Oscar Predictions – Minions: The Rise of Gru

Illumination Entertainment will rule the Fourth of July weekend at the box office when Minions: The Rise of Gru hits theaters on July 1st. This is the fifth entry in the franchise that began a dozen summers back with Despicable Me and the first in five years.

Some early reviews are out and they’re mostly indicating it’s a decent if unspectacular chapter of the series. With 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, that’s higher than the two previous pics – 2015’s Minions (55%) and 2017’s Despicable Me 3 (59%). Of course, Gru‘s number will soon rise or fall as more critics weigh in.

2010’s Despicable Me (81%) and its 2013 sequel (75%) fared better, but only part two received awards attention. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Original Song with Pharrell’s inescapable “Happy”. Due to Disney’s Frozen and the equally omnipresent “Let It Go”, it lost both.

Based on early buzz, I see no path for Gru to find its way to the Animated Feature derby. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Minions: The Rise of Gru Box Office Prediction

Illumination and Universal Pictures should light up the Fourth of July weekend at the box office with Minions: The Rise of Gru. The sequel to the 2015 spinoff prequel and the fifth overall entry in the Despicable Me franchise, Kyle Balda directs with Steve Carell returning to voice the title character. Other performers in the booth include Pierre Coffin, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, RZA, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, and Alan Arkin. How’s that for eclectic? I’m pretty sure this marks the first collaboration between Van Damme and Andrews.

This series has proved to be a financial windfall for its studio. All four previous pics have made over $250 million domestically. Minions took in $115 million out of the gate seven summers back with $336 million overall. Immediate predecessor Despicable Me 3 from 2017, while still a hit, wasn’t as high. It premiered with $72 million and ended up with $264 million.

Three years was previously the longest wait between films. The five year gap is a bit risky as some of its fans are simply older. We’ve also seen a very recent example of an animated disappointment with Pixar’s Lightyear. 

That said, I suspect Gru will rise to the occasion with a four-day holiday haul in the $75-85 million range. I’m starting out on the lower end of that scale, but my estimate could go up in the days ahead.

Minions: The Rise of Gru opening weekend prediction: $78.4 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

Oscar Predictions: Death on the Nile

Tomorrow morning, Kenneth Branagh appears poised to land nominations for Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay for his passion project Belfast. Before he made that Oscar contender, he shot Death on the Nile. A follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, the pic has faced a turbulent journey to the big screen (it opens Friday).

Originally slated for October 2020, Nile experienced numerous COVID related delays. Then there was the matter of its costar Armie Hammer having a massive public relations fallout due to revelations about his personal life.

Four Oscars ago, I actually predicted Orient would receive a Costume Design nomination and it was certainly in the running for Production Design. It came up empty handed. The review embargo for Nile lapsed today and it currently stands at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s better than the 60% that its predecessor garnered and many critics are claiming that this is an improvement.

That said, I don’t envision any nods (even the aforementioned tech races) materializing for this. It will probably be long forgotten in voters minds a year from now. Branagh, on the glass full side, should be pleased with the forthcoming Belfast love. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Death on the Nile Box Office Prediction

Hercule Poirot is back in mystery solving form (quite a while after he was supposed to be) when Death on the Nile sets sail in theaters on February 11th. The follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express finds Kenneth Branagh back as the famed Agatha Christie sleuth. As he did with Express, the star directs himself. Tom Bateman reprises his role from the predecessor. The supporting cast includes Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer (the pic was shot was shot prior to troubling details about his personal life surfaced), Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright.

Budgeted at a reported $90 million, Nile was originally slated for multiplexes in December 2020 before numerous COVID delays. In that time, Branagh made Belfast and it’s become one of the favorites to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Back in 2017, Orient debuted to a better than anticipated $28 million. It stalled a bit in subsequent weekends, but eventually hit just over $100 million domestically. At that time, audiences gave it a B Cinemascore grade – not bad though certainly not impressive.

That calls into question whether moviegoers will be excited for another dose of Poirot and his suspects. Furthermore, Nile will attempt to skew towards a female crowd. Some could be distracted with the release of the Jennifer Lopez rom com Marry Me. There’s also a football game on Sunday that could eat into the grosses.

I deduce that this might make about half of what Express accomplished for its start.

Death on the Nile opening weekend prediction: $14.3 million

For my Marry Me prediction, click here:

Marry Me Box Office Prediction

For my Blacklight prediction, click here:

Blacklight Box Office Prediction

Trolls Box Office Prediction

Viral intrigue hits multiplexes as Trolls, a timely thriller about Internet irritants, debuts next weekend. OK, the 3D animated musical kiddie pic is actually about those dolls with the funky spiked up hair and it hopes to capture a sizable family audience.

The Dreamworks effort comes with a reported $120 million budget and features the voices (both spoken and in song) of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, and James Corden. The soundtrack has already yielded Timberlake’s summer smash “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”. Reviews thus far have been surprisingly quite positive and it stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Early November has been fertile ground for animated fare in recent years past. Some of the original titles and their opening grosses include: 2007’s Bee Movie ($38M), 2010’s Masterminds ($46M), 2012’s Wreck-It-Ralph ($49M), 2014’s Big Hero 6 ($56M), and last year’s The Peanuts Movie ($44M). There is one significant factor standing in the way of Trolls potentially achieving those numbers and that would be Marvel’s Doctor Strange, which debuts directly against it. While the wild haired characters of this may be looking to siphon off an even younger audience (and their parents), Strange should undoubtedly succeed in bringing in families as well.

That said, I expect Trolls to manage a mid-30s roll out and likely play well into the month of November.

Trolls opening weekend prediction: $34.6 million

For my Doctor Strange prediction, click here:


For my Hacksaw Ridge prediction, click here: