Oscar Predictions: The Flash

The twelve pictures that have made up the DC Extended Universe in the past decade has resulted in a grand total of one nomination at the Oscars. That honor belongs to Suicide Squad in 2016 for Makeup and Hairstyling and it won. Other DCEU titles like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and 2021’s The Suicide Squad couldn’t manage Visual Effects or Sound or any other mentions.

Could that change with The Flash? Opening June 16th, the superhero tale finally hits screens after multiples delays and lots of unflattering news about its lead Ezra Miller. On the other hand, audiences could be stoked to see the returns of Ben Affleck and especially Michael Keaton as Batman. Sasha Calle costars as Supergirl with Michael Shannon reprising his role as General Zod from Man of Steel. Andy Muschietti, best known for helming the two It chapters, directs.

The review embargo lapsed today and the result thus far is 73%. That’s fine, but plenty of the write-ups are of the mixed variety. It’s nostalgic overtones are being praised and criticized. I could see this contending for Visual Effects and probably that race only. Yet given the DCEU track record, I wouldn’t want to double down on it making the cut. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Shazam! Fury of the Gods Review

For about the first hour of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the stakes feel about as high as ordering a cheesesteak. I guess given the setting of Philly, maybe that’s something to be taken seriously. In the second half, the Phillies Stadium and I assume the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are in danger of being decimated Independence Day style (or countless comic book action flicks).

With nearly the entire team returning including director David F. Sandberg, part 2 of the DC Comics property is unwieldy in its tone. The happy-go-lucky vibe of Shazam! and Zachary Levi’s enjoyable performance made it worth a view. It was also, to be fair, mostly forgettable and clearly worked better as a one-off.

You may recall (or not) that high schooler Billy Batson (Asher Angel) received the abilities of Shazam from Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the 2019 original. This gave him the form of Levi’s red caped superhero yet it did not grant him wisdom beyond his teenage mind. Billy/Shazam still managed to outwit Mark Strong’s mad scientist with the help of his foster care siblings who were also soon bestowed with superhuman strengths. That includes brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer as younger and Adam Brody in grownup spandex form) and he has a unique love interest

Anne (Rachel Zegler from West Side Story) is the new girl at school who looks amazing for her age. She’s actually Anthea, the centuries old daughter of Greek god Atlas. Her other sisters are Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and they are determined to reclaim powers taken from them ages ago. The Daughters of Atlas look far apart in age. Lucy Liu’s middle child is the Jan Brady of this bunch as she’s got the most up her sleeve. Young Anne (she’s only 6000 it’s revealed) is the sweet one who might not be bent on world destruction after all. And despite Mirren’s presence, the trio’s motivations aren’t particularly spellbinding. Once again we have a comic book adaptation where the villains are a weakness. The MCU and this DCEU are frequent offenders.

Four years ago, it was easier to root for Levi’s charming underdog of a title character. Gods just never clicks and average CG and action sequences keep the mediocrity intact. Standard wizardry is ordered in this follow-up. The result is that I could have done witout it (spelling error intended, Philadelphians).

** (out of four)

Fast X Box Office Prediction

Heroes from the MCU and DCEU join the large Furious family when Fast X speeds into multiplexes on May 19th. The tenth official feature in the franchise (11th counting spin-off Hobbs & Shaw) arrives less than two years behind F9. Those newcomers to the fold are Captain Marvel Brie Larson and Aquaman Jason Momoa. Another fresh face to the series is director Louis Letterier, best known for The Transporter and Now You See Me. The many returnees include Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Jason Statham, Sung Kang, Scott Eastwood, and Charlize Theron. Rita Moreno also joins the party.

Fast X is the penultimate pic with the (allegedly) final installment hitting in 2025. In 2015, Furious 7 had the high dollar peak when it premiered with $147 million and an eventual $353 domestic gross. Part of that franchise best performance was because it paid tribute to the late Paul Walker (who co-headlined with Diesel in four previous entries). In 2017, The Fate of the Furious started with $98 million and ended with $225 million. Predecessor F9 from 2021 managed $70 million out of the gate and $173 million overall.

One could argue that F9 was hindered two summers ago by the COVID pandemic. That could be proven if X is marked by a larger opening. My hunch is that it’ll kick off on pace with it and maybe even a little behind. That would give it the lowest series beginning (excluding the $60 million from Hobbs & Shaw) since 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Toyko Drift.

Fast X opening weekend prediction: $67.8 million

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Box Office Prediction

Nearly three months after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania couldn’t quite match expectations at the box office, another MCU threequel hopes to exceed them. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives six years after the second volume with James Gunn returning to direct (he has since moved to the DCEU as their head creative honcho). Back in physical and voiceover form are Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debcki, and Sylvester Stallone. Will Poulter, Chukwudi Iwuji, and Maria Bakalova are newbies to the franchise. This is the second entry in Marvel’s Phase Five and 32nd feature overall.

2014’s Guardians was a critical and commercial smash that made $94 million for its start with a $333 million eventual domestic take. The goodwill was evident when Vol. 2 kicked off summer 2017 with a $146 million premiere and $389 million overall.

Early buzz is that tracking for the third adventure has been underwhelming. It should certainly surpass the $106 million that Quantumania opened at. Matching the second Guardian‘s haul (or the $144 million that Thor: Love and Thunder made last July) might be more challenging.

If this fails to match what its predecessor accomplished, that would be considered a letdown. I am projecting it will by around $20 million and therefore continue the MCU’s shaky 2023.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opening weekend prediction: $125.3 million

For my Love Again prediction, click here:

March 31-April 2 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (03/29): I am significantly revising my His Only Son estimate from $6.1M to $3.9M. That puts it in sixth instead of third.

There could be a photo finish at this weekend’s box office between the premiere of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and second frame of John Wick: Chapter 4 after it managed a franchise best premiere. Other than Thieves, the faith-based drama His Only Son also rises in multiplexes. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both newbies here:

While Dungeons certainly has a rabid fanbase and reviews are quite strong, I do wonder how limited its potential is with non-fans who may have zero interest. If this hit $40 million, I wouldn’t be surprised. Same goes for $25 million. That puts me in the middle.

Wick delivered the aforementioned series peak for Keanu and company (more on that below). If the sophomore frame dip is similar to predecessor John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, it might find itself just behind Dungeons in second. I’m expecting a close battle.

His Only Son, like other titles in its genre, could outdo expectations just as Jesus Revolution did a few weeks ago. My mid single digits projections put it in third with sequels Creed III, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and Scream VI all in close proximity in the 4-6 slots.

Here’s how I envision it:

1. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Predicted Gross: $32.7 million

2. John Wick: Chapter 4

Predicted Gross: $31.5 million

3. Creed III

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million

4. Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million

5. Scream VI

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

6. His Only Son

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

Box Office Results (March 24-26)

There was little doubt that John Wick: Chapter 4 would continue each entry improving upon the opening of the other. The question was by how much. With the best reviews of the quartet, 4 got off to a $73.8 million start. That’s well beyond the $56 million achieved by the third chapter. I went on the highest end of anticipated ranges with $85.5 million. It didn’t get there, but this is a terrific result.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods plummeted 69% in weekend #2 with $9.7 million. I was more generous at $12.9 million. The DCEU sequel (with $45 million) has made less in 10 days than its 2019 predecessor made in its first three. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. This is a bomb that may struggle to make $75 million domestically.

Creed III was third with $8.3 million, in line with $8.8 million take for $140 million after four weeks.

Scream VI was fourth and also did $8.3 million (I predicted a little more at $9.4 million). The horror sequel is at $89 million as it slashes to $100 million plus.

Finally, 65 rounded out the top five with $3.2 million (I said $3 million) for a weak $27 million after three weeks.

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

BUT in the meantime – check out my podcast on your favorite place to get podcasts. Simply search for Movies at the Speed of Speculation for your listening pleasure!

March 24-26 Box Office Predictions

John Wick: Chapter 4 is set to easily achieve a franchise best record this weekend. It’s the only new wide release burning up the screens and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

When I did my initial projection last week, I had Keanu and company hitting close to $70 million. Sizzling buzz now has me projecting in the mid 80s for a series that keeps growing financially with each entry.

The rest of the top 5 will be holdovers. Shazam! Fury of the Gods got off to a middling start (more on that below) and it should fall a bit further than the 54% decline of its predecessor in 2019.

It could be a close call for #3 between Scream VI (which I have dipping in the mid 40s) and Creed III (which could see a lower 40s fall). 65 looks to round out the high five.

Here’s how I see it shaking out:

1. John Wick: Chapter 4

Predicted Gross: $85.5 million

2. Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Predicted Gross: $12.9 million

3. Scream VI

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

4. Creed III

Predicted Gross: $8.8 million

5. 65

Predicted Gross: $3 million

Box Office Results (March 17-19)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods could’ve used Irish luck or any other type as it came nowhere near the $53 million that its predecessor debuted at. The DCEU sequel made $30.1 million. While it managed to barely top my $27.9 million call, this is a subpar start to be kind. On the heels of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania not matching expectations, there seems to be some superhero fatigue. With a B+ Cinemascore (compared to part 1’s “A”), look for this to suffer substantial declines in the weeks ahead.

Scream VI was second after a franchise high opening with $17.3 million. That’s right on pace with my $17.6 million forecast for a ten-day haul of $75 million (just below the $81 million that #5 earned in total stateside).

Creed III was third with $15.3 million (I said $16.5 million) for a three-week tally of $127 million. That puts it beyond the $115 million that part II made overall.

65 was fourth with $5.8 million, a smidge ahead of my $4.8 million projection. Adam Driver’s dino adventure stands at a muted $22 million thus far.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania rounded out the top five with $4.2 million, in line with my $4.3 million prediction. Total is $205 million.

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

Oscar Predictions: Shazam! Fury of the Gods

When the DCEU superhero flick Shazam! landed in 2019, it did so with a 90% Rotten Tomatoes score and an A Cinemascore rating. It did not generate any awards attention and that includes tech races like Visual Effects where this genre often nabs spots. However, it’s the MCU usually getting those noms and not their rival DC.

Director David F. Sandberg and star Zachary Levi reunite for Shazam! Fury of the Gods this Friday. Early reviews suggest it is a step down from its predecessor and the RT score is 70%. Prognosticators are projecting the box office will also fall short of the original from four years ago.

As far as awards prospects, the call is simple. Lightning won’t strike again with this franchise. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

March 17-19 Box Office Predictions

**Blogger’s Update (03/16): My Shazam! estimate continues to fall as I’m taking it down from $32.9M to $27.9M. Also bumping Scream VI from $16.6 to $17.6M and Creed III from $15.4M to $16.5M

Shazam! Fury of the Gods will keep the run of sequels in first place going at the box office, but it could deliver a so-so start. The DCEU follow-up to 2019’s original is the only wide release of the weekend and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Zachary Levi’s superhero hopes to top the $53 million earned by its predecessor four years ago. I have it falling about $10 million shy of that mark in the low 40s which would be considered a letdown. This is especially true considering the recent franchise best starts for the Creed and Scream series. ***Blogger’s Update (03/15): Two days before its premiere, I have significantly lowered my estimate from $42.9M to $32.9M

Speaking of, it could be a close race for #2 between Scream VI and Creed III. The former slashed it way to a terrific debut (more on that below). Given its genre, a hefty sophomore decline is likely while Creed III may not suffer a steep drop.

A ginormous fall will probably greet 65 after the premiere. Adam Driver’s battle with dinosaurs managed only a C+ Cinemascore grade which means word-of-mouth may cause a second weekend percentage plummet close to its title number. It should be in a tight battle with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania for fourth position.

Here’s how I envision that top 5 looking:

1. Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Predicted Gross: $27.9 million

2. Scream VI

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

3. Creed III

Predicted Gross: $16.5 million

4. 65

Predicted Gross: $4.8 million

5. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million

Box Office Results (March 10-12)

Scream VI needed to pass the $34 million earned by Scream 3 in 2000 to achieve the franchise’s high mark. It did so easily with $44.4 million, just edging my $42.6 million call. With a B+ Cinemascore (same as last year’s Scream which was Scream 5 and just not called that), audiences are liking what they’re seeing. As mentioned, it should still see a dip in the high 50s to low 60s range.

Creed III fell a respectable 53% to second with $27.2 million, punching past my $25 million take. The threequel from director and star Michael B. Jordan has amassed $101 million in ten days on its way to becoming the largest earner of the trilogy.

65 was third with $12.3 million. While that beats my $10.7 million prediction, that’s a meager beginning considering its reported large budget. Per above, expect this to become extinct quickly.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was fourth with $7.1 million compared to my $6.5 million estimate. The MCU adventure is approaching the double century club at $198 million. It might barely outpace its predecessor from 2018.

Cocaine Bear rounded out the top five with $6.2 million. My prediction? $6.2 million! The three-week total is $51 million.

Sports comedy Champions with Woody Harrelson kicked off in sixth with a blah $5.1 million. I said it would make… $5.1 million! The good news is its A Cinemascore and it will hope for small percentage losses in the frames ahead.

Finally, Jesus Revolution was seventh with $5.1 million and I said… (you guessed it!) $5.1 million. The three-week gross is $39 million.

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

Shazam! Fury of the Gods Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Update (03/16): My Shazam! estimate continues to fall as I’m taking it down from $32.9M to $27.9M.

Blogger’s Update (03/15): Two days before its premiere, I’m significantly lowering my estimate from $42.9M to $32.9M

Arriving four years after its predecessor was a solid hit with critics and audiences, Shazam! Fury of the Gods hopes for box office luck and plenty o’ green beginning March 17th. The DCEU title finds Zachary Levi returning to the superhero role with Asher Angel (as alter ego Billy Batson), Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, and Djimon Hounsou back from the 2019 original. Newcomers to the franchise include Rachel Zegler, Lucy Liu, Meagan Good, and Helen Mirren. David F. Sandberg is again in the directorial chair.

Shazam! managed to slightly exceed its forecasts when it earned $53 million in its premiere with a $140 million eventual gross. Last fall’s spin-off Black Adam climbed with $67 million out of the gate and a $168 million domestic haul (the presence of Dwayne Johnson provided an assist).

Early tracking last week indicated potential trouble for the sequel. Some estimates had Fury as low as $35 million. That seems unlikely. In 2023, sequels are managing to build upon previous installments. Creed III and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania are recent examples.

That said, Ant-Man has not been a runaway success compared to expectations. Moviegoers could be experiencing a little sequelitis and comic book adaptation fatigue by the time this hits. And while Shazam! was well-received, I wouldn’t say it’s beloved (similar to Ant-Man).

I’ll project that this doesn’t match what part 1 accomplished and fall about $10 million under it.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods opening weekend prediction: $27.9 million (UPDATED PER ABOVE)

Black Adam Review

In 1993, NBA superstar Charles Barkley famously told the world in a commercial that he was not a role model. Nearly three decades later, cinematic superstar Dwayne Johnson tells us repeatedly in Black Adam that he is not a hero. This latest offering from the DC Extended Universe kind of has a mid 90s vibe when it comes to comic book adaptations. That was a weak time for the genre prior to its explosion in the 21st century. As far as quality, this has more in common with 1996’s Kazaam, which starred Barkley’s Inside the NBA colleague Shaquille O’Neal. Adam may have a connection to 2019’s Shazam!, but shares little of its entertainment value.

A prologue in 2600 B.C. introduces us to the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq. A young boy enslaved by an evil ruler chooses to take a stand against the oppression (even as his elders discourage it). He is rewarded by the Council of Wizards – hence that Shazam! tie-in as he’s given the immense powers of that character.

Flash forward 5000 years and Kahndaq is under a different kind of oppression from a crime syndicated known as Intergang. Archeologist Adrianna (Sarah Shahi) is in search of the Crown of Sabbac, which turns its wearer into a demonic being. Intergang is looking for it as well. When they clash, she manages to awaken Teth-Adam. He’s believed to be that heroic rebel from 50 centuries ago. Dwayne Johnson is the awoken being. Adam insists that’s he not a hero and keeps saying it.

The presence of this superhuman relic attracts the attention of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who you may remember as The Suicide Squad‘s recruiter. Adam is looked at as a potential threat. The Squad doesn’t intervene. Neither does Superman or Batman or The Flash (though they’re glimpsed on the bedroom wall of Adrianna’s teenage son). Instead the Justice Society books passage to Kahndaq to investigate just how dangerous Adam is. Pierce Brosnan is the clairvoyant Doctor Fate, Aldis Hodge is Hawkman, Noah Centineo plays Atom Smasher (think Ant-Man but he can only grow big), and Quintessa Swindell is the twirling Cyclone. If this sounds like the B list of the DC pages, that’s certainly how it feels. That superficiality extends to the villain (Marwan Kenzari), the Intergang leader who dons the devilish crown. He might be more forgettable than Justice League‘s baddie Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and that’s saying a lot.

Jaume Collet-Serra directed Johnson in the pretty enjoyable Jungle Cruise. That collaboration was a better ride than this. Johnson is saddled with a hero (wait… NOT a hero!!!) who’s often a sullen bore. Very little of the actor’s dynamic personality comes through. It breaks through on occasion but not nearly enough. We’re cooking at a low boil. Everything in Black Adam has been done with more pizzazz in other DCEU and especially MCU pictures. Dwayne Johnson (and Tina Turner) are right in this case. We don’t need another hero.

*1/2 (out of four)