Devotion Box Office Prediction

Sony Pictures is hoping Thanksgiving moviegoers fly with Devotion when it opens Wednesday, November 23rd. The true life tale of Korean War fighter pilots stars Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Joe Jonas, and Christina Jackson. J.D. Dillard directs the reported $90 million production.

Reviews were decent after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 85%. The pic hopes to bring in an older audience for the long holiday frame. It could help that Top Gun: Maverick and its naval storyline is the biggest blockbuster of 2022. There could be a carryover effect and it might not hurt that Powell (who played Hangman in Maverick) is in this.

That said, Devotion isn’t a sequel to an iconic 80s film and Tom Cruise is nowhere to be found in the cockpit. Considering the budget, this seems on course to flop. I’ll project the Friday to Sunday earnings fall under $10 million with the five-day in the lower teens.

Devotion opening weekend prediction: $7.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $10.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Strange World prediction, click here:

For my Bones and All prediction, click here:

For my The Fabelmans prediction, click here:

Oscar Predictions: Devotion

The fighter pilot movie of the year is… Top Gun: Maverick! Let’s not kid ourselves there, but Devotion is picking up some decent notices via the Toronto Film Festival. Directed by J.D. Dillard, the true life aviation tale set during the Korean War stars Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell (who you may recognize as Hangman from Maverick). It’s slated for theatrical release on November 23rd. The supporting cast includes Joe Jonas and Christina Jackson.

General consensus is that the war drama is adequate with Majors giving an ace performance. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 77%. It could benefit at the box office from a Top Gun phenomenon boost. Yet any awards love will be devoted to Cruise and crew. I don’t even look for this to fly in the tech races. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Top Gun: Maverick Review

Sun drenched SoCal nostalgia permeates every land, air, and beach surface of Top Gun: Maverick and it’s a pleasure to bask in the glow. Many a franchise lately has attempted to tap into our sentimentality and many have failed. 36 years after the original, Maverick elevates what preceded it while making us misty about those very events from the mid 80s. Perhaps most thrilling is watching a movie star firmly in control of what’s made him a headliner for five decades.

Captain Pete Mitchell aka Maverick (Tom Cruise) has refused upward promotion in the Navy while spending the bulk of his working hours skyward as a test pilot. The romance that took his breath away with Kelly McGillis is seemingly long dormant. His friendship with Iceman (Val Kilmer), now a decorated Admiral, saves his tail after a work mishap. Instead of washing out, he’s sent back to San Diego as a TOPGUN teacher. Against the wishes of a Vice Admiral who goes by Cyclone (Jon Hamm), Maverick is tasked with instructing a new generation of pilots.

Their mission (and they’re forced to accept it) is to destroy an unnamed enemy nation’s uranium enrichment plant. It is (ahem) a potentially impossible mission and Maverick’s tutelage is complicated by one of the students. Rooster (Miles Teller) is the son of the late Goose (Anthony Edwards) from the original. You may recall that he perished in the arms of the leading man and therefore eliminated his ability to talk to anyone except for metaphorically.

While the dynamic between the teacher and his pupil is the pic’s emotional through line, there’s subplots aplenty. This includes Maverick’s courtship of Penny (Jennifer Connelly), who checks the boxes of being an ex-flame, single mother, and bar owner where standards from the 1960s can be drunkenly belted out. We also get a truly emotional sequence with Cruise and Kilmer made more touching by the latter’s real world health challenges. And, of course, there’s a whole new crop of pilots. Most memorable, by far, is the cocky Hangman (Glen Powell). You’ll leave the theater convinced Powell is going to become a major headliner himself.

Then there’s the fact that technology has soared by leaps and bounds since the first one. To put it simply – the aerial battles in the third act are awesome and I would suggest an IMAX venue to take it in. As mentioned, many fan service attempts in recent times have been serviceable at best or less. Top Gun: Maverick, with its megawatt star, is more than that. It earns its stripes.

***1/2 (out of four)

Top Gun: Maverick Box Office Prediction

***And a final update for Top Gun: Maverick as my prediction rises again to $113.4 million for the three-day and $138 million for the four-day. That it gives it the #2 all-time Memorial Day for both frames.

***Blogger’s Update (05/25): Significantly up-ticking my estimate once again. Now projecting a three-day of $103.7M (good for second biggest Memorial Day Friday to Sunday) and $124.4M for the four-day (third largest all-time). Sky is increasing the limit…

**Blogger’s Update (05/24): Estimate updated from a three and four-day projection, respectively, of $75.6M and $98.8M to $86.6M and $104.9M. That now gives Maverick the #7 largest Memorial Day weekend three-day and #6 four-day

It could be a record breaking memorable weekend for Tom Cruise as Top Gun: Maverick finally lands in theaters. The long gestating sequel arrives 36 years after the original made Cruise a superstar. The wait was only supposed to be 33-34 years, but production delays and COVID postponements altered the plan.

Joseph Kosinki, who previously directed the lead in 2013’s Oblivion, directs. Costars include Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, Monica Barbaro, and Val Kilmer reprising his role as Iceman. Critics have certainly indicated this is worth the wait. Budgeted at a reported $150 million, reviews are impressive with a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score. There’s even Oscar buzz as it will surely be a contender in Sound and Song (with Lady Gaga crooning “Hold My Hand”).

Paramount is hopeful that Maverick will take the breath and money away from moviegoers over the Memorial Day frame. The loud buzz generated by critics should make this soar even higher than previously anticipated.

In doing so, we could see Tom cruise to a personal best opening. Somewhat surprisingly, his all-time largest opening is War of the Worlds at $64 million for the traditional Friday to Sunday period. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (the last flick to feature Cruise four years ago) is close behind at $61 million.

Maverick will, of course, have a four-day tally. That’s familiar territory for Cruise as the first three Mission: Impossible tales premiered over Memorial Day with the second one doing $70 million from Friday to Monday. However, it opened on the Wednesday before to bring its gross to $91 million.

First things first. I do believe Tom’s latest sequel will achieve his highest three day take ever. I also suspect there will be some projections for Maverick that will be too high. A four-day take of over $100 million is absolutely doable (and my prediction could rise in the coming days), but I’m skeptical. That’s uncharted territory for Mr. Cruise. A Friday to Sunday haul in the mid 70s seems likelier. If that happens, it should achieve mid 90s for the whole frame. That would give it the ninth best Memorial 3 day start – in between Solo: A Star Wars Story ($84 million) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($72 million). It would rise a spot to 8th for the four-day between the same two features at $103 million and $90 million, respectively. And that would be a memorable start indeed.

Top Gun: Maverick opening weekend prediction: $113.4 million (Friday to Sunday); $138 million (Friday to Monday)

For my The Bob’s Burgers Movie, click here:

The Bob’s Burgers Movie Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions – Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick was supposed to arrive a mere 34 years after its iconic predecessor. Due to numerous COVID delays, it now hits theaters on May 27th and some 36 years behind the original. By nearly all accounts, Tom Cruise and the filmmakers have landed the plane.

Ahead of its Cannes premiere, the review embargo has lapsed for Maverick and the Rotten Tomatoes score is a sizzling 96%. Nearly all critics are calling it an improvement over the ’86 blockbuster and it could be in line to give Cruise his largest opening and overall hit of his career (my box office prediction will arrive next week).

Three and a half decades back, part one caught the attention of Academy voters in four categories. The Berlin theme “Take My Breath Away” won Best Song and Gun nabbed nods for Film Editing, Sound, and Sound Effects Editing. All those races are in play again in one form or another.

Best Sound has been condensed to one category and it’s a near lock that the sequel will play there. Film Editing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects are also possibilities. Then there’s the sound of Lady Gaga’s voice. The superstar contributed the track “Hold My Hand” and it could be hard to beat. Ms. Gaga is poised for her third Song nomination behind 2015’s “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground and “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (which won). She also shares Score credit with Hans Zimmer (who just won a trophy for Dune) and Harold Faltermeyer (best known for his Beverly Hills Cop tune “Axel F”).

Let’s assume Sound and Song are gimmes. With the aforementioned others, we could be looking at a handful of mentions. Will the Academy go beyond the tech derbies? It looks like Maverick will be a gigantic earner and crowdpleaser. I have no doubt there will be a push from Paramount for Best Picture recognition and Cruise in Best Actor. If so, it would be his fourth acting nod. There were two in lead for 1989’s Born on the Fourth of July and 1996’s Jerry Maguire and a supporting mention for 1999’s Magnolia. He’s never made a victorious trip to the podium.

I’m skeptical about it playing in the major leagues, but wins in Sound and Song are doable. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions – Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Utilizing similar rotoscoping technology as his earlier animated efforts Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood hits Netflix on Friday after its South by Southwest premiere a couple of weeks back. A coming-of-age tale set during the 1969 Moon landing, early reviews have mostly soared with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes launch.

Linklater is no stranger to the Oscars. He nabbed screenplay nods for Before Sunset and Before Midnight. 2014’s Boyhood was nominated for six categories. Since that effort seven years ago, his follow-ups (Everybody Wants Some!!, Last Flag Flying, Where’d You Go, Bernadette) have all failed to reach the Academy’s radar.

Apollo could change that trajectory with an Animated Feature mention. The critical reaction is strong enough, but let’s see what else lands in the remaining nine months. It’s entirely possible that two of the five eventual contenders (Turning Red and this) are already available for streaming pleasure as of this weekend. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures is a good film about a great story. It’s a picture about racial discrimination that isn’t looking to make any waves, but rather tell its tale in an audience pleasing style. Director Theodore Melfi and the top-notch cast manage to achieve their mission, while moviegoers looking for something deeper about similar subject matter have plenty of other quality material to select from.

Figures is set in the early 1960s and focuses on three African American women who were instrumental to the nation’s space race. Katherine (Taraji P. Henson) is a math whiz who does the work that computers would later accomplish. Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) is a capable supervisor whose chances at career advancement are hindered by her race. Same goes for Mary (Janelle Monae), a talented engineer who must fight to attend a whites only school to further her opportunities.

Each woman is presented with unique challenges based on their being in a foreign world in Langley. Even as Katherine is elevated to more important work in her field, she must run half a mile to a building with a colored only restroom as her new digs don’t have one. Dorothy’s supervisor (Kirsten Dunst) has a tough time envisioning her employee doing a similar job. Mary must be creative with the judicial system to achieve her goals.

The screenplay focuses most prominently on Katherine and her interactions with sympathetic Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), director of the Space Task Group. He enlists her help in the furious space race with the Russians as they try to get John Glenn to orbit the Earth.

Hidden Figures serves as a nifty history lesson to younger viewers and those who’ve forgotten their lessons when it comes to that race. And it’s the race of the three leads and their true stories that probably should’ve been told before now. The screenplay has apparently taken some liberties here and there with certain facts, but the contributions of Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary is not in question.

The subject’s personal lives aren’t explored in major detail, save for Katherine’s romance with a military officer (Mahershala Ali). Figures is more concerned with their work and the dynamic between Katherine and Harrison is the most interesting. It helps that both Henson and Costner do fine work here.

While the pic isn’t necessarily told in a new way as it builds toward triumphant moments for the principles, I’m glad I got to know about their previously unheralded contributions.

*** (out of four)

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater brings his Dazed and Confused sensibilities to the early 1980s in Everybody Wants Some!!, focused on a college baseball team enjoying the spoils of boyhood in a slightly more grown up world than high school. The entire proceedings take place in a late August weekend before classes begin at an unnamed Texas university.

Ace pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) is a freshman moving into one of two run down joints that  house the team’s 16 players. Speaking of joints, we’ve got ’em along with lots of beer. There’s also the natural competitive nature of these young lads in full display (some of whom look far too old for college, by the way). This isn’t limited to the baseball field and it includes pool, ping pong, flicking knuckles, and chasing coeds. As you might imagine with Linklater, it’s all backed by a killer soundtrack with lots of rock but also some Sugarhill Gang (rap was just revealing itself to the masses here) for good measure.

Some!! is successful in showing the wide eyed awe of that time when anything seems possible and the night can take you anywhere (hangovers don’t really exist at this age). The 80s setting brings Jake and his mates smack dab into the social scene that dominated 1980 and conflicted with itself on occasion – discos, country western bars, punk rock moshpits.

Along the way, Jake meets a theater major (Zoey Deutch) who exposes him to yet another new and different crowd. All in a weekend. Linklater knows how to spring a certain era to life and that holds true here. Is it as memorable as Dazed or as brilliantly written? It is not, yet it’s a pleasant, sometimes raucous, and sometimes sweet experience. Fun while it lasts and ultimately a bit forgettable. That describes what’s happening with the people in Everybody Wants Some!! and for us as well.

*** (out of four)