Oscar Watch: Klaus

2019 is shaping up to be the breakout year for Netflix when it comes to awards visibility with legitimate Best Picture contenders like The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes. A smaller story is that it might have a contender in the Animated Feature race with the just released Yuletide comedy Klaus. It comes from director Sergio Plablos, who’s best known for creating the Despicable Me franchise. The voice cast includes Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, Will Sasso, and Norm Macdonald.

In order to nab a nomination, Klaus looks to compete for the fourth or fifth slot as I believe three are already spoken for by higher profile theatrical release sequels – Toy Story 4 (the front runner), Frozen II, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Other efforts vying for those slots include Weathering with You, I Lost My Body, Missing Link, Abominable, and (perhaps) the yet to be released Spies in Disguise. 

The pic currently sports a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s actually higher than the number (82%) for Frozen II. Yet Disney should have little trouble getting that about to be massive blockbuster in the mix.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t count Klaus out, but competition is significant. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Grinch Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note: on the eve of its premiere, I’m giving this a bump from $56.4 million to $63.4 million

Illumination Entertainment’s The Grinch looks to be a profitable one when it hits theaters next weekend. The animated take on the Dr. Seuss classic features the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as the grumpy Christmas hating character. Other voice over work is provided by Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury, and Pharrell Williams. Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney (who co-directed Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets) are the filmmakers.

In 2000, the live-action version of this tale with Jim Carrey was a massive smash for Universal (Illumination’s parent company). There has been plenty of family pics over the last couple of months and The Grinch will get plenty more competition in following weekends. Both Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Ralph Breaks the Internet are on deck.

That said, Illumination has had an impressive track record during this decade with the Despicable Me/Minions franchise and Pets. This is their first foray into the month of November, but plenty of other studios have planted their animated flag into the same time frame. In 2012, Wreck-It Ralph took in $49 million for its start. Two years later, Big Hero 6 made $56 million. In 2015, The Peanuts Movie started with $44 million and Trolls premiered to $46 million a year later. Yet the best comp could end up being 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which bowed to $55 million. I’ll put it just over that as this Grinch looks to leg out well throughout the holiday season.

The Grinch opening weekend prediction: $63.4 million

For my The Girl in the Spider’s Web prediction, click here:


For my Overlord prediction, click here:


Box Office Predictions: July 7-9

There’s only one new major release this weekend hitting multiplexes, but it’s a big one in the form of Spider-Man: Homecoming. This is the third iteration of the beloved web slinger with Tom Holland inheriting the tights after his cameo in Captain America: Civil War. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:


Spidey should easily rule the charts this weekend and my prediction puts it a couple million above what the original accomplished 15 years ago.

As for holdovers, Despicable Me 3 had a somewhat disappointing debut (more on that below) and I look for it to lose nearly half its audience in the sophomore frame.

Baby Driver, on the other hand, was quite a breakout hit and word of mouth is strong. Its drop-off shouldn’t be as pronounced. Wonder Woman and Transformers look to round out the top five.

And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Predicted Gross: $117.8 million

2. Despicable Me 3

Predicted Gross: $36.3 million (representing a drop of 49%)

3. Baby Driver

Predicted Gross: $13.6 million (representing a drop of 34%)

4. Wonder Woman

Predicted Gross: $9.9 million (representing a drop of 37%)

5. Transformers: The Last Knight

Predicted Gross: $7 million (representing a drop of 58%)

Box Office Results (June 30-July 2)

Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 3 earned an estimated $72.4 million, which easily placed it first. However, this was easily $10 million below most of the lowest guesstimates. I projected a higher haul at $88.7M.

Edgar Wright’s critically acclaimed Baby Driver greatly exceeded expectations with a $20.5 million Friday to Sunday gross and a cool $29.5 million since its Wednesday opening. This blew away my respective predictions of $10.9M and $15.8M and proved that audiences are hungry for programming in the summer that isn’t a sequel or reboot.

Transformers: The Last Knight slipped to third with $16.8 million (in line with my $17.4M forecast) for a $102M total.

Wonder Woman was close behind in fourth with $15.7 million (I said $14.5M) to bring its massive earnings to $346M.

Cars 3 rounded out the top five with $9.6 million (I was higher at $12.1M) for a $120M overall gross.

The poorly reviewed Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler comedy The House was DOA in sixth place, earning only $8.7 million for its start (I said $13.8M).

Finally, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled expanded its theater count and took in $3.1 million compared to my $3.8M prediction.

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

Despicable Me 3 Box Office Prediction

Illumination Entertainment’s blockbuster animated franchise is back on screen next weekend as Despicable Me 3 debuts. The series returns the voices of Steve Carell and Kristin Wiig, as well as Trey Parker, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, and Jenny Slate.

The Despicable flicks began in 2010 when the original debuted to $56 million and a $251 million eventual domestic haul. The 2013 sequel reached higher with an $83 million premiere (8th largest animated opening ever) and $368 million overall. Two summers ago, the spin-off Minions opened to an amazing $115 million (good for 3rd animated debut all-time) and $336 million overall.

Will part 3 continue the upward swing as far as openings go? Probably not. As I see it, kids and their folks will still come out in droves.  Illumination would love to see this open with the $104 million achieved by last summer’s The Secret Life of Pets and it’s certainly possible. However, I foresee a start roughly on par with part 2 and maybe a bit higher. My forecast gives it the 8th biggest animated opening, supplanting its predecessor.

Despicable Me 3 opening weekend prediction: $88.7 million

For my The House prediction, click here:


For my Baby Driver prediction, click here:


For my The Beguiled prediction, click here:


Sing Box Office Prediction

Illumination Entertainment has become a force in the animated world with huge hits including the Despicable Me franchise, spin-off Minions, and this summer’s The Secret Life of Pets.

They’re back at it again looking for a Christmas cash in with 3D animated musical Sing. The $75 million production should have no trouble bringing in kids and their parents over the holiday season. Singing animals is usually a decent formula for a blockbuster and this should be a strong #2 to the second weekend of Rogue One. There’s plenty of recognizable faces behind their characters including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, and Nick Kroll.

I’ll predict Sing takes in high 40s during the long holiday weekend while reaching mid 60s when you include its Wednesday debut.

Sing opening weekend prediction: $55.3 million (Friday to Monday), $74.1 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my Passengers prediction, click here:


For my Assassin’s Creed prediction, click here:


For my Why Him? prediction, click here:


For my Fences prediction, click here:


Oscar Watch: Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings

Much attention has been paid on this blog to the Best Actress race at the 2016 Oscars and deservedly so as it figures to be the most competitive it’s been in some time. Yet there’s another category that’ll be fun to watch. This year has been a banner one for animated features. In some years, it’s a bit of a challenge to think of five worthy of inclusion. In 2016, it’ll be fascinating to see what’s left out.

Two contenders have an odd thing in common: Matthew McConaughey. The 2013 Best Actor winner for Dallas Buyers Club has his voice featured in both Kubo and the Two Strings and Sing, which has screened in Toronto and will be out statewide in time for Christmas. Animated McConaughey has, in fact, had a much stronger year than the Lincoln Lawyer in human form. His summer Civil War drama Free State of Jones was a critical and commercial flop. Late last month, he starred in Gus Van Sant’s drama The Sea of Trees. It also received scorn from reviewers and has grossed a truly embarrassing $20,000 in its limited release. Perhaps this December’s Gold will turn things around for him.

Back to his cartoon version. Kubo opened last month to decent box office numbers (it’s made $40 million domestically thus far). Critics went wild for it though and its RT score stands at 97%. Though there’s other animated material that will gross far more than it, its inclusion for a nomination looks solid.

One of those movies that’ll probably far outgross it is Sing. The 3D computer animated musical comes from the company behind the Despicable Me franchise. In addition to McConaughey, it feature the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, and John C. Reilly. Early reaction from Toronto is positive and suggests it’ll be a major holiday hit.

Yet its chances at an Animated Feature nod appear murkier due to the aforementioned heavy competition. Let’s briefly run the rest of the contenders down. There’s Disney’s spring juggernaut Zootopia. It’s in. There’s Disney’s Moana, their November offering from the team behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Most prognosticators, including myself, are reserving a slot for it. The foreign title The Red Turtle opened to raves at Cannes. Japanese entry Miss Hokusai looks to be a factor. And there’s mega-hits like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets to think about. Finally, how about Sausage Party?

All in all, this is one of the most exciting races to follow in 2016 and who knew the stoner guy from Dazed and Confused would be right in the thick of it?



Minions Box Office Prediction

Two summers ago, Despicable Me 2 rocketed out of the gate over the July 4th weekend with a better than expected $83.5 million over the three day traditional weekend and $143 million over the holiday frame. Its eventual domestic gross of $368 million would be good for fourth on the list of 2013 earners.

With that glorious performance fresh in mind, it’s anticipated that Minions, out Friday, should have a stealthy opening. The 3D animated pic is a spinoff of Universal’s venerable franchise that should easily tide fans over until Despicable Me 3 hits screens in the summer of 2017.

Lots of familiar faces populate the voices behind the characters, including Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan and Geoffrey Rush. Reviews have been mostly positive as it stands at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, which exactly matches the number posted by DM2. There will be competition as Pixar’s Inside Out continues to post robust numbers, but family audiences should have no trouble fitting these cute little Minions in their schedule.

I would anticipate the film debuting to just under the $100 million mark and the possibility certainly exists that it could top that magic century mark. Whether or not it reaches the eventual gross of its franchise predecessor remains to be seen.

Minions opening weekend prediction: $96.4 million

For my Self/less prediction, click here:


For my The Gallows prediction, click here: