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

X Review

We’re used to the virgin in slasher movies. It’s typically a she and she’s usually the one that survives. Ti West’s homage  to that genre and other ones has a little demented fun with that character. There’s not a virgin to be found in X, but there’s one who loses her porn flick virginity.

A prologue clues us in that we’ll see a significant body count in what follows. Set in rural Texas circa 1979, a troupe of six travels to a farmhouse to shoot an adult film. The director RJ (Owen Campbell) fancies it to be a cut above the rest of them (they always do in these pics). His girlfriend Lorraine  (Jenna Ortega) is part of the skeleton crew who isn’t thrilled to be on the shoot. On the flip side, Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and her bf Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi) are proud to be starring in the feature titled The Farmer’s Daughters. Mia Goth is Maxine, coke addled and desperate to be a star. She’s dating Wayne (Martin Henderson), executive producer of the big show.

The aforementioned farmhouse is owned by elderly couple Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (played by Goth in heavy old age makeup). With a revivalist evangelical TV program playing on their set, we rightly assume they aren’t fully aware of what kind of shenanigans their guests are filming.  A slow build leads us to discover plenty of secrets about the couple.

is most obviously  a sadistic love letter to 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre though it telegraphs other influences. It even mentions 1960’s Psycho and how it became a different picture at midpoint. The same can be said here as the one day shoot is completed before a violent night rolls along. Halloween and The Shining get their due as do the cheapie grindhouse and skin flicks of the era it’s set in.

Where deviates a little from the formula is its occasional rumination on aging. Pearl, in particular, is reminded of what she’s lost in her elder state by the youngsters on her property. Her reaction won’t win her (or the script) any acclaim from the AARP. It does, however, give this a slightly unexpected and intriguing dimension.

My reaction was mixed overall. I found the lighting to be almost too dark at times. That said, there’s one scene in particular (you’ll know) where you’ll be glad it is. While is well-made and sometimes clever, its biggest fault is a common one for more high minded horror titles. I didn’t find it overly frightening. Furthermore, for a sendup of a brand where the killings are often violently creative – that’s in surprisingly short supply. The most passionate genre disciples will surely sing X‘s praises. I found myself somewhat less devoted.

**1/2 (out of four)

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