20th Century Studios is hoping plenty of viewers will be creeped out by The Boogeyman on June 2nd. The PG-13 horror pic is based on a half century old short story by Stephen King with Rob Savage directing. Cast members include Sophie Thatcher (no relation that I’m aware of), Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, and David Dastmalchian.
Budgeted at just over $40 million, this was originally slated for a streaming premiere on Hulu. Encouraging test screenings changed the plan and now it’s being unveiled in approximately 3000 venues.
This genre has seen its share of successes as of late. There are two comps from 2022 that seem appropriate. The Black Phone was a summer release with some similar themes and based on a novel by King’s son Joe Hill. It started off with $23.6 million. Last fall’s Smile is similar in the sense that it was supposed to roll out on Paramount+ and the pattern was altered due to its positive audience scores. A $22.6 million debut was the result.
The Rotten Tomatoes score is 64%. While under the 83% of Phone and 79% from Smile, that’s just fine to keep the buzz decent. I can’t find a compelling reason why this wouldn’t hit the mid to high teens or low 20s as well.
The Boogeyman opening weekend prediction: $17.7 million
For my Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse prediction, click here:
There’s one shining moment in Evil Dead Rise due to a bloodily gushing elevator and plenty of moments that are indistinguishable from other gory possession tales. That’s somewhat of a letdown for this franchise that is known for its demonically goofy trilogy that began the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell over four decades ago. While some of its boo moments stand out, Rise falls short of its immediate predecessor which “re-imagined” the series a decade ago with Fede Alvarez directing.
The 2013 Dead iteration left a lot of the previous movies humor on the cutting room floor and Rise keeps that up. Lee Cronin takes over the directorial reigns and the mayhem moves from a cabin in the woods to an about to be condemned Los Angeles apartment complex. Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) is a newly single mom to teenagers Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and youngest child Kassie (Nell Fisher). They’re among the last denizens of their building slated for demolition. Beth (Lily Sullivan) is Ellie’s sister who is a guitar technician (according to her) or a groupie (according to her more responsible sibling). She drops in to visit to share some news (she’s preggers), but an earthquake shakes up and delays the announcement.
This act of nature also leads to the discovery of a Book of the Dead tome locked away in a vault. As with previous volumes, the reading material causes wicked forces to possess those near it. Ellie is the first to fall prey to its devilish influence.
Besides the Shining elevator material that would not be advisable for those with hemophobia, there’s also the grisliest use of a wood chipper since Fargo. The picture’s connection to its own franchise is mostly in name only and the fact that they all feature chainsaws. Its makeup effects and choreographing of red splatter is first-rate. You could say the work of the technicians behind Evil Dead Rise is just fine. I suspect, due to its lack of originality, it’ll have less groupies than the others.
There’s a moment in the third act of The Pope’s Exorcist where we hear the internal monologue of a main character in the throws of their demonic experience. It got me thinking that might make for a compelling and fresh angle in a genre made famous 50 years ago with Regan and her backwards turning head. I have accurately described it as a moment. It’s over before we know it and reminded me a little of what Tom Hardy hears in Venom after his symbiotic takeover. With Russell Crowe having a ball in Julius Avery’s horror thriller, Exorcist has a few quirky moments that I appreciated before it reverts to the tropes we’re familiar with.
The screenplay’s peculiar nature is evident in the first scene. We are introduced to Father Gabriele Amorth (Crowe), who served as the Pope’s go-to exorcism guy for decades beginning in the 1970s. That’s in real life, folks! You can look it up on Wiki and and it’s a fascinating read. I’m sure Amorth’s books are as well. He claims to have performed 100k+ of the purification rituals. The opening sequence finds Amorth in 1987 transferring the evil vibes to a pig, who is then violently transferred to breakfast.
Crowe proceeds to ham it up around the nuns and his superiors in Vatican City as he awaits the next assignment. Many of his fellow priests think he needs a demotion. The head pontiff (Franco Nero) believes otherwise and he’s soon riding his Vespa to an abandoned abbey in Spain.
That’s where American widow Julia (Alex Essoe), teenage daughter Amy (Laurel Marsden), and preteen Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) are residing after their departed patriarch willed them the property. The monastery holds centuries old secrets under its rickety structure and a nasty spirit soon overtakes Henry. A local Father (Daniel Zovatto) can’t figure out the invader so Amorth is assigned. The young boy’s demon proves canny at using his would-be exorcist’s previous sins against him.
One could claim that The Pope’s Exorcist offers nothing new to the frequently explored material. I could argue the opposite. After all, I hadn’t seen the pig angle and there’s also papal projectile vomiting. Avery, Crowe, and screenwriters Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos are to be commended for its campy B-movie spirit. Amorth has a habit of exclaiming “CUCKOO!” at passersby during unexpected times. The cuckoo bits work often enough that I had little trouble putting up with the expected sections of traditional possession.
Evil Dead Rise books passage into multiplexes ten years after Sam Raimi’s franchise was rebooted the first time around to lively box office results. Like its 2013 predecessor (which this is not a sequel to), it premiered to praise at South by Southwest in March. Lee Cronin directs a cast including Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, and Morgan Davies.
The original Evil Dead from 1981, its 1987 sequel, and 1993’s Army of Darkness from Raimi and star Bruce Campbell are horror comedy classics with deeply devoted followings. When Fede Álvarez’s reboot arrived a decade ago, it received some criticism for lacking the humor of the original trilogy. Nevertheless it debuted to $25 million and that turned out to be a front loaded start as it ended with $54 million domestically.
Rise‘s reviews are far stronger with a Rotten Tomateos score of 94% (compared to 63% for 2013’s effort). While audiences have certainly seen their share of the genre as of late with Scream VI, Renfield, and The Pope’s Exorcist, the brand name and solid buzz might mean $20 million plus is doable. That said, the market is feeing oversaturated and low to mid teens could be the result.
Evil Dead Rise opening weekend prediction: $16.7 million
For my Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant prediction, click here:
Reviews are out for this Friday’s Renfield and the general consensus is that it doesn’t suck. From The Lego Batman Movie and The Tomorrow War maker Chris McKay, Nicolas Cage stars as Dracula with Nicholas Hoult as his title character employee. Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Adrian Martinez, and Shohreh Aghdashloo costar.
With a 72% Rotten Tomatoes score, the bulk of the praise is going to Cage for his unsurprisingly demented work as the iconic vampire. Universal is certainly not looking at this as an awards contender, but it’s fair to wonder whether a tech race like Makeup and Hairstyling could be in play. Horror comedies have seen past successes there, including 80s winners An American Werewolf in London and Beetlejuice. In recent years, the genre has been underrepresented. I wouldn’t expect Renfield to change that, but it’s at least possible. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
In January 2022, Scream successfully resurrected the franchise that Wes Craven began in 1996. A sequel was approved immediately and Scream VI slashes into multiplexes March 10th. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are back directing with Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega (whose star has risen thanks to Wednesday), Hayden Panettiere, and Courtney Cox reprising their roles from prior installments. Other costars include Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Tony Revolori, and Samara Weaving. For the first time, Neve Campbell is not among the cast.
In 2011, Scream 4 marked the financial nadir of the bunch when it made only $38 million domestically. A silent decade between entries got the nostalgia juices flowing as last year’s Scream took in $30 million in its first three days and $81 million total stateside. With a B+ Cinemascore (quite solid for a horror pic), anticipation for this sequel should be high.
Scream VI appears poised to challenge the record opening weekend for the series. That belongs to Scream 3 with $34 million and tracking suggests Ghostface could wield the power to top that number. I’ll forecast it manages to get there and perhaps top $40 million.
Scream VI opening weekend prediction: $42.6 million
This ain’t your Disney bear coming to the big screen when Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey drops on February 15th. The low-budget British slasher film is the result of the 1926 book that introduced Winnie becoming public domain last year. That means the Mouse Factory no longer has exclusive rights to the title character, Christopher Robin, Piglet, and so forth.
Shot in 10 days for reportedly under $100k, Pooh garnered lots of free publicity due to its unique existence involving characters usually seen in G or PG circumstances. Rhys Frake-Waterfield directs a cast of unknowns that including Nikolai Leon, Craig David Dowsett, Chris Cordell, and Maria Taylor.
In late January, this premiered in Mexican cinemas and has taken in a robust $500k+ thus far. In the U.S. and Canada, it was originally slated for October 2022 as a one-night event through Fathom’s distribution. Pooh buzz changed that planned release pattern and it is rumored for approximately 1500 venues starting Wednesday.
Obviously many moviegoers will be preoccupied with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. However, if that theater count holds, this should top its $100k price tag in the first six days (counting the Monday for the President’s Day longer frame) many times over.
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey opening weekend prediction: $3.5 million (Friday to Monday); $4.7 million (Wednesday to Monday)
For my Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania prediction, click here:
Brandon Cronenberg has clearly inherited his dad David’s penchant for bizarro blends of sci-fi and horror (see Antiviral and Possessor). His latest is Infinity Pool, which debuts this weekend after a start at Sundance. It’s drawing reviews on the fresh side (87% on Rotten Tomatoes) even though many critics admit audiences may not want to wade into its NC-17 violence. Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth (fresh off X and Pearl), and Cleopatra Coleman star.
Papa Cronenberg’s latest Crimes of the Future made it to the Makeup and Hairstyling shortlist but didn’t end up making the top 5 this week. I don’t really see anywhere where Pool would make waves with awards voters. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
It’s nice to have a trailer that’s inspired countless memes – mainly from its demented title character doll busting creepy dance moves. M3GAN is the first wide release of 2023 and it appears poised to start the year off on a profitable note. The sci-fi horror pic comes from director Gerard Johnstone with a screenplay by Malignant scribe Akela Cooper. Jason Blum and James Wan serve as producers as the Blumhouse label looks to have another buzzy hit. Allison Williams headlines the cast and she’s no stranger to moneymaking fright fests that open early in the calendar year (2017’s Get Out). The supporting players include Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, and Brian Jordan Alvarez.
With a marketing campaign showcasing the alarming and humorous robotic pal, M3GAN may open on pace with other hit genre pics of recent times. I could see it debuting somewhere in between the $30 million from last January’s Scream reboot and the near $23 million that Smile took in during the fall. That’ll be enough to produce smiles and screams of joy for Universal.
My posts covering actors who had an impactful 2022 continues with a new Scream Queen.
Before we get to her, I came close to giving Jamie Lee Curtis her own dedicated write-up. The OG SQ might nab a first Oscar nomination for her supporting work in Everything Everywhere All at Once and she finished up her iconic role (probably right?) as Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends.
Just as Curtis was concluding her participation in a vaunted horror franchise, 20-year-old Jenna Ortega was making her presence known in another. Some viewers first saw her on the CW series Jane the Virgin. In 2021, Ortega drew acclaim for her more grown-up performance in the HBO Max drama The Fallout. It was this year that she broke out in another genre via January’s Scream. With over $80 million in its domestic coffers, she’ll be back in March for Scream VI.
More kudos followed in March for Ti West’s exploitation homage X. Ortega played a crew member on a porn set who gets more than she bargained for out of the experience. X marked the spot for many critics with its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Ortega’s frighteningly good ’22 went into overdrive with Netflix’s Wednesday. From Tim Burton, the blend of comedy and horror and its 8 episodes cast the actress as Wednesday Addams from the The Addams Family. Debuting last month, it shot to #1 on the streamer in over 80 countries and holds the record for most hours viewed for a series in the first week of release. In others words, it’s a phenomenon every day of the week.
Needless to say, a second season is already in the planning stages. With her Scream sequel on deck and a role in the thriller Finestkind with Ben Foster and Tommy Lee Jones coming up, Ortega should continue to make her spooky presence known. My Year Of posts will continue with another actor who started out on the CW and had a whole lot shaking on the silver screen this year…