteau, Cow, Flee, The Rescue, Summer of Soul

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary: Summer of Soul did well when factoring in the surprise Editing nod. It made it along with Cousteau over my picks of The Sparks Brothers and The Velvet Underground.

Cinematography

Nominees: Dune, Nightmare Alley, No Time to Die, The Power of the Dog, The Tragedy of Macbeth

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary: Well – Macbeth got something (!) Only miss here was going with Belfast instead of Alley.

Costume Design

Nominees: Cruella, Cyrano, Dune, The French Dispatch, Nightmare Alley

How I Did: 2/5

Commentary: There’s always a pesky 2/5 race where I just whiff. I got Cyrano and Dune right but the others popped up over House of Gucci, Last Night in Soho, and West Side Story. I didn’t predict it, but Cruella could be the main competition for Dune.

Editing

Nominees: Belfast, Dune, Licorice Pizza, No Time to Die, Summer of Soul

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary: Soul‘s aforementioned placement is unexpected – could it possibly follow suit with the Academy? Also didn’t project Pizza. They are in over Last Night in Soho and (you guessed it) West Side Story.

Makeup and Hair

Nominees: Cruella, Cyrano, Dune, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, House of Gucci

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary: Cyrano over The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. Honestly, other than Cyrano, I think any of the hopefuls could take this.

Original Score

Nominees: Being the Ricardos, Don’t Look Up, Dune, The French Dispatch, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary: Ricardos and Don’t Look Up in; The Green Knight and Spencer out. Probably a showdown of Dune v. Dog. 

Production Design

Nominees: Cyrano, Dune, The French Dispatch, Nightmare Alley, West Side Story

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary: Here’s a rare category where I incorrectly had West Side missing. It’s in, along with Cyrano (which had a decent haul with tech races) over Belfast and Macbeth.

Sound

Nominees: Dune, Last Night in Soho, No Time to Die, A Quiet Place Part II, West Side Story

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary: Place over Belfast. Expect Dune to reign supreme.

Special Visual Effects

Nominees: Dune, Free Guy, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The Matrix Resurrections, No Time to Die

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary: Should be another victory for Dune as Free Guy and Ghostbusters made it over my selections of The King’s Man and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

And there’s your recap. As a reminder, my FINAL Oscar predictions (which I’m currently beating myself up over) will be posted tomorrow! Stay tuned…

2021 BAFTA Predictions

The last major precursor nominations before Tuesday’s Oscar nods come out tomorrow and it’s the British Academy Film Awards or BAFTAs. Let’s discuss them a bit, shall we? The BAFTAs can be a confusing branch to figure out.

For starters, the number of nominees in each category is a tad puzzling. Best Film has five as do the tech races and screenplay derbies. Director and the acting competitions contain 6 while Animated Film is 4. However, Documentary and “Film Not in the English Language” is 5. Got that?

While past years have matched the Oscars fairly closely in the big categories, 2020 was an exception. While 4 of the 5 Best Film contenders ended up nabbing BP mentions from the Academy, it was just 3 of the directors. For Best Actor, it was also 3 but in Best Actress only two. Same goes for Supporting – 3 in Actor, 2 in Actress.

In other words, projecting the BAFTAs is a major crapshoot but I’ll try. Since it’s British voters, titles such as the BBC’s After Love are expected to perform well in some of the major races.

Another major note – I am only forecasting competitions where there’s a direct correlation to the Academy. Therefore I’m not weighing in on Best British Film, Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer, or Casting.

For each race, I’ll give you my picks (and I triple checked the numbers) and an alternate. A recap on how I did and my general thoughts are up tomorrow and my final Oscar predictions will be up Friday!

Film

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Alternate: No Time to Die

Director

Predicted Nominees:

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog 

Julia Ducournau, Titane

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Aleem Khan, After Love

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Alternate: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Leading Actress

Predicted Nominees:

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Claire Rushbrook, Ali & Ava

Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Alternate: Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Leading Actor

Predicted Nominees:

Adeel Akhtar, Ali & Ava

Daniel Craig, No Time to Die

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Stephen Graham, Boiling Point

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Alternate: Will Smith, King Richard

Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Kathryn Hunter, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Ruth Negga, Passing

Alternate: Vinette Robinson, Boiling Point

Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

David Alvarez, West Side Story

Benicio del Toro, The French Dispatch

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Alternate: Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

After Love

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

Alternate: The French Dispatch

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

CODA

Drive My Car

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Alternate: The Tragedy of Macbeth

Animated Film

Predicted Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Ron’s Gone Wrong

Alternate: Luca

Film Not in the English Language

Predicted Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

Petite Maman

Titane

The Worst Person in the World

Alternate: The Hand of God

Documentary

Predicted Nominees:

Cow

Flee

The Rescue

The Sparks Brothers

The Velvet Underground

Alternate: Summer of Soul

Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Alternate: West Side Story

Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

Cyrano

Dune

House of Gucci

Last Night in Soho

West Side Story

Alternate: Cruella

Editing

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Last Night in Soho

No Time to Die

West Side Story

Alternate: The Power of the Dog

Makeup and Hair

Predicted Nominees:

Cruella

Dune

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Altenrate: Last Night in Soho

Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

Dune

The French Dispatch

The Green Knight

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

Alternate: No Time to Die

Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Alternate: West Side Story

Sound

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Last Night in Soho

No Time to Die

West Side Story

Alternate: The Power of the Dog 

Special Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

Dune

The King’s Man

The Matrix Resurrections

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Alternate: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

October 22-24 Box Office Predictions

Arriving a year after its COVID delay is Denis Villeneuve’s version of the sci-fi epic Dune along with the animated Ron’s Gone Wrong. The latter will try to keep the October box office hot streak rolling along with the latter attempting to bring in family audiences. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Dune Box Office Prediction

Ron’s Gone Wrong Box Office Prediction

We have had three weekends in a row with newcomers premiering at over $50 million or darn close. Dune could fall right in that range. A potential drawback could be its simultaneous availability on HBO Max. However, I do believe enough viewers are aware that it should be seen on the biggest screen possible. I have it in the low 40s, but as Venom and Halloween Kills have shown us, the chance of over performing is certainly there for the taking.

As for Ron’s Gone Wrong, it has the disadvantage of not being based on known IP. Reviews are decent yet I have it placing fifth and under $10 million.

Halloween Kills exceeded most estimates (more on that below). Its 2018 predecessor fell 59% in its sophomore frame with a B+ Cinemascore average. The sequel has a B- and I envision it dropping in the high 60s range. No Time to Die could see around 50% decline in its third outing while Venom: Let There Be Carnage may see only a dip in the low 40s to mid 40s.

And with that, my top 5 take on the weekend ahead:

1. Dune

Predicted Gross: $42.8 million

2. Halloween Kills

Predicted Gross: $15.4 million

3. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $12.1 million

4. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million

5. Ron’s Gone Wrong

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million

Box Office Results (October 15-17)

Haddonfield wasn’t the only place where Michael Myers made a killing over the weekend as Halloween Kills premiered at the highest end of projections. The $49.4 million start slashed my $41.2 million prediction. Its simultaneous release on Peacock didn’t appear to make much of a difference. That’s no huge surprise considering the streamer’s membership is minuscule compared to Netflix, HBO Max, and others. While the Kills gross is far under the $76 million achieved by Halloween in 2018, this is still a big win for Universal.

No Time to Die slipped to second with $23.7 million, a bit below my $25.8 million take. The 25th Bond adventure stands at $99 million. While its overseas earnings are pleasing, Daniel Craig’s swan song isn’t quite hitting the anticipated target stateside.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage was third with $16.5 million (I said $14.1 million) and it’s up to $168 million.

The Addams Family 2 had the best hold of all in fourth with $7 million, in range with my $6.6 million projection for $42 million total.

Finally, despite mostly solid reviews, Ridley Scott’s medieval tale The Last Duel with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver received little good will from moviegoers. It bombed hard with only $4.7 million in fifth. That’s a far cry from my estimate of $10.4 million. Duel is further proof that adult themed product is having a difficult time getting the intended demographic to the multiplex.

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

October 15-17 Box Office Predictions

Jamie Lee Curtis is back battling Michael Myers in Halloween Kills while Ridley Scott’s medieval drama The Last Duel with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver also debuts. These are the new offerings in the mid October frame as No Time to Die enters its sophomore frame following a less than expected start. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the fresh offerings here:

Halloween Kills Box Office Prediction

The Last Duel Box Office Prediction

It has been two straight weeks of me either grossly underestimating (Venom) or significantly overestimating (Die) the newbies. So let’s see what happens with Halloween, shall we? I’m going with a low to mid 40s take and that would be well under the $70M+ that its 2018 predecessor made (Kills is curiously available for streaming on Peacock). Of course, given my October track record, watch it make $60 million or more. I gotta get something on the money in October though… right??

As for The Last Duel, the less than anticipated haul for 007 was further evidence that pictures geared toward older viewers continue to struggle. With scant awards buzz, I’m projecting Duel barely gets to double digits and that should mean a fourth place showing.

Back to Bond. 2015’s Spectre dropped 52% in its second frame and I see no reason why Craig’s finale wouldn’t dip about the same. Venom may fall in the mid 50s in weekend 3 with The Addams Family 2 rounding out the top five with the smallest decline (mid to high 30s) of the bunch.

Here’s how I see the top 5 looking:

1. Halloween Kills

Predicted Gross: $41.2 million

2. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $25.8 million

3. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $14.1 million

4. The Last Duel

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

5. The Addams Family 2

Predicted Gross: $6.6 million

Box Office Results (October 8-10)

Well, we all get carried away sometimes. The fantastic premiere for Venom and the hoopla surrounding Craig’s swan song got me thinking No Time to Die was capable of achieving a COVID era best start of $94.1 million. I was dead wrong. Die managed just the fourth best output of its star’s five features. The $55.2 million debut didn’t approach the vicinity of Skyfall ($88 million), Spectre ($70 million), or Quantum of Solace ($67 million). Only Casino Royale‘s $40 million fell under it. Theories will abound. Was six years (COVID delays were abundant) too long a break? Perhaps. As mentioned, it likely didn’t help that older moviegoers are still seemingly reluctant for a multiplex engagement. Die‘s saving grace is overseas grosses in line with expectations. Yet it’s hard to spin the fact that the 25th 007 adventure came in at the absolute lowest range numbers that prognosticators foresaw.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage was second with $31.7 million, not quite hitting my $33.7 million estimate. The $141 million ten-day tally is very impressive as it looks to reach $200 million by the end of its domestic run.

The Addams Family 2 took in $10.1 million in its second weekend, ahead of my $9.2 million projection for $31 million overall.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was fourth with $4.3 million (I said $3.4 million) and it’s up to $212 million.

Finally, The Many Saints of Newark crumbled after its weak beginning. The $1.4 million gross (I went with $1.8 million) brought its puny earnings to $7 million.

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

No Time to Die Review

The five film run of Daniel Craig as perhaps the world’s most famous cinematic character comes to a close in No Time to Die, the 25th feature in the nearly 60-year-old 007 franchise. It began 15 years ago with Casino Royale, which I list at #2 in the canon behind only From Russia with Love (Sean Connery’s second entry).

For those who think the dedicated team behind the series have no time for surprises, be prepared. Like the midsection poker sequence in Royale that stands as one of the finest in Bond history, there’s times where they go all in. There’s also moments that harken back to the Roger Moore days and, in this case, I mean it as a compliment. By the time we reached Craig’s third and deservedly praised Skyfall in 2012, the pics had achieved a level of seriousness that risked becoming too dour.

Despite its considerable flaws, 2015’s follow-up Spectre thankfully remembered that the action and plots in this cinematic universe can be silly. 007’s 25th adventure isn’t afraid to display that. The threat to the world here involves passing a weaponized virus only through that individual’s DNA and those related to them. It’s a little ridiculous and I once again mean that in a good way.

This is not quite the triumph that Casino Royale was. In fact, I’d also rank this a smidge behind Skyfall. The villain is not particularly memorable. Like all Craig films that followed the first, no romantic entanglement will rival the one he had with Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. Yet Die achieves the unlikely feat of bringing those fun Moore elements dashed with Timothy Dalton’s more weighty tone. The result is that Craig’s time as the super spy (the longest in terms of actual time but not volume of titles) is easily the most satisfying since Sean Connery’s.

From the jump, we realize Die is going to be a little different. The pre-title sequence begins with a franchise first: an eerie and gorgeously rendered flashback that sheds light on the childhood of Madeleine Swann. As you may recall, she’s Bond’s love interest from Spectre played by Lea Seydoux. Her connections to that criminal enterprise led by Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) is expanded upon. In the present day, James and Madeleine are making a romantic go of it. A visit to Vesper’s tomb disrupts both their safety and Bond’s trust in his current relationship.

This all occurs in the lengthy prologue before we hear Billie Eilish’s title cut. Let’s dispense with that. Ms. Eilish has some quality tunes, but her contribution is forgettable and not the kind of Bond tune you’ll be humming leaving the theater or rushing to download for the ride back.

In the serialized fashion we’ve come to expect from Craig’s tenure (something unique only to his), we jump five years to Bond in retirement. And (gasp) he’s no longer 007. MI6 is still going strong but relations with their U.S. counterparts are strained. It’s not the new 007 (Lashana Lynch) or M (Ralph Fiennes) or even his beloved Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) or Q (Ben Whishaw) that convince Bond to emerge from his Jamaican R&R. Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), along with a new eager associate (Billy Magnussen), recruit him for a mission that involves dismantling SPECTRE. Bond hooks up (not literally as Bond’s libido seems to be catching up with his age) with another agent (Ana de Armas) to do so. This culminates in a wonderfully fabulous and bizarre action set piece in Cuba.

All this activity soon puts James in the same space with Madeline again and with Blofeld. And we soon meet Safin (Rami Malek), the head baddie with his own troubled history with the criminal organization. I won’t wax rhapsodic about Safin as I mentioned he’s a pretty weak villain. On the other hand, No Time to Die is not really focused on his story. This Bond story, more than any other besides Skyfall, is really about Bond. That gives us one more opportunity to soak in Craig’s terrific performance that’s spanned this quintet. One could argue the series goes too far in making it all about him. With Craig in control, you’ll hear few complaints from me (heck even Quantum of Solace had some cool stuff in it).

No Time to Die has Cary Fukunaga taking over directorial duties from Sam Mendes, who helmed the previous two. He presides over some amazing looking chases and battles that rank right at the top of what we’ve seen previously. On a slightly contradictory note, there’s one during the climax that was a little too video game oriented for my taste. The screenwriters (with an assist from Phoebe Waller-Bridge) also remember to bring the humor. As much as Safin isn’t much of a memorable character, he does get a moment with a toddler that left me chuckling for a good minute or two after their interaction. The makers also don’t forget that these pictures can be quite weird in their production design. Safin’s Poison Garden is a glorious example.

Additionally, the team isn’t afraid to bring a rare level of emotion to the proceedings. However, it’s not that out of place for Craig’s service. We witnessed a love story in Casino Royale that went beyond his typical dalliances. His connection to Judi Dench’s M (particularly in Skyfall) went far deeper than the same character giving James his orders in the past. In No Time to Die, Mr. Craig’s mission involves the striking visuals that we’re used to. What’s different is that over the five adventures connected to each other, I felt like these missions developed a familial bond that shook the foundation of a franchise in a stirring fashion.

***1/2 (out of four)

October 8-10 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (10/06): I have revised my No Time to Die prediction from $104.1 million down to $94.1 million, which would still set a COVID era record.

After the absolutely fantastic and record breaking performance of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, James Bond looks to set his own high mark this weekend with the 25th 007 adventure No Time to Die. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

No Time to Die Box Office Prediction

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final contribution to the storied franchise has been climbing up with my estimates. Early last week, I figured it would do $72.1 million (good for second in the series after the $88 million achieved by Skyfall). By Friday, I went with $84.1 million. Following what Tom Hardy’s superhero sequel did, I am now figuring this will be the first Bond feature to debut north of $100 million.

There are potential obstacles. It certainly has a longer runtime than Venom. We would be in new territory for this franchise with a gross that enormous. That said, no one foresaw the Venom follow-up hitting $10 million more than its predecessor. I also believe the hoopla surrounding Die being Craig’s swan song (and the solid reviews) will only help.

The original Venom fell 56% in its sophomore in October 2018 to $35 million. Competition this time around is steeper and I do believe a 60% or more dip is certainly possible (thought it could continue to confound expectations).

After a decent debut, The Addams Family 2 will be third and I’d look for a drop in the mid 40s range (similar to its predecessor from 2019). Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings should hold the 4 spot with The Many Saints of Newark (after a subpar showing) in the 5 position.

Here’s how I envision the chart playing out:

1. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $94.1 million

2. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $33.7 million

3. The Addams Family 2

Predicted Gross: $9.2 million

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

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

5. The Many Saints of Newark

Predicted Gross: $1.8 million

Box Office Results (October 1-3)

I’m pretty sure the number $58.7 million is going to haunt me for awhile. That’s what I said Venom: Let There Be Carnage would gross out of the gate and, umm, I was a little low. As mentioned, the Tom Hardy sequel set a pandemic era best haul with a cool $90 million (topping the $80 million of part 1 and the COVID times best $80 million achieved by Black Widow). I think it’s safe to say get ready for part III as champagne corks are popping over at Sony.

The Addams Family 2 couldn’t come close to the $30 million start of part 1, but it wasn’t expected to. The $17.3 million output is right in line with the best of expectations and slightly ahead of my $16.6 million projection.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was third with $6.1 million (I was higher at $7.6 million) for $206 million total. It’s the first pic to reach the double century milestone domestically since COVID.

Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark was a theatrical dud at just $4.6 million for fourth. I went considerably north of that with a $8.6 million projection. Look for this to fade fast as HBO hopes its Max subscribers stream it on their service.

Dear Evan Hansen tumbled badly in weekend 2 with $2.4 million. Again I was generous with $4.2 million. That’s a troubling 67% decline after a weak opening and the tally is $11 million.

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

Oscar Predictions: No Time to Die

The 15 year era of Daniel Craig as one of cinema’s most famous characters concludes with No Time to Die. James Bond will return… but not with arguably his best incarnation since Sean Connery. Prior to the October 8 stateside bow, the embargo lifted this evening and the results are encouraging.

007’s 25th adventure stands at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes (with 35 reviews out at press time). Many critics are calling it a surprisingly emotional swan song for Craig’s contribution to the British super spy series. There’s also hints that it resembles more of the Roger Moore era of the canon than one might expect (a direction it seemed to be taking with predecessor Spectre). Ana de Armas is drawing raves for her very short amount of screen time. The consensus on Rami Malek’s main villain seems a bit mixed. There’s some complaints about the length (a Bond high 163 minutes).

Yet no one seems to be arguing that it’s a rather fitting conclusion to Craig’s tenure in the part. So will Oscar take notice? Skyfall, the third pic in the actor’s five appearances, probably came close to a Best Picture nod. It did earn five nominations – winning Sound Editing and Original Song (Adele’s title track) with mentions in Sound Mixing, Score, and Cinematography. 2015’s follow-up Spectre (which had less laudatory reviews) managed a sole nomination in Song with Sam Smith’s “The Writing’s on the Wall” where it scored an upset victory.

I wouldn’t be shocked if an internet campaign is mounted for Craig to get a Best Actor slot (kind of as a tribute to the whole run). It’s highly unlikely to materialize. I do believe Die will make it three in a row for the songs with Billie Eilish’s title tune work. Whether she wins is a question mark (Beyonce has a ditty from King Richard that might serve as its main competition). Cinematography and Sound are two other feasible possibilities.

Bottom line: while I don’t foresee this factoring into the biggest races, tech and musical recognition could be coming its way. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

No Time to Die Box Office Prediction

***Blogger’s Note Part III (10/06): I have revised my No Time to Die prediction from $104.1 million down to $94.1 million, which would still set a COVID era record.

***Blogger’s Note Part II (10/03): With the news that Venom: Let There Be Carnage has grossed approximately $90 million out of the gate, it’s go big or go home for No Time to Die! I’m re-upping my estimate from $84.1 million to a COVID era best $104.1 million***

**Blogger’s Note (10/01): A week before its stateside premiere, I have decided to significantly increase my prediction (partly due to the apparent over performance of Venom: Let There Be Carnage). I’m going from $72.1 million to $84.1 million**

Ladies and gentlemen, the second frame of October finally marks the weekend for Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007 in No Time to Die. The 25th official entry in the James Bond franchise was gearing up for release in April of 2020 (Billie Eilish’s title track had already dropped) when COVID scuttled the plans. It experienced several more delays before at last settling on October 8. Craig is back for his fifth and final appearance along with series returnees Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, Rory Kinnear, and Christoph Waltz. On the job for the first time are Rami Malek as the main villain, Lashana Lynch, Craig’s Knives Out costar Ana de Armas, and Billy Magnussen.

Anticipation is certainly present with the culmination of Mr. Craig’s service as the British super spy – one rivaled by only Sean Connery. He’s actually had the longest run as the character in terms of time, though not actual volume of pictures. It seems like eons since moviegoers have had their Bond fix. With the frequent pushbacks, the just shy of a six-year wait is the second lengthiest break between 007 adventures (beaten by the sabbatical of 1989’s Licence to Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye at nearly six and a half years).

Fifteen years ago, Craig defied expectations with the critically acclaimed Casino Royale. It made $40 million for its start but legged out very impressively. Sequel (and it was the first true Bond sequel) Quantum of Solace debuted two years later with $67 million. 2012’s Skyfall marked a high point at the box office as it grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. The premiere stateside is a series best $88 million. Three years later, Spectre kicked off with $70 million.

So where will this golden era of 007 culminate in terms of opening weekend? There’s certainly a range of possibilities. First things first: it will have no trouble eclipsing what Craig’s first foray achieved a decade and a half ago. I do believe the COVID times will prevent the record setting starting number of Skyfall managed (but you never know). It’s hard to totally factor in the excitement for its star’s last go-round. A video of Craig bidding adieu to his costars and crew has been widely circulated on social media in recent weeks.

My hunch is that a premiere in the range of Quantum and Spectre is most likely stateside (I’m sure its overseas haul will be massive). I’m tempted to say a low to mid 60s gross just under them could occur. However, I’ll err on the side of over performance and project low to mid 70s. (PER ABOVE: I have increased estimate from $72.1M to $84.1M to $104.1 million)

No Time to Die opening weekend prediction: $94.1 million

Summer 2011: The Top 10 Hits and More

We have arrived at part III of my recaps of the summer seasons that came 30, 20, and 10 years ago. That means 2011 is upon us. If you missed my sizzling throwbacks to 1991 and 2001, you can find them here:

Summer 1991: The Top 10 Hits and More

Summer 2001: The Top 10 Hits and More

As is tradition, I will recount the top 10 hits as well as other notable features and some flops in a season where moviegoers bid a fond farewell to their iconic wizard:

Let’s get to it, yes?

10. Bridesmaids

Domestic Gross: $169 million

Kristin Wiig made one of the most successful jumps from SNL to movie stardom in this critically hailed pic that also earned Melissa McCarthy her silver screen breakout and even an Oscar nomination. It might not be the highest grossing comedy on here, but it’s definitely still the most talked about.

9. The Help

Domestic Gross: $169 million

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller, the 1960s set period piece from Tate Taylor brought the book’s readers and many others to the multiplex. Four Oscar nods followed including Best Picture and a Supporting Actress victory for Octavia Spencer.

8. Captain America: The First Avenger

Domestic Gross: $176 million

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first big branch out occurred during this summer where we would get our first glimpse at this OG avenger in the form of Chris Evans and another one who sits at the throne of spot #6. The sequels actually improved on what we see here, but the Captain gets rolling with this.

7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Domestic Gross: $176 million

Rupert Wyatt’s reboot of the franchise is deservedly better regarded than Tim Burton’s re-imagining that transpired in 2001. Debuting the fantastic motion capture work of Andy Serkis, this would spawn two follow-ups that also pleased audiences and critics and did considerable monkey business.

6. Thor

Domestic Gross: $181 million

Chris Hemsworth’s Asgardian heartthrob hammered into the public consciousness alongside Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins and managed $5 million more box office bucks than the Captain. The third sequel is currently in production.

5. Cars 2

Domestic Gross: $191 million

Despite grossing nearly $200 million, this Pixar sequel is not one of the studio’s most fondly remembered vehicles with just a 40% Rotten Tomatoes rating. A third Cars did zoom into theaters six years later.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Domestic Gross: $241 million

With a reported budget of $379 million, Johnny Depp’s fourth headlining of the franchise still sports the largest price tag of all time. The actor’s final participation in the series would come in 2017 with Disney still looking to reboot it without their signature player.

3. The Hangover Part II

Domestic Gross: $254 million

Crowds were still clamoring for the drunken exploits of Bradley Copper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis. Critics weren’t near as kind to part II, but audiences didn’t begin to tire of the hijinks until part III two years later.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Domestic Gross: $352 million

Michael Bay’s third saga of the Autobots and Decepticons marks Shia LaBeouf’s last appearance in the franchise and includes drop-ins from acting heavyweights John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. Mark Wahlberg would take over starring duties three years later.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Domestic Gross: $381 million

After nearly a decade of enchanting kids and their parents alike, the franchise stemming from J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels received a fittingly massive send-off with this billion dollar plus worldwide earner.

Now for other noteworthy titles from the summer:

X-Men: First Class

Domestic Gross: $146 million

Bryan Singer’s handed over directorial reigns to Matthew Vaughn for this reinvigorating reboot of the series that introduced the younger versions of Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique in the bodies of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence. Numerous sequels of varying quality followed.

The Smurfs

Domestic Gross: $142 million

Sony Pictures wasn’t blue about the financial returns for this half live-action/half animated adaptation of the popular comics and animated series. A sequel came in 2013.

Super 8

Domestic Gross: $127 million

In between Star Trek pics and before rebooting Star Wars, J.J. Abrams helmed this sci-fi original which paid tribute to the Spielberg efforts of the 1980s. Critics gave it their stamp of approval and it’s notable for one heckuva train crash sequence.

Horrible Bosses

Domestic Gross: $117 million

This raunchy comedy about workers exacting revenge on their wretched superiors showed us a whole different side to Jennifer Aniston and spawned a 2014 sequel.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Domestic Gross: $84 million

Before their collaboration on La La Land earned lots of Oscar nods five years later, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling teamed up for this rom com with Steve Carell and Julianne Moore that exceeded expectations with audiences and many critics.

Midnight in Paris

Domestic Gross: $56 million

It was a different time 10 years ago for Woody Allen, who scored his last big hit with this fantastical comedy starring Owen Wilson. Woody would win the Oscar for Original Screenplay and it landed three additional nominations including Picture and Director.

The Tree of Life

Domestic Gross: $13 million

Terrence Malick’s epic philosophical drama won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Picture, Director, and Cinematography at the Academy Awards. Not your typical summer fare, but it certainly had reviews on its side.

And now for some titles that didn’t meet expectations commercially, critically, or both:

Green Lantern

Domestic Gross: $116 million

Five years before he entered the comic book flick pantheon with Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds didn’t have as much luck with this critically drubbed flop. Even the star himself has taken to calling it a waste of time for viewers.

Cowboys & Aliens

Domestic Gross: $100 million

Coming off the huge Iron Man pics, Jon Favreau cast James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in this space western that didn’t impress crowds or critics and earned considerably less than its budget domestically.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Domestic Gross: $68 million

Audiences were mostly cool to Jim Carrey’s treatment of the popular late 30s children’s book though it did manage to top its $55 million budget. It probably would have made far more during the star’s box office heyday.

Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World

Domestic Gross: $38 million

A decade after Robert Rodriguez kicked the kiddie franchise off to great results, part 4 marked a low mark for the series.

Larry Crowne

Domestic Gross: $35 million

The star power of Tom Hanks (who also directed) and Julia Roberts couldn’t elevate this rom com from a subpar showing (critics weren’t kind either). This is largely a forgotten entity on both actor’s filmographies.

Conan the Barbarian

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Before becoming known to the masses as Aquaman, Jason Momoa couldn’t fill the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger in this bomb that couldn’t swim close to its $90 million budget.

And that does it, folks! I’ll have recaps of the summers of 1992, 2002, and 2012 up for your enjoyment next season!