Captive State Box Office Prediction

Originally slated to open last summer, the sci-fi alien invasion thriller Captive State touches down in theaters next weekend. Rupert Wyatt, best known for 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, directs. John Goodman (no stranger to extraterrestrial beings as evidenced by 10 Cloverfield Lane) leads a cast that includes Ashton Sanders, Machine Gun Kelly, Alan Ruck, Kiki Layne, and Vera Farmiga.

The Focus Features release seems to be flying far under the radar. Many pics in this sub genre are high-profile releases with massive budgets. This comes with a price tag of only about $25 million. That was probably the catering receipt for War of the Worlds.

That said, I don’t see this recouping its minimal cost during the stateside domestic run. I’ll say this only reaches mid single digits (if it’s lucky) before it lifts off quickly to On Demand status. I’ll say it doesn’t even get there.

Captive State opening weekend prediction: $2.8 million

For my Wonder Park prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/09/wonder-park-box-office-prediction/

For my Five Feet Apart prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/09/five-feet-apart-box-office-prediction/

Oscar History: 2012

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an Oscar History post (about two and a half years) and I’m at 2012. It was a year in which Seth MacFarlane hosted the show – fresh off his comedy smash Ted. Here’s what transpired in the major categories with some other pictures and performers I might have considered:

The year saw nine nominees for Best Picture in which Ben Affleck’s Argo took the top prize. Other nominees: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook (my personal favorite of the year), and Zero Dark Thirty. 

Many Wes Anderson fans would contend that Moonrise Kingdom should have made the cut. And I could certainly argue that The Avengers (perhaps the greatest comic book flick and the year’s biggest grosser) was worth a nod.

The nominations in Best Director were a huge surprise at the time. While Argo won the top prize of all, Affleck was not nominated for his behind the camera efforts. It was the first time since Driving Miss Daisy‘s Bruce Beresford where an Oscar-winning Picture didn’t see its filmmaker nominated.

Instead it was Ang Lee who was victorious for Life of Pi over Michael Haneke (Amour), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

In addition to Affleck, it was surprising that Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) was not included. And I certainly would have put in Tarantino for Django.

The race for Best Actor seemed over when the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln was announced. And that’s exactly how it played out as he won his third Oscar over a strong slate of Bradley Cooper (Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

The exclusion of John Hawkes in The Sessions could have been welcomed, but I’ll admit that’s a solid group.

Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for Silver Linings over Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts), and Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Again, no major qualms here. I did enjoy the work of Helen Mirren in Hitchcock (for which she did get a Golden Globe nod).

Supporting Actor was competitive as Christoph Waltz won his second statue for Django (three years after Inglourious Basterds). He was a bit of a surprise winner over Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Other nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Playbook), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master).

Here’s a year where there’s a lot of others I thought of. Waltz won, but I think the work of Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django was equally impressive. There’s Javier Bardem as one of the greatest Bond villains ever in Skyfall. Or John Goodman’s showy role in Flight. As for some other blockbusters that year, how about Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers or Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike? And my favorite comedic scene of that year was due to Giovanni Ribisi in Ted…

In Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway was a front-runner for Les Miserables and there was no upset. Other nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), and Jacki Weaver (Playbook).

Judi Dench had more heft to her part as M in Skyfall that year and I’ll also give a shout-out to Salma Hayek’s performance in Oliver Stone’s Savages.

And there’s your Oscar history for 2012! I’ll have 2013 up… hopefully in less than two and a half years!

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde is set in 1989 and that feels appropriate because it’s a gleefully rated R entry in an action genre that cranked out a lot more of those 30 years ago. It’s unapologetically violent, sexy, and stylish with a pulsating late 80s soundtrack booming all throughout (almost all throughout). It’s additionally uneven at times and confusing, but I didn’t care much because the good outweighs the bad and the bad people look good doing their thing.

David Leitch co-directed John Wick and we see those kind of kinetic fight scenes represented here as well. Charlize Theron is Lorraine, an MI6 agent dispatched to Berlin just days before the collapse of the Wall. While the Cold War is drawing to a close, she’s given the mission of retrieving a McGuffin (a wristwatch in this case) that hides the identities of secret agents.  She’s also teamed up with Percival (James McAvoy), an outlandish fellow agent who may or may not be on her side. Lorraine also gets friendly (very friendly) with Sofia Boutella’s French agent and the scenes between them aren’t something normally found in summer shoot-em-up material.

The story is told in flashback (not exactly an original touch) as Lorraine recounts her sordid Berlin experience to a CIA man (John Goodman) and other government big wigs. The villains change seemingly minute to minute. It’s a screenplay that never tires of double, triple, and quadruple crosses. Trying to piece it altogether at its conclusion may not be worth your time.

That said, certain sequences and the general cool vibe make it worth your while. It also doesn’t hurt to hear George Michael, A Flock of Seagulls and others singing along during the battle ballets. They’re a trip, but the most effective fight scene is a gloriously choreographed number with no music. It might be the finest action set piece using that distinction since Heat.

Theron has proven herself in several genres, but she sure seems comfortable in this one. McAvoy is having a blast as well. Atomic Blonde is shameless in a way that R rated action pics should be when they’re done well enough. And that alone sets it apart in the summer season.

*** (out of four)

Atomic Blonde Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (07/23): I am revising my estimate down from my original projection to a high teens debut.

Charlize Theron is in her second high-profile action flick of 2017 as Atomic Blonde hits theaters next weekend. The Oscar winner plays an MI6 agent teamed up with James McAvoy. The spy thriller costars John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones and is directed by John Wick‘s David Leitch.

Blonde premiered this spring at the South by Southwest Festival to solid word-of-mouth and reviews have been mostly pleasing as it stands at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Theron appeared in this spring’s The Fate of the Furious and McAvoy is fresh off his blockbuster starring role in Split. 

Shot for a meager $30 million, the pic should have no trouble being a profitable venture for its studio. It could reach close to its budget in the first weekend, though I’ll estimate it falls a bit under that in the mid 20s. That may mean a debut in third place behind The Emoji Movie and the second weekend of Dunkirk, depending on how that opens on Friday.

Atomic Blonde opening weekend prediction: $18.6 million

For my The Emoji Movie prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/07/19/the-emoji-movie-box-office-prediction/

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Some stuff is considerably bigger and louder in the newest iteration of the 84 year-old franchise featuring cinema’s most famous plus sized ape. The sound effects are turned up to a higher volume. Since it’s set in the mid 70s, the fashion is louder. The cast of characters we have to keep track of is more populous and filled with familiar faces. And King Kong, himself, is quite bigger. He’s the size of a building this time around. What’s not larger is the running time and that’s a good thing. It was something that hindered Peter Jackson’s lovingly constructed remake of the 1933 classic in 2005. That version ran three hours plus, which was about an hour too long. Kong: Skull Island gets the running time right (two hours) and it gets other things right, too.

I liked the fact that our title character is truly monstrous in size this time around. I enjoyed that it’s set in the Watergate era right as the Vietnam War is winding down. I appreciated the sense of humor and B movie escapism that this Kong often gleefully exudes. Yet when the credits rolled, I couldn’t shake a feeling that the idea of Kong: Skull Island was cooler than the overall execution.

The pic opens with a prologue during World War II where an American and Japanese fighter pilot crash-land on a deserted island. Confronting one another, they mistakenly believe they must only fight each other for survival. Turns out there’s another inhabitant hanging around and he’s about the size of a building.

Flash forward to 1973. John Goodman is Bill Randa, who works for a government agency called Monarch. He’s seen as a crackpot with wild conspiracy theories and one of them involves Skull Island, a remote South Pacific island. Bill convinces his higher-ups to fund a mission to the location and he takes along a whole crew of military guys. They include Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), who’s looking for any action as the Vietnam War is closing out. There’s also British Captain Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who’s charged with navigating through this unknown jungle terrain. Brie Larson is Mason, an anti-war photojournalist fresh from the war and she’s there to document Skull Island. I could continue listing the supporting players. There are lots of them and few of them are very interesting. This is not a screenplay where the human beings are given preferential treatment.

When the team reaches their destination, they discover they are not alone. Kong is there, of course, but so are the island’s natives and that American WWII fighter pilot who is now John C. Reilly with a beard that rivals what David Letterman looks like now. There’s other creatures, too. “Skullcrawlers”, as Reilly coined them because it sounded cool, are reptile like menaces that are the real villains around these parts. That doesn’t matter to Colonel Packard, however, as he’s determined to wipe out Kong for protecting his territory and destroying some of the Colonel’s men along the way.

While 2005’s overstuffed King Kong attempted to be a five-course meal in the giant ape’s filmography, Skull Island is junk food. It mostly knows it is. Many of the actors involved (some fun overacting by Reilly and Jackson) know it is. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts allows moments where the kitschy 70s vibe provides some smiles (watch that Richard Nixon bobblehead shaking during some helicopter escapades). The special effects are, as expected, state of the art. Having said that, I didn’t really feel the Kong we see here is much more impressive than the 2005 version, even though he’s much more ginormous.

The film may have been more effective had it not introduced so many humans and their threadbare subplots and focused instead on – say – three or four of them. Better yet, the focus could have been on the mutated animals and their battle royales. After all, the point of this picture is to eventually produce a King Kong vs. Godzilla extravaganza. In that sense, the 2014 Godzilla reboot directed by Gareth Edwards was a more satisfying appetizer while Kong is a bit less filling.

**1/2 (out of four)

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day marks the third collaboration between director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg recounting recent tragedies. After Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, their latest continues their work of solidly crafted dramas that fall far short of greatness. Yet there’s enough powerful material to make it recommendation worthy.

The picture recounts the Boston Marathon bombing and its manhunt for the two suspects that carried it out. It was that April 2013 day that marked the largest domestic terror attack since 9/11. Wahlberg is police sergeant Tommy Saunders, who’s on duty near the blast sites at the finish line. He’s witness to the horrific loss of lives and limbs and determined to see the attackers brought to justice.

Berg’s film tells not only the tale of law enforcement response, but also shows us the Tsarnaev brothers as they attempt to flee to enact more destruction in New York City. Older brother Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) is the mastermind while younger brother Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) is portrayed as a more Westernized stoner college kid who still believes strongly in their cause. It is in the time spent with them that provide a number of chilling moments, including their abduction of a college student as their make their escape. An interrogation scene with Tamerlan’s wife is also a dramatic highlight.

Patriots Day does a commendable job of showing many of the parties whose lives became intertwined by the day’s events. This includes some of the bombing victims as well as individuals calling the shots. John Goodman portrays city police commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon is the FBI special agent in charge, and J.K. Simmons is a sergeant in the suburb of Watertown where the manhunt culminates. They are all real life characters while Wahlberg’s is not. The lead actor is solid enough in the part, even though the pic may have more effective if the screenwriters had just stuck to the actual players.

Those with decent knowledge of these events may feel a lack of suspense, especially as we build toward the conclusion. The prologue spends some time with people the actors are playing and it made me ready to watch a documentary about their lives since. Overall, it’s worth the time to see this version which sticks mostly to the facts and reminds us of a city’s strength that gave way to an earned slogan.

*** (out of four)

 

Kong: Skull Island Box Office Prediction

The most famous ape in movie history in back on screen for the first time in over a decade when Kong: Skull Island debuts next weekend. With a reported $190 million budget, Warner Bros. is hoping to keep their monster franchise reaping big grosses as they move toward a planned Godzilla/Kong pic.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts directs and he’s certainly an interesting choice as his only feature was the low-budget indie The Kings of Summer in 2013. The director may not be high-profile, but the cast is. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell headline. Even with those recognizable names, the real star is that giant CG creature that first graced the screen almost 85 years ago.

Kong is not expected to match the earnings of the Godzilla reboot three years ago. It had a plum summer release date and made over $90 million out of the gate. Competition from the second weekend of the acclaimed Logan could also hinder this a bit.

I expect this will hover right above or below $50 million and word of mouth will determine how it goes from there.

Kong: Skull Island opening weekend prediction: $48.6 million