Scream Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Note (01/13): On the eve of its premiere, I am upping the 4-day tally for Scream from $29.4 million to $36.4M

The fifth installment of the Scream franchise slashes its way into theaters on January 14th, hoping to bring in a sizable horror fan base. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, makers of V/H/S and Ready or Not, direct as they take reigns of the series from scare master Wes Craven (who helmed the first four and passed away in 2015). Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Marley Shelton, and Roger L. Jackson (as the iconic voice of Ghostface) reprise roles from previous entries. Newcomers include Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, and Jack Quaid.

Nearly a quarter century ago, the low-budget original became a cultural phenomenon and revitalized the genre. Two sequels followed in quick succession in 1997 and 2000 while part 4 hit in 2011. It was a commercial disappointment – taking in only $38 million at the domestic box office (with a $19 million start).

Paramount and Dimension Films are hoping that nostalgia will bring audiences back to the fold. Fright fests, more than any other type of pic in 2021, proved immune to challenges faced in the COVID era in terms of solid openings. The third Conjuring and Candyman each premiered in the low to mid 20s range. Scream will have an extra day of earnings when factoring in the long MLK frame.

January is very desolate in terms of high profile debuts and Scream is by far the biggest one. It marks a major test for theaters as the Omicron variant sweeps across the country. If this fails to perform, don’t be surprised to see delays for upcoming releases. Even with that potential barrier and the underperformance of its predecessor, I envision this managing a mid to possibly late 20s haul when including Monday.

Scream opening weekend prediction: $36.4 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

Candyman (2021) Review

There’s a sequence in Candyman in a high school girls bathroom that plays like it belongs in a less meditative continuation of the franchise. While it’s certainly cleverly shot, the scene feels out of place with its bad sequel slasher vibe. It may well be the point of the tone that its filmmakers are satirically putting forth. After all, they jettison anything that transpired in the two inferior follow-ups to the 1992 original. That doesn’t mean the excursion works and it’s a nagging issue with the film as a whole. There’s no doubt that a lot of thought went into this melding of issues from racial discrimination to white privilege to gentrification to police brutality. What plagues it somewhat is that it seldom succeeds in getting under your skin.

Nearly 30 years ago, Bernard Rose’s Candyman (from a story by Clive Barker) shook up a tired horror genre filled with Freddy, Jason, and Michael sequels. There was gore to be had, but also plenty of subtext in its tale of the urban legend with a hook for a hand and a bevy of bees emanating from his torso. As the 1890s era tortured artist whose love for a Caucasian woman resulted in his own torture, Tony Todd created an iconic title character with more narrative meat on the bones than your typical weapon wielding terrorizer from that time. It was an arthouse movie and so is this (it’s even set in an arthouse for chunks).

This new version, as mentioned, serves as a direct restart. The Cabrini Green projects where part I was placed is no longer the notorious crime hub of Chicago. The gentrified and souped up property is now home to young and thriving professionals. This includes Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris). She’s an art gallery director and he’s a painter who’s stuck in a creative rut. Their collective work is contingent on the approval of the snooty types who make it their business to judge them (critics, gallery owners). One message seems clear – their assessment of an African-American artist’s work rises in their esteem if it’s more violent.

Anthony gets a burst of inspiration that is kickstarted by Brianna’s brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). When he regales the couple and his boyfriend with the nearly forgotten account of the buzzy killer whose name shan’t be uttered five times in a mirror, it gets Anthony’s creative juices flowing. This leads him to investigate the crimes of Daniel Robitaille (Todd) and the crimes committed against him. Billy (Colman Domingo) is a longtime Cabrini tenant who is more than pleased to help with the backstory (he had his own dealings with Robitaille in the late 1970s). Anthony’s research results in a project that dares you to say Candyman’s name and await the consequences. This is when blood starts flowing.

Nia DaCosta directs her second feature with a screenwriting and production assist from Jordan Peele. The script incorporates the plot from 1992 with new twists. The primary one is that there’s not only one Candyman. We know this when Anthony’s past involvement in the saga is revealed and he begins showing symptoms of becoming him after a nasty bee sting. Side effects include often visually striking murders.

While DaCosta is just establishing her filmography, Peele is recognized for his melding of social issues with scare tactics (Get Out and Us are both superior examples of how to do it). In Candyman, there’s more of an appreciation for what it’s trying to do than what it ultimately accomplishes onscreen. Sort of like a painting that’s busy with ideas but there’s not enough time allotted for it to really hook you in. I admired the picture to a point though I left unconvinced the deeper dive was worth it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Box Office Prediction

After six features and a nearly half decade period of dormancy, a franchise is rebooted as Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City debuts over the long Thanksgiving frame. Sony Pictures is hoping the series still has a semblance of a rabid fanbase, but its domestic opening could mark the lowest of the bunch thus far.

The video gamed based horror series began in 2002 and this marks the first without the involvement of director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Milla Jovovich. Johannes Roberts, best known for the two 47 Meters Down flicks, is behind the camera and wrote the script. The cast includes Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Donal Logue, and Neal McDonough.

Evil‘s trajectory stateside has not matched the overseas earnings. Volumes II-V all opened consistently between $21-$26 million (it’s worth noting that all entries have been very front loaded in terms of overall gross). 2017’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter took in $13 million for a weak start with $26 million total. On the plus side, it made the most of all six in terms of international haul ($314 million).

Perhaps Raccoon will manage profits elsewhere, but I don’t see it happening over here. I’ll predict it may not hit the $13 million achieved by its predecessor and I’m referring to the five-day take.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opening weekend prediction: $7.7 million (Friday to Sunday); $11.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Encanto prediction, click here:

Encanto Box Office Prediction

For my House of Gucci prediction, click here:

House of Gucci Box Office Prediction

Relic Review

Relic from first time director Natalie Erika James is a psychological thriller about dementia trapped inside a haunted house tale. Its early stages are the most frightening before its own genre trappings become clearer. That’s not to say there aren’t creepy moments as the walls close in at its setting. There are and James and cowriter Christian White have fashioned a worthwhile chiller about life slipping away.

When the widowed Edna (Robyn Nevin) hasn’t been heard from in days, Kay (Emily Mortimer) and daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) travel to her countryside home to locate her. A police report is filed but by morning the matriarch is back. She’s disheveled and seemingly unaware of the ruckus she’s caused. Displaying troubling memory lapses, the first act of Relic deals with the difficult questions many families have faced. Is putting their mom and grandmother in a retirement facility the answer? Should she stay with Kay or should the underemployed Sam serve as caretaker? There’s hopeful moments when Edna’s mind seems intact. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.

Those thoughts are fleeting as something is increasingly disturbing in Edna’s behavior and the mind of its own actions of her quarters. The walls creak. Shadowy figures appear in the nooks and crannies. A mysterious black mold and an abandoned shack on the property are potential keys to unlock the mystery.

Yet the most effective pieces of Relic are the ones most familiar to many a viewer. Mortimer finely conveys the sense of dread in witnessing a loved one losing their grip on reality. Two generations removed, Heathcote’s part is just as well defined. She wants to help but is helpless to the downward spiral. Nevin may have the most challenging role. The veteran Australian stage actress never goes overboard. A bewildered look after a jewelry exchange or a firm instruction for her daughter to check under the bed convey the scary situation with a subtle dread.

By its third act, the screenplay’s metaphors become more literal and it earns the horror pic designation. There may be no truly satisfying way to end it. That’s in part due to the disease that haunts Edna. The finality is dark by its nature. The acceptance of its victim and others that suffer is complex. Relic conveys that in a unique and frequently engrossing manner.

*** (out of four)

Antlers Box Office Prediction

With a production assist from the king of creature features Guillermo del Toro, the supernatural horror tale Antlers crosses into theaters October 29th. From Black Widow and Hostiles director Scott Cooper, the pic is finally hitting screens a year and a half after its COVID postponement. Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, and Amy Madigan star.

The Searchlight pictures production has scored decent reviews and it stands at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Coming out Halloween weekend, Antlers is genre material in a market that’s been saturated with it. Last Night in Soho opens against it while Halloween Kills will be in its third frame.

Despite the mostly positive critical reaction, I don’t really see this registering with mainstream audiences. The competition won’t help and there’s no star power to draw crowds in. Furthermore the trailers and TV spots may make it look simply too strange to have widespread appeal. I could see this earning about as much as The Night House, which opened in August to a mere $2.9 million. If so, Antlers won’t approach the top five during its scary weekend.

Antlers opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

For my Last Night in Soho prediction, click here:

Last Night in Soho Box Office Prediction

For my My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission prediction, click here:

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Box Office Prediction

For my The French Dispatch prediction, click here:

The French Dispatch Box Office Prediction

For my A Mouthful of Air prediction, click here:

A Mouthful of Air Box Office Prediction

Last Night in Soho Box Office Prediction

Edgar Wright’s latest vehicle Last Night in Soho zooms into theaters October 29th, four years after his massive success Baby Driver. The psychological horror thriller, set in mid 60s London, features Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp, and Diana Rigg in her final role.

Soho premiered at the Venice Film Festival in early September and garnered  mixed buzz. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is parked at 70%. The overseas reaction took the pic out of awards contention but Focus Features is hoping horror fans turn out on Halloween weekend.

That could be a challenge. This doesn’t look like your average genre fare and that could keep younger viewers away. It also has Antlers debuting against it and, perhaps most notably, Halloween Kills will be in its third frame. We have seen time and again that original material hoping for an adult crowd has struggled at multiplexes in recent times.

I assume that struggle will apply here. The studio is probably hoping for a $10 million start. Soho may be lucky to reach half of that figure.

Last Night in Soho opening weekend prediction: $5.2 million

For my Antlers prediction, click here:

Antlers Box Office Prediction

For my My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission prediction, click here:

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission Box Office Prediction

For my The French Dispatch prediction, click here:

The French Dispatch Box Office Prediction

For my A Mouthful of Air prediction, click here:

A Mouthful of Air Box Office Prediction

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

Old Review

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest is Old and it plays like a long Twilight Zone episode which rapidly puts its subjects in that time frame of their lives. If you’ve seen the trailer or TV spots, what you see is essentially what you get. The writer/director is responsible for putting this uninteresting group on a gorgeous beach. That’s in the figurative sense since he created them. It’s also in the literal way because Shyamalan casts himself as the driver who takes them there.

Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Prisca Cappa (Vicky Krieps) are on the verge of splitting up and they take their 6-year-old boy and 11-year-old daughter on a tropical excursion before they break the news. They know this is meant to be a short-lived paradise, but they get more than they bargained for. You know how parents say their youngsters act like teenagers before they should? It happens here.

The Cappas are taken to a secluded area of the island for R & R. Joining them are a surgeon (Rufus Sewell) and his snotty wife (Abbey Lee) and their 6-year-old going on 11…13…15 (eventually played by Eliza Scanlen). There’s a nurse (Ken Leung) and his wife (Nikki Amuka-Bird) that’s prone to seizures. In the latest example of eye rolling character choices, we also have a hemophiliac rapper (Aaron Pierre) who goes by the name of Mid-Sized Sedan. This might an even more cringe worthy use of a hip hop reference than James McAvoy’s MC skills in Split. 

Once placed in the breathtaking locale, all the vacationers discover they’re aging approximately one year every half hour. This is, of course, first noticed with the children. The Cappa kids morph into Thomasin McKenzie and Alex Wolff. Their elders fall prey to the typical signs of advanced age – disease, Alzheimers, low calcium content. Poor Mid-Sized Sedan never gets the chance to trade in for a cooler sounding vehicle name.

In Shyamalan’s best features (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs), the auteur created pretty interesting characters to place in his twisty tales. That is just not the case with this group. Even a coasting Shyamalan is reliable for a few thrills, but they don’t roll in too often.

Too much of Old is filled with his clunky dialogue. The kids talk like adults before they actually are a few hours later. The surprise developments toward the end (which aren’t all that shocking) hint at a larger picture. They may have been engrossing had we not been subjected to an hour and a half of watching this dull lot waste away. This could have made a nifty Twilight Zone episode because that program ran 30 minutes. In Shyamalan’s labored production, it feels closer to a year.

** (out of four)

Malignant Review

Malignant is exactly the kind of movie you get to make if you’re responsible for the success of three hugely profitable horror franchises like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring Universe. That’s James Wan and he’s also dabbled in other cinematic series by directing Furious 7 and Aquaman. Here he gets to return to his roots and clearly do whatever he pleases. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I volleyed between wanting to commend and condemn him for it.

A prologue set in 1993 introduces us in dimly lit fashion with Gabriel. He’s a young psychiatric patient who can control electricity and speaks in a manner where he sounds like he’s on a bad Zoom conference call. There’s also some serious killing skills involved.

In the present day, he reappears in the visions of Madison Lake (Annabelle Wallis). The Seattle native lives in a creepy home with her creepy abusive husband Derek (Jake Abel). She’s preggers and anxious after suffering previous miscarriages. A fight with Derek results in the appearance of Gabriel that leaves her a widow.

Turns out that Madison shares a connection with the murderer that’s stronger than his cell phone connection when he threatens victims. Writing a proper review would spoil the surprises of what’s to come, so I’ll be careful. Gabriel is exacting revenge on some medical professional who scarred his childhood. The adopted Madison must exorcise repressed memories from her own upbringing to solve the mystery. Helping our central figure is sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson). Searching for the bloody connection between Madison and Gabriel are two detectives – sympathetic Kekoa (George Young) and no nonsense Regina (Michole Briana White).

Much of the backstory is told via grainy videotapes. That seems appropriate as Wan is paying homage to 1980s slashers that would have went straight to the aisle for your VHS perusing. There’s cheesy dialogue, a reliance on splatter over scares, and I never had a doubt that Wan is having a ball getting away with making it. This might have gotten a lengthy writeup in Fangoria magazine and I bet its maker would’ve loved that. The magazine still exists but the article woulda been cooler in 1985.

Malignant is bound to be debated by genre fans for its WTF twist that occurs in the third act. I won’t lie – I grinned ear to ear when first revealed. Yet it was more of a reaction to the filmmaker getting a $40 million budget to put this out to unsuspecting viewers. Wan is a master craftsman and there are a few moments of technical bravura. Conversely there’s plenty of times where it looks like his cheapest pic since Saw and that’s not an accident.

I could never fully escape the thought that Wan is having more fun than I was. The first half of Malignant isn’t much different than your run-of-the-mill sound effects laden fright fest. Once it reaches the aforementioned nutty turning point, I admired the brazenness more than the execution.

**1/2 (out of four)