April 19-21 Box Office Predictions

It’s Easter weekend at the box office and we have three new pictures opening. There’s The Darkness (The Curse of La Llorona), The Light (Breakthrough), and The Penguins (Penguins). Two of them will attempt to dislodge Shazam! from its two-week perch in the top spot. Yet this holiday frame will likely be known as “the one before Avengers: Endgame opened”. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newcomers here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/09/the-curse-of-la-llorona-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/09/breakthrough-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/10/penguins-box-office-prediction/

The Curse of La Llorona takes place in the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, but it hasn’t really been marketed heavily as such. Therefore I believe it will easily have the lowest debut of the franchise, but still manage to top the charts.

Breakthrough has the potential to do just that with faith-based crowds. I do question whether it can manage to achieve what Heaven Is for Real accomplished five Easter’s ago ($29 million for its five-day gross). Debuting on Wednesday, I’ll say mid teens for the traditional weekend and low 20s when factoring in the extra days.

Penguins is the latest DisneyNature venture. The latest efforts in the series have earned between $4-$5 million for their starts. This opens on Wednesday as well, so I’ll put it a touch under. My $3.5 million Friday to Sunday projection ($5 million five-day) puts this outside my top five.

Shazam! should slide to third after two weeks in first position with Little coming in fourth. As for the five-spot, I’m saying Captain Marvel. It should experience a smaller percentage decline than Hellboy and Dumbo. That could be good enough to take it from sixth to fifth before she joins her superhero pals next weekend in Endgame.

And with that, my take on the holiday weekend:

1. The Curse of La Llorona

Predicted Gross: $20.1 million

2. Breakthrough

Predicted Gross: $16.9 million (Friday to Sunday); $22 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

3. Shazam!

Predicted Gross: $14 million

4. Little

Predicted Gross: $7.8 million

5. Captain Marvel

Predicted Gross: $6 million

Box Office Results (April 1214)

As expected, Shazam! retained its perch on top with $24.4 million, a bit lower than my $28.2 million prediction. The DC tale is sniffing the century mark after ten days with $94 million.

The Regina Hall comedy Little led four newcomers in second with $15.4 million, managing to exceed my $14 million projection.

The story of the weekend was the pitiful performance of Hellboy. The comic book based reboot bombed with just $12 million in third, under my $17.4 million take. This potential franchise pretty much ended before it began.

Pet Sematary was fourth in its sophomore outing with $9.7 million (I said $10.5 million). Total is $40 million.

I incorrectly had Dumbo outside the top five and it made $9.4 million to bring its tally to $90 million.

College romance After was eighth and topped most estimates with $6 million. I was much lower at $3.7 million.

Finally, Laika Animation has its worst opening by a lot. Missing Link, despite positive reviews, couldn’t find an audience. It took in just $5.9 million for ninth. I was considerably higher at $11.7 million.

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

The Depths of Hellboy

Over the past year and change, the superhero genre has been flush with massive successes such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, and current box office champ Shazam!, which has dutifully met expectations. The upcoming Avengers: Endgame is looking to set the all time opening record in two weeks. Something was bound to eventually get lost in the shuffle and that turned out to be Hellboy this weekend.

The film rebooted the Dark Horse Comics franchise that debuted in 2004 with Guillermo del Toro behind the camera and Ron Perlman as the horn clad anti-hero. A 2008 sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, built on the grosses of its predecessor.

Neil Marshall took over directorial duties for the new Hellboy with David Harbour of “Stranger Things” cast as the title character. All along the way, the marketing campaign seemed curiously muted. It was as if Lionsgate might have known they had a dog on their hands. And they did. The review embargo didn’t lift until late this week. Rotten Tomatoes has been ripe with bad critical reaction with a 15% score. CinemaScore audiences haven’t been kind either with a lowly C rating.

On Sunday, the initial results have Hellboy in third place with just $12 million. Not only is that behind the second frame of Shazam!, it’s after the debut of the Regina Hall comedy Little. To put that in perspective, the 2004 Hellboy made $23 million out of the gate. The Golden Army took in $34 million. For both of those films, the opening weekends represented a hefty chunk of the overall earnings. In the case of the second installment, it fell hard in its sophomore frame due to another comic boom sequel premiering called The Dark Knight. With its toxic word of mouth, I expect this version to tumble at least 60% in weekend #2 and probably more.

If there’s any silver lining for the studio, it’s that the reboot cost a reported $50 million. That’s certainly low on the scale for this genre. Yet we can be sure this iteration of the character is a one-off. And we’ve found out what the depths of Hellboy are on a financial level and it’s not pretty.

April 12-14 Box Office Predictions

A quartet of new titles attempt to knock critically acclaimed superhero Shaza! out of the top spot this weekend, but that looks to be a tall order. We have comic book franchise reboot Hellboy, Laika Animation’s Missing Link, Regina Hall comedy Little, and college set romance After. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/03/hellboy-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/05/missing-link-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/06/little-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/07/after-box-office-prediction/

There is a great deal of uncertainty with how the newbies will perform this weekend. It seems highly likely, on the other hand, that DC’s newest crime fighter will retain the top spot. After premiering right in line with expectations, I have Shaza! dipping in the mid to high 40s and comfortably staying first,

Hellboy is a known brand, but it’s been a decade since the character was onscreen. Buzz seems very muted, but I’ll still say a high teens opening should be enough to nab it the runner-up spot. I’m shaky on it though.

Little has breakout potential, but I’m not willing yet to predict high teens. My lower teens estimate puts it in third and that’s just ahead of Missing Link, which I’m projecting will hit the lower debut end of other material from its studio.

After is a real head scratcher. The novel it’s based on has its fans. It opens on the smallest number of screens for the debuts (about 2000). I’m going pretty low with $3.7 million and that’s well outside the top 5. Yet the potential for it to surprise is real.

Pet Sematary could fall from second to fifth in its sophomore frame with about a 50% dip. That’s pretty normal for horror pics.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Shazam!

Predicted Gross: $28.2 million

2. Hellboy

Predicted Gross: $17.4 million

3. Little

Predicted Gross: $14 million

4. Missing Link

Predicted Gross: $11.7 million

5. Pet Sematary

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million

Box Office Results (April 57)

As mentioned, DC had a nice weekend as Shazamhit its mark with $53.5 million, just ahead of my $52.5 million take. Sporting solid reviews, it should make a sizable chunk of change before The Avengers roll in at month’s end.

Pet Sematary posted a decent start in second with $24.5 million. It also had critical stamp of approval. The Stephen King adaptation fell quite a bit shy of my generous $34.7 million prediction.

The middling news for Dumbo continued. After a lackluster start, the elephant tale was third in weekend #2 with $18.2 million. My estimate flew higher at $22.3 million. The two-week tally sits at $76 million.

Us was fourth with $13.7 million in its third outing, falling behind my expectation of $16.6 million. However, the $20 million horror pic has amassed $152 million thus far.

Captain Marvel rounded out the top five with $12.4 million (I said $12.2 million) for $373 million overall.

Finally, the civil rights drama The Best of Enemies underwhelmed in sixth with just $4.4 million compared to my $5.9 million forecast.

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

Missing Link Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (04/11): On the eve of its premiere, revising this down from $13.2M to $11.7M

The studio Laika is back with their brand of critically acclaimed animated films next weekend with Missing Link. The stop-motion adventure follows an explorer tracking a Bigfoot with Hugh Jackman voicing the explorer and Zach Galifianakis as the creature. Other recognizable faces behind the mic include Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant, and Matt Lucas. Chris Butler, who made the company’s 2012 effort ParaNorman directs.

All four Laika titles in the past decade have grossed between $12-$17 million for their starts. On the high-end, there’s 2014’s The Boxtrolls with just over $17 million. On the low-end is 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings with $12.6 million. I see no reason why Link wouldn’t fall in that same range.

Reviews have been positive as this currently stands at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Of the new releases out next weekend, it actually opens widest on approximately 3500 screens (more than Hellboy).

I don’t believe this will top Boxtrolls, but a premiere between $13-$14 million is certainly possible.

Missing Link opening weekend prediction: $11.7 million

For my Hellboy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/03/hellboy-box-office-prediction/

For my Little prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/06/little-box-office-prediction/

For my After prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/07/after-box-office-prediction/

Hellboy Box Office Prediction

Rebooting itself 15 years after its half demon anti-hero first appeared in theaters, Hellboy hits theaters next weekend. Based on the Dark Horse Comics that started in the early 90s, David Harbour of “Stranger Things” takes over the title role from Ron Perlman. Costars include Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, and Thomas Haden Church. Neil Marshall, best known for making horror pic The Descent, directs after Guillermo del Toro handled the first two installments.

In 2004, the original film adaptation took in $23 million in its opening frame and $59 million total domestically. It took on cult status quickly and that catapulted 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army to a $34 million start with $75 million overall.

Those numbers are nowhere in the MCU or DCEU range as of late. While certainly different in tone, Hellboy arrives during the second weekend of Shazam!, which should still be performing well and a month after Captain Marvel. The chances of this, which seems to be lacking buzz, getting lost in the shuffle is real.

I’ll predict that even though it arrives more than a decade since we’ve seen this character, Hellboy will experience the lowest premiere of the trio.

Hellboy opening weekend prediction: $17.4 million

For my Missing Link prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/05/missing-link-box-office-prediction/

For my Little prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/06/little-box-office-prediction/

For my After prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/07/after-box-office-prediction/

Summer 2008: The Top 10 Hits and More

We have arrived at part 3 of summer nostalgia looking over the cinematic seasons from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. If you missed my posts on 1988 and 1998, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/11/summer-1988-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/12/summer-1998-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

This brings us to 2008. It was a vaunted superhero summer to be sure and there’s some humdingers for our flops. Here are the top ten moneymakers in addition to other notables and bombs.

10. The Incredible Hulk

Domestic Gross: $134 million

The second feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe found Edward Norton taking on the angry green giant from Eric Bana. While better received than Ang Lee’s Hulk, it was mostly met with a shrug and Mark Ruffalo would take over the part four years later in The Avengers. It stands at lowest earner of the MCU.

9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Domestic Gross: $141 million

The follow-up to 2005’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe made less than half of what that picture achieved. Like Hulk, it may have placed in the top ten, but it was considered a bit of a disappointment.

8. Mamma Mia!

Domestic Gross: $144 million

The ABBA infused comedic musical was a major sleeper hit and its sequel hits theaters this Friday.

7. Sex and the City

Domestic Gross: $152 million

Fans of the HBO series turned out in droves for the big screen treatment. A sequel two years later yielded less impressive returns.

6. Kung Fu Panda

Domestic Gross: $215 million

Dreamworks Animation found itself a franchise with this animal fest led by Jack Black. Two sequels have followed.

5. WALL-E

Domestic Gross: $223 million

Yet another critically lauded effort from the money minting machine that is Disney/Pixar, this would take home Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

4. Hancock

Domestic Gross: $227 million

Despite mostly negative reviews, this superhero effort proved Will Smith’s potency at the box office. Director Peter Berg has mostly moved to true life dramas with Mark Wahlberg.

3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Domestic Gross: $317 million

Nearly 20 years after The Last Crusade, Harrison Ford’s iconic hero returned and teamed up with Shia LaBeouf. Critics and audiences had their issues with it, but Indy is slated to come back again in 2021 (when Mr. Ford will almost be 80).

2. Iron Man

Domestic Gross: $318 million

It’s crazy to think now, but the idea of casting Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero less known than Batman or Superman was considered risky business at the time. We know what followed… the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This started it all.

1. The Dark Knight

Domestic Gross: $533 million

The sequel to Batman Begins turned into a genuine phenomenon with Heath Ledger’s incredible work as The Joker and an experience that has influenced numerous franchises since.

And now for some other notables of summer 2008:

Get Smart

Domestic Gross: $130 million

Steve Carell experienced a box office bomb the summer prior with Evan Almighty. He got back into the good graces of audiences with this big screen rendering of the 1960s TV series alongside Anne Hathaway.

Tropic Thunder

Domestic Gross: $110 million

Ben Stiller’s comedy was a hit with crowds and critics. Robert Downey Jr. earned an Oscar nod for his work here and we see Tom Cruise as never before.

Step Brothers

Domestic Gross: $100 million

It didn’t make as much as Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s previous collaboration two summers earlier, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. However, this has achieved serious cult status in following years.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Domestic Gross: $75 million

Guillermo del Toro’s sequel managed to out gross its predecessor and it was another critically hailed comic book adaptation in a summer filled with them. A reboot of the franchise with David Harbour comes next year.

The Strangers

Domestic Gross: $52 million

This low-budget horror flick turned into a sleeper. A sequel was released this March.

This brings us to the flops…

The Happening

Domestic Gross: $64 million

M. Night Shyamalan had his first flop two summers earlier with Lady in the Water. This one focused on killer trees with a lackluster performance from Mark Wahlberg. Audiences were laughing at it more than frightened by it. The director has since rebounded with Split. 

Speed Racer

Domestic Gross: $43 million

This was the Wachowskis first picture since the Matrix trilogy and it fell far under expectations at the box office and with critics.

The Love Guru

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Mike Myers couldn’t make this creation anywhere near as iconic as Wayne Campbell or Austin Powers. Moviegoers simply ignored Pitka.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Domestic Gross: $20 million

Ten summers after the first adaptation of the FOX show did well at theaters, audiences didn’t want to believe in its long gestating sequel.

Meet Dave

Domestic Gross: $11 million

This sci-fi comedy was a massive bomb for Eddie Murphy, making a small percentage of its reported $60 million budget.

And that does it for my recaps of the summer! You can be sure I’ll be back next season covering 1989, 1999, and 2009.

The Superhero Sequel: A History

Currently at the multiplex, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is reigning supreme with its record-setting April debut of $95 million. This Marvel production is the just the latest example of an interesting and rare phenomenon – sequels that are considered superior to their predecessors.

However, if you take a close look at the superhero genre – it really isn’t a rare thing. In fact, one could argue it’s the only film genre in which sequels are very often considered improvements on the original. This doesn’t hold true for comedies or horror pics or action flicks. The explosion of comic book related titles (especially in the 21st century) has produced multiple examples of this.

Before we get there, let’s take a look back. In the late 70s, Superman was a massive hit and its 1980 sequel was generally considered a worthy follow-up that wasn’t quite its equal. The same holds true for the big comic book film character of the late 80s with Batman and its 1992 sequel Batman Returns. With both of those franchises – their third and fourth entries were considered highly disappointing.

This dynamic would shift in the 21st century. When X-Men jumpstarted the genre once again in 2000, it was well-received by critics and audiences and yet its follow-up X2: X-Men United earned even greater acclaim.

We would see this happen yet again when Spider-Man 2 improved upon Spider-Man.

And yet again when The Dark Knight became a beloved global hit with most believing it reached greater heights than Batman Begins.

Marvel Studios has seen this happen with both the current Captain America sequel and Thor: The Dark World from last year. And we’ll see if their trend continues with next year’s Avengers follow-up.

As you can see, it’s usually more the rule than exception that superhero sequels are thought of as bettering film #1. You could put Blade II and Hellboy: The Golden Army in there as well, according to many moviegoers.

Having said that, it doesn’t always hold true. You would be hard pressed to find many people who believe Iron Man 2 was a better experience than the 2008 original. And while second pictures have had lots of luck, third installments in the 21st century are a different story. Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, and (to a lesser degree) The Dark Knight Rises were all considered letdowns. The exception is Iron Man 3, considered an upgrade over #2.

Of course, there are sequels in film history outside of the superhero genre that this applies to with The Empire Strikes Back being an obvious example. Others that come up in the conversation: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (though I would disagree), The Road Warrior, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

As far this blog post’s focus, we’ll be seeing more examples of superhero sequels within weeks with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the buzz of which already indicates it’s more solid than the original. And there’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, which will try to top X-Men: First Class. We will see if the usual third entry letdown occurs with Captain America and Thor follow-ups in the next couple of years.

One thing is clear – when it comes to comic book pics – the first issue isn’t always the most memorable.