The Lego Movie Collapse

This was a weekend where The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part was expected to easily nab the #1 spot at the box office. That mission was accomplished, but it did so with much less money than any prognosticator figured. The sequel to the 2014 original took in $34 million and that was about $20 million less than expected. I had a feeling it would under perform and forecasted a $48 million debut. However, I never figured a mid 30s premiere.

For some context, the first Lego experience five years ago made $69 million out of the gate and eventually earned $257 million domestically. In 2017, first franchise spin-off The Lego Batman Movie debuted to $53 million ($175 million total). The first sign of trouble came a few months later when The Lego Ninjago Movie came in far under estimates with $20 million in its opening weekend and a lowly $59 million stateside. Yet some attributed the poor Ninjago performance to its limited niche audience.

The Second Part marked a hopeful return to form for Warner Bros considering it was a direct sequel to a picture that made over $250 million. There is no doubt that the number produced this weekend could block future plans for the series. Its best hope ahead could be the President’s Day weekend as the studio hopes it will have a small decline. Any way you cut it, though, part two will seriously come in under its predecessor. We now have two Lego Movie collapses in a row and it will be interesting to see how Warner handles it.

The Wife Movie Review

The Wife may not be as powerful or emotionally wrenching as the thoughts running through its central figure’s head, but the woman playing her makes this worth checking out. Glenn Close has given many fine performances in her long career and this is among the top ones. She plays Joan Archer and she’s known only by who she’s married to – acclaimed author Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce). The film opens with an early morning phone call where he finds out he’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

What transpires afterwards is an examination of their complicated marriage that began as an affair when he was a professor and she was an aspiring writer coed. He still fools around and she manages to put up with it. The list of annoyances extends to her dealing with the fawning behavior of those around him. There are two exceptions. One is their son (Max Irons) who’s trying make his own mark in his Dad’s profession and is forever stuck in his large shadow. The other is Joseph’s would-be biographer (Christian Slater) who believes there’s more to his subject’s legacy and partnership with Joan.

The film is set in Stockholm. This is due to the prestigious award Joseph is about to receive. It also seems appropriate as Joan begins to feel captive in her unhappy existence. Director Björn Runge is a native of the nation as we witness its cold winter and frosty breakdown of our leads.

We see flashbacks of their story. While the two actors playing them as newlyweds (Annie Starke and Harry Lloyd) do a decent job mimicking Close and Pryce, The Wife shines when the camera is trained on their elders counterparts. Starke, by the way, is the real life daughter of Close. Based on a novel from Meg Wolitzer and adapted by Jane Anderson, the picture doesn’t dwell much on what made this rocky union produce literary masterworks. That might’ve provided some insight, but Close’s own wrenching masterwork (with a game Pryce alongside) will have you ready to continue to the next chapter.

*** (out of four)

Isn’t It Romantic Box Office Prediction

It might be a satire of romantic comedies, but Warner Bros is hoping Isn’t It Romantic brings in a Valentine’s and President’s Day crowd when it opens this Wednesday. Rebel Wilson plays a lovey dovey denier who finds herself in a rom com cinematic universe after being knocked out. Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, and Priyanka Chopra are in the supporting cast. Todd Strauss-Schulson directs.

As mentioned, Romantic will look for a female crowd that hopefully bring their dates. Wilson is no stranger to this holiday frame. Three years ago, she costarred in How to Be Single and it grossed nearly $20 million for its long weekend start (Valentine’s Day fell on Sunday that year).

With Wednesday and Thursday (the 14th) factored in, this will likely make under that figure for the four-day frame and could even struggle to top $20 million for the six-day earnings. I’ll say it manages to just top it.

Isn’t It Romantic opening weekend prediction: $14.3 million (Friday to Monday); $20.7 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my Happy Death Day 2U prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/06/happy-death-day-2u-box-office-prediction/

For my Alita: Battle Angel prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/06/alita-battle-angel-box-office-prediction/

Widows Movie Review

Like Michael Mann’s Heat over two decades ago, Steve McQueen’s Widows is a heist movie more concerned with the personalities of the people planning them. The similarities don’t stop there. It’s got a sprawling cast with many familiar faces and an overall somber tone. This is a genre marked mostly by its entertainment value. Heists are fun onscreen with the numeric Ocean’s being the highest profile recent examples.

Unlike Heat, its central planner doesn’t pull these crimes because he’s great at it and doesn’t have a personal life. Here it’s the personal lives that lead to the planning in the first place. And in this one, it’s “she’s”. Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) works for the Chicago Teachers Union and is married to career thief Harry (Liam Neeson). What I’m about to write isn’t exactly a spoiler considering the title. Harry and his crew have a job go awry and they’re all killed. Besides Veronica, the widowed women include business owner Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), abused spouse Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), and new mom Amanda (Carrie Coon).

Their mourning period is disrupted by their husband’s past illegal dealings. Windy City crime lord Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) was ripped off by them and he’s ready to collect. He’s running for an alderman spot against corrupt politico Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell). Mulligan fancies himself a man of the people and lives close to the dilapidated neighborhood he wishes to represent. He might as well live on another planet. Manning wants to enter government life to get away from a life of crime, but seems to understand that they go hand in hand in this transactional and blood soaked Chicago.

Veronica, Linda, and Alice are put in a desperate spot. A clue left behind by Harry leads them to plan a robbery of Mulligan’s dirty money while trying to keep his political opponent off their backs (Amanda chooses to not to participate). Mulligan and Manning have enforcers on their team. The former’s is his controlling and ruthless father (Robert Duvall). The latter’s is his henchman (Daniel Kaluuya), who’s sadistic and seems to genuinely enjoy his works of depravity.

There are many subplots in Widows and McQueen manages to pull it off in mostly satisfying fashion. Some work better than others. The relationship of Veronica and Harry is a complicated one that’s given emotional heft by a shared loss. The same can be said for Alice’s character. She’s been a victim her whole life it seems. There’s an empowerment element with her that makes her perhaps the easiest character to root for. Rodriguez’s story has less meat on the bones. They pick up another conspirator in Belle (a memorable Cynthia Erivo), a driven woman who serves as the driver.

You’ll not be surprised to find the performances are first-rate, particularly Davis, Debicki, and Kaluuya (there’s not a mediocre one in the bunch). The score, editing, and cinematography are also noteworthy. McQueen wrote the script along with Gillian Flynn, known for her twisty works like Gone Girl. She’s created compelling female characters there and elsewhere and she does so here. If there’s an issue, it’s that her proclivity for twists reaches a tad too far with one (which I won’t spoil). I found it unnecessary and you’ll likely recognize what I’m referring to upon viewing.

And Widows is worth viewing as it gives us some characters you want to follow. There’s nothing remarkable about the heist they’re trying to pull. The acting and technical work often does fit that description.

*** (out of four)

Alita: Battle Angel Box Office Prediction

Based on a popular Japanese graphic novel, the sci-fi action spectacle Alita: Battle Angel is finally ready for release next Thursday. Robert Rodriguez serves as director with a screenplay from another well-known auteur by the name of James Cameron (as well as Laeta Kalogridis). Rosa Salazar provides the voice and motion capture work for the title character and other cast members include Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, and Jackie Earle Haley.

Alita was originally slated for release last summer before being pushed back to December. The folks at 20th Century Fox moved it from that crowded marketplace to Valentine’s Day. However, other movies should still be a factor. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will likely top the charts in its second frame while horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U opens and provides some direct audience competition.

The reported budget here is rumored to be possibly $200 million. The visuals have been praised while the film itself has had a mixed critical reaction (57% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). Alita is tracking to be a disappointment stateside considering the price tag and I agree with that assessment. I’ll say it manages high teens to low 20s for the traditional Friday to Monday portion of the Presidents Day frame, which should mean mid 20s when factoring in the Thursday gross.

Alita: Battle Angel opening weekend prediction: $19.7 million (Friday to Monday); $24.8 million (Thursday to Monday)

For my Happy Death Day 2U prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/06/happy-death-day-2u-box-office-prediction/

For my Isn’t It Romantic prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/07/isnt-it-romantic-box-office-prediction/

Happy Death Day 2U Box Office Prediction

Blumhouse looks to continue its impressive streak of low-budget slasher pics that turn hefty profits with the release of sequel Happy Death Day 2U next Wednesday. Christopher Landon is back in the director’s chair along with returning cast members Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Ruby Modine, in addition to Life of Pi star Suraj Sharma.

In October 2017, Happy Death Day took its Groundhog Day meets the horror genre to solid box office results. It made $26 million for the opening weekend as its overall haul was front loaded (final gross was $55 million).

Part 2 might premiere with less for the traditional weekend, but the Wednesday debut  and following four-day President’s Day frame could boost the six-day to a high 20s overall take.

Happy Death Day 2U opening weekend prediction: $22 million (Friday to Monday); $28.6 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my Alita: Battle Angel prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/06/alita-battle-angel-box-office-prediction/

For my Isn’t It Romantic prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/02/07/isnt-it-romantic-box-office-prediction/

February 8-10 Box Office Predictions

After a sleepy box office weekend that’s normal for when the Super Bowl is played (which was sleepy as well), things pick up considerably in this second frame of February. There’s four newcomers that could populate those top four slots. They are the animated sequel The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Taraji P. Henson comedic remake What Men Want, Liam Neeson action thriller Cold Pursuit, and horror flick The Prodigy. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/29/the-lego-movie-2-the-second-part-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/30/what-men-want-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/30/cold-pursuit-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/31/the-prodigy-box-office-prediction/

The Lego follow-up should have little trouble topping the charts, but I have it debuting significantly under the $69 million achieved by its predecessor four years ago.

I have What Men Want placing a strong second with Cold Pursuit having a middling start in third. The five-spot could be a battle between The Prodigy and holdover The Upside. The latter should experience a smaller drop than three-week champion Glass, which means it may fall from first to sixth.

And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Predicted Gross: $48.6 million

2. What Men Want

Predicted Gross: $26.4 million

3. Cold Pursuit

Predicted Gross: $12.8 million

4. The Prodigy

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

5. The Upside

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

Box Office Results (February 13)

Super Bowl weekends are never bountiful ones at multiplexes and that held true this year. It was the worst SB frame in 19 years. Glass stayed in 1st with $9.5 million, cutting close to my $9.8 million prediction. Its total is $88 million.

The Upside was close behind in second with $8.6 million (I said $9.1 million) for $75 million overall.

Action flick Miss Bala was the sole newbie and it was third with $6.8 million, ahead of my $5.8 million forecast. That’s nothing special, but not too shabby considering the reported $15 million budget.

Aquaman was fourth with $4.8 million (I said $5 million) for $323 million total. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse rounded out the top five with $4.5 million (I said $4.6 million). The Oscar favorite for Best Animated Feature is up to $175 million.

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