Hobbs & Shaw Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (07/31): My estimate has dropped from $82.6 million to $72.6 million

Two of the most popular characters from the venerable Fast and Furious franchise get their  own spin-off (the first of the long running series) with Hobbs & Shaw next weekend. The action extravaganza comes with a reported $200 million budget and is headlined by the title characters respectively portrayed by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. David Leitch (co-director of John Wick and sole director of Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2) is behind the camera. Costars include Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, and Helen Mirren (reprising her maternal role from 2017’s last entry The Fate of the Furious).

Despite the absence of Vin Diesel and other actors associated with the franchise that started 18 years ago, Hobbs & Shaw is likely to perform similarly to other pics in the canon. The largest opening was accomplished in 2015 with Furious 7 with a gross of $147 million. Tragically, part of the reason its start was significantly more than the others was due to the untimely death of Paul Walker and that picture representing his swan song. Follow-up Fate of the Furious two years later landed the second highest start of the eight features at $98 million.

This might fall a bit under those gaudy numbers and I think low to mid 80s is most feasible. That would put it in line or a just bit below the $86 million accomplished by Fast Five in 2011.

Hobbs & Shaw opening weekend prediction: $72.6 million

The Meg Movie Review

There’s not a whole lot to add to the finned villain genre some 43 years after Jaws, but The Meg tries to do so in the form of size. The title refers to a megalodon. That’s a creature long thought to be extinct. It’s so big that it can eat normal sharks as a light snack. Size matters in this movie. We actually have two gargantuan megs that a crew must contend with. The human group of potential chum is led by Jason Statham, his massive biceps, and that voice that sounds as if he gargles gravel.

Statham plays Jonas and he’s still reeling from an incident five years ago in which he lost a group of sailors on a submarine. Jonas is convinced that an unknown and large ocean dweller caused that tragedy. As a side note, it’s interesting that the screenplay portrays him as despondent over that loss. Other characters later on seem to develop a process of rapid grieving for people they actually know.

Yet we don’t watch these pictures for lessons on dealing with death. We watch to see inventive ways for it to happen. Jonas is lured back into the water when his ex-wife (Jessica McNamee) and her mates are trapped deep underwater with that big fish lurking. She’s an employee of Mana One, a cool looking research facility looking for new species. The corporation is headed by an eccentric (is there any other kind?) billionaire played by Rainn Wilson. Li Bingbing is an oceanographer with a precocious young daughter who also serves as Jonas’s immediate love interest. Recognizable faces like Cliff Curtis and Ruby Rose are also along for the ride.

The Meg never quite develops a satisfying identity. The PG-13 rating eliminates the opportunity for gory delights. There’s winking humor and even some of it lands. And there’s also dramatic moments that seem to want to be taken seriously. It spills its creative guts early on and essentially repeats itself. A third act that finally lets the monster expose himself to the beach going masses feels truncated.

Statham throws himself into the role and it’s admirable. We do see a couple of man vs. beast exchanges that I hadn’t seen before. However, this doesn’t rise to the level of genuine guilty pleasure or generate enough suspense, humor, or horror. They’re too infrequent to completely excuse the sizable gaps of mediocrity.

** (out of four)

The Meg Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/08/18): On the eve of its premiere, I am bumping my estimate up from $19.7 million to $22.7 million

The second weekend of August is one that Warner Bros hopes is their Shark Week when The Meg opens. Focused on a group of scientists tracking a 75-foot creature sporting massive jaws, the film stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, and Cliff Curtis. Jon Turteltaub, whose had a lengthy directorial career including the National Treasure pics, is behind the camera.

Other than the giant shark itself, the most eye-popping thing about The Meg is its reported $150 million budget. This is an American/Chinese co-production and it better hope for generous earnings overseas.

As for its stateside expectations, it can be dangerous to underestimate audiences shark love. Two summers ago, The Shallows debuted to a better than anticipated $16.8 million. Last summer, 47 Meters Down (which was originally slated for a TV premiere) took in $11.2 million for its start.

There’s always breakout potential in this genre, but I’m looking at The Meg managing to hit Shallows numbers and a bit more.

The Meg opening weekend prediction: $22.7 million

For my Slender Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/31/slender-man-box-office-prediction/

For my Dog Days prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/31/dog-days-box-office-prediction/

For my BlacKkKlansman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/blackkklansman-box-office-prediction/

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious is our eighth – yes, eighth – installment of a franchise that it would have been ridiculous to imagine there being that many entries. We’re a long way from the original 16 years ago that was sort of a drag racing rip-off of Point Break, or Point Brake as I deemed it in my review. That said, a common thread among the series is its willingness to be knowingly ridiculous while weaving in endless monologues about the importance of family.

The formula took on a different tone in predecessor Furious 7, which admirably managed to deal with the death of franchise stalwart Paul Walker in its conclusion. In that sense, Fate ushers in a new chapter. New characters are introduced, old ones are rehashed, and the level of silliness is brought to a level not quite seen before. Yes, cars go fast here. However, part 8 owes more to James Bond flicks when they were less grim (think Roger Moore era with a quarter billion dollar budget).

As I’ve written in previous Furious critiques, plot is secondary but here’s what you need to know: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has turned on his team. Sort of. He’s being forced to team up with criminal mastermind Cipher (Charlize Theron), who evades authorities in the air on an invisible plane. See what I mean? Isn’t that the kind of villain 007 might battle in the late seventies? Now on the wrong side of justice, Dominic and Cipher must go against Dom’s “family”, including wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and the familiar players played by Dwayne Johnson (whose goofy character is still good for some funny and bizarre moments), Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, and more. Part 7’s main villain Jason Statham is more of a team player this time around and even Oscar winner Helen Mirren turns up as his mum. Statham is granted a fight scene towards the end where he has to be delicate with some cargo he’s carrying (you’ll see what I mean). The scene is genuinely humorous and quite well choreographed.

The plot is all an excuse for the massive action spectacles and globe trotting we’ve become accustomed to and we have it here in Cuba, New York City, and Russia. The climactic sequence set on Russian frozen tundra employs the usual expensive vehicles, but we also are treated to tanks and submarines. Remember the ice action in Pierce Brosnan’s Bond flick Die Another Day? Think that, but it’s not embarrassingly awful.

Our Furious sagas rise and fall on the ability for us to check our brains at the Universal logo. By the third act, I’d succumbed once again to its cheesy charms. Maybe one day this series will truly stall like it briefly did in 2006’s Tokyo Drift. Not yet though and that’s some kind of testament to its durability.

*** (out of four)

The Fate of the Furious Box Office Prediction

Universal Pictures’ billion dollar franchise keeps rolling along as The Fate of the Furious
parks into multiplexes on Easter Weekend. The eighth (yes, eighth) street racing action spectacle finds Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray taking over behind the camera. Fate finds the majority of thespians associated with the series returning – Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacis, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, and Nathalie Emmanuel. We also have a pair of Oscar winners joining the mix with Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren, as well as Scott Eastwood (whose dad has won some Oscars). Of course, this is the first picture (excluding 2006’s Tokyo Drift) without Paul Walker, who died during the filming of Furious 7.

When Diesel and Walker returned to the franchise in 2009’s Fast and Furious, it sparked a box office resurgence that’s never let up. That fourth entry debuted to $70 million with an overall $155M domestic haul. Follow-up Fast Five in 2011 opened to $86 million ($209M eventual tally). 2013’s Fast & Furious 6 made $97 million out of the gate and $238M eventually. And 2015’s Furious 7 easily set the high mark with a $147 million premiere and $353M overall.

The grosses of Furious 7 were likely (and sadly) expanded due to it being Walker’s last on-screen appearance. Therefore it stands to reason that Fate probably won’t reach the heights of that predecessor. That said, this looks to be a franchise that is still going strong and it would be surprising if it didn’t post the second largest bow thus far.

I’ll predict the fate of this is an opening gross in the low to mid $120M range.

The Fate of the Furious opening weekend prediction: $122.7 million

For my Gifted prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/04/09/gifted-box-office-prediction/

Mechanic: Resurrection Box Office Prediction

Jason Statham starred in one of the biggest sequels of 2015 with Furious 7. He is highly unlikely to repeat himself this year as Mechanic: Resurrection hits screens next weekend. This is a follow-up to 2011’s The Mechanic, a remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson vehicle that performed fairly modestly with an $11.4 million opening and $29.1 million overall domestic gross. Frankly, I’m not really sure why this warrants a sequel.

The supporting cast includes Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, and Michelle Yeoh with Dennis Gansel taking over directorial duties from Simon West. While the past five years has given its star more exposure with hits like the aforementioned seventh Furious entry and Spy, I doubt that will be enough for Resurrection to rise above what its predecessor even earned. Heck, this isn’t even the most high-profile sequel ending in the word “Resurrection” (as Ripley and Winona Ryder could tell you).

In this same late August weekend last year, similar genre type pic Hitman: Agent 47 made $8.3 million. That actually seems about right for this and I’ll predict it just tops that unimpressive number.

Mechanic: Resurrection opening weekend prediction: $8.5 million

For my Don’t Breathe prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/16/dont-breathe-box-office-prediction/

For my Hands of Stone prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/17/hands-of-stone-box-office-prediction/

Spy Movie Review

After her terrific breakout role in 2011’s Bridesmaids, the filmography of Melissa McCarthy has nagged at me in one significant way. While her character in Bridesmaids was hilariously rough around the edges, what stood out was her innate likability. It’s a trait that was lacking in varying degrees in all her follow up work – Identity Thief, The Heat, and Tammy.

This situation is rectified in Spy, which teams McCarthy up for the third time with director Paul Feig after Bridesmaids and The Heat (they’ll collabo again next summer in the Ghostbusters reboot). Spy finds McCarthy playing more to her strengths and it’s a welcome sight. Yet it doesn’t totally mask that this effort is a fairly generic 007 genre spoof where the laughs are hit or miss.

McCarthy is Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst whose job consists mostly of assisting debonair agent Bradley Fine (a game Jude Law) by talking in his earpiece and helping him out of international intrigue jams. She’s head over heels for her assigned agent as well, which leads to a humorous fancy dinner scene with him where she’s a bit out of her element. Circumstances soon lead to Susan becoming a field agent responsible for tracking Rayna (Rose Byrne), who’s in possession of a nuke. Our newly minted spy must also work with rough and tumble agent Ford (Jason Statham, showcasing real comedic chops) who is far worse at his profession than he believes. His anecdotes about previous missions provide some of the larger laughs, such as when he had to reattach his arm with his other arm.

Spy follows the playbook of Bond spoof to a tee – various exotic locations, big and complicated action sequences, etc… McCarthy’s character, who gets to don various disguises, gives the actress the most she’s had to work with in a bit. The pic fits the bill as a lazy afternoon couch viewing experience and not much more.

One problem is that Feig has learned one unenviable trait from former colleague Judd Apatow. His movies are about 20 minutes too long and Spy’s premise doesn’t deserve the padded two hour running time. There is filler mixed with genuinely solid set pieces. Flaws aside, it’s nice to see McCarthy shine in a manner she’s not been afforded since her Oscar nomination for her standout part four years ago. I hope her material continues to improve.

**1/2 (out of four)