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

The Protege Review

For a not insignificant portion of The Protege‘s running time, the plot is incidental but also unclear. I found myself forgetting why assassin Anna (Maggie Q) was kicking the rear ends of the various henchmen of a shady and mysterious rich guy. There’s two of them actually as the main villain shifts from time to time. The more constant presence is Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), who also works for the crime syndicate but doesn’t fall victim to Anna’s skull crushing skills. She seems to want him around.

The interplay between them indicates a screenplay flirting with a desire to branch beyond its pulverizing 90s era action tropes. This feels like more of a direct to video title than a direct to streaming affair. Because of its similarities to that time period three decades ago, it only feels right that Samuel L. Jackson participates. He’s Moody and in a 1991 prologue, he rescues young Anna after her family is brutally murdered in her native Vietnam. Actually rescue is the wrong word. He finds her and becomes her mentor. It was Anna who exacted revenge on the killers.

Moody is an assassin for hire and since this is a movie, he generally only offs really evil people. Anna is a chip off the old block and they form a lucrative business exterminating such vermin. She masquerades as a rare book store owner in London and that’s when she first encounters Rembrandt. He’s mysteriously connected to a former mark of Moody’s. Just the mention of his name (Edward Davis) causes holes in people’s heads and it leads Anna back to ‘Nam to investigate.

The Protege is quick, violent, and nicely cast. Q is a convincing action heroine and the familiar faces of Keaton and Jackson are welcome… to a point. The Anna/Rembrandt dynamic feels alternately fascinating (there’s a nice little Heat restaurant type of sequence between them) or tiresome depending on which act we’ve reached. The “twists” aren’t too twisty when considering the actors playing the roles and the expected amount of screen time they’d be granted. Martin Campbell (best known for kicking off 007 eras with Goldeneye and Casino Royale) knows what he’s doing with action sequences though he’s absolutely done better.

This is a generic shoot-em-up that should partly satisfy cravings of genre enthusiasts who like it lean, mean, and rather dumb. With Keaton quipping, I kept expecting The Protege to enter self parody territory. It never does and if it had, we might be entering a guilty pleasure experience that hit harder. I wouldn’t call this bad by any means, but it’s not a blast either.

**1/2 (out of four)

August 20-22 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (08/18): I am revising my PAW Patrol: The Movie estimate up from $7.9M to $10.8M.

The dog days of summer continues with four new offerings in the marketplace and they could all fall short of the second weekend of Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds. Speaking of dogs, we have PAW Patrol: The Movie as well as three more adult oriented offerings: Hugh Jackman’s sci-fi thriller Reminiscence, action flick The Protege with Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson and horror pic The Night House. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

The Protege Box Office Prediction

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

The Night House Box Office Prediction

I don’t have any of the features from the fresh quartet (not a sequel in the bunch!) topping $10 million. That means Free Guy, after a better than anticipated bow, should manage to remain #1 in its sophomore outing. I’m assuming it will dip in the low to mid 50s like Jungle Cruise did a couple of weeks back.

As for those newcomers, the one I’m most conflicted about is PAW Patrol: The Movie. It certainly has a built-in fan base of youngsters who may drag their parents to see it. Rather unexpectedly, it’s generating quite decent reviews. However, my hunch is that some families may wait for it to be on the small screen and I’m projecting third place.

That’s behind Reminiscence which could approach double digits. Jackman’s latest is also available on HBO Max. It will be competing for eyeballs with The Protege, which I have pegged for mid single digits (if anything, I think it could go lower). In fact, it could be in a battle for fifth with Jungle Cruise in its fourth weekend.

The Night House comes at the tale end of a season packed with horror titles and I believe it’s bound to get lost in the shuffle. My meager $3.1 million estimate leaves it well outside the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

2. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million

3. Reminiscence

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. The Protege

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million

Box Office Results (August 13-15)

Friday the 13th wasn’t so unlucky for Ryan Reynolds and Free Guy. The Fox (and therefore Disney) property opened on the higher end of forecasts with $28.3 million, topping my $21.3 million estimate. With an A Cinemascore grade, audiences liked what they saw and it sounds as if a sequel will happen. The near $30 million start might have been called slightly disappointing in different times. All things considered, it’s rather strong.

Horror sequel (I’ve been saying that a lot lately) Don’t Breathe 2 debuted with $10.6 million, just under my $11.2 million take. That’s miles away from the $26 million that the 2016 predecessor took in, but generally in line with most predictions. At a cost of just $15 million, it should turn a nice profit for Sony Pictures.

Jungle Cruise was third in its third weekend with $9.1 million – right on pace with my $8.9 million estimate. The Disney adventure is at $82 million with $100 million in its sights.

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect with Jennifer Hudson also hit its anticipated mark in fourth with $8.8 million. That’s a tad ahead of my $8.5 million call. Reviews were only so-so though its lead could be on her way to a Best Actress nomination.

And, finally, the bad news for The Suicide Squad continued. Following a disastrous opening, the reboot/sequel plunged an equally disturbing 71% to fifth with $7.4 million. I was more optimistic at $10.1 million. The ten-day tally is a lowly $42 million.

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

The Protege Box Office Prediction

Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson star in the action thriller The Protege next weekend and it will attempt to carve its place into the typically limp late summer box office. Martin Campbell, director of Casino Royale, is behind the camera.

The Lionsgate release is only available in theaters and it will face serious competition for the same audience from Hugh Jackman’s Reminiscence. In this challenged marketplace, The Protege going straight to pay streaming wouldn’t have been much of a shocker.

I’ll give the studio credit for giving it a shot, but I’m guessing Jackman will propel his effort to slightly higher earnings. I only have Reminiscence at just under $7 million and I’ll say this gets just under $5 million.

The Protege opening weekend prediction: $4.7 million

For my PAW Patrol: The Movie prediction, click here:

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

For my Reminiscence prediction, click here:

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

For my The Night House prediction, click here:

The Night House Box Office Prediction

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

Hugh Jackman makes a return to sci-fi next weekend with Reminiscence. The film (reportedly budgeted at just under $70 million) is the rare summer feature in this genre not based on a known property. It marks the directorial debut of Lisa Joy, best known for co-creating HBO’s Westworld. Costars include Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, and Marina de Tavira.

The Home Box Office connections are strong. Since this a Warner Bros property, the pic will simultaneously have its 30 day HBO Max availability. Originally slated for April before it traded with Mortal Kombat, the film faces some challenges. This might seem minor, but the title doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. More importantly, Reminiscence opens against the Michael Keaton/Maggie Q/Samuel L. Jackson thriller The Protege and they’ll be battling for the same audience. Both may suffer as a result.

Add in the Delta variant concerns and I really question whether this gets past $10 million. My gut says to put it under.

Reminiscence opening weekend prediction: $6.8 million

For my PAW Patrol: The Movie prediction, click here:

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

For my The Protege prediction, click here:

The Protege Box Office Prediction

For my The Night House prediction, click here:

The Night House Box Office Prediction

Fantasy Island Box Office Prediction

The latest low-budget concoction from Blumhouse Productions is Fantasy Island, a horror themed take on the kitschy 1970s TV series. Opening over the four-day Presidents Day weekend, Jeff Wadlow (who recently teamed with Blumhouse on Truth or Dare) directs with a cast including Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, and Michael Rooker.

Shot for a reported tiny $7 million, the pic will attempt to bring in youngsters without much reference point for the source material. That said, this particular production shop is savvy about getting an audience and turning a handsome profit. Nearly two years back, Truth debuted to nearly $19 million against its $3 million budget.

The gargantuan profit return may not be quite as pronounced here, but still substantial. For the Friday to Monday frame, I’ll say Island manages low double digits.

Fantasy Island opening weekend prediction: $11.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Sonic the Hedgehog prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/06/sonic-the-hedgehog-box-office-prediction/

For my The Photograph prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/08/the-photograph-box-office-prediction/

For my Downhill prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/09/downhill-box-office-prediction/

Divergent Movie Review

Divergent exists because of The Hunger Games. While it may be based on its own series of popular YA novels (which were probably also “inspired” by the Games books), it’s the success of Jennifer Lawrence and company that made this possible. Imitation isn’t always so bad if you can find a somewhat interesting way to do it. Yet for the most part, despite a solid effort from the actors involved, Divergent often feels dull, way too familiar, and poorly paced.

In a dystopian future (of course), the city of Chicago now looks like District 12 and society is divided into five needlessly complicated factions where at age 16, citizens must choose where they wish to belong. There’s a faction for smart people and brave people and selfless people and so on. As we open, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is about to take her test to find out where she belongs, as is her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort). You take the test to show where to go, but have free will to join another group. You can also be considered divergent, which means you don’t fit into any faction. The powers that be don’t like the free will thinking of that subgroup and kill them. Beatrice turns out to be just that and must hide it from everyone. She joins Dauntless (the brave law enforcement team) to the surprise of her parents (Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd), who are involved in the government ruling selfless faction. Brother Caleb joins the smart people group. Katniss volunteers in place of her little sis… oh, wrong movie.

If this all sounds more complicated than it needs to be, you would be correct. Soon enough, though, we’re in known territory with training sequences that take Tris (she shortens Beatrice) on a physical and mental journey. There’s also several shades of Inception in the proceedings, as part of the training involves dream like worlds and reading minds.

One of Tris’s Dauntless superiors is Four (Theo James) and he becomes her love interest who may have some easily predicted secrets of his own. There’s also Woodley’s Spectacular Now boyfriend Miles Teller as a weasel of a faction member. This is in addition to Shailene’s romantic counterpart Elgort as her brother. So while there’s no love triangle, our lead actress’s filmography makes things kinda awkward.

Kate Winslet leads the smart people faction, who have evil designs on taking over the government themselves. This puts Tris in the position of needing to protect her family while furiously protecting her true divergent nature.

The plus side of Divergent is really with Woodley. She’s a fine actress and she provides a better performance than the material. Same goes for James and most of the other personnel. That’s pretty much where the compliments stop. Some of the action is OK, but Divergent is just so routine. The look and feel borrow way too heavily from the aforementioned other franchise. They even cast Hunger Games costar Lenny’s daughter Zoe Kravitz as Tris’s BFF (best faction friend).

There is an admittedly nifty sequence where Tris simulates flying, albeit in a different way than her costar Winslet did in that movie about a boat and an iceberg. Divergent tries too hard to emulate The King of the YA Adapted Films and hits its own metaphorical ‘berg.

** (out of four)