The Hunt Box Office Prediction

After being pushed back several months due to its violent subject matter, Blumhouse’s thriller The Hunt debuts next weekend. Based loosely on the nearly century old story “The Most Dangerous Game”, the pic comes from director Craig Zobel. The cast includes Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank, and Justin Hartley.

As is the case with most Blumhouse Productions, this is a low budget venture with a reported price tag of $15 million. Damon Lindelof, creator of Lost, HBO’s Watchmen, and numerous film scripts, has cowriting credit.

The satiric tale was originally scheduled for September of last year before being delayed following the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. The Friday the 13th reschedule could manage to capitalize on its past publicity, but I question whether it will. I believe The Hunt may not achieve double digits for its start.

The Hunt opening weekend prediction: $7.7 million

For my I Still Believe prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/03/i-still-believe-box-office-prediction/

For my Bloodshot prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/04/bloodshot-box-office-prediction/

For my My Spy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/05/my-spy-box-office-prediction/

The Lego Movie Collapse

This was a weekend where The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part was expected to easily nab the #1 spot at the box office. That mission was accomplished, but it did so with much less money than any prognosticator figured. The sequel to the 2014 original took in $34 million and that was about $20 million less than expected. I had a feeling it would under perform and forecasted a $48 million debut. However, I never figured a mid 30s premiere.

For some context, the first Lego experience five years ago made $69 million out of the gate and eventually earned $257 million domestically. In 2017, first franchise spin-off The Lego Batman Movie debuted to $53 million ($175 million total). The first sign of trouble came a few months later when The Lego Ninjago Movie came in far under estimates with $20 million in its opening weekend and a lowly $59 million stateside. Yet some attributed the poor Ninjago performance to its limited niche audience.

The Second Part marked a hopeful return to form for Warner Bros considering it was a direct sequel to a picture that made over $250 million. There is no doubt that the number produced this weekend could block future plans for the series. Its best hope ahead could be the President’s Day weekend as the studio hopes it will have a small decline. Any way you cut it, though, part two will seriously come in under its predecessor. We now have two Lego Movie collapses in a row and it will be interesting to see how Warner handles it.

Oscar Watch – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

The Lego franchise has made nearly half a billion dollars at the domestic box office for Warner Bros since 2014 and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will add to those coffers next weekend. It’s money hauls, however, have not translated to success with Oscar voters.

The Lego Movie was critically acclaimed and seemed assured an Academy nod in Animated Feature four years ago. It was one of the most surprising snubs when it didn’t make the cut. There were two Lego pics in 2017 (The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie). Neither of them managed to make the race that year.

While reviews for The Second Part are strong, several critics have said it doesn’t quite match the first part. Competition from animated sequels alone in 2019 (How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4) is serious. Therefore it appears highly unlikely that this will be the year where Lego builds any standing with the awards crowd.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Blockers Movie Review

Perhaps Emoji decoding will be a term that is looked upon as a dated reference years from now when one views Blockers with fresh eyes. However, it’s one that’s used to humorous effect in 2018 in a comedy that lands more comedic punches than it misses. This is a raunchy confection laced with an often surprising amount of sweetness. Director Kay Cannon, making her directorial debut after writing the Pitch Perfect franchise, is careful to mix them well and she’s got a game cast along the way.

The plot is straightforward: three high school seniors make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. In the 1980s when these types of flicks were more prevalent, it would usually be just the boys plotting these actions. In Blockers, it’s the girls. Julie (Kathryn Newton) is ready to do the deed with her beau and she’s got ultra clingy single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann) constantly breathing down her neck. Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) has overprotective pops Mitchell (John Cena) and a date who amusingly uses his culinary skills for mind expanding purposes. Sam (Gideon Adlon) has a strained relationship with her party boy dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) and a fedora clad prom partner that doesn’t match her personal preferences.

When the trio of parents discover their daughters plans, they set out to disrupt the deflowering scheme and go to humiliating lengths to do just that. At one point, that means butt chugging at an after party for a certain wrestler turned thespian. Not exactly high brow stuff, but a funny sight gag nonetheless.

At other junctures, Blockers deftly portrays its teens as both naive due to their age and occasionally more intelligent than their over reactive folks. They’re not bad kids solely focused on sex, even though their elders focus is centered on stopping that for varying reasons. The whole coddling storyline with Mann and Cena’s characters is a well-worn one. However, both performers shine in their sometimes familiar scenarios. Barinholtz’s arch with his daughter is little more unique and a bit fresher – and he winningly avoids making his character one-dimensional. Of the three young women, Viswanathan is an actress to keep an eye on in the future.

There’s sex, drugs, and Hailee Steinfeld songs in Blockers, where sin and sentiment manage to coincide well most of the time. The thumbs up emoji applies.

*** (out of four)

Blockers Box Office Prediction

Like its direct competitor A Quiet Place that also opens next weekend, Blockers made quite an impression with journalists and festival goers when it debuted at South by Southwest earlier this month. The raunchy comedy about parents trying to prevent their daughters plan to lose their virginity on prom night marks the directorial debut of Kay Cannon, best known for penning the Pitch Perfect franchise. The cast includes John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Graham Phillips, and Hannibal Buress.

Its festival premiere caused some buzz and it now stands at 91% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. The Universal release has now been pegged as a potential sleeper at the box office. Competition is light in the genre and the solid reviews should help. As I see it, the ceiling for Blockers is likely the $17 million achieved in February by Game Night, another comedy that received kudos from the critical community.

I’m not sure it will reach quite that high. I’ll project an opening in the low to mid teens and it could continue to play in subsequent weekends, just as Game Night has.

Blockers opening weekend prediction: $15.2 million

For my A Quiet Place prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/27/a-quiet-place-box-office-prediction/

For my The Miracle Season prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/30/the-miracle-season-box-office-prediction/

For my Chappaquiddick prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/30/chappaquiddick-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch – Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

It’s been nearly 25 years since Liam Neeson received his one and only Oscar nomination for playing Oskar Schindler in 1993’s Schindler’s List. He’s had acclaimed roles since then (2004’s Kinsey being a notable one). To younger moviegoers, he may just be known as the brooding action hero from the Taken franchise and others. Yet Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House had prognosticators like me take notice when it screened at the Toronto Film Festival.

The film casts Neeson as the title character, the real-life FBI man who was revealed decades later to be Deep Throat. Felt provided the invaluable intel that resulted in President Nixon’s resignation. Peter Landesman directs with a supporting cast that includes Diane Lane, Tony Goldwyn, Bruce Greenwood, Ike Barinholtz, and Michael C. Hall.

While reviews for Neeson’s work here have been solid, reaction to the picture itself has been rather lackluster. It stands at just 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, Neeson is the only possibility at all for Academy chatter. That appears to be a long shot.  The film fest season of the past couple weeks has provided a couple names with better chances like Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq. and Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger. That’s in addition to the assured nomination of Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, not to mention plenty of other contenders whose movies haven’t screened.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Snatched Movie Review

Amy Schumer burst onto the film scene two summers ago with Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck. It was a solid vehicle to showcase the comedienne’s raunchy yet intelligent humor. Snatched is the follow-up. It’s occasionally raunchy, but it’s rarely intelligent and it struggles to even fill the 90 minute runtime with memorable material.

The pic also marks Goldie Hawn’s return to the silver screen after a decade and a half. She looks great, but it’s a shame she’s saddled with the overprotective mother role and given little chance to expand it. Schumer is Emily and she’s recently single after her rocker boyfriend dumps her when he realizes the fringe benefits of success. Emily is also unemployed and holding onto two non-refundable tickets to Ecuador for what was to be a romantic getaway with her departed beau. Enter Linda (Hawn), Emily’s mom who lives a quiet life with her cats and agoraphobic son (Ike Barinholtz). Despite her reluctance, mom joins daughter in South America.

While Linda is content to read her magazines and novellas in the hotel room, Emily is looking for some wild vacation times. She thinks she’s found it with a hunky dude who takes her to a rave and then agrees to show her and Linda around the next day. That’s when the pair are indeed snatched.

What follows is a rather surprisingly laugh free experience that is over in about an hour (it takes a third of the 90 minutes to get to the actual snatching). Some familiar faces pop up including Wanda Sykes and a mute yet deadly Joan Cusack as vacationers who assist the nabbed duo. Christopher Meloni turns up as a very poor man’s Indiana Jones.  Barinholtz has a couple funny moments as the bizarre shut-in son.

Yet it’s not encouraging when the bit that made me chuckle hardest involved a tapeworm and is a sight gag that lasts about a minute. Schumer’s stand-up work and her Trainwreck role showcases a refreshing honesty and sexuality that used to be reserved for just the boys onstage and onscreen. There’s nothing about Snatched where the word refreshing is warranted. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is often excruciatingly ordinary and these leads deserve better.

** (out of four)

Snatched Box Office Prediction

Nearly two years after she broke through on the silver screen in a major way, Amy Schumer is back with Snatched next weekend. The action comedy teams the comedienne with Goldie Hawn, making her first film appearance in almost 15 years. This duo play a mother/daughter (which was the working title of the pic) on a vacation that goes all wrong. Jonathan Levine (who made 50/50 and The Night Before) directs and the supporting cast includes Ike Barinholtz, Joan Cusack, Wanda Sykes, and Christopher Meloni.

In the summer of 2015, Schumer’s Trainwreck rode a wave of great buzz to a $30 million debut and $110 million overall domestic gross. The fact that this is her follow-up should automatically get a substantial number of her fans out there. It also doesn’t hurt that Snatched is being unveiled on Mother’s Day weekend and it should serve as decent counter programming to the second weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (in which Hawn’s longtime beau Kurt Russell costars).

Even with those clear pluses, I don’t feel the anticipation for this as there was for Trainwreck. I expect Snatched to grab a high teens to low 20s beginning.

Snatched opening weekend prediction: $21.1 million

For my King Arthur: Legend of the Sword prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/05/03/king-arthur-legend-of-the-sword-box-office-prediction/

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Movie Review

As has been discussed on the blog before, comedy is typically the genre that lends itself least to sequels. A major reason: most of ’em aren’t made with a planned follow-up in mind and therefore contrivances must be invented for them to exist.

This general rule applies to Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, which arrives two years after the success of the original. In 2014, the teaming of Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne vs. Zac Efron’s wild frat next door was a mostly effective raunchy pic with a couple of gags (air bags) that soared. $150 million domestic later, returning director Nicholas Stoller and his stars picked a pretty simple premise for another installment. Put a sorority there instead of a frat and watch similar hijinks ensue!

This happens when college freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) goes to pledge at sororities and discovers they aren’t allowed to hold the wild bashes that their male counterparts are. So she enlists some other girls and Beastie Boys’s it beside the Radners (Rogen, Byrne) who are now expecting their second child. Kappa Nu is formed with an assist from Teddy (Efron), who’s still a bit salty from what went down when he inhabited the property. He’s also painfully still a man-child and the screenplay does get some decent mileage out of that (his changed friendship with frat bro Dave Franco is an example).

As with the first Neighbors installment, games of one upmanship (or upgirlship I guess) go down. The Radners are terrified because the house is in escrow as they’re set to become suburbanites and the new tenants might not appreciate the newly minted party pad. Shelby and her newfound sisters are determined to stay. And if that all sounds a lot like 2014, it is. Same story, different gender.

Rising gets a some solid chuckles out of exploiting the physique of both Mr. Efron and Mr. Rogen. The best moments come from our lead couple acting as de facto parents to Teddy, yet they’re few and far between. This is due to the familiar tale of Kappa Nu and their schemes that involve some serious felonies that the frat guys would’ve balked at.

There have been plenty of comedic #2’s far worse than this. The trio of Rogen, Byrne, and Efron do give it their all and don’t just go through the motions. Still – this one feels mostly uninspired despite the talent involved and keeps that general comedy sequel rule intact.

**1/2 (out of four)

Suicide Squad Movie Review

Suicide Squad is the latest in DC’s attempt to Marvelize its cinematic universe in considerably darker shades. It’s noisy and messy. It’s filled with some top-notch performances and fascinating characters mixed with utterly forgettable ones. In a pic filled with villains, there’s weak ones and strong ones. Yes, it’s what we’ve come to anticipate in a series that continues to follow what Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice started.

David Ayers directs this tale of super villains who are charged with saving the world. This is an idea hatched by government official Amanda Waller (a typically solid Viola Davis) and the team she assembles is an unknown one unless you’re an avid comic book reader. It includes master marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), loony tunes temptress Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), flame thrower with a fiery temper El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Aussie Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), disfigured Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje) and sword expert Katana (Karen Fukuhara).

We get back stories on them all – some more detailed and worthy of screen time than others. Will Smith gives a decent performance, even though his subplot of being a bad hit man who’s also a really dedicated dad (!) is as stale as it sounds. Still he acquits himself well, even if he’s done the dour anti-hero thing before in Hancock. The El Diablo story is helped by Hernandez’s work, even though his flashback info is a bit too serious for everything else happening here. Quite frankly, many of the others aren’t even worth mentioning.

The other that is? That would be Ms. Quinn, played with gusto and a Stockard Channing like Grease accent from Robbie. Her wise cracks land more often than not. She’s the highlight here and her road to villainy involves her romance with the granddaddy baddie of them all, The Joker (Jared Leto). Their story is one that works well, partly due to Leto hitting his mark in a role that’s obviously been well-played before. His screen time is limited (probably wisely) and I look with anticipation to seeing him again.

Where Squad fails majorly is with a dull main villain and that’s Enchantress (Carla Delevingne),  an archeologist turned witchy woman with world domination on her mind. In a movie filled with bad guys, the one they’re chasing shouldn’t be a bore. She is and so is her soldier boyfriend – Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) – from her pre-spell life.

The action sequences are a mixed bag, especially when Ayers films them in such darkness that it’s hard to tell what’s happening. This is an issue that has pervaded other DC adaptations. We expect CG to look pretty decent in everything now and that holds true here, though nothing really stands out.

For the first half or so, Suicide Squad is a bit of depraved fun. A lot of that is Robbie’s doing with some credit to Smith. After about the halfway mark, the feeling sets in that we aren’t terribly invested in what’s occurring and that the Squad goals of taking down the witch seem inconsequential. Batman v Superman was a bit of a mess as well (its main villain issues – aka Jesse Eisenberg – were also there). Yet I somehow left that experience ready to see the Justice League formed. Here – I’m indifferent to Squad seconds. Now if Harley wants to join her main man to battle Superman, Batman, and the others – that’s cool.

**1/2 (out of four)