Dolittle Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (01/15): Revising prediction down to $22.3 million

Robert Downey Jr. can speak to animals in Dolittle, but will the film speak to family audiences when it opens next weekend? The pic takes the well known character (previously played by Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy) and places him in a pricey $175 million budgeted adventure. Stephen Gaghan, known for directing the 2005 political thriller Syriana, is the rather surprising choice for behind the camera duties. Our marvelous cinematic Iron Man leads the human cast that also includes Harry Collett, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jessie Buckley, and Jim Broadbent. Many familiar faces are responsible for voicing the animal cast. That list includes Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, and Marion Cotillard (four Oscar winners among them!).

Dolittle was slated to be released last spring before it underwent reportedly extensive reshoots. The release of a property like this with its budget and leading man in late January is a bit curious and perhaps concerning.

Opening over the long MLK weekend, Dolittle will be in a battle for first place with Bad Boys for Life. Gauging the box office prowess of Downey is tricky nowadays since he’s pretty much only been Tony Stark over the past several years (those movies sell themselves).

Family audiences have had plenty of titles to choose from in the past month including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Spies in Disguise, and Jumanji: The Next Level. All three should bring in decent amounts of cash over the long frame. However, even with shaky buzz, Dolittle should hit mid to high 20s over the four days and north of $30 million is feasible. That puts it in second position based on my Bad Boys forecast or perhaps even third behind the second frame of 1917.

Dolittle opening weekend prediction: $22.3 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Bad Boys for Life prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/08/bad-boys-for-life-box-office-prediction/

Holmes & Watson Box Office Prediction

If you thought Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuthing characters was a little silly, wait till you get a load of Holmes & Watson next week. The comedy casts Will Ferrell as Holmes and John C. Reilly as Watson with Etan Cohen (who worked with Ferrell in Get Hard) directs with a supporting cast including Rebecca Hall, Ralph Fiennes, Kelly Macdonald, Lauren Lapkus, and Hugh Laurie.

Ferrell and Reilly have, of course, headlined two hits from the previous decade – Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers. Ironically, the maker of both of them (Adam McKay) has Vice debuting directly against this.

Technically this is the two principles fourth collaboration since Reilly had a cameo in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. This opens Christmas Day, which means it’s out on Tuesday. Movies generally perform strangely during the holiday frame. Previous films that have opened when 12/25 falls on Tuesday can see their Tuesday-Thursday gross match or even exceed the Friday-Sunday.

I expect that to occur here with Holmes getting close to lower double digits in the latter part of its six-day. That could mean low 20s for the first week run.

Holmes & Watson opening weekend prediction: $11.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $22.3 million (Tuesday to Sunday)

For my Vice prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/19/vice-box-office-prediction/

Avengers: Infinity War Box Office Prediction

It may feel like winter in many parts of the country even though it’s spring, but next weekend is essentially the start of the summer box office in 2018 when Avengers: Infinity War invades theaters. This is the 19th picture in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that began a decade ago with 2008’s Iron Man and the third installment of the Avengers franchise that kicked off in 2012 (an untitled fourth installment is out next summer).

After 10 years of these superheroes populating our screens in one form or another, Infinity War is the picture that brings them all together. That means we have the Avengers we’re used to seeing together: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). They’ve got a whole lot of company this time around, including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Bucky (Sebastian Stan), and the whole Guardians of the Galaxy gang (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and the vocal work of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel). Josh Brolin is main villain Thanos. Other actors from the MCU returning include Gwyneth Paltrow, Idris Elba, Paul Bettany, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Benicio del Toro, Cobie Smulders, Angela Bassett, Tessa Thompson, and Jon Favreau. Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo (who directed 2016’s Captain America: Civil War) are behind the camera. Whew…

The gathering of the entire MCU is one impressive selling point and there’s been developments that have even increased the anticipation for Infinity‘s release. Last summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming was well-received, as were Guardians and Thor sequels. Yet perhaps more than anything else, this February’s Black Panther turned into a phenomenon – becoming the third highest grossing domestic earner of all time.

Projections have steadily increased in the past few weeks. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Infinity War could have the largest stateside opening of all time. In order to do so, it would need to surpass the $247 million achieved by 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To accomplish the 2nd biggest debut, it would need to exceed the $220 million of last year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It will almost certainly achieve the record for an MCU premiere, which is currently held by the original Avengers at $207 million.

I believe this will pass Jedi and rather easily. Getting to the Awakens number is doable, but I’ll project it falls a bit under that milestone.

Avengers: Infinity War opening weekend prediction: $240.2 million

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming Box Office Prediction

It was 15 summers ago when Spider-Man scored the largest domestic opening of all time (at that juncture) and helped kick off the comic book adaptation bonanza that has yet to let up today. We are now on our third web slinger iteration as Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theaters next weekend.

Of course, this is not our first time seeing Tom Holland as the new Spidey. He first appeared in last summer’s Captain America: Civil War. In this first solo effort, none other than Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is appearing alongside him. Jon Watts directs with a supporting cast that includes Michael Keaton as the villainous Vulture, Marisa Tomei, Donald Glover, Jon Favreau, and Zendaya.

This co-production of Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios comes with a reported $175 million budget and lofty expectations. The second reboot of the beloved superhero series certainly is benefited by the new Spidey’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his Avenger friends.

Homecoming is the sixth overall flick headlined by Spider-Man. Let’s take a trip down franchise lane, shall we?

In looking at the opening grosses of the five previous entries, it’s a bit of a web since some opened over long holiday weekends. The 2002 original made the aforementioned record-setting sum of $114 million out of the gate and $403M overall domestically. The 2004 follow-up opened over a five-day July 4th weekend with $88 million from Friday to Sunday, $151 million from Wednesday to Sunday, and $373M when all was said and done. 2007’s Spider-Man 3 (marking the final appearance of Tobey Maguire in the title role) set the franchise record opening of $151 million, but grossed $336M in total – the lowest of the trilogy. Five years later when Andrew Garfield inherited the tights, The Amazing Spider-Man rolled out over a long six-day July 4th frame with $62 million in the traditional weekend and $137 million over the long weekend. It would go on to make $262M. 2014’s sequel made $91 million for its start and a series low $202M overall.

Got all that? OK! So where does Homecoming stand in comparison? Let’s leave its predecessors alone for just a second as it’s unlikely this will match the overall grosses of this summer’s previous comic book tentpoles Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman. Both of those pics look to near $400 million domestically and place first and second for the season’s top earners. At one time, projections for the new Spidey were as high as $135 million, but they’ve since steadily declined. I believe this will reach over just over what the first picture accomplished a decade and a half ago.

Spider-Man: Homecoming opening weekend prediction: $117.8 million

 

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand in often thrilling and impressive ways in Captain America: Civil War, which is by all intents and purposes a third Avengers pic where Hulk and Thor are apparently on a well-deserved vacation. It walks the tightrope of introducing new characters and finding new dynamics for the old ones without seeming gimmicky or overloading the audience with all its activity. To that end, director Joel and Anthony Russo are to be commended for mostly succeeding in this latest effort where our heroes are often unmasked and sometimes emasculated.

Civil War presents a chasm in the MCU that centers on Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) aka The Winter Solider from this trilogy’s slightly better second movie. His history with Captain America (Chris Evans) garners understandable sympathy from our title character. That isn’t the case with Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) when it appears Bucky may be responsible for an attack on the United Nations.

There’s also the question of whether The Avengers actions across the globe are worth the collateral damage that sometimes comes with it. The U.S. government proposes to put some serious checks on their powers. Tony agrees. Cap does not. And the rest of the crew (minus Hulk/Thor sipping Mai tai’s somewhere) must choose which side to join. This include Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (who comes out retirement from his boring home life Age of Ultron subplot), Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Don Cheadle’s War Machine, and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. We also have Paul Rudd in the mix less than a year after his debut in Ant-Man, which was the other underwhelming MCU summer 2015 experience (along with Ultron). And then there’s the two newbies introduced who will soon have their own stand-alone features: Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Spidey is good for some solid one-liners and I enjoyed Holland’s take on Peter Parker. This budding franchise should hopefully eclipse what we saw the last time around with Andrew Garfield and company. That said, I actually found Black Panther’s plot line to be a bit more interesting here and I equally anticipate that solo pic.

Civil War also continues the tradition of rather forgettable central villains, with the exception of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Here it’s Daniel Bruhl as Zemo, whose motives are murky for most of the running time and who stands as just another baddie in a world where the heroes are the focal point. This entry isn’t really about a main villain, however. Rather it’s about deciding if you’re on Team Cap or Team Iron Man and the screenplay is smartly written enough that the answer isn’t automatic.

The MCU continues to build on itself and this one does so in the most entertaining way since Winter Soldier. By the time we get to the final Avengers pictures, Hulk and Thor will return. Guardians of Galaxies will be in the mix. And with the Mouse Factory behind this with their extensive array of characters, who knows who else we shall see? Will Rey and Finn cross star systems to appear? Which team will Mowgli align with? Will Kermit and Miss Piggy agree to follow Cap or Tony or split? As long as it’s satisfying like Civil War, I’m still curious to find out.

*** (out of four)

Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron moves the Marvel Cinematic Universe onwards while answering the questions we’ve been pondering for years. How is the romantic relationship going between Hulk and Black Widow? What’s going on with Hawkeye’s wife and children out on their family farm?

Wait, what?

These two out of nowhere subplots are emblematic of a pervasive problem with the sequel to the 2012 mega blockbuster. When Joss Whedon made the original three years ago, it was hard to imagine him combining Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye into a cohesive and satisfactory experience. Did he ever though and it resulted in one of the greatest superhero tales to reach the screen. With Ultron, many of the fears that were assuaged the first time are present. Here, the struggle is real and Whedon can’t manage to recapture the magic the second time around.

The pic dives headfirst into Avengers action in Eastern Europe with our protagonists obtaining Loki’s old scepter and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) discovering its artificial intelligence capabilities. This results in the creation of Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a robotic monster hell bent on ending the world… you know, like all MCU villains. We’re also introduced to Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), characters played by different actors in last year’s in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Incidentally, Quicksilver was used much more effectively in the latter.

Of course, we have most of the Marvel crew back. Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow, who’s turned into one of the more interesting characters even though her aforementioned romance with Dr. Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) seems to be a forced concoction to earn them more screen time. Same goes for Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, who isn’t one of the more interesting players and his previously unseen family history doesn’t help. And there’s Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Evans’s Captain America, both coming off sequels that improved upon their predecessors. Not the case here. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Don Cheadle’s War Machine and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon appear in more limited fashion. The girlfriends of Iron Man and Thor (Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman, respectively) are missing.

Where Ultron serviceably succeeds is its action sequences, including a humdinger battle between Hulk and Iron Man. The Marvel team obviously know how to make these glorious battle sequences and they acquit themselves fine here, though nothing matches the brilliance of the 2012 edition’s breathtaking climactic sequence. The issues I had are several and not just the needless subplots. Ultron is not an especially compelling villain. Many of the humorous quips fall flatter than normal. Even Downey Jr. (truly an example of the perfect actor in the perfect role) isn’t as fun this time around.

In a way, I found Age of Ultron comparable to the third Hunger Games entry, Mockingjay – Part 1. It’s necessary to view it so we can move on to the rest. With the MCU, that includes two more Avengers pics and forthcoming Thor and Captain America threequels. Ultron is “must see” viewing for that reason and that reason alone. Yet I hope what comes next elevates beyond the material we are given this time.

**1/2 (out of four)

Avengers: Age of Ultron Box Office Prediction

The 2015 Summer Movie Season kicks off in grand fashion as Avengers: Age of Ultron debuts and looks to Hulk smash records. The mystery surrounding how it performs in its opening is centered on one question: will it have the biggest domestic debut in movie history? In order to do so, it’ll need to top the record currently held by its 2012 predecessor. That magic number is $207.4 million.

All the favorites are back, including director Joss Whedon with Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, and more returning. Newbies include James Spader voicing the title character villain and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. There are two more Avengers features already planned for 2018 and 2019. While a number of reviews say it doesn’t quite match the original, its 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating is solid.

There is little doubt that Ultron is highly primed to become summer’s largest grosser. Whether or not it reaches the $623M eventual mark of The Avengers remains to be seen (that’s good for the 3rd biggest hit ever behind Avatar and Titanic).

Some prognosticators are estimating it may not quite reach the heights of 2012 in its opening. The floor would seem to be in the $180M range, which would be just fine but still $25M under the first. While that’s certainly possible, I do believe Ultron will debut with around the same number of its predecessor… and a bit higher. That means I’m predicting Ultron will set a new benchmark in the category of all-time record openings and Disney and Marvel will be popping the champagne corks come next weekend.

Avengers: Age of Ultron opening weekend prediction: $212.7 million