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/