2022: The Year of Jenna Ortega

My posts covering actors who had an impactful 2022 continues with a new Scream Queen.

Before we get to her, I came close to giving Jamie Lee Curtis her own dedicated write-up. The OG SQ might nab a first Oscar nomination for her supporting work in Everything Everywhere All at Once and she finished up her iconic role (probably right?) as Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends.

Just as Curtis was concluding her participation in a vaunted horror franchise, 20-year-old Jenna Ortega was making her presence known in another. Some viewers first saw her on the CW series Jane the Virgin. In 2021, Ortega drew acclaim for her more grown-up performance in the HBO Max drama The Fallout. It was this year that she broke out in another genre via January’s Scream. With over $80 million in its domestic coffers, she’ll be back in March for Scream VI.

More kudos followed in March for Ti West’s exploitation homage X. Ortega played a crew member on a porn set who gets more than she bargained for out of the experience. X marked the spot for many critics with its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ortega’s frighteningly good ’22 went into overdrive with Netflix’s Wednesday. From Tim Burton, the blend of comedy and horror and its 8 episodes cast the actress as Wednesday Addams from the The Addams Family. Debuting last month, it shot to #1 on the streamer in over 80 countries and holds the record for most hours viewed for a series in the first week of release. In others words, it’s a phenomenon every day of the week.

Needless to say, a second season is already in the planning stages. With her Scream sequel on deck and a role in the thriller Finestkind with Ben Foster and Tommy Lee Jones coming up, Ortega should continue to make her spooky presence known. My Year Of posts will continue with another actor who started out on the CW and had a whole lot shaking on the silver screen this year…

November 4-6 Box Office Predictions

Black Adam hopes for a three-peat before Black Panther: Wakanda Forever invades theaters next weekend. In order to do so, it’ll need to fend off Japan’s animated fantasy One Piece Film: Red. We also have the expansion of Oscar hopeful The Banshees of Inisherin and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:

One Piece is a bit of a mystery heading into the early November frame. I’ve settled on it getting to double digits, but it could certainly climb higher or fall under my projection. Keep an eye on whether my estimate changes throughout the weekend. A gross just north of $10 million should mean runner-up status with Black Adam in the low to possibly mid teens.

Oscar hopefuls like Banshees have faced a tough road and I suspect this will too. It could find itself in a fight with Prey for the Devil for the five spot as I anticipate that horror pic will suffer a large sophomore decline. I’m giving Prey the edge.

Holdovers Ticket to Paradise and Smile should place third and fourth. Finally, there’s also a wider rollout for Armageddon Time. The coming of age drama from director James Gray stars Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, and Anthony Hopkins. I have not done an individual post forecasting its expansion because I don’t believe it will clear $1 million.

This is how I see the top 6 playing out:

1 . Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $14.4 million

2. One Piece Film: Red

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

3. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

4. Smile

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

5. Prey for the Devil

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

6. The Banshees of Inisherin

Predicted Gross: $2.2 million

Box Office Results (October 28-30)

As expected, Dwayne Johnson easily ruled the charts as Black Adam took in $27.4 million in weekend #2. That is on pace with my $28.1 million take and the ten-day total is $110 million.

Ticket to Paradise held the two spot with a 40% decline in its sophomore outing at $9.8 million, in line with my $10.4 million prediction. The two-week tally is $33 million.

Prey for the Devil scared up a middling $7.1 million in third. That’s nothing special for the exorcism tale which drew only a C+ Cinemascore grade. It did, however, top my $5.9 million forecast.

Smile was fourth with $5.4 million and I was more generous with $6.5 million. The low budget fright fest has amassed $92 million.

Halloween Ends rounded out the top five with $4 million (I said $4.1 million) for $60 million over three weeks.

Awards bait pics Till and Tár both underwhelmed in their wide premieres. The former was sixth with $2.7 million (not matching my $3.8 million projection). The latter was 10th with $1 million and I was more optimistic at $1.8 million. Respective totals are $3.5 million and $2.5 million.

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

October 28-30 Box Office Predictions

Studios usually don’t roll out movies that they think will scare up huge box office dollars on Halloween weekend and that holds true for 2022. We have the supernatural horror tale Prey for the Devil and the expansions of Till and Tár (both with likely Best Actress Oscar contenders in Danielle Deadwyler and Cate Blanchett, respectively). You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on that trio here:

Devil may round up the most business of the newcomers, but my mid single digits forecast would put it in fourth place behind a trio of holdovers. My take on Till could put it in fifth or sixth position based on how Halloween Ends holds after its massive sophomore frame plummet (more on that below). As for Tár, it’s slated for approximately 1000 venues and my $1.8 million projection leaves it outside of the top five or six.

The top 3 should remain the same with Black Adam having no trouble topping the charts for a second weekend. How far it falls is a better question. With a so-so B+ Cinemascore grade, I foresee a slightly higher dip than the 54% that Shazam! experienced in 2019. If it approaches closer to 60%, a gross in the upper 20s would be the result.

Ticket to Paradise with George Clooney and Julia Roberts slightly surpassed expectations and it should hold well with a 35-40% decrease. The runaway hit Smile should be the fright fest of choice in third place as it continues its meager declines.

And with that, my top 6 take for the spooky close out session of October:

1. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $28.1 million

2. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

3. Smile

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million

4. Prey for the Devil

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

6. Till

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

Box Office Results (October 21-23)

The DCEU’s Black Adam, with Dwayne Johnson seemingly everywhere promoting it, opened in line with most prognostications at $67 million. That’s a bit above my $64.7 million take and in line with the studio’s Aquaman from 2018. It’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of the character. As mentioned, this should easily repeat in 1st position this weekend (and the weekend after until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits).

Rom com Ticket to Paradise capitalized on its star power for $16.5 million, bettering my prediction of $13.7 million. That’s a needed boost for a genre that’s been struggling in recent years and an older crowd turned out to make the multiplex trek.

Smile continued to make Paramount happy with $8.4 million, a shade below my $9.5 million estimate. At $84 million after four weeks, the low budget pic is barreling toward $100 million domestically.

Halloween Ends went from 1st to 4th with a momentous 80% reduction. At $8 million, the final showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers didn’t match my $10.4 million projection. The two-week total is $54 million as it will fall quite a bit short of the $92 million that predecessor Halloween Kills made.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile rounded out the top five with $4.2 million (I said $5.2 million) and $28 million overall.

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

Prey for the Devil Box Office Prediction

Director Daniel Stamm is no stranger to the demonic possession genre as he made The Last Exorcism in 2010. It made just beyond $20 million over a decade ago for its start and spawned a sequel. Lionsgate would thank the heavens for that kind of dough on October 28th with Prey for the Devil, Stamm’s latest. The PG-13 exorcism tale stars Jacqueline Byers as a nun investigating an evil influence. The supporting cast includes Colin Salmon, Christian Navarro, Lisa Palfrey, Virginia Madsen, and the late Ben Cross.

The Halloween weekend is actually not a fertile ground to open new product – scary or otherwise. There have only been three movies that debuted to $20 million or more in the spooky frame: Saw 3D in 2010 ($24 million), Michael Jackson’s This Is It in 2009 ($23 million), and 2004’s Ray ($20 million). In fact, just seven features have topped $10 million.

Another factor not in Devil‘s favor is the abundance of horror offerings in recent weeks such as Barbarian, Smile, and Halloween Kills. The last two could still be doing decent business as October closes.

Add that up and I’m not sure this manages to top double digits. Mid single digits might be more likely.

Prey for the Devil opening weekend prediction: $5.9 million

For my Till prediction, click here:

For my Tár prediction, click here:

October 21-23 Box Office Predictions

Dwayne Johnson lends his star power to the DC Extended Universe in Black Adam and there’s the megawatt combo of George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the rom com Ticket to Paradise. They are the weekend’s new offerings and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Black Adam Box Office Prediction

Ticket to Paradise Box Office Prediction

While Adam is unlikely to approach the $100 million plus starts of other DCEU efforts, it should easily rock the charts with a gross in the mid 60s.

The two spot could be more of a battle. However, I’m guessing the Clooney/Roberts team-up (while it would’ve been more potent 20 years ago) should nab the runner-up position.

With a C+ Cinemascore grade, Halloween Kills couldn’t keep up with its two predecessors Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills (2021). Last October, Kills plummeted 70% in its sophomore outing. I expect Ends may even get slashed a tad more. There’s even a possibility its second weekend could place behind the fourth frame of Smile, but I doubt it.

Finally, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile should round out the top five and here’s how I see it looking:

1. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $64.7 million

2. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

3. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

4. Smile

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million

5. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (October 14-16)

Coming in nearly $10 million below the last tussle of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers was Halloween Ends with $40 million (under my take of $47.6 million). The budget is low so profitability isn’t an issue. Yet it will take the current (and final?) trilogy out on a low note.

Smile continued its impressive holds in second place with $12.5 million, just ahead of my $11.8 million estimate. The horror hit (which is likely starting its own franchise) has amassed $71 million in three weeks.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile was third with $7.3 million (on target with my $7.2 million call). The family friendly musical stands at a middling $22 million after 10 days of release.

The Woman King was fourth with $3.7 million (I said $4.1 million) for $59 million overall.

Lastly, Amsterdam (as expected) fell a precipitous 57% in its sophomore weekend to $2.7 million. I was a bit more generous at $3 million. The big budget flop has taken in only $11 million.

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

Halloween Ends Review

One of the most violent moments in Halloween Ends involves an actual record (as in the vinyl variety) skipping and it’s one of the cooler parts of this trilogy ender. There’s also many instances where a record skipping sound effect would’ve been appropriate. As in – what in the world is this movie doing?!?! 

Our final pairing of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers after almost four and a half decades features some bewilderingly bad decisions. The odd choices that don’t work stack up higher than the body count. On the plus side, I at least found its unpredictable nature to be more intriguing than most of what occurred in predecessor Halloween Kills. Does that make it better? Probably not. It means neither were of much quality and 2018’s starter was just OK too. That could be the legacy of the 11th, 12th, and 13th overall franchise entries.

In Haddonfield, Illinois in 2019, there were tragedies on the spooky holiday not related to Mr. Myers. Corey (Rohan Campbell) is babysitting a young boy when their game of hide and seek takes an unplanned head banging turn. Though accidental in nature, Corey is looked upon as a pariah by the townspeople four years later. He does find a sympathetic figure in Allyson (Andi Matichak), granddaughter of Laurie who is accustomed to grief. Their blossoming romance concerns Grandma, who notices something is off with Corey in a way that reminds her of her tormentor (who’s been AWOL).

This previous paragraph could beg your question: why is a dude who accidentally offed a kid and his strange relationship with Allyson getting so much attention? Well, it’s what Halloween Ends is about for quite a while. On that level, there are problems. First and foremost, any character development of Allyson from the first two features is slashed as she inexplicably falls for Corey in about five minutes. I’m not asking for realism in this genre, but this romance is a badly developed one.

Myers is often a supporting player in Ends along with Laurie (though she has more to do than her bedridden hospital appearance in Kills). Instead we have the potential Natural Born Killers like union of Corey/Allyson and the former dealing with boring high school bullies and his domineering mother. What we expect from a Halloween flick, eh??

Truth be told, my interest piqued a little when I realized David Gordon Green and his three cowriters (including Danny McBride) were going off the rails. The diversionary tactics mostly stall. By the time we get to the showdown between Laurie and Myers, it seems almost anticlimactic. Even though this trilogy ignores everything after 1978’s brilliant original, we’ve kinda been there and done that with 1998’s Halloween: H2O. 

Curtis brings the tough survivor attitude that we’ve witnessed before and it helps in the final act. Campbell truly is the lead character and his performance is shaky at best. I’m not sure I buy the “ends” part of the title though Laurie and Michael’s saga does appear to have reached its conclusion. Maybe The Shape will take another form someday in the reboot/requel/prequel or whatever term comes next. The mediocrity of this three-arch journey dies here.

** (out of four)

October 14-16 Box Office Predictions

Horror should rule the box office with Halloween Ends debuting and Smile continuing its impressive run. Jamie Lee Curtis’s alleged final battle with Michael Myers is the only new release this weekend and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Halloween Ends Box Office Prediction

Predecessor Halloween Kills from last year made considerably less out of the gate than its predecessor from 2018. Even with a simultaneous release on Peacock (same as Kills), I will give Ends a start in the mid to high 40s. That’s on pace with Kills. 

Smile should easily hold the #2 spot after a very sturdy hold in its sophomore outing (more on that below). Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (after a unimpressive opening) may experience a high 30s second weekend fall while The Woman King and bomb Amsterdam round out the top five.

Here’s how I see it:

1. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $47.6 million

2. Smile

Predicted Gross: $11.8 million

3. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million

4. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

5. Amsterdam

Predicted Gross: $3 million

Box Office Results (October 7-9)

I expected Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile to take a bigger bite out of the charts and open in first place. That didn’t occur as the family friendly musical took in $11.4 million for second place. This is well below my prediction of $17.6 million.

That’s because Smile had a remarkable hold (especially for its genre) at $18.4 million. I was lower at $13.3 million. The low budget Paramount scare fest has amassed $50 million in ten days and looks like a solid contender to make nine digits domestically.

Despite the star power of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and many more, David O. Russell’s critically lambasted Amsterdam was a dud with $6.4 million, under my $8.4 million take. Look for this see a drop in the mid 50s (at least) and sink fast.

The Woman King was fourth with $5.1 million (I said $4.7 million) and it’s reached $54 million total.

Don’t Worry Darling rounded out the top five with $3.5 million (I was right there with $3.4 million) for $38 million overall.

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

Halloween Ends Box Office Prediction

The culmination of this iteration of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) battling  Michael Myers arrives on October 14th with Halloween Ends. Said to be Curtis’s final appearance in the 44-year-old franchise (though I’m sure Myers will manage to return in some form), David Gordon Green is back directing along with cowriter Danny McBride. It comes a year after Halloween Kills and four years behind Halloween which began the trilogy. It’s the 13th overall entry in the series overall. Costars include James Jude Courtney and OG Nick Castle doubling up again as the iconic slasher, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, and Kyle Richards.

2018’s Halloween was a juggernaut with a $76 million opening and $159 million eventual domestic haul. Kills still killed, but to a lesser degree with a $49 million start and $92 million overall take. Like its predecessor, Ends will be simultaneously available on Peacock.

In addition to the streaming option that could siphon away viewers, horror fans have had plenty to enjoy lately (Barbarian and Smile for example). That said, there’s obviously a built-in base here.

I do expect diminishing returns though not close to the disparity between 2018 and 2021. Mid to high 40s is where I see it and considering the reported $20 million budget, that’s a profitable cut for Universal.

Halloween Ends opening weekend prediction: $47.6 million

October 7-9 Box Office Predictions

Family friendly Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile hopes to make its mark on the charts and easily win the weekend as the star studded Amsterdam also debuts. My detailed prediction posts on the newcomers can be found here:

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Box Office Prediction

Amsterdam Box Office Prediction

We’ve had about a two month break between movies geared toward kids and that should help Lyle achieve a low 20s start. It’s unlikely to have any trouble hitting the #1 spot.

Despite the considerable ensemble of Oscar winners and nominees, David O. Russell’s first feature in seven years is garnering mostly mediocre reviews from critics. The marketing campaign has been so-so in my view. Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and company could elevate this to low double digits or even teens. However, I’m estimating it’ll flop in high single digits.

That would put it in third behind the sophomore frame of Smile. The horror pic got off to an impressive debut (more on that below) and I’ll say the second weekend dip might be in the low to mid 40s.

Holdovers The Woman King and Don’t Worry Darling should round out the top five. Bros had a very disappointing opening (more on that below too), but it did nab an A Cinemascore grade. If it manages a smallish decline, it might give Darling a run for its money in the five spot.

Here’s how I see it shaking out:

1. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

2. Smile

Predicted Gross: $13.3 million

3. Amsterdam

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million

4. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million

5. Don’t Worry Darling

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

6. Bros

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

Box Office Results (September 30-October 2)

Paramount is undoubtedly doing just what the title says as Smile opened widely to a pleasing $22.6 million. That’s ahead of my $18.7 million projection. The B- Cinemascore is actually fairly decent for a horror flick and it could play well next weekend before Halloween Ends arrives the following one.

Don’t Worry Darling cratered in weekend #2 with $6.8 million, not matching my $8 million call. Even with the 65% plummet, it’s nearly managed to outgross its budget domestically in just 10 days with $32 million (price tag was reportedly $35 million).

The Woman King was third and it also made $6.8 million to bring its three-week take to $46 million. I forecasted slightly more at $7.4 million.

The Avatar re-release was fourth with $5 million (I was more generous at $6.6 million) as the 2009 juggernaut now has $779 million in the bank.

Bros with Billy Eichner, billed as the first wide release LGBTQ rom com from a major studio, was a massive disappointment. In fifth place with only $4.8 million, it came nowhere near my $12.1 million prediction. You can bet the marketing department at Universal is furiously second guessing themselves today, but it struggled mightily to find an audience beyond coastal metro areas. That aforementioned A Cinemascore does indicate it could find plenty of fans eventually… just not in multiplexes.

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

Smile Box Office Prediction

Paramount Pictures is hoping that horror fans are ready to Smile on September 30th. The supernatural fright fest marks the directorial debut of Parker Finn with a cast including Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick), Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stasey, Kal Penn, and Rob Morgan.

This is a genre that’s been well served in September with Barbarian and Pearl (and The Invitation in late August). The trend will continue with Halloweens Ends in mid-October. There could be a bit of fatigue, but Smile may have a feather in its cap. The mysterious and creepy teaser spot played all summer long in front of a little film called Top Gun: Maverick… the one that’s made over $700 million domestically.

A premiere in the $20 million range is certainly possible. However, I’ll say high teens is where this lands.

Smile opening weekend prediction: $18.7 million

For my Bros prediction, click here:

Bros Box Office Prediction