Today’s edition of my Daily Streaming Guide centers on two captivating documentaries, which are both available for viewing via Hulu:
The 2014 doc Life Itself is about the life and death of renowned film critic Roger Ebert. From his wilder days in Chicago to becoming sober to his famed partnership with fellow reviewer Gene Siskel, the pic is an all encompassing look at the legendary Pulitzer Prize winning writer. The most touching moments involve his debilitating cancer battle that ended his life in 2013. Emotionally resonant and often funny, Life Itself is a great watch even for people who weren’t tremendously influenced by his work (like me).
2018’s Three Identical Strangers can be filed under the heading “truth is stranger than fiction”. That phrase plays throughout the tale of identical triplets who didn’t know of one another’s existence until they were 19. The less you know about it going in, the better. Just know that you’ll be entertained and consistently surprised.
**Blogger’s Note (09/27/18): My estimates for Night School and Smallfoot has risen slightly to $31.6 million and $23 million respectively.
It could be a battle for the #1 spot at the box office as September closes with the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School and the animated Warner Bros family pic Smallfoot debuting. We also have the Halloween theme park set horror flick Hell Fest opening. You can peruse my detailed individual prediction posts on the trio here:
Before we get to the heavy hitters, the Pure Flix version of Little Women is also out Friday on a low 600 or so screens. I didn’t do a separate post for it and I’m not expecting much out of it. I’ll put its premiere at just $1.1 million.
Kevin Hart has shown his potency at the box office repeatedly with several openings north of $30 million. I don’t have Night School reaching quite that high, but my mid to late 20s estimate is enough to project it will top the lower to mid 20s gross of Smallfoot.
Competition for Smallfoot will include the second weekend of The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which performed on the higher end of expectations out of the gate. It should drop to third place with A Simple Favor in fourth.
The five-spot is where I expect Hell Fest to compete. Horror movies always have the capacity to outdo expectations, but I’m not seeing much fanfare for this one. My mid single digits prediction could put it in range with the fourth weekend of The Nun.
And with that, a top 6 take on the weekend ahead:
1. Night School
Predicted Gross: $31.6 million
Predicted Gross: $23 million
3. The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Predicted Gross: $15.3 million
4. A Simple Favor
Predicted Gross: $7 million
5. Hell Fest
Predicted Gross: $5.6 million
6. The Nun
Predicted Gross: $5.5 million
Box Office Results (September 21-23)
As anticipated, The House with a Clock in Its Walls topped the charts with a solid $26.6 million (ahead of my $23.2 million take). The Jack Black family pic, as mentioned, hit the better end of estimates. Considering its reported $40 million budget, this should be a nice hit for Universal.
A Simple Favor elevated from third place to second place in its sophomore weekend with $10.2 million, in line with my $10.6 million projection. Its total stands at $32 million.
The Nun crossed the $100 million mark placing third with $9.9 million (ahead of my $8.4 million estimate). Only Annabelle of the Conjuring Cinematic Universe didn’t manage to join the century club and The Nun appears poised to be the franchise’s second largest earner behind The Conjuring.
The Predator dipped mightily in weekend #2 to fourth place with a 63% fall and $9.1 million (I said $10 million) for $40 million overall.
Crazy Rich Asians was fifth with $6.3 million (I went with $5.9 million) for $159 million overall.
The newcomers besides Clock all failed to connect with moviegoers. Michael Moore’s doc (despite significant publicity) was a flop. While Fahrenheit 9/11 took in nearly $24 million in its first weekend in the summer of 2004, 11/9 managed a paltry $3 million for 8th place. I predicted $5 million.
Life Itself couldn’t overcome overwhelmingly negative reviews and the drama from “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman was 11th with a putrid $2.1 million. I was a bit higher at $3.8 million.
I didn’t make a prediction on the blog for Assassination Nation (though I said $1.2 million on Fantasy Movie League), but it was another bad opening in 15th place with $1 million.
The family fantasy film The House with a Clock in Its Walls looks to get its hands on the #1 spot at the box office this weekend as it opens alongside the Michael Moore political doc Fahrenheit 11/9 and ensemble drama Life Itself. If you missed my detailed prediction posts on that trio, you can find them here:
My low to mid 20s forecast for Clock should be more than enough for it to top the charts. The rest of the top 5 could be a bit more interesting. The Predator had a so-so debut and I look for it to experience a pretty hefty drop. Same goes for The Nun in its third weekend. A Simple Favor, on the other hand, could experience a solid hold in its sophomore frame.
As for the newcomers, my measly $3.8 million projection for Life Itself leaves it outside the top 5 while Fahrenheit ($5 million estimate) could battle for Crazy Rich Asians for that five-spot. And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:
1. The House with a Clock In Its Walls
Predicted Gross: $23.2 million
2. A Simple Favor
Predicted Gross: $10.6 million
3. The Predator
Predicted Gross: $10 million
4. The Nun
Predicted Gross: $8.4 million
5. Crazy Rich Asians
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million
Box Office Results (September 14-16)
The Predator opening in first place was never really in doubt, but its $24.6 million debut didn’t impress much. It came in a bit under my $27.4 million estimate. Mostly negative reviews didn’t help and I look for this to experience a decline of over 50% this coming weekend.
After posting a franchise best haul for the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, The Nun saw the largest second weekend drop (66%) to $18.2 million (I was a little higher at $19.8 million). The two-week tally stands at $85 million.
Returns were decent for A Simple Favor as it opened in third with $16 million (a bit under my $17.9 million prediction). I see it experiencing the best hold for next weekend and having a real chance at rising to second place (considering the potential dips for The Predator and The Nun).
White Boy Rick premiered in fourth place with an unremarkable $8.8 million, on pace with my $8.7 million estimate. The crime drama also suffered from mixed reviews and it couldn’t manage to get older moviegoers interested.
Crazy Rich Asians rounded out the top five with $8.6 million (I said $8.2 million) to bring its total to $149 million.
Finally, faith-based sequel Unbroken: Path to Redemption gained no traction with audiences earning just $2.2 million for 10th place (I said $2.5 million).
The ensemble drama LifeItself opens next weekend and it likely faces an uphill battle for eyeballs. Dan Fogelman, best known as creator of NBC’s hit series “This Is Us”, directs. The cast includes Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Life premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last week to poor reviews and word of mouth. It stands at just 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and the marketing campaign has been lackluster.
Add all that up and this is looking like a major flop that could struggle to hit $5 million.
LifeItself opening weekend prediction: $3.8 million
For my TheHousewithaClockinItsWalls prediction, click here:
The film festival season always gives us plenty of Best Picture contenders and potential recipients for the acting categories and elsewhere. There’s also those movies that debut and completely eliminate themselves from contention due to poor reviews. At Toronto, that definitely appears to be the case with Dan Fogelman’s LifeItself (not to be confused with the terrific documentary about Roger Ebert).
Fogelman is most known for creating the hit NBC tearjerker series “This Is Us”. For his second feature film (after the barely noticed Al Pacino led DannyCollins), he’s assembled a cast including Oscar Isaac, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Simply put, critical reaction here has been bad, saying it’s manipulative and corny. Bottom line: LifeItself has taken itself out of any awards talk.
The film opens September 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Over the past couple of days, you’ve seen my first round of Oscar predictions for the 2018 season. If you didn’t, here’s a reminder of my estimates for the four acting categories, Best Director, and the controversial new race Best Popular Film.
Which brings me to Best Picture. For the biggest race of all, I’m listing 25 possibilities and these inaugural estimates selects 9 films being honored.
As previous posts have pointed out, the Film Festival season that begins in earnest next week with Venice and then Toronto. The feats will tremendously shape my weekly predictions. They start August 30.
It’s an exciting time on the blog as Oscar prediction season is here. Readers of this here know that every Thursday starting very soon, I will be posting weekly Oscar predictions in the six major categories… wait, make that seven as I will now be including the new and controversial Most Popular Film race.
It begins today with Best Supporting Actress where I’m posting my first initial five predicted women and ten other possibilities. We will move on to Supporting Actor, the lead acting categories, Director, Most Popular Film, and Picture in short order.
A word of warning: these are very early predictions and they will unquestionably change. I like to do my first estimates before the film festival season approaches (beginning next week). Toronto and Venice and other fests will surely shape my predictions in a massive away. Expect lots of Oscar Watch posts in the next month concentrating on dozens of screened movies at the festivals.
Beginning next Thursday (August 30), I will begin my weekly posts listing 25 possibilities for Picture and 15 in the other major races. At that time, numerical rankings will come into play. In November, that will switch to 15 listings for Picture and 10 in ALL other categories honoring feature films.
Today it begins and here is my early bird look at Supporting Actress…