The House Movie Review

I’m not sure if I’m “spoiling” anything here, but Jeremy Renner takes a break from franchises and shows up in the final third of The House. Playing a bad guy, the mere fact of his presence is meant to elicit laughter because… well, I’m not entirely sure why. That’s emblematic of the film itself. You have a lot of famous performers (most known for their comedic skills unlike Renner) trapped in a flimsy concept that only manages to wring less than 90 minutes of material. And there certainly isn’t an hour and a half’s worth of funny.

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are Scott and Kate Johansen, a middle-class couple about to become empty nesters as their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) is about to enter college. It’s the summer before her exit and her folks are trying to maximize their time with her. They’re a bit of the overprotective type who smother their kid and guilt her into Walking Dead nights instead of visiting her friends. Alex’s higher ed plans take a hit when the Johansens learn a long-planned for scholarship is kaput because a corrupt city councilman (Nick Kroll) would rather spend it on a community pool.

With the need to make some fast money, what’s this seemingly normal couple to do? In this high concept exercise, the answer is teaming with down on his luck divorcee neighbor Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) and opening an illegal casino. The scheme yields dollars but other complications that come with the high roller life. Criminal elements enter the mix and this new job also gives the Johansens a personality transplant into a hard partying couple who start to believe their dangerous notoriety.

Bottom line is that we see Ferrell do his goofy Everyman type turned goofy comedic hard ass. If you find that irresistible, maybe there’s enough to sustain you here. Yet this effort from director Andrew J. Cohen (who co-wrote the much more satisfactory Neighbors) hits its marks with infrequency. Adam McKay is a producer here and he’s done better work with Ferrell. I couldn’t help but wonder if the sometimes sharp political commentary McKay brings to his work would have helped here. I’m pretty sure the script is trying to say something about the plight of the middle class and their earning power, but it’s buried in spurting blood gags and believing Jeremy Renner turning up will work as a gag on its own terms. There’s humorous moments peppered throughout, but nowhere near enough to recommend it.

** (out of four)

The House Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/29): On eve of debut, revising estimate against to $13.8 million

Bloggers’s Note (06/27): Revising estimate to $18.3M from $22.3M

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are a married couple who start up an illegal gambling establishment to pay for their daughter’s college in The House next weekend. It’s the directorial debut of Andrew J. Cohen, writer of the Neighbors pics and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Costars include Ryan Simpkins, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, and Jeremy Renner.

As far as leading roles go, Ferrell has had a good run lately as Get Hard and Daddy’s Home both debuted in the mid to high 30s range. The former had the benefit of costarring Kevin Hart. The latter benefited from a Christmas release. I don’t see The House reaching those numbers and I see it more likely to be in range (perhaps a bit less) with Ferrell’s The Campaign, which opened to $26 million five summers ago.

Considering its relatively low $40 million reported budget and if it receives decent buzz, this should be a nice size hit for Warner Bros.

The House opening weekend prediction: $13.8 million

For my Despicable Me 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/21/despicable-me-3-box-office-prediction/

For my Baby Driver prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/21/baby-driver-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beguiled prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/26/the-beguiled-box-office-prediction/

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Movie Review

As has been discussed on the blog before, comedy is typically the genre that lends itself least to sequels. A major reason: most of ’em aren’t made with a planned follow-up in mind and therefore contrivances must be invented for them to exist.

This general rule applies to Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, which arrives two years after the success of the original. In 2014, the teaming of Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne vs. Zac Efron’s wild frat next door was a mostly effective raunchy pic with a couple of gags (air bags) that soared. $150 million domestic later, returning director Nicholas Stoller and his stars picked a pretty simple premise for another installment. Put a sorority there instead of a frat and watch similar hijinks ensue!

This happens when college freshman Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz) goes to pledge at sororities and discovers they aren’t allowed to hold the wild bashes that their male counterparts are. So she enlists some other girls and Beastie Boys’s it beside the Radners (Rogen, Byrne) who are now expecting their second child. Kappa Nu is formed with an assist from Teddy (Efron), who’s still a bit salty from what went down when he inhabited the property. He’s also painfully still a man-child and the screenplay does get some decent mileage out of that (his changed friendship with frat bro Dave Franco is an example).

As with the first Neighbors installment, games of one upmanship (or upgirlship I guess) go down. The Radners are terrified because the house is in escrow as they’re set to become suburbanites and the new tenants might not appreciate the newly minted party pad. Shelby and her newfound sisters are determined to stay. And if that all sounds a lot like 2014, it is. Same story, different gender.

Rising gets a some solid chuckles out of exploiting the physique of both Mr. Efron and Mr. Rogen. The best moments come from our lead couple acting as de facto parents to Teddy, yet they’re few and far between. This is due to the familiar tale of Kappa Nu and their schemes that involve some serious felonies that the frat guys would’ve balked at.

There have been plenty of comedic #2’s far worse than this. The trio of Rogen, Byrne, and Efron do give it their all and don’t just go through the motions. Still – this one feels mostly uninspired despite the talent involved and keeps that general comedy sequel rule intact.

**1/2 (out of four)

Storks Box Office Prediction

Warner Bros keeps the onslaught of animated titles being delivered to theaters going with Storks, opening next weekend. The comedic adventure comes from Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland. Mr. Stroller is known for his live-action genre titles like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, and the Neighbors franchise. The pic features the voices of Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Kelsey Grammer, and Ty Burrell.

2016 has been a banner year for animated material with mega-hits like Zootopia, Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets and critically acclaimed fare like Kubo and the Two Strings and Sausage Party. With all those titles mentioned, it’s a distinct possibility that an animated feature will really have to stand out now for family audiences to plunk down their dollars. Whether Storks fits that bill is a legit question.

September has been an occasionally fruitful month for the genre. Hotel Transylvania and its sequel are responsible for the month’s two largest openings at $42 and $48 million, respectively. The two Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs flicks both opened above $30 million. Warner Bros should be ecstatic if Storks manages those numbers.

I don’t believe this will quite reach that level and a debut in the mid to high 20s seems more probable.

Storks opening weekend prediction: $27.9 million

For my The Magnificent Seven prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/14/the-magnificent-seven-box-office-prediction/

Box Office Predictions: May 27-30

It’s Memorial Day weekend coming up at the summer box office with two high-profile sequels debuting – X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/18/x-men-apocalypse-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/18/alice-through-the-looking-glass-box-office-prediction/

I expect the Mutants to fairly easily top The Mad Hatter, with Apocalypse just edging the century mark for its four-day holiday frame with Looking Glass getting to the mid-60s. That would mean both entries would come in below what their predecessors managed in 2014 and 2010, respectively.

As for holdovers, The Angry Birds Movie should slide to third after a robust 1st place debut (more on that below) with Captain America: Civil War and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (which struggled this last weekend) rounding out the top five.

And with that, my top 5 predictions for the Memorial Day frame which encapsulates my three and four-day forecasts:

  1. X-Men: Apocalypse

Predicted Gross: $82.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $100.4 million (Friday to Monday)

2. Alice Through the Looking Glass

Predicted Gross: $53.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $67.7 million (Friday to Monday)

3. The Angry Birds Movie

Predicted Gross: $20.4 million (Friday to Sunday), $24.5 million (Friday to Monday)

4. Captain America: Civil War

Predicted Gross: $18.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $22.2 million (Friday to Monday)

5. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million (Friday to Sunday), $12.2 million (Friday to Monday)

Box Office Results (May 20-22)

The first feature film based on an app nabbed the #1 spot as The Angry Birds Movie soared to a $38.1 million opening, a bit above my $34.5M projection. This was on the higher end of expectations for the animated pic.

After two weeks on top, Captain America: Civil War slipped to second with $32.9 million, just under my $35.1M forecast for a three-week total of $347M.

The news was not good for Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and company as Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising grossed an unimpressive $21.7 million for third. I went way over with $38.2M, which I should predicted for those ill-tempered birds. Considering the original made $49M out of the gate, we can safely assume Neighbors 3 won’t happen. This continues a recent trend of comedy sequels (think: Horrible Bosses, Zoolander) under performing.

Despite mostly glowing reviews, The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling finished fourth with $11.2 million in its opening, under my $14.4M prediction.

The Jungle Book rounded out the top five with $10.9 million and I predicted… $10.9M! Yay! Almost makes up for the Neighbors thing, but not really…

And there you have it, folks! Until next time…

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Box Office Prediction

Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne are back experiencing homeowner drama in a hopefully funny way with Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, out next weekend. This time, it’s the ladies turn to wreak havoc on Mr. Rogen’s famiy with Chloe Grace Moretz leading the way. Nicholas Stoller returns to direct with Dave Franco and Ike Barinholtz back in supporting roles.

Two years ago, Neighbors turned into a major summer hit with a $49 million opening and $150 million domestic gross. A sequel was quickly greenlit and here we are today with the follow-up hoping to match its predecessor’s numbers.

It could be tough to do. There is some genre competition with Russell Crowe/Ryan Gosling’s The Nice Guys opening on the same day. Additionally, many comedic sequels open under the original in general. The fact that only two years has passed could help though. Reviews have been decent as it stands at 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, just under the 73% of the first.

I’ll predict Neighbors 2 rises to just under $40M, about $10M less than what came before it and it’ll probably manage to just reach triple digits when all is said and done.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opening weekend prediction: $38.2 million

For my The Angry Birds Movie prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/11/the-angry-birds-movie-box-office-prediction/

For my The Nice Guys prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/11/the-nice-guys-box-office-prediction/

Summer 2015 Movies: The Predicted Century Club

The 2015 Summer Movie Season officially kicks off two weeks from today when Avengers: Age of Ultron blasts into theaters. It will compete for the largest domestic opening of all time (where it needs to beat its predecessor) and is highly likely to be the season’s highest earner. That got me to thinking – while Ultron is poised to gross $500 million or higher, it’s been the $100 million mark that studios still like to brag about. This prompted me to look at the past five summer flick seasons and how many pictures reached that milestone.

In 2010, it was 13 movies that reached the mark: Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Inception, Despicable Me, Shrek Forever After, The Karate Kid, Grown Ups, The Last Airbender, The Other Guys, Salt, Robin Hood, and The Expendables.

Things improved in 2011 with 18 films reaching the century club: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Hangover Part II, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: First Avenger, The Help, Bridesmaids, Kung Fu Panda 2, X-Men: First Class, The Smurfs, Super 8, Horrible Bosses, Green Lantern, Bad Teacher, and Cowboys and Aliens.

The low mark was the following year in 2012 with just 12: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Brave, Ted, Madagascar 3, Men in Black 3, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, Magic Mike, and The Bourne Legacy.

Yet the high mark came the following summer in 2013 with 19: Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Monsters University, Fast and Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, The Heat, We’re the Millers, The Great Gatsby, The Conjuring, Grown Ups 2, The Wolverine, Now You See Me, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Hangover Part III, Epic, Pacific Rim, and This is the End.

2014 dipped with 14: Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Maleficent, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Neighbors, Lucy, The Fault in Our Stars, and Edge of Tomorrow. 

That averages out to 15 pictures earning $100M plus per summer over this decade.

So where do I have 2015 matching up? Not breaking records, but in good shape. My predictions for the year’s $100M earners is 16 and they are as follows (in order of release date): Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2, Tomorrowland, San Andreas, Spy, Jurassic World, Inside Out, Ted 2, Magic Mike XXL, Terminator: Genisys, Minions, Ant-Man, Trainwreck, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and Fantastic Four. 

Of course, there’s always sleepers. And there’s others that I could have predicted but think will fall short: the Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara comedy Hot Pursuit, horror remake Poltergeist, the film version of Entourage, the Adam Sandler video game inspired action comedy Pixels, the Vacation reboot, and the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton are among them.

As predicted, summer 2015 should see its number of century club inductees on the slightly high end without reaching the heights of 2013. And as always, you’ll see box office predictions every Saturday from me on each and every one of ’em!

May Box Office Report: Winners and Losers

May kicked off the 2014 summer movie season and, per usual, there were successes and failures. There were ten wide releases during the month and, as I see it, there was a 40% success rate among them. Let’s talk about them in the May edition of Winners and Losers.

Winner: Neighbors

The only successful comedy of the month came with solid reviews (73% on Rotten Tomatoes) and robust box office (should top out close to $150 million). It marked the largest domestic opening ever for star Seth Rogen. Neighbors could end up as the season’s biggest grossing comedy, though 22 Jump Street may have something to say about that.

Loser: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

It isn’t that often you’ll see a movie that will gross just over $200 million be called a loser, but we have it here. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 received middling reviews and it will gross over $50M less than its predecessor from two years ago. Even worse, the original trilogy all grossed well over $300M with the first topping out at $403M. This is clearly a franchise that is not on the upswing (see what I did there?) and Sony needs to figure how to rectify it fast.

Winner: Godzilla

This is one is a winner with an asterisk. It opened at a terrific $93 million before suffering huge drop-offs in its second and third weekend. Still, it should reach over $200M and its international grosses are strong.

Loser: Blended

This marks another disappointment for Adam Sandler after recent flops Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy. This could struggle to make $50 million which will mark the lowest earner in the Sandler/Drew Barrymore trilogy. Grown Ups 3 anyone?

Winner: Maleficent

It only has one weekend under its belt, but the Disney title scored a strong $69 million and marked Angelina Jolie’s highest live-action all-time debut. With its A Cinemascore grade, long term prospects look encouraging.

Loser: Million Dollar Arm

Disney didn’t have as much luck here as the Jon Hamm sports drama got lost in the shuffle and is unlikely to reach $40 million. The studio was hoping it would reach the numbers of previous sports hits Miracle and Invincible, but it didn’t happen.

Winner: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Some thought this could be the biggest grossing flick of the franchise, but it will not top 2006’s The Last Stand and should be on equal footing with 2003’s X2. Still, it improved upon director predecessor’s First Class gross of $165 million and ensures the venerable series will continue.

Loser: A Million Ways to Die in the West

Two summers ago, Seth MacFarlane had the highest comedy grosser of the summer with Ted. This past weekend’s tepid $16.7M opening for West means it won’t even match what Ted did in its first weekend. Negative reviews didn’t help. For Seth, Ted 2 can’t come quick enough.

Loser: Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

This one was an all-around disaster. It cost a reported $70 million to make and has only made a pathetic $8 million in four weeks. Ouch.

Loser: Moms’ Night Out

This faith-based comedy was thought of as a potential sleeper that could reach the female crowd. It didn’t and has only made $9 million in four weeks.

All in all, this was the lowest grossing May since 2010 and June will look to pick up the slack with How to Train Your Dragon 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction, 22 Jump Street, and The Fault in Our Stars, among others. You can rest assure I’ll have my June report up at month’s end!

Box Office Predictions: May 23-26

Memorial Day weekend 2014 at the box office brings the potentially explosive opening of X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore rom com Blended. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/05/18/x-men-days-of-future-past-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/05/18/blended-box-office-prediction/

I’m not quite buying some prognosticators claiming X-Men will make $125 million over the four day holiday frame, but my prediction isn’t too far off from that. Meanwhile, I look for Blended to have an opening on the lower end of typical Sandler debuts.

As for holdovers, percentage drops are typically smaller during Memorial weekend so I see Godzilla, Neighbors, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 having relatively decent holds.

And with that, my predictions for the weekend top five and their four day holiday totals:

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Predicted Gross: $114.3 million

2. Godzilla

Predicted Gross: $50.6 million (representing a drop of 45%)

3. Blended

Predicted Gross: $24.9 million

4. Neighbors

Predicted Gross: $18.8 million (representing a drop of 24%)

5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Predicted Gross: $11 million (representing a drop of 35%)

Box Office Results (May 16-18)

While many predictions for holdovers were solid over the past weekend, I didn’t give Godzilla near enough credit while giving Million Dollar Arm with Jon Hamm way too much credit.

Godzilla stomped into theaters to the tune of $93.1 million, well beyond my $77.3M estimate. The monster pic managed the second highest debut of the year behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier and virtually guarantees we’ll see a sequel featuring the jolly green giant in the near future.

Seth Rogen’s comedy Neighbors dropped to second with $25 million in its sophomore frame, right in line with my $24.3M projection. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was third in its third weekend with $16.8 million, on pace with my $16.6M projection.

Million Dollar Arm, the Disney sports drama, flopped in its opening with a meager $10.5 million, way below my generous $23.4M estimate. Clearly the film simply failed to resonate in its marketing campaign.

Rounding out the top five in weekend #4 was Cameron Diaz’s The Other Woman with $6.3 million, just over my $5.7M prediction.

That’s all for now folks! I’ll have results posted for Memorial weekend next week.

Box Office Predictions: May 16-18

It’s the battle of AMC stars Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm as the summer season rolls along entering weekend #3 with monster flick Godzilla and Disney sports drama Million Dollar Arm entering the marketplace. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/05/11/godzilla-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/05/11/million-dollar-arm-box-office-prediction/

Godzilla with Cranston should very easily dominate while a more interesting scenario could play out for the runner-up spot. Last weekend’s champ Neighbors had a bigger than expected opening (more on that below), however it received only a B Cinemascore grade which is lower than I would’ve thought. That means it could be in store for a larger sophomore drop-off than I might have earlier anticipated. This could set it up for a close showdown with Million Dollar Arm, starring Hamm.

As for the rest of the top five, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 should experience another healthy fall in its third weekend while The Other Woman rounds out the group.

And with that, my predictions for the weekend’s top five:

1. Godzilla

Predicted Gross: $77.3 million

2. Neighbors

Predicted Gross: $24.3 million (representing a drop of 50%)

3. Million Dollar Arm

Predicted Gross: $23.4 million

4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Predicted Gross: $16.6 million (representing a drop of 53%)

5. The Other Woman

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million (representing a drop of 43%)

Box Office Results (May 9-11)

The Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy Neighbors scored a truly impressive debut with $49 million, well above my $37.3M projection. The well-reviewed frat pic scored the fifth highest R rated comedy opening of all time, after The Hangover Part II, Sex and the City, Ted, and Jackass 3-D.

Dropping to second was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, plummeting a healthy 61% with $35.5 million, below my $40.6M estimate. The Spidey sequel has not met expectations domestically and it’s on course to certainly be the lowest grossing pic in the franchise yet. Sony and Marvel might be in for a major brainstorming session in order for the planned third and fourth installments to reverse this troubling trend.

The Other Woman with Cameron Diaz was third with $9.6 million in weekend #3, holding up stronger than my $7.6M prediction. In fourth, Heaven Is for Real also performed better than my prediction with my $7.4 million (I said $5M). The fifth and sixth spots went to sequel holdovers that I didn’t include in my top six estimates: Captain America: The Winter Soldier took in $5.7 million and Rio 2 made $5 million.

This means the other two newbies this weekend posted lackluster results. The faith based Moms’ Night Out was seventh with $4.3 million, slightly under my $5.1M projection. The animated Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return tanked in eighth with $3.7 million, below my moderate $5.7M estimate.

That’s all for now. folks!