My Daily Streaming Guide for titles worthy of including in your binge watching escapades continues with some lighter and laugh inducing material:
Our taste for cinematic whodunits increased this fall with the release of the blockbuster Knives Out. For those who haven’t seen Clue, not only is it my favorite flick based on a board game – it’s one of my favorite murder mysteries (packed with great one-liners). Featuring an array of hilariously broad performances led by Tim Curry, the pic has deservedly turned into a cult classic. I watched it endlessly as a kid and find it just as entertaining today.
Over a decade before Robin Williams donned a dress and spectacles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Dustin Hoffman did the same in 1982’s massive hit Tootsie. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, a new generation might not be familiar with it. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a look.
For something more recent, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne headline the dramedy Instant Family. It casts the pair as foster parents entering unknown and often funny and dramatically resonant territory. Certainly a worthwhile experience that the whole family can enjoy.
John Cena follows the career path of fellow grappler Dwayne Johnson with the release of Playing with Fire next weekend. The family comedy casts him as a firefighter caring for rambunctious kids along with his coworkers. Andy Fickman directs and the cast includes Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, Brianna Hildebrand, Dennis Haysbert, and Judy Greer.
The Paramount release is essentially taking the studio’s Instant Family slot from last year. That pic scored a fairly decent $14.7 million for its start and legged out to a $67 million domestic gross. Cena hasn’t proven himself to be a player in this genre, however, and I’d say Mark Wahlberg’s star power is a bit brighter.
The best hope for Fire is that it develops small dips in subsequent weekends if word of mouth is solid, but I believe it’ll be fortunate to reach double digits in its premiere.
Playing with Fire opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million
Making the leap from the Nickelodeon small screen for a live action rendering, DoraandtheLostCityofGold looks to cash in at theaters next weekend. The family adventure is based on the animated series “Dora the Explorer” that started back in 2000. James Bobin, best known for TheMuppets reimagining and AliceThroughtheLookingGlass, directs. Isabela Moner, recently seen in InstantFamily, is the title character with a supporting cast including Eugenio Derbez, Michael Pena, and Eva Longoria. Danny Trejo and Benicio del Toro provided voice work
Paramount is hopeful that a pot of gold will exist with Latino audiences and kids who’ve made the TV show part of their programming over the last many years. The film is probably review proof and they’ve been mixed so far. This shouldn’t face much trouble having the largest debut of the five pictures arriving over the weekend. I’ll say high teens to low 20s is where this lands.
DoraandtheLostCityofGold opening weekend prediction: $19.7 million
Mixing the typical comic book movie issues with a little Big and even a touch of the recent InstantFamily, the DC Comics adaptation of Shazam! is able to produce crowd pleasing results. As the DCU must turn to their less iconic characters for feature attention, I would say the title hero here is somewhat equivalent to the MCU’s Ant-Man. He’s sarcastic. He’s not as serious. In fact, if the knock on this overall universe is that it’s too dark (think BatmanvSuperman: DawnofJustice or JusticeLeague), Shazam! is practically translucent.
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a foster kid jumping between temporary dwellings after being separated from his mom as a toddler. The young teen seems to find a decent home with five other children and kindly caregivers. Yet he’s still searching from mom.
In a prologue circa 1974, we meet another youngster by way of Thaddeus Sivana. He experiences a mystical meetup with Shazam in the form of Djimon Hounsou in heavy old age makeup. Trying to find a human worthy of inheriting his considerable superpowers, he deems him not properly pure of heart. Sivana grows up to be Mark Strong with a myopic focus on battling the eventual Shazam.
That turns out to be Billy. When he is called for his own encounter with Hounsou, he gets the job. This means when he utters “Shazam!”, he turns into Zachary Levi (who could have been cast as Superman). He’s still a teen embodying a comic book strongman and that takes a lot of learning. One of his foster siblings (Jack Dylan Grazer) is in on the secret.
A lot of exposition must be established here and Shazam! probably doesn’t need to be over two hours long. The mommy and daddy issues explored are quite familiar to genre fans. The film does manage to find slightly different angles. Just as InstantFamily showed the true heroism of foster parents, so does this. Levi is a hoot as our crime fighting man child. Strong is fine, but he doesn’t exactly alter the general rule that the villains in many of these pics aren’t as interesting as they should be.
Shazam! works best when it’s focused on Billy/Shazam while he works with his new family and not while grappling with Savani and his monstrous CGI creatures that represent The Seven Deadly Sins. Director David F. Sandberg has crafted an origin story with a lot of heart among the usual action and it fosters enough appreciation to make this rewarding.
There’s an air of authenticity to InstantFamily as its director Sean Anders and his wife are foster parents in the real world. Is it also a big Hollywood comedy with famous movie stars that works overtime to tug those heartstrings? It is, but the mission is mostly accomplished by credits roll.
Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne) spend their days flipping houses and enjoying their child free upper middle class existence. A trip down the Internet wormhole gets Ellie intrigued in adopting a toddler. Pete gets on board in short order and we witness the steps needed to do so. This include a weeks long course led by two social workers played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro. Both are rock solid casting choices. An interesting picture could certainly be made about the saints of that profession.
Pete and Ellie get more than they bargained for when teenage girl Lizzy (Isabela Moner) catches their attention. She has two younger siblings in tow and soon it’s a quintet filling a freshly refurbished abode. And there’s plenty of drama (with much humor mixed in) that cause the Wagners to question their new life direction. This isn’t simply a new project.
This is far from a hard-hitting expose on the foster care system. Yet the screenplay from Anders and John Morris doesn’t shy away from the issues that fill it, including addiction, abandonment, and self-worth. It walks a fine line between being effective or risking becoming too mushy for its own good. By the third act, the sentimentality is still strong with this one. However, I’d be deceptive if I said it hadn’t won me over. Much of that has to do with Moner’s touching performance as the untrusting youth and fierce protector of her siblings.
Anders knows this subject and even while there’s a polished Tinseltown shine covering it, his heart comes through. I left Family appreciative of the time spent with them.
Before an onslaught of holiday titles enter the marketplace, it looks to be a sleepy weekend at the box office as no wide releases open. That means November leftovers should continue to populate the top five.
I don’t see the rankings from the past frame changing with Ralph Breaks the Internet slated for a three-peat. While the post Thanksgiving weekend often sees large drops, that should ease a bit here with most titles dropping in the 30s.
Truth be told, it’s a lackluster weekend before nearly a dozen Christmas offerings arrive in the two weeks following.
Here’s my take on the top 5:
1. Ralph Breaks the Internet
Predicted Gross: $16.7 million
2. The Grinch
Predicted Gross: $14.2 million
3. Creed II
Predicted Gross: $10.1 million
4. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Predicted Gross: $6.2 million
5. Bohemian Rhapsody
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million
Box Office Results (November 30-December 2)
Ralph Breaks the Internet easily ruled the roost for the second weekend in a row as nearly all titles dipped a tad below my projections. The Disney sequel made $25.5 million (I was higher at $28.7 million) for a two-week tally of $119 million.
The Grinch was second with $17.9 million (I said $20 million) as it crossed the double century mark with $203 million.
Creed II placed third in its sophomore outing with $16.6 million compared to my $18.2 million estimate. Total gross is $80 million.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was in fourth position at $11.3 million (I said $12.1 million) for $134 million overall.
Bohemian Rhapsody got the five-spot with $8 million, in line with my $7.8 million prediction. The Freddie Mercury biopic is up to $164 million.
Instant Family was sixth with $7.1 million (I said $7.9 million) for earnings of $45 million.
Finally, horror fans propelled low-budget The Possession of Hannah Grace to a better than anticipated showing in seventh with $6.4 million, doubling my $3.2 million forecast.
As is traditionally the case, the post Thanksgiving weekend should be a quiet one for new releases as audiences should continue to feast on leftovers. The only newcomer is horror pic The Possession of Hannah Grace and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:
I’m not expecting much from Possession with my meager $3.2 million forecast. That would leave it outside the top 5 and most likely in the bottom rungs of the top 10. That means the top half of the top 10 is likely to stay the same – with some potential flip flopping occurring.
Ralph Breaks the Internet may lose close to half its audience in its sophomore outing and that would easily place it first once again with a gross in the high 20s. That drop would put it in line with the post Thanksgiving sophomore frames of Frozen, Moana, and Coco – all Disney titles that debuted over the long holiday.
The battle for #2 could be a little more interesting. In 2015, Creed dipped 49% in its second weekend (which also was a post holiday one) and I think this will roughly follow suit. If that occurs, I expect The Grinch will continue its smallish declines as we move closer to Christmas. That could allow the surly green guy to move into the runner-up position.
In 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them plummeted a steep 59% in its third weekend and sequel The Crimes of Grindelwald could be facing the same fate. That said, remaining in fourth place shouldn’t be a problem.
For the #5 slot, I believe Instant Family could manage to jump Bohemian Rhapsody by a razor-thin margin as it looks to have a minor dip compared to other pics.
And with that, my top 6 projections for the weekend upon us:
1. Ralph Breaks the Internet
Predicted Gross: $28.7 million
2. The Grinch
Predicted Gross: $20 million
3. Creed II
Predicted Gross: $18.2 million
4. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald
Predicted Gross: $12.1 million
5. Instant Family
Predicted Gross: $7.9 million
6. Bohemian Rhapsody
Predicted Gross: $7.8 million
Box Office Results (November 23-25)
Ralph Breaks the Internet, as expected, ruled the Turkey Day frame with $56.2 million for its Friday to Sunday haul and $84.7 million from Wednesday to Sunday. The Disney sequel managed to surpass my respective estimates of $54.4 million and $79.8 million. As mentioned, this should have no trouble being #1 at the box office for probably the next two weekends.
Creed II also opened with highly impressive results in second with the largest live-action Thanksgiving debut of all time. The boxing sequel made $35.5 million over the traditional weekend and $56 million for the five-day gross. This was above my respective projections of $31.4 million and $45.3 million. Opening larger than its predecessor, it appears poised to top the $109 million overall gross of 2015’s Creed.
The Grinch was third with $30.3 million (I was right there at $30.1 million) to brings its three-week total to an opposite of grumpy $180 million.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald went from first to fourth with $29.3 million (I went higher with $34.8 million). It’s taken in $116 million thus far and should come in well under the $234 million made by its predecessor.
Bohemian Rhapsody was fifth with $14 million (I said $14.1 million) for $152 million overall.
Instant Family held up nicely after a so-so debut in sixth with $12.3 million (I said $12.7 million). The Mark Wahlberg/Rose Byrne dramedy eased just 15% to bring its two-week tally to $35 million. I expect this to continue to play well into the holiday season.
It was bad news for Lionsgate as the latest Robin Hood reboot (with a reported $100 million price tag) was DOA in seventh with $9.1 million for the three-day and $14,2 million for the five-day. That’s on the mark with my $9.7 million and $14.1 million take on it. Expect this to fade fast.
Widows was 8th in its sophomore frame with $8.2 million, shy of my $9.5 million estimate for $25 million total.
Green Book expanded nationwide with middling results in ninth place with $5.5 million over Friday to Sunday and $7.4 million for the five-day. It did get over my predictions of $4.5 million and $7.4 million. Its studio will cross their fingers that the A+ Cinemascore grade allows it to have sturdy legs.
A Star Is Born was 10th with $3 million (I went with $4 million) and it’s nearing double century territory with $191 million.