Late Night Box Office Prediction

After achieving the highest limited per theater average of 2019, Late Night expands nationwide this weekend and hopes to attract eyeballs outside of major markets. The dramedy first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to sturdy reviews and it stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Nisha Ganatra, the film casts Emma Thompson as a talk show host who hires Mindy Kaling as her first female writer. Kaling wrote the screenplay. The supporting cast includes Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan.

Over this past weekend, Late Night debuted in four theaters and raked in nearly $250,000. As mentioned, that’s strong enough to set the year’s best rollout for a platform release. Even with that designation, the pic could have issues reaching a mainstream audience. Original comedies have struggled recently and that includes those with positive critical reaction (Long Shot being a recent example).

Mid single digits is likely where this ends up as this plays in around 1500 theaters.

Late Night opening weekend prediction: $4.5 million

For my Men in Black: International prediction, click here:

For my Shaft prediction, click here:

For my The Dead Don’t Die prediction, click here:

Ocean’s 8 Box Office Prediction

A franchise is reborn with a twist when Ocean’s 8 lands in theaters next weekend. It’s been over a decade since the Ocean’s 11-13 heist sagas with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and a bunch of other famous faces being directed by Steven Soderbergh. Each entry made a little less at the box office as they went along, but they all opened between $35-$40 million. Soderbergh just produces here with Gary Ross taking over the directorial duties. He’s had hits such as Seabiscuit and The Hunger Games, but his most recent was the Matthew McConaughey flop Free State of Jones. 

The aforementioned twist is that it’s the ladies getting in on the thievery this time around. Sandra Bullock plays the sister of Clooney’s character from the first trilogy and she’s the mastermind of a crew that includes Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina. Anne Hathaway is the target of the score with James Corden, Dakota Fanning, and host of celebrity cameos included among the cast.

Ocean’s 8 looks to bring in a sizable female audience and their male counterparts may not mind coming along for the ride. The high-profile cast, especially Bullock, certainly doesn’t hurt and this stands a real shot at having the highest Ocean’s debut of all. That’s not guaranteed as I could see the low bar being in the low 30s. That would fall under the previous low of $36 million by Ocean’s Thirteen in 2007.

However, I’m leaning more towards a high 30s to possibly mid 40s roll out for Sandra and company. I’ll estimate it somewhere in between.

Ocean’s 8 opening weekend prediction: $42.6 million

For my Hereditary prediction, click here:

For my Hotel Artemis prediction, click here:

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:

For my The Hurricane Heist prediction, click here:

For my Gringo prediction, click here:

The Night Before Movie Review

Far from a Christmas comedy classic nor a lump of coal, The Night Before gives us a drug fueled holiday happening from the team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. They’ve penned better work in the form of Superbad, Pineapple Express, and This is the End and this is more on the level (though not tone) of the hit or miss humor of The Interview.

Before centers on three friends who have a Christmas Eve tradition of spending their time together after Ethan’s (Joseph Gordon Levitt) parents died. His supportive buddies are Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) and they’ve agreed that their 14th year of buddying up will be their last. Isaac is married and ready to become a first time dad and Chris is a famous NFL player. Their lives are moving on while Ethan remains aimless, especially after a recent breakup with the lovely Lizzy Caplan. The boys make sure their final excursion is hopefully a memorable one when Ethan scores tickets to the Nutcracker Ball, an NYC kick ass bash they’ve only heard about in mythological terms.

Getting there is a challenge for many reasons. Isaac’s wife (Jillian Bell, who stole scenes in 22 Jump Street and does here) gives him a night to let his freak flag fly and that means lots of narcotics. Chris gets caught up with the wrong woman and is preoccupied with impressing his newer celebrity friends. Ethan is struggling with the knowledge that life’s traditions are changing.

While The Night Before is centered on these sometimes not so wise men, some supporting players shine. This holds especially true for Michael Shannon’s drug dealer character, who seems to possess powers even more potent than his weed. Mindy Kaling amusingly turns up and there’s some fairly effective (if obvious) celebrity cameos sprinkled in.

The proceedings don’t really pick up steam until close to the hour mark and what comes before it is often ho (ho) hum. Ethan and Chris’s storylines are just OK and the biggest guffaws come from Isaac on his pharmaceutically fueled journey. One wonders how good this could’ve been if it focused solely on him. The Night Before has its laughs to be sure, but it’s on the lower end of what these writers have accomplished before.

**1/2 (out of four)

Inside Out Movie Review

Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out is a return to form for the studio in the sense that adults will likely appreciate it just as much, if not more, than the children who will see it with them. It comes from Pete Docter, the man responsible for 2009’s Up, which I believe to be Pixar’s finest hour. Inside Out shares many of the same traits in that it focuses on human emotions in a mature manner that you don’t often find in this genre.

And when I say it focuses on emotions, I really mean it. The pic tells the life of Riley, an 11 year old girl who’s about to make a big move with her family from Minnesota (where the hockey loving tyke has settled into a comfortable and happy existence) to San Francisco. We witness the trials and tribulations of this uprooting quite literally from Riley’s head, where characters representing her emotions live. There’s Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), who prides herself on the fact that most of Riley’s memories are positive ones. There’s Sadness (Phyllis Smith), who Joy doesn’t want to have too much of a role in their girl’s day to day happenings. And we have Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black in an expert casting move), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).

The big move to San Fran really upsets the apple cart in Riley’s conscious mind and it forces both Joy and Sadness on a journey to save her soul. If this sounds like heady stuff (forgive the pun), well it kind of is in the same way Up was. That’s a major compliment. While the film is dealing with very real issues, it does so with the character of Joy at the helm and the feeling of joy in its heart.

Along the way, we meet Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley’s forgotten imaginary friend who is a strange elephant and possibly cat hybrid who cries candy. Bing Bong is a relic of her past and there are also moments set in the Memory Dump, where no longer necessary recollections are discarded.

Inside Out is a triumph of voice over work with Poehler’s always looking on the sunny side and Smith’s polar opposite approach providing many of the highlights. This is a truly innovative concept at work here and we also get occasional glimpses of the emotion characters at work in other people’s heads like Riley’s parents, voiced by Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane. The animation, as we’ve certainly come to expect from this studio, is gloriously impeccable.

This may not quite measure up to the best of Docter’s Up, in which that picture’s segment about its central character’s romance with his wife and her eventual death is possibly the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a Pixar effort. Still, Inside Out proves that Docter may be the studio’s most impressive auteur and he expertly is able to entertain kids while rewarding adults on a different level. You’ll feel a significant amount of joy here and you also may find some candy welling up in your eyes at other times.

***1/2 (out of four)

Inside Out Box Office Prediction

Pixar and Disney are back in the summer mix with Inside Out, opening Friday. The hit studio surprisingly sat the summer of 2o14 out and it was the first time Pixar hadn’t had a summer entry since 2005. Inside Out comes from Pete Docter, who made the acclaimed and Oscar nominated Up in 2009. The pic features the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling and Lewis Black. While critical kudos are widely expected for these animated offerings, Out’s reaction has been remarkable with its 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It could certainly contend for a Best Picture nod come Academy time next year.

The studio has had consistent openings for its features. Eight of the fourteen Pixar movies have debuted with numbers between $60 and $70 million. Only their sequels have earned higher. It’s easy to see Inside Out falling right in line with the expectations. I’ll say it manages to take in just over $70M, which would earn it the distinction of best Pixar non sequel premiere and third best overall.

Inside Out opening weekend prediction: $71.4 million

Oscar Watch: Inside Out

The Cannes Film Festival has given us yet another Oscar contender in its screening process today and it’s a relatively unexpected one: Disney/Pixar’s latest certain summer blockbuster Inside Out. The computer animated feature premieres statewide June 19.

There’s never much doubt that Pixar flicks are going to make a boatload of cash. And it is also a virtual certainty that their products become automatic contenders, if not outright front runners, for the Academy’s Animated Feature race. Based on reviews streaming from the south of France, Inside Out is undoubtedly going to be nominated in that category. Yet a nomination in Best Picture seems much more possible today than it did yesterday.

Inside Out features the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, and Lewis Black, among others. The story is told inside the mind of an 11 year old girl and explores the joys and challenges of her young life. Critics so far have been over the moon with one prominent writer proclaiming it’s the studio’s finest effort since 2009’s Up. Variety went as far to proclaim it as “the greatest idea” that Pixar has ever hatched. Strong words indeed.

The Up comparison is likely no accident as it shares the same director, Pete Docter. Up was the last Pixar product he directed and it is the only one of the bunch that received a Picture nomination. That bodes well for Inside Out if the fawning praise continues, which is probable.

Usually it is dramatic material and independent pictures that gather steam at Cannes. Today it was the studio that Mickey built gaining momentum.