Bones and All Box Office Prediction

MGM/UA hopes younger viewers are hungry for some cannibal love when Bones and All opens wide on Wednesday, November 23rd. Based on a 2015 novel by Camille DeAngelis, Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet headline the road flick from director Luca Guadagnino. Costars include Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, Andre Holland, Chloe Sevigny, David Gordon Green, and Jessica Harper.

The subject matter could be a challenging one for holiday crowds though Chalamet has a rabid fanbase that could turn up. The Thanksgiving release (it’s out five screens November 18 before the expansion) is also the only holiday newbie geared toward teens and young adults. Strange World is for the kids while Devotion and The Fabelmans skew older. Reviews are pretty appetizing with an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score following its September debut at the Venice Film Festival.

With a reported count of around 2500 venues, I’ll say Bones gets to mid single digits for the three-day and for the five.

Bones and All opening weekend prediction: $3.5 million (Friday to Sunday); $5.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Strange World prediction, click here:

For my Devotion prediction, click here:

For my The Fabelmans prediction, click here:

Halloween Ends Review

One of the most violent moments in Halloween Ends involves an actual record (as in the vinyl variety) skipping and it’s one of the cooler parts of this trilogy ender. There’s also many instances where a record skipping sound effect would’ve been appropriate. As in – what in the world is this movie doing?!?! 

Our final pairing of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers after almost four and a half decades features some bewilderingly bad decisions. The odd choices that don’t work stack up higher than the body count. On the plus side, I at least found its unpredictable nature to be more intriguing than most of what occurred in predecessor Halloween Kills. Does that make it better? Probably not. It means neither were of much quality and 2018’s starter was just OK too. That could be the legacy of the 11th, 12th, and 13th overall franchise entries.

In Haddonfield, Illinois in 2019, there were tragedies on the spooky holiday not related to Mr. Myers. Corey (Rohan Campbell) is babysitting a young boy when their game of hide and seek takes an unplanned head banging turn. Though accidental in nature, Corey is looked upon as a pariah by the townspeople four years later. He does find a sympathetic figure in Allyson (Andi Matichak), granddaughter of Laurie who is accustomed to grief. Their blossoming romance concerns Grandma, who notices something is off with Corey in a way that reminds her of her tormentor (who’s been AWOL).

This previous paragraph could beg your question: why is a dude who accidentally offed a kid and his strange relationship with Allyson getting so much attention? Well, it’s what Halloween Ends is about for quite a while. On that level, there are problems. First and foremost, any character development of Allyson from the first two features is slashed as she inexplicably falls for Corey in about five minutes. I’m not asking for realism in this genre, but this romance is a badly developed one.

Myers is often a supporting player in Ends along with Laurie (though she has more to do than her bedridden hospital appearance in Kills). Instead we have the potential Natural Born Killers like union of Corey/Allyson and the former dealing with boring high school bullies and his domineering mother. What we expect from a Halloween flick, eh??

Truth be told, my interest piqued a little when I realized David Gordon Green and his three cowriters (including Danny McBride) were going off the rails. The diversionary tactics mostly stall. By the time we get to the showdown between Laurie and Myers, it seems almost anticlimactic. Even though this trilogy ignores everything after 1978’s brilliant original, we’ve kinda been there and done that with 1998’s Halloween: H2O. 

Curtis brings the tough survivor attitude that we’ve witnessed before and it helps in the final act. Campbell truly is the lead character and his performance is shaky at best. I’m not sure I buy the “ends” part of the title though Laurie and Michael’s saga does appear to have reached its conclusion. Maybe The Shape will take another form someday in the reboot/requel/prequel or whatever term comes next. The mediocrity of this three-arch journey dies here.

** (out of four)

Halloween Ends Box Office Prediction

The culmination of this iteration of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) battling  Michael Myers arrives on October 14th with Halloween Ends. Said to be Curtis’s final appearance in the 44-year-old franchise (though I’m sure Myers will manage to return in some form), David Gordon Green is back directing along with cowriter Danny McBride. It comes a year after Halloween Kills and four years behind Halloween which began the trilogy. It’s the 13th overall entry in the series overall. Costars include James Jude Courtney and OG Nick Castle doubling up again as the iconic slasher, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, and Kyle Richards.

2018’s Halloween was a juggernaut with a $76 million opening and $159 million eventual domestic haul. Kills still killed, but to a lesser degree with a $49 million start and $92 million overall take. Like its predecessor, Ends will be simultaneously available on Peacock.

In addition to the streaming option that could siphon away viewers, horror fans have had plenty to enjoy lately (Barbarian and Smile for example). That said, there’s obviously a built-in base here.

I do expect diminishing returns though not close to the disparity between 2018 and 2021. Mid to high 40s is where I see it and considering the reported $20 million budget, that’s a profitable cut for Universal.

Halloween Ends opening weekend prediction: $47.6 million

Halloween Kills Review

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) spends the 12th Halloween experience laid up in a hospital bed after her near mortal injuries incurred from the 11th one. In that sense, Halloween Kills is quite similar to the first official sequel from 1981. The samesies comparisons don’t stop there as this is an inferior follow-up to what came before it. The difference is that the 1978 original was a slasher classic to which all followers have been judged. 2018’s Halloween was not and therefore the letdown isn’t as steep.

Kills takes place (like Halloween II) during the immediate events after its predecessor. Laurie, daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) had left Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) to burn at her tricked out house. Unsurprisingly, it turns out to be mission unaccomplished as the masked one escapes that space and leaves plenty of dead firefighters in his wake.

While Laurie is recovering from her own stabbing, Michael has his knives out for plenty of other townsfolk in Haddonfield. As you may recall, we are on our third iteration of the killer’s most famous prey reuniting with her predator. The 1981 sequel continued John Carpenter’s storyline and revealed that Laurie is Michael’s little sister. 1998’s Halloween: H20 set their sibling rivalry 20 years later.

By the time David Gordon Green and company came around and another two decades passed, 2018’s Halloween ignored all of that. The familial connection was slashed in favor of Laurie becoming a survivalist and waiting for escaped booby hatch patient Myers to find her. Kills allow for other figures in the ’78 pic to return – Tommy Doyle (who Laurie babysat) is now Anthony Michael Hall. Kyle Richards reprises her role as Lindsey, one of the other kids tormented that night. And we catch up with Sheriff Bracket (Charles Cyphers) and Nurse Chambers (Nancy Stephens). We also spend some unnecessary time with flashbacks to 40 years before that don’t add much (though if you want CG Donald Pleasance, you’re in luck).

The phrase “Evil Dies Tonight” is repeated ad nauseam as the denizens of our Illinois murder spot (led by Tommy) seek to end Michael’s return engagement. Of course, we know that ain’t happening. Halloween Kills is the second of a trilogy that will end (?) with next year’s ambitiously titled Halloween Ends. This has the feel of stopgap viewing with no real payoffs and our star player relegated to the sideline. There are a few garish highlights. I was entertained by the couple Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald… not that one) who live in Michael’s childhood house of horrors and probably should’ve upped their homeowners insurance. A hospital set scene where the residents chase down another of the escaped mental patients is shot effectively.

Ultimately Halloween Kills, for most of its running time, feels painfully average. It’s more violent than part one… which was actually part II if you ignore that other part II. So I suppose this is part III when ignoring nine other movies. The gimmick of Laurie coming back (again) had its pleasures in 2018. Tommy and Lindsey coming back in the mix doesn’t really cut the mustard. Michael cuts the tracheas and tendons with dutiful impassioned restraint. It seldom rises above the mediocrity where most of this series has dwelled since part one (the real one).

** (out of four)

Halloween Kills Box Office Prediction

Arriving one year after its COVID delay, Halloween Kills stalks theaters October 15th. The 12th film in the nearly 45-year-old franchise, it’s a direct sequel to 2018’s Halloween, which served as a follow-up to 1978’s original (therefore ignoring everything that came in between). Got all that? David Gordon Green returns to direct. So do Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, and, of course, Nick Castle as Michael Myers. Anthony Michael Hall, Thomas Mann, and Kyle Richards are newcomers.

Three Octobers ago, Halloween blew away expectations with a $76 million opening gross and $159 million overall domestically. The debut weekend alone made it the highest earning feature in the series.

Universal Pictures recently made the surprising choice to simultaneously release this in cinemas and on the Peacock streaming service. I’m not so sure how much that hurts its chances in multiplexes (Peacock still isn’t on the level of its better known competitors). However, it doesn’t help.

Reviews for Kills aren’t as laudatory as part 1… err part 2 (or part 11… I suppose). The 2018 effort nabbed 79% on Rotten Tomatoes while this sits at 57%. Critical reaction shouldn’t determine its fate either. I do think the buzz surrounding Curtis’s return has dissipated. This should contribute to a lower premiere and I suspect low to mid 40s is where this ends up.

Halloween Kills opening weekend prediction: $41.2 million

For my The Last Duel prediction, click here:

The Last Duel Box Office Prediction

Halloween Movie Review

The latest Halloween installment has so much reverence for the 1978 original that it has no use for the multiple sequels that followed. It ignores them and that includes the ones where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) appeared. She’s not Michael’s sister. She’s not living under an assumed name while working at a boarding school 20 years after his night of havoc. This Halloween ignores all of that and is a direct sequel from what happened four decades ago.

It cheats a little with that. As you’ll recall, John Carpenter’s classic concluded with Michael Myers apparently still on the loose. Here we learn that he was apprehended and has been in custody for 40 years. His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is long gone with a new doc (Haluk Bilginer) studying him. Michael is about to be transferred to a new facility on the night before his beloved title holiday (maybe picking a different day for that would have been wise). You can correctly guess whether that transfer is successful.

Laurie is still experiencing PTSD from her encounter in ‘78. She’s an alcoholic reclusive double divorcée estranged from daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and grandchild Allyson (Andi Matichak). Her off the beaten path home is a survivalist den. Karen strayed after her mother (wisely it turns out) taught her how to take down a monster. Michael’s breakout session provides the chance.

David Gordon Green directs and shares co-writing duties with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley. They sprinkle the screenplay with nods to part one both large and small. This reimagining recognizes that providing Michael a lot of back story isn’t needed, as the sequels eventually did to a ridiculous degree. He’s The Shape… an unstoppable machine who perhaps cannot be taken out. Nick Castle, who donned the infamous mask 40 years back, returns. Carpenter is around as well – providing the iconic music.

Halloween is effective in spurts. It takes some time to get its motor running while the original was lean and mean. Some of Michael’s kills are fine examples of blunt force creativity. Curtis clearly loves the role of Laurie and she has a few memorable moments as a now badass grandma. She’s not just an unwilling victim anymore. Laurie wants Michael to escape so she can finish him off and that’s a welcome touch.

Yet in all honesty, the 2018 edition never rises too much above the level of the first sequel in 1981. It continues the story from the greatest slasher ever in a serviceable, sometimes scary, and far more spotty way. Of course, I never expected this to match what came with Carpenter’s low-budget vision. Perhaps I hoped it would have a little more running time where it came closer.

**1/2 (out of four)

 

Halloween Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (10/12/18): A week before its premiere, I’m revising my estimate up from $67.2 million to $75.4 million

Next weekend, the latest Halloween entry arrives in theaters and this one does so with a twist. While this is the 11th installment in the 40-year-old franchise, it ignores everything that happened in parts 2-10 and serves as a direct sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter classic. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode with Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers) donning the mask once again. David Gordon Green, known for pics as varied as Pineapple Express and last year’s Boston Marathon drama Stronger, directs and is co-writer along with comedic actor Danny McBride. Blumhouse Productions is behind this and they have proven themselves as masters of making low-budget horror flicks hugely profitable ventures (the price tag is only a reported $10 million). Costars include Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, and Will Patton.

This is actually Curtis’s fifth time playing her iconic character when including Halloween II, 1998’s Halloween: H20, and Halloween: Resurrection. Just pay no mind to anything that happened to her in those follow-ups. The release date timed for the actual holiday and the return of the series best known player has created some serious buzz. So did its screening at the Toronto Film Festival where it premiered to solid reviews (Rotten Tomatoes is currently at 85%).

Add all that up and Halloween appears primed to scare up big business. The current record holder for biggest horror debut of all time belongs to last year’s It at $123 million and that mark seems unattainable. However, this seems poised to top 2018’s The Nun, which premiered with $53 million. I believe a mid 70s gross is where Laurie and Michael will stake their claim, which would give it the second highest October debut behind Venom. 

Halloween opening weekend prediction: $75.4 million

Oscar Watch: Stronger

The Toronto Film Festival is underway and that means a fresh round of Oscar Watch posts hitting the blog after Venice and Telluride provided their own.

Last night, David Gordon Green’s Stronger screened. It tells the true story of Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs during the Boston Marathon bombing with Jake Gyllenhaal playing him. Early reviews have been positive yet it probably won’t factor into the Picture or Director races.

Gyllenhaal is a different story. His performance has been praised and it would not be surprising if he landed his first nod for Best Actor (he did get a Supporting Actor nomination for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain). Additionally, the Actor race seems somewhat light at press time and the voters could make up for other nominations Gyllenhaal could have received (Nightcrawler anyone?).

Costar Tatiana Maslany could also find herself in discussion for a Supporting Actress nod over her costar Miranda Richardson.

Bottom line: Toronto has bolstered the chances for Gyllenhaal to be among the five finalists for Best Actor.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Our Brand Is Crisis Box Office Prediction

In her first live action role since her Oscar nominated turn in box office bonanza Gravity, Sandra Bullock headlines the comedic drama and political pic Our Brand Is Crisis, out next weekend. Supporting players include Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, and Ann Dowd. From the producers of Argo (Grant Heslov and Bullock’s Gravity costar George Clooney) and director David Gordon Green, Crisis was once looked at as a potential awards contender until it screened at the film festival circuit. Its mixed reviews put it at just 40% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Even Bullock’s legitimate star power may not save this from being a mediocre performer. Political movies are a tough sell generally, especially without critics praising it. Only positive buzz could turn this into a hit and it’s just not there. I believe Crisis may struggle to reach double digits and disappear rather quickly.

Our Brand Is Crisis opening weekend prediction: $7.8 million

For my Burnt prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/10/22/burnt-box-office-prediction/

For my Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/10/22/scouts-guide-to-the-zombie-apocalypse-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Our Brand Is Crisis

On the last two occasions that Sandra Bullock has headlined a picture with dramatic elements, it’s resulted in a 2009 Oscar win for The Blind Side and a 2013 nomination for Gravity. Therefore, it is no surprise that her upcoming comedic drama Our Brand Is Crisis (out October 30) was garnering talk of a third nomination.

However, its screening at the Toronto Film Festival has mostly muted that chatter. The film, in which Bullock plays a political operative assigned to help a struggling Bolivian president win reelection, was met with mixed word of mouth at the festival. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at just 44% currently. While her performance has been received well, readers of this blog may be familiar with the recent theme of Best Actress being very crowded this year. That will likely leave Bullock on the outside looking in. In fact, one of the category front runners is Cate Blanchett for Carol, whose winning role in Blue Jasmine probably kept Bullock from a second gold statue. Costars including Billy Bob Thornton and Ann Dowd also shouldn’t be a factor and the picture itself has virtually zero hope in the big race.

Once again, that important festival in Canada has eliminated another Oscar hopeful from the mix. Look for more Oscar Watch posts following the same theme on the blog.