Oscar Predictions: Strange World

Disney, be it through their traditionally animated works or especially Pixar, has had a stranglehold on the Best Animated Feature race at the Oscars. The category began in 2001. Of the 21 winners, 15 are from the Mouse Factory. That includes 9 out of the last 10 (the outlier is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).

The Disney domination appears fragile in 2022. Their adventure tale Strange World, focused on a legendary group of explorers, hits multiplexes over the Turkey Day weekend. Don Hall and Qui Nguyen direct with a voice cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu.

With its review embargo up, the Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 72%. That’s pretty low for this studio’s product. The Pixar offering from earlier in the year, Turning Red, sits at 95%. Now that World has been seen, it appears Red is Disney’s strongest contender to take the Academy’s prize. In fact, Strange World could miss the top five altogether.

However, Red is expected to come up short to Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio from Netflix. We were waiting to see if Strange could present a challenge. It will not and my Oscar prediction posts will continue…

Strange World Box Office Prediction

The last time Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal played father and son, it was nearly 20 years ago in Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow. For the upcoming holiday, they’re family again in the Mouse Factory’s animated Strange World (out Wednesday November 23rd). Voicing a pair of explorers in the sci-fi themed adventure, Don Hall (who made Big Hero 6 and Raya and the Last Dragon) and Qui Nguyen direct. Other voices getting in on the action include Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu.

Disney is no stranger to releasing high profile product over the long Turkey Day frame. Sometimes that’s Pixar material or traditionally drawn fare such as this. Frozen remains the gold standard. It debuted to $67 million for the Friday to Sunday portion of Thanksgiving weekend with $93 million when counting Wednesday and Thursday. Other Disney releases like Moana and Coco made off with $82 and $72 million over their respective first five. On the other hand, The Good Dinosaur grossed just under $40 million from Friday to Sunday in 2015 with $55 million for the extended period. Perhaps the best comp is last year’s Encanto. It made $27 million for the three-day with $40 million for the five.

The buzz seems strangely quiet considering the studio pedigree. I would argue Encanto had more heat before it opened. Strange could manage only a second place start behind the third outing for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (which does give Disney a one-two punch for the weekend). This might open a little closer to Dreamworks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar from eight Thanksgivings ago at $25 million (Fri-Sun) and $35 million (Wed-Sun). It might even fall short of that.

Strange World opening weekend prediction: $19.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $26.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Devotion trailer, click here:

For my Bones and All prediction, click here:

For my The Fabelmans prediction, click here:

Oscar Predictions: The Inspection

Basing his directorial debut on his own experiences, Elegance Bratton has premiered The Inspection at the Toronto Film Festival prior to its November 18th domestic release. The A24 title features Jeremy Pope as a Marine at boot camp whose homosexuality is revealed. Costars include Raul Castillo, McCaul Lombardi, Bokeem Woodbine, and Gabrielle Union.

Reviews out of Canada are looking good for the most part and the Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 87%. Yet I’m doubtful this could play in Best Picture or for Bratton’s original screenplay. On the other hand, many critics are calling this a star making performance from Pope. He’s a recent Emmy nominee for the Netflix miniseries Hollywood (he’s also received Tony and Grammy nods for his stage work).

The studio will need to really push Pope for any hope of making the final five. Some of the those slots – Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Hugh Jackman (The Son) – may already be spoken for. It remains The Inspection‘s most realistic hope. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Summer 2000: The Top 10 Hits and More

As I do every summer on the blog, I am looking back at the cinematic seasons of 30, 20, and 10 years ago and recounting the top ten hits, other notable pics, and some misfires. A week ago, I covered the summer of 1990 (when we all were “ghosted”). If you missed it, you can peruse it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/18/summer-1990-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Today brings us to the dawn of the new century. What struck me is that there weren’t a whole lot of outright flops, but the ones that were are rather significant bombs. Let’s take a trip down memory lane of 2000 and were we not entertained?!?!

10. The Patriot

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger teamed up with disaster flick specialist Roland Emmerich for this Revolutionary War era drama that managed to just achieve blockbuster status and barely top its reported $110 million budget stateside.

9. Big Momma’s House

Domestic Gross: $117 million

Negative reviews couldn’t prevent this Martin Lawrence comedy from nearly quadrupling its $30 million budget and spawning two eventual sequels. 30% also happens to be its Rotten Tomatoes score.

8. Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

Domestic Gross: $123 million

Eddie Murphy’s sequel to his 1996 hit certainly didn’t get the reviews of its predecessor, but it fell only $5 million short of the domestic gross of part 1 and introduced superstar Janet Jackson as his new love interest. Part 2 also greatly expanded Eddie’s work as other members of the Klump brood. As you can see from numbers 8 and 9, it was a big summer for comedians in fat suits.

7. Dinosaur

Domestic Gross: $137 million

The prehistoric Disney animated adventure is not one of their most talked about titles in recent decades, but it was still a profitable venture that grossed nearly $350 million worldwide.

6. What Lies Beneath

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Despite mixed reviews, Robert Zemeckis’s Hitchcockian thriller starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer landed big with audiences. Its filming schedule is a memorable one. Zemeckis was shooting Cast Away with Tom Hanks and there was a long break in filming so its star could shed weight and grow his long beard. It was enough time for the director to fit in Beneath. 

5. Scary Movie

Domestic Gross: $157 million

The summer’s biggest comedy was a Scream spoof from filmmaker Keenan Ivory Wayans. Shot for less than $20 million, it spawned four sequels and became its own franchise.

4. X-Men

Domestic Gross: $157 million

I recently wrote about the 20th anniversary of X-Men here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/14/x-men-at-20-a-look-back/

That post talks about its significant impact on the comic book genre that has dominated the 21st century.

3. The Perfect Storm

Domestic Gross: $182 million

Wolfgang Peterson’s fact based disaster drama with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg was not much of a hit with critics, but crowds were swept up in the waves.

2. Gladiator

Domestic Gross: $187 million

Ridley Scott’s historical action drama kicked off summer 2000 and made a global superstar out of Russell Crowe and provided a juicy supporting part for Joaquin Phoenix. The film became an Oscar darling – winning Best Picture and Crowe taking Best Actor. This is the rare summer popcorn pic that achieved awards glory.

1. Mission: Impossible 2

Domestic Gross: $215 million

This sequel cruised to the top spot of earners for the season. Now that there’s been six editions in the franchise, this John Woo directed experience is generally (and rightfully) considered the weakest of the bunch. Yet that didn’t prevent huge grosses.

And now for some other notable features:

Chicken Run

Domestic Gross: $106 million

This still stands as the highest grossing stop-motion animated feature of all time and it doubled its budget domestically. A sequel is in development, but it was recently announced that lead voice Mel Gibson will not be part of the proceedings.

Gone in 60 Seconds

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Despite poor reviews, Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie’s remake of the 1970s heist pic still zoomed (barely) past $100 million and was a solid performer overseas.

Me, Myself & Irene

Domestic Gross: $90 million

The Farrelly Brothers reunited with their Dumb and Dumber star Jim Carrey for this comedy that earned mixed reaction. This was nowhere near the hit that the brothers had two years earlier with their runaway success There’s Something About Mary, but it still made money.

Space Cowboys

Domestic Gross: $90 million

Clint Eastwood guided this “old guys in space” tale alongside Tommy Lee Jones to a very respectable gross and decent critical reaction.

Hollow Man

Domestic Gross: $73 million

Paul Verhoeven’s take on the H.G. Wells novel starred Kevin Bacon and earned a Visual Effects Oscar nomination (losing to Gladiator). While it didn’t make its budget back stateside, it ended up doubling its price tag when factoring in foreign markets. A direct to video sequel followed.

Shaft

Domestic Gross: $70 million

Samuel L. Jackson took over the iconic private dick role from Richard Roundtree (who costarred here) in this sequel from the late John Singleton. Christian Bale memorably plays a villain here. Another sequel followed in 2019 and it was an outright flop.

Bring It On

Domestic Gross: $68 million

Made for only $11 million, this teen cheerleading comedy was an unexpected hit that gave Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union a boost in their careers. Five direct to video sequels followed as well as a stage musical.

The Cell

Domestic Gross: $61 million

Despite so-so reviews, this twisty supernatural thriller with Jennifer Lopez easily topped its $33 million budget. It has continued to have ardent admirers including the late Roger Ebert, who awarded it four stars.

Coyote Ugly

Domestic Gross: $60 million

This tale about saloon life with Piper Perabo and John Goodman managed to take in over $100 million worldwide against a $45 million budget and has become a cult favorite since.

The Original Kings of Comedy

Domestic Gross: $38 million

A stand-up comedy pic grossing this much in theaters is notable. Spike Lee directed Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, and Cedric the Entertainer and audiences turned out.

As I mentioned, the total bombs aren’t plentiful here. However, they’re notable:

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Domestic Gross: $26 million

A pet project of Robert De Niro, this loose take on the 1960s animated series grossed a third of its budget domestically and was quickly forgotten.

Titan A.E.

Domestic Gross: $22 million

20th Century Fox had a big failure here at the start of the 21st century with this animated sci-fi tale with Matt Damon as a leading voice. The price tag was reportedly around $90 million and it made just $36 million worldwide.

Battlefield Earth

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Based on a work from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, audiences and critics savaged this sci-fi tale with John Travolta. It won a then record 7 Golden Raspberry Awards and was mocked relentlessly for its poor quality.

And that does it, folks! I’ll have 2010 recounted on the blog in the coming days…

Breaking In Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (05/10/18): On the eve of its premiere, bumping my estimate from $13.6 million to $17.6 million

Gabrielle Union headlines the thriller Breaking In, out next weekend. Will the movie be able to generate any box office heat or will audiences have a cavalier attitude towards it? The actress plays a single mom caught up in a home invasion situation with her kids. James McTeigue, best known for making 2006’s V for Vendetta, is behind the camera. Costars include Ajiona Alexus, Christa Miller, Jason George, Billy Burke, and Richard Cabral.

The Universal release is currently slated to open on approximately 2300 screens. While it seems to be flying a bit under the radar, it could have enough appeal to female and African-American audiences to post a double digits debut. I’ll predict it manages to do that, which should place it third behind the third weekend of Avengers: Infinity War and the premiere of Melissa McCarthy’s Life of the Party.

Breaking In opening weekend prediction: $17.6 million

For my Life of the Party prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/02/life-of-the-party-box-office-prediction/

Sleepless Box Office Prediction

Based on a 2011 French feature, Sleepless will attempt to bring audiences in when it debuts next weekend. The action thriller stars Jamie Foxx as a crooked cop embroiled in a kidnapping case. Michelle Monaghan (pulling double duty over MLK weekend with Patriots Day as well), T.I., Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, and Gabrielle Union costar.

The Open Roads Films product could face a tough road attracting attention. For starters, competition is fierce with the aforementioned Patriots and Ben Affleck’s Live by Night looking to lure similar viewers. If it weren’t for that level of competition, my estimate here would probably be higher. There’s little doubt Sleepless will come in third among them.

Just how far in third is the real question. I don’t believe trailers and TV spots have done much to indicate this is anything more than a wait for On Demand experience. Foxx has his fans, but I suspect that will not be enough for anything other than a low double digits roll out.

Sleepless opening weekend prediction: $10.3 million

For my Patriots Day prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/04/patriots-day-box-office-prediction/

For my Live by Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/04/live-by-night-box-office-prediction/

For my Silence prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/silence-box-office-prediction/

For my Monster Trucks prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/monster-trucks-box-office-prediction/

For my The Bye Bye Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/the-bye-bye-man-box-office-prediction/

Almost Christmas Box Office Prediction

Next weekend comes the first Christmas themed title as Almost Christmas presents itself in theaters. The pic comes from director David E. Talbert, maker of 2008’s First Sunday and 2013’s Baggage Claim. The comedic drama focuses on a dysfunctional holiday family gathering with a cast that includes Kimberly Elise, Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union, Danny Glover, Jessie Usher, Danny Glover, Nicole Ari Parker, Omar Epps, John Michael Higgins, and Romany Malco.

Christmas should benefit from both its release date and the fact that it could attract a sizable African American audience. One decent comp would be 2007’s This Christmas, which debuted to $17.9 million. A more unlikely comp would be 2013’s The Best Man Holiday, which shocked the industry with an opening of over $30M.

I’ll say Almost Christmas manages a merry start in the high teens range.

Almost Christmas opening weekend prediction: $18.3 million

For my Arrival prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/02/arrival-box-office-prediction/

For my Shut In prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/02/shut-in-box-office-prediction/

The Birth of a Nation Box Office Prediction

When Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation debuted at the Sundance Film Festival all the way back in January, it garnered red-hot buzz that included awards chatter. Fox Searchlight quickly snatched up the rights and it rolls out in theaters next weekend. The pic tells the true life tale of slave rebellion leader Nat Turner in 1831. Parker directed, produced, wrote, and stars in the $10 million production. Costars include Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, and Penelope Ann Miller.

Since its wildly successful roll out this past winter, Birth has faced an interesting and sometimes troubling journey to the wide release date. While its 82% on Rotten Tomatoes indicates the aforementioned positive critical reaction, the film has seemed to diminish in the view of Oscar forecasters. Whether that’s due to buzz waning or other worthy pictures being screened since then is an open question.

And, yes, there’s the matter of Nate Parker’s personal life stemming from a 1999 rape case and his accuser’s suicide years later. The matter has received significant publicity over the last few months. How the story affects Nation‘s box office performance obviously seems inconsequential considering the larger picture, but it must be taken into consideration for any prediction.

All of those factors have contributed to Birth losing some luster and, truth be told, my opening weekend prediction post Sundance probably would’ve been higher. I’ll predict this manages to get past double digits, but not by much.

The Birth of a Nation opening weekend prediction: $10.5 million

For my The Girl on the Train prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/28/the-girl-on-the-train-box-office-prediction/

For my Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/28/middle-school-the-worst-years-of-my-life-box-office-prediction/

Keanu Box Office Prediction

The comedic stylings of Key (Keegan-Michael Key) and Peele (Jordan Peele) come to the big screen with Keanu, out next weekend. The R rated laugher centers around a cat theft and our leads getting caught up with some violent criminals. Method Man, Gabrielle Union, Nia Long, Will Forte, Luis Guzman, and, yes, Keanu Reeves costar.

Keanu’s dynamic duo are known for their hit Comedy Central show, which just ended its run last year. Their first film vehicle premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival to solid buzz and its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 75%.

Will audiences follow Key and Peele to the multiplex? If this got to over $20 million in its premiere, Warner Bros would be over the moon. I believe a more likely result is in the mid to high teens.

Keanu opening weekend prediction: $17.6 million

For my Mother’s Day prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/04/22/mothers-day-box-office-prediction/

For my Ratchet & Clank prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/04/23/ratchet-clank-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Birth of a Nation

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Just one day after the Sundance Film Festival gave us our first 2016 Oscar contender with Manchester by the Sea, the second landed today in a very big way. It arrived in the form of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, which Mr. Parker also cowrote and stars in. Nation tells the story of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. Costars include Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley, and Gabrielle Union. The $10 million production reportedly took Parker (a semi well known actor known who’s appeared in Red Tails and Non-Stop) seven years to get off the ground.

At today’s Sundance screening, Nation was greeted with rapturous word of mouth and a prolonged standing ovation. There is expected to be a feeding frenzy among studios to purchase the film’s rights. Expect fervent buzz for this get attention for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Actor with Parker seemingly on his way to becoming a household name.

Bottom line: two days at Sundance have already in January produced two real possibilities come next year at Oscar time.