Downton Abbey Box Office Prediction

Mister Rogers isn’t the only PBS star getting the silver screen treatment this fall as Downton Abbey hits theaters next weekend. Based on the acclaimed drama about an aristocratic British clan in the 1920s, the film picks up after the series finale from 2016. Julian Fellowes, creator of the program which aired stateside on the public access channel, did the screenplay. Michael Engler directs with numerous cast members returning including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Elizabeth McGovern, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, and Maggie Smith.

Abbey had lots of dedicated followers to go with its multitude of Emmys and they should be curious to see the saga continue. While some could choose to wait and watch the family on the small screen like they’re accustomed to, I suspect a sizable amount will turn up in the cinema.

I was surprised to see this is set to premiere on over 3000 screens. That puts it in contention to compete with Rambo: Last Blood and Ad Astra as the weekend’s highest grossing newcomer. My estimate of just over $20 million puts it just ahead of Mr. Stallone and ahead of Mr. Pitt.

Downton Abbey opening weekend prediction: $20.8 million

For my Rambo: Last Blood prediction, click here:

For my Ad Astra prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: Downton Abbey

Fans of the British period piece series Downton Abbey, which aired stateside on PBS, will get their fix nearly four years after its conclusion with a film version. Written by its creator Julian Fellowes, Abbey picks up shortly after the events of the series finale with many cast members (Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, and more) returning to their roles.

The show was no stranger to major awards attention, including Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAGs, and dozens of Emmy nods. Could that TV love translate to Oscar voters noticing the cinematic rendering?

Probably not in major categories. Abbey has a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 80% and while reviews are solid, I don’t see this getting attention in Picture or the acting derbies. On the other hand, Production Design and especially Costume Design could be doable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Allied Movie Review

Allied is director Robert Zemeckis’s throwback to old school romantic thrillers and especially if those features were allowed to be a bit more risqué and violent. In case you’re unclear about its influences, our two beautiful leads literally meet in Casablanca  in the year that landmark picture was released.

Those two leads are Brad Pitt’s Air Force commander Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard’s French Resistance agent Marianne  Beauséjour. When we open, the two are paired on a rather unconventional blind date. They’ve been set up from the get go to pretend they’re married. They are on a mission to assassinate Nazis officers. Marianne is of the belief that getting emotionally involved in her work is a necessity. Max disagrees. For a while at least. Soon, the pretend couple is a real couple and it leads to marriage and a child.

Mr. and Mrs. Vatan experience about a year of wedded bliss. His spy game is still going strong while she’s settled into motherhood. The bottom falls out when Max is told his wife is actually a German spy. He doesn’t believe it, but it initiates what’s referred to as a “blue dye” mission. P.S. – Blue Dye would have been a cooler title than Allied. The mission entails Max passing on false information to her and waiting a few days to see if it ends up in the enemy’s hands.

Steven Knight’s screenplay does a commendable job at keeping us guessing just who Marianne really is. The World War II look and feel is one that’s familiar, but the production design and other technical aspects are first-rate.

A pic like Blue Dye (err Allied) hinges on the chemistry of its leads. There are supporting characters here, but they’re relegated to smallish parts. Lizzy Caplan pops up as Max’s sister (whose sole character trait seems to be that she’s a lesbian) and Jared Harris is Max’s superior. Luckily, Pitt and Cotillard form a nice partnership. There’s a sensuous scene in a sandstorm that’s memorable.

Mr. Pitt is in leading man mode and is solid. Cotillard has the more challenging role and proves again her abilities. Zemeckis has certainly made some genuine classics. Allied isn’t. It’s content to be an homage to other classics. Yet it’s a well-made one that generates enough suspense to make it effective.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Allied

Yet another piece of the Oscar puzzle revealed itself this morning as reviews for this Wednesday’s Allied came out. The World War II romantic thriller is directed by Academy winner Robert Zemeckis and stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. With that pedigree, it certainly warranted mentions as a potential awards player and I’ve consistently listed it towards the bottom of the pack in my hopefuls for Best Picture (along with Cotillard in Actress).

Critical reaction today is mixed. It stands at 60% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Several critics have admired its old-fashioned sensibilities and Cotillard has gotten some praise (more so than Mr. Pitt, who never really seemed like a contender for this). Other reviews haven’t been so kind (Hollywood Reporter was particularly negative).

Bottom line? Allied is basically out of the running for Picture or Director. It needed stronger reviews than what’s it getting. Cotillard seemed feasible at once, but Best Actress is far too jam packed for her inclusion.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Allied Box Office Prediction

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard join forces in the World War II set romantic thriller Allied, out next week over the Thanksgiving frame. Robert Zemeckis, who’s made plenty of hits but misfired with last year’s The Walk, handles directorial responsibilities and the supporting cast includes Lizzy Caplan, Jared Harris, and Matthew Goode.

Paramount Pictures is hoping that adult crowds will turn out over the holiday weekend. It must be noted that Mr. Pitt has obviously been the subject of much press over the last few months due to his separation from Angelina Jolie. How that plays into box office dollars is an unknown. The star’s filmography is not short of WWII era titles, as he headlined both Inglourious Basterds and Fury (which made $120M and $85M, respectively).

Whether Allied gets to that level could be a question mark, but solid reviews would certainly help (there’s none at press time). I’ll say this debuts to mid teens over the traditional Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend with low 20s a realistic estimate for the five-day gross. That could eventually get it to Fury level, though Basterds numbers would be a reach.

Allied opening weekend prediction: $14.2 million (Friday to Sunday), $21.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Moana prediction, click here:

For my Bad Santa 2 prediction, click here:

For my Rules Don’t Apply prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: The Imitation Game

Another day, another potential Oscar contender to discuss on the blog. This time it’s The Imitation Game from the Weinstein Company, which had its world premiere this weekend at the Telluride Film Festival and opens domestically November 21. The film is a biopic of Alan Turing, known for cracking Nazi codes during World War II and, based on early buzz, the man playing Turing is receiving the most awards talk.

That would be Benedict Cumberbatch, best known to viewers as TV’s “Sherlock” and pictures including Star Trek Into Darkness and 12 Years a Slave. He has yet to receive an Oscar nomination, though it could certainly change based on initial reviews of his work here. Cumberbatch joins a Best Actor race that already seems ultra competitive (just like last year) and I’ll have my first predictions in that race on the blog tomorrow.

The Imitation Game could potentially be a player in the Picture, Director (Morten Tyldum), and Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley) categories. The Weinstein studio is better than any other at generating Oscar buzz for their works. Yet Telluride gave the biggest boost to Cumberbatch and he’s a likely name to be seen when nominations are announced early next year.

Todd’s Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

We’ve arrived at Day #2 of my first Oscar predictions covering the films of 2014. If you missed my post yesterday on Best Supporting Actress, you may find it here:

For round 1 of my predictions, I’m just listing my current five predictions, along with other possibilities in races that are just beginning to take shape. Let’s get to Best Supporting Actor, shall we? I will note that my inaugural 2013 picks done around the same time last year correctly yielded 2 of the 5 eventual nominees.

Todd’s Early Predictions for Best Supporting Actor

Domhall Gleeson, Unbroken

Logan Lerman, Fury

Edward Norton, Birdman

Tim Roth, Selma

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher


Other Possibilities:

Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice

Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year

Benicio del Toro, Inherent Vice

Johnny Depp, Into the Woods

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Matthew Goode, Men, Women, and Children

Neil Patrick Harris, Gone Girl

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

John Lithgow, Love is Strange

Adam Sandler, Men, Women, and Children

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

Tom Wilkinson, Selma

We’ll get to Best Actress tomorrow!