Arriving smack dab in Hollywood’s version of midsummer is Ari Aster’s Midsommar next week. The horror pic is the filmmaker’s sophomore effort after his critically acclaimed debut Hereditary from last summer. Centered around a pair of couples who attend a mysterious Swedish festival that occurs every 90 years, the creepy flick stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, and Will Poulter.
Like Hereditary, Aster’s follow-up has garnered strong critical reaction with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%. Last June, Hereditary started off with $13.5 million with an eventual $44 million domestic gross. Reviewers liked it more than audiences did and word of mouth suggests that could apply to Midsommar.
It’s out on Wednesday to capitalize on the long July 4th holiday frame. A potential comp could be 2014’s DeliverUsFromEvil, another scary title that opened over the same weekend. Evil took in nearly $10 million for the traditional Friday to Sunday period with $15 million when adding Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll say Midsommar falls a bit under those numbers.
Midsommar opening weekend prediction: $7.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $13.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
For my Spider–Man: FarFromHome prediction, click here:
Midsommar is director Ari Aster’s eagerly awaited follow-up to his acclaimed debut Hereditary from last year. The filmmaker stays in the horror genre for this tale of two couples visiting a mysterious Swedish festival that only occurs every 90 years. Cult like scares follow.
The pic has screened ahead of its July 5 stateside bow and critics are once again singing Aster’s praises. It stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, while some reviews point out audience reaction could be quite mixed (like his first effort).
This particular genre is usually ignored by Oscar voters. A groundswell of support began to gather in 2018 for Toni Collette’s lead role in Hereditary. The female lead here, Florence Pugh, has also gotten raves for her work. Yet if Collette couldn’t get in, it probably doesn’t bode well for this lead actress. Furthermore, Lupita Nyong’o could garner attention for her work earlier in 2019 for Jordan Peele’s sophomore flick Us.
Bottom line: if Hereditary couldn’t get on the Academy’s radar, don’t expect Midsommar to do so. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
2019 has seen a number of franchises stumble hard with their sequels and reboots. Yet Warner Bros has one of the sturdiest series in recent memory with the Conjuring Cinematic Universe. Next week brings the third edition of the Annabelle entries and I don’t see fatigue among horror fans happening here.
AnnabelleComesHome marks the directorial debut of Gary Dauberman, who penned both predecessors and last fall’s spin-off TheNun. Mckenna Grace and Madison Iseman star and this time Conjuring leads Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga join the doll party.
As mentioned, this has been a mighty profitable franchise for its studio. After five pictures, the lowest opening belongs to Annabelle: Creation at $35 million two summers ago. However, it legged out better than 2014’s Annabelle ($102 million vs. $84 million). Any thought of the series dwindling was dispelled last fall when TheNun took in $53 million for the best premiere of all.
What might give this Annabelle the lowest debut yet is a matter of logistics. This one opens on Wednesday and that will certainly eat into its traditional weekend haul. I still foresee a high 20s Friday to Sunday gross and high 40s when factoring in the extra two days.
AnnabelleComesHome opening weekend prediction: $27.4 million (Friday to Sunday); $38 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
While the iconic products that come to life in Pixar’s ToyStory4 look to dominate the box office next weekend, another cinematic toy and a far more demented one returns to theaters with the reboot of Child’sPlay. Remaking the 1988 cult classic that spawned six sequels, demonic doll Chucky slashes his way back into multiplexes for the first time in almost 15 years. While Brad Dourif voiced Chucky for over three decades, Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill now takes over. Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, and Tim Matheson are among the cast with Lars Klevberg directing.
Despite all the follow-ups, the first Play still remains the highest earner of the franchise at $33 million ($72 million adjusted for inflation). The last two installments of the series (2013’s CurseofChucky and 2017’s CultofChucky) went straight to the On Demand/DVD route. This is the studio’s hope for solid returns at the theatrical level.
1998’s BrideofChucky achieved the biggest opening of them all at $11.8 million. The new Play should be able to top that and I’ll predict a high teens start is where this lands.
Child’sPlay opening weekend prediction: $17.6 million
Blumhouse Productions continues its output of ultra low-budget horror pics that could see impressive returns next weekend with the release of Ma. Made for a tiny reported budget of $5 million, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is cast as a homicidal veterinary aide terrorizing a group of teens. Ma reunites its star with her director from TheHelp, Tate Taylor (whose last effort was TheGirlontheTrain). Costars include Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, McKaley Miller, and Missi Pyle.
The studio has been down this road before with blockbuster efforts like GetOut and HappyDeathDay. I don’t expect Ma to reach their levels. While there’s no direct genre competition, Godzilla: KingoftheMonsters and Rocketman could divert eyeballs elsewhere. Yet this could certainly triple or quadruple its budget out of the gate with an African-American audience and a teenage crowd.
Ma opening weekend prediction: $17.2 million
For my Godzilla: KingoftheMonsters prediction, click here:
HappyDeathDay2U gets some props for going into totally different territories as it follows up on the surprise 2017 hit. The original had a simple concept – mix GroundhogDay with a slasher flick. It worked better than it should have with a stellar performance from Jessica Rothe as the bratty day repeater named Tree. Part 1 developed some layers to her character that are important in the sequel. I didn’t expect part 2 to mostly ditch the slasher concept in favor of science fiction. There’s also slapstick comedy with a supporting player pretending to be a blind French woman.
Horror franchises are usually more than happy to repeat themselves. I expected the same here, especially in a movie about repeating yourself over and over. HappyDeathDay2U doesn’t do that. We are reminded about Tree’s earlier predicament. She woke up on the same Monday in the dorm room of Carter (Israel Broussard), hung over and confused. Things got more baffling when it happened again and again. There was no Sonny and Cher music, but you get the gist. The original eventually revealed her roommate was offing her. She also had time to fall in love with Carter.
The sequel finds Carter’s roommate (Phi Vu) experiencing his own demise and deja vu. He has built a quantum reactor in science class with his nerdy schoolmates and it turns out they get an A+. Unfortunately for Tree, it means she begins to travel back to the manic and murderous Mondays yet again.
The jump scares and other slasher elements are in short supply. Instead we get some scientific jargon (there’s more BacktotheFuture references than anything with Bill Murray) and multiverse chatter. Tree’s deceased mom could be back in a dimension. Her roommate that terrorized her in the baby face mask on the first day may not be bad after all.
Part 1 and II might be different in tone, but they share certain things. Rothe’s performance is comedic and satisfying and she shines even more this time around. There are moments of well placed humor. There’s a bit involving skydiving that elicited genuine laughter. Not all the similarities are positive. This, too, runs out of gas before the running time has elapsed. The plot gradually becomes a secondary consideration. I found myself not really caring at all about who was behind the mayhem at the end of the long day. That said, writer/director Christopher Landon deserves some credit for making this day we’ve already experienced one of an alternative genre.
Four years ago, Robert Eggers made his directorial debut with TheWitch and it was a darling on the indie circuit and with critics. His eagerly awaited follow-up is TheLighthouse and it’s premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Early buzz is solid on the black and white horror flick.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson (who’s been in the news a lot this week due to his apparent casting as Batman) are two lighthouse keepers in the late 19th century who slowly delve into madness. Reviews suggest it’s quite effective if audiences choose to go along with it. That part remains to be seen.
The likelihood is that TheLighthouse won’t be much of a factor come awards time. However, there could be an exception. Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography has drawn raves and there could be calls from critics for him to be recognized. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…