Cold Pursuit Box Office Prediction

As they say, revenge is a film best served with Liam Neeson in it and Summit Entertainment hopes that holds true next weekend with Cold Pursuit. The action thriller casts Neeson as a snow plow driver avenging the murder of his son with his particular set of skills. Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland is behind the camera and costars include Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, and William Forsythe.

We are a decade past the star’s career resurgence with the sleeper hit Taken and its two sequels. What followed were $20 million plus openers like Unknown and NonStop. The sub genre of Neeson tough guy flicks, however, has seen its grosses dwindle in recent years. A Walk Among the Tombstones, Run All Night, and last year’s The Commuter all debuted in the low double digits to low teens range.

Reviews have been surprisingly strong and the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 93%. Several critics have praised an apparent well-placed sense of humor. Yet I’m skeptical that will give Cold Pursuit a hot premiere. I’ll predict this falls right in line with his later entries.

Cold Pursuit opening weekend prediction: $12.8 million

For my The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part prediction, click here:

For my What Men Want prediction, click here:

For my The Prodigy prediction, click here:

The Commuter Movie Review

Director Jaume Collet-Serra and his aging action star Liam Neeson collaborate for the fourth time with The Commuter. If you remember their 2014 effort NonStop quite vividly, good for you because I had forgotten much of it. That pic put Mr. Neeson in a precarious position on a long flight in which he was forced to commit potential crimes commanded by shadowy villains. Four years later, this one puts Mr. Neeson in a precarious position on a long train ride in which he is forced to commit potential crimes commanded by shadowy villains. If that makes you think The Commuter doesn’t exactly aim high, you’d be correct.

The trick with these movies is whether we can successfully put our brains aside and just enjoy the junk food genre offerings. This time around, the director and star don’t make it very easy for us. Neeson is Michael, an ex NYC cop turned life insurance agent for the last decade. He’s 60 (as he reminds us a few times) with a wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and son about to enter college. It’s tough for the family man to make ends meet and that’s thrown into chaos when he’s unceremoniously fired. Each day he makes a long commute home and on the day of his unexpected dismissal, more surprises follow. He’s approached on the train by Joanna (Vera Farmiga) and she offers an opportunity. There’s $100,000 for Michael if he can identify and place a GPS tracker on a passenger who goes by Prynne. Farmiga’s Conjuring hubby Patrick Wilson turns up as Michael’s old partner.

This is all tied to a murder investigation and Prynne is a witness. Joanna’s benefactors want Prynne eliminated and Michael is their ticket to make that happen. All this leads to Michael having to make a series of moral decisions while intermittently kicking an appropriate amount of baddie butt. We also are introduced to the train’s other passengers – some of whom are given perfunctory subplots while we await Prynne’s grand reveal.

The Commuter, quite frankly, is totally ludicrous and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The same could certainly be said of Unknown (the first Collet-Serra/Neeson joint) or NonStop. Yet I found both to be slightly more entertaining than this. The screenplay (which somehow took three people to write it) does too little to engage us with its silly plot and a couple of decently choreographed action sequences aren’t enough to save it. Neeson gives it his earnest and occasionally intense all. Bless his heart for not coasting as the story does.

** (out of four)

The Commuter Box Office Prediction

It’s been nine years since Liam Neeson reinvented himself as everyone’s go to elder action star with Taken. The last couple of years have seen him focusing on other genres,  but he’s back in kick ass mode next weekend with The Commuter. This marks his fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra after Unknown, NonStop, and Run All Night. Costars include Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (presumably doing no conjuring work), as well as Sam Neill, Jonathan Banks, and Elizabeth McGovern.

Mr. Neeson’s first two pictures with this director came while he was still packing in audiences with the Taken franchise. That helped propel Unknown and NonStop to openings above $20 million. Run All Night (and another more recent Neeson action flick A Walk Among the Tombstones) both failed to reach the teens in their debuts.

The Commuter has received decent reviews so far and sits at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, recent evidence has shown the star’s box office potency in the genre has waned. I’ll predict this reaches low to possibly higher teens for its four-day MLK weekend debut.

The Commuter opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my The Post prediction, click here:

For my Paddington 2 prediction, click here:

For my Proud Mary prediction, click here:


Non-Stop Movie Review

2008’s Taken began a new and profitable chapter in the career of Liam Neeson as a B movie action king and that trend barrels forward with Non-Stop.

The formula is simple: write a fairly absurd and mostly conventional action plot setup and let Neeson growl his way through it. The original Taken took moviegoers by surprise by showing just how effective the star could be in these roles as a total badass. Non-Stop casts Neeson as a federal air marshal who is struggling with alcoholism and depression after the death of his young daughter to cancer. If this seems like a convenient plot device for easy sympathy to the lead character – well there you have it.

On a long flight to London, Neeson begins receiving text messages that a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred to a bank account. The stakes get higher when it turns out that the account is registered to Neeson himself. Zoinks! This leads to everyone believing that he is the hijacker and he must prove them wrong by figuring out who the real culprit is.

Non-Stop features supporting work from Julianne Moore in a pretty thankless role as Neeson’s seatmate, “House of Cards” Corey Stull as an NYPD officer/passenger, and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as a flight attendant. While these faces are recognizable, this is Neeson’s show all the way. He manages to allow Non-Stop to be a mostly entertaining diversion for most of its running time.

That said, as the plot rolls along, it becomes clear that no explanation of the events taking place are likely to make any real sense. And when the true culprits are revealed, the reasoning behind their actions are a bit… well, unbelievable.

Non-Stop doesn’t belong in the same solid B movie category as the first Taken. It’s more in line with that picture’s sequel and Unknown. If you don’t carry on your brain to the proceedings, there’s some fun to be had just watching Neeson do his thing. This type of nonsensical flick would actually be the perfect waste of time pic to view on a long flight… if it wasn’t about a plot to blow up a long flight.

**1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: March 21-23

Two new entries should take the two top spots at the box office this weekend as Divergent and Muppets Most Wanted debut. You can find my individual prediction posts on both here:

Prognosticators have Divergent debuting anywhere from $50 million to over the $70 million that Twilight achieved in 2008. My estimate reflects going towards the higher end of the scale though I believe it’ll reach just short of Twilight heights.

Muppets Most Wanted could debut with $30 million or more, but my prediction reflects a belief that it will open below its predecessor from 2011.

As for holdovers, this weekend’s champ Mr. Peabody and Sherman may fall more in its third weekend than its second due to Kermit and company. 300: Rise of an Empire and Need for Speed should suffer healthy falls in their third and second weekends, respectively.

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

1. Divergent

Predicted Gross: $68.4 million

2. Muppets Most Wanted

Predicted Gross: $22.8 million

3. Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Predicted Gross: $12.9 million (representing a drop of 41%)

4. 300: Rise of an Empire

Predicted Gross: $8.8 million (representing a drop of 54%)

5. Need for Speed

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million (representing a drop of 59%)

Box Office Results: March 14-16

The story of the weekend was the lackluster openings of both new films – Need for Speed and Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club. Their failure to reach their intended audiences allowed Mr. Peabody and Sherman to rise to the top in its second weekend with $21.8 million, slightly ahead of my $20.4M projection.

300: Rise of an Empire fell to second in its sophomore frame with $19.2 million – in line with my $18.8M estimate.

Need for Speed disappointed bringing in a weak $17.8 million, well below my $25.3M estimate. The film proved one more example of a popular video game failing to generate audience excitement.

Non-Stop was fourth with $10.6 million – holding up stronger than my $8.2 million prediction.

In fifth with disastrous results was Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club, which represented the star’s worst debut ever for a picture he directed. It earned only $8 million, far below my $17.6M estimate. While Perry is finding success on the OWN Network with his television programs, his film career is clearly losing its luster.

As always, I’ll have full results Monday when the final numbers roll in. Stay tuned!

Box Office Predictions: March 14-16

It’s not often that there are four pictures that have real shots at being #1 in a weekend, but we have one such weekend this time around. This list includes Need for Speed and Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club in their debut frames and 300: Rise of an Empire and Mr. Peabody and Sherman in their sophomore weekends.

You can find my individual prediction posts on the newcomers here:

I believe Need for Speed will appeal to enough of the Fast and Furious crowd to get it to the top while Single Moms Club will continue the trend of Perry flicks coming in slightly below expectations. Still either one could over or under perform and make it a race for number one.

Add to that the fact that Mr. Peabody and Sherman is likely to have a fairly small drop and it could be a real barnburner of a race. And there’s last weekend’s #1 300: Rise of an Empire. While I expect the sequel to fall pretty hard in weekend #2, if it doesn’t – it too could contend for the top spot. Non-Stop, in its third frame, should round out the top five.

And with that, here’s my predictions for the how it all shakes out:

1. Need for Speed

Predicted Gross: $25.3 million

2. Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Predicted Gross: $20.4 million (representing a drop of 37%)

3. 300: Rise of an Empire

Predicted Gross: $18.8 million (representing a drop of 58%)

4. Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

5. Non-Stop

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million (representing a drop of 48%)

Box Office Results (March 7-9)

While I did pretty well on numbers 2-5 for the weekend, I vastly underestimated the staying power of the 300 franchise with its sequel Rise of an Empire. The film took in a healthy $45 million, well above my $31.1M projection. While it was miles away from the original’s $70 million premiere, this still exceeded most prognosticator’s expectations.

The animated Mr. Peabody and Sherman opened in second with $32.2 million, just below my $33.7M estimate. This was a mid-level opening for an animated feature, but it should have solid legs in the weeks ahead.

Non-Stop took third in weekend #2 with $15.8 million – in line with $15.5M prediction while The LEGO Movie was fourth with $10.9 million, a bit below my $12.5M estimate. Rounding out the top five was Son of God, which fell hard in its second weekend to $10.3 million, under my $11.9M prediction.

As always, I’ll have final results for this coming weekend on Monday. Stay tuned!

Box Office Predictions: March 7-9

Family audiences and action fans are the target audiences this weekend as the animated Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the sequel 300: Rise of an Empire premiere in theaters. It is likely to be a very tight race between the two pics for the #1 spot. You can find my individual prediction posts on each here:

As you’ll see, I have Peabody edging out 300, but truth be told – it could easily go either way. As for holdovers, I would expect last weekend’s champ Non-Stop to lose a little less than half its audience. On the other hand, Son of God seems like the type of movie that is frontloaded with its target audience primed to see it during weekend #1. Therefore I expect a drop of over 50%. The competition from Peabody should cause the smash hit LEGO Movie to have its biggest drop yet.

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

1. Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Predicted Gross: $33.7 million

2. 300: Rise of an Empire

Predicted Gross: $31.1 million

3. Non-Stop

Predicted Gross: $15.5 million (representing a drop of 46%)

4. The LEGO Movie

Predicted Gross: $12.5 million (representing a drop of 39%)

5. Son of God

Predicted Gross: $11.9 million (representing a drop of 53%)

Box Office Results (February 28-March 2)

The results from this past weekend represent what I believe is my best weekend of predictin’ in the history of the blog (pat on back). Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop took top honors with $28.8 million – right in line with my $28.2M estimate. At 61, Neeson is still proving himself to be one of the most bankable action stars in the world.

Son of God was runner-up with an impressive $25.6 million, just below my $26.7M prediction. In third after three weeks at #1 was The LEGO Movie with $20.8 million – on pace with my $20.5M projection. The four spot was Kevin Costner’s 3 Days to Kill in its sophomore weekend with $4.9 million, in line with my $5.1M estimate.

The only place I went wrong was not including The Monuments Men in the top five. It took the five spot with $4.9 million. I had Robocop in fifth but it was sixth my $4.5 million (on par with my $4.6M prediction).

So kudos to me for the weekend! Let’s see if my predictions for this upcoming frame are anywhere close.

I’ll have final results on the blog a week from today.

Box Office Predictions: February 28-March 2

This final weekend of February/first weekend of March could provide a real showdown at the box office between Liam Neeson’s action pic Non-Stop and the Biblical pic Son of God. Both could be poised for healthy debut weekends and you can find my detailed predictions posts on each here:

While my estimates put the newbies at spots 1 and 2 – if both underwhelm, it could open the door for a fourth week at the top spot for The Lego Movie. The rest of the top five is likely to be filled with holdover action flicks suffering pretty large drops.

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

1. Non-Stop

Predicted Gross: $28.2 million

2. Son of God

Predicted Gross: $26.7 milion

3. The LEGO Movie

Predicted Gross: $20.5 million (representing a drop of 34%)

4. 3 Days to Kill

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million (representing a drop of 58%)

5. Robocop

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million (representing a drop of 53%)

Box Office Results (February 21-23)

As for how I did this past weekend, The LEGO Movie did hold #1 for a third frame with $31.3 million, just below my $33.7M estimate. I vastly overestimated how well the rom com About Last Night would hold up in weekend #2. The Kevin Hart flick dropped a steep 70% to $7.5 million, well below my $13.6M prediction. Furthermore, I didn’t give enough credit to Kevin Costner’s 3 Days to Kill. It debuted at second with an OK $12.2 million – well above my modest $7.7M projection. Newcomer Pompeii fared badly with a third place debut at only $10.3 million, below my $13.3M projection. In fourth was Robocop with $9.8 million, in line with $10.4M projection and rounding out the top five was The Monuments Men with $7.9M, under my $10.3M estimate.

As always, I’ll have updates on the blog’s Facebook page this weekend with final results Monday!

Non-Stop Box Office Prediction

It was just over five years ago that Taken became a massive and unexpected hit and turned veteran actor Liam Neeson into a major action star. On Friday, we’ll see if his box office luck continues with Non-Stop. Neeson plays a federal air marshal dealing with a big ol’ crisis aboard an international flight. Julianne Moore and Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o costar.

Non-Stop has a rather modest $50 million budget that it should have no problem earning back and then some. Trailers for it have been pretty effective and the late February release date is good timing for action audiences hungry for something new.

Post Taken, Neeson’s star power has generated high teens to low twenties openings for Unknown and The Grey. I have an inkling that Non-Stop could go higher than that. By doing so, it should end the three week reign of The Lego Movie at #1. That’s if Son of God (the other newbie Friday) doesn’t open bigger and I’ll get to that one later today.

I don’t see Non-Stop debuting below $20 million and it wouldn’t shock me if it reached just above $30 million – but high 20s seems to be the most probable scenario.

Non-Stop opening weekend prediction: $28.2 million

For my Son of God prediction, click here: