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…

Jurassic World: Dominion Review

When the predecessor to Jurassic World: Dominion was unveiled in the summer of 2018, it proved the franchise had indeed fallen to a new level of mediocrity. Fallen Kingdom was a huge disappointment. As much as I wanted to give it credit for trying some new things, the execution failed. Despite a couple of cool set pieces and the dinosaurs still looking cool, I found Kingdom to be the worst of the five in the series.

Dominion challenges that status. Colin Trevorrow made 2015’s Jurassic World. While many of the complaints about it were valid, I still found it to be satisfactory even if did lean hard on the nostalgia angle. After J.A. Bayona handled directorial duties for #2Trevorrow is back behind the camera here and the nostalgic leanings are in full force. So much so that the three stars of 1993’s iconic Jurassic Park – Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm – are mixing it up with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and their sort of daughter who may or may not be a clone.

In case you forgot (and I wouldn’t blame you if you did), Fallen Kingdom thrust human cloning upon us as a plot point. Isabella Sermon’s Maisie was revealed to be the recipient of such experimentation and now she’s a young teen living with Pratt’s Owen and Howard’s Claire deep in the woods. She’s not allowed to go anywhere because many would like to continue experimenting on her. Her isolation is wearing on her as she seeks to break out of her small radius. As you may also recall, dinosaurs are now roaming freely across parts of the world (including Maisie’s backyard).

There’s one corporation who’d like to snatch Maisie and her Dino friends. Biosyn Genetics is run by Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). Located in the Italian mountains, the futuristic company has its greedy hands in all kinds of pots. The main one involves locusts. Yes, a significant portion of Dominion‘s plot involves these crop eating creatures and Biosyn’s plans to control the world’s food supply. If that seems like an out of nowhere storyline that has little to do with dinosaurs, you’d be correct.

However, these CG locusts do give an excuse to bring back Neill and Dern’s characters when they travel to Italy to investigate (Goldblum is already working for the company). When Maisie is snatched up, Owen and Claire find themselves trekking overseas as well for what we know will eventually be a melding of the stars of both trilogies.

There’s some new characters including DeWanda Wise’s cocky Air Force pilot and Mamoudou Athie as Dodgson’s morally conflicted right hand man. The real thrill is meant to be the return of the OG players from three decades ago. Here’s the rub – despite Jurassic Park being amazing, its one minor flaw was its human characters (with the exception of Goldblum) being a bit dull. Seeing Neill and Dern reignite their unrequited passion isn’t exactly Han showing up on the Millennium Falcon with Chewie after 30 years. I’ve already discussed the lack of passion between Owen and Claire in my review of the predecessor.

Where Dominion manages to be a very slight improvement over Kingdom is a couple of expertly constructed action sequences. A car chase involving the prehistoric creatures in Malta is legitimately thrilling. These brief moments of excitement are too often interrupted by humdrum fan service, cloning, and attacks of the locusts. In other words, there’s a couple of cool set pieces and the dinosaurs still look cool. It’s not enough. The Jurassic series veered off course with Kingdom and it doesn’t regain much footing in Dominion. 

** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions – Jurassic World: Dominion

When it comes to the nearly three decades old Jurassic franchise, only the first two (the ones directed by Steven Spielberg) have attracted Oscar attention. The 1993 classic received three nods for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing (those races have since combined), and Visual Effects. It won all three. The 1997 follow-up The Lost World: Jurassic Park managed a Visual Effects mention but lost to Titanic. 

The dinosaurs have failed to make Academy ballots for 2001’s Jurassic Park III and the initial entries in the current trilogy – 2015’s Jurassic World and 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. 

Dominion is the closing chapter that reunites prominent cast members from both trilogies. It’s out Friday and the review embargo is extinct. The result? Only a 40% Rotten Tomatoes which serves as a series worst (predecessor Kingdom previously had the low point at 47%).

So while those creatures might still look cool, I don’t see any chance of a Visual Effects nomination or any others. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

June 10-12 Box Office Predictions

Universal is looking for the dinosaurs to rule the box office landscape for the sixth time with Jurassic World: Dominion. It’s the only new wide release and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Jurassic World: Dominion Box Office Prediction

Dominion is the third feature in the second Jurassic trilogy and the numbers could be assisted by melding cast members from the original trilogy with the current one. I’m projecting it’ll improve on the opening weekend of predecessor Fallen Kingdom, but not approach the $200M+ debut of Jurassic World. That said – I have a strange feeling it might underperform so check back to see if my projection shifts later this week.

Top Gun: Maverick will be the runner-up after two incredible weeks on top including an astonishing sophomore hold (more on that below). It had no competition this past weekend and the dinos should eat into its grosses. Even with Dominion around, it still may only drop in the 40-45% range… maybe even less.

The rest of the top five should be populated by holdovers Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Bad Guys, and The Bob’s Burgers Movie. 

Here’s how I see it:

1. Jurassic World: Dominion

Predicted Gross: $155.3 million

2. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $58.8 million

3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

4. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

5. The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Predicted Gross: $2.2 million

Box Office Results (June 3-5)

In a turn of events that was even more impressive than its Memorial Day weekend rollout, Top Gun: Maverick is officially a phenomenon as it dropped only 29%. That means a #1 frame of $90 million – towering over my $67.5 million projection. The number is the 8th largest sophomore output of all time. For perspective – it’s $6 million higher than Spider-Man: No Way Home and just $13 million below what  The Avengers made during the same weekend. It’s the best hold we’ve ever witnessed for a picture that debuted above $100 million. The ten-day tally is $295 million and the sky looks to be the limit.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness remained in second with $9.1 million. My guess? $9.1 million! The MCU behemoth is up to $388 million.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie fell a steep 63% in its second serving with $4.6 million, a bit under my $5.3 million prediction. Total is $22 million.

The Bad Guys took fourth with $3.3 million (I said $3.1 million) as it inches close to the century mark with $87 million.

Downton Abbey: A New Era rounded out the top five at $3.1 million, in line with my $3.2 million estimate for $35 million overall.

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

Jurassic World: Dominion Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/08): My prediction for Dominion has fallen… from $165.3M to $155.3M

Two generations of Jurassic actors team up for the release of Dominion on June 10th. I’m also told there are dinosaurs involved. Closing out the trilogy that began with the record breaking Jurassic World seven summers ago, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard join forces with familiar faces that populated some of the original trilogy – Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. Other costars include BD Wong, Omar Sy, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Campbell Scott, Scott Haze, and Dichen Lachman. Colin Trevorrow, who made the 2015 entry but not the 2018 sequel, is back in the director’s seat.

As mentioned, when the dinos came back in 2015, it set the all-time ; the domestic opening with $208 million (that held for six months until Star Wars: The Force Awakens dropped). It eventually made $652 million. Three years later, the lesser regarded Fallen Kingdom started with lesser numbers. The premiere was $148 million with an overall gross of $417 million.

My hunch is that the mixing of stars from nearly three decades ago with Pratt and Howard could push this to better earnings than its predecessor. On the flip side, I don’t see it hitting over $200 million like Jurassic World. This might debut in the middle range of its trilogy counterparts and perhaps closer to Kingdom. 

Jurassic World: Dominion opening weekend prediction: $155.3 million

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Box Office Prediction

In what Hollywood is hoping looks more like a traditional summer season, it’s the MCU kicking it off with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The 28th feature in the biggest franchise of all is technically the follow-up to 2016’s Doctor Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. It is, however, the character’s sixth appearance overall in the cinematic universe with the most recent being December’s massive Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

Speaking of Spidey, Sam Raimi, maker of Tobey Maguire’s 2002-2007 trilogy, directs (taking over from Scott Derrickson). Costars back in the mix are Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. Newcomers to the MCU include Xochitl Gomez and Patrick Stewart (in an undisclosed role that could turn out to be quite familiar).

Madness has the big advantage of following a juggernaut in No Way Home. That has served as an advantage to other MCU properties. For instance, Captain Marvel in 2019 was the follow-up to Avengers: Endgame and it made $153 million out of the gate. That was slightly better than the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel from two years earlier. Assisting Multiverse is that the good Doctor had a sizable part in the previous Spidey adventure.

Five and a half years ago, the first Strange took in $85 million for its start with an eventual domestic haul of $232 million. In the MCU world, it’s way more normal for sequels to outdo their predecessors and that will certainly apply here. It should have no trouble achieving the largest premiere for 2022 – currently held by The Batman at $134 million.

No one is really thinking this will approach the $260 million weekend of No Way Home, but $200 million is definitely feasible. Underestimating the MCU is usually not wise so I’ll say it hits that mark. My projection would get it the 7th largest domestic debut of all time (right behind Jurassic World and just ahead of The Avengers).

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opening weekend prediction: $208.5 million

Oscar Predictions – Spider-Man: No Way Home

When Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy kicked off nearly 20 years ago, it managed to nab a Best Visual Effects nod (losing to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers). Two years later, the 2004 sequel won the prize. Since then, the five Spidey features that followed (Maguire’s third, both Andrew Garfield iterations, and the first two Tom Holland MCU flicks) didn’t show up in the race. Will Spider-Man: No Way Home change that?

The 27th entry (and fourth this year) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts Friday and I have it pegged for the fourth best domestic opening of all time (behind Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The review embargo lifted early this morning and it stands at an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While nearly all critical notices are positive, I don’t think this will be the second MCU title to nab a Best Picture nomination behind Black Panther. While Best Sound is feasible, Home‘s best hope at Academy inclusion is in Visual Effects. MCU movies vying for that prize is not unusual. The inaugural pic in the biggest franchise of all (2008’s Iron Man) made the cut. So have Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Infinity War, and Endgame. None have won.

So despite the last quintet of web slinger sagas not being honored for their effects, Home should have no problem? I don’t think it’s quite that simple. There are two Warner Bros sci-fi extravaganzas (Dune and The Matrix Resurrections) that should get in. That leaves three slots. Warner has another hopeful with Godzilla vs. Kong. Marvel itself has Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals (and Black Widow to a lesser degree) vying for spots. Shang-Chi especially could get in (the Critics Choice Awards included it on their ballot). Don’t Look Up, Finch, and No Time to Die are other possibilities. It’s worth noting that whether Home makes the five, Dune is the very heavy favorite to take gold.

Here’s my hunch: by the time Academy voters cast their final votes, Home appears bound to have heightened box office numbers to their highest achievements in the pandemic era. That fact alone might get it some recognition from the Oscars and that would be for its visuals. Another interesting stat: of the ten current largest stateside premieres ever, only two (Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World) didn’t score at least one nomination from the Academy. That puts this in a decent position. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Tomorrow War

Chris Pratt is no stranger to his pictures getting nominated in the Visual Effects race at the Oscars. However, this is limited to his participation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe via Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel and Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Neither Jurassic World or its sequel made the VE cut.

Mr. Pratt headlines another sci-fi spectacle with The Tomorrow War, debuting on Amazon Prime today. Budgeted in the $200 million range, the pic comes from Chris McKay (making his live-action directorial debut after helming The Lego Batman Movie). Costars include Yvonne Strahovski, Betty Gilpin, and J.K. Simmons. Originally slated for a December 2020 theatrical release, Tomorrow was relegated to streaming due to its COVID delay. It’s now out on Independence Day weekend and some critics have compared it to the 1996 summer blockbuster that shares its name with the holiday.

When it comes to awards attention, Visual Effects is the only possibility here. Reviews are middling as it currently sits at 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. The VE branch can be an unpredictable one (remember that Love and Monsters nod last year?). That said, my hunch is that Tomorrow will be ignored by voters months down the line. The competition should be steep (more so than last year) with Dune, Eternals, Top Gun: Maverick, and others.

Bottom line: expect the MCU to still be Pratt’s filmography represented when it comes to souped up special effects.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Movie Review

The central theme of the Jurassic franchise is whether the scientific re-creation of dinosaurs for profit is enough reason to justify their existence. Of course, the real reason these movies exist is so we can gaze upon glorious CG creatures that took our breath away 25 years ago in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Three years ago, Colin Trevorrow gave us Jurassic World. It did just enough to tap into our nostalgia for the original while keeping another central theme prominent in all series entries – the humans are less interesting than their prehistoric counterparts.

In the inevitable sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, we have a newer problem in that the dinosaurs are becoming increasingly less fascinating. When we left that theme park in 2015, it was in tatters due to the havoc wrought by its main attractions. We’re informed that the dinos still roam the deserted Isla Nublar and there’s a political debate as to what to do with them. That conversation is accelerated as a volcano is about to erupt on the island and incinerate everything. As audience members, let’s just choose to forget that even if the park had become successful and free of T-Rex breakouts, it would’ve only existed for three years because of that volcano. We don’t watch Jurassic pics for logic, after all.

The impending meltdown gets the attention of Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park’s former operations manager, who’s now an advocate for the dinosaurs survival. Her nephews from Jurassic World aren’t seen or mentioned. Perhaps they were smart enough to want nothing to do with all this. She’s recruited by Ben Lockwood (James Cromwell), the ailing former partner of the late John Hammond, to gather up Isla Nublar’s famous residents. Claire recruits her ex-flame and dino whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt) to join her, along with a ragtag group of assistants and military types led by mercenary and hunter Ted Levine. It turns out Lockwood’s assistant (Rafe Spall, a rather bland villain) might have conjured up other ideas for the creatures true purposes. Oh and Lockwood has a granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Kids in Jurassic flicks are mandatory. She’s got a spotty British accent and an eventual revelation about her character that is downright bonkers.

Our return to Jurassic World does allow for a couple imaginative action sequences that are well choreographed and filmed by franchise newcomer J.A. Bayona (Trevorrow isn’t behind the camera but has co-writing credit). In the second half, the pic moves to a more insulated setting. This section is less satisfying. While Bayona and company get a wee bit of credit for trying something different, the execution falters.

That’s the real issue here. 25 summers ago, the visuals of Jurassic Park were brand new and stunning. The technology, while still state of the art, isn’t fresh anymore. Human characters here aren’t compelling either. The dynamic between Pratt and Howard is as dull as before. Jeff Goldblum turns up as Dr. Malcolm for the first time since 1997’s The Lost World, but his presence is brief and forgettable. What wowed us a quarter century ago is now a listless undertaking occasionally punctuated by genuine excitement. Put another way, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a tough time justifying its existence.

** (out of four)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/15): I am revising my prediction down from $155.4 million to $140.4 million

Arriving three years after its predecessor set a series of box office records, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom looks to flex its dino might next weekend. The fifth picture in the massive franchise that just turned 25 years old, Kingdom is the sequel to Jurassic World and brings back Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jeff Goldblum (for the first time since 1997’s The Lost World). New cast members include Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine. J.A. Bayona takes over directorial duties from Colin Trevorrow.

The history of this franchise setting opening weekend milestones is significant. Steven Spielberg’s original in 1993 had the largest debut ever at $47 million a quarter century ago. The Lost World would achieve the same honor four years later with $72 million. And, of course, Jurassic World stunned prognosticators in 2015 with $208 million out of the gate, which stood as the greatest premiere until Star Wars: The Force Awakens topped it six months later.

Fallen Kingdom will not and is not expected to break records. Jurassic World seemed to have its stars aligned for a spectacular opening. It had been nearly a decade and a half since the previous installment and the nostalgia factor was off the charts. Mostly positive reviews didn’t hurt and Mr. Pratt was coming off a star making role in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Critical reaction is mixed. The sequel currently sits at 59% on Rotten Tomatoes (World got to 71%). The film is already out in a number of foreign markets and it earned $151 million worldwide over the weekend (a bit above expectations).

The stateside tracking for Kingdom is between $130-$150 million. My general feeling is that this franchise has continually exceeded expectations and may do so here, albeit not by much. Jurassic World was a phenomenon while this is looked at as another summer sequel. It just happens to be one with a huge fan base who love returning to see these CG creatures.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opening weekend prediction: $140.4 million