August 5-7 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (08/03): My projection for Easter Sunday has taken a downward turn. Instead of $8.2M, I’m now only projecting $5.6M and that puts it outside of the top five – with Minions: The Rise of Gru now getting the 5 spot.

Brad Pitt looks to conduct Bullet Train to a sizeable debut while the Jo Koy comedy Easter Sunday looks be a sleeper hit. They are the newbies as August dawns at the box office. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Bullet Train Box Office Prediction

Easter Sunday Box Office Prediction

There’s no question that Train (from John Wick maker David Leitch) will hit #1. It’s all about by how much. Some estimates have this in the $40 million range, but I’m skeptical. In the last couple of weekends, both Nope and DC League of Super-Pets have come in under expectations (more on those developments below).

While Pitt certainly has star power, I feel like buzz needs to pick up and fast for this to reach $40 million. Perhaps my projections will rise before Thursday evening. For now, I have Bullet a shade under $30 million.

As for current champ Super-Pets, a dip in the mid to high 30s seems likely and that should place it firmly as the runner-up.

The truly interesting competition could be for the #3 slot. Easter Sunday could surprise and vastly overperform and end up #2. Or it could be outside of the top five with below $8 million. I’m putting at $8.2 million in its basket and here’s where it could be awfully close. If Nope has another plummet close to 60% and Thor: Love and Thunder sees a mid to high 30s drop, the grosses for the trio could be separated by basically nothing.

That’s what I’m thinking will occur and here’s how I think the top 5 ends up looking:

1. Bullet Train

Predicted Gross: $29.7 million

2. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $13.6 million

3. Thor: Love and Thunder

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

4. Nope 

Predicted Gross: $8.1 million

5. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

Box Office Results (July 29-31) 

The Warner Animation Group won’t be barking loudly about the earnings of DC League of Super-Pets as it came in the very low end of its range. With a muted $23 million, the animated superhero canine teaming of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson is a disappointment (coming in well under my $33.6 million prediction). The only silver lining could be lack of competition for the month. That could mean meager declines until the bulk of kiddos go back to school.

Nope, as anticipated with its lackluster B Cinemascore grade, cratered in its sophomore frame with $18.5 million (a smidge ahead of my $17.5 million projection). Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror tale is up to $80 million, though it will come in well under his predecessors Get Out and Us. 

Thor: Love and Thunder was third with $13.1 million, besting my take of $11.4 million. The MCU four-quel has hammered home $301 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru took fourth at $10.9 million (I said $10.3 million) to brings it haul to $320 million.

Top Gun: Maverick rounded out the top five at $8.4 million, right on target with my $8.3 million guesstimate. The airborne phenomenon achieved another milestone at $650 million. It will soon become the 7th largest domestic earner in history when it vaults over Titanic ($659 million) and Jurassic World ($652 million).

Finally, When the Crawdads Sing held up solidly in weekend #3 with $7.5 million (I went with $6.9 million). The mystery based on a bestseller is past the half century mark with $53 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Bullet Train Box Office Prediction

Sony Pictures is hoping moviegoers catch the Bullet Train when it debuts August 5th. The action comedy comes from John Wick maker David Leitch with Brad Pitt headlining as an assassin. The supporting cast includes Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Zazie Beetz, Logan Lerman, Bad Bunny, and Pitt’s recent The Lost City costar Sandra Bullock (in a role first slated for Lady Gaga).

The Japan set stunt fest is hoping to turn out an adult audience ready for original programming in a summer filled mostly with plenty of sequels and superheroes.

Since starting a franchise with Wick in 2014, Leitch followed up with Atomic Blonde. It was a box office disappointment that debuted with just over $18 million. Train should have no trouble getting past that number. However, it won’t reach the earnings of his last two pictures which were built-in franchise entries: Deadpool 2 and Fast and Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw. 

Nope was able to reach mid 40s and it had the advantage of Jordan Peele’s brand. This will rely mostly on Pitt’s star power. I’m curious to see how word-of-mouth is in the coming days and that could increase or decrease my projection. My hunch is that mid 2os is the floor and low 40s could be the ceiling. I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes toward the lower end of that spectrum, and I’ll say high 20s to low 30s is where this lands.

Bullet Train opening weekend prediction: $29.7 million

For my Easter Sunday prediction, click here:

Easter Sunday Box Office Prediction

July 29-31 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (07/27): I am revising my Super-Pets estimate down considerably- from $42.6M to $33.6M

DC League of Super-Pets should have no trouble hitting the top spot as July closes out at the box office. It’s the only wide new offering coming to multiplexes and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

DC League of Super-Pets Box Office Prediction

My low to mid 40s projection puts the animated comedic adventure reuniting Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson in the same range with where Jordan Peele’s Nope premiered this past weekend.

There’s more on that Nope debut below, but it could be headed for a sophomore fall in the mid to upper 50s. Considering its weak B Cinemascore grade, it’s not out of the question that it could plummet even farther. We could see a close race for the #3 position between Thor: Love and Thunder and Minions: The Rise of Gru, depending on how far each title drops. The former is likely to see a larger decline. However, Super-Pets being out could cause Gru to have a heftier dip than its meager mid 30s decline last weekend. Top Gun: Maverick could hold the #5 slot with Where the Crawdads Sing falling to sixth place.

Here’s how I see that top 6 playing out:

1. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $33.6 million

2. Nope

Predicted Gross: $17.5 million

3. Thor: Love and Thunder

Predicted Gross: $11.4 million

4. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million

5. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

6. Where the Crawdads Sing 

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

Box Office Results (July 22-24) 

As mentioned previously, Nope started out on the lower end of expectations with $44.3 million. That’s under my call of $53.2 million and there were estimates that it would surpass my projection. While the sci-fi horror pic may end up turning a profit, Peele’s third outing opened nearly $30 million below his predecessor Us (which benefited by being the auteur’s follow-up to the unexpected smash Get Out). Word-of-mouth is not strong and that’s why you see me projecting a nearly 60% sophomore drop above.

Thor: Love and Thunder was runner-up after two weeks in first. Its $22.5 million gross is right on target with my take of $22.4 million as the MCU fourquel has hammered home $276 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru took third with $18 million (I was close with $17 million) for a four-week tally of $298 million.

Where the Crawdads Sing had a solid hold in weekend #2 with $10.3 million, just ahead of my $9.5 million prediction. The ten-day earnings are $38 million.

Top Gun: Maverick was in the five spot with $10.2 million (I said $9.8 million). The overall $635 million haul is now 9th all-time as it just flew ahead of 2012’s The Avengers.

And that does it for now! Until next time…

Nope Review

***While this review doesn’t really spoil any major plot details that don’t take place within the first 10 minutes or so, you may want to wait until post viewing if you wish to go in completely clean***

In Jordan Peele’s Nope, it’s easier for the central characters to monetize a tragedy rather than deal with it. That’s one theme of many in the filmmaker’s third feature which blends more sci-fi with its horror than Get Out or Us. Another theme is that some creatures simply can’t be tamed. Peele too is in kitchen sink mode – willing to throw lots of ideas at the screen and see what sticks. This allows for some incredible sequences and the technical aspects are the most impressive of his filmography (particularly the sound work). I’d also, at least for now, rank it behind those aforementioned pictures. That’s with a caveat as both Get Out and Us grew in my estimation on rewatches.

There’s alien activities happening beyond one character being a tech support worker who actually provides meaningful tech support. OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) helps his father (Keith David) run a ranch that provides horses for Hollywood productions. The patriarch meets a sudden end when a coin falls from the sky and makes deadly impact. Six months later, OJ’s spirited little sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) is helping her brother with the now struggling family business. The siblings soon discover items of an unidentified nature are hovering in the expansive California stratosphere.

They eventually enlist aforementioned electronics clerk Angel (Brandon Perea) and well-known cinematographer and wonderfully named Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) to capture the UFOs. Not in the sense of capturing or killing, but capturing footage for the world to see.  The motive seems less about revenge for what killed Dad and more about getting something on camera that will bring fame and fortune. Or, as Emerald describes it, the Oprah shot. YOU get the definitive proof of aliens! And YOU get the definitive proof of aliens!! 

Not far from the ranch is a Western theme park (a triumph of production design) run by former child star Jupe Park (Steven Yeun). An incident from his second sitcom Gordy’s Home in the late 1990s about a domesticated monkey gives us a creepy prologue and a later sequence that is terrifying. Does it fit with the rest of Nope? One could argue it doesn’t. Yet Jupe’s unwillingness to deal with what occurred is similar to OJ and Emerald’s own actions.

This is a gorgeous looking movie made for IMAX. Nope excels at presenting a wholly unique setting in a great wide open space. It may only be a few miles from Hollywood and it may be steeped in niche Hollywood history, but it feels much farther away. Kaluuya and Palmer both give first-rate performances as brother and sister of far different demeanors. I would describe the characters as less compelling than some from Peele’s previous works.

Whether from a simian scare or otherworldly interventions, there are thrilling moments in Nope. There’s also stretches where the electricity goes out and not just literally. Unpacking various concepts presented may be enriched on subsequent viewings. On first watch, I found myself often wowed by the behind the camera beauty of it all if not always by the plot mechanisms.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Nope

Five years ago, Jordan Peele’s horror debut Get Out was a critical and commercial phenomenon that won the auteur an Oscar for Original Screenplay. It also nabbed nominations for Picture, Director, and Actor (Daniel Kaluuya). Two years later, Us drew a more mixed reaction (though similar box office numbers) and garnered no attention from the Academy This was despite Lupita Nyong’o getting Critics Choice and SAG nods.

On Friday, Peele’s third feature Nope unveils itself and the review embargo is up. Many critics are saying yep to seeing it with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 81%. Yet that’s under the 98% bestowed upon Get Out and Us‘s 93%.

A consistent theme in various write-ups is that Nope has the weakest screenplay of the trilogy, but the best technical aspects. You’ll note that all of Get Out‘s nominations were above the line mentions. Nope, if anything, could see the opposite. Best Sound appears to be a real possibility with Cinematography, Production Design and Visual Effects standing more remote chances.

Finally, there’s Keke Palmer. She’s said to be the standout in a cast that includes Kaluuya, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott, and Brandon Perea. However, if Nyong’o couldn’t get recognized for her participation in Peele’s sophomore effort, it’s hard to imagine Palmer breaking through for this. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

July 22-24 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (07/21): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my Nope prediction slightly from $49.2M to $53.2M

Jordan Peele’s Nope should make it a hat trick for the director’s titles opening at #1. The only newcomer arriving in multiplexes this weekend, you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Nope Box Office Prediction

Most estimates have the supernatural horror tale debuting between $40-60 million. I’m putting it right in the middle of that range, but reserving the right to revise when the buzz and reviews materialize throughout the week. If anything, I could see it moving up.

As for holdovers, Thor: Love and Thunder should drop to second after two weeks. The MCU fourquel experienced a significant tumble in its sophomore frame (more on that below). It should stabilize some in its third outing with a drop in the late 40s to low 50s.

Minions: The Rise of Gru is likely to fall one slot to third while the 4-5 could be interesting. It’s all about the second weekend percentage dip for Where the Crawdads Sing, which had a solid start. I’m projecting mid 40s and that could allow Top Gun: Maverick to narrowly remain in fourth if it only sees a 20% or lower decrease.

Here’s how I see the top five shaking out:

1. Nope

Predicted Gross: $53.2 million

2. Thor: Love and Thunder

Predicted Gross: $22.4 million

3. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $17 million

4. Top Gun: Maverick 

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million

5. Where the Crawdads Sing

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million

Box Office Results (July 15-17) 

As anticipated, Thor: Love and Thunder remained atop the charts for a second frame. It was hammered a bit with a precipitous sophomore drop. Grossing $46.6 million (under my $50.2 million estimate), that’s a 68% decline and that’s a touch more than the 67% of MCU predecessor Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The ten-day earnings are $233 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru was runner-up with $26.8 million, rising above my $23.1 million prediction. It’s up to an impressive $263 million with north of $300 million easily in its sights and then some.

Where the Crawdads Sing, based on a huge bestseller, satisfied an older and female crowd with $17.2 million out of the gate. While falling shy of my $18.7 million projection, it’s still a commendable start.

Top Gun: Maverick was fourth with $12.2 million (I said $10.9 million) as the phenomenon has reached $618 million in eight weeks.

Elvis was fifth and I incorrectly had it outside of the top five. The biopic added $8 million to its coffers as it passed the century mark with $106 million.

The animated Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hawk couldn’t find its family audience. Placing sixth with a piddly $6.3 million (well below my $10.5 million take), it got lost in the summer shuffle between Minions and the upcoming DC League of Super-Pets. 

Finally, critically appreciated Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (on a low number of 980 screens) made a so-so $1.9 million for ninth place. Paris didn’t quite reach my prediction of $2.3 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Nope Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (07/21): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my Nope prediction slightly from $49.2M to $53.2M

Five years after his first feature Get Out was a critical and box office phenomenon, Universal is hoping audiences say yep to Jordan Peele’s Nope on July 22nd. The plot for the sci-fi horror tale is pretty successfully being kept under wraps. Based on the footage, it appears to involve cowboys and aliens. Daniel Kaluuya (who rose to stardom in Get Out) headlines alongside Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott.

In the spring of 2017, Peele’s debut rode a wave of buzz to a $33 million opening and eventually legged out to $176 million domestically. His 2019 follow-up Us was breathlessly awaited based on the Out appreciation. It got off to a $71 million start. However, it was not nearly as universally beloved by moviegoers. Us‘s legs were less sturdy and it actually grossed $1 million less than Out at $175 million.

The trailers and TV spots for Nope have keyed in on the Peele participation. That strategy worked for Us (especially the opening). Will it matter less this time around? Probably. Us had the advantage of following its predecessor by only two years. We’ve waited almost three and a half years for Peele’s third genre excursion.

As I write this post, we have yet to see reviews. That could cause my initial projection to rise or fall. I am rather confident that Nope won’t reach Us levels as far as the debut weekend. Estimates have this generating between $40-$60 million and that seems right. At press time, I’m thinking the $50 million mark seems doable. I’ll put it just a touch under with the possibility of revision possible.

Nope opening weekend prediction: $53.2 million

Candyman (2021) Review

There’s a sequence in Candyman in a high school girls bathroom that plays like it belongs in a less meditative continuation of the franchise. While it’s certainly cleverly shot, the scene feels out of place with its bad sequel slasher vibe. It may well be the point of the tone that its filmmakers are satirically putting forth. After all, they jettison anything that transpired in the two inferior follow-ups to the 1992 original. That doesn’t mean the excursion works and it’s a nagging issue with the film as a whole. There’s no doubt that a lot of thought went into this melding of issues from racial discrimination to white privilege to gentrification to police brutality. What plagues it somewhat is that it seldom succeeds in getting under your skin.

Nearly 30 years ago, Bernard Rose’s Candyman (from a story by Clive Barker) shook up a tired horror genre filled with Freddy, Jason, and Michael sequels. There was gore to be had, but also plenty of subtext in its tale of the urban legend with a hook for a hand and a bevy of bees emanating from his torso. As the 1890s era tortured artist whose love for a Caucasian woman resulted in his own torture, Tony Todd created an iconic title character with more narrative meat on the bones than your typical weapon wielding terrorizer from that time. It was an arthouse movie and so is this (it’s even set in an arthouse for chunks).

This new version, as mentioned, serves as a direct restart. The Cabrini Green projects where part I was placed is no longer the notorious crime hub of Chicago. The gentrified and souped up property is now home to young and thriving professionals. This includes Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris). She’s an art gallery director and he’s a painter who’s stuck in a creative rut. Their collective work is contingent on the approval of the snooty types who make it their business to judge them (critics, gallery owners). One message seems clear – their assessment of an African-American artist’s work rises in their esteem if it’s more violent.

Anthony gets a burst of inspiration that is kickstarted by Brianna’s brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). When he regales the couple and his boyfriend with the nearly forgotten account of the buzzy killer whose name shan’t be uttered five times in a mirror, it gets Anthony’s creative juices flowing. This leads him to investigate the crimes of Daniel Robitaille (Todd) and the crimes committed against him. Billy (Colman Domingo) is a longtime Cabrini tenant who is more than pleased to help with the backstory (he had his own dealings with Robitaille in the late 1970s). Anthony’s research results in a project that dares you to say Candyman’s name and await the consequences. This is when blood starts flowing.

Nia DaCosta directs her second feature with a screenwriting and production assist from Jordan Peele. The script incorporates the plot from 1992 with new twists. The primary one is that there’s not only one Candyman. We know this when Anthony’s past involvement in the saga is revealed and he begins showing symptoms of becoming him after a nasty bee sting. Side effects include often visually striking murders.

While DaCosta is just establishing her filmography, Peele is recognized for his melding of social issues with scare tactics (Get Out and Us are both superior examples of how to do it). In Candyman, there’s more of an appreciation for what it’s trying to do than what it ultimately accomplishes onscreen. Sort of like a painting that’s busy with ideas but there’s not enough time allotted for it to really hook you in. I admired the picture to a point though I left unconvinced the deeper dive was worth it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Candyman Box Office Prediction

Who can take the final weekend of August and turn it into a #1 opening? Oh, the Candyman can and likely will when it debuts August 27th. The long in development horror sequel arrives nearly 30 years after the 1992 original scared audiences into avoiding saying its name five times in a row. Nia DaCosta directs from a script cowritten by none other than Jordan Peele. With its source material based on a short story from Clive Barker, it stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo. THE OG Candyman Tony Todd makes an appearance as does Vanessa Estelle Williams from the ’92 tale.

Billed as a direct follow-up to the first and therefore ignoring two sequels that followed in the mid to late 90s, Candyman was first slated for release in June of 2020 before its series of COVID delays. It arrives during a summer where horror fans have had plenty of options and most of them were sequels. I don’t see this generating anywhere near what, say, A Quiet Place Part II or The Conjuring: The Devil Made Do It achieved. I do think if Don’t Breathe 2 managed just over $10 million, this should get beyond that.

Candyman could be poised to capitalize on the familiarity of its title character. That could propel it to a start as high as $20 million. My hunch is that it falls lower in the mid to high teens range (with the caveat that this genre is known to over perform).

And now I dare call its name for a potentially deadly fifth time and say…

Candyman opening weekend prediction: $17.3 million

Oscar Watch: The Invisible Man

Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man, updating the H.G. Wells novel and classic 1933 film, debuts Friday. With 90% currently on Rotten Tomatoes, the word-of-mouth should propel the pic to quite visible box office numbers. In doing so, Invisible should break a streak of underperforming horror titles in recent months.

Much of the praise from reviewers is centered on its lead Elisabeth Moss. The Emmy winner for The Handmaid’s Tale garnered a small amount of Oscar buzz in 2019 for Her Smell that never came to fruition. I look for this to be the third year in a row where an actress garners buzz for a scary movie. In 2018, it was Toni Collette in Ari Aster’s Hereditary. In 2019 – Lupita Nyong’o for Jordan Peele’s Us. Both performers received a few wins from the critics groups. They both failed to get nods come Academy time.

This will likely be the case for Moss as well, but expect lots of speculation that she could make the cut before she doesn’t. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…