Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway Box Office Prediction

After hopping around the release calendar at least half a dozen times due to COVID-19 delays, the hybrid live-action/animated comedic adventure Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway hits theaters June 11. Will Gluck returns to direct with James Corden again voicing the title character and Margot Robbie reprising her behind the mic work as Flopsy. Live-action participants include Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, and David Oyelowo. Elizabeth Debicki, Aimee Horne, Sia, and Sam Neill are among the voice cast.

In 2018, the first Rabbit premiered on the high end of expectations with $25 million and legged out nicely to a $115 overall domestic haul. Part 2 shouldn’t fall too far off that mark, but I do believe it’ll have trouble reaching that number. This won’t have anything to do with reviews. The 2018 pic had a mixed critical reaction with 63% on Rotten Tomatoes while the sequel is currently perched at 71%.

The Runaway has already opened in Australia and the United Kingdom to decent results. More than three years after the original, there could be a falloff of some youngsters not clamoring to see the followup. That said, a gross of $20 million is feasible. I’ll put it a few million below that figure though.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway opening weekend prediction: $15.9 million

For my In the Heights prediction, click here:

Oscar History: 2014

Six years ago in Oscar history began an impressive two year run for filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Birdman emerging as the big winner of the evening. The film took Best Picture and Director over its major competitor – Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. This was a ceremony in which the largest category did have some suspense. Birdman took the prize over the aforementioned Boyhood and six other pics: American Sniper (the year’s top grosser), The Grand Budapest Hotel (marking Wes Anderson’s first and only Picture nominee), The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. 

In this blogger’s perfect world, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler would have been recognized. It was my favorite movie of that year so get used to seeing it pop up in this post. Other notable selections from 2014 left on the cutting room floor: David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. 

Mr. Miller did have the notable distinction of being nominated for Best Director despite his work not showing up in Best Picture (very rare these days). As mentioned, Inarritu took the gold over Miller as well as Linklater, Anderson, and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game). Gilroy, Fincher, and Joon-ho might have warranted consideration in my view as well as Chazelle’s bravura debut in Whiplash. 

One could argue that Nightcrawler isn’t your prototypical Picture contender. However, Jake Gyllenhaal being left out of the five Actor contenders stands as one of the noteworthy snubs in recent history. It was Eddie Redmayne emerging victorious for The Theory of Everything over his closest competitor Michael Keaton (Birdman). Other nominees: the three C’s of Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, picking up his third nomination in a row), and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game).

There is a voluminous list of solid performances beyond just Gyllenhaal’s that were left wanting. It includes Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), David Oyelowo (Selma), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), and Miles Teller (Whiplash).

In Best Actress, Julianne Moore triumphed for Still Alice after four previous nominations without a win. She took the honor over Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Moore’s selection was one of the easiest to project as she’d been a sturdy frontrunner all season.

Looking back, how about Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow? Its action genre trappings probably prevented consideration, but she might have made my quintet. Amy Adams won the Golden Globe for Actress in Musical/Comedy, but missed here.

Another easy (and absolutely deserved) winner was J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor for Whiplash over Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher).

I will yet again mention Nightcrawler as I might have considered Riz Ahmed. There’s also Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice.

Boyhood nabbed its major race victory in Supporting Actress with Patricia Arquette. Other nominees were Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), and the always in contention Meryl Streep for Into the Woods.

As for others, I’ll start with (surprise) Rene Russo in Nightcrawler. Others include both Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent in addition to Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice).

My Oscar History will continue soon with 2015 as Mr. Inarritu will dominate the director race yet again while the Academy chose to spotlight something in Best Picture!

Chaos Walking Box Office Prediction

The sci-fi adventure Chaos Walking, on its surface, seems to have a lot going for it. It’s based on a well regarded series of YA novels by Patrick Ness (who cowrote the screenplay). Doug Liman, maker of successful pics like The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Edge of Tomorrow, directs. The two stars are instantly recognizable faces from recent franchises blockbusters: Daisy Ridley (Rey from Star Wars) and Tom Holland (the current Spider-Man). And Lionsgate ponied up a reported $125 million to make it.

Yet closer inspection reveals a different story as it opens next Friday in multiplexes. Chaos was originally slated for release all the way back in pre-COVID March 2019. Poor test screenings allegedly forced reshoots which were overseen by Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez. The pandemic has shifted the drop date once again from January of this year to early March.

Now it appears the high budget Walking is limping its way into theaters in already uncertain times. In addition to its stars, the supporting cast includes Mads Mikkelsen, Demian Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, and David Oyelowo. I’m not even confident that the awareness level of its existence is enough to bring in the intended audience. This has been looked at as a potential major flop for some time and I don’t foresee this exceeding any expectations upon release.

Chaos Walking opening weekend prediction: $3.9 million

For my Raya and the Last Dragon prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: The Midnight Sky

Netflix’s slew of December releases that are potential Oscar contenders continues with George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky. The sci-fi drama stars its director as an Arctic scientist attempting to prevent a group of astronauts from their return to Earth due to environmental hazards. The roughly $100 million budgeted pic hits theaters in a limited fashion this Friday though most viewers will see it when it materializes on the streaming service on December 23rd. Costars include Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir, and Caoilinn Springall.

The review embargo lifted today and it is most certainly a mixed bag. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is at only 54%. Numerous critics have brought up recent and similar genre fare in comparison, including Gravity (which also featured Clooney), Interstellar, The Martian, and Ad Astra. Several of them say that Sky doesn’t measure up.

It has been 15 years since Clooney’s work behind the camera has significantly attracted Oscar attention with Good Night, and Good Luck. His last two directorial efforts, The Monuments Men and Suburbicon, were both critical and commercial disappointments. With a number of write-ups skewing so-so or even negative, it’s hard to envision Sky aiming for a Picture nod or for any of the actors involved to contend.

On the other hand, reviews do suggest this could be a factor in some technical races. Most notable of them is Visual Effects, Production Design, and Sound. There is also plenty of praise for the Original Score by Alexandre Desplat, a two-time winner for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water. 

Bottom line: it will be a struggle for The Midnight Sky to reach the attention of voters in the major races, but it could still end up with close to a handful of nominations. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Don’t Let Go Box Office Prediction

Blumhouse Productions hopes to have a sleeper hit on their hands over Labor Day weekend with Don’t Let Go. The supernatural thriller finds David Oyelowo attempting to retroactively prevent the death of loved ones. Jacob Aaron Estes directs with a supporting cast including Storm Reid, Bryon Mann, Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina, and Brian Tyree Henry.

The pic premiered eight months ago at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reaction. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is at 47%. That’s not a great number to generate buzz and Go appears to be lacking it. While it’s a little risky to underestimate Blumhouse, the Labor Day release date isn’t exactly a vote of confidence.

I’ll say this doesn’t manage to achieve double digits over the four day holiday weekend. Mid single digits is possibly where this goes.

Don’t Let Go opening weekend prediction: $4.5 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

Gringo Box Office Prediction

Gringo is action comedy laced with marijuana humor and it hits theaters next weekend. The film marks the directorial debut of Nash Edgerton (previously known for being a stunt coordinator). The cast includes David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Nash’s brother Joel Edgerton, Thandie Newton, Amanda Seyfried, Sharlto Copley, and the King of Pop’s daughter Paris Jackson.

Distributed by Amazon Studios and STX Entertainment, I’m having trouble envisioning much of an audience for it. The cast probably isn’t enough to get moviegoers too interested (save for maybe Theron) and the trailers and TV spots might not do enough to keep this from being a home viewing experience.

Gringo is rolling out on approximately 2400 screens (higher than I would have anticipated), but I’ll predict it struggles mightily to break through to American audiences.

Gringo opening weekend prediction: $3.1 million

For my A Wrinkle in Time prediction, click here:

For my The Hurricane Heist prediction, click here:

For my The Strangers: Prey at Night prediction, click here:

A Most Violent Year Movie Review

JC Chandor’s A Most Violent Year finds our central character succeeding and struggling to achieve the American dream. It is a journey hampered by time, place, and competition. It is one helped by his own drive and tireless ambition and a genuine belief that he is always attempting to do the right thing.

That person is Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) circa New York City 1981. He owns Standard Heating Oil Company and he’s already taken it from a small operation to a growing one. The time and place troubles he faces is a metropolis plagued by high crime rates. His trucks are frequently being hijacked. The competition troubles comes from his suspicions that his rivals are responsible. And that attempting to always do the right thing business doesn’t mean an ambitious District Attorney (David Oyelowo) isn’t breathing down his neck.

Abel’s professional endeavors are assisted by two key individuals: his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) and his attorney (Albert Brooks) who seems to rarely give him good news. Anna is a fascinating character and Chastain’s performance only accentuates her. We are told she comes from a known family with a Brooklyn gangster father. We see flashes of ruthlessness in her that likely came from that upbringing. There are times when you wonder if Abel’s burgeoning yet troubled enterprise would run more smoothly (and probably with more bloodshed involved) if she were CEO.

We’ve seen plenty of crime dramas where our subject is a bad guy attempting to go good. Abel is more of a protagonist trying not to turn antagonist. Isaac is terrific. There are absolutely times where his acting reminds us of Pacino in the first Godfather. He’s a man surrounded by corruption, but with a moral compass that allows him to sleep at night.

For a movie called A Most Violent Year, we see little of it. A subplot involving one of Abel’s drivers (Elyes Gabel) provides some suspenseful and unexpected moments. There is thematically nothing very new here, but I welcomed this Sidney Lumet influenced character study and the first rate acting. Its early 80s NYC vibe doesn’t feel retro. More pleasingly, Year just feels like it could have made in 1981 when we would have watched it in old school VHS glory.

*** (out of four)

Queen of Katwe Box Office Prediction

Most biographical sports films focus on football or boxing in recent years, but Disney changes it up next weekend with The Queen of Katwe. The pic tells the true-life tale of Ugandan chess master Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga). Mira Nair directs with a cast including David Oyelowo and recent Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Katwe screened at the Toronto Film Festival to positive critical reaction (it’s at 88% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). At one time, this was looked at as a potential awards hopeful yet that has been tampered down a bit (Nyong’o could be a factor in Supporting Actress, but probably not). The film comes with a rather minor $15 million budget.

Disney’s best hope is for a decent opening followed by long legs if audiences love what they see. Opening on a relatively small 1252 screens, expectations aren’t too high and I’ll predict this manages to reach $5 million for its start.

Queen of Katwe opening weekend prediction: $5 million

For my Deepwater Horizon prediction, click here:

For my Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children prediction, click here:

For my Masterminds prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: A United Kingdom

Amma Asante’s interracial romantic drama A United Kingdom has screened at the Toronto Film Festival over the weekend. The pic tells the true life story of the relationship between an African prince (David Oyelowo) and a London woman (Rosamund Pike) some seven decades ago.

Initial critical reaction has mostly been positive, but not to the level where Academy attention seems realistic. The lead performers have been on the radar screen of Oscar voters just two years ago when Pike nabbed a nomination for Gone Girl and Oyelowo surprisingly missed out on a nod for Selma.

If Kingdom somehow breaks through at the box office, the dynamic could change. However, that looks doubtful at this juncture. In fact, awards voters are far more likely to turn their attention to Jeff Nichols’ Loving, another mixed race drama that has received more buzz.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue as more Toronto hopefuls screen…

2016 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Day #4 of my first 2016 Oscar predictions brings us to Best Actor and in the past two years, even these incredibly early predictions yielded positive results. My 2014 late August/early September Actor predictions gave us four of the five nominees and in 2015 – three.

We start with Michael Keaton. He just missed out on a win in 2014 for Birdman and has had the distinction of appearing in the last two Best Picture winners (Birdman, Spotlight). It’s likely he’ll receive buzz for this December’s The Founder, in which he plays Ray Kroc – inventor of the McDonald’s franchise.

Denzel Washington both stars and directs in Fences, based on an acclaimed play. It’s been 15 years since he won for Training Day and it could be time to hear his name called again.

Casey Affleck has received raves for Manchester by the Sea. Same goes for Joel Edgerton in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Readers of the previous posts in the Supporting races know that Moonlight looks to make some noise this season and that could extend to its star Trevante Rhodes.

Same goes for La La Land, which could mean a second nomination (ten years after Half Nelson) for Ryan Gosling. There’s Joe Alwyn in the title role of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the latest from double Oscar winner Ang Lee. Woody Harrelson plays the 36th President in LBJ. Double Oscar winner Tom Hanks is Sully. And so on and so on (I’ve even listed Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool as a possibility… even though it’s extremely unlikely).

This finally brings us to Nate Parker, director, writer, and star of The Birth of a Nation, which received raves on the festival circuit earlier this year. It is impossible to know right now how his recent publicity due to a years old rape charge (in which he acquitted)  and the suicide of the alleged victim plays out in the minds of voters. For now, I do not have him being nominated. Whether that’s because of the serious competition or other reasons is a factor that is sure to be discussed as the nominations draw closer.

Here’s how I have this initial round shaking out:


Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Joel Edgerton, Loving

Michael Keaton, The Founder

Denzel Washington, Fences

Other Possibilities:

Ben Affleck, Live by Night

Bryan Cranston, Wakefield

Colin Farrell, The Lobster

Andrew Garfield, Silence

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals

Tom Hanks, Sully

Woody Harrelson, LBJ

Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake

Joseph Gordon Levitt, Snowden

Matthew McConaughey, Gold

David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom

Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation

Dev Patel, Lion

Brad Pitt, Allied

Chris Pratt, Passengers

Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight

Michael Shannon, Midnight Special

Will Smith, Collateral Beauty

Miles Teller, Bleed for This

We’ll hit Best Director tomorrow and then Best Picture!