Oscar Watch: Cruella

More often than not, the Disney live-action remakes related to their animated classics have managed to score Oscar nominations in various technical races. Two days ahead of its Memorial Day weekend domestic bow, the studio’s Cruella (a reboot of their 1961 animated tale and the Glenn Close live-action features) has seen its review embargo lifted. It is widely expected that the Academy will reward it in some of the races that their previous features have been mentioned in.

The Rotten Tomatoes meter currently stands at a decent 72% with many critics praising Emma Stone (Best Actress winner in 2016 for La La Land) in the title role of the dog despising villainess. She’s unlikely to get much attention in the lead race, but should certainly find herself in the mix in the Musical/Comedy competition at next year’s Golden Globes… if there is a Golden Globes next year.

As mentioned, the Academy has been kind to the remakes over the last decade plus. Alice in Wonderland won Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and was nominated for Visual Effects. Nods for the costumes were also received by Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015). In 2017, Beauty and the Beast made the shortlist for Production and Costume Design. The Jungle Book (2016) was victorious in Visual Effects with Christopher Robin (2018) and The Lion King (2019) as nominees. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) nabbed a mention for its Makeup and Hairstyling. Last year’s Mulan got in for Costume Design and Visual Effects, winning neither.

All four categories mentioned are on the table for Cruella to varying degrees. Based on the buzz, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling are highly probable and could even be wins. Production Design is also feasible while Visual Effects could be more of a stretch due to expected competition.

Additionally, Florence and the Machine have contributed the original song “Call Me Cruella”. I wouldn’t bank on it making the final five in that race, but you never know (sometimes there’s surprises in that category).

Bottom line: Cruella is looking good for at least two Academy mentions and possibly more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Cruella Box Office Prediction

Disney’s Cruella will try to scare up some box office business over the Memorial Day weekend after being delayed from its original December 2020 release date. The pic casts Emma Stone in the title role of the villainess as seen in the studio’s 1961 animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians and in the form of Glenn Close for two live-action flicks in the late 90s and early 00s. Craig Gillespie directs with a supporting cast including Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Mark Strong.

With a massive reported price tag of $200 million, Cruella hits theaters and Disney Plus premium on the same day. Home viewers will need to shell out $30 for couch watching, similar to Raya and the Last Dragon and the upcoming Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. It’s worth noting that Raya opened to $8.5 million in March under this platform. However, the holiday weekend and the fact that theaters are increasing capacity have set an understandably higher bar for Cruella.

Disney has had major success with their recent live-action remakes of animated classics, from The Lion King to Aladdin to The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast and more. Even the lower earners, like Dumbo, started out in the mid 40s. Obviously the dynamic has changed under COVID times. Some families may realize it’s more economical to pay the $30 compared to the cost of hauling the entire brood to the multiplex.

Early word of mouth is quite positive and that should help. I could easily foresee a low to mid 20s rollout for Ms. Stone, her likely to be Oscar nominated costumes, and company.

Cruella opening weekend prediction: $23.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my A Quiet Place Part II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/11/a-quiet-place-part-ii-box-office-prediction/

Oscars 2019: The Case of 1917

My next Case of post for this year’s Best Picture nominees brings us to 1917. If you missed my other posts thus far, you can peruse them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-joker/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-little-women/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/19/oscars-2019-the-case-of-marriage-story/

Let’s break it down:

The Case for 1917

It’s become significant. 1917 might be the strongest example of the nine nominees for perfect timing. The World War I epic from director Sam Mendes came to the attention of awards voters just as it was opening to better than expected box office and sterling reviews. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 89%. Mendes is a known quantity whose American Beauty won Best Picture (and Director) twenty years ago. The precursor love has been impressive with a Golden Globes victory for Best Drama and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) top prize. 13 out of the last 19 PGA winners went on to win Best Picture. The ten Academy nominations is tied for second along with The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

The Case Against 1917

If it wins Best Picture, it would be the first to do so without any acting nomination since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire (SAG ignored it as well). Additionally, it would be the extremely rare recipient to win without an Editing nod. A case could be made that the Parasite fans are more rabid.

The Verdict

Despite missing some recognition in key races, there is no doubt that 1917 could absolutely take the biggest race. It could even be called the soft front runner.

Up next in my Case of posts… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

1917 Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (01/05): The film’s victory for Best Drama at the Golden Globes is pushing my estimate up… from $26.8 million to $31.8 million

1917 blasts onto screens next weekend and hopes to generate its awards buzz into a rousing first frame at multiplexes. The World War I epic comes from Sam Mendes, Oscar winning director of American Beauty who’s been busy with the Bond franchise lately with Skyfall and Spectre. Cast members include George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Critics have been on its side as 1917 currently sports a 90% Rotten Tomatoes score. The film is expected to nab several Oscar nods (including possibly Picture and Director and tech nods) on the Monday following its wide release. In the limited rollout over the holidays, it held a sturdy per theater average of over $50,000.

War movies have done well in January over the past few years. The high water mark is American Sniper, which made nearly $90 million out of the gate five years ago. This isn’t anticipated to be anywhere near that, but there are other decent comps to consider. In 2013, Zero Dark Thirty took in $24 million in its expansion.

This is right in the range where I see 1917 landing in the mid 20s (SEE BLOGGER’S NOTE ABOVE).

1917 opening weekend prediction: $31.8 million

For my Just Mercy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/01/just-mercy-box-office-prediction/

For my Like a Boss prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/01/like-a-boss-box-office-prediction/

For my Underwater prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/02/underwater-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: 1917

Twenty years ago, Sam Mendes made American Beauty and it dominated the 1999 Oscars, with the filmmaker taking Best Director and the movie being named Best Picture. Lately, Mendes has been known more as the Bond director behind past two installments Skyfall and Spectre. 

His World War I epic 1917 has held its initial screenings prior to its Christmas release. Early   word of mouth suggests the saga about The Great War is a great picture and that Oscar is likely to pay attention. Most of the buzz thus far has centered on its making as a one camera take experience. Before today’s reviews, this seemed like a probable contender for multiple tech awards already. That includes Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, and both Sound races. All of that still holds true. The legendary Roger Deakins is responsible for the cinematography. After many nominations, he won his first gold statue just two years back for Blade Runner 2049. He could pick up a second here.

Similarly, composer Thomas Newman (a frequent Mendes collaborator) has heard his name called 14 times by Oscar, but has yet to be the victor. That, too, could change as the score is getting numerous mentions.

The cast includes George McKay, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch, but I don’t expect any acting nods due to the packed nature of those categories. However, I do expect Picture and Director (and maybe Original Screenplay) attention. I’ve had the film itself and Mendes in my guesstimates for some time. When my weekly predictions come Monday, I anticipate both will be ranked higher than ever before. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Shazam! Movie Review

Mixing the typical comic book movie issues with a little Big and even a touch of the recent Instant Family, the DC Comics adaptation of Shazam! is able to produce crowd pleasing results. As the DCU must turn to their less iconic characters for feature attention, I would say the title hero here is somewhat equivalent to the MCU’s Ant-Man. He’s sarcastic. He’s not as serious. In fact, if the knock on this overall universe is that it’s too dark (think Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or Justice League), Shazam! is practically translucent.

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a foster kid jumping between temporary dwellings after being separated from his mom as a toddler. The young teen seems to find a decent home with five other children and kindly caregivers. Yet he’s still searching from mom.

In a prologue circa 1974, we meet another youngster by way of Thaddeus Sivana. He experiences a mystical meetup with Shazam in the form of Djimon Hounsou in heavy old age makeup. Trying to find a human worthy of inheriting his considerable superpowers, he deems him not properly pure of heart. Sivana grows up to be Mark Strong with a myopic focus on battling the eventual Shazam.

That turns out to be Billy. When he is called for his own encounter with Hounsou, he gets the job. This means when he utters “Shazam!”, he turns into Zachary Levi (who could have been cast as Superman). He’s still a teen embodying a comic book strongman and that takes a lot of learning. One of his foster siblings (Jack Dylan Grazer) is in on the secret.

A lot of exposition must be established here and Shazam! probably doesn’t need to be over two hours long. The mommy and daddy issues explored are quite familiar to genre fans. The film does manage to find slightly different angles. Just as Instant Family showed the true heroism of foster parents, so does this. Levi is a hoot as our crime fighting man child. Strong is fine, but he doesn’t exactly alter the general rule that the villains in many of these pics aren’t as interesting as they should be.

Shazam! works best when it’s focused on Billy/Shazam while he works with his new family and not while grappling with Savani and his monstrous CGI creatures that represent The Seven Deadly Sins. Director David F. Sandberg has crafted an origin story with a lot of heart among the usual action and it fosters enough appreciation to make this rewarding.

*** (out of four)

Shazam! Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (04/04): On the eve of its premiere, my estimate has changed from $59.5 million to $52.5 million

The DC Extended Universe adds another cinematic hero to its stable with the release of Shazam! next weekend. The tale of a teenager who morphs into a superhero was first introduced in comic book pages nearly 80 years ago. David F. Sandberg directs with Zachary Levi as the title character and Asher Angel as his younger self. Costars include Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, and Grace Fulton.

Said to heartfelt and funny, Shazam! is already a winner with critics and sporting a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score. DC, while not quite up to MCU levels, has been hitting its stride lately with mega performers like Wonder Woman and Aquaman. There were previews of this that surprisingly managed to outdo what Jason Momoa’s creation did late last year. However, that was during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

The range expected is $40-$60 million. I have a hunch its good word of mouth will propel it to the upper reaches of those expectations. It’s feasible the range could be surpassed, but I’ll say high 50s.

Shazam! opening weekend prediction: $52.5 million

For my Pet Sematary prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/28/pet-sematary-box-office-prediction/

For my The Best of Enemies prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/30/the-best-of-enemies-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Shazam!

The DC Extended Universe branches out to lesser known source material on April 5 with the release of Shazam! The superhero tale puts a teenage boy in the body of an adult crime fighter with David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation) directing and Zachary Levi in the title role.

The character has been around since 1940 and this big screen treatment is receiving praise based on its early screenings. Critics are calling this sweet and funny and continuing in the more lighthearted vein that DC has employed lately with hits like Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

With a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, could Shazam! resonate with Oscar voters? It’s doubtful. If the aforementioned DC efforts couldn’t land a single nod, it’s tough to envision any for this.

Bottom line: Shazam! should be another box office success for the revitalized franchise, but don’t expect awards chatter to follow. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Box Office Prediction

British spies join forces with their American counterparts in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to the 2015 action/comedy hit Kingsman: The Secret Service. Matthew Vaughn is back directing with returning stars Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, and Mark Strong. We also have some new but very familiar faces that include Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, and even Elton John!

Two and a half years ago, the original hit its mark with both critics and moviegoers. Opening to $36 million, The Secret Service went on to gross $128M overall domestically. With the relatively small gap between the sequel and its predecessor, I don’t see sequelitis kicking in here.

Circle could find itself in a real battle for the #1 spot with The Lego Ninjago Movie. Both pictures are expected to post debuts in the low to mid 40s. There’s also the third weekend of It to consider, as it still should be raking in plenty of cash.

I’ll project that the second go-round for the Kingsman (and now the Statesman) debuts about $7 million above the first.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle opening weekend prediction: $43.6 million

For my The Lego Ninjajo Movie prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/09/13/the-lego-ninjago-movie-box-office-prediction/

For my Friend Request prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/09/17/friend-request-box-office-prediction/

Miss Sloane Box Office Prediction

Audiences get a chance to get acquainted with Miss Sloane when it opens wide next weekend. The political drama stars Jessica Chastain as an influential DC lobbyist who takes on the powerful gun lobby. John Madden (director of Shakespeare in Love and the two Marigold Hotel pics) is behind the camera with a supporting cast that includes Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, John Lithgow and Sam Waterston.

Sloane is getting a bit of attention due to Chastain’s performance. Reviews have singled out her work and she may be in line for an Oscar nomination (though that is a highly competitive race this year and she could be on the outside looking in). That said, critical reaction has been mixed and it stands at 62% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Political movies always face an uphill struggle with moviegoers and this may especially hold true in a year where the subject is everywhere around us.

Debuting on approximately 1600 screens, Sloane may just get to mid single digits.

Miss Sloane opening weekend prediction: $4.6 million

For my Office Christmas Party prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/30/office-christmas-party-box-office-prediction/