May 6-8 Box Office Predictions

The summer box office season officially kicks off in the manner it has many times lately… with an expected Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks to accomplish some records after previous franchise entry Spider-Man: No Way Home set plenty of its own. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on Benedict Cumberbatch’s return as the mystical doc here:

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Box Office Prediction

My estimate would give Multiverse the 7th largest domestic premiere of all time and the highest ever for the month of May (topping The Avengers). It would be #4 in terms of MCU entries – behind Avengers: Endgame, No Way Home, and Avengers: Infinity War. 

No other film is daring to open against this and family friendly entries The Bad Guys (after two weeks on top) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 should slide a spot. Everything Everywhere All at Once is holding extremely well from week to week and it could rise to fourth over Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. 

Here’s how I think the top 5 will look:

1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Predicted Gross: $208.5 million

2. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $10 million

3. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million

5. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore 

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million

Box Office Results (April 29-May 1)

Before Marvel begins its domination, it was a pretty quiet weekend with The Bad Guys repeating in first. The DreamWorks Animation effort made $16.2 million, topping my $14.4 million projection for $44 million in 10 days.

Most holdovers managed to slightly exceed my expectations. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 stayed in second at $11.5 million compared to my $10.8 million call. Total is $161 million.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore continued its ho-hum run in third with $8.3 million, just above my $7.7 million take. The three-week tally is a disappointing $79 million.

The Northman was fourth in its sophomore outing with $6.3 million. I went with $5.6 million and it’s at $22 million.

Everything Everywhere All at Once actually had a 2% increase with $5.5 million to round out the top five (I said $4.2 million). The A24 Oscar hopeful has made an impressive $35 million.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was sixth with $3.8 million (I predicted $3.5 million) for $13 million in two weeks.

Finally, Liam Neeson’s streak of low grosses stayed intact as Memory opened in 8th with $3.1 million. That’s in line with his recent (non) earners and just below my $3.3 million projection.

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

Memory Box Office Prediction

Can Memory reverse the string of forgettable Liam Neeson pics we’ve seen lately or will it fall in line with his recent underwhelming performers? Slated for April 29th, this casts him as an assassin dealing with cognitive lapses. Martin Campbell (who kicked off the Brosnan and Craig 007 eras with Goldeneye and Casino Royale) directs. He most recently helmed the lackluster The Protege with Maggie Q and Michael Keaton.  Costars include Guy Pearce (who starred in the acclaimed Memento which covered similar themes) and Monica Bellucci.

It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Neeson resurged his career with Taken. This second life as an action star resulted in some hits, but there’s been more misses recently. The Marksman and Blacklight took in $3.7 and $3.5 million, respectively, in the COVID era. I see no reason why Memory wouldn’t suffer a similar fate and the gross may even dip a bit.

Memory opening weekend prediction: $3.3 million

February 18-21 Box Office Predictions

The video game adaptation Uncharted with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg looks to rule the #1 spot over the four-day President’s Day weekend while Channing Tatum’s directorial debut Dog hopes for a solid second place showing. They’re the newbies coming on Friday and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

Uncharted Box Office Prediction

Dog Box Office Prediction

While reviews are mixed (50% currently on Rotten Tomatoes) for Uncharted, it should easily take a commanding lead for the POTUS frame. My low to mid 30s take puts it at about two and half times the gross of Dog, which finds Mr. Tatum in his first starring role in nearly half a decade.

As for holdovers, the long weekend should allow for smallish drop-offs. We’ve seen that play out previously during the mid February time period. Death on the Nile, following its mediocre start, might flirt with staying in double digits (I have it just under) with Spider-Man: No Way Home (that other Holland pic), Marry Me, and Jackass Forever filling out the rest of the chart.

Here’s how I envision the top 6 and these are estimates over the Friday to Monday holiday:

1. Uncharted

Predicted Gross: $33.7 million

2. Dog

Predicted Gross: $13.3 million

3. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million

5. Marry Me

Predicted Gross: $6 million

6. Jackass Forever

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million

Box Office Results (February 11-13)

As mentioned, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile (his follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express) went a bit off the tracks with $12.8 million. That’s shy of my $14.3 million projection and it’s less than half of what Orient accomplished out of the gate.

Jackass Forever dropped to second with $8 million. The 65% drop was the largest of the five picture franchise and under my prediction of $11.3 million. The prankster sequel stands at $37 million after ten days.

Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson couldn’t get audiences to fall for them as Marry Me debuted in third with $7.9 million. That didn’t match my expectation of $11.2 million. Its simultaneous Peacock streaming start might have caused many couples to simply view from home.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was fourth with $7.5 million (I said $7.1 million) for $759 million overall. The MCU smash is just $1 million away from Avatar and becoming the third largest domestic earner of all-time (obviously it will hit that mark this week).

Liam Neeson’s latest revenge thriller Blacklight performed in line with his other COVID genre tales Honest Thief and The Marksman. The fifth place tally was $3.5 million, in range with my $3.8 million estimate.

Finally, Moonfall took a giant step down to #8 and fell 70% with $2.9 million in its sophomore outing (I was a little more generous with $3.5 million). Sing 2 and Scream managed to leap it for the sixth and seventh spots. The putrid gross is just $15 million.

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

February 11-13 Box Office Predictions

It’s been pretty easy to predict each weekend’s #1 film for a while – a lot of Spidey, a one-week interruption by Scream, and Johnny Knoxville and his pranksters in Jackass Forever. That gets a little more complicated this time around as three new pics enter the marketplace: Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express follow-up Death on the Nile, the Jennifer Lopez/Owen Wilson musical rom com Marry Me, and the latest Liam Neeson revenge saga Blacklight. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the trio right here:

Death on the Nile Box Office Prediction

Marry Me Box Office Prediction

Blacklight Box Office Prediction

Let’s start with Blacklight. Had this Neeson led tale (his granddaughter gets taken in it) come out in February a decade ago, we might be having a different conversation. However, grosses for these genre exercises with the actor have dwindled over the past couple of years (see Honest Thief and The Marksman). Therefore my $3.8 million estimate puts it at the tail end of the top five.

Then there’s Marry Me. It’s shrewdly placed during Valentine’s Day weekend where couples could be searching out something to view on date night. They will have the opportunity to do so with Marry Me in the theater and on Peacock and that could eat into the earnings. I have it barely topping double digits, but will admit that it could over perform and even snatch the #1 spot.

Jackass Forever is the fifth feature in the 20-year-old franchise and the fifth to open at #1. Looking over previous sophomore frame dips for earlier pics, I was surprised at their low drops. For 2002’s Jackass: The Movie, it was 44%.  2006’s Jackass: Number Two fell 49% while 2010’s Jackass 3D was the steepest at 57% (it was coming off a massive $50 million premiere). Spinoff Bad Grandpa in 2013 only had a 37% decline. I’ll say Forever loses about 50% That could be good enough for anywhere from the 1-3 slot depending on how Nile and Marry pan out. There could be a photo finish for that two spot.

Murder on the Orient Express tracked a solid $28 million haul just over four years ago. Yet it didn’t leg out particularly well and I question whether audiences are truly excited for another dose of Hercule Poirot and his many suspects. I suspect it should still make around half of what its predecessor took in. That would get it to #1, but we’re in a situation where we could have three genuine contenders for the top spot.

Spider-Man should stay in the top five with Moonfall potentially dropping out. The Roland Emmerich disaster tale managed just a C+ Cinemascore grade to go with its weak opening. A sophomore fall in the 60% range appears likely.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a certain game between the Bengals and Rams taking place Sunday. We usually don’t see three high-profile releases on Super Bowl weekend and it’s fair to assume grosses will take a hit on that date.

Here’s how I see it shaking out for your top 6:

1. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $14.3 million

2. Jackass Forever

Predicted Gross: $11.3 million

3. Marry Me

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

5. Blacklight

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

6. Moonfall

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million

Box Office Results (February 4-6)

The Jackass franchise is five for five when it comes to opening #1 at the box office. Jackass Forever performed in line with estimates at $23.1 million, a touch ahead of my $21.8 million projection. It ranks fourth in terms of the quintet of debuts (just ahead of the original), but it’s certainly an impressive number given the circumstances.

As for Roland Emmerich’s disaster pic Moonfall… not so much. The big budget ($140 million) lunar saga cratered with only $9.8 million (I went higher with $12.8 million). As mentioned above, expect a precipitous drop in its sophomore frame.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was third with $9.5 million, swinging a bit above my $8.1 million take. The total has reached $748 million as it inches ever closer to 3rd domestically all-time (currently held by Avatar with $760 million).

Scream was fourth with $4.7 million (I said $4.4 million) and it’s scared up an overall tally of $68 million.

Sing 2 rounded out the top five with $4.2 million compared to my $3.6 million estimate. Total is $139 million.

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

Blacklight Box Office Prediction

Some 13 years after Taken kicked off a whole new action phase for its star, Liam Neeson is back in revenge mode with Blacklight (out February 11th). And this time… wait for it!… it’s his granddaughter who’s been snatched by nefarious criminals. Mark Williams, who worked with Neeson in Honest Thief, directs and the supporting cast includes Emmy Raver-Lampman, Taylor John Smith, and Aidan Quinn.

One look at the Blacklight trailer illuminates Neeson in his late career comfort zone. Post Taken, that’s resulted in moneymakers like Unknown, Non-Stop and, of course, the Taken sequels.

Lately, however, the grosses have slowed. Some of that might have been a result of releases that occurred in this COVID era. The aforementioned Thief in fall 2020 premiered to only $3.6 million. Last year, The Marksman took in $3.7 million over the four-day MLK frame. Pre pandemic, in 2019, Cold Pursuit started with $11 million (still far off from earlier efforts).

I don’t see a compelling why Blacklight would approach double digits (or even high single ones) and it won’t help that male viewers will be distracted by the Bengals vs. Rams on Sunday of its debut weekend. It might outdo Thief and The Marksman, but maybe not.

Blacklight opening weekend: $3.8 million

For my Death on the Nile prediction, click here:

Death on the Nile Box Office Prediction

For my Marry Me prediction, click here:

Marry Me Box Office Prediction

Stillwater Review

Let me finish this page.

It’s a line uttered in a humorous way early on in Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater to Bill Baker (Matt Damon) by his mother-in-law trying to read her novel. He’s an Oklahoma oil rig worker living a mundane existence punctuated by extraordinary overseas excursions. Bill’s family circumstances are high-profile for such a low-profile man. Daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) is in a French prison for the murder of her lover and roommate. Mom is tragically no longer in the picture. Mom-in-law seems to be footing most of the bill for Allison’s defense which appears hopeless after half a decade.

Bill is a stranger in a strange land each time he visits Allison, who steadfastly maintains her innocence. He’s searching for answers to free her and he has very few of them. They’re certainly not in French. Part of the struggle is his unwillingness to learn the language across the pond. Yet he also cannot seem to communicate well with his captive daughter and they both speak perfect English.

Stillwater attempts to be many things in its 140 minutes. It works best as a character study for Bill as he becomes more accustomed to his surroundings. This is especially true when he meets theater actress Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her adorable daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud). His relationship with Maya gives him a chance to be the father figure that he wasn’t before.

The screenplay makes a wise decision by presenting Bill as a deeply flawed, but determined seeker of truth. The unwise decisions that strained his relationship with Allison don’t stop in America. This isn’t Liam Neeson pulverizing European henchman on his way to saving the day. The script here has taken a far different route.

Where the picture occasionally struggles is with the thriller aspects. For a solid portion of the runtime, the case of Allison is an interesting enough one. There are obviously shades of the Amanda Knox international trial and imprisonment. Plot contrivances, especially in the third act, arise and they are familiar language for the genre. They serve somewhat as a barrier to Stillwater‘s overall success. Not every little twist and turn feels necessary. Perhaps some pages in this screenplay didn’t need to be finished.

Damon’s sturdy performance as Bill slowly moving towards a meaningful life keep this afloat – even if the procedural aspects of finding the real killers feels almost incidental.

*** (out of four)

Jungle Cruise Box Office Prediction

Disney has certainly had luck basing movies on their theme park quantities before and they hope it continues on July 30th with the release of Jungle Cruise. The adventure pic (with a reported budget north of $200 million) pairs Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt (fresh off her hit sequel A Quiet Place Part II) in the early 20th Century set tale. Costars include Jack Whitehall, Edgar Ramirez, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. Jaume Collet-Serra, best known for Liam Neeson action flicks such as Unknown and Non-Stop or horror fare like The Shallows, directs.

As the studio has in 2021 with recent projects like Cruella and Black Widow, this will simultaneously premiere on Disney Plus for an extra viewing fee of $30. That strategy has been called into question in recent days considering the precipitous sophomore drop for Widow. Truth be told, the $30 doesn’t seem so high when factoring in families watching and that could negatively impact theatrical earnings.

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (and The Haunted Mansion to a lesser degree) has shown an appetite for these Mouse Factory ride based attractions turned films. The star power of Johnson and Blunt doesn’t hurt either and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this swing to over $30 million. However, the streaming competition could easily prevent that and I’ll estimate high 20s as it sets sail at multiplexes and at home.

Jungle Cruise opening weekend prediction: $28.4 million

For my Stillwater prediction, click here:

Stillwater Box Office Prediction

For my The Green Knight prediction, click here:

The Green Knight Box Office Prediction

The Ice Road Review

Liam Neeson’s The Ice Road finds its inspiration from two classic pictures in 1953’s The Wages of Fear and 1977’s Sorcerer. The plots are similar by placing truck drivers in dangerous situations with nearly impossible odds to succeed. In Wages and its remake, it regarded the transportation of finnicky nitroglycerin over rough terrain. Though explosives are involved here, Road mostly pertains to what lies beneath. This is where ears of fans for the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers may perk up.

A mining disaster in Manitoba traps 26 workers. The only way in reaching the remote locale to rescue them is hauling hefty rigs over the frozen tundra. Signing up for the job is Neeson’s toothpick chomping Mike McCann and brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas), an ex-Vet suffering from PTSD and aphasia, a condition which limits his ability to communicate. Others along for the ride due to their particular sets of skills are Laurence Fishburne as a seasoned driver and Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), a rebel with a cause whose brother is among those closed in and about to run out of oxygen. There’s also Tom (Benjamin Walker), a company man supposedly there to assess insurance risk.

The Ice Road volleys back and forth between the motorists on their slick mission, the captive workers making life or death decisions as their breathing slows, and the corporate overlords more concerned with not ruining their profits. Neeson has, of course, made his own profitable second career with these mostly generic action thrillers. With Jonathan Hensleigh (writer of Die Hard with a Vengeance and Armageddon) behind the directorial wheel, we have another middling entry for the Taken lead.

As the credits rolled, it struck me how little real action or visual thrills there are here. Some of this could be budget related. When the ground cracks and mayhem occurs, we never see below the surface and that might have been cool (pun intended). Neeson doesn’t sleepwalk through the role nor does Midthunder. As for brother Gurty, he does have a pet mouse that comes in handy at one point. Ultimately this tale of ice and anonymous ski goggled henchmen is primarily stuck in mediocrity.

** (out of four)

Wrath of Man Box Office Prediction

Jason Statham stomps back into multiplexes on May 7th with Wrath of Man. The revenge action thriller marks his fourth collaboration with Guy Ritchie who directed him in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Revolver. Costars include Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, and Scott Eastwood.

The MGM release finds Statham trying to carry a picture to solid grosses. In recent years, he’s mostly been seen in the role of Shaw in the Fast and Furious franchise and its spin-off. If you go back to 2013’s Homefront that primarily relied on his star power, it resulted in an opening weekend just south of $7 million. Wrath could manage to exceed that.

Wrath could post grosses in the range of recent Liam Neeson genre fare like Honest Thief and The Marksman, which both started with earnings in the $4 million range. I’ll give it a fairly significant bump from that since venues are in a better spot than when those flicks premiered.

Wrath of Man opening weekend prediction: $8.3 million

For my Here Today prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/29/here-today-box-office-prediction/

The Marksman Box Office Prediction

Liam Neeson headlines the first new wide release of 2021 with The Marksman next weekend. The action pic casts Neeson as a former Marine (with a particular set of skills I assume) protecting a young boy from harm by a Mexican cartel. Robert Lorenz, a frequent collaborator of Clint Eastwood, directs. Costars include Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, and Teresa Ruiz.

It goes without saying, but the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing many theater closures and limited audiences for fresh product. This looks to continue into the foreseeable future. That has made the forecasting of pictures quite a dubious proposition and I took a break for the last couple of months.

I shall try again. This is not Neeson’s first foray into available multiplexes during COVID. In October, Honest Thief debuted to $3.6 million stateside. Considering the circumstances, that was pretty decent. I suspect The Marksman won’t quite hit that target, but it should come pretty darn close.

The Marksman opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million