Oscar Watch: Dolemite Is My Name

Ahead of its October 25 Netflix release, Dolemite Is My Name introduced itself to critics this weekend at the Toronto Film Festival. Seen as a comeback role for Eddie Murphy, early reviews suggest it’s just that. Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, who was instrumental to ushering in the blaxploitation genre of the 1970s with his title character. Craig Brewer, best known for helming Hustle & Flow, directs with a supporting cast including Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Snoop Dogg, and T.I.

In 2006, Eddie was seen as the front runner in Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls. He was upset by Alan Arkin’s work in Little Miss Sunshine. This has been eyed as his first chance at Academy attention since. The issue could be significant competition in a Best Actor derby that appears stacked already.

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski wrote the original screenplay and they’ve specialized in highlighting colorful entertainment figures in Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon. Once again, they could face trouble nabbing nods as that writing race is jam packed.

So while Dolemite should succeed in garnering the kind of praise its star hasn’t seen for some time, awards chatter might be elusive. There could be one noteworthy exception. Ruth Carter’s costume design has been noted in numerous write ups. Just last year, she became the first African-American to win that category for Black Panther. She could find herself in the mix again. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Uncle Drew Box Office Prediction

A convergence of current and former NBA stars and comedians gather for Uncle Drew, out next weekend. The sports comedy that comes with prosthetic makeup aplenty is based on a title character first seen in Pepsi commercials with Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving playing him. Other basketball notables in the cast include Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie. On the funny side – Lil Rel Howery, Nick Kroll, Tiffany Haddish, J.B. Smoove, and Mike Epps. Charles Stone III, perhaps best known for making Drumline, directs.

Uncle Drew hopes to bring in a sizable African-American crowd and lovers of the game it humorously covers. The pic could certainly achieve sleeper status with a gross in the high teens. It actually has a somewhat similar opening weekend range as Sicario: Day of the Soldado, which debuts against it. The two newcomers should battle for third place between Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2.

For now, I’m giving Drew a slight edge with a forecast between $16-$17 million.

Uncle Drew opening weekend prediction: $16.4 million

For my Sicario: Day of the Soldado prediction, click here:


Death Wish Box Office Prediction

Bruce Willis is back on the big screen next weekend with Death Wish, a remake of the 1974 action pic that starred Charles Bronson. Coming from director Eli Roth, the pic costars Elisabeth Shue, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris, Kimberly Elise, and Mike Epps.

Willis will be in full vigilante mode and those familiar with Death Wish know it spawned numerous sequels of highly questionable quality. The star of the proceedings has been a bit of a stranger to multiplexes in recent years as many of his films have gone the direct to VOD route.

Competition is certainly there with Jennifer Lawrence’s Red Sparrow debuting against it and also making a play for R rated genre fans. That said, if Den of Thieves could pull in $15.2 million in January, I believe this could put up fairly similar numbers and perhaps a bit higher.

Death Wish opening weekend prediction: $16.6 million

For my Red Sparrow prediction, click here:


Meet the Blacks Box Office Prediction

In the near future, comedian Mike Epps could see a real turning point in his film career when he portrays Richard Pryor in an upcoming biopic directed by Lee Daniels and costarring Oprah Winfrey and Eddie Murphy. In the meantime, Meet the Blacks opens this Friday in theaters and it appears unlikely to do much for anybody’s careers.

Debuting on a fairly low reported 1000 screens, Blacks is a low budget parody of The Purge franchise. Epps headlines with Zulay Henao, Gary Owen, George Lopez, Mike Tyson, and Charlie Murphy among the supporting players.

Meet the Blacks seems unlikely to break out and the minimal number of screens doesn’t help. If this were to get roughly the same per screen average as A Haunted House 2 from two years ago, that would give it less than $4 million. That sounds about right.

Meet the Blacks opening weekend prediction: $3.7 million

For my God’s Not Dead 2 prediction, click here:


Fifty Shades of Black Box Office Prediction

Reteaming with his same cowriter and director from the two A Haunted House pics from 2013 and 2014, Marlon Wayans is back in spoof territory with Fifty Shades of Black, out next weekend. In case you couldn’t tell, the timely sendup satirizes last year’s smash hit Fifty Shades of Grey, which debuted to $85 million over Valentine’s Day 2015. Kali Hawk, Mike Epps, Jane Seymour, and Fred Williard costar.

Three years ago in January, the aforementioned A Haunted House surprised predictors with an $18.1 million debut and a $40 million overall gross. Its 2014 sequel didn’t fare nearly as well with just an $8.8 opening and $17 million eventual take. What could assist Black is the timeliness of the film it’s making fun of.

Still, I’m not convinced that means it tops what Marlon and company did with the first House. I’ll project that Black debuts in the mid teens before what should likely be a quick fadeout.

Fifty Shades of Black opening weekend prediction: $16 million

For my Kung Fu Panda 3 prediction, click here:


For my The Finest Hours prediction, click here:


For my Jane Got a Gun prediction, click here: