The Suicide Squad Box Office Prediction

Putting the “The” in front of the title isn’t the only change for The Suicide Squad as the DC Comics adaptation hits theaters August 6th. Arriving five years after Suicide Squad, James Gunn (best known for making both Guardians of the Galaxy pics for the MCU) takes over directing duties from David Ayer. Will Smith is nowhere to be found though Margot Robbie reprises her role as Harley Quinn. Other returnees include Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, and Jai Courtney. New cast members in the mix are Idris Elba, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone, Peter Capaldi, Michael Rooker, and Pete Davidson.

The tenth feature in the DC Extended Universe series, the film will be a test of just how much audiences wish for a return engagement in this particular subsection of the franchise. In 2016, Suicide Squad (despite mostly poor reviews) exceeded expectations with its opening weekend. It grossed a frontloaded $133 million out of the gate with an eventual domestic haul of $325 million. In the spring of 2020, spin-off Birds of Prey, centered on Robbie’s character, was a different story. Prey made a full $100 million less than Squad for its start at $33 million with an $82 million overall stateside gross.

The Suicide Squad, like all Warner Bros product in 2021, will open simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max’s streaming service. The studio has seen some positive results this year with that strategy including Godzilla vs. Kong (nearly $50 million in its five-day Easter debut) and Space Jam: A New Legacy at a better than expected $31 million.

Gunn’s Squad tale will not approach what was achieved five years ago. Yet I do suspect it will outdo the low 30s made by Prey. Hitting $50 million is achievable, but Delta variant complications and the availability of HBO Max could put it under that figure in the low to mid 40s range.

The Suicide Squad opening weekend prediction: $41.8 million

July 23-25 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (07/21): I am revising some predictions from my original Monday. Taking Old from $22.8 million down to $19.8 million; Snake Eyes from $21.2 million to $17.2 million; and Space Jam: A New Legacy from $14.8 million up to $15.8 million.

We could see a real battle for the #1 position this weekend as M. Night Shyamalan’s Old and the G.I. Joe reboot Snake Eyes both debut. I have both nabbing similar grosses and you can peruse my detailed write-ups on each right here:

Old Box Office Prediction

Snake Eyes Box Office Prediction

My estimates have the pair landing in the low to mid 20s and I’m giving Shyamalan’s latest a slight edge. Truth be told, either one of them could over or underperform so this lends some genuine suspense to the forthcoming results.

Assuming both manage to reach high teens to $20 million, that should mean Space Jam: A New Legacy will drop to 3rd following its better than expected debut (more on that below) with a dip in the 50-55% range. Black Widow, after experiencing a larger than anticipated sophomore drop, should fall to fourth position. There could be a close competition for the five spot between  Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and F9. I’ll say Vin Diesel and his merry band of racers triumphs since Escape might lose around half of the opening audience from its lackluster start.

And with that, let’s do a top 6 this time around:

1. Old

Predicted Gross: $19.8 million

2. Snake Eyes

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million

3. Space Jam: A New Legacy

Predicted Gross: $15.8 million

4. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $12.9 million

5. F9

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million

6. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

Box Office Results (July 16-18)

In a surprise development, Lebron James and the Tune Squad dunked over Scarlett Johansson as Space Jam: A New Legacy opened ahead of projections with $31 million. That’s well above my $22.7 million estimate as the long in development sequel (which is also available on HBO Max) clearly brought in families and the nostalgic fans of the 1996 original.

Black Widow was anticipated to repeat at #1, but it fell to second with a massive 68% drop. The MCU stand-alone feature took in $25.8 million compared to my more generous $32.1 million prediction. The pic stands at $131 million as theater owners are griping about its simultaneous streaming  showings on Disney Plus.

Horror sequel Escape Room: Tournament of Champions couldn’t emerge with an impressive start with $8.8 million. That’s about $10 million below what the 2019 original achieved and under my take of $11.4 million.

F9 held up better than I figured in fourth with $7.6 million (I lowballed it at $6.2 million). The four week tally is $154 million as it has become to second COVID era flick after A Quiet Place Part II to reach $150M+.

The Boss Baby: Family Business was fifth with $4.7 million (I said $5.2 million) and it stands at $44 million.

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

Space Jam Review

For reasons I cannot really explain, I never saw 1996’s Space Jam until yesterday. Followers of my blog know I’m a bit of a movie lover (hence the blog). Yet there’s plenty of films I haven’t watched. Gone with the Wind springs to mind. I still haven’t caught up with Demi Moore’s take on The Scarlet Letter and it came out a year before this one.

However, I was 17 when Michael Jordan’s collaboration with the Looney Tunes was released in theaters and it was a huge hit. I’m also a massive basketball fan and was an ardent admirer of #23 (who had just won his fourth NBA Championship in the months prior to Jam‘s release). Hell, I even had the soundtrack on CD. It featured Seal’s cover of “Fly Like an Eagle”. There was also “Hit ‘Em High” and it featured the divine hop hop quintet of B-Real, Coolio, Method Man, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes. The biggest hit causes some trepidation nowadays as the picture opens with the crooning of R. Kelly and “I Believe I Can Fly”.

It seems a bit silly to recount the plot all this time later, but here goes. Space Jam takes place in that strange time known as Michael Jordan’s first retirement. That’s when the superstar chose to play baseball and ended up in the Minor Leagues. That aforementioned first scene set to Kelly’s syrupy ballad is actually a touching one that features MJ as a young tyke on the court with his father. Followers of Jordan know why the sequence likely had some emotional resonance with him.

The comedy begins in another animated realm where Mr. Swackhammer (voiced by Danny DeVito) lords over his minions in a place titled Moron Mountain. That locale is part of an amusement park in need of more sizzling attractions. Swackhammer decides he wants to recruit the Looney Tunes characters (against their will) to join the party. When Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Tweety Bird, the Tasmanian Devil and others are given the proposition – they challenge the newly formed Monstars to a basketball game. If they win, they’re free to go and resume their normal cartoon hijinks.

Swackhammer won’t go down without some creative team building so he steals the bodies of NBA stalwarts like Charles Barkley, Muggy Bogues, and Patrick Ewing to join his squad. Bugs and company have an ace up their sleeve, however, with the greatest of all time.

The blend of animation and live-action still holds up quite well from the mid 90s. At the time, it was quite cutting edge. This Jam runs just 88 minutes and mostly flies by. Jordan isn’t asked to do Shakespeare here. He plays a version of himself and does it well. The screenplay even has some fun with his many corporate connections by name dropping his many commercial brands (from Hanes to McDonald’s) at one point. Wayne Knight (fresh off being decimated by Dinos in Jurassic Park) plays MJ’s pushy but good-hearted publicist. Jordan’s family (Theresa Randle is his wife) appear intermittently but aren’t really a focus. MJ has a game to win after all and he takes it personally.

Having the Looney Tunes posse allows for plenty of humorous moments. No, this isn’t them at the height of their glory, but they still deliver. Interestingly enough, I found myself wanting the script to delve more into certain subplots. Having been a viewer of Inside the NBA for many years, I have no doubt that Charles Barkley could have been utilized to better effect (the dude’s hilarious).

My overall reaction to Space Jam is that I totally get why it’s become so appreciated. Is it a classic? No. Does it take its limited premise and make it amusing? Yes. In 2021, Lebron James has become the face of his league and that’s warranted the just out sequel. I won’t wait 25 years to watch it and my review of A New Legacy is coming to the blog soon.

Not everything has changed in the last quarter century by the way. Bill Murray shows up out of nowhere at a couple of key times. You’re a Google search away from reading stories about the legendary actor doing that all over the world. Google may not have been a thing 25 years ago, but Mr. Murray popping up unexpectedly to make things better is timeless.

*** (out of four)

Space Jam: A New Legacy Box Office Prediction

Lebron James will attempt to wear the box office crown when the long in development sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy dribbles its way into multiplexes on July 16th. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee, the live-action/animated sports flick pairs the 4-time NBA champ with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and plenty of other Warner Bros toons legends. James is, of course, following in the Nike sneakers of Michael Jordan who starred in the 1996 original. Current basketball stars who either appear or lend their voices include Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, and James’s Lakers teammate Anthony Davis. Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Zendaya also join the party.

With a reported budget north of $150 million, Warner is hopeful that fans of the ’96 pic and a new generation of sports viewers will turn out. Legacy will also stream on HBO Max simultaneously so there is the risk that some families could just opt to watch at home.

Jordan’s foray into film a quarter century ago has developed staying power in subsequent years. There’s a nostalgia factor at work here. It doesn’t hurt that the sequel has been promoted endlessly over the past few weeks during the NBA playoffs. Jam will almost surely have to settle for #2 due to the sophomore frame of Black Widow. However, this should open right on pace with the number most associated with its leading man in the low to mid 20s range.

Space Jam: A New Legacy opening weekend prediction: $22.7 million

For my Escape Room: Tournament of Champions prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/07/07/escape-room-tournament-of-champions-box-office-predictions/

Oscar Watch: No Sudden Move

The wildly eclectic filmography of Steven Soderbergh peaked with awards voters in 2000 when two of his pictures (Erin Brockovich and Traffic) represented 40% of that year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees. While Gladiator took the big prize, Soderbergh took gold for his direction of the latter. Half of the 2000 acting contenders came from his work with Julia Roberts as Best Actress for Brockovich and Benicio del Toro in Supporting Actor with Traffic.

Since then, the Academy has failed to nominate any of Soderbergh’s many efforts that followed. This weekend, No Sudden Move premiered on HBO Max. The 1950s crime thriller, in addition to costarring del Toro, features a large cast including Don Cheadle, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Julia Fox, Ray Liotta, and Bill Duke.

Reviews are solid as this sits at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet this appears to be another genre flick that is unlikely to make an impression with the Academy. Bottom line: it’s been over two decades since Soderbergh was in the Oscar mix and don’t look for Move to suddenly change that. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Boss Baby: Family Business Box Office Prediction

The Boss Baby: Family Business looks to pacify little ones and their parents over the Independence Day weekend. The DreamWorks animated sequel follows up on the March 2017 pic which greatly over performed with its target audience. Alec Baldwin is back voicing the title character alongside James Marsden, Amy Sedaris, Ariana Greenblatt, Eva Longoria, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, and Jeff Goldblum. Tom McGrath resumes directorial duties.

In the spring of 2017, The Boss Baby was projected to earn around $30 million for its start. However, it blew past those estimates with $50.2 million in its opening frame and eventually took in $175 million domestically. Several factors are likely to complicate that kind of debut for part II.

For one, some of the little viewers who flocked to see it are four years older now. COVID-19 is still somewhat limiting potential. This was originally slated for March before its pandemic related delay. Family Business is also hitting streamer Peacock on the same day and some may simply choose to hold their Baby viewing from the comfort of home. That said, Peacock is not anywhere in the spectator realm of the big boys like Netflix, Amazon, or HBO Max as of yet.

Estimates have this reaching approximately $20 million over the holiday. I’ll give it a slight Baby bump considering its predecessor easily managed to top forecasts.

The Boss Baby: Family Business opening weekend prediction: $21.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my The Forever Purge prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/23/the-forever-purge-box-office-prediction/

Is In the Heights Out of Oscar Contention?

Ten days ago, Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights went into its premiere weekend as the first bonafide Best Picture contender of 2021. Sporting a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96%, the musical (adapted from a play co-created by Lin-Manuel Miranda) was projected to gross around $20 million in its opening frame. And then reality happened.

The pic was a major box office disappointment and earned just $11.5 million out of the gate (landing at #2 behind the third weekend of A Quiet Place Part II). Even then not all hope was lost. With solid word-of-mouth and awards buzz, perhaps Heights would hold well in subsequent weekends.

And then reality happened again. Heights appears to have dropped to sixth place in its sophomore outing with a drop of over 60%. What a difference a week and a half can make. There’s really no positive spin for its box office performance. It’s simply very underwhelming. Furthermore, the bulk of publicity received for Heights in recent days was either for its disappointing numbers or controversy emerging from its casting choices (something for which Miranda issued an apology for).

At this juncture, it’s a legitimate question whether Heights is still a viable contender at the Oscars. Much of that could depend on if Warner Bros makes a robust effort to campaign for it. I would say its inclusion in the big categories is now iffy at best. This applies to Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Anthony Ramos in Actor (which was probably always a long shot), and Olga Merediz in Supporting Actress. Down the line categories such as Sound and Original Song are more questionable as well.

The studio could shift its focus to fall contenders including Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, and King Richard with Will Smith. Bottom line: Heights isn’t finished in the Oscar derby, but it is hard to say that it’s not wounded.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Review

Remember those Brady Bunch episodes when they went to Hawaii and Bobby found the evil tiki that ruined part of their vacation? Similar happenings occur in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It to the Warren bunch – our happily married demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga). It involves a satanic totem that wreaks even more havoc than Greg wiping out while surfing or Alice throwing her back out during a hula lesson. The latest Conjuring franchise pic delves deeper into the occult than previous entries and it is again based loosely on a true story.

This centers on the 1981 case of Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), who was the first American to claim demonic possession as a defense during trial. As we learn in the pretty effective opening sequence, his curse was passed like a hot potato from 8-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard). That little boy is exorcised by the Warrens and church officials in a body twisting procedure, but his malady is transferred to his sister’s boyfriend. That results in Arne returning home from work and his dogs are barking. His feet are fine. Arne works in a boarding kennel and those pups know something is off with him. The rest of Connecticut figures it out shortly after when he brutally stabs his boss.

Ed and Lorraine are naturally sympathetic to Arne’s forthcoming legal proceedings and seek to discover the backstory of how this came to be. Lorraine’s clairvoyant abilities unveils a tale of witchcraft. Meanwhile, Ed is hampered by heart problems. In fact, he experiences more ticker palpitations than you might as a viewer.

In 2013, the original Conjuring emerged as one of the finest horror pics in recent years. None of the official sequels or spinoffs have come too close to matching it and that holds. Michael Chaves takes over directorial duties from James Wan. Like the first two, this is well-made and doesn’t suffer from the cheap knockoff vibe that, say, Annabelle had. To be fair, even the Annabelle follow-ups improved. The last time we saw the Warrens was in 2019’s Annabelle Comes Home and I would say it had more pure entertainment value than this.

That’s not to say Devil is bad. It’s just another so-so example of creaking sound effects and jump scares that intermittently possesses a genuine scare. This even gets a little gooey towards the conclusion with its love conquers all theme. You can’t blame the filmmakers. Ed and Lorraine, in real life apparently and certainly on screen, have been through a lot. It’s too bad they weren’t in Hawaii back in the seventies. Maybe Alice would have had a far more pleasant hula lesson.

**1/2 (out of four)

June 18-20 Box Office Predictions

F9 is likely to give us the biggest box office premiere since late 2019 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker… but that’s not coming until late next week. For this weekend, we could see another frame like this latest one where no picture reaches the teens. We have one newcomer and that’s action comedy sequel Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Salma Hayek reprising their roles from the 2017 original. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/08/hitmans-wifes-bodyguard-box-office-prediction/

Bodyguard opens on Wednesday and I’m projecting its five-day count gets it high teens. That likely means low double digits for the traditional Friday to Sunday frame. That should be enough for it to open at #1 due to the disappointing returns for In the Heights this past weekend (more on that below).

We could see a showdown for the runner-up slot between A Quiet Place Part II and Heights. Both should experience declines in 30s range (there’s certainly the chance that the latter doesn’t fall that far due to solid word-of-mouth). Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway may stay in fourth position after its lackluster start and that would put The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It in fifth.

So as we await the return of Vin Diesel and his space bound vehicles, here’s how I have the top five shaking out:

1. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Predicted Gross: $12.6 million (Friday to Sunday); $17.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

2. A Quiet Place Part II

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

3. In the Heights

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million

4. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Predicted Gross: $6.6 million

5. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

Box Office Results (June 11-13)

In a surprise development, A Quiet Place Part II returned to the top spot in its third frame with $12 million (ahead of my $9.4 million forecast). I had it pegged for third and the soft debuts of the newbies prevented that. The critically acclaimed horror sequel made some history along the way by becoming the first feature in the COVID era to reach $100 million. Its current total is $109 million.

Back to those disappointing newcomers as In the Heights came in on the very lowest end of expectations with $11.5 million… or not even half of my $26.8 million projection. Despite mostly glowing reviews and awards buzz, Heights simply didn’t come close to maximizing its potential. There’s plenty of theories as to why (including the fact that its streaming on HBO Max and the challenge of audiences going to theaters for non-sequels), but it’s tricky for Warner Bros to spin this. As mentioned, its best hope is for sturdy legs in the weekends ahead.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It dropped from 1st to 3rd with $10.3 million compared to my $8.7 million prediction. The 57% drop isn’t too shabby for its genre and it’s taken in $44 million during the first ten days of release.

Family audiences didn’t hop to the multiplexes for Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. It placed fourth with $10.1 million. I was far generous at $15.9 million. Considering the 2018 original took in $25 million out of the gate, this is another hard one for its studio to explain away.

Lastly, Cruella rounded out the top five with $6.7 million (I said $6.3 million) for an overall tally of $55 million.

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

In the Heights Box Office Prediction

With a rousing 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the musical In the Heights reaches theaters and HBO Max on June 11 and expectations have risen. After being pushed back nearly a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jon M. Chu directs a large cast including Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smith. It is based on the stage production created by Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda (who also appears).

Critics have taken to the adaptation with many claiming it is the feel good picture of the season. Miranda’s name associated with anything is a bonus. A female and Latino audience could turn out in large numbers. Heights is also 2021’s first release that could be a major Oscar contender in multiple categories, including Best Picture. The fact that HBO Max subscribers may opt for home viewing is always a factor, but the streaming arrangement with Warner Bros has already produced satisfying theatrical starts for other titles.

Three years ago, Chu had an unexpected summer smash with Crazy Rich Asians. It opened to $26.5 million and legged out tremendously to a $174 million domestic haul. I could easily see his follow-up earning about the same for its premiere weekend, but I’ll put it just a tad under.

In the Heights opening weekend prediction: $26.8 million

For my Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/05/peter-rabbit-2-the-runaway-box-office-prediction/