The best known actress involved with Booksmart is making her directorial debut and is not in front of the camera. Yet the pic is riding a wave of critical kudos since its premiere at South by Southwest in March. The comedy is centered on two teenage girls and their last day of high school. Olivia Wilde makes that aforementioned first turn in the captain’s chair. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein (best known as Saoirse Ronan’s bestie in LadyBird) are the two graduates. Costars include Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis (Wilde’s hubby).
Booksmart stands at a super fresh 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It could still face hurdles when it opens over the long Memorial Day weekend. Opening on approximately 2300 screens, I’m skeptical as to its awareness factor among general audiences. This could be a slow builder if word-of-mouth takes off or become a cult hit following the theatrical release.
I’ll say a debut in the upper single digits is where this starts out at.
Booksmart opening weekend prediction: $8.6 million
The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing over in France and the highest profile feature so far has screened (with Quentin Tarantino’s OnceUponaTimeinHollywood following next week). That would be Rocketman, a flashy musical biopic featuring Taron Egerton as legendary performer Elton John. Costars include Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Ahead of its May 31st stateside bow, festival goers rewarded the pic with a lengthy standing ovation (with Elton and Egerton attending). This might prove to be an audience pleaser. Some early reviews are glowing while others are more mixed.
Box office could be strong, but will this blast off with awards voters? We have very recent history to consider. I’m referring, of course, to last year’s BohemianRhapsody. Despite its rocky critical reaction, that film was a hit with audiences and Oscar voters. The Freddie Mercury biopic ended up winning four gold statues, including Rami Malek’s portrayal of the Queen frontman in Best Actor.
Rhapsody made an astonishing $903 million worldwide. Rocketman may not reach that territory. If it does, it could be impossible to ignore. Yet even if it turns out to be a sizable crowd favorite, Academy voters could nominate this in a variety of categories. That includes Picture, Actor, and the sound races (for which Bohemian was victorious in both). The comparisons between Rhapsody and Rocketman don’t end there. Dexter Fletcher took over directorial duties from Bryan Singer on the former. He is behind the camera again for the latter.
Bottom line: there’s a chance that voters might not honor Mr. John like they did Mr. Mercury, but Cannes reaction at least indicates it’s a possibility. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
In a year filled with superhero tales, Brightburn adds a horror element when it opens over Memorial Day weekend. The low budget pic is a Gunn family affair with James (director of the GuardiansoftheGalaxy franchise) producing with a screenplay from his brothers Mark and Brian. David Yarovesky directs. The nifty trailer suggests a Superman style origin tale if Clark Kent turned out to be a homicidal maniac. Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, and Meredith Hagner star.
As mentioned, Brightburn comes with a tiny price tag estimated at $7 million. Therefore it should have no trouble turning a tidy profit. That said, a gross in the teens or above could be wishful thinking for Sony Pictures. The marketing campaign hasn’t been near as robust as other titles featuring superheroes (good or evil) and the film isn’t based on known source material.
I’ll say the forecasts of low double digits for its four-day holiday premiere is where this lands.
Brightburn opening weekend prediction: $10.7 million
The second of four live-action renderings of Disney animated features in 2019, Aladdin is wishing for bountiful box office returns over Memorial Day weekend. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the musical fantasy adventure casts Will Smith as the genie in a role made iconic in 1992 by Robin Williams. In the title role is Mena Massoud with Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. Costars include Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad, and Billy Magnussen.
Reaction to the teaser was mixed at best. The full trailer was better received. The film follows this spring’s Dumbo, which was a bit of a disappointment with a $45 million opening gross. TheLionKing will follow later this summer with Maleficent: MistressofEvil in the year’s fourth quarter.
While there’s little doubt Aladdin will rule the holiday frame, it’s got a wide range of possibilities. The Mouse Factory’s largest start for one of its reimaginings was 2017’s BeautyandtheBeast, which roared to $174 million. Don’t expect anywhere near that kind of number. Some forecasts are putting this in the $100 million four-day ballpark, but I have serious doubts about that.
I could actually see this performing similarly to Mr. Smith’s other Memorial Day opener – 2012’s MIB3, which earned $69 million. For a Disney comp, there’s 2015’s Cinderella with its $67 million haul. Given that there’s an extra day involved, I’ll bump Aladdin up slightly.
Aladdin opening weekend prediction: $74.8 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
Blogger’s Note (05/15): My Parabellum prediction has risen from $37.8 million to $45.8 million
The three-week reign of Avengers: Endgame atop the charts should end this weekend at the hands of Keanu Reeves as his action threequel John Wick: Chapter3 – Parabellum is unveiled. We also have canine sequel ADog’sJourney and YA romance TheSunIsAlsoaStar out. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
Mr. Wick appears poised for a healthy start in first. The 2014 original made $14 million out of the gate but became a cult favorite shortly thereafter. Its 2017 follow-up brought in $30 million. Some have Parabellum in the mid 40s range, but I’m thinking high 30s is more probable. That should still be more than enough to ensure it the #1 slot.
A mid 50s dip should drop Endgame to second with PokemonDetectivePikachu in third. I have ADog’sJourney tapped for just under teens (not matching the $18 million earned by predecessor ADog’sPurpose).
My $5.5 million forecast for TheSunIsAlsoaStar likely leaves it in sixth with TheHustle rounding out the top five in its sophomore frame.
Here’s how I have the weekend playing out:
1. JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum
Predicted Gross: $45.8 million
2. Avengers: Endgame
Predicted Gross: $28.5 million
Predicted Gross: $25.2 million
Predicted Gross: $11.8 million
Predicted Gross: $7.1 million
It was a three-peat for the gargantuan superhero squad as Avengers: Endgame took in $63.2 million (below my $71.2 million take). The film has amassed a jaw-dropping $723 million total. That’s the fourth heftiest third weekend in box office history and it’s climbed to third all-time domestically in overall gross, with Avatar well in its sights.
PokemonDetectivePikachu got a silver medal with a decent $54.3 million, under my $64.8 million projection. The Ryan Reynolds voiced pic fell within the range of expectations, albeit on the lower end.
TheHustle with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson was third and opened right in line with estimates at $13 million (I said $13.4 million). A weak B- CinemaScore grade indicates audiences weren’t impressed.
Fourth place belonged to TheIntruder as it had a nice hold in weekend #2. I incorrectly had it outside the top five, but it made $7.1 million for a two-week haul of $21 million.
LongShot was in the five spot with $6.2 million (I said $5.5 million) and $19 million total.
The Diane Keaton cheerleading comedy Poms was a dud in sixth with just $5.3 million. I reached higher at $8.7 million.
Tolkien was another disappointment in ninth with a measly $2.2 million. I went with $3.1 million.
After playing the festival circuit last fall and early this year, TheBiggestLittleFarm cultivated a decent limited release debut this weekend. The documentary follows a married couple who move from Los Angeles to agricultural country in SoCal to pursue farming. John Chester, whose short docs on Oprah Winfrey’s network has earned him Emmys, directs.
The film has garnered praise from critics (94% on Rotten Tomatoes) and environmentalists. As mentioned, Farm first screened last fall in Toronto and has played at multiple fests since including Telluride and Sundance. Neon picked up distribution rights and a theater count expansion is planned for Friday.
If this manages to stay on the radar screen for Academy voters, it stands an outside shot at a Documentary Feature nod. That could be a tall order if competition heats up as the year rolls along, which is probable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Steven Spielberg has executive produced all five Transformers movies prior to Bumblebee and he holds that title here. Yet it’s in this prequel/spin-off that his influence feels the most pronounced. In the case of this franchise, that’s a welcome development. Michael Bay’s quintet of loud metal on metal action orgies that began in 2007 are generally nonsensical explosion excuses with occasional jaw dropping moments. Travis Knight, taking over directorial duties, gives Bumblebee a heart and the loudest audio belongs to the terrific 80s soundtrack.
This is a prequel and the happenings occur in 1987, which explains The Smiths, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears providing the tunes. A prologue on the planet Cybertron shows our title character (voiced by Dylan O’Brien) being sent to Earth by Optimus Prime in order to escape death by The Decepticons. He crash lands, of all places, right in the middle of a military training exercise in California where no nonsense Colonel Jack Burns (John Cena) assumes him to be a hostile creature. Bumblebee manages to transform into that iconic 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, but not after being rendered mute when his voice box is disabled. By the way, this all happens in like ten minutes. Pacing is not an issue in this picture, unlike other bloated Transformers flicks.
That Beetle ends up in a junkyard frequented by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a gear head who’s just turned 18. It’s her storyline that brings the Spielberg vibes front and center. She’s experienced parental loss as her beloved father has passed. She’s an outcast in the suburbs. Charlie has an awkward pending romance with her neighbor (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). There’s also a resistance to diving (even though she’s a terrific diver) that we correctly assume will figure into the plot. She also works at a low rent amusement park that looks straight outta Adventureland. When she commandeers the Volkswagen, she discovers the giant yellow extraterrestrial and befriends him. Their relationship is quite E.T. like, if that alien had tires strapped to his back and communicated through radio waves playing Steve Winwood.
Knight, maker of the acclaimed KuboandtheTwoStrings, is making a Transformers experience that could have been made in the 80s. And it mostly works. There’s only so much he can do with the fight scenes after the Decepticons (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) track Bumblebee to this planet. The tech team here manages to make them easier to follow than Bay’s mashups. So when Colonel Burns and other dumber than they should be government types get involved in the plot, I found myself actually caring a bit. That’s due to screenwriter Christina Hodson’s establishment of Charlie as a full fledged character and Steinfeld’s work elevating her. Her charming interaction with Bee is enough to warrant something the Transformers epics don’t get and that’s a recommendation.