The Secret Life of Pets 2 Box Office Prediction

Illumination Entertainment is back in the summer blockbuster animation game next weekend with the release of The Secret Life of Pets 2. The follow-up to the 2016 smash has Chris Renaud back in the director’s chair. Returning voices include Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, and  Jenny Slate. Patton Oswalt takes over the lead role of Max after Louis C.K. was dropped after recent controversies. Other familiar faces providing new voiceover work to the franchise include Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and Harrison Ford.

Three summers ago, the first Pets had a scorching start with a $104 million start and $368 million eventual domestic gross. It’s worth noting that competition on its opening weekend wasn’t as strong as Dark Phoenix will premiere against this. This sequel is garnering reviews in line with its predecessor. Part 1 ended up with a 73% Rotten Tomatoes score while this is at 68%.

I look for this to perform similarly to Illumination’s last two efforts. Despicable Me 3 earned $72 million for its beginning two summers ago and Dr. SeussThe Grinch made $67 million and perhaps a bit under.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 opening weekend prediction: $65.2 million

For my Dark Phoenix prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/30/dark-phoenix-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Secret Life of Pets 2

2019 is shaping up to be a year where the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars could be dominated by sequels. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World already opened to raves and seems destined for a nod just like its two predecessors. Disney has Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 on deck.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is Universal’s shot at Academy recognition. It’s out on June 7, following up on the 2016 animal tale smash hit. Early reviews indicate part deux is an overall improvement in quality. The first Pets achieved a 73% Rotten Tomatoes rating while this currently sits at 91%.

This puts the likely mega blockbuster in contention, but it’ll need to stick around in a competition where the three previously mentioned sequels may well garner more votes. Only time will tell if that’s feasible. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Upside Box Office Prediction

An adaptation of the well-regarded 2011 French film The Intouchables, next weekend sees the long brewing release of the comedic drama The Upside. Kevin Hart stars as a former convict who starts working for a paraplegic billionaire played by Bryan Cranston. Nicole Kidman costars and Neil Burger (who recently made Limitless and Divergent) directs.

The Upside first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival way back in the fall of 2017 and was shelved for months when the Weinstein Company fell into its well publicized controversies. Critical reaction from Canada was mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 55%.

Hart has been subject to his own negative publicity lately that resulted in his dropping out of hosting the Oscars. He’s been a consistently strong commodity at the box office over the past few years. However, that’s been with pictures played just for laughs without the dramatic elements. His potency in slightly more serious material is questionable.

A January release isn’t a major sign of confidence from its studio. I’ll say Hart and company could get this to high teens at its upside, but I suspect low double digits to teens is the likelihood.

The Upside opening weekend prediction: $11.6 million

For my A Dog’s Way Home prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/02/a-dogs-way-home-box-office-prediction/

For my Replicas prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/03/replicas-box-office-prediction/

Nobody’s Fool Box Office Prediction

It’s not a remake of the Paul Newman/Bruce Willis dramedy from almost a quarter century ago, but Nobody’s Fool is in theaters next weekend with some other familiar names. The comedy casts Tiffany Haddish as a recently released prisoner with some unique dating issues. Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, and Whoopi Goldberg costar.

Haddish, of course, broke out on the big screen in a major way last year with her acclaimed supporting role in Girls Trip. Just last month, she had another solid earner alongside Kevin Hart in Night School. This will be the biggest test so far of her newfound star power. It doesn’t hurt that her director is another name audiences know well – Tyler Perry.

In recent years, Perry’s non-Madea features often still manage opening weekends in the mid teens to low 20s. His spring thriller Acrimony took in $17.1 million for its start. His low mark came in 2014 with The Single Moms Club with just $8 million.

My feeling is that Haddish’s involvement should cause this to hit low to mid teens. I do wonder if its numbers could dwindle a bit since many moviegoers just saw her in Night School. For that reason, I’ll go on the lower scale of that range.

Nobody’s Fool opening weekend prediction: $14.5 million

For my Bohemian Rhapsody prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/23/bohemian-rhapsody-box-office-prediction/

For my The Nutcracker and the Four Realms prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms-box-office-prediction/

Night School Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Update (09/27/18): My estimate has risen to $27.6 million to $31.6 million

One of the most dependable comedic actors at the box office teams with one of the hottest newer names when Night School opens next weekend. Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish headline the pic about a group trying to pass their GED exam. Malcolm D. Lee (who just directed Haddish in her breakout Girls Trip) is behind the camera. The supporting cast includes Rob Riggle, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, and Keith David.

Hart has been a model of consistency in recent years when it comes to high earners. In addition to just coming off the massive blockbuster Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, he’s had a handful of $30 million plus openers including Think Like a Man, both Ride Along features, Get Hard, and Central Intelligence. The Think Like a Man sequel almost reached $30 million while About Last Night made $25.6 million for its start. The low-end of the spectrum is The Wedding Ringer with $20.6 million. As for Lee and Haddish’s Trip, it took in $31.2 million.

The collaboration of these talents should yield pleasing results and the likely #1 spot over its made competitor – the animated Smallfoot. I’m a little skeptical this reaches $30 million, though it certainly could. A gross in the mid to high 20s seems more probable.

Night School opening weekend prediction: $31.6 million

For my Smallfoot prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/18/smallfoot-box-office-prediction/

For my Hell Fest prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/20/hell-fest-box-office-prediction/

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Movie Review

The word classic in cinema world can be thrown around too loosely at times. For instance, 1995’s Jumanji with Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, and lots of CG animals is not one. It is a mostly entertaining experience about that board game that comes to life and it made a lot of money. So 22 years later, Sony has rebooted the franchise into the video game era. Welcome to the Jungle is no classic either, but it’s often lots of fun with great casting… and of course a horde of CG animals. Truthfully, it’s a lot better than it should be.

A prologue picks up shortly after its predecessor’s events with teenager Alex finding that cursed Jumanji board game. Sort of. It’s in the original casing of the game, but has been downsized to a video game cartridge. Alex tries to play but gets sucked in and disappears for two decades.

Flash forward to 2016 with four teens serving detention together. They are the archetypes you’re accustomed to: nerd Spencer (Alex Woolf), jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), shy girl Martha (Morgan Turner), and bombshell Bethany (Madison Iseman). While doing their punishment in the high school basement, they happen upon the game and decide to select which characters to play. Soon enough, they find themselves transported to the far away title world. And they’re the people they chose to be with more famous faces and odd superpowers and weaknesses. Scaredy cat Spencer is now the heroic Dr. Smolder Bravestone, represented by the giant biceps of Dwayne Johnson. Athletic Fridge is now the diminutive zoologist Mouse, sidekick to Dr. Bravestone whose weaknesses include cake. Martha is Ruby Roundhouse, a foxy martial arts expert with an inexplicable wardrobe considering her jungle surroundings. Most humorously, Bethany has traded in her bod for Jack Black’s cartographer Dr. Shelly. All the adult actors have a ball playing their counterparts, but Black shines brightest channeling his social media obsessed teen girl.

The majority of inhabitants in Jumanji world are only programmed to speak in video game dialogue, meaning their vocabulary is quite limited. This is a funny touch in a screenplay filled with them. There’s some potential jungle love between Bravestone and Ruby (and therefore Spencer and Martha), as well as Bethany’s crush with Alex once he’s found and portrayed by Nick Jonas. Seeing Jack Black’s heart a flutter with a Jonas brother is a highlight. There’s also a first kiss between two characters that produced a knowing belly laugh. Johnson and Hart (who first teamed up in Central Intelligence) smartly play to their onscreen strengths with Gillan bringing the term dance fighting to our consciousness.

Welcome to the Jungle is in many ways an improvement on the 1995 pic. Yes, the special effects have elevated tremendously in two decades plus, but it’s more than that. The joyous and adventurous and often sweet tone here just feels right with a game cast along for the ride.

Not everything works. An interesting villain would have been nice. Bobby Cannavale’s conniving explorer isn’t it. He’s forgettable even when he’s speaking. That quibble aside, part 2 of the Jumanji saga should be remembered fondly two decades from now and probably deserves it even more.

*** (out of four)

2017: The Year of Tiffany Haddish

Like yesterday’s Year of 2017 honoree Kumail Nanjiani, Tiffany Haddish started 2017 as a stand-up comic not known to a large swath of the American public. Yet as the year draws to its close, Haddish is now quite well-known due to her scene stealing performance in the summer’s comedic sleeper hit.

Alongside Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith, it was Haddish who garnered the most buzz in Girls Trip, which surprised all prognosticators when it grossed $115 million. It was 2016’s Keanu that gave Haddish her first notable role, but that picture was largely ignored. Yet her raw, profane and outlandish Dina character gave the actress a showcase filled with standout moments.

Critics groups and Hollywood have certainly taken notice. Haddish became the first African American comic to host “Saturday Night Live” this fall. In 2018, she will reunite with Trip director Malcolm D. Lee for Night School with Kevin Hart.

Expect to see lots of Haddish in the coming years and 2017 was unquestionably her breakout.