Tolkien Box Office Prediction

His fantastical literary works have made billions at the box office and now J.R.R. Tolkien gets the biopic treatment next weekend. Set during World War I, Tolkien casts Nicholas Hoult in the title role of the famed author behind Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Finnish director Dome Karukoski is behind the camera and costars include Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, and Derek Jacobi.

This is a rare headlining role for Hoult, sandwiched between supporting parts in The Favourite and XMen: Dark Phoenix. Critics have been decidedly mixed and its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 54%.

The film has the distinction of being the first Fox Searchlight project distributed by new owner Disney. With zero awards buzz and a smallish theater count of approximately 1300, Tolkien will likely struggle to even see $5 million. Just because its subject matter’s novels are box office gold doesn’t mean this will be.

Tolkien opening weekend prediction: $3.1 million

For my Pokemon Detective Pikachu prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/pokemon-detective-pikachu-box-office-prediction/

For my The Hustle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/the-hustle-box-office-prediction/

For my Poms prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/02/poms-box-office-prediction/

Tomb Raider Movie Review

Tomb Raider finds Alicia Vikander following in the career footsteps of Angelina Jolie – win yourself a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and headline a big-budget adaptation of a well-known video game. Lara Croft is back in a reboot that finds this London girl’s life as a bike courier interrupted by her tomb raidin’ father’s discoveries on a remote island.

Vikander’s Croft has been separated from father Richard (Dominic West) for seven years after he took off on a mission called Himiko and vanished. His task was to locate the resting place of a mythical queen on a remote island who can destroy the world. When Lara finds clues to the island’s whereabouts, she sails off with Hong Kong captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to find it.

Once there, she finds ruthless archaeologist Mathias (Walton Goggins) also looking for the grave. He’s got a group of mercenaries commanding a slave labor force. This portion of the running time could be deemed “Get Back to Work!” on the Blu Ray, since that line of dialogue is shouted loudly and repeatedly. Lara also discovers a lot of Papa Croft’s motivations on the island when not preoccupied by grand action set pieces. Both Mathias and Richard are guilty of neglecting many a daddy/daughter dance due to their occupations.

One of these days, the protagonist in an adventure will be faced with an extremely long jump over an object that is disintegrating quickly. They will make said jump and clear the crumbling item by about ten feet and be shocked by their solid performance skills. In Tomb Raider and everything else, that hurdle is cleared by approximately one inch and then the fall and then the subsequent Herculean effort to pull oneself back up. The first feature where the hero manages to do it with room to spare will elicit deserved laughter from the audience, if set up correctly.

Moving on, Tomb Raider doesn’t reinvent the wheel but earns some points by embracing its video game heritage. There are segments where it truly feels like the action could be generated by a controller. And it’s a testament to the direction of Roar Uthaug, the sturdy work of Vikander, some gorgeous scenery and well-placed humor that Tomb Raider is as engaging as it is. It’s far from perfect, but it’s more impressive than your typical video game adaptation and that includes both of Jolie’s Croft works.

*** (out of four)

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

In his version of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh allows himself a part as big as his glorious mustache. The supporting players are often relegated to bits as small as the crumbs that might fall out of said mustache if his character didn’t maintain it so fastidiously.

That character is famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Don’t pronounce it Hercules or he will correct you in the exacting fashion he orders his eggs. That precision extends to his career. There’s right and wrong and nothing in between. Poirot’s worldview is challenged when he boards the Orient Express circa 1934, which happens to be the year Agatha Christie’s source material was penned.

Booking passage from stunning Istanbul to Paris, Poirot looks forward to a break from his work, but his powers of detection are utilized when a murder occurs. Nefarious character Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is stabbed multiple times during the night. Everyone onboard is a suspect and there’s about a dozen of them that Poirot must consider.

A lot of familiar faces are among the possibilities. There’s Michelle Pfeiffer’s flirty and dramatic Caroline. Daisy Ridley’s mysterious Mary and her connection with Leslie Odom Jr.’s Dr. Arbuthnot. Judi Dench’s domineering Princess Dragomiroff and her quiet assistant (Olivia Colman). Josh Gad is the victim’s right-hand man and Willem Dafoe is German professor Gerhard. Penelope Cruz is there as the faithful Pilar who hints at a more sinful past. And there’s more.

Yet even though Branagh has assembled a fine troupe of actors, this is the Poirot show. He dominates the running time with his outsized personality and facial hair. The character is introduced as a bit of a caricature but he becomes more sympathetic as the details of the murder and those who may have committed it are slowly revealed.

For those who’ve never read the book or seen any of the other filmed versions (the most notable being Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation with Albert Finney as Poirot in a considerably smaller ‘stache), Murder might keep you guessing. A lot of other audience members, I suspect, already know the outcome.

Branagh brings a visual style here that is grand and sweeping. There’s some complicated and impressive tracking and overhead shots to behold. We also have the train careening through the wilderness and into tunnels that often look a bit too digitized for my taste.

Truth be told, this Murder doesn’t add much fresh to Christie’s story. Viewers who are fans of the 1974 pic might deem this unnecessary. It’s still an often fascinating whodunnit with a talented director, albeit one who hogs the spotlight a bit. Poirot may eventually change his views by the closing credits and it mirrors my reaction. It doesn’t get it totally right or totally wrong. There’s an in between.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Murder on the Orient Express

Ok, so perhaps you’re thinking the idea of Murder on the Orient Express receiving Oscar attention is a track taken too far. Yet it’s not so crazy when considering that the Sidney Lumet 1974 version of Agatha Christie’s whodunnit novel garnered an impressive six nods, including Best Picture and Actor (Albert Finney). Ingrid Bergman even won Supporting Actress 43 years ago for her role.

Reviews are out today for the Kenneth Branagh remake opening next Friday. Some of the critical notices have paid homage to Branagh’s apparently glorious mustache in his portrayal of detective Hercule Poirot. The reviews themselves have been mixed and it currently stands at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad, but nowhere near what it needs for awards chatter.

It’s not exactly a surprise, but I wouldn’t suspect we’ll find this Express iteration getting the kind of Academy attention we saw four decades ago.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Murder on the Orient Express Box Office Prediction

43 years ago, Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of the Agatha Christie murder mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express received six Oscar nods and winning box office results. This time around, it’s Kenneth Branagh both directing and starring in the new version, playing super sleuth Hercule Poirot (portrayed in 1974 by Albert Finney). Just like in the original, an all-star cast surrounds including Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, and Leslie Odom Jr.

Orient will look to cash in with adult moviegoers and hope that competition doesn’t get in the way. Thor: Ragnarok (by the way, the first Thor was directed by Branagh) will be in its second weekend. Daddy’s Home 2 opens directly against it.

Even though this is a remake based on a well-known property, Murder could stand out among the sequels it’s pitted against. If reviews and word-of-mouth are encouraging, it could additionally play well throughout subsequent weekends.

I’ll predict Express chugs along to a mid 20s opening and it could well compete for the #2 slot with Daddy’s Home 2 as Thor should retain top position in its sophomore frame.

Murder on the Orient Express opening weekend prediction: $24.6 million

For my Daddy’s Home 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/31/daddys-home-2-box-office-prediction/