Halloween Kills Review

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) spends the 12th Halloween experience laid up in a hospital bed after her near mortal injuries incurred from the 11th one. In that sense, Halloween Kills is quite similar to the first official sequel from 1981. The samesies comparisons don’t stop there as this is an inferior follow-up to what came before it. The difference is that the 1978 original was a slasher classic to which all followers have been judged. 2018’s Halloween was not and therefore the letdown isn’t as steep.

Kills takes place (like Halloween II) during the immediate events after its predecessor. Laurie, daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) had left Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) to burn at her tricked out house. Unsurprisingly, it turns out to be mission unaccomplished as the masked one escapes that space and leaves plenty of dead firefighters in his wake.

While Laurie is recovering from her own stabbing, Michael has his knives out for plenty of other townsfolk in Haddonfield. As you may recall, we are on our third iteration of the killer’s most famous prey reuniting with her predator. The 1981 sequel continued John Carpenter’s storyline and revealed that Laurie is Michael’s little sister. 1998’s Halloween: H20 set their sibling rivalry 20 years later.

By the time David Gordon Green and company came around and another two decades passed, 2018’s Halloween ignored all of that. The familial connection was slashed in favor of Laurie becoming a survivalist and waiting for escaped booby hatch patient Myers to find her. Kills allow for other figures in the ’78 pic to return – Tommy Doyle (who Laurie babysat) is now Anthony Michael Hall. Kyle Richards reprises her role as Lindsey, one of the other kids tormented that night. And we catch up with Sheriff Bracket (Charles Cyphers) and Nurse Chambers (Nancy Stephens). We also spend some unnecessary time with flashbacks to 40 years before that don’t add much (though if you want CG Donald Pleasance, you’re in luck).

The phrase “Evil Dies Tonight” is repeated ad nauseam as the denizens of our Illinois murder spot (led by Tommy) seek to end Michael’s return engagement. Of course, we know that ain’t happening. Halloween Kills is the second of a trilogy that will end (?) with next year’s ambitiously titled Halloween Ends. This has the feel of stopgap viewing with no real payoffs and our star player relegated to the sideline. There are a few garish highlights. I was entertained by the couple Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald… not that one) who live in Michael’s childhood house of horrors and probably should’ve upped their homeowners insurance. A hospital set scene where the residents chase down another of the escaped mental patients is shot effectively.

Ultimately Halloween Kills, for most of its running time, feels painfully average. It’s more violent than part one… which was actually part II if you ignore that other part II. So I suppose this is part III when ignoring nine other movies. The gimmick of Laurie coming back (again) had its pleasures in 2018. Tommy and Lindsey coming back in the mix doesn’t really cut the mustard. Michael cuts the tracheas and tendons with dutiful impassioned restraint. It seldom rises above the mediocrity where most of this series has dwelled since part one (the real one).

** (out of four)

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

September 10-12 Box Office Predictions

In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas: I was way off! I’m speaking of the marvelous performance of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which smashed the Labor Day weekend all-time record. We’ll get to that in a second. The major release this weekend is James Wan’s latest horror offering Malignant. My detailed prediction post on it can be found here:

Malignant Box Office Prediction

There’s arguably been an over saturation in the market lately for scary pics. Malignant doesn’t seem to have much heat, but I have to give the reminder that this genre often over performs. I’ll still go with under $10 million and that would be good for second place.

Back to Shang-Chi. The acclaimed 25th MCU entry claimed the second highest COVID era debut (barely behind the other Marvel premiere from 2021 – Black Widow). Scarlett Johansson’s stand-alone title fell a steep 68% in its sophomore frame. I don’t foresee that occurring with Shang-Chi. With an A Cinemascore grade and it not being available on Disney Plus, a mid 50s dip seems more likely as it could foreseeably be #1 for the entire month of September.

Here’s how I see the top 5 shaking out:

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

Predicted Gross: $36.4 million

2. Malignant

Predicted Gross: $7.6 million

3. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million

4. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million

5. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

Box Office Results (September 3-6)

Mark it down as one of my incorrect forecasts ever. I thought the challenges facing Shang-Chi (COVID and the fact that big movies don’t really come out at this time of year) meant a $58.9 million four-day gross. Whoops. Try $94.6 million! Its $75 million traditional three-day take, as mentioned, is just after the $80 million that Widow made. Simply put, this is another testament that theatrical only can still be a moneymaking venture and that’s music to industry ears. To put it in perspective, the previous Labor Day record was 2007’s Halloween at $30 million. Rings tripled that and then some.

On the flip side, I was a little too generous to the holdovers. Candyman earned $12.5 million in its sophomore frame (a bit under my $13.4 million projection). The horror sequel/reboot, after its better than expected start, is up to $41 million.

Free Guy was third with $11.2 million (I said $14.2 million) and it’s made $94 million as it hurls towards the century mark.

PAW Patrol: The Movie sat in the four spot with $5.3 million compared to my $6.7 million prediction. Tally is $31 million.

Rounding out the top five was Jungle Cruise with $5.1 million. Once again, I went with more at $6.9 million. It has sailed off with $106 million.

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

September 3-6 Box Office Predictions

The Labor Day weekend brings us the 25th MCU entry with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It should have no trouble dominating the charts over the holiday, but it could also hit the lowest mark (or close to it) as far as openings go for the vaunted franchise. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Box Office Prediction

Every single Marvel entry has debuted in first place and this will certainly be no different. The Incredible Hulk holds the distinction of smallest start with $55 million. With the extra Monday factored in, my high 50s projection gets Rings just past it. My estimate would also give it the lowest traditional Friday to Sunday beginning.

Could my take be underestimating its potential? Absolutely. Reviews are solid and word-of-mouth should be strong. However, it may have a slight disadvantage due to unfamiliarity of its characters. We are in strange territory for Disney’s most valuable series. Labor Day is usually a time when studios do not release would-be blockbusters. Prior to this, the highest earner premiering picture over the weekend was 2007’s Halloween at $30 million. I wrote all about that here:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Labor Day Box Office

One thing that is rather consistent over Labor Day is that the summer holdovers tend to hold steady. In fact, many increase their haul from the previous late August frame. I expect this to hold true for the family fare – Free Guy, PAW Patrol: The Movie, and Jungle Cruise. 

Candyman had a sweet opening (more on that below) and I don’t anticipate it losing 50% of its audience or more like most horror titles do. That is primarily due to the holiday. It could fall to the low teens. If so, it could find itself in a battle for #2 with Free Guy and Ryan Reynolds may have the slight edge. The four spot could be close between Patrol and Cruise. 

With all that, here’s how I have the Friday to Monday Labor Day box office shaking out:

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

Predicted Gross: $58.9 million

2. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $14.2 million

3. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

5. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $6.7 million

Box Office Results (August 27-29)

Moviegoers were ready to call out the name Candyman again as the sequel/reboot opened at the most generous end of prognoses at $22 million. That bests my $17.3 million forecast. Nearly hitting its $25 million budget out of the gate, Universal has something to buzz about today. It also made history as Nia DaCosta is the first black woman to direct a #1 debuting feature.

Free Guy was runner-up after two weeks on top with $13.1 million, right on pace with my $13 million prediction. The total is $78 million as it zooms toward the century mark.

PAW Patrol: The Movie was third with $6.6 million (I said $6.1 million) for a decent two-week tally of $24 million.

Jungle Cruise took fourth with $5 million compared to my $4.6 million take. The Disney adventure is perched at $100 million and it’s no accident that the studio announced its sequel today.

Don’t Breathe 2 rounded out the top five with $2.8 million, on target with my $2.7 million projection. The horror sequel has made $24 million overall.

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

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Box Office Prediction

A new group of Marvel cinematic heroes and villains arrives onscreen over Labor Day weekend with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The 25th MCU feature (and second of four in 2021) is out in theaters only with Disney choosing not to make it available simultaneously on their streaming service. I have already written a bit about the challenges it faces. They include releasing it during a holiday frame not known for unveiling blockbusters, as well as ongoing COVID related hindrances. You can read that post here:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Labor Day Box Office

Destin Daniel Cretton, who’s best known for dramas with Captain Marvel Brie Larson like The Glass Castle and Just Mercy, directs. The cast features Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung. You can also expect some villains that have populated previous MCU flicks.

Early word-of-mouth should help. Rings currently sports a strong 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating. That said, there is the possibility that the non-traditional release date and other factors threaten to make this the lowest MCU premiere of the lot. It also doesn’t help that there’s really no familiar characters to draw some viewers out. The same could be said for Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther, but they had sizzling buzz that this needs to generate in a hurry (the solid reviews might help).

Shang-Chi will have a posted four-day gross due to the Labor Day holiday (where 2007’s Halloween holds the largest ever debut at $30 million). There’s little question that this should easily eclipse that record. In MCU terms, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk experienced the smallest start at $55 million. That’s followed by 2015’s Ant-Man with $57 million.

The extra day of reported earnings may help. I don’t see this getting anywhere near what Black Widow did ($80 million) at the start of summer. My feeling is that Rings, in its Friday to Sunday financial report, may hold the distinction of having the smallest gross in the MCU franchise. Yet the Monday could push it toward a mid to high 50s take with $60M+ certainly as a possibility.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opening weekend prediction: $58.9 million

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Labor Day Box Office

Quick! Tell me everything you remember about the 2009 rom com All About Steve? Search that memory! My guess is not much. It stars Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper and it’s certainly not what most moviegoers remember about the two actors from that particular year. To be fair, they both hit career milestones 12 years ago. Bullock won an Oscar for The Blind Side. Cooper became a household name that summer in The Hangover. 

All About Steve won some awards as well. Not the kind that gets bragged about. The pic took home two Golden Raspberry trophies for Worst On Screen Couple and for Bullock as Worst Actress. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 6%. And it’s largely a forgotten blip on the filmographies of two accomplished performers.

Yet it does currently stand at #10 when it comes to biggest Labor Day openings in box office history. That’s because Labor Day weekend has traditionally not been a time for studios to release hoped for blockbusters. In normal times, that frame is generally seen as one in which the summer season is winding down and the fall projects are gearing up. It’s kind of an in between time.

The distinction for highest premiere over the holiday belongs to 2007’s Halloween (the reboot by Rob Zombie). It made $30 million out of the gate.

When you get down to Steve in tenth, the take is a mere $14 million for the four-day gross. There’s other pics you might have conveniently forgot about on that list. How about the ping pong comedy Balls of Fury with George Lopez and Christopher Walken? It’s #8 (also with $14 million). There’s the musical doc One Direction: This Is Us which is perched in fourth with $18 million. Jeepers Creepers and its sequel both make appearances.

Why the Labor Day history lesson? Because Disney is about to go against the grain and release their newest Marvel Cinematic Universe product in what has usually been a quiet time.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens September 3rd and hopes to blow away Halloween‘s current record. It should have no problem doing just that. However, it also risks having the designation of being the MCU’s smallest opener. The current mark belongs to The Incredible Hulk at $55 million.

Current projections have Rings doing about $50 million for the Friday to Monday frame. It may certainly exceed that and early word-of-mouth is encouraging (my official prediction will be up on Tuesday or Wednesday). Unlike Black Widow, the house that Mickey built is not making Rings simultaneously available for a $30 fee on Disney Plus.

There’s a case to be made that the 25th MCU flick faces challenges no other has. Black Widow had the advantage of a well-known character at the center. That helped propel the stand-alone entry to an $80 million bow as COVID continues to be a hindrance to earning power. Shang-Chi introduces a whole new group of players to this multi-billion cinematic universe. That didn’t hurt Guardians of the Galaxy or Black Panther, but they both had sizzling buzz leading to their unveilings.

So what will be talked about more in two weeks? The nearly certain record Rings will accomplish with its record Labor Day haul? Or the possibility that it sets a low mark for its practically never miss franchise? One thing is clear: Machete will drop down to spot 10 in all-time Labor Day beginnings. And there will nothing to see in the top ten about All About Steve.

Halloween Movie Review

The latest Halloween installment has so much reverence for the 1978 original that it has no use for the multiple sequels that followed. It ignores them and that includes the ones where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) appeared. She’s not Michael’s sister. She’s not living under an assumed name while working at a boarding school 20 years after his night of havoc. This Halloween ignores all of that and is a direct sequel from what happened four decades ago.

It cheats a little with that. As you’ll recall, John Carpenter’s classic concluded with Michael Myers apparently still on the loose. Here we learn that he was apprehended and has been in custody for 40 years. His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is long gone with a new doc (Haluk Bilginer) studying him. Michael is about to be transferred to a new facility on the night before his beloved title holiday (maybe picking a different day for that would have been wise). You can correctly guess whether that transfer is successful.

Laurie is still experiencing PTSD from her encounter in ‘78. She’s an alcoholic reclusive double divorcée estranged from daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and grandchild Allyson (Andi Matichak). Her off the beaten path home is a survivalist den. Karen strayed after her mother (wisely it turns out) taught her how to take down a monster. Michael’s breakout session provides the chance.

David Gordon Green directs and shares co-writing duties with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley. They sprinkle the screenplay with nods to part one both large and small. This reimagining recognizes that providing Michael a lot of back story isn’t needed, as the sequels eventually did to a ridiculous degree. He’s The Shape… an unstoppable machine who perhaps cannot be taken out. Nick Castle, who donned the infamous mask 40 years back, returns. Carpenter is around as well – providing the iconic music.

Halloween is effective in spurts. It takes some time to get its motor running while the original was lean and mean. Some of Michael’s kills are fine examples of blunt force creativity. Curtis clearly loves the role of Laurie and she has a few memorable moments as a now badass grandma. She’s not just an unwilling victim anymore. Laurie wants Michael to escape so she can finish him off and that’s a welcome touch.

Yet in all honesty, the 2018 edition never rises too much above the level of the first sequel in 1981. It continues the story from the greatest slasher ever in a serviceable, sometimes scary, and far more spotty way. Of course, I never expected this to match what came with Carpenter’s low-budget vision. Perhaps I hoped it would have a little more running time where it came closer.

**1/2 (out of four)

 

Box Office Predictions: November 9-11

Illumination Entertainment’s animated The Grinch looks to steal the box office crown from Bohemian Rhapsody after its killer opening this past weekend. We also have The Girl in the Spider’s Web and Overlord debuting and vying for some of the same audience members. You can find my detailed estimates on the trio of newbies right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-grinch-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/overlord-box-office-prediction/

My mid 60s start for The Grinch easily places it in the top spot as it looks like to play well into the holiday season, even with plenty of family related competition coming soon.

Bohemian, despite very mixed reviews, played well with the masses and I don’t see it dropping more than mid 40s in its sophomore frame. The runner-up spot should be no problem for it.

As for the other newcomers, I have soured on Spider’s Web. My initial projection of $13.7 million has dwindled to $9.4 million. Depending on how Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (after a muted opening) drops in weekend #2, it could find itself in a battle for third place.

Despite positive critical notices, I’m skeptical that Overlord reaches its intended audience and I have it placing fifth with a sub double digits debut. If it opens much under that, it could be in danger of being sixth behind A Star Is Born. 

And with that, my top 6 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. The Grinch

Predicted Gross: $63.4 million

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

Predicted Gross: $29.8 million

3. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

4. The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

5. Overlord

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million

6. A Star Is Born

Predicted Gross: $8 million

Box Office Results (November 2-4)

Bohemian Rhapsody rocked out to a tremendous start with $51 million, easily outpacing my $41.8 million forecast. The Freddie Mercury biopic managed to outdo October’s debut for A Star Is Born. It’s likely to continue to play well throughout the month.

Disney experienced a rare letdown with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms as it opened in second to an unremarkable $20.3 million. It did manage to just top my $19.4 million estimate. The film will hope for smallish declines in the coming weeks, but competition for families and little ones is significant in November.

Tyler Perry’s comedy Nobody’s Fool starring Tiffany Haddish had a so-so premiere in third with $13.7 million, in range with my $14.5 million projection. That’s roughly half of what Haddish’s September pic Night School accomplished out of the gate.

A Star Is Born was fourth with $11 million (I said $9.7 million) to brings its total to $165 million.

Now that its namesake holiday has passed, Halloween took a tumble in weekend #3 to fifth with $10.8 million (I was higher at $14.1 million). Nevertheless the $10 million production has amassed a fantastic $150 million thus far.

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

Overlord Box Office Prediction

Horror audiences have been treated to lots of zombies over the past few years on the big and small screen. Yet in Overlord, we get to witness the undead in World War II! That’s the basic premise of the J.J. Abrams produced genre pic out next weekend from director Julius Ray. The cast includes Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek, Jacob Anderson, and Bokeem Woodine.

Reviews for this exercise have been strong since it premiered at Fantastic Fest last month and it currently holds an 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The opportunity for this to be a cult hit is very real, but its initial box office earnings might be just fair. The Girl in the Spider’s Web presents some direct competition while casual horror enthusiasts may have had their fill with Halloween. A decent comp could be both 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, which respectively made $10 million and $9.8 million for their starts. I’ll put this a bit under those.

Overlord opening weekend prediction: $8.2 million

For my The Grinch prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-grinch-box-office-prediction/

For my The Girl in the Spider’s Web prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/30/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-box-office-prediction/

Box Office Predictions: November 2-4

Blogger’s Note (10/30/18): My estimate for Bohemian Rhapsody has increased from $31.8M to $41.8M

A flurry of box office activity greets November as three new releases are unveiled. We have the Queen musical extravaganza Bohemian Rhapsody, Disney’s fantasy adventure The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and Tyler Perry directed Tiffany Haddish comedy Nobody’s Fool. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/23/bohemian-rhapsody-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/nobodys-fool-box-office-prediction/

Rhapsody appears poised to, ahem, be the champion. How much it earns is very much in question. Forecasts have it anywhere between $25-$35 million. Reviews have been mixed, but the band’s fan base and rocking trailers have the potential to make the point moot. The film has the potential to over perform ($40 million is in the cards), but I’m estimating it ends up falling in the middle of current projections. **Note updated above.

As for The Nutcracker, it’s risky to underestimate the marketing power of the Mouse Factory. That said, buzz for this seems curiously muted. While it should have no problem nabbing the runner-up spot, I believe it will do so with less than $20 million.

Tiffany Haddish has had a pair of hits with Girls Trip last summer and Night School just a month ago. The latter had the benefit of featuring Kevin Hart. My prediction for Fool gives it about half of what School made out of the gate. That could put it in a battle for third place with the third weekend of current champ Halloween, with A Star Is Born rounding out the top five.

And with that, my top 5 take on as November comes in:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody

Predicted Gross: $41.8 million

2. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Predicted Gross: $19.4 million

3. Nobody’s Fool

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million

4. Halloween

Predicted Gross: $14.1 million

5. A Star Is Born

Predicted Gross: $9.7 million

Box Office Results (October 26-28)

As expected, Halloween easily topped the charts for the second weekend in a row with $31.4 million, a bit below my $35.4 million estimate. The latest pairing of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode has taken in $126 million. That already gives it the all-time franchise earner by far (the previous record was 2007’s remake at $58 million).

For the fourth weekend in a row, A Star Is Born held the #2 spot with $14 million, a tad higher than my take of $13.3 million. It’s up to $148 million with $200 million in its sights.

Venom was third with $10.6 million (I was right there at $10.5 million) for an overall tally of $187 million.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween was fourth with $7.2 million (I said $6.9 million) for $38 million thus far.

None of the newcomers performed well. Hunter Killer managed just a fifth place showing with $6.6 million, not matching my $8.2 million prediction.

Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s expanded nationally with middling results in 10th with $2.9 million (I said $3.6 million).

In 12th place was Johnny English Strikes Back with $1.6 million compared to my $1.3 million projection. Faith-based drama Indivisible was 13th with $1.5 million (I said $1 million).

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