After hopping around the release calendar at least half a dozen times due to COVID-19 delays, the hybrid live-action/animated comedic adventure Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway hits theaters June 11. Will Gluck returns to direct with James Corden again voicing the title character and Margot Robbie reprising her behind the mic work as Flopsy. Live-action participants include Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, and David Oyelowo. Elizabeth Debicki, Aimee Horne, Sia, and Sam Neill are among the voice cast.
In 2018, the first Rabbit premiered on the high end of expectations with $25 million and legged out nicely to a $115 overall domestic haul. Part 2 shouldn’t fall too far off that mark, but I do believe it’ll have trouble reaching that number. This won’t have anything to do with reviews. The 2018 pic had a mixed critical reaction with 63% on Rotten Tomatoes while the sequel is currently perched at 71%.
The Runaway has already opened in Australia and the United Kingdom to decent results. More than three years after the original, there could be a falloff of some youngsters not clamoring to see the followup. That said, a gross of $20 million is feasible. I’ll put it a few million below that figure though.
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway opening weekend prediction: $15.9 million
With his consistently Emmy winning work as host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart became synonymous with biting political satire for a generation of viewers. Toward the end of his run hosting the program, he took a hiatus to helm his directorial debut Rosewater, a political drama that failed to gain much of an audience. It was released in 2014 and despite mostly positive reviews, it came and went with zero awards buzz. As a side note, the break that Stewart took allowed John Oliver to gain exposure and nab his own currently running acclaimed HBO show.
Stewart is back in the director’s chair again with Irresistible, a political satire focused on a small town mayoral race. The pic stars Steve Carell, who first entered the mainstream on the show Stewart hosted with a supporting cast including Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Topher Grace, and Natasha Lyonne. It hits a small number of theaters and the VOD circuit today after its original May release was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some reviews are quite positive (including Rolling Stone), many critics are saying Irresistible is quite resistible. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at just 40%. So while Mr. Stewart picked up many awards for his television work, don’t look for his second feature behind the camera to follow suit. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
My Daily Streaming Guide for titles worthy of including in your binge watching escapades continues with some lighter and laugh inducing material:
Our taste for cinematic whodunits increased this fall with the release of the blockbuster Knives Out. For those who haven’t seen Clue, not only is it my favorite flick based on a board game – it’s one of my favorite murder mysteries (packed with great one-liners). Featuring an array of hilariously broad performances led by Tim Curry, the pic has deservedly turned into a cult classic. I watched it endlessly as a kid and find it just as entertaining today.
Over a decade before Robin Williams donned a dress and spectacles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Dustin Hoffman did the same in 1982’s massive hit Tootsie. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, a new generation might not be familiar with it. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a look.
For something more recent, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne headline the dramedy Instant Family. It casts the pair as foster parents entering unknown and often funny and dramatically resonant territory. Certainly a worthwhile experience that the whole family can enjoy.
Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne headline the business themed comedy Like a Boss next weekend as Paramount Pictures hopes many girls will make a trip to view it. Originally slated for release last summer, Boss is directed by Miguel Arteta with a supporting cast including Jennifer Coolidge, Billy Porter, and Salma Hayek.
It’s been over two years since Haddish broke through in a major way with Girls Trip and her lucky streak continued with Night School with Kevin Hart. However, things have slowed down a bit as of late with Nobody’s Fool (which grossed $14 million for its start). Then there was last year’s crime drama flop The Kitchen with Byrne’s Spy costar Melissa McCarthy.
The lack of much comedic competition should help a bit, but buzz seems to fairly muted here. My guess is this makes a bit under what Fool accomplished and struggles to hit teens.
Like a Boss opening weekend prediction: $12.4 million
From the directors of the BadMoms pics, Jexi dials into theaters next weekend and is hoping for a decent reception. The comedy stars Adam DeVine as a loner obsessed with his phone. When he gets an upgrade that includes Rose Byrne voicing the title character/feature, life begins to improve until the artificially intelligent being develops an obsession with him. Costars include Alexandra Shipp, Michael Pena, Justin Hartley, and Wanda Sykes.
I have a hunch Jexi will have a tough time connecting with filmgoers. As far as its effectiveness via trailer and TV spots, I’m getting a bit of a Stuber vibe. That comedy with Kumail Nanjiani stalled over the summer with just an $8.2 million opening weekend. And one could argue Nanjiani has more drawing ability than DeVine.
Considering that, I’ll say this will be lucky to reach that number and won’t do so.
There’s an air of authenticity to InstantFamily as its director Sean Anders and his wife are foster parents in the real world. Is it also a big Hollywood comedy with famous movie stars that works overtime to tug those heartstrings? It is, but the mission is mostly accomplished by credits roll.
Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne) spend their days flipping houses and enjoying their child free upper middle class existence. A trip down the Internet wormhole gets Ellie intrigued in adopting a toddler. Pete gets on board in short order and we witness the steps needed to do so. This include a weeks long course led by two social workers played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro. Both are rock solid casting choices. An interesting picture could certainly be made about the saints of that profession.
Pete and Ellie get more than they bargained for when teenage girl Lizzy (Isabela Moner) catches their attention. She has two younger siblings in tow and soon it’s a quintet filling a freshly refurbished abode. And there’s plenty of drama (with much humor mixed in) that cause the Wagners to question their new life direction. This isn’t simply a new project.
This is far from a hard-hitting expose on the foster care system. Yet the screenplay from Anders and John Morris doesn’t shy away from the issues that fill it, including addiction, abandonment, and self-worth. It walks a fine line between being effective or risking becoming too mushy for its own good. By the third act, the sentimentality is still strong with this one. However, I’d be deceptive if I said it hadn’t won me over. Much of that has to do with Moner’s touching performance as the untrusting youth and fierce protector of her siblings.
Anders knows this subject and even while there’s a polished Tinseltown shine covering it, his heart comes through. I left Family appreciative of the time spent with them.
Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne are a couple who bring in a trio of foster kids in next weekend’s comedy InstantFamily. The pic reunites Wahlberg with director Sean Anders, who made both of the successful Daddy’sHome features. Costars include Isabela Moner, Octavia Spencer, and Tig Notaro.
Family was originally scheduled to hit screens in February 2019 before Paramount pushed up the date. It will try to bring in family audiences on a weekend where FantasticBeasts: TheCrimesofGrindelwald opens directly against it and TheGrinch will be in its sophomore frame. That could certainly limit the potential for a robust debut, but the studio will hope that word of mouth carries it to a leggy run over the holidays.
I’ll predict a high teens teens premiere is what we’ll see as the currently unknown buzz will determine the rest of its fate.
InstantFamily opening weekend prediction: $19.4 million
For my FantasticBeasts: TheCrimesofGrindelwald prediction, click here:
Based on the well-known works of Beatrix Potter, Sony Pictures is hoping family audiences will hop to Peter Rabbit when it debuts next weekend. The mix of live-action and CG animation features the voices of James Corden in the title role along with Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, and Sia. Familiar faces physically present include Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, and Sam Neill. Will Gluck, maker of Easy A and the recent Annie remake, directs.
Rabbit could be in a solid position to attract kids and their parents now that box office juggernaut Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is finally winding down. Many are still familiar with the source material that first appeared in literary form in 1902.
I’ll estimate that the reported $50 million production makes a bit under $20 million out of the gate.
Peter Rabbit opening weekend prediction: $18.7 million
The first new wide release of 2018 is out next Friday when Insidious: The Last Key enters theaters. This is the fourth chapter in the franchise that began in 2011. Like Chapter 3, it’s a prequel to the events of the first two. In other words, no Patrick Wilson or Rose Byrne (the stars of the originals). James Wan, director and 1 and 2, produces with Adam Robitel behind the camera. Leigh Whannell, who’s served as writer for all of them, costars along with Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Josh Stewart, and Bruce Davison.
One factor that could assist The Last Key is the absence of horror flicks in the marketplace at the moment. That said, this franchise has been losing its luster. The 2011 original debuted to $13 million but legged out very nicely for its genre with an eventual $54 million gross. The 2013 sequel was the pinnacle with a terrific $40 million opening weekend and $83 million total tally. Chapter 3 in 2015 premiered to $22 million, but ended up as the lowest earner of the series with $52 million.
I don’t see a compelling reason why part 4 will rebound. For comparison sake, I could see this performing similarly to 2014’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, which opened in the first weekend of January to just over $18 million. Like this, that was an entry in a franchise whose steam had dissipated. That number seems to be where Key fits best.
Insidious: The Last Key opening weekend prediction: $18.6 million
X–Men: Apocalypse isn’t the only disappointing entry in the franchise, but it’s the only one directed by Bryan Singer that I’d classify as such. He directed the first two X entries in 2000 and 2002 and got the series off to a satisfying start. Singer would return in 2014 with DaysofFuturePast to mostly pleasing results. Apocalypse may have you feeling blue about where this series is at. The villain is shrug worthy, some of the actors seem to not be giving it their all, and some of the CG effects are questionable at best. It also makes the error of providing dull backstory material for characters we didn’t really need to know backstory for.
When Singer left the franchise for the first time in 2002, Brett Ratner took over with TheLastStand in 2006 and was crucified for his efforts. In fact, when Singer returned in 2014, much of FuturePast erased LastStand. Maybe Apocalypse is a bit of revenge for Ratner, because it’s worse than his X-perience. Quite a bit worse actually. Stand doesn’t quite deserve its bad reputation and Apocalypse does.
The whole proceedings get off to a shaky start with a prologue set in Egypt where the first believed mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, in heavy and ugly makeup) is entombed by his enemies. Flash to centuries later and it’s 1983. When Apocalypse breaks out of his long slumber, he is hell bent on exacting revenge on the human race and showing off his many mutant abilities. He doesn’t comment on the awful 80s fashion, but it probably doesn’t make him any more fond of the people he seeks to destroy.
Fighting Apocalypse are many familiar X-Men, including Professor X (James McAvoy, still with hair for awhile) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Meanwhile, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is laying low in Poland working in factory with lots of metal (oh the temptations!). He has a wife and daughter and a tragic family scene between them is actually rather well handled. While this trio of movie stars playing the most liked X characters get their screen time, Simon Kinberg’s screenplay also spends an unnecessary amount of ink on backstories for Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Storm (younger versions of them all). These are unsought subplots that feel like filler and not much else. We also get a young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) storyline that should be more interesting than it is.
All in all, there’s simply nothing very exciting about Apocalypse. Lawrence seems downright bored and her performance reflects that. Oscar Isaac is a tremendously talented performer who’s utterly wasted in a one-note villain role. The 60s vibe worked in X-Men: First Class and the 70s era feel of Future Past was pretty cool. Here, the 80s references add little.
There’s a sequence early on when Jean and friends leave ReturnoftheJedi disappointed and says everyone knows that the third one in a series is always the worst. Was screenwriter Simon Kinberg trying to warn us? Apocalypse isn’t terrible, but it’s the low point of this series so far.