Oscar Watch: Dumbo

Disney’s live-action version of their 1941 classic Dumbo arrives in theaters on Friday and the review embargo was lifted today. Tim Burton’s take on the flying elephant is the first of four Mouse Factory updates on their animated tales hitting screens in 2019.

The advance word out is quite mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 51%. No one seriously expected this would contend for Best Picture, but previous Disney updates in recent years have fared well with Oscar voters with technical nods.

Burton’s own Alice in Wonderland in 2010 won Best Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and landed a nomination in Visual Effects. Costume Design nods were received by Maleficent in 2014 and by Cinderella the following year. In 2016, The Jungle Book emerged victorious in Visual Effects. Beauty and the Beast nabbed nods for Production and Costume Design.

That’s a solid track record. Where’s that leave Dumbo? Tough to say at this juncture. Even the negative skewing reviews have praised the visuals. Yet there will be a lot of competition and that includes the other three live-action updates arriving later: Aladdin, The Lion King, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Even more potentially serious competitors include Avengers: Endgame and the next Star Wars.

Costume Design and Production Design remain more realistic possibilities. Bottom line: Dumbo could continue the recent tradition of this sub genre getting down the line category attention, but competition will be key. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

March 29-31 Box Office Predictions

After Us rocked the box office this past weekend, a quartet of newcomers open nationwide on Friday: Tim Burton’s live action rendering of Disney’s 1941 animated classic Dumbo, true life action thriller Hotel Mumbai, Pure Flix pro-life drama Unplanned, and Matthew McConaughey stoner comedy The Beach Bum. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/20/dumbo-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/hotel-mumbai-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/unplanned-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/the-beach-bum-box-office-prediction/

Dumbo should have little trouble flying into the winners circle. I have it slated for a mid 60s opening. That’s far from what the Mouse Factory achieved with the non drawn versions of Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book and more in line with 2015’s Cinderella.

The remainder of the premieres may all have trouble reaching the top five. Mumbai could fare the best after a decent limited release start, even though it’s on less screens than Unplanned or The Beach Bum. I have those titles hitting just $1.8 million and $1.6 million, respectively. I’m a bit more optimistic with Mumbai, putting it at $3.6 million.

A big question this weekend is how far Us will drop after its fantastic performance out of the gate (more on that below). It stands to reason that this will be more front loaded than Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which rode a wave of water cooler chatter. I foresee a dip in the mid to possibly high 40s range.

Captain Marvel, Five Feet Apart, and Wonder Park could populate the rest of the high-five, assuming none of the new trio not named Dumbo manages to exceed expectations.

Here’s my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Dumbo

Predicted Gross: $65.6 million

2. Us

Predicted Gross: $38.4 million

3. Captain Marvel

Predicted Gross: $20.2 million

4. Five Feet Apart

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. Wonder Park

Predicted Gross: $4.9 million

Box Office Results (March 2224)

As mentioned, acclaimed horror flick Us dominated the charts and proved that its maker Jordan Peele is a valuable commodity at the moment. Taking in $71.1 million (well past my $58.8 million projection), Us is the largest live action feature based on original material since 2009’s Avatar. It doubled the $33 million brought in by Peele’s breakout Get Out. With a meager $20 million budget, it’s safe to assume the champagne bottles are popping over at Universal.

Captain Marvel dropped to second after two weeks on top with $34.2 million, just under my $36.4 million estimate. The MCU effort has amassed $320 million thus far.

Wonder Park was third with $8.7 million. I was a little higher at $10.4 million. The two-week tally is $29 million.

Five Feet Apart was close behind in fourth with $8.5 million (I said $7.7 million) and $26 million overall. I expect Park and Feet to flip positions this weekend.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World rounded out the top five with $6.5 million compared to my $6.1 million prediction. Its total is $145 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Hotel Mumbai Box Office Prediction

The true life action thriller Hotel Mumbai expands nationwide this weekend after its limited engagement over this past one. Recounting the 2008 Taj Mahal Palace Hotel terror attacks in India, the film marks the directorial debut of Anthony Maras. Dev Patel and Armie Hammer headline with costars including Anupam Kher and Jason Isaacs.

Mumbai was originally screened at the Toronto Film Festival last fall to mostly positive reviews. It stands at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the weekend, it managed a per theater average of over $20,000 on four screens.

That’s pretty decent, but that average should dip significantly as it’s scheduled to hit about 800 this weekend. The number is lower than other new wide releases like Unplanned and The Beach Bum. However, Mumbai could double the gross of those titles – making it the biggest earning newcomer that isn’t named Dumbo.

Hotel Mumbai opening weekend prediction: $3.6 million

For my Dumbo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/20/dumbo-box-office-prediction/

For my Unplanned prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/unplanned-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beach Bum prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/the-beach-bum-box-office-prediction/

The Beach Bum Box Office Prediction

Director Harmony Korine brings his drug fueled comedic sensibilities to the screen next weekend with the release of The Beach Bum. The Kids and Spring Breakers maker’s latest casts Matthew McConaughey as a stoner poet named Moondog. The supporting cast includes Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill, Zac Efron, and Martin Lawrence.

There’s a niche market for Korine’s product and more solid reviews may have assisted. However, when Bum debuted at the South by Southwest Festival, it did so to mixed reaction. It currently has a 55% Rotten Tomatoes score.

It was only recently announced that this is being rolled out in wide fashion on Friday. A screen count could change my estimate, but as of now I’ll say it’ll be lucky to reach $2 million.

The Beach Bum opening weekend prediction: $1.6 million

For my Dumbo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/20/dumbo-box-office-prediction/

For my Unplanned prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/unplanned-box-office-prediction/

For my Hotel Mumbai prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/hotel-mumbai-box-office-prediction/

Unplanned Box Office Prediction

The Pure Flix drama Unplanned hits approximately 1000 theaters this Friday. Based on a true story, the film is focused on Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson, who becomes a pro-life advocate. Ashley Bratcher plays the lead role with God’s Not Dead writers Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon directing.

This studio that specializes in faith-based efforts has seen its material underperform lately. Titles like Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Little Women, and Indivisible have all fallen under projections in the past couple of years. Unplanned has received some publicity lately due to its R rating (a first for Pure Flix), with some outlets believing that designation is excessive.

Even with that extra attention, I’ll estimate this debuts in the $2 million range.

Unplanned opening weekend prediction: $1.8 million

For my Dumbo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/20/dumbo-box-office-prediction/

For my Hotel Mumbai prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/hotel-mumbai-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beach Bum prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/the-beach-bum-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…

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Movie Review

In the 21st century cinematic universe, the famed web slinger has been reinvented on a number of occasions – from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse is the first one that feels truly inventive. Anyone thinking this animated experience would be a sub par spin-off or money grab will find themselves sorely mistaken. This iteration of the iconic hero has a lot of heart, plenty of action, and a warped sense of humor that elicits genuine laughs. Directors Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman (who co-wrote the screenplay along with Phil Lord) have drawn up what is probably the most satisfying Spidey pic on its own terms.

The picture posits the theory that our title character does his Spidey thing in multiple dimensions and in different forms than just Peter Parker. These characters are familiar to fans of the Marvel Comics and even includes Spider-Ham, representing the hero in pig form. He’s here and he’s fabulous. Our primary Spidey here is Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore), a Brooklyn teen with a police officer father and a potentially shady uncle that he admires. Miles attends a prep school and feels lost in his adolescence just like Peter Parker did. He’s a fan of Spider-Man, who is currently fighting Big Apple crime in the manner we’re accustomed to. That’s until bad guy Kingpin (Liev Schrieber) knocks him off, but not before Miles get a radioactive bite that gives him the well-known powers.

What follows is a visually splendid adventure where it’s clear that the makers really adore the character. At the same time, they take him in unforeseen directions that perhaps only the animated format could allow. Miles’s Spidey teams with an aging and out of shape Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) from a different “verse”, along with Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) and the aforementioned Ham version. There’s others, but part of the fun is watching them appear without me spoiling it.

Plenty of superhero movies take themselves quite seriously and many have succeeded with that tone. Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool introduced a different dynamic that is evident here. Yet SpiderVerse is not derivative. It manages to take one of the most repeated story arcs in the genre and cleverly turn it on its head. I enjoyed it immensely. The possibilities are many for this particular universe to continue and I’m up for it.

***1/2 (out of four)