In January, the Sundance Film Festival saw the premiere of Lulu Wang’s TheFarewell. The drama casts comedian Awkwafina as a Chinese American who travels across the ocean to care for her ailing grandmother. Drawing praise upon its screening, the film currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
TheFarewell sparked a bidding war won by A24. They purchased it for $7 million and it’s scheduled for domestic release on July 12. There’s already a feeling that it could be a significant summer sleeper. Last summer, Awkwafina broke out on the silver screen in a major way with supporting roles in Ocean’s8 and CrazyRichAsians. Her work here has garnered raves and she could find herself in the mix for a Best Actress nod a little less than a year from now.
Furthermore, Ms. Wang could be considered for her direction and especially for her Original Screenplay. The pic has a large ensemble cast and Tzi Ma is a name to keep an eye on for Supporting Actor.
Bottom line: TheFarewell, if it lands with audiences, could be greeted with affection from awards voters. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
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 GoneGirl. 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.
My extremely early Oscar predictions for 2018 bring us to something brand new and quite controversial. Yes, I’m talking the category that we will see for the first time at next year’s ceremony: Best Popular Film.
The announcement last month by the Academy of this new race was met with a whole lotta criticism. And even if you weren’t one of the voices on the negative side, the category has caused understandable confusion.
We still don’t know the criteria for a nomination here. Over $100 million at the box office? How wide was its release?
The Academy did clear up one big question. Movies nominated in this category can also be featured in the Best Picture race. It’s a legitimate question as to whether or not that will happen. For instance, AStarIsBorn could be primed for the big race. Yet it seems likely to cross the century mark. How about Incredibles2? It’s a shoo-in for a nod in Best Animated Feature, so will voters acknowledge it in both categories? For now, I’m saying no. Many prognosticators believe this could be the Academy’s way of honoring BlackPanther. We shall see.
Bottom line… plenty of uncertainty here, but here’s my first take on the first year of Best Popular Film.
Best Director and then Picture are up next! If you missed my estimates for the four acting races, you can find them here:
Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon team up for the action comedy TheSpyWhoDumpedMe, out next weekend. As the title suggests, Kunis finds out her ex is a CIA agent and she (along with bff McKinnon) become embroiled in international intrigue. Susanna Fogel directs with a supporting cast including Justin Theroux and Sam Heughan.
Kunis has had plenty of successes at the box office over her career in both leading and supporting parts. Most recently, 2016’s BadMoms was a sleeper hit ($113 million). However, sequel ABadMomsChristmas couldn’t match it with a $16.7 million debut and $72 million overall tally.
The trailers for Spy struggle to make it look like anything special. Its best hope is for a sizable female audience (the kind that made Ocean’s8 a big success last month). I’ll project a low to mid teens is the likely scenario here.
TheSpyWhoDumpedMe opening weekend prediction: $15.3 million
The first full weekend of July kicks off with the release of a sequel and a prequel: Marvel’s Ant–ManandtheWasp and Blumhouse’s TheFirstPurge. You can peruse my detailed predictions on both of them here:
The return of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in the MCU’s 20th offering should easily dominate the charts. I have Ant–Man achieving the MCU’s 14th largest haul with a mid 80s premiere.
As for TheFirstPurge, the prequel and fourth series entry in six summers debuts on Wednesday. This has been a sturdy franchise and each subsequent feature has actually managed to out gross the previous one. I foresee a low to mid 20s three-day traditional weekend gross and low 30s for the five-day total. That forecast places the fourth Purge in fourth.
That could be a battle for the two spot as I see JurassicWorld: FallenKingdom and Incredibles2 experiencing similar earnings in their third and fourth weekends, respectively.
And in keeping with the all sequels/prequels theme, Sicario: DayoftheSoldado should round out the top five. Here are my projections for the high-five:
Predicted Gross: $86.4 million
2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Predicted Gross: $28.2 million
3. Incredibles 2
Predicted Gross: $27.8 million
Predicted Gross: $22.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $31.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
5. Sicario: DayoftheSoldado
Predicted Gross: $10.1 million
Box Office Results (June 29-July 1)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom had no trouble ruling the box office for a second weekend with $60.9 million in receipts (in line with my $62.1 million estimate). The dino sequel’s ten-day tally stands at $265 million.
Incredibles 2 continued its remarkable run in second with $46.4 million (I was lower at $42.8 million) for $440 million overall. The Pixar sequel is already the 2nd highest grossing picture from the studio and it should shortly surpass the $486 million earned by Finding Dory to become #1.
The good news for sequels kept on coming as Sicario: Day of the Soldado performed on the very high-end of expectations with $19 million, well exceeding my $13.8 million prediction.
Basketball comedy Uncle Drew opened in fourth with $15.2 million, just below my $16.4 million estimate. This debut was pretty much right in line with its tracking.
Ocean’s 8 rounded out the top five and continued its meager decline from week to week. It grossed $8.3 million (topping my $7 million projection) for $115 million total.
The basketball themed comedy Uncle Drew and crime thriller sequel Sicario: Day of the Soldado debut in theaters this weekend and they could battle it out for the third spot behind returning blockbusters Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the two newbies right here:
Of the two newcomers, I am giving Drew the slight edge over Sicario. I also believe that if one of them over performs my estimate, it will be the former. My low to mid teens projections on both means Jurassic and Incredibles should easily maintain their 1-2 slots on the charts.
Kingdom came in on the higher end of expectations this weekend (more on that below) and now we move to how far it will drop. Its predecessor dipped just 49% in its sophomore frame after its (at the time) record-breaking $208 million opening. Kingdom should fall farther and I foresee a mid-high 50s decline.
The percentage drop for Incredibles 2 was more pronounced than I projected in weekend #2 and that should subside a bit this weekend (I’ll say 46%).
The women of Ocean’s 8 should round out the top five. And with that, those 5 estimates for the frame ahead:
1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Predicted Gross: $62.1 million
2. Incredibles 2
Predicted Gross: $42.8 million
3. Uncle Drew
Predicted Gross: $16.4 million
4. Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Predicted Gross: $13.8 million
5. Ocean’s 8
Predicted Gross: $7 million
Box Office Results (June 22-24)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom easily ruled the box office grossing $148 million out of the gate. I was a bit lower at $140.4 million. The dino sequel, as mentioned, performed on the higher end of expectations while earning $60 million less for its start than Jurassic World in 2015. Its debut gives it the fourth largest in 2018 behind Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Incredibles 2.
Speaking of Incredibles 2, it fell to second with $80.3 million and didn’t reach my forecast of $94.9 million. Its two-week total sits at an incredible $349 million.
Ocean’s8 held up nicely in third with $11.5 million to bring its tally to a cool $100 million. I was a tad lower at $9.8 million.
Tag was fourth with $8.2 million (I said $7.7 million) for $30 million in two weeks.
Deadpool 2 took the five-spot with $5.2 million (I said $4.9 million) to hit the triple century mark at $304 million.
Solo: A Star Wars Story was sixth at $4.5 million (I said $5.4 million) for $202 million overall.
There’s only one new wide release this weekend, but it’s a big one as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom stomps into multiplexes. The sequel to the 2015 record breaker hopes to hold onto a large chunk of its predecessor’s audience. You can peruse my detailed prediction post here:
Jurassic World took in an astonishing $208 million three summers ago (which set the opening weekend record until Star Wars: The Force Awakens snatched it away six months later). Kingdom is not expected to match that performance. My estimate has decreased from an initial prediction of just over $155 million last week to just over $140 million.
Incredibles 2 broke its own records this past weekend by smashing the all-time animated feature debut (more on that below). With an A+ Cinemascore grade, the sequel to the 2004 Pixar superhero tale has turned into quite the event film. How much it dips in weekend #2 is an intriguing question. Looking at past sequels from the studio, 2010’s Toy Story 3 and 2016’s Finding Dory (the previous animated record holder) both fell 46%. Last summer’s Cars 3, which was a rare Pixar disappointment, fell a steeper 55%. It’s a legit question as to how front loaded Incredibles 2 is and whether it had a must-see factor in weekend #1. That said, repeat business could be strong even with the considerable dino competition. I’ll project a 48% drop, similar to 2017’s Beauty and the Beast.
Kingdom and Incredibles 2 will surely dominate the charts this weekend as Ocean’s 8 and Tag should be third and fourth, respectively. The five-spot could be a battle between Solo and Deadpool 2 and I’ll give Han a slight edge. And with that, my top 6 predictions for the frame ahead:
1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Predicted Gross: $140.4 million
2. Incredibles 2
Predicted Gross: $94.9 million
3. Ocean’s 8
Predicted Gross: $9.8 million
Predicted Gross: $7.7 million
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Predicted Gross: $5.4 million
6. Deadpool 2
Predicted Gross: $4.9 million
Box Office Results (June 15-17)
As mentioned, Incredibles 2 was indeed incredible this weekend as it obliterated the all-time animated feature record. The well-reviewed sequel took in $182.6 million, smashing the numbers of Finding Dory by nearly $50 million. That figure is good for the 8th largest domestic debut in history and that ranks third for 2018 (behind Marvel behemoths Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther). It, um, did a little better than my $138.1 million forecast… oops.
Ocean’s 8 was second in its sophomore outing with $18.9 million, coming in below my $21.2 million estimate. The heist caper has made $78 million thus far.
Newcomer comedy Tag was third with $14.9 million, faring slightly better than my $13.4 million projection. The Warner Bros pic performed right in line with expectations.
Solo: A Star Wars Story placed fourth with $10 million (above my $8.4 million prediction) for $193 million total.
Deadpool 2 rounded out the top five with $8.6 million (I said $8.2 million) for $294 million overall.
Superfly debuted in sixth with $6.8 million and $9 million since its Wednesday roll out, managing to outpace my respective calls of $5.3 million and $7.2 million. I’d look for the crime remake to fade quickly.
Hereditary was seventh and it held up well for a horror release with $6.8 million (I said $6.3 million) to bring its two-week earnings to $27 million.
Pixar should easily rule the weekend and it may do so in record-breaking fashion as Incredibles 2 debuts. We also have the openings of comedy Tag and action remake Superfly. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the three of them here:
The computer animated superhero sequel arrives nearly 14 years ago after The Incredibles, but anticipation appears sky-high as part 2 looks to set a personal best for the massively successful studio. In order to accomplish that, Incredibles 2 would need to outdo the $135 million achieved out of the gate by Finding Dory two summers ago. My estimate gets it there by just over $3 million.
Tag could potentially serve as decent counter programming, but I’m not quite sold that it breaks out in a significant way. My lower teens projection places it firmly in third behind the sophomore weekend of Ocean’s 8 (which I see losing close to half its audience in weekend #2).
The 4-7 slots could be interesting to watch. One question mark is how Hereditary performs. The horror pic was a hit with critics and easily set an opening weekend record for studio A24. However, its Cinemascore audience grade was a dismal D+. That could mean a hefty sophomore decline. On the other hand, A24’s The Witch was saddled with a C- Cinemascore score and dropped just 42% in its second outing. I have Hereditary dropping over 50% and that should put it in 6th and that would be ahead of Superfly (as my prediction for it has steadily declined since my original post last week). As a reminder, Superfly debuts on Wednesday. That means the 4-5 spots should belong to Solo and Deadpool 2 (and it could be a dead heat between them).
And with that, let’s make it a top 7 projections for the weekend ahead:
1. Incredibles 2
Predicted Gross: $138.1 million
2. Ocean’s 8
Predicted Gross: $21.2 million
Predicted Gross: $13.4 million
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Predicted Gross: $8.4 million
5. Deadpool 2
Predicted Gross: $8.2 million
Predicted Gross: $6.3 million
Predicted Gross: $5.3 million (Friday to Sunday), $7.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
Box Office Results (June 8-10)
Ocean’s 8 got off to a healthy start and came in right in line with most expectations. The female led heist caper achieved the best debut of the franchise with $41.6 million. I was close with $42.6 million.
Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped to second with $15.7 million compared to my $14.3 million estimate. The three-week total is $176 million.
Deadpool 2 was third with $14.1 million (I said $13.2 million) to bring its four-week tally to $279 million.
Hereditary opened on the higher end of expectations in fourth with $13.5 million, topping my $10.2 million estimate. As mentioned, its negative audience reaction could serve as a hindrance for long-term viability.
Avengers: Infinity War rounded out the top 5 with $7.2 million (I said $6.7 million). The Marvel juggernaut is up to $655 million.
Adrift was sixth with $5.2 million and I was a touch higher at $6.1 million. The Shailene Woodley sailing drama has made $21 million in two weeks.
Finally, Hotel Artemis failed to generate many check-ins, opening in 8th place with $3.2 million (below my take of $5 million).
A trio of new titles open wide at the box office this weekend as the unremarkable two-week reign of Solo: A Star Wars Story looks to close. They are the reboot of heist caper franchise Ocean’s 8 with Sandra Bullock and other notable actresses, critically acclaimed horror pic Hereditary, and crime thriller Hotel Artemis. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
My low 40s opening for Ocean’s 8 easily puts it in the #1 spot. That estimate gives it the largest debut for the franchise that’s been dormant for over a decade when George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and others had their trilogy.
The biggest question mark of the weekend to me is undoubtedly Hereditary. Reviews have been terrific, but critical praise doesn’t always equate to major dollars for this genre. Two similarly heralded entries from the same studio – The Witch and It Comes at Night – made less than $10 million out of the gate. Hereditary could potentially suffer the same fate, but I’ve got it pegged to manage low double digits. If the pic over performs, it could nab the #2 spot. If it hits in the range I’m projecting, it would be fourth behind Solo and Deadpool 2.
Adrift premiered right in line with my expectations and it may find itself in a close race with Avengers: Infinity War for the fifth slot. I’m giving the superheroes an edge.
As for Hotel Artemis, I’m not expecting much and my forecast has gone from $7.7 million to now $5 million over the course of the last week. That number puts it outside the top five.
And with that, my top 6 projections for the weekend ahead:
1. Ocean’s 8
Predicted Gross: $42.6 million
2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Predicted Gross: $14.3 million
3. Deadpool 2
Predicted Gross: $13.2 million
Predicted Gross: $10.2 million
5. Avengers: Infinity War
Predicted Gross: $6.7 million
Predicted Gross: $6.1 million
Box Office Results (June 1-3)
All eyes were on how Solo: A Star Wars Story would perform in its second weekend after a majorly lackluster premiere. The verdict? Not good. The Star Wars stand-alone fell a precipitous 65% to $29.3 million, well behind my $37.3 million estimate. The two-week tally stands at $148 million.
Deadpool 2 was second with $23.1 million in weekend #3, topping my $20.9 million projection for $254 million total.
Newcomer Adrift was right in line with my take – placing third at $11.6 million (I said $11.7 million).
Avengers: Infinity War was fourth with $10.5 million, ahead of my $8.6 million projection for $643 million in its considerable coffers.
Book Club rounded out the top five and I didn’t have it in there. It earned $7 million and sits at $47 million overall.
Blumhouse’s Upgrade exceeded my prediction with $4.6 million. I was lower at $2.8 million. The well reviewed sci-fi horror flick’s number is pretty decent considering its meager budget and low 1400 plus theater count.
Last and indeed least, Johnny Knoxville’s Action Point was a complete dud coming in at 9th place with a measly $2.3 million (well below my $6.6 million guesstimate). I wrote about its failure yesterday here:
A franchise is reborn with a twist when Ocean’s 8 lands in theaters next weekend. It’s been over a decade since the Ocean’s 11-13 heist sagas with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and a bunch of other famous faces being directed by Steven Soderbergh. Each entry made a little less at the box office as they went along, but they all opened between $35-$40 million. Soderbergh just produces here with Gary Ross taking over the directorial duties. He’s had hits such as Seabiscuit and The Hunger Games, but his most recent was the Matthew McConaughey flop Free State of Jones.
The aforementioned twist is that it’s the ladies getting in on the thievery this time around. Sandra Bullock plays the sister of Clooney’s character from the first trilogy and she’s the mastermind of a crew that includes Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina. Anne Hathaway is the target of the score with James Corden, Dakota Fanning, and host of celebrity cameos included among the cast.
Ocean’s 8 looks to bring in a sizable female audience and their male counterparts may not mind coming along for the ride. The high-profile cast, especially Bullock, certainly doesn’t hurt and this stands a real shot at having the highest Ocean’s debut of all. That’s not guaranteed as I could see the low bar being in the low 30s. That would fall under the previous low of $36 million by Ocean’s Thirteen in 2007.
However, I’m leaning more towards a high 30s to possibly mid 40s roll out for Sandra and company. I’ll estimate it somewhere in between.
Ocean’s 8 opening weekend prediction: $42.6 million