Disney’s streaming service combines humans and familiar faces voicing creatures this weekend with the release of The One and Only Ivan, based on the 2012 children’s book by K.A. Applegate. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the family friendly fantasy features Bryan Cranston, Ramon Rodriguez, and Ariana Greenblatt in front of the camera. Stars including Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Brooklyn Prince, and Chaka Khan (!) lend their voices as gorillas, elephants, and dogs.
In what is now a familiar story on this blog, Ivan was intended for theatrical release last Friday before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the plans. It is now hitting the Disney+ service this weekend. Why an Oscar Watch post for this unlikely contender? Fair question as even a Visual Effects nod is probably a long shot. Reviews out today are decent, but not overwhelmingly positive with a current 64% Rotten Tomatoes score.
There is, however, a solid shot for Ivan to come under Academy consideration and that’s with Original Song. It was announced this week that Diane Warren has written the track “Free” that will play over the end credits. Performed by Charlie Puth, the song is another possibility in a lengthy list of Warren’s works that could vie for a nomination.
Diane Warren has been nominated in the Original Song race 11 times over four decades. This began with “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from 1987’s Mannequin and runs through last year with “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough. In between, we have massive hits like Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close and Personal and the Aerosmith ballad “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” from Armageddon in the 90s. Despite the multitude of nods, Warren has never made the trip to the podium.
I doubt that “Free” would earn her the win, but a 12th nomination is certainly feasible. It remains to be seen how this particular category will play out in the coming months. Billie Eilish’s title track for the upcoming 007 adventure No Time to Die will likely make it in the final five.
Bottom line: Original Song could mark the one and only nod for Ivan next year. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Today’s Streaming Guide give us a mid 1980s comedic adventure that was an unexpected blockbuster at the time and is available via Hulu:
Romancing the Stone was not expected to be a success at the time of its release. From director Robert Zemeckis, Michael Douglas had yet to establish himself as a bankable leading man. The pic casts him as a petty smuggler who assists Kathleen Turner’s romance novelist searching for her kidnapped sister in Colombia. Danny DeVito memorably costars as one of the kidnappers. Critics and audiences alike gave it the stamp of approval.
Stone, influenced by the Indiana Jones series, marked Zemeckis’s first major hit. Many would follow including Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump. The Douglas/Turner/DeVito trio would reunite for a sequel the next year with the less effective The Jewel of the Nile. They would join forces in 1989 for The War of the Roses, the black comedy directed by DeVito that is also well worth a look.
One of the biggest box office successes of 2017 was that of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the reboot of the 1995 Robin Williams family adventure. Considered to be a bit of a gamble at the time, Jungle ended up developing amazing legs at multiplexes and grossing just over $400 million domestically. In doing so, it edged out Spider-Man as Sony’s highest grossing stateside effort.
The inevitable sequel finds Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Se’Darious Blain, and Madison Iseman reprising their roles. Newcomers to the game include Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, and Awkwafina. Jake Kasdan returns to the director’s chair.
Before Jungle went on its moneymaking run, it opened at #2 to the sophomore frame of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It opened over the long Christmas frame two years ago on a Wednesday, earning $36 million over the traditional Friday to Sunday portion with a six-day holiday haul of nearly $72 million.
In 2019, The Next Level gets the jump on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by a week. And while this hopes to develop minor week to week drops like its predecessor, the sequel looks to make more than mid to high 30s out of the gate for the regular weekend.
Some estimates put this at around $40 million while others have it inching towards $50 million or possibly a bit more. I’ll say a gross in the high 40s is my range as this hopes for positive word-of-mouth and smooth sailing ahead like Jungle before it.
Jumanji: The Next Level opening weekend prediction: $48.7 million
Disney’s live-action version of their 1941 classic Dumbo arrives in theaters on Friday and the review embargo was lifted today. Tim Burton’s take on the flying elephant is the first of four Mouse Factory updates on their animated tales hitting screens in 2019.
The advance word out is quite mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 51%. No one seriously expected this would contend for Best Picture, but previous Disney updates in recent years have fared well with Oscar voters with technical nods.
Burton’s own AliceinWonderland in 2010 won Best Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and landed a nomination in Visual Effects. Costume Design nods were received by Maleficent in 2014 and by Cinderella the following year. In 2016, TheJungleBook emerged victorious in Visual Effects. BeautyandtheBeast nabbed nods for Production and Costume Design.
That’s a solid track record. Where’s that leave Dumbo? Tough to say at this juncture. Even the negative skewing reviews have praised the visuals. Yet there will be a lot of competition and that includes the other three live-action updates arriving later: Aladdin, TheLionKing, and Maleficent: MistressofEvil. Even more potentially serious competitors include Avengers: Endgame and the next StarWars.
Costume Design and Production Design remain more realistic possibilities. Bottom line: Dumbo could continue the recent tradition of this sub genre getting down the line category attention, but competition will be key. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Blogger’s Note (03/27): My Dumbo prediction has dropped from $65.6 million to $55.6 million.
With Tim Burton at the helm, Disney’s live-action rendering of Dumbo flies into theaters next weekend. The elephant tale (based on the Mouse Factory’s 1941 animated feature) is headlined by Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, and plenty of CG effects.
This is the first live-action remake from the studio in two years, following up on the monstrous success that was BeautyandtheBeast. That lapse in their sub genre won’t apply to 2019 as there’s three more on the way – Aladdin in May, TheLionKing in July, and Maleficent: MistressofEvil this October.
It’s also not Burton’s first foray remaking Disney classics. 2010’s AliceinWonderland was a huge hit that grossed $116 million for its start. When it comes to Beauty, Aladdin, and LionKing, they have the advantage of being based on 90s efforts as opposed to a title released 50 years prior.
Expectations for Dumbo aren’t quite as lofty and they’re in the $60-$70 million premiere range. That sound about right and I’ll put it right in the middle of those numbers, similar to what Cinderella achieved in 2015.
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.