Blogger’s Update (06/23): On the eve of its premiere, I am revising my Elvis prediction from $42.6M to $35.6M. That still gives it the #1 slot over Top Gun: Maverick… barely.
Warner Bros is betting that Elvis will get moviegoers all shook up when it hits theaters on June 24th. The extravagant musical comes from Baz Luhrmann, maker of Moulin Rouge! and 2013’s The Great Gatsby. Austin Butler, in a performance garnering some awards chatter, plays The King with Tom Hanks as The Colonel. Costars include Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Olivia DeJonge, Luke Bracey, Natasha Bassett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
While Butler’s work has been lauded across the board, reviews for the film are a bit more mixed. It received a warm welcome at the Cannes Film Festival and it could certainly be an audience pleaser. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 77%.
The studio would love for Elvis to approach the earnings of Bohemian Rhapsody from 2018 (and maybe win some of the same Oscars). The Freddie Mercury biopic took in $51 million for its start with an overall domestic haul of $216 million. Coincidentally that’s the same figure that Gatsby made for Luhrmann’s personal best. WB is hoping for a better beginning than 2019’s Rocketman, the Elton John tale which debuted with $25 million (with a $96 million eventual tally).
Obviously Elvis Presley is one of music’s biggest sensations ever and that could propel this to a premiere on pace with Rhapsody. Older moviegoers have recently proven they’re willing to venture out thanks to Top Gun: Maverick.
I’m tempted to project this hits $45-50 million, but I’ll hedge a bit and say it fall a little shy of that.
Elvis opening weekend prediction: $35.6 million
For my The Black Phone prediction, click here:
The Black Phone Box Office Prediction
Will Elvis be in the building when the Oscars air next year? The eagerly anticipated Baz Luhrmann biopic has debuted at Cannes prior to its June 24th stateside bow. The splashy musical casts Austin Butler as The King with Tom Hanks (in some apparently memorable makeup) as Colonel Parker. Costars include Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Olivia DeJonge, and Kelvin Harrison, Jr.
Luhrmann’s movies can attract wildly divergent opinions. Elvis is currently at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet it’s worth noting that the negative reviews are quite negative and the positive ones point out plenty of flaws. It’s not often you’ll read this, but Hanks’s work is drawing mixed buzz. He’ll need some coattail action to be a factor in Supporting Actor.
On the flip side, Luhrmann’s pictures also generate Academy mentions. His last four have done so. 1996’s Romeo + Juliet was nominated for Art Direction. 2001’s Moulin Rouge! was his most acclaimed title with 8 nods including Picture (though not Director). It was victorious in Art Direction and Costume Design. His less regarded 2008 follow-up Australia received a Costume Design nod while 2013’s The Great Gatsby landed wins for Costume Design and Production Design.
We are talking about Elvis so you have to assume Costume Design is easily in play. So are Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Sound. And, yes, Best Picture is a possibility. Whether or not it hits at the box office could move the needle one way or the other on the big race. If he couldn’t do so for Rouge!, I doubt Luhrmann gets his first behind the camera recognition.
One consistent thread in most of the reaction thus far compliments the performance of Butler. He is absolutely in the mix for Best Actor. Butler’s best hope is to follow in the footsteps of Rami Malek, who took home the gold stature for 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody as rock legend Freddie Mercury. Or he could end up like Taron Egerton, who surprisingly was left off the final five in 2019 as Elton John in Rocketman.
Bottom line: despite some grumbling, Elvis has at least established itself as a mover and shaker for the awards season. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the film scene with a trilogy of highly effective pictures that had critics and audiences alike cheering – The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. There were comparisons to Hitchcock and Spielberg. The acclaim was earned. With 2004’s The Village, while still a hit, crowds and those like me who write about the medium began to tire of the shocking twist endings and stilted dialogue that populate his efforts (I actually dug The Village quite a bit). Two years later, with Lady in the Water, his fans had tuned out and it was to understand why with that bizarre picture (it’s a disappointment not without some merits in my estimate). 2008’s The Happening was where a new level of low came with the director. It was the first one to me that truly encapsulated the bad M. Night with very little of the good. Worse yet, it was boring.
His return to the genre that made him beloved and also scorned is The Visit. It takes the common occurrence of visiting the grandparents for a week to some serious extremes. There is laughable dialogue that I’m firmly convinced its writer/director wants us to be chuckling at. There are also some genuinely “boo” suspenseful moments. And in what we’ve come to also suspect from its maker, there are decisions with character traits that are just baffling. Some of the other lines intended for comedy fall incredibly flat. The teenage characters don’t sound like teenagers when they speak. And Shyamalan seems to almost be thumbing his nose at the audience with the choice to shoot in found footage form, which has become horror’s most overused cliche in recent times.
The Visit takes a teenage sister (Deanna Dunagan) who loves to shoot her video camera (hence our well worn found footage) and her younger brother (Peter McRobbie) to grandma and grandpa’s remote Pennsylvania home for a week. The catch? They’ve never met them. Their single mom (Kathryn Hahn) had a fall out with them years ago and is reluctant to let her kids spend time there. This leads to the other catch: Grandma (Olivia DeJonge) and Grandpa (Ed Oxenbould) might just be completely bonkers. It starts out somewhat slowly (per usual in this director’s way): creepy games of hide and seek turn to the Grandma’s night terrors or “sun downing” (which would’ve been a cooler title) to… well, let’s just say adult diapers are involved.
There’s the patented Night twist that you’ll see coming, I suspect. Yet that’s not really the point here. With The Visit, Shyamalan seems to be parodying the type of picture he’s become famous and infamous for. And there’s no doubt that some of this worked for me and did indeed produce a knowing smile and raised arm hair from time to time. There’s also no doubt that I found a lot of The Visit to be just way too self-aware and poorly written. Just because it might be sending up found footage doesn’t make it any less cheap looking and, truth be told, we’ve seen it used more effectively. That precocious younger brother fancies himself a rapper and it’s perhaps even more grating than you might be imagining. Shyamalan directed one child actor to an Oscar nomination with his breakout, but the adolescent youngsters here are serviceable at best and horrifying when hip hop is brought into it. It’s DeJonge who brings the creepy goods and those arm hair moments are almost solely due to her.
We have witnessed this filmmaker give us examples of horror/suspense that are first rate and low rate. The Visit, with its tongue in cheek, is written in a manner that’s just as bizarre as the movie’s hosts. There were times I felt like I was right there with what Night was trying to accomplish with the so bad it’s good vibe and others where I felt baffled. It belongs nowhere near what Shyamalan has accomplished early in his career nor in the basement with The Happening (or his later sci efforts The Last Airbender and After Earth). My best compliment for this all over the place experience? This particular happening isn’t boring.
**1/2 (out of four)