Playing with Fire Box Office Prediction

John Cena follows the career path of fellow grappler Dwayne Johnson with the release of Playing with Fire next weekend. The family comedy casts him as a firefighter caring for rambunctious kids along with his coworkers. Andy Fickman directs and the cast includes Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, Brianna Hildebrand, Dennis Haysbert, and Judy Greer.

The Paramount release is essentially taking the studio’s Instant Family slot from last year. That pic scored a fairly decent $14.7 million for its start and legged out to a $67 million domestic gross. Cena hasn’t proven himself to be a player in this genre, however, and I’d say Mark Wahlberg’s star power is a bit brighter.

The best hope for Fire is that it develops small dips in subsequent weekends if word of mouth is solid, but I believe it’ll be fortunate to reach double digits in its premiere.

Playing with Fire opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million

For my Doctor Sleep prediction, click here:

For my Last Christmas prediction, click here:

For my Midway prediction, click here:

Breakthrough Box Office Prediction

Disney is putting their faith over the Easter weekend in Breakthrough, a Christian drama based on the 2017 novel The Impossible. Based on true events, the pic tells the story of a teenager who slips into a frozen lake and his miraculous recovery. Directed by Roxann Dawson in her feature debut, Breakthrough stars Chrissy Metz (of TV’s “This Is Us” fame), Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Marcel Ruiz, and Dennis Haysbert. NBA champion Stephen Curry has an exec producer credit.

This is actually the first 20th Century Fox production that its new owner Disney is distributing. That well publicized partnership could get off to a solid start if faith-based audiences turn out. The holiday timing should certainly work to its advantage.

An obvious comp is Heaven Is for Real from five Easter’s ago. Like Breakthrough, it also premiered on Wednesday. Taking in $22.5 million over the traditional weekend and $29.5 million over the five-day span, Heaven eventually soared to $91 million overall.

I’ll say this falls a bit lower with the caveat that it could achieve similar numbers. My five-day projection puts it a touch below the three-day of Heaven. That could put this at #2 behind The Curse of La Llorona, which deals with religious themes in a drastically different manner.

Breakthrough opening weekend prediction: $16.9 million (Friday to Sunday), $22 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my The Curse of La Llorona prediction, click here:

For my Penguins prediction, click here:

The Dark Tower Movie Review

Stephen King fans have been eagerly awaiting his series of Dark Tower novels arriving on the big screen. Most of his other heralded works have already made it before the cameras and some of them in multiple iterations. The challenge with bringing forth this particular series is said to be the dense nature of its material. And now that we have a cinematic version of The Dark Tower, I can report a number of decisions made in making it happen are indeed dense. That’s definitely not a compliment.

The picture is an abridged and often aimless experience begging for more backstory and clarity. It’s led by uninspired performances and routine shoot-em-up interruptions. Tom Taylor stars as Jake, a New York City preteen who has vivid dreams about a Man in Black trying to destroy Earth and a gunslinger trying to stop him. Jake’s family and friends think he’s coo coo, but the kid has some legit psychic power. There is a Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) otherwise known as Walter and he is trying to take over Earth’s domain and the domains of unseen others. There is a gunslinger (Idris Elba) otherwise known as Roland and he teams up with Jake to stop the apocalypse. They also share some Daddy issues.

What follows is a bit of a head scratcher. The Dark Tower hints at a much larger universe that at least sounds kinda interesting. Yet it’s not shown. It suggests a potentially action packed past for Roland, but that’s it. I get that the idea of the movie is to set up future chapters, but it’s hard to anticipate further ones when the first is so unfulfilling.

Taylor’s lead performance is rather dull. Elba has a physical presence, but there’s no meat on the bones of what should be a far more captivating figure. McConaughey can be a terrific actor, but that’s not what we witness. His Man in Black is meant (I think) to be a scary one. McConaughey doesn’t seem to get that. His level of menace displayed here is about equal to his Lincoln commercial work.

The Dark Tower has a 95 minute length that suggests even its makers knew they had a losing hand. It represents a limp start for a building of worlds. And it’s one that may never seen the light because this fails to get it off the ground.

*1/2 (out of four)

The Dark Tower Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/03): Welp, the revising down continues on the eve of debut to $18.4 million

Blogger’s Note II (07/31): My estimate for The Dark Tower continues to trend downward. I am now revising down to $24.4 million for opening weekend.

Blogger’s Note (07/28): Just a day after posting my $34.6 million estimate, I’m beginning to sour a bit on the opening weekend. I’m revising down to $27.6 million and we’ll see if it continues to trend downward.

Stephen King’s acclaimed book series finally gets the big screen treatment when Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower debuts next weekend. The author eight novels combining elements of science fiction, horror, action, fantasy, and western themes first hit bookshelves 35 years ago, so there’s been decades of anticipation from its fans to see its adaptation. Idris Elba headlines as hero The Gunslinger with Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. Costars include Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Jackie Earle Haley, and Dennis Haysbert.

The release of The Dark Tower represents a bit of Stephen King renaissance at the box office as the long-awaited It opens in September. It’s been a while since two high-profile projects from the legendary writer have been teed up for release. A planned follow-up TV series (with Elba) is planned for later. Tower was produced for a reported $60 million (a relatively modest budget as summer flicks go).

It will be fascinating to see just how devoted the fan base is for this. As I see it, the opening could range anywhere from mid 20s to maybe mid 40s on the high end. Even though it’s not a totally fair comp (though genre mash-up elements are in common), I could see this debuting similarly to 2011’s Cowboys & Aliens, which started with $36 million at the same late July/early August time frame. From that same summer six years ago, Super 8 and its $35 million opening could be the same ballpark as well.

The Dark Tower opening weekend prediction: $18.4 million (REVISED PREDICTION)

For my Detroit prediction, click here:

For my Kidnap prediction, click here:

Fist Fight Box Office Prediction

Ice Cube and Charlie Day headline the comedy Fist Fight, which hits theaters over Presidents Day weekend. A loose remake of the 1987 cult pic Three O’Clock High, costars include Tracy Morgan (in his first film after his auto accident), Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert, and Kumail Nanjiani.

Mr. Cube has had his share of laugh inducing hits and franchises over the years with Barbershop, 21/22 Jump Street, and Ride Along. Day is best known for TV’s “It Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and the Horrible Bosses flicks.

Fight pits Cube as a teacher challenging his fellow educator to a schoolyard brawl. With its simple concept, known stars in the genre, and really zero competition when it comes to comedies (save for Lego Batman I suppose), I’ll predict this manages a mid 20s four day debut. It could even fight for the highest opening among the two others newbies (The Great Wall, A Cure for Wellness) over the holiday weekend.

Fist Fight opening weekend prediction: $25.1 million

For my The Great Wall prediction, click here:

For my A Cure for Wellness prediction, click here:

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Box Office Prediction

Nearly ten years after its predecessor performed solidly at the box office, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For makes it theatrical debut Friday. Original directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are back behind the camera, based on Miller’s work from his acclaimed graphic novel. Several stars of the 2005 pic return – including Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe and Jaime King. Newcomers to the sequel include Joseph Gordon Levitt, Josh Brolin, Lady Gaga, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Lloyd, Ray Liotta, and Jeremy Piven.

It was the spring of 2005 when Sin City did great business of the gate domestically with $29 million. However, it would suffer large declines in subsequent weekends and its final gross was a respectable $74 million. The big question is whether too much time has passed for audiences to really be clamoring for a sequel?

I have my doubts. The original was mostly well-received and there will be some who are excited to see it (myself included). However, the near decade long wait makes it unlikely that Dame will approach the performance of the first. I would be surprised if it exceeds $25 million in its debut and believe a high teens to low 20s debut is more likely.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For opening weekend prediction: $20.8 million

For my If I Stay prediction, click here:

For my When the Game Stands Tall prediction, click here:

The Insane History of U.S. Presidents on 24

SPOILER ALERT: If you are not caught up watching the current season of “24: Live Another Day”, you should probably go ahead and skip this post until you are. If caught up, enjoy!

OK, folks. I realize no one watches the show “24” for its realism and, if you do, I’m sorry. I am an unabashed huge fan of the Kiefer Sutherland program. When the show returned for an abbreviated season after four years off the air, I was highly skeptical. However, I’ll be damned if “Live Another Day” doesn’t incorporate everything great about the show and I’ve had a blast viewing it.

Events that took place in the latest episode struck me and it led me on a research mission of the show’s history. My suspicions were confirmed through my findings. On this TV program, being the President of the United States is pretty much the Worst. Job. Ever.

Don’t believe me? Let’s examine the evidence. If you look into the amount of time that has lapsed between the day that occurred in Season 1 and the day that’s currently happening this season, it spans a time period of 17 1/2 years. In real life time, that takes us back to the beginning of 1997 and a grand total of three U.S. Presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama.

On “24”? There have been eleven (yes, ELEVEN) POTUS’s in that same time frame. That means the average President on the show serves less than two years in a real life era where we’ve had four of our last five commander-in-chiefs serve the full eight years.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

It’s important to remember that in Season 1 of “24”, eventual POTUS David Palmer was running for President. We are never informed as an audience who the current POTUS is at that time, but that unnamed individual constitutes the program’s first President.

Of course, when we arrive at the events of Season 2, Democrat David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) is the President and that continues through Season 3. At the end of that season, Palmer’s reelection bid is thwarted and he decides against seeking a second term. Palmer is POTUS #2.

When we get to the fourth season, his Republican opponent John Keeler (Geoff Pierson) is POTUS #3. He spends the season not being seen much as he’s traveling on Air Force One. That is until the plane is shot down leaving President Keeler in critical condition.

This leads to Vice President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) becoming the show’s #4 POTUS. It is never revealed whether President Keeler died or not, but clearly he was unfit to resume office.

President Logan continues serving when Season 5 arrives. While President David Palmer represented the nobility of the office, President Logan is a corrupt monster who had a hand in the assassination of ex-President Palmer, which occurs moments into Season 5’s opening. A series of events leads to President Logan being arrested and resigning, therefore paving the way for Vice President Hal Gardner (Ray Wise) to become POTUS #5.

When Season 6 debuted, President Gardner is no longer around and it’s David Palmer’s brother Wayne (D.B. Woodside) in office as POTUS #6. It is assumed that President Palmer likely defeated President Gardner. During this season, a bomb explosion critically injures him and this paves the way for his VP Noah Daniels (Powers Boothe) to become POTUS #7. It was never said on the show, but press materials later revealed President Palmer died of his injuries.

In between seasons six and seven, the show came out with a movie “Redemption”. In that film, Daniels is still POTUS serving the last hours of his term as Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) is set to take office. She is POTUS #8.

Seasons seven and eight feature President Taylor in office. And yet circumstances in that eighth (and final traditional) season force her to resign. Though we never see it take place, we can only assume her VP Mitchell Hayworth (Cameron Daddo) became POTUS #9 in the show’s universe.

We now arrive at “24: Live Another Day” where James Heller (William Devane) is the current POTUS and the show’s #10. We first saw his character in Season 4 as President Keeler’s Secretary of Defense. For these keeping count, the tally of Presidents by party would be 6 Republicans (Keeler, Logan, Gardner, Taylor, Hayworth, Heller) and 3 Democrats (Palmer, Palmer, Daniels). The party affiliation of outgoing POTUS in Season 1 is unknown.

“24” also has made history in the world of Presidents. Of course, President David Palmer was the first African-American POTUS and this happened six years before President Obama in the real world. President Allison Taylor is the first female POTUS and we haven’t had one in real life… yet. And in “Live Another Day”, actor Devane’s real age is 76 – so any way you cut it, he’d be the oldest elected POTUS.

Of course, for anyone who saw Monday’s episode, President Heller’s term ended in spectacular fashion when he willingly allowed himself to be the victim of a drone attack in Wembley Stadium. And that, naturally, means his currently unnamed Vice President is “24”‘s #11 commander-in-chief.

So the bottom line is… why on Earth would anyone wish to run for the highest office in the land in the world of “24”??? To put this into proper context, 11 Presidents ago in reality was Dwight D. Eisenhower over 50 years ago.

Let’s just do a final recap on what being President on “24” is like:

POTUS #1: Unnamed (he’s the lucky one)

POTUS #2: David Palmer. Can’t run for second term due to controversies. Later assassinated.

POTUS #3: John Keeler. Shot down in Air Force One. He either dies or is unable to resume duties.

POTUS #4: Charles Logan. Forced to resign. In later appearances on show during Season 8, ex-POTUS Logan attempts suicide but survives. It’s revealed he will suffer permanent brain damage.

POTUS #5: Hal Gardner. It’s assumed he’s defeated by Wayne Palmer after filling out remainder of President Logan’s term.

POTUS #6: Wayne Palmer. Killed in bomb explosion.

POTUS #7: Noah Daniels. Defeated in general election by Allison Taylor after filling out remainder of President Palmer’s term.

POTUS #8: Allison Taylor. Forced to resign.

POTUS #9: Mitchell Hayworth. Ascends to Presidency after Taylor quits, it’s assumed. Nothing is really known about his Presidency.

POTUS #10: James Heller. Killed by a drone.


BLOGGER’S NOTE UPDATE (06/23/14): Well, “24”, you pulled a fast one on us like only you can do. For anyone who saw tonight’s episode – you will know that President Heller is, in fact, not dead. Therefore there has not been a completely unreasonable 11 POTUS’s in the history of the show, but a completely reasonable 10!!