Oscar Watch: The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince hits stateside screens in limited fashion this Wednesday. Having originally premiered at Sundance earlier this year, this is a biopic of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde and it’s a passion project for director/writer/star Rupert Everett. American audiences may still remember him best as the BFF to Julia Roberts in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding, as well as roles in An Ideal Husband and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. 

In addition to Everett playing Wilde, the supporting cast includes Colin Firth, Emily Watson, and Tom Wilkinson. Reviews have been mostly kind and its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently at a decent 72%. That’s probably not enough, however, for Prince to be an awards player in any category and it has yet to pop up on the radar screen in any significant way.

Bottom line: don’t expect Prince to find its way into contention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Box Office Prediction

Director Eli Roth is known for his very R rated violent tales, including Hostel and the Death Wish remake earlier this year. He changes it up next weekend with the release of The House with a Clock in Its Walls, a fantasy pic geared towards family crowds. Jack Black (fresh off the massive hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) stars alongside Cate Blanchett, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan, Owen Vaccaro, and Renee Elise Goldsberry. Its based on a 1973 novel by John Bellairs.

Looking at comps in the same genre based on books, 2016 saw Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children debut to $28.8 million in September. Going back further, 2007’s The Golden Compass made $25.7 million for its start. The former had the benefit of Tim Burton’s involvement. The latter came out in the midst of the holiday season.

While competition for a younger audience is light, I’m not convinced this will quite match those grosses. Unrelated fun fact: the IMAX screenings of Walls will include a 3D version of the iconic Michael Jackson video “Thriller”.

I’ll predict a low to mid 20s gross is what we’ll see here. If so, that should be enough for this to get its hands on the #1 spot.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls opening weekend prediction: $23.2 million

For my Fahrenheit 11/9 prediction, click here:


For my Life Itself prediction, click here:


Box Office Predictions: October 21-23

It’s a particularly crowded weekend at the box office with four new wide releases hitting the multiplexes and another in semi-wide release. We have Tom Cruise’s action sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, horror prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil, and the Zach Galifianakis led comedy (his second this month) Keeping Up with the Joneses. You can find my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:





To add to the clutter, there’s also the faith-based drama I’m Not Ashamed, which debuts on around 500 screens. I’ve got it pegged at $2 million for its start.

So how will all this shake out? Well, it’s probable that the four newbies will all land in the top 5. I have Reacher rather easily winning the weekend with Ouija as the runner-up. The Accountant (which had a solid debut in the top spot this past weekend) could fall to third with Boo! and Joneses rounding out the top five.

Here’s how the blog readers see my picks for the newcomers:

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back: 50% Too Low, 41% Just About Right, 9% Too High

Ouija: Origin of Evil: 46% Just About Right, 27%, Too High, 27% Too Low

Boo! A Madea Halloween: 33% Too High, 33% Too Low, 33% Just About Right (how about that?!?!)

Keeping Up with the Joneses: 46% Too Low, 39% Just About Right, 15% Too High

Truth be told, this weekend is pretty unpredictable with all the fresh product coming our way. Let’s see what happens, but here’s how I have the top 5:

1. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Predicted Gross: $23.9 million

2. Ouija: Origin of Evil

Predicted Gross: $15.2 million

3. The Accountant

Predicted Gross: $13.6 million (representing a drop of 45%)

4. Boo! A Madea Halloween

Predicted Gross: $12.5 million

5. Keeping Up with the Joneses

Predicted Gross: $10.1 million

Box Office Results (October 14-16)

The numbers were quite good for Ben Affleck’s The Accountant as it scored a #1 opening with $24.7 million, easily topping my $17.6M prediction. Even though reviews were quite mixed, audiences liked what they saw it scored an A Cinemascore grade.

The Girl on the Train dipped to second in its sophomore weekend with a 50% drop to $12.2 million (a bit under my $13.4M projection). The Emily Blunt thriller has taken in $46 million thus far.

The stand-up comedy concert pic Kevin Hart: What Now? debuted in third with a decent $11.7 million, not quite matching my $13.5M estimate.

Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was fourth with $8.9 million (I said $8.2M) to bring its tally to $65 million. Deepwater Horizon rounded out the top five with $6.4 million (I said $6.8M) and it’s made $49 million.

Last (and least), Max Steel was met with a massive shrug from audience as it opened in 11th place with $2.1 million. I went a bit higher with $3.8M. Look for this one On Demand quite soon.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: October 14-16

The October box office rolls along as three new titles debut: Ben Affleck’s CIA thriller The Accountant, stand-up concert pic Kevin Hart: What Now?, and Mattel toy adaptation Max Steel. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:




As I see it, my estimated high teens for Accountant should be enough of a number to make it #1. For #2, I’m looking at an extremely tight race between Mr. Hart and Ms. Emily Blunt for The Girl on the Train’s sophomore frame.

Due to a very low prognosis for Max Steel at $3.8 million, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Deepwater Horizon should round out the top five.

When it comes to where the readers are at with my newcomer estimates:

The Accountant – 48% Too Low, 43% Just About Right, 9% Too High

Kevin Hart: What Now? – 45% Just About Right, 33% Too High, 22% Too Low

Max Steel – 46% Too Low, 36% Too High, 18% Just About Right

And with that – my take on that top 5 for the weekend ahead:

1. The Accountant

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

2. Kevin Hart: What Now?

Predicted Gross: $13.5 million

3. The Girl on the Train

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million (representing a drop of 45%)

4. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million (representing a drop of 46%)

5. Deepwater Horizon

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million (representing a drop of 41%)


As expected, The Girl on the Train topped the charts, rolling in with $24.5 million. This is a pretty decent debut that did come in below my $28.2M forecast. However, its middling B Cinemascore grade indicates plenty of audience members weren’t wild about it.

Last weekend’s champ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children dropped to second with $15.1 million, a bit ahead of my $14.3M projection. The 10 day total stands at $51 million.

In its sophomore frame, Deepwater Horizon was third with $11.5 million – in line with my $11.9M estimate for a $38 million total.

The Magnificent Seven was fourth with $9 million (higher than my too clever $7.7M prediction) and has earned $75 million.

Storks rounded out the high five at $8.2 million (I said $9.3M) and it’s earned an underwhelming $49 million.

Lackluster newbies were sixth and seventh. Once considered a strong Oscar contender, the fading The Birth of a Nation disappointed with $7 million. I went higher with $10.5M.

Teen comedy Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life was right under with only $6.8 million (I said $7.8M).

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: October 7-9

The first full weekend of the October box office brings us a trio of newcomers: big-screen adaptation of last year’s bestselling thriller The Girl on the Train, Nate Parker’s slavery drama The Birth of a Nation, and teen comedy Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:




While my prediction for Train doesn’t get it near Gone Girl (the blockbuster pic released two years ago on the same weekend that it’s compared to the most), it shouldn’t have much trouble locking down the #1 position.

Birth has received plenty of publicity – first for its rave screenings at festivals and then regarding past legal issues for its director, writer, and star. I have this reaching just over double digits. As for Middle School, it could be stuck in a battle for the five spot with the third weekends of Magnificent Seven and Storks. That said, I’ll predict Storks has a small drop-off and leaps over both of them.

As for other holdovers, I expect current champ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to dip a bit further in its sophomore frame than Deepwater Horizon. Both should move down a spot to second and third.

Here’s how the blog’s readers feel about my estimates for the newbies:

The Girl on the Train – 48% Just About Right, 37% Too Low, 15% Too High

The Birth of a Nation – 42% Too Low, 35% Just About Right, 23% Too High

Middle School – 58% Too Low, 25% Too High, 17% Just About Right

And with that, a top 7 predictions for the weekend ahead:

1. The Girl on the Train

Predicted Gross: $28.2 million

2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Predicted Gross: $14.3 million (representing a drop of 50%)

3. Deepwater Horizon

Predicted Gross: $11.9 million (representing a drop of 41%)

4. The Birth of a Nation

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million

5. Storks

Predicted Gross: $9.3 million (representing a drop of 30%)

6. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

Predicted Gross: $7.8 million

7. The Magnificent Seven

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million (how about that?? – representing a drop of 51%)

Box Office Results (September 30-October 2)

Tim Burton nabbed his seventh #1 opener of his filmography as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children took in $28.8 million, schooling my $19.6M forecast. This is a pretty decent debut, though it’s unlikely to join the $100M club as six of the director’s other features have.

Deepwater Horizon premiered in second and I incorrectly had it making more than Peregrine and those strange kiddos. The big-budget disaster pic starring Mark Wahlberg had a muted start (especially considering its price tag) at $20.2 million, below my $24.7M estimate. Its best hope is for meager declines in coming weekends.

The Magnificent Seven was third, dipping a bit farther than anticipated in weekend 2 with $15.6 million. I predicted $18.2M. The Denzel Washington/Chris Pratt Western has made $61 million thus far.

Storks was fourth in its sophomore frame with $13.4 million (I was right there with a $13.2M estimate). The animated pic has grossed $38 million in ten days.

Sully was fifth with $8.2 million (I said $9.1M) as it entered nine digit territory with $105 million to date.

Lackluster newcomers filled the six and seven positions. The oft-delayed Masterminds earned $6.5 million, on the money with my $6.3M prediction. Disney’s Queen of Katwe failed to break through with audiences with just $2.4 million (less than half of my generous $5M projection).

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…


Box Office Predictions: September 30-October 2

Four new titles roll out in wide release this weekend at the box office and they are: Mark Wahlberg’s true-life disaster pic Deepwater Horizon, Tim Burton’s YA fantasy Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, oft delayed Zach Galifianakis/Kristin Wiig comedy Masterminds, and Disney’s Ugandan chess prodigy tale Queen of Katwe. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:





As I see it, Deepwater Horizon should top Peregrine for the top spot. Both have the chance to debut higher than my predictions, but the trend over the last couple of weeks has been titles under performing and not over performing. If Magnificent Seven loses close to half its opening weekend audience, it should be third with Storks at the four spot (it should experience the smallest decline of holdovers).

My estimates for Masterminds and Queen of Katwe put them in the sixth and seventh positions with Sully holding on for another week in the top five.

Here’s how the blog readers feel about my projections for the newcomers:

Deepwater Horizon – 45% Too Low, 38% Just About Right, 17% Too High

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – 69% Too Low, 16% Just About Right, 15% Too High

Masterminds – 54% Just About Right, 46% Too Low, 0% Too High

Queen of Katwe – 50% Just About Right, 38% Too Low, 12% Too High

And with that, a top 7 predictions for this weekend:

1. Deepwater Horizon

Predicted Gross: $24.7 million

2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for the Peculiar Children

Predicted Gross: $19.6 million

3. The Magnificent Seven

Predicted Gross: $18.2 million (representing a drop of 47%)

4. Storks

Predicted Gross: $13.2 million (representing a drop of 37%)

5. Sully

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million (representing a drop of 33%)

6. Masterminds

Predicted Gross: $6.3 million

7. Queen of Katwe

Predicted Gross: $5 million

Box Office Results (September 23-25)

As expected, The Magnificent Seven remake with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt easily topped the charts, though it did come in towards the bottom end of most expectations. The Western took in $34.7 million and I went considerably higher with $47.1M. Still, the opening is in line with Washington’s The Equalizer from two years ago.

After the animated talking animal mega-hits that were Zootopia, Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets – perhaps family audiences had their fill as Storks posted a debut on the lowest end of expectations. Despite positive reviews, the Warner Bros release made $21.3 million for second (below my $27.9M projection). Its best hope is for smallish declines in future weekends.

Sully dropped to third after two weeks on top with $13.5 million (under my $14.9M forecast) for a total of $92M.

Last weekend’s newcomers all posted lackluster debuts and they all experienced unimpressive second weekends as well. Bridget Jones’s Baby was fourth with $4.6 million (I said $5.1M) for a $16M total. Snowden was fifth with $4 million (I said $4.3M) for a $15M tally. Blair Witch dropped to sixth with $4 million as well (I predicted $3.4M) for a $16M overall gross.

And that’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

16 for ’16: Todd’s Most Anticipated Fall Movies

As the 2016 summer movie season winds down – it’s time to start thinking of the leaves changing, football (both real and fantasy), and yes – the fall slate of movies heading our way from September to December!

By most accounts, it has been a rather ho-hum summer at the multiplexes. Let’s hope the autumn frame picks things up a little. A few things are certain: the pictures being released in the final third of this calendar year will almost surely make up the bulk of Oscar-bait material. There has been very little that has counted as that in the first eight months. We have plenty of contenders and some of them are in this here list.

I decided to pick out my personal 16 most anticipated titles of what’s coming to us. This is also an exciting time of the year as my “Oscar Watch” posts are certain to increase as the major film festivals (starting with Toronto and Venice in a matter of weeks) begin to showcase some of the Academy hopefuls.

Here are 16 for ’16 titles that have piqued my interest for the rest of the year:

The Accountant

Release Date: October 14

Ben Affleck sheds the Bat-suit for this thriller from Warrior director Gavin O’Connor. Batfleck plays a math savant mixed up in some secret government activity and the stellar supporting casts includes Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons.


Release Date: November 23

Robert Zemeckis directs what sounds like an old-fashioned romantic thriller. It’s set in the WWII era in Casablanca and is headlined by Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.


Release Date: November 11

Prisoners and Sicario director Denis Villenueve delves into sci-fi territory with this alien tale featuring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Release Date: November 11

Acclaimed director Ang Lee has won two Oscars and his latest is a war drama based on a bestseller. Expect this to garner Oscar buzz. The cast includes newcomer Joe Alwyn in the title role, as well as Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker, and Vin Diesel.

Doctor Strange

Release Date: November 4

After a somewhat middling 2015 with the Avengers sequel and Ant-Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe got back on track with this summer’s Captain America: Civil War. Let’s see if the introduction of Benedict Cumberbatch’s title character continues the momentum. Scott Derrickson directs with a supporting cast including Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Tilda Swinton.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Release Date: November 18

Will audiences flock to the return of Harry Potter world sans Harry Potter? It’s a pretty safe bet as J.K. Rowling’s novel comes to life in this fantasy starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne.

The Founder

Release Date: December 16

Michael Keaton has been on a roll lately (both 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s Spotlight won Best Picture). Expect this biopic, in which he plays McDonald’s founder Ray Croc, to also order up Academy Awards talk. John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directs.

The Girl on the Train

Release Date: October 7

This mystery thriller from The Help director Tate Taylor should give star Emily Blunt an Oscar-bait type role, just a year after her acclaimed turn in Sicario. Based on a bestselling novel, it’s no accident that its release date is the same as Gone Girl from two two years ago.

La La Land

Release Date: December 2

Damien Chazelle made a major splash two years ago with his Oscar nominated Whiplash. His follow-up is a musical featuring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and J.K. Simmons. It’s screening at the Venice Film Festival in a couple of weeks in hopes of beginning its Academy talk.

The Magnificent Seven 

Release Date: September 23

Denzel Washington reunites with his Training Day and The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua in this Western remake that also features red-hot Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Release Date: September 30

He’s been hit or miss lately, but anything from the mind of Tim Burton immediately inspires hope. The dark fantasy, based on a bestseller and starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson, looks right up his alley.


Release Date: December 21

This space thriller from The Imitation Game maker Morten Tyldum unites the box office powers of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. Let’s get a trailer for this already!

**No trailer at press time

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Release Date: December 16

You may have heard of it. Gareth Edwards, who made the good Godzilla movie of the last few years, directs the latest Disney epic set in a galaxy far, far away. The events here take place between the events of Episodes III and IV with a plot to steal plans for the iconic Death Star. Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, and Diego Luna join this fabled cinematic universe… and James Earl Jones returns (!!) to voice a certain famed villain.

Rules Don’t Apply

Release Date: November 23

It’s been nearly 16 years since Warren Beatty appeared on the silver screen and 18 years since he’s directed. He’s back with this comedic drama in which he plays billionaire Howard Hughes. The supporting casts includes his wife Annette Bening, Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich (soon to be young Han Solo), Matthew Broderick, and Alec Baldwin.


Release Date: Undetermined (probably December)

No firm release date has been set for Martin Scorsese’s latest – a historical drama set in Japan. Yet it’s likely to earn a 2016 release for Oscar consideration. Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver star.

*No trailer at press time


Release Date: September 9

Coming off the biggest hit of his incredible career American Sniper, Clint Eastwood directs the real-life tale of the “Miracle on the Hudson” with Tom Hanks in the title role. Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney costar.

And there you have it! There’s plenty of other intriguing films coming our way in these next four months and readers of this blog know that I’ll be reviewing, box office predicting, and evaluating the Oscar chances on them! Stay tuned…