Oscar Watch: Jungle Cruise

Debuting in multiplexes and on Disney Plus, Jungle Cruise sails into theaters and couches on Friday hoping for smooth box office returns. Based on the longtime attraction at the Mouse Factory’s theme parks, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt headline the fantasy adventure from director Jaume Collet-Serra.

The studio has, of course, made a boatload of cash with similar fare. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise stands at over $4 billion worldwide. That series also earned some Oscar love. In addition to Johnny Depp’s nominated performance in the 2003 original, part 1 nabbed four tech nods in the sound races (when they were divided into categories), Makeup, and Visual Effects. Sequel Dead Men’s Chest earned four mentions in the two sound contests, Art Direction (now Production Design), and Visual Effects (where it won). Threequel At World’s End also won Visual Effects and was nominated in Makeup. The fourth and fifth editions garnered no Academy attention.

The early chatter for Jungle Cruise compares it to more to The Mummy (as in the Brendan Fraser one) and not Pirates. That adventure earned a lone Sound nod in 1999.

So where does Jungle Cruise stand? Reviews are decent with a 69% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Sound and Visual Effects are certainly possible. That said, even some of the positive critical reaction isn’t overly kind to the CG effects. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this make the shortlist for VE and not make the final five while Sound is a bit iffy as well. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

July 30-August 1 Box Office Predictions

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt’s theme ride based Disney adventure Jungle Cruise should have no trouble topping the charts as July rolls to August at the box office. It opens alongside the Matt Damon drama Stillwater and David Lowery’s medieval tale The Green Knight with Dev Patel and Alicia Vikander. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on all of them here:

Jungle Cruise Box Office Prediction

Stillwater Box Office Prediction

The Green Knight Box Office Prediction

After a rather sluggish weekend where no newcomer topped $20 million, Jungle should easily cruise to that and more. Whether it tops $30 million is more of a question mark (especially with the Delta variant complicating matters). I’m putting it just under $30M while no other title should hit $10 million.

The jockeying for slots 2-5 could be interesting. Let’s get The Green Knight out of the way. While Lowery is an acclaimed indie filmmaker, I don’t see this having much initial crossover appeal. I have yet to see a theater count and my estimate of $2.2 million puts it well outside the top 5 (my estimate could change based on number of screens).

Stillwater is a bit more of a head scratcher. It has solid reviews yet I can’t shake the feeling that this might have been better positioned for an autumn release. It could certainly open higher than my $5.2 million projection, but I also wouldn’t shocked if it went lower.

The position of Stillwater in the top 5 will be determined by the sophomore drops of Old and Snake Eyes and the fourth weekend performance of Black Widow. 

Widow and Space Jam: A New Legacy have experienced hefty declines in their second frames. With mixed to negative reviews, I see no reason why Old and Snake Eyes won’t suffer the same fate. Both could see their fortunes fall in the mid 50s (that could be best case) or 60% or more. I’m thinking the latter. There’s a chance that Space Jam could stay in the high five if Snake Eyes dips in the mid 60s (I think it’ll be awfully close)

Here’s how I have all the action playing out:

1. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $28.4 million

2. Old

Predicted Gross: $6.6 million

3. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million

4. Stillwater

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

5. Snake Eyes

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million

6. Space Jam: A New Legacy

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

Box Office Results (July 23-25)

Considering its low budget, the performance of M. Night Shyamalan’s Old isn’t necessarily bad news for Universal. However, it definitely came in on the low end of expectations with $16.8 million for a gold medal showing. I was more generous at $19.8 million. Word-of-mouth doesn’t seem very encouraging and I anticipate a sophomore drop in the 60% range.

There’s really no way to spin the Snake Eyes gross in a positive way for Paramount with its disappointing silver medal. The hoped for G.I. Joe reboot tanked with just $13.3 million compared to my $17.2 million projection. You could say it was a real American no show with audiences. With a budget in the reported $100 million range, this should easily put this franchise on the skids for some time.

Black Widow took the bronze in weekend #3 with $11.6 million (I went a little higher at $12.9 million). The MCU stand-alone feature has made $154 million thus far and will be one of the lowest performers of the MCU library.

Space Jam: A New Legacy plummeted from its #1 perch to fourth with a near 70 percent fall. The $9.5 million gross was way under my take of $15.8 million and the two-week tally is $51 million. There’s no chance the LeBron and Looney Tunes sequel will make $100 million stateside.

F9 was fifth with $4.8 million (I said $5.1 million) to bring its total to $163 million.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions was sixth in its second outing with only $3.5 million (I went with $4.5 million) for $16 million overall.

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

Jungle Cruise Box Office Prediction

Disney has certainly had luck basing movies on their theme park quantities before and they hope it continues on July 30th with the release of Jungle Cruise. The adventure pic (with a reported budget north of $200 million) pairs Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt (fresh off her hit sequel A Quiet Place Part II) in the early 20th Century set tale. Costars include Jack Whitehall, Edgar Ramirez, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. Jaume Collet-Serra, best known for Liam Neeson action flicks such as Unknown and Non-Stop or horror fare like The Shallows, directs.

As the studio has in 2021 with recent projects like Cruella and Black Widow, this will simultaneously premiere on Disney Plus for an extra viewing fee of $30. That strategy has been called into question in recent days considering the precipitous sophomore drop for Widow. Truth be told, the $30 doesn’t seem so high when factoring in families watching and that could negatively impact theatrical earnings.

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (and The Haunted Mansion to a lesser degree) has shown an appetite for these Mouse Factory ride based attractions turned films. The star power of Johnson and Blunt doesn’t hurt either and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this swing to over $30 million. However, the streaming competition could easily prevent that and I’ll estimate high 20s as it sets sail at multiplexes and at home.

Jungle Cruise opening weekend prediction: $28.4 million

For my Stillwater prediction, click here:

Stillwater Box Office Prediction

For my The Green Knight prediction, click here:

The Green Knight Box Office Prediction

Oscar Watch: The Velvet Underground

The 2021 crop of documentary hopefuls has the potential to be quite a sonically pleasing affair. Just recently, I discussed Questlove’s heralded Summer of Soul which seems like a surefire contender. We also have acclaimed directors known most for non-docs staking a claim in the subgenre.

At the Cannes Film Festival, Todd Haynes has just debuted The Velvet Underground. Focused on the influential NYC band featuring Lou Reed, this is yet another acclaimed example of an auteur dipping back into the musical vaults. Edgar Wright did so earlier this year with The Sparks Brothers. Peter Jackson has his three-part The Beatles: Get Back hitting Disney Plus in November.

Haynes is most known for numerous indie darlings. His screenplay for 2002’s Far from Heaven was nominated, but he was surprisingly not mentioned for directing or writing with 2015’s Carol. Could the Academy recognize him here?

It’s now standard practice on the blog to point out that the Academy’s documentary branch is a fickle bunch. There could simply be too many rock docs competing against each other (and I’d certainly give Soul an edge over this). However, depending on the forthcoming competition, there could potentially be room for this Underground offering. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Black Widow

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unless the film is named Black Panther, your best hope is to contend in Visual Effects at the Oscars and probably lose. This brings us to Black Widow, the 24th entry in the MCU that opens July 9th in theaters and on Disney Plus streaming. The stand-alone pic focused on Scarlett Johansson’s title character had its review embargo lifted today and results are mostly positive thus far. The Rotten Tomatoes score currently stands at 86%.

Johansson’s costars (Florence Pugh particularly) are getting the bulk of critical kudos. That said, no actor in an MCU flick has made the cut in those categories and it won’t start here. 10 of the previous 23 franchise blockbusters (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame) have landed slots in Visual Effects. As far as victories go – they are 0 for 10. In fact, only Panther (which nabbed a Best Picture nod) has won anything. It went 3 for 7 on Oscar night 2019 by taking Original Score, Costume Design, and Production Design.

Just over half of Marvel’s creations have received zero recognition from the Academy. Black Widow should face an uphill battle in Visual Effects. Late year arrivals like Dune and Top Gun: Maverick are just two possibilities outside of this cinematic universe. Then there’s the matter of 3 more hopeful MCU titles: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and (perhaps especially) Eternals. Bottom line: there’s a better chance of Black Widow not showing up anywhere at next year’s ceremony. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Luca

Two days ahead of its streaming debut on Disney Plus, Pixar’s latest comedic fantasy Luca has seen its review embargo lifted. It marks the feature-length directorial debut of Enrico Casarosa (who’s done story artist work on some of the studio’s pics) and has a cast voice cast that includes Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Gaffigan.

Set in the Italian Riviera, the coming-of-age tale is taking the same distribution route as last year’s Soul by passing multiplexes for home viewing. In 2020, Soul was seen as the sturdy frontrunner for Best Animated Feature and that narrative never changed. That Pixar effort sported a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score and ended up winning gold at the Oscars. The path for Luca could be trickier.

Its Tomato meter currently sits at 89% and while that’s quite good, many critics are saying Luca is not in the upper echelon of Pixar fare. I would say the question is not whether Luca gets nominated (it will), but whether it wins. The score by Dan Romer also has a shot in that race. Disney already has another entry from this spring that could make the final five in Animated Feature (Raya and the Last Dragon), but Luca would have an edge. However, there’s also The Mitchells vs. the Machines from Netflix and it should serve as major competition for the top prize. This is in addition to films slated for the second half of 2021 (remember the names Flee and the Mouse Factory’s own Encanto).

Bottom line: You can never count out Pixar. Luca will likely hear its name included when the Animated Features contenders are named. Its victory presents a more challenging path than Soul experienced. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

June 4-6 Box Office Predictions

The first box office frame of June brings a battle of horror sequels as Hollywood basks in the glow of a profitable holiday weekend. With A Quiet Place Part II surpassing expectations, it should be poised for a loud sophomore frame. The competition comes from The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the eighth picture in the billion dollar franchise’s cinematic universe. We also have DreamWorks Animation’s Spirit Untamed, a spinoff of the Netflix series and kinda sorta sequel to 2002’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. You can find peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newcomers here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/26/the-conjuring-the-devil-made-me-do-it-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/27/spirit-untamed-box-office-prediction/

It feels a bit strange to predict Devil will experience the lowest overall opening of the entire series, but that’s where I’ve landed. I can’t help but wonder if Warner Bros would want a little more daylight between its debut and the sophomore frame of Quiet if they had a do-over. My forecast of just under $20 million should put it in second place unless Cruella has a remarkable hold.

As for Emily Blunt and company, it’s worth noting that the original Quiet Place fell only 34% in its follow-up outing. The sequel may dip a tad further, but a gross in the mid 20s to even low 30s is on the table. Cruella should be #3 in the lower teens range. I don’t have much faith in Spirit and my meager estimate has it in fourth. Raya and the Last Dragon should round out the top five.

So it’s horror sequels and family entertainment and different kinds of spirits in the top five this weekend and here’s how I see it all transpiring:

1. A Quiet Place Part II

Predicted Gross: $28.4 million

2. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Predicted Gross: $19.8 million

3. Cruella

Predicted Gross: $13 million

4. Spirt Untamed

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million

5. Raya and the Last Dragon

Predicted Gross: $1.6 million

Box Office Results (May 28-31)

Originally slated for March 2020, moviegoers proved they were willing to wait for A Quiet Place Part II. John Krasinski’s critically heralded sequel posted a COVID era best Memorial Day weekend debut of $57 million. That easily outshines my $43.6 million projection. Studios must be rejoicing in this encouraging sign for the summer season ahead.

Disney’s Cruella with Emma Stone also opened to pleasing numbers with $26.5 million (ahead of my $22.7 million estimate). Despite being on Disney Plus as well for a premium price, parents and kids turned out for the Mouse Factory’s latest live-action update of an animated classic.

Holdovers populated the 3-5 slots and it was close. Raya and the Last Dragon was third at $2.8 million (I went lower at $1.6 million). Its total is $51 million. Jason Statham’s Wrath of Man took fourth with $2.7 million (I said $2.4 million) for $22 million overall. Spiral was fifth after two weeks at #1 with $2.6 million (under my $3.2 million prediction) for a $20 million tally.

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

Cruella Box Office Prediction

Disney’s Cruella will try to scare up some box office business over the Memorial Day weekend after being delayed from its original December 2020 release date. The pic casts Emma Stone in the title role of the villainess as seen in the studio’s 1961 animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians and in the form of Glenn Close for two live-action flicks in the late 90s and early 00s. Craig Gillespie directs with a supporting cast including Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Mark Strong.

With a massive reported price tag of $200 million, Cruella hits theaters and Disney Plus premium on the same day. Home viewers will need to shell out $30 for couch watching, similar to Raya and the Last Dragon and the upcoming Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. It’s worth noting that Raya opened to $8.5 million in March under this platform. However, the holiday weekend and the fact that theaters are increasing capacity have set an understandably higher bar for Cruella.

Disney has had major success with their recent live-action remakes of animated classics, from The Lion King to Aladdin to The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast and more. Even the lower earners, like Dumbo, started out in the mid 40s. Obviously the dynamic has changed under COVID times. Some families may realize it’s more economical to pay the $30 compared to the cost of hauling the entire brood to the multiplex.

Early word of mouth is quite positive and that should help. I could easily foresee a low to mid 20s rollout for Ms. Stone, her likely to be Oscar nominated costumes, and company.

Cruella opening weekend prediction: $23.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my A Quiet Place Part II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/11/a-quiet-place-part-ii-box-office-prediction/

Oscars 2020: The Case of Leslie Odom Jr.

Leslie Odom, Jr.’s performance as crooner Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami is my third writeup for Supporting Actor contenders at the Oscars. If you missed my first two covering Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/01/oscars-2020-the-case-of-sacha-baron-cohen/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/07/oscars-2020-the-case-of-daniel-kaluuya/

The Case for Leslie Odom, Jr.:

It was a sterling 2020 for the performer with his critically hailed work as Cooke in Regina King’s Amazon Prime drama. This is in addition to reminding viewers of his heralded take on Aaron Burr in Hamilton (which drew new viewers in its Disney+ filmed version). He’s managed mentions in all the significant precursors (BAFTA, Globes, SAG, Critics Choice).

The Case Against Leslie Odom, Jr.:

This category has a major frontrunner with Daniel Kaluuya, who has cleaned up in the precursor action. Miami also fell short of expectations on Oscar morning by missing an anticipated Best Picture nod and recognition for King.

The Verdict

Anyone not named Daniel Kaluuya is not expected to make a trip to the podium this year.

My Case Of posts will continue with Thomas Vinterberg’s direction of Another Round…

Raya and the Last Dragon Box Office Prediction

A totally different kind of COVID test arrives in theaters March 5 with the release of Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon. It’s the latest traditionally animated feature from the Mouse Factory and it hits multiplexes and Disney+ on the same day. The fantasy adventure is co-directed by Don Hall (who made Big Hero 6 for the studio) and Carlos Lopez Estrada (maker of the decidedly non Disney pic Blindspotting). The predominately Asian-American voice cast includes Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, and Alan Tudyk.

Raya marks the highest profile release of 2021 thus far on the big screen. The question is whether family audiences will mostly opt to shell out thirty bucks to watch it on the tube. All things considered – that’s probably less money than a night out for a clan of four to view it. And the Disney+ model is already familiar to subscribers with recent products such as Mulan and Soul.

In these uncertain pandemic days, it is difficult to find any real comps for opening weekend estimates. The Croods: A New Age debuted over Thanksgiving weekend and took in a better than anticipated $14 million over the five-day frame with nearly $10 million of it from the traditional Friday to Sunday portion. Yet that’s not exactly a reliable comp as Croods was a sequel to a well known property out during a holiday period. Still… this is Disney…

As I’ve said repeatedly with any box office guesstimates for nearly a year, we are in unpredictable territory. However, I’ll say Raya makes between $11-$14million and I’ll go a bit on the higher end of that range.

Raya and the Last Dragon opening weekend prediction: $13.2 million

For my Chaos Walking prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/02/24/chaos-walking-box-office-prediction/