The Angry Birds Movie 2 Box Office Prediction

Those animated and ill tempered fowls based on the video game you were obsessed with on your smart phone are back next week with The Angry Birds Movie 2. Our first Birds flew into theaters in the summer of 2016 and the sequel returns the vocal stylings of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage. Newcomers include Leslie Jones, Rachel Bloom, Awkwafina, Sterling K. Brown, and Eugenio Derbez. Thurop Van Orman makes his directorial debut.

Three years ago, Birds kicked off to a solid $38 million. Unlike many other animated offerings, it didn’t leg out particularly well with a final gross of $107 million. Surprisingly, critical reaction to this follow-up is stronger than what transpired before. This stands at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 44% for its predecessor.

That said, I don’t see the sequel outdoing part 1. It opens on a Tuesday – perhaps in an effort to nab more kid business before schools start. A premiere of mid to high teens to over the traditional Friday to Sunday frame and low to possibly mid 20s for the six day is where I’m at.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 opening weekend prediction: $17.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $25.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Good Boys prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/07/good-boys-box-office-prediction/

For my 47 Meters Down: Uncaged prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/08/47-meters-down-uncaged-box-office-prediction/

For my Blinded by the Light prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/11/blinded-by-the-light-box-office-prediction/

For my Where’d You Go, Bernadette prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/11/whered-you-go-bernadette-box-office-prediction/

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Review

A decade into its multi-billion dollar cinematic universe, Avengers: Infinity War invites viewers to marvel at its gathering of superhero titans to fight another – a villain from planet Titan who reverses  one frequent MCU debit (a weak villain). It’s an experience that yields many positive results packed with the action and humor we’ve come to anticipate from the best of this franchise. This movie is massive and it feels that way. The 19th entry in the MCU that started with 2008’s Iron Man, here we have nearly all the significant characters from its catalog banding together. If you ever wondered how Thor (Chris Hemsworth) would get along with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the answer is humorously provided. How do the egos of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) meld? You’re about to find out. What happens when the original Avengers and others pick up their weapons alongside Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in Wakanda? Giddyup!

All of this runs the risk of Infinity War coming off as gimmicky, but it mostly doesn’t. That’s because directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do a remarkable job sticking these giants into the blender and creating something that goes down smooth. This is not necessarily a sequel to 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron or 2016’s Captain America: Civil War (essentially the third Avengers flick). Rather it’s a follow-up to almost every MCU title. It’s important to know what happened in the actual Avengers pics and Civil War, but I’d suggest having knowledge of the Guardians, Panther, and so on. Lucky for Disney and Marvel Studios, you probably do. The gathering of these comic book and box office behemoths leads Infinity War to often feel like the continuation of a long running TV serial – albeit one with huge stars and an unlimited budget.

What brings all the characters together is Thanos (Josh Brolin). He has the proportions of the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and a similar sized ambitions of world destruction. Thanos is hell-bent on collecting the Infinity Stones, six potent gems that would render him all-powerful and capable of wiping out populations of many galaxies. After the breakup of the Avengers in Civil War two years ago, it’s Thanos that causes Mr. Stark and Captain America (Chris Evans) to put their differences aside. Thus begins the jigsaw puzzle of matching up Guardians and Asgardian gods with Wakanda kings and mystical doctors and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (Tom Holland).

As you may recall, Thanos has history with one particular character – Gamora (Zoe Saldana). She’s his adopted daughter after he decimated her home planet when she was a little girl. For those who might have assumed the Guardians of the Galaxy would have a glorified cameo in this universe, that is certainly not the case. It’s Gamora’s backstory with Thanos that puts meat on his character’s bones and assists in making him one of the franchise’s best villains. Brolin, for his part, gives the performance his menacing all in crafting him.

Delving too far into what happens in Infinity War would feel like cheating in any review. Part of the fun here is discovering just how these dozens of heroes and villains coexist. Some general observations: Thor alongside Groot and Rocket is a joy, as is witnessing Groot as a bratty teen with its attention rooted to a video game device. The return to Wakanda and its whip smart inhabitants feels welcome just weeks after Panther’s stand-alone effort. And after 10 years of Tony Stark onscreen in numerous MCU titles, Downey Jr.’s portrayal of him is still as strong as ever. There’s never been a moment in the decade where it felt like Downey was slumming it. He’s the heart of this franchise.

The conclusion of Infinity War leaves a lot open for the sequel that will arrive next year. When the credits roll before the inevitable post-credits sequence, we witness something both powerful and perhaps not as powerful as it seems after careful thought (saying more would be a spoiler). There’s no doubt, however, that this comic book all-star game is a winner.

***1/2 (out of four)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Movie Review

In 1996, Frances McDormand brilliantly crafted her signature role with Fargo and earned a well deserved Oscar for it. Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri gives the actress another part that’s right up there in terms of one she’ll be remembered for. Like Fargo, it’s a picture involving grisly crimes with a comedic sensibility set to charcoal. Unlike her Marge Gunderson from 21 years past, Mildred Hayes displays the opposite of the former’s sunny disposition in the midst of tragedy.

There’s good reason for it. Her daughter was brutally raped and murdered seven months ago. Frustrated with the lack of progress in the case and the small town police force investigating it, she plunks down some cash for a trio of billboards on the remote road leading to her home. These signs clearly express her displeasure, particularly with Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). The local news media takes notice, as do Ebbing’s residents. The majority of them view it as an unnecessary stunt.

Mildred is a woman on a mission to get answers and her narrow focus puts her at odds with the Sheriff. A lesser screenplay may have made Willoughby a local yokel. Yet he’s written as a multi-layered man with Harrelson expertly portraying him. If there’s a law enforcement figure to root against, it’s Sam Rockwell’s Dixon. He’s known for racist tendencies and a general lack of skill in his job. And even McDonagh’s script takes him in unexpected directions that make him far from a caricature.

The promise that celebrated Irish playwright McDonagh showed with his debut In Bruges ebbed a bit with his follow-up Seven Psychopaths. The third time is easily the darkly charming triumph of his cinematic career. Billboards takes you in unforeseen directions not unlike what Fargo accomplished.

Much credit is due to the casting. McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell all give nomination worthy performances. The superb acting filters to the supporting players – from Mildred’s temperamental ex-husband (John Hawkes) and his dingbat 19 year-old girlfriend (Samara Weaving). Lucas Hedges is their exasperated son, left mourning his sister and seeing the constant reminders of her death to and from home. Caleb Landry Jones is memorable as the poor guy who must approve Mildred’s messages. He’s been a standout twice before this year with Get Out and American Made. Peter Dinklage turns up as a used car salesman with an eye for our heroine. Sandy Martin’s makes the most of her limited screentime as Dixon’s mama. We certainly see where he gets his lesser traits from.

Three Billboards is special. I was truly taken with its ability to be hilarious and touching simultaneously. It doesn’t allow its main characters to be simple. The screenplay is too intelligent to play them as wholly virtuous or completely evil. Everyone here has rough edges and questionable intentions and the desire to do good in their own way. Watching it all play out is riveting and one of the year’s greatest experiences.

**** (out of four)

The Boss Movie Review

There’s a through line that’s marked a number of Melissa McCarthy vehicles since her Oscar-nominated turn in 2011’s Bridesmaids. Take the greatly talented comedic actress, give her a mostly unpleasant character, establish a backstory that makes her somewhat sympathetic, and hope audiences eat it up. These rules have generally applied to Identity Thief, The Heat, and Tammy. None of them have been terribly impressive due to weak material. This applies to The Boss as well.

Reuniting with her Tammy director Ben Falcone (who’s also her husband), McCarthy is self-made mogul Michelle Darnell. She’s a ruthless investor who sells out arenas with her take no prisoners business advice. Kristen Bell is Claire, her overloaded executive assistant who isn’t even allowed that lofty sounding title. When Michelle’s actions land her a short stint in Club Fed for insider trading, she’s back to square one and dependent on her old subordinate for lodging. That means crashing on the sofa in a crowded apartment with Claire’s young daughter (Ella Anderson). A trip with that child to a Girl Scout type meeting gives Michelle her first post felony money making idea: take Claire’s delicious brownie making skills, market them with a team of cute kids selling them, and work her way back up the corporate ladder.

Along the way, Michelle clashes with some of her new minions parents (most humorously with Annie Mumolo’s tightly wound Mom). These clashes even lead to an Anchorman style no holds barred brawl (Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are producers). The title character also deals with some of her own movie backstory demons. When she was young, Michelle bounced from one unhappy foster home to the next and has no sense or need in her view for family. Claire and daughter threaten to upset that apple cart.

There’s also the matter of her business rival  Renault, former lover and wannabe samurai Renault (Peter Dinklage) trying to shut her burgeoning brownie enterprise down. His character is as bizarre as he sounds, but the “Game of Thrones” star does throw himself into it with gusto. A superfluous subplot involves Claire trying to get her groove back with a kind co-worker (Tyler Lapine).

The Boss veers between wildly broad characters and physical comedy (which McCarthy and her stunt double are quite good at) and attempts at heart string pulling that falls flat. McCarthy’s abilities were proven nearly six years ago in one Bridesmaids scene where she told Kristin Wiig to get her act together. It was a brilliant scene that I suspect is responsible for that Oscar nod. Unfortunately, by now, McCarthy’s act is getting disappointingly familiar and the material she’s giving herself is forgettable.

** (out of four)

The Angry Birds Movie Box Office Prediction

The Angry Birds Movie, out next weekend, marks a first as the animated tale is our inaugural film to be based on an app. Millions worldwide have spent countless hours flinging those ill-tempered fowls into various structures and we’ll soon find out whether they wish to spend a couple of hours watching them on the silver screen.

Based on the Rovio Entertainment game, Birds features the voices of many familiar names including Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage. Reviews have been mixed with a 47% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Frankly, Angry Birds is a big question mark. A high-profile family friendly animated flick should perform quite well in the month of May. However, without the Disney brand or well-established franchise tag (Ice Age, Rio, Madagascar, etc…), it’s unclear whether kids and their parents will flock (get it?) to this.

The range of possibility for this opening is wide, but I’ll go with a mid 30s debut.

The Angry Birds Movie opening weekend prediction: $34.5 million

For my Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/11/neighbors-2-sorority-rising-box-office-prediction/

For my The Nice Guys prediction, click here:

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

The Boss Box Office Prediction

Melissa McCarthy’s first comedy of 2016 is her second most anticipated of the year as The Boss debuts next weekend. Directed by her hubby Ben Falcone (who also made 2014’s Tammy), his wife plays a member of the 1% guilty of insider trading trying to rehabilitate her image. Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, and Kathy Bates costar.

Since her breakout role in 2011’s Bridesmaids, McCarthy has been a force in the genre. 2013’s Identity Thief made $34 million out of the gate while that same year’s collaboration with Sandra Bullock, The Heat, earned $39 million. The aforementioned Tammy took in $21 million over the July 4th, 2014 three day weekend with a $33 million five-day haul. Last summer’s Spy opened to $29 million.

Her comedies have proven to be mostly critic proof (Tammy was met with derision) and that should apply here. However, I’m a little skeptical that this reaches the mid-high 30s heights of her largest openers and I’d be somewhat surprised if this one tops $25 million. That is not likely to be the case with July’s eagerly anticipated Ghostbusters reboot that McCarthy is featured in. For The Boss, low to mid 20s seems to be the strongest probability.

The Boss opening weekend prediction: $23.4 million

For my Hardcore Henry prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/03/31/hardcore-henry-box-office-prediction/

Pixels Box Office Prediction

It may have plenty of recognizable human stars like Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, and Josh Gad, but Pixels box office success will likely rest with its other costars. That would be Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Space Invaders, and many other characters from the iconic video games of many years past.

The Columbia Pictures release comes from director Chris Columbus (who made the first two Home Alone and Harry Potter pics and Mrs. Doubtfire) and has the fascinating premise of bringing the aforementioned arcade heroes and villains to life as they crash Earth. Pixels comes with a hefty reported budget of $110 million and has been very heavily advertised in recent weeks.

Sandler’s recent history at the multiplex has been mixed. This decade, the Grown Ups flicks have performed well, but there’s been flops such as That’s My Boy and last summer’s Blended. Yet, as mentioned, Mr. Sandler is not the main draw here. The film does give him a highly legit shot at his personal best premiere.

Pixels will rely greatly on moviegoers curious to see their favorite game creatures populate the silver screen and also hope to bring in youngsters who have no clue what an arcade really was. As I see it, there’s a pretty wide range for how this could perform. At worst, it could flop in the mid 20s and struggle to make its budget stateside. The ceiling for this could be as high as $60 million out of the gate if its robust marketing campaign succeeds. The competition for family audience is there – Minions will be in its third weekend with Ant-Man in its second and that could be a factor if it under performs.

I believe Pixels will post a solid opening and manage to become Sandler’s largest debut ever, just edging out his 2005 comedy The Longest Yard which made $47.6 million. How it holds up in subsequent weekends with largely be determined by the word of mouth, which is an unknown currently.

Pixels opening weekend prediction: $49 million

For my Paper Towns prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/07/17/paper-towns-box-office-prediction/

For my Southpaw prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/07/17/southpaw-box-office-prediction/