Zombieland: Double Tap Box Office Prediction

The quartet of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin return after a decade to fight the undead in Zombieland: Double Tap next weekend. The comedic sequel find Ruben Fleischer back directing and Bill Murray back playing himself. Newcomers in part 2 include Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, and Murray’s Ghostbusters costar Dan Aykroyd.

In October 2009, Zombieland helped usher in a resurgence for the living dead. With solid reviews, the pic took in $24.7 million for its start and closed at $75 million. The band is back together after all these years and the original’s reputation has stayed intact in the interim.

In 2019, we have seen numerous examples of sequels falling short of what came before. Double Tap could be immune from that, but I don’t see it outgrossing part 1 by any substantial margin. My hunch is that this comes in barely under the debut posted in 2009 as enough moviegoers will want to catch up with this gang.

Zombieland: Double Tap opening weekend prediction: $23.7 million

For my Maleficent: Mistress of Evil prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/08/maleficent-mistress-of-evil-box-office-prediction/

Justice League Movie Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a bit of a mess and it earned its reputation as such in many ways. However, I found myself seemingly in the minority of those who sort of dug it. Where it failed – it failed significantly. That includes the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor with his manic and bizarre take on the iconic villain. There were some narrative choices that were questionable. Yet when BvS worked, I felt it worked well and that included Ben Affleck succeeding as Batman.

Justice League is less cluttered. Zack Snyder, directing this DC Universe for the third time, captains a tighter ship with a shorter running time than what’s preceded it… and nearly all recent comic book adaptations for that matter. It is, of course, Warner Bros venture into Avengers territory. There’s a somewhat lighter tone that we first saw in the summer’s Wonder Woman stand-alone feature. The inclusion of The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) contribute to that. So does the fact that the unusually somber Superman (Henry Cavill) who brooded through much of Man of Steel and BvS is absent much of the time.

As you’ll recall, Superman was dead and buried at the BvS conclusion. Justice League opens with the world missing him and crime on the rise. Batman is doing his level best, but he needs a squad. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still dealing with the loss she experienced in her own movie, but she’s game to help. They recruit the newbies only glimpsed upon in BvS: The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). It is their mission to thwart the Earth dominating plans of Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), a motion capture evil alien. The League incorporates their powers to do so, but they know they must resurrect the Big S to complete the task.

The Avengers had the advantage of having introduced several of its core characters in separate entries. That doesn’t hold true here for half of the Justice League. Miller provides some decent comic relief, Momoa has a memorable moment or two and Fisher’s backstory is a bit blah. Their inclusion feels a little rushed and a little watered down.

Curiously the villain issue of BvS, while highly disappointing, was at least fascinating to witness in a rather bad way. Here the character of Steppenwolf isn’t really interesting at all. Many of these comic book adaptations have suffered the most from bland baddies and this is another.

League finds time to bring back Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and Clark’s mama (Diane Lane) in limited fashion. J.K. Simmons turns up briefly as the previously MIA Commissioner Gordon. It is Gadot who shines brightest, which is no surprise considering her rock solid solo spotlight just months prior.

In essence, Justice League feels ordinary too often. It’s got the same flaws as others in the genre. It has the same bright spots with certain performances. There’s action sequences that impress and others with dodgier CG. Call me crazy, but I admired BvS often for its occasional audacity and untidiness. With Justice, it joins a league of plenty others like it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Now You See Me 2 Box Office Prediction

Three summers ago, the magic caper Now You See Me came out of nowhere with a $29 million opening and eventual $117M domestic gross. This was probably never looked at by Summit Entertainment as a potential franchise, but those numbers mean sequel and Now You See Me 2 is out next weekend. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Alfred (Michael Caine), and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) are all back, as are Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco. Lizzy Caplan and Harry Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe) join the party. Jon M. Chu, whose varied credits include Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, takes over directorial duties from Louis Leterrier.

Unlike 2013, NYSM2 comes with expectations and also with stiff competition. Another sequel to a summer 2013 hit, The Conjuring 2, should have the leg up for opening weekend earnings and there’s also the high-profile Warcraft competing for eyeballs.

While I have the Conjuring follow-up slightly outdoing its predecessor out of the gate, I’ll predict this sequel comes in a bit under what the original accomplished for what will still be a pretty decent debut.

Now You See Me 2 opening weekend prediction: $24.1 million

For my The Conjuring 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/01/the-conjuring-2-box-office-prediction/

For my Warcraft prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/01/warcraft-box-office-prediction/

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review

Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is indeed Warner Bros answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – a realization that more is more when it comes to bringing their stable of DC’s most famous superheroes to the same screen. Where Disney’s Avengers are often considerably lighter in tone, these caped crusaders bring the bleakness to their proceedings. The template set forth by Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Snyder’s Man of Steel is present here with the additional responsibility to begin the forthcoming Justice League series. At two and a half hours, BvS does feel overstuffed from time to time. There are elements that just don’t work, but I came away believing its merits outweighed its flaws. More is more, from the Nigel Tufnel approved decibel level of its score and sound effects to a variety of subplots fighting against one another for a cohesive whole. It shouldn’t work as well as it does and that’s a compliment to the director and the actors (most of them at least).

The film picks up 18 months after Man of Steel, when Henry Cavill’s Supes defeated General Zod (Michael Shannon), who appears in a lifeless performance and I don’t mean that negatively. That throwdown with Zod and the casualties that resulted has caused some in the public and some in the government to question Superman’s role in society. This includes a Kentucky senator (Holly Hunter) who’s opened hearings into it. She is not, however, his most important detractor. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) is. Gotham City’s morose bachelor doesn’t believe Kal-El stands for Truth or Justice or the American Way. It leads to a royal rumble between them that marks the inaugural time we’ve seen these giants in tights together.

Due to the aforementioned Justice League features coming soon to a megaplex near you, we also are introduced to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and briefly to some others. Gadot shines enough in her limited role to make us curious for her stand alone pic. Then there’s Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who serves as our main antagonist. Eisenberg, who’s shined himself in certain roles, doesn’t here. His overacting and strange mannerisms (along with some doozies of dialogue) make him the weakest link here. Other supporting players from Man of Steel are back, including Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Diane Lane as Clark’s beloved mama. Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is back as well and she’s grown better into her part the second time around. Jeremy Irons debuts as Batman butler Alfred. He doesn’t get much screen time and certainly won’t make you forget Michael Caine.

Henry Cavill continues his serviceable service as Superman. The best surprise is Affleck, who entered the unenviable position of following Christian Bale. He does a fine job as the beleaguered Wayne wrestling with his own demons (his parents murder is shown… again) and his distrust of the God like hero from Metropolis. I’m happy to report Affleck looks good in the Bat Suit and the screenplay even explains that lower register voice when he dons it.

BvS has a LOT of ground to cover between its action set pieces. The danger for this to feel fragmented and unfocused occasionally manifests itself, but it feels more united than it really has any right to. The main villain is a disappointment. Some of the special effects look suspect. Most look fantastic. Here we have a grim comic book tale that generally accomplishes its mission of being fairly decent dark entertainment. It also appears primed to achieve its studio’s mission statement: the birth of a franchise and keeping these icons flying on.

*** (out of four)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Box Office Prediction

Technically it may be a follow up to 2013’s Man of Steel, but next weekend’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is considerably more than that. This is Warner Bros kick off to a slew of Justice League and stand alone comic book adaptations that unloads the top characters in the DC Universe arsenal. It is the first pairing of the two most iconic superheroes on Earth, with Henry Cavill reprising his role as Supes and Ben Affleck becoming the fifth high profile actor over the last quarter century plus to don the Bat Suit (excluding Will Arnett’s voice over work in The LEGO Movie). Zack Snyder, who made Steel, returns to direct with that predecessor’s performers Amy Adams, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne back. Jesse Eisenberg makes his debut as Lex Luthor (with hair!), Jeremy Irons is butler Alfred, and Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, soon to be in her own pic. Same goes for Jason Momoa as Aquaman, in addition to other cameos.

To say a lot is riding on Justice is quite an understatement. Its reported budget is at least $250 million and it’s had a vigorous marketing campaign that has lasted for months. The success of its future franchise entries are likely to be directly tied to its performance. Early speculation on its opening weekend possibilities are varied. While trailer reaction to February’s Deadpool and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War has been quite strong, there’s been a decidedly more mixed reception here. Some feel this might not reached the $132 million reached by Deadpool, which would be considered pretty disappointing. On the other hand, pre-release tracking is strong and outpacing both the Ryan Reynolds dirty superhero tale and Furious 7, which made $147 million out of the gate. This should, at the least, achieve becoming the highest Superman opening, topping Steel’s $116 million. It has a quite realistic shot at best March premiere if it manages to fly past the $152 million achieved by 2012’s The Hunger Games.

So where do I come out here? This is a tough call. I don’t see this making less than $125 million. I’m also skeptical that a gross matching or opening higher than, say, last year’s Avengers sequel at $191 million is a stretch (though you never know). My feeling is that this might open in range with the last two Dark Knight entries, which opened to $158 and $160 million, respectively. If it tops that, that would give it the distinction of largest start for a Bat flick. I’ll predict it comes just beyond those numbers.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opening weekend prediction: $166.4 million

For my My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 prediction, click here:

Oscar History: 2010

In my ongoing series of Oscar History posts, we arrive at what happened during the year 2010. This was quite a strong year for movies and, unlike other years, I can’t really quibble with the ten pictures that were nominated.

I can, however, differ with what won: Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech. While this was a very solid and entertaining picture, I would have definitely put at least three of the other nominees above it: Black Swan, Inception, and my favorite of the year, The Social Network. Other nominees were 127 Hours, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone. 

Picture/Director matched up as Tom Hooper’s work in King’s Speech would win over Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), David Fincher (The Social Network), and David O. Russell (The Fighter). I may have found a spot for Christopher Nolan’s visually striking work in Inception. 

The love for The King’s Speech continued in Best Actor as Colin Firth was honored for his portrayal as King George VI. He triumphed over Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), and James Franco (127 Hours). It’s worth noting that Franco co-hosted the Oscars that year with Anne Hathaway. It wasn’t too memorable.

While his supporting players were showered with love, Mark Wahlberg was snubbed for his anchoring performance in The Fighter. Others worthy of mention: Leonardo DiCaprio in either Inception or Shutter Island and Robert Duvall for Get Low.

Natalie Portman was a bit of a no-brainer pick for her tour de force work in Black Swan in the Actress race, beating out Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).

I was a little surprised to see Bening’s Kids lead costar Julianne Moore left out. Franco’s co-host Anne Hathaway would’ve been a solid choice for her fine work in Love and Other Drugs. The Oscar voters rarely honor comedy, but they could have here with Emma Stone in her hit Easy A, as well.

Supporting Actor honored Christian Bale as Mark Wahlberg’s drug addicted brother in The Fighter. The other nominees were John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech).

I might have found room for either Andrew Garfield or Justin Timberlake in The Social Network. And keeping the snubbed comedy theme going, here’s an outside the box mention: Rob Corddry for his hilarious work in Hot Tub Time Machine.

The Fighter also won in Supporting Actress with Melissa Leo, who edged out her co-star Amy Adams. The other nominees: Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom. The voters could have certainly nominated either Mila Kunis or Barbara Hershey for their roles in Black Swan.

And that’s your Oscar History of 2010, my friends. We’ll get to 2011 soon…

American Ultra Box Office Prediction

A lot has happened in the film careers of Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart since they starred in 2009’s Adventureland. Eisenberg earned an Oscar nod for The Social Network, starred in 2013’s summer sleeper hit Now You See Me, and got himself cast as Lex Luthor in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Stewart furthered her star status with more Twilight pics and Snow White and the Huntsman. Now the pair reunite for American Ultra, an action comedy out next Friday. I am highly skeptical this movie will be among their big earners.

Ultra has a supporting cast that includes Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, Bill Pullman, and Tony Hale. The pic seems to be flying a bit under the radar. Solid reviews could assist yet I wonder whether this manages to even post double digits in its opening. Ultra should have no trouble topping the $5.7 million debut of Adventureland (at least I think), but I will project it falls just under $10 million and likely fades fast.

American Ultra opening weekend prediction: $9.8 million

For my Sinister 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/08/13/sinister-2-box-office-prediction/

For my Hitman: Agent 47 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/08/13/hitman-agent-47-box-office-prediction/