One thing is for certain – Simon Kinberg’s spy flick The 355 will be the highest grossing movie released in 2022. That’s, of course, because it will be the first and it will hold that title briefly since Scream comes out a week later. Coming out a year after its COVID delay, it marks the second directorial effort from Kinberg (who’s known primarily for his screenwriting). His first was the commercial and critical X-Men misfire Dark Phoenix.
Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan, and Edgar Ramirez make up the cast. Two of them (Chastain from The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Cruz in Parallel Mothers) may find themselves competing against each other for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars.
January is often seen as a dumping ground for material that isn’t expected to make waves at multiplexes. The 355 is slated to be available for streaming on Peacock 45 days after its cinematic debut.
I don’t see this posting impressive numbers and I would certainly be surprised if it manages to top $10 million. It may be lucky to reach even $5 million.
***Blogger’s Update (08/27): On the eve of its premiere, I am increasing my prediction for The New Mutants from $4.9 million to $6.9 million.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the release dates for scores of high profile feature films over the past several months. Yet in the case of The New Mutants, its series of delays has become a punchline in Hollywood that far preceded current world events. The film is the latest in the X-Men franchise and it seems 20th Century Fox has absolutely no confidence with it. It’s finally hitting screens after an original planned unveiling in (get this!) April 2018.
Mutants introduces new characters to the X-Men fold in what was originally planned as a potential trilogy. Josh Boone, best known for making The Fault in Our Stars, directs. The cast includes Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga. Marketed more as a horror flick than comic book adaptation, reports out over the past two years indicate that its studio were not pleased with the final product.
After getting bumped from the spring of 2018, this was pushed to February 2019 and then August 2019 and then April 2020 (this was all during Disney’s acquisition of Fox). After the COVID situation hit, Disney/Fox finally settled on the late August output. Mutants will be closely watched as it is the second American theatrical wide release after Unhinged.
Prior to COVID, the prospects for Mutants seemed doomed and that hasn’t changed. The X-Men franchise hit a low point in 2019 with Dark Phoenix. Its $32 million debut was easily the lowest of the series (no other X pic had premiered below $50 million). Mutants will blow that record out of the water. For starters, there’s the challenges facing any wide release at the moment (limited theater capacity, major markets still closed, etc…). I also suspect many casual moviegoers simply have no idea that Mutants even exists in the X-Men Universe.
I do not have a screen count for Mutants at press time, but I’m assuming it’s similar to the 2000 theaters that will greet Unhinged this weekend. If that holds, I’m not even confident that Mutants gets above $5 million in its first weekend. Disney and 20th Century Fox seem to be dumping this and I believe audiences will respond in kind.
The New Mutants opening weekend prediction: $6.9 million
Twenty years ago today, Bryan Singer’s X-Men arrived in theaters and it’s not hyperbole to call it one of the most influential pictures of the 21st century. The 20th Century Fox release found the comic book genre at a rather low point at the end of that said century. While Blade was a nice size hit in 1998, the years prior found at a lot to be desired with the quality of the genre. 1995 brought us Judge Dredd and 1997 saw the release of Batman and Robin, which found the Caped Crusader with Bat nipples and bad reviews.
X-Men, though it’s hard to remember now, was released at a time where the idea of superhero tales was an uncertain box office prospect. This is two years before Spider-Man broke all kinds of financial records. This is five years prior to Christopher Nolan reinvigorating the Bat franchise with his Dark Knight trilogy. And this was eight years before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark/Iron Man, officially kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the summer of 2000, X-Men was by no means a guaranteed hit. It did, however, have credibility with the behind the scenes talent and cast. Bryan Singer was known for his heralded The Usual Suspects. Acclaimed actors Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen (fresh off an Oscar nod for Gods and Monsters), Anna Paquin, and Halle Berry were among the onscreen players. And it was another casting decision that provided its most enduring legacy. Russell Crowe, who headlined that summer’s Oscar winner Gladiator, originally turned down the part of Wolverine. Dougray Scott was then cast in the role, but had to drop out when his role as the villain in Mission: Impossible II (also out that summer) prevented him from filming. So it was the unknown Hugh Jackman who donned the claws. He would go on to make it his signature role as he played Logan/Wolverine in numerous sequels and spin-offs (including three stand-alone projects of wildly divergent qualities).
Let’s back up. Before the 2000 release, X-Men was in development for over a decade and a half. At one point, James Cameron was slated to produce with his then wife Kathryn Bigelow attached to direct. Later on, Robert Rodriguez turned the project down. A gander at the pic’s Wikipedia page is an entertaining read (Mariah Carey was in the mix for Storm at one juncture and Angela Bassett was first choice). X-Men was rushed to make its summer release date 20 years ago today after it was originally intended for Christmas 2000.
That rushed feeling does show on up on screen a little, but the overall end result speaks for itself. What occurred two decades ago is a major mark in the comic book movie renaissance that continues to this day. The franchise has certainly had its ups and downs. X2: X-Men United was the first sequel in 2003 and it is generally considered a high point. Three years later, Brett Ratner took over directorial reigns with The Last Stand and (while a huge hit) the quality took a dip. Matthew Vaughn would reestablish critical kudos in rebooting the series in 2011 with First Class (bringing Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence to the screen playing younger counterparts to key characters). Jackman’s first spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine faced deserved backlash while 2017’s Logan was lauded and landed an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. And a cheeky and R rated offshoot called Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds would dazzle audiences and critics alike. Last summer’s Dark Phoenix didn’t do any dazzling and was another low ebb in the series. Spin-off The New Mutants has seen release date changes that began in 2018 and it’s pretty much a running joke as to whether it will ever come out.
That long road began in 2000 and has shaped the cinematic universe since. And if you had to mark a spot for the comic book landscape today as it stands now on the screen, it started that day.
Another creepy doll looks to hit the runner-up spot while ToyStory4 stays in first place this weekend as Conjuring Cinematic Universe entry AnnabelleComesHome debuts. We also have the high concept musical comedy Yesterday out and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both newcomers here:
It seems awfully risky in the summer of 2019 to project that a sequel will come close to meeting expectations. Not even ToyStory4 managed to do that (more on that below), but that’s where I’m at by saying Annabelle will gross in the high 20s for its Friday to Sunday earnings and high 30s when taking in the Wednesday and Thursday money.
As mentioned, Pixar’s fourth pairing of Woody and Buzz should have no trouble maintaining top position. ToyStory3 dipped 46% in its sophomore frame and I look for this to lose around half its volume.
Yesterday, in my view, once had breakout potential. However, so-so reviews don’t help. My estimate for The Beatles themed pic puts it just behind Aladdin in fourth place. TheSecretLifeofPets2 may stay put in fifth as I figure the drops for Child’sPlay and MeninBlack: International will be more severe.
And with that, my top five for the weekend:
Predicted Gross: $60.3 million
Predicted Gross: $27.4 million (Friday to Sunday), $38 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
Predicted Gross: $9.7 million
Predicted Gross: $9.1 million
Predicted Gross: $5.7 million
Pixar scored yet another hit with ToyStory4. Yet the acclaimed sequel (arriving nine years after part three) unquestionably made less than anticipated at $120.9 million. While that’s $10 million over its predecessor, that’s a far cry from my $167.5 million forecast. And even if you think I was being generous, the floor for most projections was around $140 million. I wouldn’t feel too bad for Disney as they’re having a terrific year thus far.
The return of Chucky was met with ambivalence as Child’sPlay was second with $14 million compared to my $17.6 million prediction. Look for it to fade fast, especially with that other dastardly doll arriving Wednesday. The reboot only cost a reported $10 million to make so United Artists shouldn’t be too upset either.
Aladdin was third with $13.2 million (I said $13 million) and it’s up to $288 million in the coffers.
MeninBlack: International tumbled from first to fourth with $10.7 million, below my $13.1 million projection for just $52 million. This reboot, like DarkPhoenix before it, looks to come in under $100 million domestically.
TheSecretLifeofPets2 rounded out the top five with $10.2 million. I was higher at $12.6 million. The three-week tally is $117 million.
Finally, the Luc Besson action thriller Anna was a flop in ninth with $3.6 million. My prediction? $3.6 million! That almost makes up for being $40 million plus off ToyStory4! Ok maybe not…
Blogger’s Note (06/19): and it’s a significant one. Revising my Toy Story 4 estimate down from $191.5 million to $167.5 million.
It’s a toy fest at the box office this weekend as Pixar’s massive franchise and an iconic demonic doll look to populate the 1-2 spots on the charts. ToyStory4 and the reboot of Child’sPlay are the big debuts, as well as Luc Besson’s action thriller Anna. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
The question for the fourth iteration of Woody and Buzz is not whether it opens at #1, but whether or not it sets the all-time opening record for an animated feature. Unlike what we’ve seen in the past few weekends, this should not be a sequel that fails to meet expectations. In order to nab the record, it needs to top Pixar’s Incredibles2 from last summer. That sequel made $182 million out of the gate. I’m predicting ToyStory4 will outdo it by nearly $10 million.
I’m projecting that Child’sPlay will reach high teens and that should be enough to put it in second place. I figure enough horror fans can assist Chucky’s return to multiplexes to get it there (as long as they’re not all holding their money for next week’s AnnabelleComesHome).
The real battle could be for the third position. MeninBlack: International was a major flop. While I don’t see it plummeting over 70% like DarkPhoenix, a mid 50s (and maybe a bit more) dip is certainly feasible. That puts it in a horse race with TheSecretLifeofPets2 and Aladdin, which could benefit from drive-in pairings with ToyStory.
As for Anna, my lowly $3.6 million puts it outside the top five.
Here’s how I have it playing out:
Predicted Gross: $167.5 million
Predicted Gross: $17.6 million
3. MeninBlack: International
Predicted Gross: $13.1 million
Predicted Gross: $13 million
Predicted Gross: $12.6 million
While Will Smith’s genie in Aladdin is raking up the bucks, Sony was not granted their wish of a successful franchise reboot with MeninBlack: International. The film opened in first, but with a disappointing $30 million (on target with my $30.7 million projection). Don’t look for Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson to don the shades again – though you’ll probably see them revise their Thor characters again.
TheSecretLifeofPets2 dropped to second with $24.4 million (I said $23.4 million) as it sniffs the century mark at $92 million after two weeks.
Aladdin was third with $17.3 million, topping my $15.7 million forecast. It’s up to $264 million as it should cross $300 million domestically.
Rocketman was fourth and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. The Elton John biopic took in $9.4 million and it’s at $52 million overall.
After its poor debut, DarkPhoenix tumbled to fifth with $9.3 million. I was more generous at $11.8 million. With just $52 million in ten days, this looks to be the first X-Men entry that won’t reach $100 million stateside.
The sequel and reboot fatigue manifested itself again with Shaft, which flopped in sixth with only $8.9 million, coming in far below my $16.8 million prediction.
LateNight expanded nationwide to so-so results in ninth place with $5.2 million, a touch more than my $4.5 million take.
Finally, zombie comedy TheDeadDon’tDie was 12th on just over 600 screens with $2.5 million compared to my $1.8 million projection.
A variety of new pictures debut or expand this weekend with franchise reboot MeninBlack: International, another franchise reboot Shaft, critically appreciated comedy LateNight, and not so critically appreciated comedy TheDeadDon’tDie hitting screens. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
With Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson taking over lead roles from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, International hopes to bring in a new generation of alien crime fighter aficionados. Yet this could go the way of last weekend’s DarkPhoenix, which set a franchise low for an opening weekend. I predict that a low 30s haul will achieve that dubious mark, but it should have little difficulty hitting #1.
My mid teens estimate for Shaft should put it in third after the sophomore frame of current champ TheSecretLifeofPets2, which itself suffered from an acute case of sequelitis.
The rest of the top five should be filled by holdovers Aladdin and Phoenix, which I anticipate having a severe drop just like Godzilla: KingoftheMonsters did in its second weekend.
As for LateNight, it had a terrific limited release on just four screens this past weekend, but it could face some difficulties with its 1500 theater release. My $4.5 million forecast puts it outside the top five. Same for TheDeadDon’tDie, which I have at $1.8 million at its approximately 550 theater count.
And with that, my top five estimates for the weekend ahead:
1. MeninBlack: International
Predicted Gross: $30.7 million
Predicted Gross: $23.4 million
Predicted Gross: $16.8 million
Predicted Gross: $15.7 million
Predicted Gross: $11.8 million
It was not a good weekend to be a sequel as the two newbies placed 1-2, but with significantly less cash than their predecessors. TheSecretLifeofPets 2 was first with $46.6 million, well under my estimate of $65.2 million. That’s not even half of the $104 million achieved by its 2016 predecessor and with ToyStory4 on the horizon, it could fade quickly.
The X-Men franchise cratered as DarkPhoenix was second with $32.8 million compared to my $45.3 million projection. The previous lowest premiere in the series occurred in 2013 when TheWolverine made $53 million out of the gate. This fell more than $20 million under that. Studio Fox didn’t even bother sugarcoating it… it’s a serious flop. New owner Disney will need to figure out a new way to make this series of characters viable into the future.
Aladdin was third with $24.6 million (I said $26.5 million) for a three-week tally of $232 million.
Godzilla: KingoftheMonsters fell hard in its second frame with $15.4 million, under my $16.9 million prediction. It’s at $78 million.
Rocketman was fifth in its sophomore outing at $13.8 million (I said $14.9 million) for a ten day total of $50 million.
If there’s a theme to this first full June weekend at the box office, it might be sequels not matching up to what’s come before. TheSecretLifeofPets2 and DarkPhoenix are the two newbies hitting screens and you can peruse my detailed predictions for each of them here:
The original Pets got off to an animated start three summers ago with $104 million. Part 2 is not expected to match it and I’m going with a mid 60s beginning. It should still face no issues topping the charts as the prospects for DarkPhoenix look dim.
It’s the final entry in the current iteration of the X-Men Universe and buzz appears lackluster (especially after the ho-hum reaction to 2016’s X–Men: Apocalypse). My mid 40s take gives it the worst premiere of any X title thus far.
As for holdovers, Godzilla: KingoftheMonsters was a big disappointment and I anticipate a sophomore decline in the mid 50s range. That could drop it to fourth place with Aladdin in third and Rocketman rounding out the top five.
Here’s how I have the top 5 panning out:
Predicted Gross: $65.2 million
Predicted Gross: $45.3 million
Predicted Gross: $26.5 million
4. Godzilla: KingoftheMonsters
Predicted Gross: $16.9 million
Predicted Gross: $14.9 million
As mentioned, Godzilla: KingoftheMonsters landed with a thud with $47.7 million – well below my $58.7 million projection. The reported $200 million dollar production made just over half of what 2014’s Godzilla ($91 million) took in for its start. Additionally it couldn’t reach the heights of 2017’s Kong: SkullIsland and its $61 million rollout. The two creatures will face each other next spring in Godzillavs. Kong.
Aladdin was second with $42.8 million in weekend #2 and held up a bit better than my $40.3 million estimate. The Disney live-action hit has amassed $185 million total.
The Elton John biopic Rocketman had a decent start in third with $25.7 million. I thought it would fly higher at $36.1 million. It’s still a fine opening for an R rated counter programming offering in blockbuster season, though it is just half of what BohemianRhapsody accomplished a few short months ago.
Blumhouse horror pic Ma with Octavia Spencer was fourth and landed in line with expectations at $18 million (I said $17.2 million). Considering its tiny $5 million price tag, it’s yet another profitable success for the studio.
JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum was fifth with $11 million (I went with $12.7 million) as it brought its earnings to $125 million.
Closing out the latest chapter of the X-Men Universe that began in 2011, DarkPhoenix rises or falls in theaters next weekend. The fourth official entry in the current franchise iteration is a direct sequel to 2016’s X–Men: Apocalypse. This one is focused more on the Jean Grey character played by Sophie Turner, but it brings back Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. The familiar cast additionally includes Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Evan Peters with Jessica Chastain joining the fray for the first time. Simon Kinberg, responsible for penning three previous X pics, makes his directorial debut.
Phoenix comes at a time where the franchise is going through a major transition. With Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox, it is believed the X-Men characters will be cast anew and melded with the vaunted Marvel Cinematic Universe at some juncture. The series is coming off Apocalypse, which didn’t impress critics and had a $155 million overall domestic gross that ranked well under predecessor DaysofFuturePast. The next X title (spin-off TheNewMutants) is out next spring and has been delayed on numerous occasions.
Anticipation seems muted here. Phoenix has the very real possibility of having the lowest premiere ever in the franchise’s history. That distinction for a non spin-off currently belongs to the 2000 original, which started with $54 million (not adjusted for inflation). Just below that is 2013’s TheWolverine at $53 million.
The opportunity for Disney to reinvigorate the series is coming, but I’ll project this latest entry will mark an overall low in earnings.
DarkPhoenix opening weekend prediction: $45.3 million
For my TheSecretLifeofPets2 prediction, click here:
Illumination Entertainment is back in the summer blockbuster animation game next weekend with the release of TheSecretLifeofPets2. The follow-up to the 2016 smash has Chris Renaud back in the director’s chair. Returning voices include Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, and Jenny Slate. Patton Oswalt takes over the lead role of Max after Louis C.K. was dropped after recent controversies. Other familiar faces providing new voiceover work to the franchise include Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and Harrison Ford.
Three summers ago, the first Pets had a scorching start with a $104 million start and $368 million eventual domestic gross. It’s worth noting that competition on its opening weekend wasn’t as strong as DarkPhoenix will premiere against this. This sequel is garnering reviews in line with its predecessor. Part 1 ended up with a 73% Rotten Tomatoes score while this is at 68%.
I look for this to perform similarly to Illumination’s last two efforts. DespicableMe3 earned $72 million for its beginning two summers ago and Dr. Seuss’ TheGrinch made $67 million and perhaps a bit under.
TheSecretLifeofPets2 opening weekend prediction: $65.2 million