McConaughey: Everything’s Not Alright Alright

When this blog started in the fall of 2012, Matthew McConaughey was coming off a solid two-year period which saw him headline the surprise legal drama hit The Lincoln Lawyer and attract rave reviews for his supporting role in Magic Mike.

Yet 2013 elevated the actor to a whole new stratosphere. His work in the acclaimed indie pic Mud garnered Oscar chatter. He had a memorable cameo alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. It ironically turned out that McConaughey’s scene partner in that film was his biggest competition for an Oscar. Dallas Buyers Club would see the Texan playing Ron Woodruff, a real life AIDS patient in the 1980s. McConaughey’s work was praised and he took home the gold statue. His luck streak continued into the following year starring in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which stands as his largest grossing live-action feature.

Since then? Well, let’s just say the McConaissance has been interrupted. Or borrowing his most famous catchphrase from 1993’s Dazed and Confused – it’s not Alright Alright.

This weekend, his stoner comedy The Beach Bum tanked at the box office. Its approximate $1.8 million opening is the worst release of the actor’s career. And it follows a pattern of now seven live-action duds (he did provide voice work in the animated pics Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings). And to give a modicum of credit, he did skip the subpar sequel Magic Mike XXL.

At least Nicolas Cage had a string of action hits after his Oscar before delving into VOD territory. McConaughey hasn’t been so fortunate and he quickly needs a critical or commercial success to redeem things. His list of recent material is an unsuccessful and largely forgettable one. In three years, we’ve had:

  • Free State of Jones, his summer 2016 Civil War drama that took in $20 million domestically against a $50 million budget. Its Rotten Tomatoes score was 46%.
  • The Sea of Trees from later that summer. The drama wasn’t even released wide and didn’t make a million dollars (13% RT score).
  • True life crime drama Gold in January 2017. 42% RT. $14 million gross stateside.
  • The Dark Tower in summer 2017. The critically maligned Stephen King adaptation had a 16% RT rating and immediately ended the possibility of a franchise with earnings of $50 million.
  • Another based on actual events crime drama from last fall – White Boy Rick. 58% RT and $24 million gross.
  • Noir thriller Serenity from earlier this year. Barely promoted, it made an embarrassing $8 million total with a 23% RT score.

And now The Beach Bum, which won’t reach $10 million domestically either. It’s time for McConaughey’s people to find him some better stuff. His most memorable appearances lately have been in car commercials. If they can’t manage to do so, there’s always 2013.

The Non-Sequel Actors

Next weekend sees the release of two high-profile sequels: The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The pair of part II’s have something rather interesting in common: they serve as the first sequels that their stars Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep have ever appeared in. Pretty surprising huh? Both have been mega-stars for decades and have never followed up on a character until now.

This got me thinking: what other major actors have never been in a sequel? And it’s not an easy list to cobble together.

Some actors are known for their cases of sequelitis. We know Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in a multitude of them, including Marvel Cinematic Universe pics and franchises ranging from Star Wars to xXx to Incredibles. He was John McClane’s sidekick in Die Hard with a Vengeance. And looking early in his filmography, 1990 saw him appearing in The Exorcist III and The Return of Superfly. There’s also Patriot Games from 1992 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 from 2004. Son of Shaft will be out next year. Dude loves his m****f***ing sequels!

Sylvester Stallone has made a career of out of them. Creed II will mark his 15th sequel by my count. There’s the Rocky, Rambo, and Expendables series and there’s also Staying Alive (which he directed and had a cameo in), Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and the just released Escape Plan 2: Hades.

Eddie Murphy has returned in the following series: 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, Dr. Dolittle, and Shrek. There could be a part II of Coming to America on the horizon.

Harrison Ford has the famous series like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Jack Ryan pictures. There’s also More American Graffiti, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and last year’s Blade Runner 2049.

OK, back to thespians who don’t constantly appear in sequels. Leonardo DiCaprio? Well, who can forget one of his first roles as Josh in 1991’s Critters 3? 

Matthew McConaughey has a similar situation. Since he’s become known, no sequels (not even returning in Magic Mike XXL). Yet one of his first roles was in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. 

Unlike his 80s comedic counterparts Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Steve Martin (all in plenty of them), I couldn’t immediately think of any sequel that John Candy did. Yet he provided a voice-over in the 1990 Disney animated follow-up The Rescuers Down Under. 

With Marlon Brando, I guess it depends on how you look at it. He refused to come back for a flashback cameo in The Godfather Part II. Yet he did appear in 2006’s Superman Returns… with a caveat. That footage was culled completely from his work nearly three decades earlier in Superman and it happened two years after his death.

So here’s the deal… it is really tough to come up with performers in the modern age who haven’t appeared in at least one sequel. However, here’s five of them and feel free to list others in the comments!

Warren Beatty

He’s famously picky about his projects and he’s never played the same man twice. There were rumors that he wanted to do another Dick Tracy, but it never materialized.

Annette Bening

Beatty’s wife has had a long and distinguished career free of sequels. She was originally cast as Catwoman in 1992’s Batman Returns but dropped out due to pregnancy.

Russell Crowe

The Oscar winner has yet to return to a role, though I’d certainly sign up for The Nice Guys II. P.S. – I do not count Man of Steel as a sequel.

Jodie Foster

She declined to return as Clarice Starling in 2001’s Hannibal after an Oscar-winning turn in The Silence of the Lambs ten years earlier. That was her biggest chance at a sequel and there are none before or after.

Jake Gyllenhaal

His first role was as Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers, but he was nowhere to be found for part II or any other sequel. However, that long streak ends next summer with Spider-Man: Far From Home.

And there you go! As I said, feel free to chime in with your own non-sequel actors…

Magic Mike XXL Movie Review

In 2012, I found Magic Mike to be a mostly effective star vehicle for Channing Tatum as a somewhat autobiographical tale of his dancing past. Somewhat surprisingly, he was able to enlist Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh to bring it to the screen. While I recognize I was far from the film’s target audience, I was able to appreciate its fresh subject matter, even if the screenplay didn’t always deliver. Where it did – Tatum’s turn in the lead and a wildly entertaining supporting performance for Matthew McConaughey in the midst of his career resurgence.

His own Academy Awards glory and busy schedule keeps Mr. McConaughey out of Magic Mike XXL and the absence of his presence is not all right, all right, all right. Also gone is Magic Mike’s understudy Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and his sister Brooke (Cody Horn) who was our title character’s love interest. Gone too (kind of) is Soderbergh, who handed over directorial duties to Gregory Jacobs, but he still handles the cinematography and executive produces.

Watching XXL, I could never shake the feeling that this is a sequel its star and producers probably never figured they’d make. While the original brought audiences into a world you don’t often see portrayed on screen, XXL feels been there, done that with really nothing more to say. Many sequels have the odor of being completely unnecessary and this is one of them.

The pic starts three years after we last left Mike as he continues to get his custom furniture business off the ground. He’s hung up his G string and checked his signature dance moves while recently becoming single after being rebuffed by Brooke. Mike is soon lured back to his band of merry dude strippers for one last event (a Myrtle Beach convention) and their journey there leads to what could be dubbed Magic Mike: Road Trip!!

Along the way, this extremely episodic and poorly paced experience leads them to an African American club owned by an annoyingly overacting Jada Pinkett Smith, to a cougar filled house party that includes Andie MacDowell, and to Mike’s interacting with a new kind of, sort of love interest in an underwritten subplot with Amber Heard. The other boys in the group get perfunctory and dull storylines like Matt Bomer’s longed for singing career.

It all left me with one overall feeling: the world didn’t need a second dose of this. I guess everything about Magic Mike that needed to be said was done so in 2012 and this listless affair proves it. For the female (and male) fans of the original, perhaps the climactic dance grooves at the convention will merit its existence. My suggestion would be to just watch the first one again. It’s no masterpiece, but it almost looks like it compared to this.

*1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: July 17-19

Two new pictures look to make waves at the box office when they open this weekend: Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Judd Apatow directed Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck. You can read my detailed individual prediction posts on each here:

Ant-Man has a wide range of possibility for how it opens out of the gate. If it debuts on the low end of expectations (mid 5os), it could find itself playing runner-up to the second weekend of Minions. However, my projection has it reaching #1 fairly easily.

Minions could see its sophomore frame lose about half its audience after the massive premiere it achieved over the weekend. That should leave the critically acclaimed Trainwreck in third place with a projected healthy opening in line with what Bridesmaids accomplished four summers ago.

Blockbuster leftovers Jurassic World and Inside Out should round out the top five.

And with that, my top five projections for the weekend:

1. Ant-Man

Predicted Gross: $73.3 million

2. Minions

Predicted Gross: $56.9 million (representing a drop of 50%)

3. Trainwreck

Predicted Gross: $27.8 million

4. Jurassic World

Predicted Gross: $11.1 million (representing a drop of 39%)

5. Inside Out

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million (representing a drop of 40%)

Box Office Results (July 10-12)

As mentioned, the animated Despicable Me franchise spin-off Minions rocked the charts with $115.7 million, making it the second largest animated feature debut of all time (after Shrek the Third‘s $121.6M). This is well above my $96.4M prediction and finds this series in wonderful shape as it bodes very well for Despicable Me 3 in the summer of 2017.

Jurassic World was second with $18.1 million, edging my $16.3M estimate. The dino phenomenon stands at $590M domestically, good for fourth all time. Pixar’s Inside Out took third with $17.6 million, in line with my $17.3M projection and its total is at $284M.

In its second weekend, Terminator Genisys was fourth with $13.8 million, on target with my $14.5M projection. It’s made a middling $68M so far.

Horror flick The Gallows opened in fifth with a so-so $9.8 million, a touch above my $8.9M estimate while Magic Mike XXL was sixth in its sophomore engagement with $9.5 million, holding up considerably better than my $5.8M prediction. The sequel has taken in a less than expected $48M.

Finally, the Ryan Reynolds action thriller Self/less stumbled with an 8th place showing at just $5.4 million, well under my $9.7M prediction.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: July 10-12

The box office stranglehold held by Pixar’s Inside Out and Jurassic World looks to finally come to an end this weekend as Despicable Me franchise spin-off Minions looks to easily dominate the box office. Two new entries also populate the crowded marketplace: Ryan Reynolds action thriller Self/less and found footage horror flick The Gallows. You can read my detailed prediction posts on all the newcomers here:

As stated, Minions could certainly flirt with an opening over $100 million, but I have it opening just shy of that mark. As for Self/less and The Gallows, I believe both will struggle to even make double digits and I’m predicting they won’t get there.

Current champs Inside Out and Jurassic should both slide a spot to the 2 and 3 position while dropping in the low 40s. In its second weekend, I’m predicting Terminator Genisys will fall a bit further than that after its disappointing opening while Magic Mike XXL looks to suffer a hefty decline after its surprisingly weak debut over the weekend.

And with that, we’ll make it a top seven prediction for this weekend:

1. Minions

Predicted Gross: $96.4 million

2. Inside Out

Predicted Gross: $17.3 million (representing a drop of 41%)

3. Jurassic World

Predicted Gross: $16.3 million (representing a drop of 43%)

4. Terminator Genisys

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million (representing a drop of 46%)

5. Self/less

Predicted Gross: $9.7 million

6. The Gallows

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million

7. Magic Mike XXL

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million (representing a drop of 54%)

Box Office Results (July 3-5)

While two holdovers continued their impressive reign at multiplexes, two newcomer sequels failed to meet expectations.

Pixar’s Inside Out narrowly reached the #1 spot with $29.7 million, finally breaking Jurassic World‘s three week hold at the top. This was just under my $30.5M estimate. Its three week total stands at a rock solid $245 million.

Jurassic slipped to second with $29.2 million, on pace with my $28.7M projection. The movie of summer 2015 has amassed a gargantuan $556 million at press time and looks to reach $650M when all is said and done.

In third, Terminator Genisys got off to a disappointing start with $27 million over the three day weekend and $42.4 million for its five day holiday gross. This is below my respective estimates of $31.2M and $48.4M. The franchise appears to have run out of gas and Genisys will need truly impressive international numbers to justify a sequel. As for Arnold’s post gubernatorial film career, it continues to be littered with financial letdowns.

It had a much smaller budget than Terminator, but final results were lackluster for the week’s other new sequel Magic Mike XXL. The Channing Tatum pic made just $12.8 million over the three day weekend and $27.8 million since its Wednesday roll out, far under my respective projections of $24.8M and $44M. Considering the original three years ago made $39.1 million in its first three days, this is an incredibly low opening.

And in even further bad grossing sequel news, Ted 2 continued its way lower than anticipated performance with a massive 67% drop in weekend #2 with only $11.1 million, under my $16.4M prediction. Its two week total stands at $58 million and it is very unlikely to even reach $100M. The original three summers ago made $218M.

And that’ll do it for now, ladies and gents. Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: July 3-5

Fireworks and hot dogs may be predictable on July 4th weekend, but 2015’s box office for the holiday is anything but. There are four pictures that all have legitimate shots at being #1 and they include newcomers Terminator Genisys and Magic Mike XXL. You can read my detailed predictions on each of them here:

Both face heavy competition from Jurassic World, which has been spent three weeks on its record breaking #1 run and Pixar’s Inside Out, which has itself set records while perched at second for the last two weeks.

As I see it, I believe there will be a photo finish between Terminator, Jurassic, and Inside Out with Magic Mike taking fourth place due to a projected front loaded five day gross when its hardcore female fans may rush to watch it Wednesday and Thursday. Genisys also opens Wednesday.

Ted 2 came in well below expectations this past weekend (more on that below) and looks to place fifth.

And with that, my predictions for the weekend:

1. Terminator Genisys

Predicted Gross: $31.2 million (Friday to Sunday), $48.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

2. Inside Out

Predicted Gross: $30.5 million (representing a drop of 41%)

3. Jurassic World

Predicted Gross: $28.7 million (representing a drop of 47%)

4. Magic Mike XXL

Predicted Gross: $24.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $44 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

5. Ted 2

Predicted Gross: $16.4 million (representing a drop of 51%)

Box Office Results (June 26-28)

As mentioned, Jurassic World continued its history making stampede and placed #1 for the third frame in a row with $54.5 million (ahead of my $51.1M estimate). The three week total stands at an amazing $500 million and looks to place third, if not second, on all time domestic earners.

Pixar’s Inside Out maintained its runner-up status with $52.3 million, in line with my $53.4M projection. Its two week total is $185 million and it should pass the $350M mark with relative ease.

Seth MacFarlane’s comedy sequel Ted 2 posted lackluster results that were well below expectations with $33.5 million, far below my $50.8M prediction. This is a far cry from the $54M earned by the original three summers ago.

The family dog drama Max debuted fourth to an OK $12.2 million, under my $13.9M prediction and Melissa McCarthy’s Spy rounded out the top five with $7.9 million – on pace with my $7.6M estimate for a total of $88M.

And that’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

Magic Mike XXL Box Office Prediction

The boys are back on screen as Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, and Joe Manganaiello return for Magic Magic XXL, the sequel to 2012’s surprise summer hit. Some of the personnel behind the blockbuster from three years earlier, like director Steven Soderbergh and costar Matthew McConaughey, are not returning and we have a new director (Gregory Jacobs) and additional new cast members (Elizabeth Banks and Amber Heard).

Clearly, though, the main draw is Tatum and his male stripper friends. Magic Mike took the box office by storm three years ago with a $39 million debut on its way to a $113 million domestic gross. As with the original, XXL will bank on female fans coming out in droves while their male counterparts keep themselves busy with Terminator Genisys. 

I believe it could be a close race between those two films for highest debut of the July 4th holiday weekend. Ultimately I believe Genisys will manage a better opening, but XXL could certainly over perform. With its long holiday weekend roll out, I wouldn’t be shocked to see its gross be somewhat front loaded. I’ll say it manages to earn slightly more in five days what its predecessor earned in three.

Magic Mike XXL opening weekend prediction: $24.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $44 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Terminator Genisys prediction, click here: