Oscar Predictions – Minions: The Rise of Gru

Illumination Entertainment will rule the Fourth of July weekend at the box office when Minions: The Rise of Gru hits theaters on July 1st. This is the fifth entry in the franchise that began a dozen summers back with Despicable Me and the first in five years.

Some early reviews are out and they’re mostly indicating it’s a decent if unspectacular chapter of the series. With 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, that’s higher than the two previous pics – 2015’s Minions (55%) and 2017’s Despicable Me 3 (59%). Of course, Gru‘s number will soon rise or fall as more critics weigh in.

2010’s Despicable Me (81%) and its 2013 sequel (75%) fared better, but only part two received awards attention. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Original Song with Pharrell’s inescapable “Happy”. Due to Disney’s Frozen and the equally omnipresent “Let It Go”, it lost both.

Based on early buzz, I see no path for Gru to find its way to the Animated Feature derby. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Watch – The Croods: A New Age

Seven and a half years after DreamWorks Animation had a prehistoric animated comedic hit on their hands with the original, The Croods: A New Age hits theaters this Wednesday. It will surely be a different box office story in these COVID times as part 2 will follow with its PVOD unveiling in time for Christmas. The toon is directed by Joel Crawford and returns the vocal stylings of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, and Cloris Leachman. New faces behind the mics include Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, and Kelly Marie Tran.

The review embargo ended today and the results are mostly positive with a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s in line with the 72% achieved by its predecessor. In 2013, part 1 managed a Best Animated Feature nod. It was defeated by a massive Pixar front runner by the name of Frozen. 

2020 could see history repeat itself with the caveman family. One could argue that it’s easier to slide into the final five this year and A New Age looks to do so. Yet there is once again a heavy favorite to win the prize and that is Soul from (you guessed it) Pixar. Other acclaimed titles such as Wolfwalkers and Over the Moon appear to be likely nominees and Pixar has another hopeful with Onward (though after the snub of Frozen II from last year, it’s not a guarantee that one makes it in).

Croods could easily fill the fourth or fifth slot come nomination time, but I wouldn’t chisel its inclusion in pen just yet. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar History: 2013

Recapping the Oscar Season of 2013, a few things stick out. The big winners were 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, which cleaned up in the tech races. The big loser was American Hustle, which came away with zero victories despite 10 nominations (tying it for most nods with Gravity, which won 7 of them). Another take: it was a packed year for Best Actor with some deserving gents left out.

As I have done with previous years, let’s take a deeper dive in the 86th Academy Awards in the major races:

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave unsurprisingly came away with the Best Picture prize in a field that yielded eight other films. They were David O. Russell’s American Hustle, Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips, Jean-Marc Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Spike Jonze’s Her, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, Philomena from Stephen Frears, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. 

That’s a solid grouping of pictures and there’s probably no obvious omissions from my end in 2013.. That said, many young girls may protest Frozen not making the cut though it did win Best Animated Feature. And certainly Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers had its ardent admirers.

There was a Picture/Director split with Cuaron emerging victorious for Gravity. The filmmaker would achieve the same feat five years later when he won for Roma but Green Book took Best Picture. Other nominees were McQueen, Payne, Russell, and Scorsese.I would argue that Greengrass and Jonze could have made the final five.

In the aforementioned crowded Best Actor derby, Matthew McConaughey took gold for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. The four other contenders were Christian Bale for Hustle, Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for Wall Street, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. Note that all nominees came from Best Picture hopefuls.

Let’s start with Tom Hanks, who I absolutely feel should have gotten in for his remarkable performance in Captain Phillips. The clip I’ve included below proves it and then some. You could say the same for Joaquin Phoenix in Her. Others worth noting: Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, Hugh Jackman in Prisoners, and Robert Redford for All Is Lost. 

Cate Blanchett was the latest actress to be honored for her work in a Woody Allen picture as she took Best Actress for Blue Jasmine. The other nominees were Amy Adams (American Hustle), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), and the ever present Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).

I’ll mention three others left out worthy of consideration: Brie Larson in Short Term 12, Julia-Louis Dreyfus for Enough Said, and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks. For the latter, it was a bit unexpected that she was left out.

McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers costar Jared Leto won Supporting Actor over Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), and Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street). Again, all nominees stemmed from Picture contenders.

Some others that didn’t quite make it: Daniel Bruhl in Rush, Steve Coogan for Philomena, Paul Dano in Prisoners, and Will Forte in Nebraska.

Another big 12 Years victory was Lupita Nyong’o in Supporting Actress. She took the prize despite competition from Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), and June Squibb (Nebraska).

Despite it being a voice only performance, I would say Scarlett Johansson in Her deserved a spot and the same could be said for Margot Robbie in Wall Street.

And there you have it, folks! My look back at the Oscar landscape in 2013. I’ll have 2014 up in due time…

Playmobil: The Movie Box Office Prediction

The post Thanksgiving box office weekend is usually a sluggish frame when studios avoid releasing hoped for hits. 2019 is no different as Playmobil: The Movie is the only new wide entry out. The animated comedic adventure is based on the line of German toys and it’s already been delayed from January to April to August to now. Not a positive sign. Neither is the 24% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Lino DiSalvo makes his directorial debut and he’s best known for his involvement in Disney’s Frozen. That film’s sequel should be making 10-15 times more in its third weekend than this will in its rollout. There are some recognizable faces providing voiceover work including Anya-Taylor Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Bateman, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson, Meghan Trainor, and Daniel Radcliffe.

There simply seems to be no discernible buzz going for this. As mentioned, there’s a much higher profile kids flick that should be raking in the bucks as Playmobil searches for young eyeballs. I believe it won’t get them and that even $5 million is probably out of reach.

Playmobil: The Movie opening weekend prediction: $2.8 million

Oscar Watch: Frozen II

One week ahead of its massive launch, the review embargo has lifted for Disney’s Frozen II, the sequel to the 2013 animated smash that grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. Financial expectations are understandably enormous and a big question was whether it matches the quality of the original.

Early critical reaction suggests… not quite. Frozen achieved a 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating while the follow-up is currently at 81%. Part 1 was nominated for two Oscars and won both – Animated Feature and Best Original Song for the omnipresent “Let It Go” as sung by Idina Menzel (or whatever John Travolta called her at the Academy ceremony).

Frozen II is very likely to be nominated in both races like its predecessor. The tune is likely to be the ballad “Into the Unknown”. However, unlike the original, it may not be the favorite to win in either category. The biggest competition in Animated Feature comes from another Mouse Factory sequel with this summer’s Toy Story 4 (which I still believe to be the frontrunner). Another non-Disney sequel, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, could also be a factor – albeit less so than Woody and Buzz. In Original Song, there’s serious competitors in the form of Elton John and Taylor Swift tracks from Rocketman and Cats, respectively.

Bottom line: Frozen II should nab the same nods that Frozen did. Victories are another story. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Frozen II Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (11/16): I’ve upgraded my estimate from $113.7M to $126.7M

Today, frozen is the word described by many as what they’re experiencing when they attempt to view Disney Plus on its first day of launch. Next weekend, Frozen II looks to heat up a sleepy box office and continue the Mouse Factory’s stellar year. This is the sequel to the 2013 smash hit that earned over a billion dollars worldwide. The computer animated musical fantasy has Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad returning to voice their known characters along with newbies Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Marsha Plimpton, and Jason Ritter. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee make a return engagement behind the camera.

Six years ago in November, part 1 turned into a phenomenon. Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the critically hailed Oscar winner took in $93 million and legged out impressively to a domestic haul of $400 million. This time around, expectations are understandably sky high. A gross north of $100 million out of the gate is anticipated.

With its rather short span between entries, Frozen II should achieve that status. I suspect earnings in the neighborhood of what Toy Story 4 ($120.9 million) took in this summer is the range. I’ll put it a few million over that mark.

Frozen II opening weekend prediction: $126.7 million

For my A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/11/13/a-beautiful-day-in-the-neighborhood-box-office-prediction/

For my 21 Bridges prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/11/15/21-bridges-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/

Coco Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (11/21): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my estimate up a bit from $50.5 million in the three-day to $54.1 million and $74.6 million for the five-day.

Disney/Pixar looks to brings hordes of family audiences in over the Thanksgiving holiday once again when Coco debuts next Wednesday. The musical fantasy centers around the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead and features the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, and Edward James Olmos. It’s directed by Lee Unkrich, who last made Toy Story 3 for the studio.

The animated flick is already setting box office records in Mexico, which should be no major surprise given its setting. Reviews (as they typically are for Pixar) are solid with a current 96% Rotten Tomatoes score.

So how well will Coco perform stateside? Looking over the history of Disney’s Thanksgiving releases, there are several models to choose from. On the high-end, 2013’s Frozen took in $67.3 million for the three-day traditional Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and $93.9 million for the five-day Wednesday to Sunday gross. On the low-end, 2015’s The Good Dinosaur only managed $39.1 million from Friday to Sunday and $55.4 million for the five-day. I don’t believe Coco will achieve the Frozen peak or the Dinosaur low.

Going back to just last year, Moana earned $56.6 million for the three-day and $82 million from Wednesday-Sunday. That would be on the higher end of expectations here, but it’s certainly feasible. Like Moana, our 2017 Disney offering has good buzz and looks to be the front-runner for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

Yet I believe it may fall a bit below that and the best model I see goes back seven years to Tangled, which took in $48.7 million for the three-day and $68.7 million for the five-day. I’ll estimate Coco gets just above that.

Coco opening weekend prediction: $54.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $74.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Roman J. Israel, Esq. prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/11/19/roman-j-israel-esq-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Moana

The review embargo lapsed today on Disney newest animated creation, Moana, which hits screens November 23rd. The musical comedy comes from the studio’s acclaimed directors John Musker and Ron Clements, the men responsible for Mouse Factory classics like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. The film’s songs were co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man responsible for a little Broadway show called Hamilton.

Not too surprisingly, early reviews suggest this is another Disney triumph. The girl power tale (a staple of the studio as of late – think Brave and Frozen) stands at 100% on the Tomato Meter. It’s been long thought that Moana could be a major player in the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars and today’s buzz certainly solidifies that.

That said, Moana is not a slam dunk when it comes to winning the race and that’s due to competition from (you guessed it!)… Disney. This spring, the studio put out the critically heralded mega-hit Zootopia and it definitely stands a chance at the big prize.

Either way, expect to see at least two of the studio’s pics among the five to be nominated with Finding Dory possibly swimming its way into the mix as well.

Oscar Watch: Finding Dory

When it come to their movies getting nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, Pixar is in a class by itself. This specific category was created in 2001. Of the 15 pictures that have won, 8 have come from Pixar. They include 2004’s The Incredibles, 2007’s Ratatouille, 2008’s Wall-E, 2009’s Up, 2010’s Toy Story 3, 2012’s Brave, and 2015’s Inside Out.

And the first Pixar pic to claim the prize? 2003’s Finding Nemo and its long in the works sequel Finding Dory is out Friday. Will Dory become the 9th studio entry to take home the gold statue? After all, it has a glowing 94% Rotten Tomatoes score and could be the summer’s biggest hit.

Well… Not so fast. It’s also worth noting that in 2013 and 2014, two traditional Disney animated flicks took the Oscar with Frozen and Big Hero 6. While Finding Dory will unquestionably score a nomination, its main competition appears now to be Zootopia. That Disney animated traditional title, released in March, became a box office phenomenon itself (a billion worldwide) and holds an even better 98% RT rating. I would maintain that the animals of Zootopia currently hold the edge, with Dory swimming a bit behind it.