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.

Oscar Watch – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

The Lego franchise has made nearly half a billion dollars at the domestic box office for Warner Bros since 2014 and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will add to those coffers next weekend. It’s money hauls, however, have not translated to success with Oscar voters.

The Lego Movie was critically acclaimed and seemed assured an Academy nod in Animated Feature four years ago. It was one of the most surprising snubs when it didn’t make the cut. There were two Lego pics in 2017 (The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie). Neither of them managed to make the race that year.

While reviews for The Second Part are strong, several critics have said it doesn’t quite match the first part. Competition from animated sequels alone in 2019 (How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4) is serious. Therefore it appears highly unlikely that this will be the year where Lego builds any standing with the awards crowd.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Box Office Prediction

The Warner Animation Group hopes to build back up its near half billion dollar domestic franchise next weekend with the release of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. This direct sequel arrives five years after its hit predecessor, though there’s been two spin-offs in the meantime. Mike Mitchell, who made Shrek Forever After and Trolls, takes over directing duties from Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (they wrote the screenplay). Returning voices include Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett (he’s Batman), Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Will Ferrell. Familiar faces joining the voiceover party are aplenty. They include Tiffany Haddish, Maya Rudolph, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Brooklyn Prince, and thespians from the DC Cinematic Universe (Gal Gadot, Margot Robbie, Jason Momoa).

In February of 2014, The Lego Movie earned $69 million out of the gate with an eventual stateside take of $257 million. Our first spin-off, 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie, achieved $53 million for its start and $175 million total. A few months later, The Lego Ninjago Movie was a legitimate disappointment. It premiered with only $20 million and didn’t leg out well ($59 million).

As they were with the first part, reviews are positive as this stands at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Several critics, however, have noted it doesn’t quite match up to the original. While this should easily debut at #1, I’ll project that it falls short of the 2014 earnings. Topping $50 million is certainly possible, but I’ll go just shy of that number.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part opening weekend prediction: $48.6 million

For my What Men Want prediction, click here:

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

For my Cold Pursuit prediction, click here:

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

For my The Prodigy prediction, click here:

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

Bad Times at the El Royale Box Office Prediction

Director Drew Goddard follows up his cult hit The Cabin in the Woods next weekend with the thriller Bad Times at the El Royale. Set at a novelty hotel in the late 1960s that occupies space in California and Nevada, the cast includes Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Cailee Spaeny, and Chris Hemsworth.

Early reviews for Royale have been mostly positive and it currently occupies a 77% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Box office estimates I’ve seen have a wide range from low double digits to high ones.

While this is a project that cinephiles are excited for, I question whether this can break out with a mainstream audience. For starters, there’s competition in the form of the second weekend of Venom and A Star Is Born and the debut of First Man. Trailers and TV spots are a little murky as to what this is actually about. While there’s plenty of famous faces in the cast, I’m not sure any of them will help much in filling seats (even Thor himself).

Taking all that into account, I believe El Royale will premiere on the low-end of expectations and may even struggle to reach double digits.

Bad Times at the El Royale opening weekend prediction: $8 million

For my First Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/02/first-man-box-office-prediction/

For my Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/03/goosebumps-2-haunted-halloween/

The Founder Movie Review

Michael Keaton can convey so much with an expression. There are scenes in John Lee Hancock’s The Founder where he doesn’t need dialogue to show what’s going through his head. Luckily, a lot of the writing here is quite good and often gets close to matching the lead’s masterful performance.

The pic has Keaton playing Ray Kroc, the man who started McDonald’s. Well, sort of. We open in 1954 as Kroc is a struggling traveling salesman in Missouri who stumbles upon a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. It’s doing things differently from the endless drive-in joints across the nation. Run by Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald, McDonald’s makes its food fast in an era the term fast food was yet to be coined. The brothers also take their work seriously and have chosen not to franchise after their first try resulted in poor service and quality. There’s a scene where Dick recalls how the restaurant’s burger making assembly line was perfected that’s an absolute joy to watch.

Ray immediately realizes the cash cow that Dick and Mac are sitting on and his relentless salesmanship gets them to relent on opening more locations. This brings forth a flurry of activity as Ray gets those Golden Arches up while constantly clashing with the actual founders.

Director Hancock’s last effort, Saving Mr. Banks, showed another 1950s era titan of industry with an unending drive and ambition in the form of Walt Disney. Kroc is just as much an icon in many ways, though his motives are often far more ruthless. The screenplay by Robert D. Siegel doesn’t exactly make him a villain, but you won’t exactly sympathize with him either. With rare exception, Kroc’s actions are all about his personal gain. He barely speaks to his wife (Laura Dern) and has his eye on a business partner’s wife (Linda Cardellini). Yet at the same time, it was him who had the vision to expand a chain of restaurants that now feeds 1% of the world every day. And it probably took his kind of personality to do it.

The work of Lynch and Offerman is top-notch. Offerman’s Dick sees the writing on the wall with Ray, while Lynch’s Mac can’t quite get there. This is Keaton’s movie, though. Like Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko in Wall Street and Daniel Day-Lewis’s Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, Keaton gives us another corporate honcho to kind of despise and kind of love. The Founder may not be as fantastic as those two pictures, but the star is and it’s quite entertaining watching the intrigue unfold.

***1/2 (out of four)

The Founder Box Office Prediction

Michael Keaton has had the rare feat of appearing in the last two Best Picture Oscar winners with 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s Spotlight. For awhile, The Founder (out next weekend) was looked at as potential awards bait. Keaton headlines the biographical drama playing Ray Kroc, the man who acquired what would become the multi billion dollar McDonald’s franchise. John Lee Hancock directs and his previous efforts include The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, and B.J. Novak costar.

The Founder has had a shifty journey to the big screen. It was originally tapped to debut in November before being pushed up to August before being pushed back to January. It had a very limited release in December to qualify for Academy consideration, but that probably won’t matter much. While reviews so far have been decent (81% on Rotten Tomatoes), it’s likely to receive zero nominations. This won’t be a Keaton trifecta for Best Picture.

What does it all mean for the box office? While any moviegoer is certainly familiar with the subject matter, I don’t that see that translating to much business. That said, the pic comes with just a tiny reported $7 million budget. I’ll predict it mkea under that in its first weekend for a mid single digits start.

The Founder opening weekend prediction: $4.1 million

For my xXx: Return of Xander Cage prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/xxx-return-of-xander-cage-box-office-prediction/

For my Split prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/split-box-office-prediction/

For my 20th Century Women prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/20th-century-women-box-office-prediction/

For my The Resurrection of Gavin Stone prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/the-resurrection-of-gavin-stone-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Founder

Another day, another piece of the Oscar puzzle coming into more focus as The Founder has screened for critics. The film is a biopic of Ray Croc, the man behind the McDonald’s franchise. Michael Keaton stars with John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directing. Costars include Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, Patrick Wilson, and John Carroll Lynch.

This has been fairly low on the radar screen of many awards prognosticators. Part of that could be due to its consistently shifting release date over the past few months. It was originally scheduled to debut this Friday and then was pushed up to August before being pushed back to December and its wide release won’t come until January. Got all that?

Nevertheless, The Founder found some positive critical reaction as of yesterday and it currently stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Will it get a Best Picture nomination? Most likely not, but it could be a factor in one particular race. Michael Keaton has been on a roll lately (he’s appeared in the last two Best Picture winners – Birdman and Spotlight). The Best Actor race appears to be rather fluid, with only Denzel Washington (Fences) and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) as seemingly sure things. Keaton could easily find himself in the mix with Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Tom Hanks (Sully), Warren Beatty (Rules Don’t Apply), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), and others. It could also make a play for Best Original Screenplay, though that could be more of a long shot.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2016 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Continuing on with my first round of Oscar predictions, day two brings us to Best Supporting Actor. In both 2014 and 2015, my late August/early September initial picks yielded two out the eventual five nominees. Last year, these first picks correctly identified winner Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies.

There are plenty of contenders to list at this early stage. One of the big question marks in plenty of categories is Martin Scorsese’s Silence, a passion project and historical drama that has yet to release a trailer or announce when it’s coming out. It is assumed that it’ll be out in time for Oscar consideration. If so, Liam Neeson is likely to be a contender in this race (and maybe costar Adam Driver).

As mentioned yesterday with Kristen Stewart in Supporting Actress, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk appears to be a potential major awards player and the beloved Steve Martin could reap the benefits with his first ever acting nod. Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, and Garrett Hedlund are also possibilities.

Michael Shannon could be under consideration for two high-profile fall entries – Jeff Nichols’ Loving or Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals.

Barry Jenkins’ indie African-American romantic drama Moonlight is getting attention (I predicted Naomie Harris yesterday for Supporting Actress recognition) and Mahershala Ali (known to many as Remy Danton on Netflix’s “House of Cards”) could find himself in the mix.

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is also expected to garner Oscar talk (it’ll screen for critics on the festival circuit in days) and it could feature a breakout role for singer John Legend.

And there’s many more possibilities, including Warren Beatty’s return to the silver screen in Rules Don’t Apply. There’s John Goodman’s already acclaimed work in 10 Cloverfield Lane (though the genre could make him a long shot). Or maybe a first nomination for Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins. And there’s two movies that Aaron Eckhart could find himself being considered for.

As always, the list will be updated in the weeks and months ahead, but for now…

TODD’S EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS – BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

John Legend, La La Land

Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Liam Neeson, Silence

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Other Possibilities:

Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Kyle Chandler, Manchester by the Sea

Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures

Billy Crudup, 20th Century Women

Robert De Niro, Hands of Stone

Vin Diesel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Adam Driver, Silence

Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This

Aaron Eckhart, Sully

Brendan Gleeson, Live by Night

John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane

Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins

Armie Hammer, The Birth of a Nation

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Stephen Henderson, Fences

Oscar Isaac, The Promise

Nick Offerman, The Founder

Edgar Ramirez, Gold

Michael Shannon, Loving

J.K. Simmons, La La Land

Timothy Spall, Denial

Chris Tucker, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

And there you have it! Best Actress tomorrow…

Ice Age: Collision Course Box Office Prediction

20th Century Fox’s Ice Age franchise keeps rolling along as Collision Course glides into theaters next weekend. It is the fifth in the series that began in 2002 and the four previous pictures have performed pleasingly. Predecessor Continental Drift was the lowest grosser thus far, but not by much with a $46 million opening and $161 million overall take. 2009’s Dawn of the Dinosaurs was the series high point with $196 million.

Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, and Simon Pegg (pulling double duty over the weekend with Star Trek Beyond) all return for their voice over work with Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Devine, and Nick Offerman joining the party.

Animals and animation have been a potent box office combo in 2016 and that does mean competition as The Secret Life of Pets should still be raking it in in weekend #3. That could dent Collision Course a bit and I do expect it to post the lowest opening weekend of the franchise so far by a rather substantial margin.

Ice Age: Collision Course opening weekend prediction: $28.3 million

For my Star Trek Beyond prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/07/13/star-trek-beyond-box-office-prediction/

For my Lights Out prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/07/15/lights-out-box-office-prediction/

Hotel Transylvania 2 Box Office Prediction

Three years ago on the same late September weekend, the animated Hotel Transylvania marked Adam Sandler’s second biggest domestic debut ever after The Longest Yard. Making $42.5 million out of the gate, the original monstrous comedy would top out at $148 million stateside. Therefore it’s certainly no surprise that a sequel is coming to multiplexes next Friday.

Sandler is back in voice over mode along with returnees Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Molly Shannon and Fran Drescher along with newbies Mel Brooks, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly.

Hotel Transylvania 2 will have the advantage of really being the only game in town catering to youngsters. Opening #1 shouldn’t be a problem, but whether it outdoes its predecessor is another story. While the first was well received for sure, I don’t necessarily believe anticipation is rabid for a follow up. I believe a premiere in the mid 30s is more likely than topping $40 million.

Hotel Transylvania 2 opening weekend prediction: $34.1 million

For my prediction on The Intern, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/09/19/the-intern-box-office-prediction/

For my prediction on The Green Inferno, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/09/19/the-green-inferno-box-office-prediction/