Terminator: Dark Fate Box Office Prediction

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back for the fifth time in his signature role with Terminator: Dark Fate next weekend. This time around, there’s some other franchise favorites who’ve gone unseen since 1991’s landmark Terminator 2: Judgment Day. James Cameron shares story credit in what’s being called a direct sequel to the first follow up from 28 years ago (Fate hits theaters just over 35 years after the original). That means you shouldn’t have to keep up with the three subsequent series entries. Also returning are Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Edward Furlong as John Connor (a role that’s since been filled by Nick Stahl, Christian Bale, and Jason Clarke). Tim Miller, maker of Deadpool, directs with a supporting cast including Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, and Gabriel Luna.

Early word of mouth suggests this might be the most solid Terminator flick since 1991 (even though that’s not really saying a whole lot). The franchise hit a low point just over four years ago with Genisys. It was the only sequel not to reach $100 million domestically with at $89 million overall and reviews and audience reaction were poor. The inclusion of some favorites should help some, but this could still suffer from franchise fatigue that we’ve witnessed several times already in 2019.

Using comps for a debut is a little tricky as this is the first sequel not to open on a holiday weekend. Judgment, 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and Genisys all premiered over Independence Day frames. 2009’s Terminator: Salvation rolled out over Memorial Day. For the traditional Friday to Sunday portion of their long weekends, Machines holds the record with $44 million. I don’t believe Fate gets there. The low mark is Genisys with $27 million. I don’t think this falls that low.

My hunch is that mid to high 30s is the likeliest scenario for the Governator and his familiar friends.

Terminator: Dark Fate opening weekend prediction: $38.1 million

For my Motherless Brooklyn prediction, click here:


For my Arctic Dogs prediction, click here:


For my Harriet prediction, click here:


First Man Movie Review

Perhaps the largest overarching theme of Damien Chazelle’s First Man is control. Mission control of the world famous Apollo 11 flight, yes. There’s also a mission in which Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) tragically cannot control with the death of his young daughter to a brain tumor. In Gosling’s face as he lands for the first time ever on the outer reaches of our solar system, we sense his myopic focus on this historic assignment. It is coupled with a sense of loss of what he experienced a few years prior with a task he couldn’t achieve in saving her life.

That, more than anything else, is where the power of this picture lies. Yet these moments are not particularly frequent. We all know how First Man is going to end with Armstrong’s first footprint on a never before stepped upon surface. There is little dramatic tension there, though the booming musical score helps a little bit. Chazelle’s film takes the moon landing and shows it through the eyes of the man who did it. That means we see the extraordinarily small spaces he trains and rides in. And in the years prior to success, we see a string of losses from his daughter to several coworkers who perish along the way.

This is not the space saga I expected from Chazelle. It’s entirely different in tone from his previous efforts Whiplash and La La Land. Armstrong was a famously low key figure and First Man takes cues from his personality. The saga begins eight years prior to his claim to fame. Armstrong is a test pilot with a devoted but strong in her convictions wife Janet (Claire Foy) and two children. With two-year-old Karen, Neil treats her illness as a mathematical equation to be solved, like his daily work. He can’t solve this problem.

His piloting career coincides with his nation’s fervent desire to beat the Russians to the moon after being beat out by them in earlier missions. As we know, he’s eventually given captain status with Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) and Mike Collins (Lukas Haas) alongside him. Before that occurs, we see Neil’s friendship with another famed astronaut Ed White (Jason Clarke) and others. All of these innovators reside in Houston and develop a close community where the wives are constantly living in fear of whether their husbands will come home.

First Man often focuses on that sense of dread and the fact that, in the 1960s, NASA was a program often running blind. Ever hopeful, but with rickety rockets and a cross your fingers and hope for the best attitude. It takes a toll on Neil’s marriage. Foy is excellent as Janet and she’s given a scene or two to shine.

Gosling’s work is, like his subject, tougher to nail down. It’s not a showy role. However, in the moments where he must convey Armstrong’s laser concentration, Gosling flourishes. I admired Chazelle’s tactic of making this tale that goes outside our galaxy a small and personal one. First Man is ultimately an experience that easier to appreciate than be grandly entertained by. Neil Armstrong worked in his own way and so does this for the most part.

*** (out of four)

Serenity Movie Review

Steven Knight’s Serenity plays like a concept thought up after a long day and night of smoking weed. That concept, at least theoretically, would seem crazy and illogical in the morning. Yet somehow that realization never dawned on the writer and director and now we have Oscar winners starring in it. Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway could have easily spent the weeks filming this relaxing on an island similar to the beautiful one where this is set. They made this instead and it will forever be on their record.

The Lincoln pitchman plays Baker Dill, a hard drinking fishing boat captain. He lives in Plymouth, a tropical locale surrounded by water and an elusive tuna fish that he’s obsessed with catching. One day his ex flame Karen (Hathaway) shows up. They were high school sweethearts whose romance was cut short when he was deployed overseas. They have a teenage son who doesn’t see his dad anymore, but they seem to share an almost (ahem) interstellar connection. Karen is now married to abusive monster Frank (Jason Clarke). She offers Baker $10 million dollars to take him out – on the boat and in the murderous sense. He initially rejects the idea, but a bizarre (and I do mean bizarre) twist complicates matters.

There’s really no more plot left to ponder unless I enter spoiler territory. And if you wish to see Serenity (which you’ll likely regret), I won’t be the one to spill the beans. The film often plays like a hammy noir complete with overacting from its two Academy Award recipients. Djimon Hounsou turns up as the captain’s first mate while Diane Lane is his love interest. Her character solely exists for exposition conversations after they have sex.

Serenity succeeds or fails based on a willingness to buy the whacked out concept. For me, it certainly failed. I am almost in awe that Knight got the money to try. By its conclusion, it attempts to tug your heartstrings with more force than it takes to reel in that giant tuna fish. It succeeded more in tickling my funny bone and in an unintentional way.

*1/2 (out of four)

Pet Sematary Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (04/04): On the eve of its premiere, I’m upping my estimate from $28.7 million to $34.7 million

Arriving in theaters 30 years following the movie it’s remaking, Pet Sematary hopes to bring scary flick fans to the multiplexes next Friday. The horror pic is based on Stephen King’s acclaimed 1983 bestseller. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer co-direct (making their first high-profile release) with a cast including Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow.

It doesn’t hurt that this is the first King adaptation since, well, 2017’s massive success It. That film certainly upped the legendary author’s brand and should help this bring in some cash. To add to that, reviews for the 2019 version are an improvement over the 1989 original (91% vs. 50% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Competition is a factor. While Shazam! is of a different genre, the two features could compete for similar audience members. That superhero tale will almost certainly come out on top and likely double the gross of this. There’s also Us, which will be in its third weekend after a huge debut.

Even with those potential impediments, Pet Sematary could approach $30 million for a healthy start.

Pet Sematary opening weekend prediction: $34.7 million

For my Shazam! prediction, click here:


For my The Best of Enemies prediction, click here:


Serenity Box Office Prediction

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway lend their star power to the thriller Serenity, out next weekend. The pic was originally slated for a fall 2018 release before its delay to January, which can often serve as a dumping ground for certain titles. Steven Knight directs with Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong in the supporting cast.

The studio seems to be treating this as an afterthought. Marketing has been pretty slim. While McConaughey has had some hits since his Oscar win five years ago, there’s been some flops including Free State of Jones, Gold, and White Boy Rick. Hathaway has a better track record as of late, but I’m not convinced her participation will help matters.

Serenity has a $25 million budget, so at least its potential losses shouldn’t be too significant. Like the trio of previous McConaughey titles, I don’t have this hitting double digits.

Serenity opening weekend prediction: $5.1 million

For my The Kid Who Would Be King prediction, click here:


2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: October 11th Edition

Back at ya with my weekly Oscar predictions! Here’s some tidbits that have transpired over the past seven days:

  • While the official review embargo has not lifted, Bohemian Rhapsody has screened and early word-of-mouth is out. Reaction for this film itself seems mixed and it has caused the Freddie Mercury biopic to drop to 25th in my BP rankings and out of my Original Screenplay possibilities. On the other hand, chatter about Rami Malek’s performance is terrific. For the first time, he enters my top 5 predicted Actor nominees, knocking out Willem Dafoe’s work in At Eternity’s Gate. One thing seems certain: the lead actor race is looking very crowded at the moment.
  • Speaking of that category, it was confirmed that Stephan James from If Beale Street Could Talk will be campaigned for in that category (I’ve had him listed in Supporting previously).
  • In Best Actress, I have switched Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) back to #1 over runner-up Glenn Close in The Wife. This appears to be a close contest between the two at the moment.
  • There is still uncertainty about category placement for the three women of The Favourite. Some chatter has Emma Stone as the obvious Actress candidate along with Olivia Colman. Everyone seems to agree that Rachel Weisz will land in Supporting Actress. For now, I’m keeping Colman in Actress with Stone/Weisz in Supporting, but changes could happen.
  • Also in Supporting Actress, I am now listing Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) at #1 over Claire Foy (First Man).
  • Widows is just on the outside of my predicted nominees in a number of races including Picture, Actress (Viola Davis), and Supporting Actor (Daniel Kaluuya). I feel it will get nominated for something and I am including it in Adapted Screenplay over First Man.

And with that, let’s get to it!

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. First Man (PR: 3)

4. The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Green Book (PR: 5)

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

7. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

8. Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Vice (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Widows (PR: 11)

11. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

12. The Mule (PR: 15)

13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 16)

14. Boy Erased (PR: 12)

15. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 14)

16. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 13)

17. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 17)

18. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 19)

19. Leave No Trace (PR: 23)

20. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 20)

21. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 21)

22. Eighth Grade (PR: 25)

23. Beautiful Boy (PR: 22)

24. The Front Runner (PR: 24)

25. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 18)

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 3)

4. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

5. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 6)

7. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 7)

8. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

9. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 14)

10. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 9)

11. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

12. Clint Eastwood, The Mule (PR: 13)

13. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 11)

14. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 12)

15. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 15)

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 5)

4. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 4)

5. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 3)

7. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 7)

8. Clint Eastwood, The Mule (PR: 8)

9. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 11)

10. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 10)

11. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 14)

12. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 9)

13. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: Not Ranked)

14. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 13)

15. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 15)

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 1)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 6)

7. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 8)

8. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 7)

9. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 11)

10. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 10)

11. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 9)

12. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 13)

13. Carey Mulligan, Wildlife (PR: 14)

14. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 15)

15. Keira Knightley, Colette (PR: 12)

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 1)

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

3. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

4. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: 6)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Steve Carell, Vice (PR: 9)

10.  Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 13)

11. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 10)

12. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 12)

13. Tim Blake Nelson, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Bradley Cooper, The Mule (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

John C. Reilly, Stan and Ollie

Jason Clarke, First Man

David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

2. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 1)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: 6)

7. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

8. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: 10)

9. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 7)

10. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 9)

11. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 11)

12. Dianne Wiest, The Mule (PR: 15)

13. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (PR: 13)

14. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience (PR: 12)

15. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 14)

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 1)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 5)

5. Widows (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. First Man (PR: 4)

7. Leave No Trace (PR: 7)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

9. Boy Erased (PR: 9)

10. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 11)

11. Black Panther (PR: 10)

12. The Hate U Give (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Disobedience (PR: 12)

14. Beautiful Boy (PR: 13)

15. Wildlife (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Sisters Brothers

The Mule (Moved to Original Screenplay)

Best Original Screenplay

1. Roma (PR: 2)

2. The Favourite (PR: 1)

3. Green Book (PR: 3)

4. Vice (PR: 4)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 6)

7. First Reformed (PR: 7)

8. The Mule (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Adapted)

9. A Quiet Place (PR: 10)

10. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 9)

11. Private Life (PR: 11)

12. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 8)

13. Mid90s (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Stan and Ollie (PR: 15)

15. Capernaum (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Bohemian Rhapsody

Ben Is Back

Chappaquiddick Movie Review

“We tell the truth. Or at least our version of it.”

This is perhaps the central line uttered by Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) in John Curran’s Chappaquiddick. It recalls the events that took place in the summer of 1969 that resulted in the drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) with the Senator at the wheel. This is a tale of power potentially interrupted as Ted is the last living brother of America’s royal family. Unfolding just months after Bobby’s assassination during his Presidential campaign, the youngest Kennedy is seen as a contender for the highest office in the land in 1972.

His brother’s death indirectly leads to the film’s events as Ted organizes a reunion of the “Boiler Room Girls”, a group of female staffers that worked on Bobby’s bid for the White House. New Jersey native Mary Jo is one of them and her fateful car ride with Ted becomes the subject of endless speculation on the same weekend where Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon. The accident isn’t reported by the world-famous driver until eight hours following its occurrence. The screenplay from Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan hypothesizes that Kennedy’s truth about it is indeed his own, with details like alcohol consumption conveniently omitted and a concussion and needless neck brace advantageously added.

The deception extends to patriarch Joseph Kennedy Sr. (Bruce Dern). He can’t speak due to a debilitating stroke, but he can still mobilize a crisis control team at short notice. This includes former Secretary of Defense Bob McNamara (Clancy Brown) and family speechwriter Ted Sorensen (Taylor Nichols). The conscience of the piece is Kennedy cousin Joe Gargan (Ed Helms), who accompanies Ted and Massachusetts District Attorney friend Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan) to rescue the deceased passenger when it’s far too late. Gargan is a member of the Kennedy clan, though he doesn’t fully recognize the extent they will go to in protecting their brand.

Any movie recounting the days of Chappaquiddick and its aftermath will be looked at through a political lens. Ardent supporters of its central character will likely take issue with some theories put forth here, including Ted’s original thought to claim Mary Jo was driving. So while the leanings of some viewers could be tainted by that, Chappaquiddick is primarily a procedural about a tragedy caused by someone with extraordinary influence. When Kennedy goes to the small island’s office of the police chief to give a hastily written statement, he immediately enters and sits behind the chief’s desk in his chair. It’s a minor detail, but not an insignificant one in showing the power structure involved here.

Chappaquiddick doesn’t shed much unique light on the well-researched event, but it’s held together by a strong performance from Clarke. His Ted is one in constant conflict and not just with the details of the drowning. He is a man of apparent destiny whether he wants it or not or whether his father even believes he deserves it. A sharp turn derails those ambitions to a certain degree. In this version of it, the filmmakers don’t let Kennedy off the hook.

*** (out of four)