Alita: Battle Angel Box Office Prediction

Based on a popular Japanese graphic novel, the sci-fi action spectacle Alita: Battle Angel is finally ready for release next Thursday. Robert Rodriguez serves as director with a screenplay from another well-known auteur by the name of James Cameron (as well as Laeta Kalogridis). Rosa Salazar provides the voice and motion capture work for the title character and other cast members include Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, and Jackie Earle Haley.

Alita was originally slated for release last summer before being pushed back to December. The folks at 20th Century Fox moved it from that crowded marketplace to Valentine’s Day. However, other movies should still be a factor. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will likely top the charts in its second frame while horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U opens and provides some direct audience competition.

The reported budget here is rumored to be possibly $200 million. The visuals have been praised while the film itself has had a mixed critical reaction (57% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). Alita is tracking to be a disappointment stateside considering the price tag and I agree with that assessment. I’ll say it manages high teens to low 20s for the traditional Friday to Monday portion of the Presidents Day frame, which should mean mid 20s when factoring in the Thursday gross.

Alita: Battle Angel opening weekend prediction: $19.7 million (Friday to Monday); $24.8 million (Thursday to Monday)

For my Happy Death Day 2U prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/06/happy-death-day-2u-box-office-prediction/

For my Isn’t It Romantic prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/07/isnt-it-romantic-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch – Alita: Battle Angel

James Cameron is no stranger to Oscar attention with Titanic winning Best Picture 21 years ago and Avatar picking up a slew of nominations in 2009. In two weeks, he serves as co-writer for Alita: Battle Angel along with Laeta Kologridis. It’s directed by Robert Rodriguez. The pic is based on a well-known series of cyberpunk graphic novels from Japan. Rosa Salazar voices the title character and provides motion capture work for her movements in this mix of live and CG action.

Reviews are out and they’re skewing negative, along with some positive here and there. The Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 44%. A lot of the critics are particularly picking apart the screenplay and that’s not an uncommon knock on Cameron’s writing.

Alita comes with a reported budget upwards of $200 million and it’s being seen as a potential costly flop stateside (foreign grosses could be a different story). While this clearly won’t contend for major categories in awards season, the state of the art visuals have been praised. And it’s worth noting that Cameron’s directorial efforts Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Titanic, and Avatar all won Best Visual Effects at the Oscars.

That said, there’s plenty of eye-popping blockbuster feasts on the schedule in 2019 (Avengers: Endgame and the next Star Wars included). With the possibility of negative buzz enveloping it, this may not even be a slam dunk in that category. In that sense, it could be similar to 2017’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which also had poor word-of-mouth and missed out in its most obvious slot for recognition. If this manages a nod, the two Sound races are possible as well.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Best Supporting Actress: A Look Back

Today begins a new blog series where I’m looking back at five of the major Oscar categories from 1990 to the present: the four acting races and Best Picture. This is essentially the time period where I’ve closely watched and analyzed. My charge? Picking the three largest upsets in each said category and the three least surprising winners… a film or performer where it truly would have been a shock if they didn’t emerge victorious.

We begin with Best Supporting Actress and this is one in which there have been some genuine upsets over the past quarter century plus. Unlike some other races we’ll get to later, it was not a challenge to pick three unexpected winners.

The other agenda item here is I’m picking my personal selections for strongest and weakest overall field among the five nominees in the acting derby’s and five-ten for Best Picture.

For starters, here’s the list of women that won gold statues in the supporting race from 1990 to now:

1990 – Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

1991 – Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

1992 – Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

1993 – Anna Paquin, The Piano

1994 – Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

1995 – Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

1996 – Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

1997 – Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

1998 – Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

1999 – Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

2000 – Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

2001 – Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

2002 – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

2003 – Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain

2004 – Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

2005 – Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardner

2006 – Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

2007 – Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

2008 – Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona

2009 – Mo’Nique, Precious

2010 – Melissa Leo, The Fighter

2011 – Octavia Spencer, The Help

2012 – Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

2013 – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2014 – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

2015 – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

2016 – Viola Davis, Fences

2017 – Allison Janney, I, Tonya

I’ll begin with the least surprising winners. Truthfully, there are plenty of selections (and will be in each race) to pick from here. It’s normal procedure for the front runner to actually win. Here’s three that did just that:

3. Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

Of the 28 recipients to choose from, note that 3 of them were under the direction of Woody Allen. None were surprise winners. That’s most evident with Wiest’s showcase work as an aging diva here. Her win here came just eight years following her Oscar winning role in another Allen pic, Hannah and Her Sisters.

2. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Fans of the Broadway play this is based upon knew Ms. Hudson could have a legitimate breakthrough part here. She nailed it and her win was never in much doubt.

1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Similar to Hudson’s victory, Hathaway’s casting as Fantine and her “I Dreamed a Dream” dramatic solo made her the odds-on favorite from the moment the project was announced. That never changed.

Now we get to the upsets and there were four to choose from. I could easily include Anna Paquin in The Piano, who became the second youngest winner when she beat out favorite Winona Ryder for The Age of Innocence. Here’s 3 I rank as even more surprising:

3. Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

Harden had won no significant precursors and Kate Hudson was expected to have her name called for Almost Famous. She wasn’t even nominated for a Golden Globe or SAG.

2. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

While the film itself was the anticipated winner for Picture (which it did), the Oscars were expected to select the legendary Lauren Bacall for her work in Barbra Streisand’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. Yet it was Binoche’s performance that was unexpectedly honored.

1. Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

For starters, comedic roles are rarely nominated and wins are even more unheard of. Tomei was a newcomer in a picture that wasn’t a factor in any other category. Her competition was a list of venerable actresses: Judy Davis (Husbands and Wives), Joan Plowright (Enchanted April), Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), and Miranda Richardson (Damages). The victory here was so shocking that conspiracy theories emerged that presenter Jack Palance had accidentally read the wrong name. That’s been debunked, but Tomei’s trip to the stage remains one of Oscar’s largest jaw droppers.

As for the fields, I’m going with 1991 for the weakest link in the chain. I probably would have given the award to Juliette Lewis in Cape Fear. However, the group was not particularly strong:

Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King (Winner)

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes

For the strongest field overall, I went with 2004 when Cate Blanchett won for her portrayal of Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. The other nominees:

Laura Linney, Kinsey

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer

And there you have it! I’ll have Supporting Actor up soon…

Only the Brave Box Office Prediction

Only the Brave opens next weekend and it stands the best shot at being the second highest grosser of the five newbies hitting screens after Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. Joseph Kosinski, director of Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, is behind the lens for this true-life action/drama focused on a crew taking on devastating wildfires. Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, Jennifer Connelly, and Andie MacDowell are among the cast.

There will some competition for adults and action fans with premieres like The Snowman and Geostorm. However, Brave could have a minor leg up with its solid reviews and the unfortunate timeliness of its storyline.

I’ll say a debut at $10 million is probable.

Only the Brave opening weekend prediction: $10 million

For my Boo 2! A Madea Halloween prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/11/boo-2-a-madea-halloween-box-office-prediction/

For my Geostorm prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/12/geostorm-box-office-prediction/

For my The Snowman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/12/the-snowman-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: American Pastoral

The Toronto Film Festival, arriving just days after Venice and Telluride, will continue to shape this year’s Oscar race. Entries of past years have gone onto see numerous nominations. Just last year, half of the eventual Best Picture nominees played up north including the winner Spotlight. And there were a number of films that featured acting nominees.

My Oscar Watch coverage of Toronto begins with American Pastoral, Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut based on Philip Roth’s crime drama novel. It’s been on the radar screen of awards prognosticators for some time. McGregor also stars alongside previous winner Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning.

In my first edition of weekly Academy predictions on Thursday, I listed Pastoral at #9 in the Picture race. The buzz coming from Toronto based on its screenings has changed that dynamic and not for the better. The pic received a number of mediocre reviews and it looks now as if Pastoral will be on the outside looking in for Oscar recognition. Its actors, too, are unlikely to find themselves in contention.

I’ll have the Oscar Watch posts continuing throughout the day… And throughout the festival.

Noah Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah combines the work of a truly talented filmmaker with one of the more well-known tales in Biblical history. It’s an audacious undertaking by both the director and the studio who were willing to budget it at a reported $125 million. For fans of Aronofsky, it is impossible to imagine him going the safe route with this story and he doesn’t. From Pi to Requiem for a Dream to The Fountain to The Wrestler to Black Swan, the auteur has given us challenging and rewarding pictures consistently. Those same adjectives apply in this case, even if the film ultimately drowns under the weight of its aspirations and own flat-out weirdness.

Russell Crowe gives a sturdy performance as the title character, who receives a message from The Creator to take his wife and children on an ark along with duos of the Earth’s creatures. He believes that God has sent word to punish all other humans for their sins. Noah soon becomes convinced that all mankind, including himself and his family and even his unborn grandchildren, must perish too. This creates eventual dissention with his loved ones, especially his son Ham (Logan Lerman) and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson). Even his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly, once again playing spouse to a strong-willed Crowe character) comes to doubt him.

Further complicating matters is tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone), who leads his followers on a revolt to take the ark themselves. They certainly do not share Noah’s vision of the future and do all they can to disrupt it. Noah receives protection from The Watchers, who are a strange-looking monstrous group of stone creatures. More assistance is provided by Noah’s grandfather played by Anthony Hopkins in some serious old age makeup.

Noah the movie is primarily focused on the inner conflict that Noah the man feels with his God-given vision. Yet along with it comes some battle scenes that could have fit with a Lord of the Rings pic and lots of digital animals that look – well, extremely digital. The effect on the viewer is a bit discombobulating. Biblical purists looking for a straightforward retelling from the Book of Genesis best look elsewhere – like the source material. Moviegoers wishing for something like a Tolkien-esque experience only get it in glimpses.

The picture is undoubtedly the work of a true artist whose very idea to make this is pretty bold. Not as bold, however, as what he’s pulled off before with more satisfactory and deeper results. Noah will surely hold your interest with its often bizarre mix of fight scenes, family drama, sometimes mediocre CGI, dream sequences, creation montages, and supreme British acting. For this gifted director, though, a massive budget and familiar story don’t equal anything close to his finest work.

**1/2 (out of four)

Noah Box Office Prediction

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah sails into theaters next weekend with some big question marks as to how it will perform stateside. It’s gotten off to a solid start internationally, but its faithfulness/unfaithfulness to the Biblical source material has received plenty of ink.

Russell Crowe stars as the title character with a supporting cast featuring his Beautiful Mind costar Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins. My estimate would put Noah in the #1 spot and I believe it will capture a good portion of the Christian audience who will be curious to watch. Whether they like how Black Swan director Aronofsky interprets the material is something that’ll be answered soon enough. If Son of God, which was basically a shortened version of an already aired miniseries, could debut at $25 million in February – Noah should surpass that and then some.

Noah opening weekend prediction: $39.7 million

For my Sabotage prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/03/23/sabotage-box-office-prediction/