Isn’t It Romantic Box Office Prediction

It might be a satire of romantic comedies, but Warner Bros is hoping Isn’t It Romantic brings in a Valentine’s and President’s Day crowd when it opens this Wednesday. Rebel Wilson plays a lovey dovey denier who finds herself in a rom com cinematic universe after being knocked out. Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, and Priyanka Chopra are in the supporting cast. Todd Strauss-Schulson directs.

As mentioned, Romantic will look for a female crowd that hopefully bring their dates. Wilson is no stranger to this holiday frame. Three years ago, she costarred in How to Be Single and it grossed nearly $20 million for its long weekend start (Valentine’s Day fell on Sunday that year).

With Wednesday and Thursday (the 14th) factored in, this will likely make under that figure for the four-day frame and could even struggle to top $20 million for the six-day earnings. I’ll say it manages to just top it.

Isn’t It Romantic opening weekend prediction: $14.3 million (Friday to Monday); $20.7 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my Happy Death Day 2U prediction, click here:

For my Alita: Battle Angel prediction, click here:

Independence Day: Resurgence Box Office Prediction

20 years after its predecessor became the biggest summer hit of 1996 (and the year for that matter), the long gestating sequel Independence Day: Resurgence invades theaters next weekend. Long gestating? Absolutely. Long awaited? That remains to be seen.

Disaster director extraordinaire Roland Emmerich is back behind the camera for the reported $200 million budget alien pic and he’s brought along some of the original cast from two decades ago. That includes Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner and Vivica A. Fox mixed in with new cast members Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, Sela Ward, and William Fichtner. Conspicuously missing? Will Smith, whose character has been killed off (not a spoiler: the trailers say so). This wouldn’t have been the case if the Fresh Prince had signed up, but he’s got a more breathlessly anticipated summer ’16 flick coming with Suicide Squad.

The original was a phenomenon that took in $306 million domestically, which is equivalent to nearly $600 million today adjusted for inflation. Comparing the opening of the first Day is a tricky proposition. Independence Day opened on a Tuesday over the long Fourth of July weekend, generating $96 million over its six day roll-out. The Friday to Sunday take was $50 million.

Resurgence faces challenges that the first one did not. Will Smith was an emerging box office sensation at the time of release and he’s nowhere to be seen here. This summer has proven that there’s a touch of sequelitis occurring at the multiplex. Then there’s this – will younger audiences turn out in droves when part 1 was released when they were in diapers or before they were born?

While Resurgence shouldn’t have too much trouble topping that $50 million figure earned in the traditional Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend, it’s highly unlikely to reach the over $300M accomplished by the first one. I’ll predict an opening gross in the low to mid 60s for a so-so debut.

Independence Day: Resurgence opening weekend prediction: $63.5 million

For my Free State of Jones prediction, click here:

For my The Shallows prediction, click here:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Movie Review

Over the last near four years, The Hunger Games franchise begat the true birth of YA novel adapted pictures that have continued with diverging and maze running. Perhaps more importantly, it gave the masses Jennifer Lawrence who’s gone onto quite an impressive career thanks to this series and David O. Russell with Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and the upcoming Joy. It also gave its studio Lionsgate a serious cash cow and that explains the decision to divide the final installment Mockingjay into two parts. They did so because they knew the cash cow was about to graze and last year’s Part 1 felt incomplete. That picture didn’t feel so much as half a film. Instead it often felt unnecessary and slowly paced with filler where they didn’t need to be. Mockingjay – Part 1 was light on action and often too grim, dark, and plodding for its own good.

Some of those same tenets hold true for Part 2 (the first hour drags a bit), but this experience feels much more satisfying and sends the franchise off with competence. We pick up where we left off with Lawrence’s Katniss fervently marching towards the Capitol to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland, still relishing his villainous role). There is still a love triangle between the brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson, whose acting here is better than we’ve seen before) and hunky Gale (Liam Hemsworth), though we correctly sense how it will turn out eventually. And Katniss is still being used by District 13’s President Coin (Julianne Moore) for propaganda purposes as her motives are constantly in question. The goals of Katniss are undeniably noble while we’re not so sure about the President she’s working for.

Part 2 ups the adventure quotient and director Francis Lawrence is serviceable at delivering these sequences. One in an abandoned subway system with some freaky looking creatures is particularly well-constructed and suspenseful. Yet the real suspense lurks with what Katniss will do once reaches her nemesis President Snow and whether he really is the baddest of the bad guys.

The dynamic between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale has been a running theme throughout these movies. A common complaint has been the underwhelming acting of Hutcherson that sort of makes you root for Gale more than you should. It’s not a notion I disagree with. Here, however, Peeta’s struggle with the mind tricks Snow heaped upon him adds a fascinating dimension. In one segment, he tells Katniss “You should cuff me…” and he means in the literal restraint form with zero shades of grey.

As for various performances, Lawrence again shows she was meant for this role and brings an emotional heft that elevates the material. Moore, Sutherland, and Woody Harrelson as returning mentor Haymitch are all pros. Philip Seymour Hoffman is here in limited screen time, which is probably due to his tragic death nearly two years ago. There are a couple of scenes where he should obviously be in it. Elizabeth Banks is given a couple scenes as franchise favorite Effie.

For the most part, Mockingjay – Part 2 is about getting down to the business of Katniss exacting her revenge. And that thirst for revenge only grows during the fairly well-paced proceedings taking place here. The body count piles up. The stakes grow higher and everything feels urgent in a way that it didn’t and really couldn’t in Part 1. Having never read the Suzanne Collins books which these Games are adapted from, I don’t know about the complaints I’ve picked up about a disappointing ending for the series. The actions of Katniss in the third act worked for me and the action displayed here is pretty good stuff. If there’s a quibble to be had, it’s that the first two Hunger Games films had more of a sense of humor and there was fun to be had. The original actually felt rather fresh and 2013’s Catching Fire brought the series to a creative high. It stands as easily as the finest picture of the quartet. The final two are considerably bleaker in tone, but word is that faithfully follows what Collins brought her readers. As I wrote in my review of Part 1, there’s no actual “hunger games” happening anymore in these last two entries. Thankfully, Part 2 concludes The Hunger Games franchise in a mostly sufficient manner.

*** (out of four)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Box Office Prediction

The final installment of the wildly popular franchise based on Suzane Collins’s novels hits screens next Friday as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 opens. Francis Lawrence returns to direct and Jennifer Lawrence is back leading her impressive cast that includes Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Sam Chaflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman (in his final film role). So far, this is getting better reviews than Part 1‘s 65% Rotten Tomatoes score as this stands at 88% currently.

While all entries in this series have made major bucks, it is worth noting that predecessor Mockingjay – Part 1 came in below the first two flicks. Let’s take a trip down box office history lane with this franchise that began in spring 2012:

The Hunger Games

Opening: $152 million with $408 million overall domestic gross

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Opening: $158 million with $424 overall domestic gross

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Opening: $121 million with $337 million overall domestic gross

I find it unlikely that the final tale will outdo the first two, but it could edge out Part 1 simply due to the fact that it’s the last one. It has become commonplace for studios to divide a franchise’s finale installment into two parts. We’ve seen it with Harry Potter and Twilight and Lionsgate did just that here (we’ll see this tactic employed again in the future with the Divergent and Avengers series).

My gut tells me this performs similar to what Part 2 of the last Twilight picture accomplished by making about $3-6 million more that what its predecessor debuted to.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 opening weekend prediction: $124.2 million

For my The Night Before prediction, click here:

For my Secret in Their Eyes prediction, click here:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Movie Review

Everything is toned down in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 from the makeup and hair of Elizabeth Banks to Woody Harrelson’s alcoholism to, most importantly, the tone of the franchise. Hell, even Stanley Tucci’s flamboyant talk show host seems to have gone all Charlie Rose on us. A lot of the excitement is toned down too. The result is what too often seems like a perfunctory bridging of the gap between Catching Fire and what hopefully will be a rousing conclusion to the blockbuster franchise a year from now. Where that leaves Part 1 is left to be determined by what we get in Part 2. For now, it leaves this particular picture as the weakest of The Hunger Games entries by a somewhat considerable margin.

When we last left Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) in 2013’s superb Catching Fire, her love interest Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) had been captured along with others by the dastardly Capitol, led by President Snow (Donald Sutherland, always oozing appropriate creepiness). The main focus here is Katniss’s efforts to eventually get him back. The question is whether or not Peeta’s mind has been corrupted by his captors. His imprisonment means Gale (Liam Hemsworth), best friend to Katniss, has got a legitimate shot at creating an old fashioned love triangle once again and the pic explores those issues.

We are also treated to the sight of some truly fine actors sitting around a lot talking about politics and rebellion – including returnees Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright, and the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. They’re all assisting the effort of bringing President Snow’s reign to an end and it’s Julianne Moore as the latest terrific actor joining the club as District 13’s President.

Mockingjay – Part 1, as has been noted by others, doesn’t exactly require The Hunger Games moniker ahead of its title. There are no Hunger Games here and a more accurate title could have been The Propaganda Games. The leaders of District 13 are not shy about using Katniss as their symbol to topple the Snow regime and it even results in video cameramen following her to film her heroic exploits. This leaves our central character conflicted about her desire to free the people against her hope to reunite with Peeta.

Jennifer Lawrence has created a heroine for the movie ages with her performances in this franchise and her strong work doesn’t let up here. She’s not the problem here and neither are the other actors – though I’ve never quite been sold on Hutcherson in his important role. The problem is not Francis Lawrence’s adequate direction, even though the action scenes don’t pop like they did in Catching Fire (there’s also not as many of them).

The issue is the Part 1 behind the title. I suspect there could have been a top-notch two and a half hour feature made from the Mockingjay novel. Lionsgate, for clear financial purposes, chose to divide it into two features (much like the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises before this). Due to that choice, Part 1 feels like a commercially viable stopgap made to monopolize profits.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re a fan of this series (and I consider myself one), this is obviously required viewing. Yet the level of satisfaction provided here doesn’t match the first two films. It feels like half a movie and it’s about half as entertaining as Catching Fire was last year. Let’s hope that Part 2 provides a main course high on entertainment that could relegate this to “leftovers” status. Sometimes those leftovers are just as good as the main course. Not here despite the best efforts of its star, but you’ll need to get through this to get to the main course.

**1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: November 21-23

There’s only one new game in town at the box office this weekend and it’s a biggie: The Hunger Games, Mockingjay – Part 1, the third installment of the blockbuster franchise. You can find my detailed prediction post on it here:

Mockingjay should have no problem having the biggest opening weekend of 2014 as it only needs to outdo the $100M debut accomplished by Transformers: Age of Extinction. I have it premiering between what 2012’s original ($152M) and its sequel Catching Fire ($158M) started at. The film is also highly likely to become the year’s highest grosser when all is said and done, surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy.

As for holdovers, current #1 Dumb and Dumber To is likely to suffer the largest drop of the group. With its weak B- Cinemascore grade, word of mouth should be tepid and many moviegoers may have anxiously chose to get their Harry and Lloyd fix early. It should find itself in a battle with Interstellar (in weekend #3) for the three spot.

That should allow Disney’s hit Big Hero 6 to remain number two while Beyond the Lights and Gone Girl should fight it out for #5.

And with that – we’ll do a top 6 predictions for this weekend:

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Predicted Gross: $155.8 million

2. Big Hero 6

Predicted Gross: $22.4 million (representing a drop of 35%)

3. Interstellar

Predicted Gross: $16.3 million (representing a drop of 42%)

4. Dumb and Dumber To

Predicted Gross: $16 million (representing a drop of 55%)

5. Beyond the Lights

Predicted Gross: $3.3 million (representing a drop of 47%)

6. Gone Girl

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million (representing a drop of 28%)

Box Office Results (November 14-16)

The classic comedy reunion of Carrey and Daniels proved to be a fruitful one as Dumb and Dumber To opened quite well 20 years after the original. The critically panned sequel made $36.1 million, above my $29.2M projection. As mentioned, audiences don’t appear to like what they’ve seen and it should fall off rather quickly.

In second, Big Hero 6 made $34.6 million in its sophomore frame – a bit under my $38.9M prediction. Disney’s animated hit has hauled in $110M so far.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was third in its second weekend with $28.3 million, right on pace with my $28.9M estimate. It’s taken in $97M at press time.

The romantic musical drama Beyond the Lights had a dim opening with just $6.2 million for fourth place, not coming close to my $11.4M. The pic simply didn’t connect with its intended audience, despite mostly positive reviews and an A Cinemascore grade.

Rounding the top five – David Fincher’s Gone Girl with $4.5 million. My prediction? $4.5M (pat on back)! It’s up to $152M domestically.

And that’s all for now, loyal readers!


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Box Office Prediction

This Friday, only one new release debuts in the marketplace, but it’s a massive one. Yes, Katniss and company are back in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and expect a number of 2014’s records to be broken.

For starters, it needs only to top the $100 million earned by Transformers: Age of Extinction to have the largest opening weekend of the year. That should be no problem whatsoever. 2012’s original Games got off to a $152M start while last year’s sequel Catching Fire took in $158M. Additionally, Mockingjay 1 (the part two franchise finale is out next year) is almost certain to eventually gross higher than 2014’s current box office champ, Guardians of the Galaxy, which has earned $330M. Both of Mockingjay‘s predecessors have earned over $400M domestically.

Jennifer Lawrence returns at Katniss with a large ensemble cast including Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reviews have been mostly strong, though notices for Catching Fire were more positive.

This third entry appears unlikely to gross under the original’s $152M out of the gate. However, I question whether it manages to top Catching Fire‘s $158M haul. I’ll predict this opens right in the middle of the first two while easily claiming the title of best roll out of the year.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 opening weekend prediction: $155.8 million

This Day in Movie History: January 13

25 years ago Today in Movie History – January 13 – Barry Levinson’s Rain Man would spend its third out of five weeks in the #1 spot. The drama about long-lost brothers – one an autistic savant, one a hotshot yuppie – starred Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Rain Man would greatly capture the attention of audiences and critics. It would win Oscars for Best Picture, Director, and Actor for Hoffman, earning his second statue after 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer. Rain Man would end up being the highest grossing picture of 1988 with $172 million domestically.

As for birthdays, two actors known for their appearances in film franchises celebrate today. Orlando Bloom is 37. He’s starred in some of highest-grossing pictures this century due to his involvement in the Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and Hobbit series. Other notable film appearances include Black Hawk Down, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and Elizabethtown.

Liam Hemsworth is 24 today. He is most known for playing Gale Hawthorne in the enormous Hunger Games franchise that will continue through 2015. He also appeared in The Expendables 2 and last year’s box office bomb Paranoia.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between Mr. Bloom and Mr. Hemsworth:

Orlando Bloom was in the Pirates of the Caribbean films with Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp was in Public Enemies with Christian Bale

Christian Bale was in American Hustle with Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence is in The Hunger Games films with Liam Hemsworth

And that’s today – January 13 – in Movie History!

Box Office Predictions: December 6-8

The post Thanksgiving box office weekend is usually a fairly sluggish one and there’s only one new title joining the fray – the Christian Bale crime thriller Out of the Furnace. You can read my full prediction post on it here:

Unless it majorly underwhelms (which is somewhat possible), Furnace is pretty much assured the #3 spot for its debut. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Disney’s Frozen appear destined to duke it out for the #1 slot.

Catching Fire is entering its third weekend and post Thanksgiving blockbusters typically drop below 50% in December’s first weekend. For instance, 2011 and 2012’s Twilight entries dipped 60% in their third frames over the same weekend. Catching Fire may not drop quite that far, but it should be close.

On the other hand, Disney’s Frozen opened at #2 over Turkey Day weekend with the best opening for the holiday of all time. Its chances of not falling over 50% seem better and, if that happens, Frozen would catapault to first and Fire would fall to second.

Thor: The Dark World should be fourth in its fifth weekend while Vince Vaughn’s Delivery Man and The Best Man Holiday should fight it out for the five spot. And with that, my predictions for this weekend’s top five:

1. Frozen

Predicted Gross: $34.8 million (representing a drop of 48%)

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Predicted Gross: $32 million (representing a drop of 57%)

3. Out of the Furnance

Predicted Gross: $9.6 million

4. Thor: The Dark World

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million (representing a drop of 53%)

5. Delivery Man

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million (representing a drop of 49%)

As always, I’ll have final results on the blog this Sunday!

Box Office Predictions: Thanksgiving 2013

It’s going to be a busy Turkey Day weekend at the box office as six new titles find their way into the multiplex. Disney’s Frozen, the action pic Homefront with Jason Statham and James Franco, and the musical ensemble Black Nativity open wide while The Book Thief expands to around 1000 theaters and Spike Lee’s Oldboy and the Judi Dench drama Philomena play to around 500 screens. Whew.

You can my individual prediction posts on each new picture here:

Typically, during Thanksgiving the leftovers have very small drops because audiences like to catch up during the holidays. The one exception should be The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In its second weekend, the pic should easily lose more than half the crowd of its debut weekend. The last two Twilight flicks opened the same pre-Thanksgiving weekend and saw second week falls in the 70% range. I don’t have Games falling quite that far.

Since there are so many newbies this weekend, I’ll change my normal Top Five predictions to Top Ten. Here they are:

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Predicted Gross: $56.8 million (representing a drop of 64%)

2. Frozen

Predicted Gross: $48.3 million ($69.1 million for five-day opening)

3. Black Nativity

Predicted Gross: $19.3 million ($26.8 million for five-day opening)

4. Thor: The Dark World

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million (representing a drop of 32%)

5. Homefront

Predicted Gross: $8.7 million ($12.8 million for five-day opening)

6. The Best Man Holiday

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million (representing a drop of 42%)

7. The Book Thief

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million ($7.2 million for five-day opening)

8. Delivery Man

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million (representing a drop of 30%)

9. Free Birds

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million (representing a drop of 12%)

10. Philomena

Predicted Gross: $3.9 million ($5.1 million for five-day opening)

This means I am predicting Oldboy opens outside of the top ten with a $2.4 million Friday-to-Sunday opening tally and $3.5 million from Wednesday-to-Sunday.

I’ll have final results Sunday on the blog… have Turkey Day friends!