Oscar Watch – How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

We are just two days into the new year, but it’s already time for my first Oscar Watch post of 2019. That’s because How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World comes out in Australia tomorrow before its stateside release on February 22. Early reviews are out and the third and final installment of the Dreamworks Animation franchise is receiving solid ones. The action fantasy sequel stands at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

In 2010, the original Dragon nabbed a Best Animated Feature nod at the Oscars. Four years later, part 2 accomplished the same. Both pictures lost to titles coming from the mighty Mouse Factory – Toy Story 3 and Big Hero 6, respectively. The Disney competition will be fierce this year with Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2.

That said, even at this extraordinarily early date, the latest Dragon already looks like a serious contender for a nomination given the history of the series. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet is expected to easily hit the #1 spot at the box office over the Thanksgiving holiday. The film is Disney’s highly anticipated sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It-Ralph and reviews are out today.

The verdict? Much like its predecessor, critical notice is strong as it currently stands at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some early notices say it doesn’t quite match the original, but it’s all pretty much a positive vibe.

As to where that puts Internet in the Oscar race for Best Animated Feature, I’d say it’s almost certainly in. Wreck-It-Ralph also nabbed a nomination in that category, but lost to Disney/Pixar’s Brave. That would appear to be what will happen again as Ralph should get a nod and lose to the heroes of Pixar’s Incredibles 2.

Bottom line: Ralph officially broke into awards chatter today, but studio competition should keep it from achieving gold. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

For my Creed II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/creed-ii-box-office-prediction/

For my Robin Hood prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/robin-hood-box-office-prediction/

Ralph Breaks the Internet Box Office Prediction

Disney is no stranger to debuting high-profile titles over the long Turkey Day weekend and they’re back at it again with Ralph Breaks the Internet. It’s the sequel to 2012’s WreckItRalph and brings back the vocal stylings of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, and Ed O’Neill. New actors behind the mic include Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, and Alfred Molina. Rich Moore and Phil Johnston direct.

While we’re not in Incredibles 2 territory as far as expectations, Ralph is forecasted to easily break into the top spot for the Thanksgiving holiday. The original made $49 million for its start six years ago and ended up with $189 million.

Animated sequels can and have exceeded debut earnings of their predecessors. There’s been several years for kids to watch the original repeatedly and Internet could also appeal to younger adults. As mentioned, the Mouse Factory likes this frame for their drawn efforts. On the high-end, there’s Frozen, which made $93 million over the full Wednesday to Sunday frame ($67 million traditional weekend). On the low-end is The Good Dinosaur with a $55 million five-day ($39 million three-day). Two years ago, Moana took in $82 million ($56 million Friday to Sunday). Last year it was Coco with $72 million ($50 million three-day).

So where does this fit in? I like it falling in between Disney’s output from the last two years. That means I’m estimating it slightly outshines WreckIt for the traditional weekend with upper 70s for the whole holiday.

Ralph Breaks the Internet opening weekend prediction: $54.4 million (Friday to Sunday); $79.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Creed II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/creed-ii-box-office-prediction/

For my Robin Hood prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/robin-hood-box-office-prediction/

For my Green Book prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/17/green-book-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Disney’s expensive rendering of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms dances into theaters on Friday and it does so with mostly negative reviews. It stands at just 26% on Rotten Tomatoes and the studio may have a rare commercial disappointment on their hands (the budget is a reported $130 million).

So why in the world am I doing an Oscar Watch post on it? Well, the one positive aspect most critics point out is its set design and outfits adorning the actors. That could put Nutcracker in a similar situation with the Mouse Factory’s live-action version of Alice in Wonderland in 2010.

That also received middling reviews (though it did very well financially). It was rewarded with nominations in Art Direction (now called Production Design) and Costume Design. Realms could certainly play in both of those categories and perhaps Makeup and Hairstyling. Wonderland also won Best Visual Effects, but that race could be a reach with this.

Bottom line: even though word-of-mouth is not strong, Nutcracker has a shot at some down-the-line categories.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Box Office Prediction

Disney is hoping for a sizable family and female audience next weekend when The Nutcracker and the Four Realms dances into theaters. The fantasy adventure is based on both the 1816 E.T.A. Hoffmann story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Tchaikovsky’s ballet with a cast including Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew MacFadyen, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman. Realms shares directing credit between Lasse Hallstrom (who shot most of it) and Joe Johnston (who came in for late re-shoots). In a strange twist of irony, the pic’s directorial drama is shared by Bohemian Rhapsody, which opens on the same day.

Unlike many Mouse Factory properties, The Nutcracker is a big question mark as to its box office viability. Buzz for this doesn’t seem on the level with many of their other productions. While Disney has been churning out one blockbuster after another, we have seen both A Wrinkle in Time and Christopher Robin come in with less than anticipated opening weekends. Both of those features struggled to eventually reach the $100 million mark. While Realms won’t have much family competition its first weekend out, that will change quickly as Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Ralph Breaks the Internet all debut shortly afterwards.

I believe this could struggle to join the century club like Wrinkle and Robin. It appears poised to come in second to the aforementioned Rhapsody. That said, I don’t want to underestimate the studio’s marketing prowess too much. Yet my gut says a gross in the $20 million range is where this starts and word-of-mouth will decide the rest.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms opening weekend prediction: $19.4 million

For my Bohemian Rhapsody prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/23/bohemian-rhapsody-box-office-prediction/

For my Nobody’s Fool prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/nobodys-fool-box-office-prediction/

Christopher Robin Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/02/18): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my estimate down a tad from $34 million to $29.6 million

Disney’s Christopher Robin hopes to make a pot of money when it’s released next weekend. The mix of live-action and CG brings back Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and other notable creatures that originated from the 1926 novel. Ewan McGregor plays an adult Christopher with Hayley Atwell as his wife. Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, and Sophie Okonedo provide voiceover work. Marc Forster directs. I’m guessing this is more in tone with his 2003 pic Finding Neverland and not Quantum of Solace and World War Z.

This is not to be confused with last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin with Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie. That biopic about Pooh’s author went nowhere at the box office.

That shouldn’t be the case here. The Mouse Factory is certainly astute at marketing their product and the familiarity with Winnie and friends won’t hurt. It may even succeed at tapping into adult moviegoers hungry for a nostalgic fix. Depending on how high Mission: ImpossibleFallout flies this coming weekend, a low to possibly mid 30s gross from Robin could put it in contention for the top spot. That seems reasonable for where this begins.

Christopher Robin opening weekend prediction: $29.6 million

For my The Spy Who Dumped Me prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/24/the-spy-who-dumped-me-box-office-prediction/

For my The Darkest Minds prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/24/the-darkest-minds-box-office-prediction/

Summer 2008: The Top 10 Hits and More

We have arrived at part 3 of summer nostalgia looking over the cinematic seasons from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. If you missed my posts on 1988 and 1998, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/11/summer-1988-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/12/summer-1998-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

This brings us to 2008. It was a vaunted superhero summer to be sure and there’s some humdingers for our flops. Here are the top ten moneymakers in addition to other notables and bombs.

10. The Incredible Hulk

Domestic Gross: $134 million

The second feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe found Edward Norton taking on the angry green giant from Eric Bana. While better received than Ang Lee’s Hulk, it was mostly met with a shrug and Mark Ruffalo would take over the part four years later in The Avengers. It stands at lowest earner of the MCU.

9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Domestic Gross: $141 million

The follow-up to 2005’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe made less than half of what that picture achieved. Like Hulk, it may have placed in the top ten, but it was considered a bit of a disappointment.

8. Mamma Mia!

Domestic Gross: $144 million

The ABBA infused comedic musical was a major sleeper hit and its sequel hits theaters this Friday.

7. Sex and the City

Domestic Gross: $152 million

Fans of the HBO series turned out in droves for the big screen treatment. A sequel two years later yielded less impressive returns.

6. Kung Fu Panda

Domestic Gross: $215 million

Dreamworks Animation found itself a franchise with this animal fest led by Jack Black. Two sequels have followed.

5. WALL-E

Domestic Gross: $223 million

Yet another critically lauded effort from the money minting machine that is Disney/Pixar, this would take home Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

4. Hancock

Domestic Gross: $227 million

Despite mostly negative reviews, this superhero effort proved Will Smith’s potency at the box office. Director Peter Berg has mostly moved to true life dramas with Mark Wahlberg.

3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Domestic Gross: $317 million

Nearly 20 years after The Last Crusade, Harrison Ford’s iconic hero returned and teamed up with Shia LaBeouf. Critics and audiences had their issues with it, but Indy is slated to come back again in 2021 (when Mr. Ford will almost be 80).

2. Iron Man

Domestic Gross: $318 million

It’s crazy to think now, but the idea of casting Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero less known than Batman or Superman was considered risky business at the time. We know what followed… the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This started it all.

1. The Dark Knight

Domestic Gross: $533 million

The sequel to Batman Begins turned into a genuine phenomenon with Heath Ledger’s incredible work as The Joker and an experience that has influenced numerous franchises since.

And now for some other notables of summer 2008:

Get Smart

Domestic Gross: $130 million

Steve Carell experienced a box office bomb the summer prior with Evan Almighty. He got back into the good graces of audiences with this big screen rendering of the 1960s TV series alongside Anne Hathaway.

Tropic Thunder

Domestic Gross: $110 million

Ben Stiller’s comedy was a hit with crowds and critics. Robert Downey Jr. earned an Oscar nod for his work here and we see Tom Cruise as never before.

Step Brothers

Domestic Gross: $100 million

It didn’t make as much as Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s previous collaboration two summers earlier, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. However, this has achieved serious cult status in following years.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Domestic Gross: $75 million

Guillermo del Toro’s sequel managed to out gross its predecessor and it was another critically hailed comic book adaptation in a summer filled with them. A reboot of the franchise with David Harbour comes next year.

The Strangers

Domestic Gross: $52 million

This low-budget horror flick turned into a sleeper. A sequel was released this March.

This brings us to the flops…

The Happening

Domestic Gross: $64 million

M. Night Shyamalan had his first flop two summers earlier with Lady in the Water. This one focused on killer trees with a lackluster performance from Mark Wahlberg. Audiences were laughing at it more than frightened by it. The director has since rebounded with Split. 

Speed Racer

Domestic Gross: $43 million

This was the Wachowskis first picture since the Matrix trilogy and it fell far under expectations at the box office and with critics.

The Love Guru

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Mike Myers couldn’t make this creation anywhere near as iconic as Wayne Campbell or Austin Powers. Moviegoers simply ignored Pitka.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Domestic Gross: $20 million

Ten summers after the first adaptation of the FOX show did well at theaters, audiences didn’t want to believe in its long gestating sequel.

Meet Dave

Domestic Gross: $11 million

This sci-fi comedy was a massive bomb for Eddie Murphy, making a small percentage of its reported $60 million budget.

And that does it for my recaps of the summer! You can be sure I’ll be back next season covering 1989, 1999, and 2009.