The Divergent Series: Allegiant Box Office Prediction

Shailene Woodley and company are back next weekend in The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the third entry in the YA adaptations from author Veronica Roth. The dystopian sci fi pic arrives in the same March slot as its predecessors, 2014’s Divergent and last year’s Insurgent. Director Robert Schwentke is back behind the camera and costars include Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, and Zoe Kravitz.

Second installment Insurgent saw a slight dip from the first entry. While Divergent debuted to $54 million and eventually grossed $150M domestic, Insurgent opened at $52 million with an overall $130M tally. Reviews for Allegiant haven’t been kind… it sits at 0% currently on Rotten Tomaotes and I look for its returns to continue diminishing. Even the third and fourth Hunger Games pics saw dips from the first two and this should follow suit.

I’ll say this first Allegiant (the second part arrives in March 2017) will be the first of the series to fall below the $50M mark out of the gate with low to mid 40s being more probable.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant opening weekend prediction: $43.7 million

For my Miracles from Heaven prediction, click here:

Steve Jobs Movie Review

Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs is a masterwork in editing, use of music, and fine performances doused with the dialogue that is unmistakably that of Aaron Sorkin. The man in the title, played by Michael Fassbender, is presented as he’s often said to have been: frustrating. There are certainly times in this picture where the audience will be angry at Mr. Jobs and Sorkin’s script doesn’t sugarcoat his considerable flaws, which include his inability to acknowledge his own daughter. At the same time, this is a work that appreciates its central character, imperfections and all.

The film is constructed much like a play and in three acts centered around the launch of the Apple Founder’s products. In 1984, it’s the Macintosh. In 1988, the failed NeXT computer after Steve had been dumped from his own company. In 1998, the iMac which helped lead to iEverything and market domination. Through this 14 year journey, we meet the people who populate this temperamental genius’s life. There’s his marketing exec Joanna (Kate Winslet), constantly by Steve’s side and witness to historical triumphs and her boss’s failures. Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) is the jilted company cofounder who kept Apple afloat for many years while Jobs got all the credit. John Sculley (a typically rock solid Jeff Daniels) is the CEO who is both an enemy and father figure. And the biggest through line comes from Lisa, the daughter that Steve can’t bring himself to properly father.

Steve Jobs eschews the conventional cliches of a biopic, just as the man who hated conventional may have preferred. While Fassbender doesn’t exactly resemble Steve, his performance is quite an accomplishment and succeeds in nailing down his complexities. The loyal yet often flustered Joanna is brought to life wonderfully by Winslet. Sorkin’s well known snappy dialogue should please his many admirers and the story structure is creative enough that you probably won’t quibble with reported historical inaccuracies. Truth be told, no two hour tale could properly nail presenting the enigmatic title subject, but Steve Jobs the film has a talented team doing their level best.

Love or hate him or (like most) appreciative and confounded by him, this picture fascinatingly is another puzzle piece of the man whose existence constantly is at our fingertips.

***1/2 (out of four)

The Martian Movie Review

Matt Damon waits for one of the longest rides home in film history during Ridley Scott’s The Martian, both a love letter to the space program and the power of science and positive thinking. When we think of director Scott’s contributions to the science fiction genre, we normally think brilliantly grim (Alien, Blade Runner). More recently – mixed bag grim (Prometheus). Not the case here. The Martian is infused with laughter and an often amusing star turn role by its anchor.

We open in 2035 with Damon’s astronaut Mark part of a manned mission to the Red Planet along with colleagues that include the Commander (Jessica Chastain), Kate Mara, and Michael Pena. A massive dust storm wreaks havoc and leaves the crew believing Mark has perished and they are forced to leave the planet without his body. Of course he has survived and so begins Mark’s new solo mission: learning how to survive as the only inhabitant on a planet with little food or other necessities on his left behind vessel. Lucky for him, he’s a brilliant botanist who comes up with clever (sometimes disgusting) ways to harvest food.

NASA soon learns that Mark is alive and this sets off a furious effort to pick him up. This is no easy task to say the least and it involves the question of whether to inform his crew (on their way back to Earth) of his survival. There’s delicate involvement with the Chinese space program. Kristin Wiig (in a small but fascinating role) plays NASA’s media consultant, who must navigate the organization’s own land mines. And there’s the head of NASA, played winningly and by Jeff Daniels. Other familiar faces turning up as government scientists include Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sean Bean.

While Mark’s situation seems dire, he handles his circumstances with an often lighthearted touch (and occasional profanity laced tirade to his bosses). The Martian goes out of its way to explain the science behind rescuing our protagonist and it’s fascinating enough that it makes you ponder whether younger viewers may reconsider career choices. In short, it makes science look awfully cool and important.

Damon has shown real comedic talent before (see Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!) and he excels at it here, along with his more known ability at drama. Even with the welcome humor, this is by no means a straight up comedy (memo to the Golden Globes).

As Mark is a shining example of optimism under pressure, Jeff Daniels’ NASA chief is an example of calm under pressure. His performance is an example of strength and understatement. Damon may own this show, but Daniels earns marks for most interesting supporting player.

The visual look from Scott is the beautiful kind of feast we would anticipate from this visual auteur. Drew Goddard’s screenplay, based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel, keeps things moving along with quirky touches that include a disco heavy soundtrack. It is only in the final stretches of The Martian that we see how the world is captivated by Mark’s long hoped for journey back home. It’s not really a necessity to see it because we just assume. We are entertainingly captivated, too, with lots of smiles along the way.

***1/2 (out of four)

Steve Jobs Box Office Prediction

The last time audiences were exposed to a film about Apple founder Steve Jobs, it was Ashton Kutcher playing him in 2013’s Jobs, which got mostly negative reviews and sputtered at the box office with only $16 million.

What a difference two years makes. This Friday comes Steve Jobs, with Oscar winning director Danny Boyle behind the camera and Oscar winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin penning the script. Michael Fassbender plays the title role with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels in the supporting cast. Since it premiered on the film festival circuit weeks ago, it’s been subject to fervent Oscar buzz. Chances are excellent that it will receive nominations for Picture, Director, Actor (Fassbender), and Supporting Actress (Winslet). Reviews have been strong.

All this positive buzz means Steve Jobs could gross the highest among the four other pictures it’s premiering against. The most obvious comparison for an opening weekend would be 2010’s The Social Network (also written by Sorkin), which debuted to over $22 million. Jobs could certainly reach that margin, but Social Network did have considerably less competition in its first weekend. I’ll predict this gets to high teens out of the gate and settles in for a nice run throughout the awards season.

Steve Jobs opening weekend prediction: $19.6 million

For my The Last Witch Hunter prediction, click here:

For my Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension prediction, click here:

For my Rock the Kasbah prediction, click here:

For my Jem and the Holograms prediction, click here:

The Martian Box Office Prediction

Director Ridley Scott knows a thing or two about making science fiction movies and this Friday, The Martian is his latest. The lost in space pic is riding a wave of solid buzz (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and its all star cast includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

With a reported $108 million budget, 20th Century Fox is hoping for robust results. It should have no issue opening atop the charts, but how high it goes is an open question. For comparison sake, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity debuted to $55 million on the same weekend two years ago. Last year’s similarly themed Interstellar took in $47 million out of the gate. Scott’s last sci fi effort Prometheus made $51 million in the summer of 2012 for its start. Damon’s previous genre pic Elysium premiered to $29 million in August 2013.

That’s a rather wide range of grosses for The Martian to open in. I’m skeptical that it tops $50 million, though its positive reviews don’t hurt. I also don’t believe it’ll gross as low as Elysium did as that film’s buzz was far less solid. Add it all up and I believe the most probable scenario is a premier in the high 30s to low 40s.

The Martian opening weekend prediction: $40.3 million

For my Sicario prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: The Martian

Ridley Scott’s sci fi pic The Martian premiered at the Toronto Film Festival over the weekend prior to its October 2 domestic release and the results are quite promising. With an all star cast including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean and Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Martian has struck the fancy of critics to the tune of a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

How will this translate to Oscar attention? Hard to say. Reviews have noted that this is a crowd pleaser and the more box office success it achieves, the better that bodes for a Best Picture nod. I’d still say it’s likely on the outside looking in, but that could certainly change if some future autumn releases don’t meet expectations. I could actually envision a somewhat long shot scenario of Scott receiving a directing nomination with the film itself left out.

As for actors, Damon has gotten strong notices and could find himself in contention, though I wouldn’t include him yet. Chastain has been singled out as well, but competition in Supporting Actress could leave her out. The Martian’s greatest chance at Academy focus is probably tech races like Cinematography, Visual Effects and Sound categories. As far as the bigger ticket races, Toronto did prove that this is something worth keeping in mind as the months roll on.

Oscar Watch: Steve Jobs

As I’ve made my initial round of Oscar predictions over the past few days on the blog, it seemed somewhat safe to place Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs as a nominee for Best Picture and Director. Same goes for Michael Fassbender in the Actor race as he plays the late tech genius title character and Kate Winslet in Supporting Actress playing a member of Steve’s original MAC team.

Last night, the pic debuted at the Telluride Film Festival and critics are mostly loving what they’re seeing. Fassbender’s work has particularly been singled out and it seems highly unlikely that his name won’t be among the five in Best Actor. Winslet seems like a fairly safe bet as well. In Supporting Actor, Jeff Daniels seems more likely than Seth Rogen but I didn’t include either in my first round of predictions and stick by it (for now).

Several reviewers have noted Jobs as a companion piece to 2010’s The Social Network, David Fincher’s terrific tale of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Some have even said Jobs is better. That bodes extremely well for its chances at Picture and Director nods. It also seems virtually guaranteed that Aaron Sorkin will see his screenplay recognized in Adapted Screenplay. Steve Jobs is out October 9.

As the film festivals continue to roll out, look for several posts in the next few days outlining pictures likely to be in the mix and others that may not be.

2015 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Continuing on with part two of my impossibly early Oscar predictions for 2015, we move to Best Supporting Actor. As I mentioned in the previous Supporting Actress piece, the predictions that I did at this time of the year in 2014 yielded two out of the five eventual nominees. Same goes for Supporting Actor last year, though it’s worth noting that last year in early September – I mentioned all five eventual nominees in the predicted or other possibilities category.

Unlike Supporting Actress, where Rooney Mara seems to be a shoo in for a nod in Carol, there are no obvious nominees in this category as of yet. One thing seems very possible – Quentin Tarantino has a knack for getting his supporting players attention and that may bode well for either Kurt Russell or Samuel L. Jackson. Right now, I’ll give Russell the edge.

David O. Russell is also known for his performers receiving Academy love and his December release Joy could mean nods for either Bradley Cooper or Robert De Niro. We’ll go with Mr. Cooper at press time.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s The Revenant could garner plenty of attention and Tom Hardy could benefit from it in this category. It doesn’t hurt that he’s had a terrific year coming off the acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Cannes Film Festival brought forth raves for the indie drama Youth and Harvey Keitel’s work in it while this fall’s Steven Spielberg drama Bridge of Spies seems to have a major supporting role for character actor Mark Rylance.

Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs may mean nods for either Jeff Daniels or Seth Rogen. The Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy has both John Cusack and Paul Dano (depending on who the studio puts in which category). The Catholic Church sex scandal drama Spotlight has Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. Past winner Benicio del Toro is said to be a standout in this September’s Sicario. And on and on.

In other words, lots of possibilities here and we shall see how it shakes out. For now:


Bradley Cooper, Joy

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Harvey Keitel, Youth

Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Other Possibilities:

Steve Carell, Freeheld

John Cusack, Love and Mercy

Jeff Daniels, Steve Jobs

Paul Dano, Love and Mercy

Benicio del Toro, Sicario

Robert De Niro, Joy

Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight

Michael Keaton, Spotlight

Jude Law, Genius

Ewan McGregor, Miles Ahead

Seth Rogen, Steve Jobs

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Billy Bob Thornton, Our Brand is Crisis

And that’ll do it for now! Best Actress coming up tomorrow…

You can peruse my Supporting Actress early picks here:


Dumb and Dumber To Movie Review

David Spade once said that when you see a classic rock band in concert and they proclaim that they’re about to perform a track off their new album, it’s essentially inviting the crowd to take a restroom break. At the conclusion of Dumb and Dumber To, scenes from the 1994 original are played next to this two decades later sequel. It has a likely similar effect to watching The Rolling Stones play “Satisfaction” while simultaneously playing some unknown new cut. Bottom line: this film feels very new album too much of the time.

The Farrelly Brothers and Jim Carrey created their zaniest and most consistently laugh out loud feature in ’94 with Dumb and Dumber and got an unexpectedly great assist from Jeff Daniels, who managed be to Carrey’s equal. There’s little doubt that the studio has probably been attempting for years to get the dim duo back as Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey). We can be sure of this because New Line even went as far as releasing a dud of a 2003 prequel which featured younger actors playing them. That didn’t go over so well with audiences.

It took two decades for the gang to reunite. If you think it may have a little to do with Carrey not having much box office success in recent years, you’re probably not dumb. When we begin, Lloyd is completing a moronic practical joke on his bestie that he’s managed to keep up since we last left them not realizing they could’ve run off with the bikini team.

We soon discover that Harry has a long lost daughter he wasn’t aware of from Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner, who if nothing else proves she’s a good sport). This leads our dynamically dumb duo on a trek to Santa Fe to find her. The daughter (Rachel Melvin) also is super hot and not very bright. Her adoptive father is a brilliant scientist whose trophy wife (Laurie Holden) is trying to off him, along with her boy toy (a sadly underutilized Rob Riggle). We could delve deeper into the plot, but let’s be real. It’s hardly important and to be fair, it wasn’t in the original either.

Dumb and Dumber To is about seeing Carrey and Daniels back amongst their most iconic roles. The actors reprise their roles with glee and often remind us why we found them so strangely endearing in the first place and in countless cable TV re-airings. They could’ve slept walk through their return and they do anything but.

Some of the gags work well due to them, like Lloyd being blissfully unaware that a highly agitated slobbery dog would rather rip out his larynx than play with him. Yet these moments are too far in between. A good portion of the proceedings here have an air of desperation. Bringing their blind neighbor Billy and creepy trucker Sea Bass back results in only retreading jokes that worked better when Ace of Base were chart toppers.

Our leads give it their all and we as an audience occasionally get rewarded. Not enough though, but this isn’t nearly as bad as it might’ve been. The greatest hits happened in 1994. The new material is often an excuse for that bathroom break in the middle of its countless bathroom jokes.

**1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: November 21-23

There’s only one new game in town at the box office this weekend and it’s a biggie: The Hunger Games, Mockingjay – Part 1, the third installment of the blockbuster franchise. You can find my detailed prediction post on it here:

Mockingjay should have no problem having the biggest opening weekend of 2014 as it only needs to outdo the $100M debut accomplished by Transformers: Age of Extinction. I have it premiering between what 2012’s original ($152M) and its sequel Catching Fire ($158M) started at. The film is also highly likely to become the year’s highest grosser when all is said and done, surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy.

As for holdovers, current #1 Dumb and Dumber To is likely to suffer the largest drop of the group. With its weak B- Cinemascore grade, word of mouth should be tepid and many moviegoers may have anxiously chose to get their Harry and Lloyd fix early. It should find itself in a battle with Interstellar (in weekend #3) for the three spot.

That should allow Disney’s hit Big Hero 6 to remain number two while Beyond the Lights and Gone Girl should fight it out for #5.

And with that – we’ll do a top 6 predictions for this weekend:

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Predicted Gross: $155.8 million

2. Big Hero 6

Predicted Gross: $22.4 million (representing a drop of 35%)

3. Interstellar

Predicted Gross: $16.3 million (representing a drop of 42%)

4. Dumb and Dumber To

Predicted Gross: $16 million (representing a drop of 55%)

5. Beyond the Lights

Predicted Gross: $3.3 million (representing a drop of 47%)

6. Gone Girl

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million (representing a drop of 28%)

Box Office Results (November 14-16)

The classic comedy reunion of Carrey and Daniels proved to be a fruitful one as Dumb and Dumber To opened quite well 20 years after the original. The critically panned sequel made $36.1 million, above my $29.2M projection. As mentioned, audiences don’t appear to like what they’ve seen and it should fall off rather quickly.

In second, Big Hero 6 made $34.6 million in its sophomore frame – a bit under my $38.9M prediction. Disney’s animated hit has hauled in $110M so far.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was third in its second weekend with $28.3 million, right on pace with my $28.9M estimate. It’s taken in $97M at press time.

The romantic musical drama Beyond the Lights had a dim opening with just $6.2 million for fourth place, not coming close to my $11.4M. The pic simply didn’t connect with its intended audience, despite mostly positive reviews and an A Cinemascore grade.

Rounding the top five – David Fincher’s Gone Girl with $4.5 million. My prediction? $4.5M (pat on back)! It’s up to $152M domestically.

And that’s all for now, loyal readers!