Late Night Box Office Prediction

After achieving the highest limited per theater average of 2019, Late Night expands nationwide this weekend and hopes to attract eyeballs outside of major markets. The dramedy first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to sturdy reviews and it stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Nisha Ganatra, the film casts Emma Thompson as a talk show host who hires Mindy Kaling as her first female writer. Kaling wrote the screenplay. The supporting cast includes Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan.

Over this past weekend, Late Night debuted in four theaters and raked in nearly $250,000. As mentioned, that’s strong enough to set the year’s best rollout for a platform release. Even with that designation, the pic could have issues reaching a mainstream audience. Original comedies have struggled recently and that includes those with positive critical reaction (Long Shot being a recent example).

Mid single digits is likely where this ends up as this plays in around 1500 theaters.

Late Night opening weekend prediction: $4.5 million

For my Men in Black: International prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/05/men-in-black-international-box-office-prediction/

For my Shaft prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/06/shaft-box-office-prediction/

For my The Dead Don’t Die prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/the-dead-dont-die-box-office-prediction/

Venom Movie Review

A comic book origin story that often masquerades as an otherworldly buddy comedy, Venom will likely be remembered for the weirdly inspired performance of Tom Hardy and not much else. We’ve seen the title character before with Topher Grace in SpiderMan 3. The alien creature made of black goo played as a superfluous extra villain in that picture. Now Venom is ready for his closeup.

Hardy is Eddie Brock, a San Francisco investigative reporter with a lovely DA fiancée Anne (Michelle Williams) and a penchant for asking one too many questions. He does just that with gazillionaire inventor Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who’s a beloved mogul in the community. He’s also, unbeknownst to the masses, experimenting on poor people with a mysterious alien life form that his company the Life Foundation discovered in outer space. Eddie’s inquires into these practices lead to his firing as a journalist and the dissolution of his romance.

A few months later as Eddie is down on his luck, one of Drake’s scientists spills the beans to him about further tomfoolery at the Foundation. This leads to a break-in at their research facility and one of those nasty and gooey extraterrestrials attaching themselves to Eddie. It turns out these visitors intend to destroy Planet Earth.

Yet we also find out that Eddie’s new inhabitant of his vessel has a sense of humor. And Hardy’s performance filled with strange noises, facial tics, and general bizareness makes for an often memorable duo. Venom himself is inside Eddie’s head constantly with what sounds like Christian Bale’s basement octave range from The Dark Knight series. I’m really not sure if Hardy’s work here is what you’d call good, but it’s definitely not forgettable. He seems committed to whatever the heck he’s decided Brock/Venom is and that itself is fun.

Unfortunately there’s lots of other forgettable aspects to the movie itself. This would include lots of the dialogue, the action sequences, Williams as the love interest, and Ahmed as the bad guy. Important stuff generally. It’s also amusing how crystal clear it is that director Ruben Fleischer (who’s done better with Zombieland) and the screenwriters so want this to be rated R. I assume Sony said otherwise, but the script has to reach the absolute highest level of profanity and heads being bitten off without achieving the restricted tag. I will give the writers a thumbs up for setting this in San Francisco and avoiding the umpteenth climactic battle at the Golden Gate Bridge.

I can’t deny that Hardy’s bewildering and bewitching and sometimes annoying acting nearly make this worth of the price of admission. There’s just a bit too much muck attached to it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Venom Box Office Prediction

Sony Pictures hopes to kick off a franchise and set an October opening record next weekend when Venom debuts. The picture’s namesake is an anti-hero spawned from the Spider-Man comics. Moviegoers first saw him in the form of Topher Grace in SpiderMan 3. That rendering of the character didn’t sit too well with comic book aficionados.

The studio hopes this version changes that. Ruben Fleischer, best known for Zombieland, serves behind the camera. Playing Venom and his alter ego Eddie Brock is Tom Hardy. Costars include Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, and Woody Harrelson.

Sequels and spin-offs are hoped for and the marketing campaign has been pervasive. The reaction to trailers has been mostly positive, but word is that reviews won’t be published until the day before release. That’s not always a good sign. Similar buzz greeted Suicide Squad (among others) and it managed to meet expectations and gross $133 million in its first weekend. That stands as the largest August debut ever.

The correlation is that Venom could do the same in October, but estimates aren’t as high here. This is expected to gross between $60-$70 million. Even if it reached the low-end of that spectrum, this would top October record holder Gravity at $55 million. I’ll note that Halloween (out October 19) also stands a solid shot at exceeding that.

My feeling is this will meet projections, but on the lower end of the spectrum. How it performs in subsequent weekends will be dependent on buzz and that may be the biggest indicator on whether Sony gets its longed for cinematic universe.

Venom opening weekend prediction: $62.5 million

For my A Star Is Born prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/25/a-star-is-born-box-office-prediction/

Home Again Movie Review

Essentially Three Men and a Divorcée, Reese Witherspoon’s latest rom com Home Again is a bland genre exercise that struggles mightily to be relatable. The star plays Alice, the daughter of a famous deceased director and his starlet muse (Candice Bergen). The maker of this film, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, is the child of divorced writers/filmmakers Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers. Together and apart, her folks are responsible for such rom com titles as Baby Boom, Father of the Bride, What Women Want, and Something’s Gotta Give. One wonders if Ms. Meyers-Shyer could channel that insight of growing up with her famous parents into a perceptive screenplay. I wonder because it’s not found anywhere here.

Reese’s Alice has recently separated from her music exec hubby (Michael Sheen) and lives at a gorgeous L.A. home with her two daughters. She’s just turned the big 4-0 and genre contrivances soon brings three twenty something lads into her guesthouse. They’re all aspiring filmmakers. Harry (Pico Alexander) is the handsome director. George (Jon Rudnitsky) is the teddy bear screenwriter who forms a bond with Alice’s eldest kid. Teddy (Nat Wolff) is the actor who really has no notable character traits.

Harry and Alice start a May-December romance while her ex is weighing his return home. The boys also must deal with the drama of getting their movie made and keeping their integrity intact. A lazy script would signify that integrity by making them insist on it being black and white. That’s exactly the situation here.

Home Again simply doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It is a little more frustrating considering the talent involved could have dug deeper. Witherspoon is adequate in the lead, but we’ve seen her elevate similar material and she can’t here. The story doesn’t even allow for any real chemistry to develop between Alice and Harry. The director’s parents are responsible for some of the more memorable rom coms of the last three decades. At the least, many of them qualify as genuine guilty pleasures. Here’s hoping Hallie finds a similar voice, but this is a dull beginning.

*1/2 (out of four)