McConaughey: Everything’s Not Alright Alright

When this blog started in the fall of 2012, Matthew McConaughey was coming off a solid two-year period which saw him headline the surprise legal drama hit The Lincoln Lawyer and attract rave reviews for his supporting role in Magic Mike.

Yet 2013 elevated the actor to a whole new stratosphere. His work in the acclaimed indie pic Mud garnered Oscar chatter. He had a memorable cameo alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. It ironically turned out that McConaughey’s scene partner in that film was his biggest competition for an Oscar. Dallas Buyers Club would see the Texan playing Ron Woodruff, a real life AIDS patient in the 1980s. McConaughey’s work was praised and he took home the gold statue. His luck streak continued into the following year starring in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which stands as his largest grossing live-action feature.

Since then? Well, let’s just say the McConaissance has been interrupted. Or borrowing his most famous catchphrase from 1993’s Dazed and Confused – it’s not Alright Alright.

This weekend, his stoner comedy The Beach Bum tanked at the box office. Its approximate $1.8 million opening is the worst release of the actor’s career. And it follows a pattern of now seven live-action duds (he did provide voice work in the animated pics Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings). And to give a modicum of credit, he did skip the subpar sequel Magic Mike XXL.

At least Nicolas Cage had a string of action hits after his Oscar before delving into VOD territory. McConaughey hasn’t been so fortunate and he quickly needs a critical or commercial success to redeem things. His list of recent material is an unsuccessful and largely forgettable one. In three years, we’ve had:

  • Free State of Jones, his summer 2016 Civil War drama that took in $20 million domestically against a $50 million budget. Its Rotten Tomatoes score was 46%.
  • The Sea of Trees from later that summer. The drama wasn’t even released wide and didn’t make a million dollars (13% RT score).
  • True life crime drama Gold in January 2017. 42% RT. $14 million gross stateside.
  • The Dark Tower in summer 2017. The critically maligned Stephen King adaptation had a 16% RT rating and immediately ended the possibility of a franchise with earnings of $50 million.
  • Another based on actual events crime drama from last fall – White Boy Rick. 58% RT and $24 million gross.
  • Noir thriller Serenity from earlier this year. Barely promoted, it made an embarrassing $8 million total with a 23% RT score.

And now The Beach Bum, which won’t reach $10 million domestically either. It’s time for McConaughey’s people to find him some better stuff. His most memorable appearances lately have been in car commercials. If they can’t manage to do so, there’s always 2013.

Serenity Box Office Prediction

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway lend their star power to the thriller Serenity, out next weekend. The pic was originally slated for a fall 2018 release before its delay to January, which can often serve as a dumping ground for certain titles. Steven Knight directs with Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong in the supporting cast.

The studio seems to be treating this as an afterthought. Marketing has been pretty slim. While McConaughey has had some hits since his Oscar win five years ago, there’s been some flops including Free State of Jones, Gold, and White Boy Rick. Hathaway has a better track record as of late, but I’m not convinced her participation will help matters.

Serenity has a $25 million budget, so at least its potential losses shouldn’t be too significant. Like the trio of previous McConaughey titles, I don’t have this hitting double digits.

Serenity opening weekend prediction: $5.1 million

For my The Kid Who Would Be King prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/16/the-kid-who-would-be-king-box-office-prediction/

Gold Movie Review

Stephen Gaghan’s Gold tells another fairly recent “inspired by true events” tale of excess and greed. Instead of nefarious Wall Street types (though they’re here), our story takes place in the gold mining industry. Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is a third generation prospector trying to keep his business Washoe afloat.

A prologue shows happier times for the company in 1981. At that juncture, Kenny’s dad (Craig T. Nelson) is running it successfully and his offspring is merrily working at it. Seven years later, dad has passed and son isn’t so lucky. He runs Washoe from a bar where he indulges in their key product heavily.

Kenny has a dream that leads him to Indonesia to seek out Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez), a geologist who’s also run into lean times. They believe there might be gold in them Indonesian mountains. Finding it isn’t easy and Kenny even catches malaria, but eventually their fortunes turn.

As the company becomes an extremely hot commodity, Kenny must stave off the vultures of the corporate world, his competitors, third world governments, and the FBI. He also must battle his own issues, which includes the fact that he’s way out of his league suddenly running an operation of its size.

Gold is McConaughey’s show and we get the full Matthew here. That means effective dramatic moments mixed with comedic and quirky ones. He goes through a physical transformation here as he’s done before. Here, the effects of Kenny’s constant boozing shows. Magic Mike physique Matthew is nowhere to be found.

There’s plenty to admire about the lead actor’s work here. The problem is that none of the other characters are very interesting. Bryce Dallas Howard is Kenny’s wife and their relationship goes through the familiar ups and down that massive success brings. Ramirez’s Michael is a bit of a blank slate for most of the running time.

There are a couple of legit crises after Kenny hits its big. One is quite a surprise in the third act and it left me wishing the screenplay spent more time on it. Another involves shady Indonesian politicos and it might have been another subplot worth exploring. It could have provided a chance to give us characters matching the dynamism of what McConaughey brings.

Yet the screenplay doesn’t go there. While its star provides some memorable moments, too much of the rest of Gold feels standard.

**1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: February 3-5

The first weekend of February brings new titles to the marketplace to compete with holdovers and a football game on Sunday. They are: long gestating horror sequel Rings and sci-fi teen romance The Space Between Us. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/25/rings-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/26/the-space-between-us-box-office-prediction/

As I see it, both The Bye Bye Man and Split exceeded their opening weekend expectations (more on the terrific Split earnings below). It’s been a bountiful 2017 thus far for the horror genre and I believe Rings will debut just north of $20M for a first place showing.

The Space Between Us should struggle to reach the top 5 and my mid single digits forecast for it leaves it on the outside. Current #1 and #2 Split and A Dog’s Purpose should slide down a spot with awards hopefuls Hidden Figures and La La Land rounding out the top five.

And with that, a top 6 predictions for the weekend:

1. Rings

Predicted Gross: $20.3 million

2. Split

Predicted Gross: $14.4 million (representing a drop of 43%)

3. A Dog’s Purpose

Predicted Gross: $12.5 million (representing a drop of 31%)

4. Hidden Figures

Predicted Gross: $10.7 million (representing a drop of 24%)

5. La La Land

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million (representing a drop of 32%)

6. The Space Between Us

Predicted Gross: $6.7 million

Box Office Results (January 27-29)

If the $40 million opening didn’t convince you, the second weekend of Split solidified director M. Night Shyamalan’s major comeback. The horror thriller took in $25.6 million in its sophomore frame (higher than my $18.5M forecast) to bring its total to $77 million. The century mark is in its sights and it experienced the smallest week 2 decline of any Shyamalan effort since The Sixth Sense.

Despite controversy, A Dog’s Purpose brought in a pleasing $18.2 million for a solid second place showing. This was much more than my $10.3M projection, which I revised down from an original estimate of $17.9M. Should have stuck with my first thought…

Hidden Figures (which won the main SAG prize yesterday) was third with $14 million compared to my $12.8M prediction. The Oscar nominee now stands at $104M.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter posted a franchise low debut in fourth with just $13.6 million, just below my $14.6M estimate. Look for it to fade fast.

La La Land rounded out the top five with $12.2 million, above my $9.9M guesstimate. Like Figures, it also joined the $100M+ club as it’s made $106M.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage was sixth in weekend #2 with $8.6 million, in line with my $8.9M estimate for a weak tally of $33M.

Sing was seventh with $6.4 million (I said $5.6M) to pad its now $257M take.

Finally, Matthew McConaughey posted a career low wide opening with Gold. It only managed a 10th place debut with $3.4 million (I went higher with $5.4M).

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: January 27-29

Three new titles debut this weekend, but none in the trio may dislodge Split from a second weekend atop the charts. The newbies are: sixth and presumably last franchise pic Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, family friendly pet tale A Dog’s Purpose, and Matthew McConaughey vehicle Gold. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/resident-evil-the-final-chapter-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/a-dogs-purpose-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/gold-box-office-prediction/

We’ll begin with Resident Evil. While all other entries in the series have managed over $20 million (except for the first in 2002), the near five-year gap between sequels should hurt this, similar to how it just hurt Underworld: Blood Wars. Still, a second place showing looks probable.

That brings us to A Dog’s Purpose. Based on a hugely successful bestseller, I had this pegged at nearly $18 million until last week when a TMZ story alleged very questionable animal handling practices on set. My feeling is that the story has gotten big enough to hurt this significantly and I now have it barely topping double digits.

As for Gold, middling reviews could hinder this one and I’ve got it outside the top five with mid single digits.

Returning champ Split had a much larger than expected debut (more on that below). Even if it dips more than 50% (typical for horror titles), I still see it remaining #1.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage had an unimpressive opening and I expect it to fall from #2 to #6. That’s because both Hidden Figures and La La Land should reap the benefits of Oscar nominations. La La, in particular, looks poised to receive the most Academy nods of any picture in history tomorrow morning and that could contribute to a bump.

And with that, my top 8 predictions for this weekend:

1. Split 

Predicted Gross: $18.5 million (representing a drop of 53%)

2. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Predicted Gross: $14.6 million

3. Hidden Figures

Predicted Gross: $12.8 million (representing a drop of 19%)

4. A Dog’s Purpose

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million

5. La La Land

Predicted Gross: $9.9 million (representing an increase of 18&)

6. xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million (representing a drop of 55%)

7. Sing

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million (representing a drop of 38%)

8. Gold

Predicted Gross: $5.4 million

Box Office Results (January 20-22)

On the weekend that we just had, maybe it’s somewhat appropriate and ironic that the #1 movie in America is titled Split. And the M. Night Shymalan pic rocketed out of the gate with a fantastic and unforeseen $40.1 million, more than doubling my teeny $19.6M estimate. This is the director’s fourth highest domestic debut, trailing Signs, The Village, and The Last Airbender. It puts the director, who’d been on a downturn until 2015’s low-budget The Visit performed well, on even more of an upswing.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage managed a middling $20.1 million in second, under my $25.4M prediction. The Diesel power is clearly stronger with his Fast and Furious franchise.

Two-week champ Hidden Figures was third with $15.7 million (a bit above my $13.7M forecast) for $83M thus far.

Sing was fourth with $9 million (I said $8.4M) to bring its tally to $249M.

Fifth place belonged to La La Land with $8.4 million (not matching my $11.4M estimate) for an $89M total. Still, as mentioned, its Oscar bump could be forthcoming.

Rogue One was sixth with $7.2 million (I said $7.8M) for a $512M haul.

#7 – Monster Trucks in weekend #2 with $7 million (I said $6.2M). Total gross: $22M.

#8 – Patriots Day, also in weekend #2 of wide release with $5.7 million (I said $7.2M). Total gross: $23M.

#9 – Sleepless in its sophomore frame with $3.4M and #10 was The Bye Bye Man, also with $3.4M in weekend 2. My respective guesstimates were $4.3M and $5.9M.

The Founder with Michael Keaton opened to stale results with $3.4 million in 11th, a bit shy of my $4.1M estimate.

Finally, two other newcomers posted low numbers as 20th Century Women expanded wide and made $1.4 million (I was higher with $2.8M) and faith-based dramedy The Resurrection of Gavin Stone earned $1.3 million (I said $1.6M).

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Gold Box Office Prediction

Matthew McConaughey packed on some pounds for next weekend’s Gold, but whether it manages to be a heavyweight at the box office is very much in question. The pic casts the Oscar winner as a hapless businessman who strikes you know what in the jungles of Indonesia. Stephen Gaghan makes his first directorial effort since 2005’s Syriana and costars include Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Corey Stoll, Stacy Keach, Toby Kebbell, Craig T. Nelson, and Bruce Greenwood.

The early 90s set adventure comedy/drama faces some obstacles in breaking through. First, while it received a very late 2016 limited release for Academy consideration, that didn’t bear fruit. Gold stands at only 43% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. While McConaughey has been a draw in various genres, this may not stand out enough to strike… you get it.

I believe a decent comp for this could be the star’s previous headlining role – last summer’s Free State of Jones, which managed only $7.5 million in its premiere. Bottom line: I don’t see audiences rushing to it and I’m not totally convinced it even reaches the Jones number.

Gold opening weekend prediction: $5.4 million

For my A Dog’s Purpose prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/a-dogs-purpose-box-office-prediction/

For my Resident Evil: The Final Chapter prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/resident-evil-the-final-chapter-box-office-prediction/

2016 Golden Globes: Who Will Win?

This Sunday evening, the Golden Globes (perhaps the most significant Oscar precursor) airs with Jimmy Fallon hosting. Unlike the Academy Awards, the Globes divide both Picture and the Lead Acting races in two categories: Drama and Musical/Comedy.

Here’s how I have each race playing out with the winners predicted. As a side note, I decided to not do my weekly Oscar predictions yesterday and will have an updated post on Thursday next week!

With that, let’s get to the races…

Best Drama

The Nominees: Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Todd’s Prediction: Moonlight

Analysis: Not an easy prediction as this will probably boil down to Moonlight and Manchester, with both Hacksaw and Lion being potential spoilers (Water is only pic I see as having no shot). The winner of this category will likely vault into a two-way race with La La Land as to what comes out on top at Oscar time.

Best Musical/Comedy

The Nominees: 20th Century Women, Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, La La Land, Sing Street

Todd’s Prediction: La La Land

Analysis: It would be pretty shocking if Damien Chazelle’s ode to Hollywood musicals didn’t win here. I suppose perhaps Jenkins has a dark horse shot, but this is the easiest pick of the bunch to make.

Best Director

The Nominees: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Longergan (Manchester by the Sea)

Todd’s Prediction: Damien Chazelle

Analysis: Jenkins has racked up a slew of precursors and a win for Gibson would be seen as completing a remarkable comeback after multiple personal issues. However, at the end of the day, I believe the La La love will extend to its director.

Best Actor (Drama)

The Nominees: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences).

Todd’s Prediction: Casey Affleck

Analysis: Like the Oscar race, this looks to be between Affleck and Washington. I’ll give the former the slight edge as he’s won more precursors and Manchester itself was nominated for Picture, whereas Fences was not.

Best Actress (Drama)

The Nominees: Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals), Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Todd’s Prediction: Natalie Portman

Analysis: While I wouldn’t totally rule out an Adams or Huppert win, Portman has the edge in her acclaimed role of Mrs. Kennedy.

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

The Nominees: Colin Farrell (The Lobster), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Jonah Hill (War Dogs), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

Todd’s Prediction: Hugh Grant

Analysis: Conventional wisdom would point to a Gosling win, but I believe the Hollywood Foreign Press will provide a bit of an upset here and honor Grant. Also – don’t be too shocked if Reynolds manages to surprise.

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

The Nominees: Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply), Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Todd’s Prediction: Emma Stone

Analysis: Bening and Streep are long shots, but it would be a rather large upset if Stone didn’t emerge victorious here.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins), Dev Patel (Lion), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

Todd’s Prediction: Mahershala Ali

Analysis: Bridges or Patel are feasible, but Ali has received the bulk of precursor awards and I believe that will continue here.

Best Supporing Actress

The Nominees: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Todd’s Prediction: Viola Davis

Analysis: Davis is the clear front runner here and at the Oscars. An upset win (possible for any of these actresses other than Spencer) could dispel that notion, but it probably won’t occur.

Best Screenplay

The Nominees: Hell or High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Nocturnal Animals

Todd’s Prediction: Moonlight

Analysis: La La and Manchester are in the mix here, but this is probably where Barry Jenkins will get his win and not for direction.

Best Original Score

The Nominees: Arrival, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight

Todd’s Prediction: La La Land

Analysis: Tough one and it’s not out of the question to envision any of them winning. I’ll just go La La and see what happens.

Best Original Song

The Nominees: “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls, “City of Stars” from La La Land, “Faith” from Sing, “Gold” from Gold, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Todd’s Prediction: “City of Stars”

Analysis: There’s some real heavy hitters here: Justin Timberlake, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Stevie Wonder with nominations. Yet I think the HFPA honors La La once again.

Best Animated Feature

The Nominees: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, Sing, Zootopia

Todd’s Prediction: Zootopia

Analysis: Kubo has a shot and you can never dismiss Disney with Moana. However, there’s another acclaimed Mouse Factory title in the mix and I believe Zootopia gets in.

Best Foreign Language Film

The Nominees: Divines, Elle, Neruda, The Salesman, Toni Erdmann

Todd’s Prediction: Toni Erdmann

Analysis: Elle could absolutely win here (and perhaps The Salesman), but I’ll go with Academy favorite Erdmann.

And that does it, folks! I’ll have a post up Sunday night letting you know how well (or poorly) I did. Until then…