In 2017, comedian Kumail Nanjiani had a breakout hit with The Big Sick, a dramedy based on his real life experiences with his wife. An unexpected box office success, the pic even managed buzz for a Best Picture nomination and for Holly Hunter in Supporting Actress. Neither nod materialized and the film’s sole nomination was for its Original Screenplay.
The rom com/murder mystery The Lovebirds teams Nanjiani with his Sick director Michael Showalter once again. It’s out on Netflix today after Paramount moved it to streaming service from an April theatrical date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the pic is generating fairly decent reviews (66% on Rotten Tomatoes) and praise for the chemistry between leads Nanjiani and Issa Rae, the critical reaction doesn’t approach that of Sick (with its 98% Tomato meter). Bottom line: don’t expect the Lovebirds to gather any passion to fly before the radar screen of awards voters. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Let me start by stating the obvious – with COVID-19 or the Coronavirus dominating the worldwide news cycle, its impact on the moviegoing public is very far from the most important story. However, this is a blog focused on the world of film and especially the box office.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has touched the cinematic universe this week and beyond. The major news in this space began a couple of days back when the latest James Bond pic No Time to Die was delayed from April 10th until November. Producers made no secret that Coronavirus was the reason. For a tentpole release of this stature to get delayed opens up the real possibility of others that could follow. On a smaller scale, the Dave Bautista comedy My Spy was pushed from next Friday to mid April.
News continued yesterday as the South by Southwest Festival in Austin was canceled. Scheduled to begin on March 16, SXSW serves as a launching pad for dozens of features and documentaries. In 2020, this included such high profile titles as David Lowery’s The Green Knight, Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island with Pete Davidson, and Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick follow-up The Lovebirds starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae.
We will see what the future brings as outside factors are certainly influencing how studios and festival organizers make decisions.
Looking to bring in viewers for the four-day Valentine’s Day/President’s Day frame, the romantic drama The Photograph debuts in theaters this coming weekend. From director Stella Meghie, the pic features Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Chelsea Peretti, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lil Rel Howery, and Courtney B. Vance.
The Photograph comes from Will Packer Productions, which has had a series of lower budget hits that include thrillers like No Good Deed and comedies such as Girls Trip and Night School. This genre is somewhat new territory to them.
Three years back, Meghie directed Everything, Everything – a younger skewing romantic tale which took in $11.7 million over three days. I believe a strong African-American audience could get this over that given the extra day of grosses.
The Photograph opening weekend prediction: $17.4 million
Borrowing its plot themes from comedies such as Big and 13Goingon30, the Will Packer produced pic Little debuts next weekend. Regina Hall stars as an overworked tech mogul who’s transformed into a teen version of herself. That 13-year-old self is played by Marsai Martin (of TV’s “Black-ish”) and the young actress holds an executive producer credit here (making her the youngest person ever to do so). Tina Gordon directs and Issa Rae, Justin Hartley, and Rachel Dratch costar.
Mr. Packer’s previous studio efforts like GirlsTrip have turned into profitable ventures. Little hopes to bring in a sizable African-American audience and the chances of this over performing are real.
A gross in the mid to high teens is certainly feasible, but I’ll project low teens is where this ends up.