October 15-17 Box Office Predictions

Jamie Lee Curtis is back battling Michael Myers in Halloween Kills while Ridley Scott’s medieval drama The Last Duel with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver also debuts. These are the new offerings in the mid October frame as No Time to Die enters its sophomore frame following a less than expected start. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the fresh offerings here:

Halloween Kills Box Office Prediction

The Last Duel Box Office Prediction

It has been two straight weeks of me either grossly underestimating (Venom) or significantly overestimating (Die) the newbies. So let’s see what happens with Halloween, shall we? I’m going with a low to mid 40s take and that would be well under the $70M+ that its 2018 predecessor made (Kills is curiously available for streaming on Peacock). Of course, given my October track record, watch it make $60 million or more. I gotta get something on the money in October though… right??

As for The Last Duel, the less than anticipated haul for 007 was further evidence that pictures geared toward older viewers continue to struggle. With scant awards buzz, I’m projecting Duel barely gets to double digits and that should mean a fourth place showing.

Back to Bond. 2015’s Spectre dropped 52% in its second frame and I see no reason why Craig’s finale wouldn’t dip about the same. Venom may fall in the mid 50s in weekend 3 with The Addams Family 2 rounding out the top five with the smallest decline (mid to high 30s) of the bunch.

Here’s how I see the top 5 looking:

1. Halloween Kills

Predicted Gross: $41.2 million

2. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $25.8 million

3. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $14.1 million

4. The Last Duel

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

5. The Addams Family 2

Predicted Gross: $6.6 million

Box Office Results (October 8-10)

Well, we all get carried away sometimes. The fantastic premiere for Venom and the hoopla surrounding Craig’s swan song got me thinking No Time to Die was capable of achieving a COVID era best start of $94.1 million. I was dead wrong. Die managed just the fourth best output of its star’s five features. The $55.2 million debut didn’t approach the vicinity of Skyfall ($88 million), Spectre ($70 million), or Quantum of Solace ($67 million). Only Casino Royale‘s $40 million fell under it. Theories will abound. Was six years (COVID delays were abundant) too long a break? Perhaps. As mentioned, it likely didn’t help that older moviegoers are still seemingly reluctant for a multiplex engagement. Die‘s saving grace is overseas grosses in line with expectations. Yet it’s hard to spin the fact that the 25th 007 adventure came in at the absolute lowest range numbers that prognosticators foresaw.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage was second with $31.7 million, not quite hitting my $33.7 million estimate. The $141 million ten-day tally is very impressive as it looks to reach $200 million by the end of its domestic run.

The Addams Family 2 took in $10.1 million in its second weekend, ahead of my $9.2 million projection for $31 million overall.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was fourth with $4.3 million (I said $3.4 million) and it’s up to $212 million.

Finally, The Many Saints of Newark crumbled after its weak beginning. The $1.4 million gross (I went with $1.8 million) brought its puny earnings to $7 million.

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

The Last Duel Box Office Prediction

Had The Last Duel come out, say 15 years ago, it probably would be looking at a debut north of $20 million. That’s when director Ridley Scott was not far removed from his Oscar winning Gladiator and at a time when Matt Damon and Ben Affleck had more drawing power. In 2021, I’m not so sure. The 14th century set historical drama features the two Good Will Hunting stars as well as Jodie Comer and Adam Driver.

Originally slated for Christmas 2020 before its COVID delay, this is now the first of two Ridley Scott efforts hitting multiplexes this fall (the next being November’s House of Gucci). Early reviews indicate this will not be much of an awards player. With a 67% Rotten Tomatoes score, the bulk of the praise has come to Killing Eve actress Comer (who was recently widely seen in Free Guy). She could score a Best Actress nod, but don’t look for Duel to compete anywhere else.

The pic is hoping for an adult audience and many of those titles have struggled during this era. Additionally, competition is steep. Halloween Kills opens on the same day with No Time to Die in its sophomore frame. If it was garnering legit Oscar buzz, I might be more optimistic. However, I suspect Duel might arrive at a standstill next weekend. That could mean a premiere that just gets past double digits.

The Last Duel opening weekend prediction: $10.4 million

For my Halloween Kills prediction, click here:

Halloween Kills Box Office Prediction

Halloween Kills Box Office Prediction

Arriving one year after its COVID delay, Halloween Kills stalks theaters October 15th. The 12th film in the nearly 45-year-old franchise, it’s a direct sequel to 2018’s Halloween, which served as a follow-up to 1978’s original (therefore ignoring everything that came in between). Got all that? David Gordon Green returns to direct. So do Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, and, of course, Nick Castle as Michael Myers. Anthony Michael Hall, Thomas Mann, and Kyle Richards are newcomers.

Three Octobers ago, Halloween blew away expectations with a $76 million opening gross and $159 million overall domestically. The debut weekend alone made it the highest earning feature in the series.

Universal Pictures recently made the surprising choice to simultaneously release this in cinemas and on the Peacock streaming service. I’m not so sure how much that hurts its chances in multiplexes (Peacock still isn’t on the level of its better known competitors). However, it doesn’t help.

Reviews for Kills aren’t as laudatory as part 1… err part 2 (or part 11… I suppose). The 2018 effort nabbed 79% on Rotten Tomatoes while this sits at 57%. Critical reaction shouldn’t determine its fate either. I do think the buzz surrounding Curtis’s return has dissipated. This should contribute to a lower premiere and I suspect low to mid 40s is where this ends up.

Halloween Kills opening weekend prediction: $41.2 million

For my The Last Duel prediction, click here:

The Last Duel Box Office Prediction

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Box Office Prediction

Arriving one year after its COVID delay, Tom Hardy returns as the Marvel Comics title character in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The sequel includes returnees Michelle Williams and Reid Scott along with newcomers Naomie Harris, Stephen Graham, and Woody Harrelson (who did briefly cameo in the original’s post credits scene). Andy Serkis, certainly no stranger to CG effects, takes over directorial duties from Ruben Fleischer.

Three years ago, Venom surpassed expectations with a then October best opening weekend of just over $80 million. That record was beaten a year later by Joker. The overall domestic gross of $213 million guaranteed a follow-up.

After witnessing the recent robust performance of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Sony actually pushed up the release date by two weeks.

Carnage kicks off a month where studios are hopeful for pleasing returns with heavy hitters like No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, and Dune. I don’t envision this getting to $80 million like its predecessor. A more realistic expectation would be part II nabbing about 75% of what part I achieved out of the gate.

That would be $60 million and I’ll say it goes just under that.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage opening weekend prediction: $58.7 million

For my The Addams Family 2 prediction, click here:

The Addams Family 2 Box Office Prediction

For my The Many Saints of Newark prediction, click here:

The Many Saints of Newark Box Office Prediction

September 24-26 Box Office Predictions

Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looks to make it a clean sweep at #1 for the month of September this weekend. The only competitor standing in its way is Dear Evan Hansen, the adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Dear Evan Hansen Box Office Prediction

The fact that Hansen is garnering mixed reviews has me questioning whether it reaches double digits. I’m guessing no and that should put it in the runner-up position behind Rings, which may only drop in the low 30s.

Holdovers will populate the rest of the five as we await some potential October behemoths starting with Venom: Let There Be Carnage and continuing with No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, and Dune.

Until then, expect a rather quiet end to this month at multiplexes. Here’s how I envision the top five:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

2. Dear Evan Hansen

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

3. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

4. Cry Macho

Predicted Gross: $2.8 million

5. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

Box Office Results (September 17-19)

Shang-Chi steamrolled the rest of the weak competition in its third frame with $21.6 million. That’s just above my $20.1 million projection as the MCU juggernaut has amassed $176 million thus far with $200 million easily in its sights.

Free Guy dipped a scant 9% for second place in its sixth weekend with $5 million (I said $4.2 million). It has crossed the nine digit mark at $108 million.

The weekend’s top newcomer was Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho with a ho-hum $4.4 million compared to my more generous $6.4 million estimate. Perhaps its intended older demographic opted to view it on HBO Max or, with its mixed reviews, not at all.

Candyman was fourth with $3.5 million, holding up better than my $2.6 million take. Total is $53 million.

Keeping with the horror theme, Malignant dropped 50% in its sophomore weekend with $2.7 million. That’s decent for its genre and it’s generated plenty of chatter (good and bad) that might have assisted in a curiosity factor. In two weeks, it’s made $9 million. I incorrectly had it outside the top five.

That’s because Gerard Butler’s latest action thriller Copshop (despite a decent critical response) tanked with only $2.3 million in sixth. I went with $4.5 million.

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

Squad Goals Thwarted

Uh oh. That is likely to be the prevailing refrain coming from not only Warner Bros today, but Hollywood as a whole. The August box office has kicked off with only one wide release this weekend and it’s a high profile one in The Suicide Squad. This is the hard R rated reboot of the franchise from director James Gunn, who’s had massive success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel.

Hopes were riding high after this Squad received unexpectedly laudatory marks from critics with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score. The 2016 Suicide Squad managed only 26% and still became a financial success story. In fact, its $65 million opening Friday set the August record five years back. It went on to gross $133 million for the weekend and $325 million overall domestic.

With the Delta variant rising across the country and the 2021 version being available on HBO Max, no one expected this to match the original. However, when it made $4 million on Thursday night, that seemed to correlate with a premiere close to $40 million (where I had it pegged).

What a difference a day makes. Reports have The Suicide Squad earning just over $12 million for Friday (this includes the Thursday preview numbers). And that means a debut in the mid 20s is where it’s headed. That is absolutely on the lowest end of forecasts.

In short… that’s bad. Usually comic book movies are critic proof if the reviews are mediocre (like Suicide Squad). One would think the unanticipated praise would’ve been a boost. Not so. To make it worse, 2020’s spin-off Birds of Prey focused on Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn character took in $33 million out of the gate. I can’t imagine Warner Bros ever imagined The Suicide Squad would fall short of that.

So what happened? There will be many theories. First off, 2016’s Squad was a hit, but audiences didn’t exactly love it and perhaps they weren’t clamoring for a reimagining. The original Squad had a PG-13 rating and that means youngsters had a better opportunity to turn out. The new Squad being on HBO Max. The absence of the franchise’s biggest star Will Smith.

These are all viable explanations and they might all be contributors (especially the general ambivalence for what we witnessed five years ago). Studios are really hoping the overriding rationale isn’t the Delta variant. If so, don’t be shocked if we see other major releases start getting delayed again. That would be a reversal from where things seemed headed even last month. There’s a whole lotta movie lovers hoping No Time to Die or Dune or Halloween Kills and more stick to their fall plans.

Family fare like Space Jam: A New Legacy and Jungle Cruise opened slightly above projections and both were available on streaming. Theaters owners had reason to feel hopeful. To be clear, one failure may not change the dynamic and The Suicide Squad could represent a blip where the aforementioned circumstances caused the lackluster performance. Yet there’s little doubt that radars across Tinsel Town are at full attention and that this never-ending story of uncertainty carries on.

The Blockbuster Is Back: A Not So Quiet Return

When my intense interest in all things movies (including box office returns) began at a young age, the concept of the blockbuster was a fairly rare thing. Many classified it as a feature earning over $100 million domestically. When I became a teenager in 1992, there were only seven pictures that reached the milestone in that calendar year. When I turned 16 in 1995, there were six. The list expanded to 11 in my 18th year.

$100 million being a significant benchmark isn’t what it used to be. In fact, if a MCU extravaganza only grossed that number, it would be considered a massive flop. The number of films blasting past nine digits in recent times speaks for itself. In 2015, there were 29. 2016 brought 30. There were 33 in 2017 and 34 in 2018. The 2019 number was 31.

And then… COVID-19 happened and that previous consistency fell by the wayside. Theaters were shuttered or open in limited capacity for the bulk of 2020. That meant the number of domestic releases last year that topped $100 million were… 2. Both premiered before the coronavirus changed our world as we know it: Bad Boys for Life and Sonic the Hedgehog. 

Studios occasionally put out big movies that otherwise would have surely reached the mark like Warner Bros with Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984. However, the challenges affiliated with the virus prevented that.

Over the last several weeks, we see the country opening back up in lots of different ways. We will see an important example occur tonight. A Quiet Place Part II is poised to become the first movie in a year and a half to gross $100 million. Godzilla vs. Kong is sitting at $99 million and could also achieve that designation by the weekend. In short order, the number of blockbusters will have matched what we saw in 2020.

As the summer box office rolls along, there are other contenders that should or could do the same. F9 (which is over $200 million already overseas) and Black Widow are obvious ones. In the Heights, out today, is garnering Oscar chatter and glowing reviews and it could ride that buzz to hefty grosses. There’s also The Suicide Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Jungle Cruise, and Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. 

The September-December frame brings other surefire contenders and possibilities: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Dune, No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, Eternals, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Top Gun: Maverick, Encanto, West Side Story, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Matrix 4, Sing 2 among them.

Bottom line: there likely won’t be 30 plus $100 million makers in 2021. Yet the eventual number will far exceed what we witnessed in 2020 where multiplexes were a quiet place. Not anymore.