A year ago, Everything Everywhere All at Once premiered at the South by Southwest, therefore skipping the normal autumn film festivals in favor of the Austin event. It now appears on the precipice of winning Best Picture at the Oscars. We aren’t looking at the same storyline with SXSW in 2023 with its debut picture Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Could it have a role at all to play in next year’s awards mix?
It might. Based on the nearly half century old tabletop game that inspired many a filmmaker and writer, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (who made 2018’s Game Night) direct. The cast includes Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, and Hugh Grant. Early fest reviews are encouraging as the Rotten Tomatoes score is 100% based on the limited reaction. The critical takes indicate this will appeal to die-hards of the source material and neophytes.
I certainly don’t think we’re looking at two years in a row of the likely BP winner coming from SXSW. However, Dungeons (out stateside on March 31) is being particularly praised for its Visual Effects and Production Design. I wouldn’t completely count this out to be a contender in either category (especially the former). My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Improbably based on a true story, the comedy Tag hits theaters next weekend. Based on a 2013 WallStreetJournal article, the film focuses on a group of pals who engage in a long-term version of the kids game. Stars include Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Brian Dennehy, and Lil Rel Howery. It marks the directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic.
The ads hype the “actually based on real stuff” angle, but I felt the trailer could’ve been a bit stronger. I’m not confident this holds any significant breakout potential. The Warner Bros release would likely love the achieve the $17 million debut of this spring’s GameNight and that might be the generous ceiling here. I’d say even with the cast of familiar faces, it doesn’t have the relative star power or laugh out loud promo materials. And I wouldn’t count Renner as this isn’t the genre he’s known for… see TheHouse from a year ago.
Outside of the Hangover franchise, Helms has had a rough road recently as FatherFigures was a dud and even his Vacation reboot fell a bit shy of $60 million three summers back. I’ll project this reaches low double digits to mid teens for a so-so showing. As we await the blockbuster comedic pic of this season, I have a hunch Tag is not it.
We have a quintet of pictures entering the marketplace this weekend and it may mean Black Panther is dethroned after five weeks atop the charts. They are: sci-fi sequel Pacific Rim Uprising, animated sequel Sherlock Gnomes, Biblical drama Paul, Apostle of Christ, YA romance Midnight Sun, and psychological thriller Unsane. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on all of them here:
Even though I have the Pacific follow-up generating less coin than its 2013 predecessor, its haul should be enough to have it rise to the top. That said, Black Panther has continually defied expectations and held off other high-profile titles such as A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider from getting to first place.
Sherlock Gnomes is a question mark in my view. Its predecessor – 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet – had a solid $25 million opening, but that was seven long years ago. My lower teens estimate may nab it a third place showing.
If Sherlock fails to meet expectations, it could allow Tomb Raider or I Could Only Imagine to place third. The second weekend of Imagine should particularly be interesting to watch as it significantly topped all expectations and could be set for a small drop based on word-of-mouth. Raider, on the other hand, should lose arouns half its audience after a disappointing start.
Paul, Apostle of Christ is slated to open on only about 1400 screens and my $5.5 million estimate for it puts it outside the top 5. I also expect the other two newbies to debut weakly with Midnight Sun predicted at $4 million and Unsane at $3.9 million.
And with that, my top 5 estimates for the weekend ahead:
1. Pacific Rim Uprising
Predicted Gross: $23.4 million
2. Black Panther
Predicted Gross: $17.9 million
3. Sherlock Gnomes
Predicted Gross: $13.7 million
4. I Can Only Imagine
Predicted Gross: $13 million
5. Tomb Raider
Predicted Gross: $11.2 million
Box Office Results (March 16-18)
Black Panther held off Lara Croft and was #1 for the fifth consecutive weekend. It’s the first picture to accomplish that feat since Avatar eight years ago. The Marvel behemoth grossed $26.6 million (in line with my $25.7 million projection) to bring its total to $605 million. It currently sits at 7th on the all-time domestic earners list and this coming weekend, it should supplant The Avengers at #5 to become the highest grossing comic book adaptation ever in the United States.
Tomb Raider had to settle for the runner-up position with $23.6 million, shy of my $26.4 million prediction. The franchise reboot got off to a shaky start and future sequels appear questionable at best.
The box office story of the weekend was faith-based musical drama I Can Only Imagine, which astonished predictors like me with a third place opening of $17.1 million. I was, um, a bit lower at $5.4 million. Imagine has clearly captivated Christian audiences and it posted the largest per screen average of any pic in the top 10. With the Easter holiday approaching, it could be in for a bountiful road ahead.
A Wrinkle in Time dropped to fourth with $16.2 million (I said $16.4 million) in weekend #2, bringing its lackluster tally to $60 million. At this point, it appears questionable that it will reach $100 million domestically.
Love, Simon took the five spot with $11.7 million, a bit under my $13.3 million estimate. The coming-of-age drama did receive positive reviews and audience word-of-mouth is strong, so it could experience small declines in coming weekends.
I incorrectly had Game Night at #5 until Imagine upended that, but it grossed $5.6 million for sixth. My prediction? $5.6 million!
Finally, 7 Days in Entebbe failed to bring in an audience, debuting in 13th place with $1.5 million. On the bright side (?), it did top my $972,000 forecast.
Over the weekend, even Disney couldn’t knock Disney’s Black Panther off its perch atop the box office for the fourth frame in a row. Might the King’s reign end this weekend with the release of Tomb Raider? We also have teen romantic drama Love, Simon and faith-based true life drama I Can Only Imagine debuting. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on that trio here:
And that’s not quite all. There’s also the action thriller 7 Days in Entebbe with Daniel Bruhl and Rosamund Pike. It’s slated to come out on a low 800 screens and reviews have not been kind. I think it will be lucky to clear $1 million in its opening and I didn’t bother to do an individual estimate for it.
My estimate for Tomb Raider does give it the #1 slot, albeit not by much. I believe Panther is probably good for another $25M+ weekend and that puts it within striking distance.
Love, Simon is a big question mark in my view. It has sleeper potential due to its subject matter and glowing reviews. It could easily surprise and post a third place debut, but I’ve got it a bit lower in fourth after the second weekend of A Wrinkle in Time. That film, which underwhelmed out of the gate, could lose about half its opening weekend audience.
As for the five spot, I predict Game Night will stay there (vaulting over The Strangers: Prey at Night and Red Sparrow). My $5.4 million projection for I Can Only Imagine leaves it just outside the top 5 (yet even it has the potential to surpass my meager estimate).
And with that, here’s how I have the weekend playing out:
1. Tomb Raider
Predicted Gross: $26.4 million
2. Black Panther
Predicted Gross: $25.7 million
3. A Wrinkle in Time
Predicted Gross: $16.4 million
4. Love, Simon
Predicted Gross: $13.3 million
5. Game Night
Predicted Gross: $5.6 million
Box Office Results (March 9-11)
Black Panther held off its most serious competition to date – topping the charts and becoming the highest grossing comic book flick not named The Avengers. Holding the #1 spot for the fourth weekend in a row, Panther made $40.8 million (on target with my $40.2 estimate) for $561 million total. It now appears inevitable that it will surpass the $623 million made by Avengers to become the all-time superhero champ.
A Wrinkle in Time had to settle for the runner-up spot with $33.1 million as it came in on the lower end of estimates (middling reviews probably didn’t help). The heavily promoted fantasy debuted under my forecast of $37.8 million. Depending on its holds over the next few weeks, it could struggle to reach the century club.
As far as newcomers go, the success story of the weekend is long gestating horror sequel The Strangers: Prey at Night, which earned $10.4 million for third and topped my $7.9 million projection. In one weekend, it made double its teeny $5 million budget.
Red Sparrow was fourth in its sophomore outing with $8.5 million (I said $8.1 million) to bring its rather disappointing tally to $31 million.
Peter Rabbit ended up sixth with $6.7 million (I said $7.5 million) for $93 million as it hops towards the $100 million club.
I incorrectly had Game Night outside the top five, but it placed fifth with $7.8 million for $45 million overall.
The Hurricane Heist bombed with moviegoers and earned just $3 million in its ninth place opening, under my $5.6 million prediction. Gringo was another newcomer gaining zero traction with audiences as it made $2.7 million for 11th place (I said $3.1 million).
Too many big studio comedies can be numbered by the handful of gags that work while the rest fall flat. This is thankfully not the case with GameNight. It’s gimmicky, sure. It’s a bit forgettable. Yet it’s consistently amusing and doesn’t overburden itself with too much sentimentality. As far as the genre goes as of late, that’s enough to mark this a success.
The pic comes from co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who last made the more consistently unfunny Vacation reboot. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are Max and Annie, married with no children even though she’s ready. Their biggest shared love is one of competitiveness, which includes their game nights with friends. Their usual group includes playboy Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and childhood sweethearts Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury). Next door neighbor and police officer Gary (Jesse Plemons) is a former regular until his recent divorce has turned him into quite the weirdo.
Our main couple’s typical showing of charade and board gaming dominance is interrupted when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) pops up. Brooks is the ultra cool brother with a better bone structure and larger pocketbook that Max harbors jealousy for. Instead of Clue or Risk, Brooks has a different idea for game night involving a kidnapping and real actors interacting with the group. The players won’t know what’s real and what isn’t.
Wouldn’t you know it? Turns out some real kidnappers turn up and that Brooks may be involved in some seedy stuff. What follows is a search for a Faberge egg, guns that the principals think aren’t real (an overused gag by now), squeaky toys used to bite down on for pain (a never before seen gag that’s pretty darn funny), and Bateman’s patented ironic detachment that always seems to work.
Night is served with a game cast. Standouts include Plemons as the creepy but probably well-meaning neighbor and Magnussen as the dim bulb participant of the team. Sharon Horgan is his much smarter date for the evening and she provides some humorous moments as well. The screenplay also provides a twist or two that are genuinely surprising.
The actual concept of a game night may not be as joyous as it’s supposed to be on occasion. You need fun people there. This movie has them. Like real game nights, you may forget some of details by the next day but you’ll remember enjoying it.
Blogger’s Note (03/07): I am revising my Wrinkle prediction from $42.8 million to $37.8 million and now have it in second place
A quartet of new movies enter the marketplace this weekend as Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, horror sequel The Strangers: Prey at Night, disaster action pic The Hurricane Heist, and action comedy Gringo debut. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
A month ago, I would have told you that A Wrinkle in Time would easily debut at #1. However, then Black Panther happened (another Disney property). While I’m giving Time the #1 slot, if it under performs, it’s not out of the question that Panther could spend a fourth week atop the charts. I actually have the two of them quite close.
The other newbies likely face a tough road ahead. I have The Strangers sequel tops among that trio. My meager $3.1 million estimate for Gringo puts it well outside the top 5 while my $5.6 million projection for Hurricane also leaves it on the outside looking in. I’ll say Hurricane misses the top 5 due to holdover powers of others. The 3-5 slots and a bit beyond could have quite a logjam with Red Sparrow, Game Night, and Peter Rabbit all posting similar grosses. Sparrow should manage to be #3 (barely by my count). I’ll say current #3 Death Wish doesn’t hold up as well as Night or Rabbit and falls from the top 5 altogether.
And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend ahead:
Predicted Gross: $40.2 million
2. A Wrinkle in Time
Predicted Gross: $37.8 million
3. Red Sparrow
Predicted Gross: $8.1 million
4. The Strangers: Prey at Night
Predicted Gross: $7.9 million
5. Peter Rabbit
Predicted Gross: $7.5 million
Box Office Results (March 2-4)
Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther continued its incredible performance in its third weekend, easily placing first with $66.3 million (in range with my $65.4 million forecast) for a total of $501 million overall. That puts Panther currently in 10th place on the all-time domestic earners list and it’s likely to climb to seventh this weekend. Its gross is good for the #3 all-time third weekend, behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avatar.
Red Sparrow took the runner-up spot with a middling $16.8 million (just under my $17.5 million estimate). The Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller was hit with mixed reviews and marks the second box office disappointment in a row for the lead actress after mother!.
The Death Wish remake with Bruce Willis opened in third to a rather disappointing $13 million, under my $16.6 million projection. Poor reviews and potential bad timing for its release could have hurt it. It should fade rather quickly.
Game Night was fourth in its sophomore frame, holding up well with $10.4 million (I said $9.8 million) for $33 million total.
Peter Rabbit rounded out the top five with $10 million (ahead of my prediction of $8.7 million) for $84 million overall. The family tale looks to join the century club at some point.
Marvel’s Black Panther should continue its momentous run atop the box office as two newbies compete for action fan attention. They are Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence and Death Wish starring Bruce Willis. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
Not long ago, I might have estimated Red Sparrow would easily top Death Wish in their head to head. However, I’m beginning to believe it might be a fairly close race for the runner-up spot to Panther. That said, I’m still giving Katniss the edge over John McClane… or Joy over Hudson Hawk if you want to go less obvious.
Holdovers Game Night and Peter Rabbit should round out the top five.
And with that, my top 5 predictions for the weekend:
1. Black Panther
Predicted Gross: $65.4 million
2. Red Sparrow
Predicted Gross: $17.5 million
3. Death Wish
Predicted Gross: $16.6 million
4. Game Night
Predicted Gross: $9.8 million
5. Peter Rabbit
Predicted Gross: $8.7 million
Box Office Results (February 23-25)
Black Panther continued to confound prognosticators with its amazing run. In its sophomore frame, the Marvel phenomenon grossed $111.6 million, surging past my $101.8 million forecast. Incredibly, that gives it the #2 largest second weekend of all time behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Game Night debuted in second with a solid $17 million, capitalizing on positive reviews and a dearth of comedies to choose from. It opened in line with my $16.3 million estimate.
Peter Rabbit was third with $12.7 million in weekend #3 (I said $11.6 million) for $71 million overall.
Annihilation with Natalie Portman, despite glowing critical reception, struggled in fourth with $11 million – just edging my $10.4 million projection. While critics are digging it, audiences only gave it a C Cinemascore grade. Look for it to fade quickly.
Fifty Shades Freed rounded out the top five with $7.1 million (I said $6.9 million) to bring its tally to $89 million.
Finally, the YA romantic drama Every Day opened meekly in ninth with $3 million, right in line with my $2.9 million estimate.
The domination of Black Panther should continue at the box office in full force this weekend, but we do have some new titles debuting. The Jason Bateman/Rachel McAdams comedy Game Night and Natalie Portman led sci-fi thriller Annihilation hit screens and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
There’s also Every Day, a romantic drama based on a YA novel that’s rolling out on roughly 1650 screens. It seems to be flying pretty far under the radar and I didn’t do an individual post on it. I’ll estimate it only generates $2.9 million in sales.
As for the more high-profile newbies, Game Night appears poised for a second place showing. Annihilation is more of a question mark in my mind. Depending on the drop that Peter Rabbit experiences in its third weekend, it could be third or fourth with Fifty Shades Freed rounding out the top five.
Black Panther will easily rule the charts after its historic and record breaking premiere (more on that below). The Marvel phenomenon could top $100 million in its sophomore frame and that would put it fourth all time as far as #2 weekends go. That said, it pretty much blew away all expectations over the long weekend so maybe it gets to over $100 million.
And with that, my top 5 predictions for the weekend:
1. Black Panther
Predicted Gross: $101.8 million
2. Game Night
Predicted Gross: $16.3 million
3. Peter Rabbit
Predicted Gross: $11.6 million
Predicted Gross: $10.4 million
5. Fifty Shades Freed
Predicted Gross: $6.9 million
Box Office Results (February 16-19)
It was an absolutely incredible debut for Black Panther as the critically acclaimed comic book adaptation smashed the February record and then some. Panther took in $242.1 million over the President’s Day frame, blasting past my $193.8 million estimate. Deadpool was the previous February high at $152 million. Its Friday to Sunday haul of $202 million gave it the fifth largest domestic opening of all time – right behind MCU counterpart The Avengers. Its Monday gross of $40.1 million stands as the highest Monday gross of all time – just edging out Star Wars: The Force Awakens by a few thousand bucks. With an A+ Cinemascore grade, look for Panther to continue its run for the ages into the next several weekends.
Peter Rabbit stayed put in the runner-up position with $23.3 million, hopping a touch over my $20.9 million prediction for a two-week tally of $54 million.
Fifty Shades Freed dropped to third with $19.4 million, a bit ahead of my $17 million estimate. In its two weeks of release, the threequel has taken in $78 million.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle took the four spot with $10 million, right in line with my $9.6 million projection for $379 million overall.
The 15:17 to Paris rounded out the top five with $8.9 million (I said $7.9 million) for $26 million thus far.
Stop-motion animated feature Early Man, despite mostly solid reviews, didn’t connect with family audiences. The pic opened in seventh with only $4.2 million compared to my prediction of $5.7 million.
Lastly, the Biblical drama Samson made no impact with moviegoers with just $2.2 million, not even matching my $3.1 million forecast.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are a couple whose night of innocent fun goes horribly wrong in the comedy Game Night, opening next Friday. From John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the guys behind Horrible Bosses and the 2015 Vacation reboot, the pic costars Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Michael C. Hall, Jesse Plemons, and Jeffrey Wright.
Night could manage to appeal to moviegoers looking for a straight comedy in the midst of other genre fare in the marketplace. Black Panther will certainly being tearing up competition in weekend #2 and Annihilation is also out there for sci-fi fans. As far as movies reaching for the funny bone, this stands alone.
I could envision Game Night performing similarly to recent Bateman outings like Horrible Bosses 2 and Office Christmas Party. That would put it in the mid teens range for its start.
Game Night opening weekend prediction: $16.3 million