Oscar Watch: Mulan

After its theatrical release was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney’s live-action version of their 1998 animated tale Mulan is set to stream on Disney+ beginning tomorrow for a fee of $30. With a reported budget of around $200 million, this is certainly one of the highest profile features to ever (if ever) hit the PVOD circuit.

Over the past decade, the Mouse Factory has made billions of dollars with this sub genre of bringing their well-known drawn properties to a human scale. And there’s already a history of these pics garnering technical nominations at the Oscars.

The review embargo for Mulan lapsed on the eve of its release and reaction thus far is mostly on the positive side. Niki Caro’s remake is generating praise for its action sequences and overall visuals. Some of the reviews are a bit less kind. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is currently 73%. That’s a marked improvement over last year’s Aladdin (57%) and The Lion King (52%). Yet it falls short of the highs of The Jungle Book (94%) or Cinderella (84%). It’s actually right in range with 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, which scored 71%.

Let’s take that trip down memory lane for Disney’s output in this genre, shall we? In 2010, Alice in Wonderland won both Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and was nominated for its Visual Effects. 2014’s Maleficent also received a nod for its costuming and that happened a year later with Cinderella. In 2016, The Jungle Book was victorious for its Visual Effects. Beauty and the Beast received nominations the next year for Production Design and its costumes. Christopher Robin got a Visual Effects nod in 2019. And last year, The Lion King picked up a Visual Effects mention while Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling.

You’ll notice that none of these pictures landed attention in the major categories and I don’t expect that Mulan will change that. When it comes to down the line nominations, I do expect this will contend in Production Design and Costume Design especially. Visual Effects and Makeup and Hairstyling are also possibilities and maybe even Cinematography. And there’s also the matter of Best Original Song. Christina Aguilera, who sang the track “Reflection” over the end credits 22 years ago, has composed some original works here. She recently put out the single “Loyal Brave True” and it certainly could contend.

Bottom line: Mulan is unlikely to be the first live-action Disney remake to compete for the big prizes, but it should carry on the tradition of its technical achievements being noticed. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Box Office Prediction

The cavalcade of 2019 Disney live-action reimaginings continues next weekend with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. The fantasy adventure is the sequel to 2014’s Maleficent, which focused on the villainous title character from Sleeping Beauty. Angelina Jolie returns along with Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville. Newcomers to the fold include Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Joachim Rønning (who recently co-directed the Mouse Factory’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) takes over for Robert Stromberg.

When it comes to comps for how Mistress might perform, that’s a tricky calculation. Since the release of part 1 five summers ago, there’s been eight Disney updates of their classic animated material. The last two from this summer (Aladdin and The Lion King) were massive blockbusters based on beloved 1990s pics. This spring’s Dumbo, on the other hand, premiered with a so-so $45 million.

What about Maleficent itself? It opened just under $70 million with a $241 million eventual domestic haul. Yet five years is a fairly long break between sequels and some of the kiddos who attended could take a pass here. That brings up the example of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. In 2010, Wonderland was the first significant reimagining in several years. It debuted to $116 million. Six years later, Looking Glass was a huge flop and earned in the mid 20s for its start. For a non Disney example, Snow White and the Huntsman kicked off with a robust $56 million in 2012. Four years, its follow-up The Huntsman: Winter’s War sputtered with a meager $19.4 million.

While I don’t anticipate the drop-off here will be quite as dramatic as the last two scenarios, I do feel Evil will come in markedly lower than its predecessor. I’ll predict low to mid 30s could be the range and that means around half of the bounty from half a decade ago.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opening weekend prediction: $32.3 million

For my Zombieland: Double Tap prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/09/zombieland-double-tap-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Aladdin

Just a day before its theatrical release, Disney’s live-action update of Aladdin had its review embargo lifted. The big-budget fantasy, which casts Will Smith in the genie role made iconic by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated feature, could’ve certainly fared worse. Based upon fears from a poorly received first trailer, some wondered if the pic would be a disaster. Most critics, while certainly mixed with some negative, haven’t been too harsh. It stands at 60% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Particular praise has gone to the performances of Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, who respectively play the title character and Princess Jasmine.

When it comes to these updates of studio classics, many in the past decade have scored technical nods. This includes Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. In 2019, Aladdin will find itself competing for space with three other Disney live-action renderings: the already released Dumbo, this summer’s The Lion King, and this winter’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Don’t be surprised if The Lion King gets the lions share of attention.

That said, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling could be the two best possibilities here. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Dumbo

Disney’s live-action version of their 1941 classic Dumbo arrives in theaters on Friday and the review embargo was lifted today. Tim Burton’s take on the flying elephant is the first of four Mouse Factory updates on their animated tales hitting screens in 2019.

The advance word out is quite mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 51%. No one seriously expected this would contend for Best Picture, but previous Disney updates in recent years have fared well with Oscar voters with technical nods.

Burton’s own Alice in Wonderland in 2010 won Best Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and landed a nomination in Visual Effects. Costume Design nods were received by Maleficent in 2014 and by Cinderella the following year. In 2016, The Jungle Book emerged victorious in Visual Effects. Beauty and the Beast nabbed nods for Production and Costume Design.

That’s a solid track record. Where’s that leave Dumbo? Tough to say at this juncture. Even the negative skewing reviews have praised the visuals. Yet there will be a lot of competition and that includes the other three live-action updates arriving later: Aladdin, The Lion King, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Even more potentially serious competitors include Avengers: Endgame and the next Star Wars.

Costume Design and Production Design remain more realistic possibilities. Bottom line: Dumbo could continue the recent tradition of this sub genre getting down the line category attention, but competition will be key. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

A Wrinkle in Time Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/07): I am revising my estimate from $42.8 million to $37.8 million, meaning I have it debuting at #2

What film could knock Disney’s Black Panther off its perch atop the box office charts after its momentous performance? Well, it should be another Disney property as A Wrinkle in Time debuts next Friday. Based on the famed and acclaimed 1962 novel from Madeleine L’Engle, the sci-fi fantasy comes from Selma director Ana DuVernay and marks the biggest budgeted feature ever (a reported $103 million) from an African-American female director. The cast includes Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Gugu-Mbatha Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena, and Storm Reid.

The Disney marketing machine is certainly a formidable one and familiarity with the source material and high-profile actors should serve as a benefit. One potential hindrance: while reviews are embargoed until March 7, initial word-of-mouth from screenings has been mixed.

On the low end, Wrinkle could see a debut in the mid 30s. However, I feel it will manage to climb higher with low 40s gross that could certainly reach as a high as $50 million. I don’t see it hitting the high 60s grosses that Disney’s live-action adaptations like Maleficent or Cinderella managed. That should be enough to allow the Mouse Factory to hold the 1-2 position next weekend with this and Panther.

A Wrinkle in Time opening weekend prediction: $37.8 million

For my The Strangers: Prey at Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/28/the-strangers-prey-at-night/

For my The Hurricane Heist prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/the-hurricane-heist-box-office-prediction/

For my Gringo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/gringo-box-office-prediction/

Beauty and the Beast Box Office Prediction

Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast arrives in theaters next weekend and it looks poised for quite a fantastic opening. Bill Condon serves behind the camera (he directed the last two Twilight installments recently) with Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Costars include Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Emma Thompson.

The Mouse Factory has had tremendous success with their reboots of their classic animated tales. 2014’s Maleficent took in $241 million stateside. The following year, Cinderella cleared $200 million. Last year’s The Jungle Book scored even more impressively with $364 million.

Beauty stands a great shot at outdoing them all. For starters, the 1991 original is beloved (it was the first animated feature to nab a Best Picture nomination). The Disney marketing machine has been in high gear and turnout among youngsters and females in particular should be substantial. Reviews (while not gushing) have been solid and it stands at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.

There is little doubt that this will post 2017’s largest opening so far. Just how high can it go? I am predicting it will achieve one of the top ten domestic premieres of all time. My estimate puts it at #10, right in between The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight for a truly beast mode roll out.

Beauty and the Beast opening weekend prediction: $158.8 million

For my The Belko Experiment prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/10/the-belko-experiment-box-office-prediction/

 

Oscar Watch: Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s live-action version of their acclaimed 1991 animated tale (as old as time) Beauty and the Beast is out next weekend. It’s a safe bet that it makes a killing at the box office. It could approach the $364 million territory that The Jungle Book achieved last year and will almost certainly post 2017’s biggest opening thus far, overtaking Logan.

Let’s not forget: the quarter century plus version of Belle and her Beastly beau was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture. Any chance that this rendering of the classic story could follow suit?

Short answer: no. Beast currently sits at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a decent score but way under the 95% reached by Jungle and that couldn’t get a Picture nod. That said, Beauty could be a factor in some down the line categories. Production Design, Visual Effects, and Makeup and Hairstyling are all possibilities. Where it’s most likely to show up is in Costume Design, where the studio’s recent remakes of Cinderella and Maleficent both scored nominations.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Pete’s Dragon Box Office Prediction

The Disney live-action remake train keep rolling along next weekend as Pete’s Dragon debuts in theaters. The Mouse Factory has found great success in the past couple of years taking their storied animated hits of decades past and repackaging and re-imagining them with real actors and tons of CG effects.

Pete’s Dragon, however, is a slightly different story. Unlike Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book (and next year’s Beauty and the Beast for that matter), the pic this is based on is not considered a classic. The Disney Dragon ‘toon opened in 1977 at a time when the studio was in a downturn in their animation department. It was only a mild box office performer and reviews weren’t too strong.

The fact that Disney has been on a roll lately should help Pete and his magical dragon change the narrative somewhat with this property. David Lowery (best known for directing the low budget indie drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is behind the camera. Oakes Fegley plays the title character (the Pete part) while the dragon is handled by Weta Digital. Costars include Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, and Karl Urban. Early reviews have been mostly positive with an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Let’s start here: this has no real chance of reaching the heights of the live action reboots before it. 2014’s Maleficent made $69 million for its start. Last year’s Cinderella earned $67 million. This spring’s The Jungle Book made $103 million. Dragon may be lucky to make half of any of those titles in its opening. Disney should be pretty happy if this manages to top $35 million, but my prediction reflects a belief that just over/under $30 million is the more likely scenario.

Pete’s Dragon opening weekend prediction: $29.8 million

For my Sausage Party prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/03/sausage-party-box-office-prediction/

For my Florence Foster Jenkins prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/03/florence-foster-jenkins-box-office-prediction/

Top 25 Highest Grossing Actresses of All Time (15-11)

Here we go with part 3 of the Top 25 Highest Grossing Actresses in box office history with numbers 15-11!

In case you missed parts one and two covering 25-16, here they are:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/09/top-25-highest-grossing-actresses-of-all-time-25-21/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/10/top-25-highest-grossing-actresses-of-all-time-20-16/

Let’s get to it:

15. Michelle Rodriguez

Career Earnings: $2 billion

Franchises: Fast and the Furious

Highest Grossing Picture: Avatar (2009) – $760 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 6 (Avatar, The Fast and the Furious, Fast and Furious, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7, S.W.A.T.)

Lowest Grosser: Battle in Seattle (2008) – $224,000

Overall Rank: 79

14. Angelina Jolie

Career Earnings: $2.1 billion

Franchises: Kung Fu Panda, Tomb Raider

Highest Grossing Picture: Maleficent (2014) – $241 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 10 (Maleficent, Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2, Kung Fu Panda 3, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Shark Tale, Wanted, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Salt, Gone in 60 Seconds)

Lowest Grosser: Hell’s Kitchen (1999) – $11,000

Overall Rank: 68

13. Carrie Fisher

Career Earnings: $2.2 billion

Franchises: Star Wars

Highest Grossing Picture: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – $936 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 4 (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Lowest Grosser: The Time Guardian (1989) – $12,000

Overall Rank: 61

12. Sigourney Weaver

Career Earnings: $2.2 billion

Franchises: Alien, Ghostbusters

Highest Grossing Picture: Avatar (2009) – $760 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 4 (Avatar, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, The Village)

Lowest Grosser: The Guys (2003) – $21,000

Overall Rank: 60

11. Kathy Bates

Career Earnings: $2.3 billion

Franchises: None

Highest Grossing Picture: Titanic (1997) – $658 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 4 (Titanic, The Blind Side, The Waterboy, Valentine’s Day)

Lowest Grosser: A Little Bit of Heaven (2010) – $15,000

Overall Rank: 58

I’ll get into the Top Ten tomorrow!

 

Summer 2015 Movies: The Predicted Century Club

The 2015 Summer Movie Season officially kicks off two weeks from today when Avengers: Age of Ultron blasts into theaters. It will compete for the largest domestic opening of all time (where it needs to beat its predecessor) and is highly likely to be the season’s highest earner. That got me to thinking – while Ultron is poised to gross $500 million or higher, it’s been the $100 million mark that studios still like to brag about. This prompted me to look at the past five summer flick seasons and how many pictures reached that milestone.

In 2010, it was 13 movies that reached the mark: Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Inception, Despicable Me, Shrek Forever After, The Karate Kid, Grown Ups, The Last Airbender, The Other Guys, Salt, Robin Hood, and The Expendables.

Things improved in 2011 with 18 films reaching the century club: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Hangover Part II, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: First Avenger, The Help, Bridesmaids, Kung Fu Panda 2, X-Men: First Class, The Smurfs, Super 8, Horrible Bosses, Green Lantern, Bad Teacher, and Cowboys and Aliens.

The low mark was the following year in 2012 with just 12: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Brave, Ted, Madagascar 3, Men in Black 3, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, Magic Mike, and The Bourne Legacy.

Yet the high mark came the following summer in 2013 with 19: Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Monsters University, Fast and Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, The Heat, We’re the Millers, The Great Gatsby, The Conjuring, Grown Ups 2, The Wolverine, Now You See Me, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Hangover Part III, Epic, Pacific Rim, and This is the End.

2014 dipped with 14: Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Maleficent, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Neighbors, Lucy, The Fault in Our Stars, and Edge of Tomorrow. 

That averages out to 15 pictures earning $100M plus per summer over this decade.

So where do I have 2015 matching up? Not breaking records, but in good shape. My predictions for the year’s $100M earners is 16 and they are as follows (in order of release date): Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2, Tomorrowland, San Andreas, Spy, Jurassic World, Inside Out, Ted 2, Magic Mike XXL, Terminator: Genisys, Minions, Ant-Man, Trainwreck, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and Fantastic Four. 

Of course, there’s always sleepers. And there’s others that I could have predicted but think will fall short: the Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara comedy Hot Pursuit, horror remake Poltergeist, the film version of Entourage, the Adam Sandler video game inspired action comedy Pixels, the Vacation reboot, and the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton are among them.

As predicted, summer 2015 should see its number of century club inductees on the slightly high end without reaching the heights of 2013. And as always, you’ll see box office predictions every Saturday from me on each and every one of ’em!