2021: The Year of Jodie Comer

My fourth and final post regarding actors who had a memorable 2021 on the big screen brings us to the only performer that wasn’t in Spider-Man: No Way Home and that’s Jodie Comer.

Prior to this year, the English actress was primarily known for her small screen leading role on the BBC’s Killing Eve (for which she’s won an Emmy). While that work continues, she made waves with audiences and critics alike in the multiplexes.

While box office success did not greet Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, Comer earned raves as Marguerite de Carrouges in the historical yet timely drama. In a cast that included Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Ben Affleck, Comer garnered the lion’s share of awards buzz and deservedly so.

A couple of months before Duel, she was widely seen alongside Ryan Reynolds in the family friendly action comedy Free Guy (which took in over $300 million worldwide). A sequel is already being planned.

For Comer, 2021 succeeded in transitioning her success from TV to film. This concludes my Year Of write-ups and here’s to 2022!

2021 Golden Globes Nominations: Reaction

Under a cloud of controversy and uncertainty as to what their January 9th ceremony will even look like (it won’t be on NBC), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominees this morning for the 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Per usual, there were some surprises though no Kate Hudson for Best Actress in Music level one like in 2020. Overall I went 49/70 in my picks for the 14 cinematic races – going perfect in just one derby while striking out 2/5 in two others.

Let’s break them down one by one with some commentary and my initial thoughts on who/what could win:

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Nominees: Belfast, CODA, Dune, King Richard, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: No shockers here as my runner-up CODA got in over Nightmare Alley. Guillermo del Toro’s noir thriller got zero love from the HFPA and it’ll need to rally with Oscar voters. Belfast and Dog led all nods with seven apiece. Both could vie for the victory with the former perhaps having a slight edge.

Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Cyrano, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza, Tick Tick… Boom!, West Side Story

How I Did: 5/5

Comments: The real mystery here was whether Cyrano or In the Heights would be the third musical of the bunch. I picked correctly. Seeing that Steven Spielberg is the only director in this race nominated, it’s hard to imagine West Side Story not emerging victorious here.

Best Director

Nominees: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Denis Villeneuve (Dune)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Gyllenhaal’s inclusion was not anticipated and she got in over my selection of Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley. Truth be told, I could see any of the other four hopefuls taking this prize.

Best Actress (Drama)

Nominees: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Lady Gaga (House of Gucci), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), Kristen Stewart (Spencer)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Colman in over Jennifer Hudson (Respect). This could absolutely be the Oscar five. Stewart is the soft frontrunner with any other of the performers viable.

Best Actor (Drama)

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Swan Song), Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Will Smith (King Richard), Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: Bardem getting in is not all that unexpected but I didn’t see Ali coming. They make the cut over Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley) and Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon). This one should boil down to Smith and Cumberbatch.

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Marion Cotillard (Annette), Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza), Jennifer Lawrence (Don’t Look Up), Emma Stone (Cruella), Rachel Zegler (West Side Story)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Cotillard over Haley Bennett for Cyrano. As for the favorite, expect West Side Story to carry Zegler.

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up), Peter Dinklage (Cyrano), Andrew Garfield (Tick Tick… Boom!), Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza), Anthony Ramos (In the Heights)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: I went a little out there with my fifth pick of Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy. Hoffman is here instead. Garfield is out in front in this one.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog), Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard), Ruth Negga (Passing)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Negga gets a needed boost (I had Meryl Streep for Don’t Look Up in her slot). If Jodie Foster could win an upset victory last year here for The Mauritanian, any of these performers could win.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar), Jamie Dornan (Belfast), Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Troy Kotsur (CODA), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: The Golden Globes often go for big names so the fact that Kotsur got in with HFPA bodes well for his Oscar chances. He and Affleck make it over my picks of Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza) and Jared Leto (House of Gucci). Conversely I’d argue that if Leto can’t make it here, his Academy prospects look shaky. Smit-McPhee is picking up critics prizes but this race is wide open in my view.

Best Screenplay

Nominees: Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: The HFPA loves them some Aaron Sorkin and his Ricardos script triumphs over West Side Story. This could be Belfast, Pizza, or Power.

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Encanto, Flee, Luca, My Sunny Maad, Raya and the Last Dragon

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: My Sunny Maad came out of nowhere. Not so much with Raya. They’re in instead of The Mitchells vs. the Machines (which I’m genuinely surprised missed) and Vivo (which I’m not). Don’t discount Flee, but Encanto is the likely winner.

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees: Compartment No. 6, Drive My Car, The Hand of God, A Hero, Parallel Mothers

How I Did: 2/5

Comments: Ouch. Only got Drive My Car and A Hero correct (and they could duke it out for the prize). On the cutting room floor: Flee, Titane, and The Worst Person in the World. Mothers could contend here as well.

Best Original Score

Nominees: Dune, Encanto, The French Dispatch, Parallel Mothers, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 2/5

Comments: The pain continues as I only called Dune and Power correctly. The others are in over Nightmare Alley, Spencer, and The Tragedy of Macbeth. This should be Dune, but Power is possible too.

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Be Alive” from King Richard, “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto, “Down to Joy” from Belfast, “Here I Am” from Respect, “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: The Encanto and Respect cuts make it instead of “Every Letter” from Cyrano and “Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up. Like the Oscars, this could be a battle between Beyonce (“Be Alive”) and Billie Eilish (“No Time to Die”).

That means the following films garnered these numbers with their nominations:

7 Nominations

Belfast, The Power of the Dog

4 Nominations

Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, West Side Story

3 Nominations

Being the Ricardos, Dune, Encanto

2 Nominations

CODA, Cyrano, The Lost Daughter, Parallel Mothers, Tick Tick… Boom!

1 Nomination

Annette, Compartment No. 6, Cruella, Drive My Car, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Flee, The French Dispatch, The Hand of God, A Hero, House of Gucci, In the Heights, Luca, My Sunny Maad, No Time to Die, Passing, Raya and the Last Dragon, Respect, Spencer, Swan Song, The Tender Bar, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2021 Golden Globe Predictions

Let’s begin with this blanket statement… I’m basically flying a bit blind with my predictions for the Golden Globe Awards, which will be revealed tomorrow morning. For those who don’t follow the awards derbies closely like I do, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been in some considerable hot water for the last couple of years. So much so that NBC has decided they won’t air the January 9th ceremony due to lack of diversity for its voting membership. There were genuine questions as to whether the HFPA would even hold an event for their 79th awards, but they are pushing forward amidst the controversy.

Then there’s the simply the matter of the Globes being quite unpredictable. We tend to see a shocker nomination at least once a year… remember Kate Hudson’s nod in Actress (Musical/Comedy) for the barely seen and critically reviled Sia directed Music in 2020? Then the voters went ahead and nominated the picture itself!

Last year in Supporting Actress, Jodie Foster scored a surprise nomination and win for The Mauritanian. The Academy didn’t even bother to nominate her. In Supporting Actor, both Jared Leto (The Little Things) and Bill Murray (On the Rocks) made the cut in Supporting Actor though not at the Oscars. This is why my general rule at the Globes is to fill in bigger names when I’ve got a spot or two left over in an acting race.

The HFPA’s method of dividing Drama and Musical/Comedy always creates category questions and that holds true in 2021. Where’s CODA? Or House of Gucci and C’Mon C’Mon? Or Being the Ricardos. We don’t know. For prediction purposes, I’m putting them in Drama. Obviously, if they’re not, that would alter my estimates and make some of my calls moot.

Let’s take go through the categories one by one and see how this guesswork turns out, shall we? I’ll do a runner-up and second alternate for each race as well.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

King Richard

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: CODA

Second Alternate: The Tragedy of Macbeth

Commentary – At this point, Belfast, Dune, King Richard, and Power of the Dog seem like pretty safe bets. Any one of them missing out would be considered a significant snub. The fifth slot is wide open in my view. The surging CODA (if it’s placed in Drama) could certainly make the cut. Tragedy is a strong possibility and I wouldn’t count out Being the Ricardos, C’Mon C’Mon and House of Gucci (if they’re in Drama), The Last Duel, or Spencer. Despite some critical reservations, I’ll go with Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. It’s important to remember that foreign films are relegated to their own category at the Globes. That’s why Parasite didn’t show up here two years ago and it’s why A Hero or Drive My Car won’t contend in this competition.

Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy

Predicted Nominees:

Cyrano

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

Tick Tick… Boom!

West Side Story

Runner-Up: In the Heights

Second Alternate: Cruella

Commentary – The Musical/Comedy derby actually has a bunch of musicals to choose from in 2021 and West Side Story and Tick Tick… Boom! especially seem like surefire additions. Between In the Heights and Cyrano, I’m giving the latter a slight edge (though both could make it). Licorice Pizza should get in though I’m a tad more unsure about Don’t Look Up. I would generally say the top six listed here will be duking it out for five slots (Cruella is kind of a throwaway addition but if Music could get in…)

**Note that pics like CODA, Gucci, or Being the Ricardos could be campaigned for here and not Drama and that could change the dynamic.

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Runner-Up: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Commentary – Feeling good about Branagh, Campion, Spielberg, and Villeneuve. The 5 spot is tougher but I’ll give del Toro the nod over Anderson (who, somehow, has never been nominated for a Globe).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Runner-Up: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Second Alternate: Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

Commentary – So here’s when it gets truly complicated as Gaga, Hudson, and Kidman could all theoretically wind up in Musical/Comedy. If not, both Gaga and Kidman seem like likely nominees in Drama. So do Chastain and Stewart. I’m picking Hudson over considerable competition that includes Colman, Comer, Emilia Jones in CODA (if placed here), Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth), and Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up: Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Second Alternate: Nicolas Cage, Pig

Commentary – Cumberbatch, Smith, and Washington are obvious choices. The other two slots – not so much. Phoenix could be in Musical/Comedy, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and put him here. Same with runner-up Bardem. As much as I’d like to anoint Cage for Pig, I’ll hedge with Cooper in Alley. Super dark horse choice: Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey. 

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Haley Bennett, Cyrano

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Emma Stone, Cruella

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Melissa Barrera, In the Heights

Second Alternate: Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Once again – there’s some women I have in Drama that might shift over this way (Gaga, Hudson, Kidman, Jones). That would make this category more interesting as, right now, this is Zegler’s to lose based on my current composition. If serious hopefuls like Gaga and Kidman stay in Drama, this race could be ripe for an out of nowhere pick (I’m thinking either Annie Mumolo or Kristin Wiig in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

Anthony Ramos, In the Heights

Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy

Runner-Up: Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Commentary – The first four seem probable and the safer choice for #5 would be Hoffman (that’s if Joaquin Phoenix or Javier Bardem don’t play here). I gotta pick at least one head scratcher though so let’s throw in Reynolds for the hit Free Guy!

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Supporting Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

Runner-Up: Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Second Alternate: Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Commentary – Balfe, DeBose, Dunst, and Ellis are likely. If any of that quartet miss, it could be Dunst. I’m utilizing my aforementioned big name theory by picking Streep in the five spot. Could be Moreno or Blanchett and the star power could overshadow other possibilities like Ruth Negga (Passing) or Ann Dowd (Mass).

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Supporting Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Mike Faist, West Side Story

Second Alternate: Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

Commentary – No one can really make heads or tails of Supporting Actor in 2021 so there’s some winging it happening. I’ll say both Belfast boys get in while HFPA recognizes Cooper’s limited screen time in Pizza and Leto’s out there performance in Gucci. Smit-McPhee has been picking up critics awards and that could get him in. Truth be told… anything could happen in this one.

Best Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Runner-Up: King Richard

Second Alternate: Being the Ricardos

The one I’m uncertain about is Don’t Look Up with its many lackluster reviews, but I’ll go for it over Richard. I also wouldn’t completely dismiss Ricardos due to the Aaron Sorkin factor.

Best Animated Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Vivo

Runner-Up: Raya and the Last Dragon

Second Alternate: Belle

Best Foreign Language Film

Predicted Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

A Hero

Titane

The Worst Person in the World

Runner-Up: Parallel Mothers

Second Alternate: The Hand of God

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up: The French Dispatch

Second Alternate: Don’t Look Up

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“Down to Joy” from Belfast

“Every Letter” from Cyrano

“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Runner-Up: “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Second Alternate: “So May We Start” from Annette

My picks equate to the following scorecard in terms of total nominations:

7 Nominations

Belfast, The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

Don’t Look Up

5 Nominations

West Side Story

4 Nominations

Cyrano, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley

3 Nominations

Dune

2 Nominations

Flee, House of Gucci, Spencer, Tick Tick… Boom!, The Tragedy of Macbeth

1 Nomination

Being the Ricardos, C’Mon C’Mon, Cruella, Drive My Car, Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Free Guy, A Hero, In the Heights, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, No Time to Die, Respect, Titane, Vivo, The Worst Person in the World

I’ll have a post up later tomorrow with my results! Critics Choice predictions are next…

Red Notice Review

Red Notice poaches from plenty of superior action comedies. It scrambles to find a consistent tone between being a parody of them and just being one of them. The trio of famous faces are hampered with their hastily written hardboiled characters. That’s what we get in this caper about thieves trying to retrieve Cleopatra’s blinged out eggs. And no matter how much I’ve liked Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot elsewhere, this is an easy picture to pan.

Rawson Marshall Thurber teams with Johnson for the third time after Central Intelligence and Skyscraper (they’ve gotten progressively worse). As Special Agent John Hartley, he’s hot on the trail of master cat burglar and escape artist Nolan Booth (Reynolds). There’s a plan afoot to reunite the ancient Egyptian queen’s bejeweled artifacts for a $300 million payday, but the two end up working together to stop another lifter known as The Bishop (Gadot). In a competition for world’s best art thief, The Bishop seems to have a slight upper hand. She’s framed Hartley and led an Interpol agent (Ritu Aryu) to think he’s in cahoots with the endlessly quipping Booth.

The elusive third egg is in the possession of quirky arms dealer Scotto Voce (Chris Diamantopoulos) and the trio double and triple and quadruple cross one another in hopes of achieving their score. Booth and Bishop’s reasoning is money and pride. Hartley’s is to clear his name. The three leads should do their own name clearing after this utter misfire.

Like Deadpool, the screenplay (by the director) goes the self-referential route at times. This is mostly through Reynolds. Unlike his Wade Wilson, he’s not very funny and doesn’t have solid one-liners to ironically spew. Whistling the Indiana Jones theme while the pic serves as a pale comparison doesn’t qualify as clever. Johnson gets to briefly find himself in a jungle setting in the third act and I believe that’s contractually obligated nowadays. Gadot’s comedic skills were effective in Wonder Woman… at least the first one. They’re strained and forced here.

A decent caper needs a worthwhile twist or two. If you pay even a little attention to the characters actions, you’ll spot them coming way before their reveals. For having a reported $200 million up on the screen (the small one since Netflix bought it), there’s not one action sequence worthy of note or hilariously inspired bit to break the monotony. Red Notice hops all over the globe with its megastars and goes nowhere fast. The true robbery is two hours of watching them coast.

*1/2 (out of four)

September 3-6 Box Office Predictions

The Labor Day weekend brings us the 25th MCU entry with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It should have no trouble dominating the charts over the holiday, but it could also hit the lowest mark (or close to it) as far as openings go for the vaunted franchise. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Box Office Prediction

Every single Marvel entry has debuted in first place and this will certainly be no different. The Incredible Hulk holds the distinction of smallest start with $55 million. With the extra Monday factored in, my high 50s projection gets Rings just past it. My estimate would also give it the lowest traditional Friday to Sunday beginning.

Could my take be underestimating its potential? Absolutely. Reviews are solid and word-of-mouth should be strong. However, it may have a slight disadvantage due to unfamiliarity of its characters. We are in strange territory for Disney’s most valuable series. Labor Day is usually a time when studios do not release would-be blockbusters. Prior to this, the highest earner premiering picture over the weekend was 2007’s Halloween at $30 million. I wrote all about that here:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Labor Day Box Office

One thing that is rather consistent over Labor Day is that the summer holdovers tend to hold steady. In fact, many increase their haul from the previous late August frame. I expect this to hold true for the family fare – Free Guy, PAW Patrol: The Movie, and Jungle Cruise. 

Candyman had a sweet opening (more on that below) and I don’t anticipate it losing 50% of its audience or more like most horror titles do. That is primarily due to the holiday. It could fall to the low teens. If so, it could find itself in a battle for #2 with Free Guy and Ryan Reynolds may have the slight edge. The four spot could be close between Patrol and Cruise. 

With all that, here’s how I have the Friday to Monday Labor Day box office shaking out:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $58.9 million

2. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $14.2 million

3. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

5. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $6.7 million

Box Office Results (August 27-29)

Moviegoers were ready to call out the name Candyman again as the sequel/reboot opened at the most generous end of prognoses at $22 million. That bests my $17.3 million forecast. Nearly hitting its $25 million budget out of the gate, Universal has something to buzz about today. It also made history as Nia DaCosta is the first black woman to direct a #1 debuting feature.

Free Guy was runner-up after two weeks on top with $13.1 million, right on pace with my $13 million prediction. The total is $78 million as it zooms toward the century mark.

PAW Patrol: The Movie was third with $6.6 million (I said $6.1 million) for a decent two-week tally of $24 million.

Jungle Cruise took fourth with $5 million compared to my $4.6 million take. The Disney adventure is perched at $100 million and it’s no accident that the studio announced its sequel today.

Don’t Breathe 2 rounded out the top five with $2.8 million, on target with my $2.7 million projection. The horror sequel has made $24 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

August 27-29 Box Office Predictions

The month of August closes with the return of a familiar name in horror… just don’t say it five times. Nearly three decades after the original buzzed into theaters, the sequel/reboot Candyman is the sole new release this weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Candyman Box Office Prediction

I’m going with a mid to high teens estimate with the caveat that this genre can over perform. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this fly a bit higher, but I’ll stick with my guns for now. That should be enough for a #1 start. If it doesn’t meet expectations, that could allow Free Guy to spend a third frame atop the charts after its remarkable hold this past weekend (more on that below).

With no new product, holdovers should all slide a spot. That means the top five should be bookended by fright fests with family fare in the middle. Here’s how I think it will look:

1. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $17.3 million

2. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $13 million

3. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million

5. Don’t Breathe 2

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (August 20-22)

PAW Patrol: The Movie managed to bring the kiddos out and slightly outdid most forecasts. The new films catering to adults were all dogs.

Yet the headline of the weekend belonged to Free Guy as it remained in first with $18.5 million. That’s considerably better than my $13.9 million prediction. The Ryan Reynolds sci-fi comedy displayed the best sophomore hold we’ve seen all summer with just a 35% drop. We have become accustomed to seeing most titles plummet 50% or far more. That brings Guy‘s take to an impressive $58 million and its inclusion in the $100 million club seems assured. I wrote more about its earnings over the weekend here:

Free Guy Makes Them Pay

Paw Patrol: The Movie easily took second position with $13.1 million. The big screen rendering of the Nickelodeon show surpassed my $10.8 million projection.

Jungle Cruise was third with $6.3 million (I said $5.9 million). With $92 million overall, it’ll hit nine digits in short order.

The rest of the top five were returnees that I didn’t have slated to be there. Don’t Breathe 2 was fourth with $5 million. The fall of just over 50% in its second weekend is quite good for a horror flick and it’s made $19 million. Respect rounded out the top five with $3.7 million for a tally of $15 million.

And now for the trio of debuts that largely went unnoticed. The Protege was seventh with $2.9 million. I went with $4.7 million. In 8th place was The Night House with $2.8 million. I was a tad more generous at $3.1 million. And most embarrassingly, Hugh Jackman’s Reminiscence was the huge dud (considering its budget) as it placed 9th at $1.9 million. I said $6.8 million. Clearly audiences weren’t buying what was being sold with all three of these offerings.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Free Guy Makes Them Pay

As uncertainty regarding the box office continues amidst COVID concerns, there has been one undeniable bright spot in the dog days of August. That would be Shawn Levy’s Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds and its apparent second weekend grosses only puts an exclamation on the point.

The sci-fi family comedy surprised the film community originally with better than expected reviews (82% on Rotten Tomatoes). It continued to do so when it exceeded projections with a robust $28 million debut. Most forecasts ranged from the high teens to low 20s (my own was $21 million).

Yet perhaps the most encouraging sign are reports of its sophomore frame grosses. Free Guy will easily remain #1 with a projected drop around 40%. That should put it at approximately $17 million with an overall domestic take in the mid to upper 50s. With sturdy word-of-mouth, the Fox property seems destined to cross the $100 million mark stateside. The studio is already lining up a sequel. For context, that should be stronger than the second weekend for Jungle Cruise (which opened larger… more on that below).

Why is this somewhat unanticipated? To put it simply, Free Guy is performing in frame #2 much the same way it would without a pandemic. The few blockbusters of the season have experienced huge falls in their second outings and Free Guy is bucking that trend. Black Widow tumbled 68%. The Suicide Squad crashed at 71%. Even the aforementioned Jungle Cruise took a 55% dip.

What do all three of those titles have in common? That trio was available simultaneously on Disney Plus (Widow, Cruise) or HBO Max (Squad). Free Guy can be streamed only in the theater. With its positive audience reaction (it has an A on Cinemascore), moviegoers are proving that a title can have staying power if it’s: 1) good and 2) just in theaters.

This is a rare piece of good news for multiplexes in an industry starving for it. There are three other offerings this weekend aimed toward adults: Reminiscence, The Protege, and The Night House. All are headed toward meager starts outside of the top five. The other newbie is PAW Patrol: The Movie and it looks to slightly exceed expectations with around $12-$13 million (it’s also streaming on Paramount+).

So will studios adjust to Free Guy‘s solid performance? It could be a mixed bag. First, they might have to feel they have a product as pleasing as what Mr. Levy and Mr. Reynolds have created. Just yesterday, Universal Pictures announced they are keeping their animated sequel The Addams Family 2 in theaters but also making it available via streaming on the same say. On the other hand, Disney is keeping the next MCU adventure Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings only in cineplexes for 45 days starting Labor Day weekend. That might be the biggest test we have seen thus far for the theater only experiment.

Is Free Guy an anomaly or proof that if you build it only in theaters… they will come? We may need some more samples before studios make more decisions that favor theater chains.

August 20-22 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (08/18): I am revising my PAW Patrol: The Movie estimate up from $7.9M to $10.8M.

The dog days of summer continues with four new offerings in the marketplace and they could all fall short of the second weekend of Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds. Speaking of dogs, we have PAW Patrol: The Movie as well as three more adult oriented offerings: Hugh Jackman’s sci-fi thriller Reminiscence, action flick The Protege with Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson and horror pic The Night House. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

The Protege Box Office Prediction

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

The Night House Box Office Prediction

I don’t have any of the features from the fresh quartet (not a sequel in the bunch!) topping $10 million. That means Free Guy, after a better than anticipated bow, should manage to remain #1 in its sophomore outing. I’m assuming it will dip in the low to mid 50s like Jungle Cruise did a couple of weeks back.

As for those newcomers, the one I’m most conflicted about is PAW Patrol: The Movie. It certainly has a built-in fan base of youngsters who may drag their parents to see it. Rather unexpectedly, it’s generating quite decent reviews. However, my hunch is that some families may wait for it to be on the small screen and I’m projecting third place.

That’s behind Reminiscence which could approach double digits. Jackman’s latest is also available on HBO Max. It will be competing for eyeballs with The Protege, which I have pegged for mid single digits (if anything, I think it could go lower). In fact, it could be in a battle for fifth with Jungle Cruise in its fourth weekend.

The Night House comes at the tale end of a season packed with horror titles and I believe it’s bound to get lost in the shuffle. My meager $3.1 million estimate leaves it well outside the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

2. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million

3. Reminiscence

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. The Protege

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million

Box Office Results (August 13-15)

Friday the 13th wasn’t so unlucky for Ryan Reynolds and Free Guy. The Fox (and therefore Disney) property opened on the higher end of forecasts with $28.3 million, topping my $21.3 million estimate. With an A Cinemascore grade, audiences liked what they saw and it sounds as if a sequel will happen. The near $30 million start might have been called slightly disappointing in different times. All things considered, it’s rather strong.

Horror sequel (I’ve been saying that a lot lately) Don’t Breathe 2 debuted with $10.6 million, just under my $11.2 million take. That’s miles away from the $26 million that the 2016 predecessor took in, but generally in line with most predictions. At a cost of just $15 million, it should turn a nice profit for Sony Pictures.

Jungle Cruise was third in its third weekend with $9.1 million – right on pace with my $8.9 million estimate. The Disney adventure is at $82 million with $100 million in its sights.

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect with Jennifer Hudson also hit its anticipated mark in fourth with $8.8 million. That’s a tad ahead of my $8.5 million call. Reviews were only so-so though its lead could be on her way to a Best Actress nomination.

And, finally, the bad news for The Suicide Squad continued. Following a disastrous opening, the reboot/sequel plunged an equally disturbing 71% to fifth with $7.4 million. I was more optimistic at $10.1 million. The ten-day tally is a lowly $42 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

August 13-15 Box Office Predictions

After a weekend where The Suicide Squad majorly performed under expectations, there are three titles opening Friday and the studios are hoping this isn’t a trend. Ryan Reynolds stars in the video game inspired sci-fi comedy Free Guy and it should manage to top the charts. We also have horror sequel Don’t Breathe 2 and the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect with Jennifer Hudson. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the trio here:

Free Guy Box Office Prediction

Don’t Breathe 2 Box Office Prediction

Respect Box Office Prediction

With Free Guy pegged in the low to mid 20s, there shouldn’t be much question that it kicks off in first. I have Breathe achieving less than half of what its 2016 predecessor accomplished and that should be good enough for second place.

The real battle could be for third. As mentioned, The Suicide Squad was a dud (more on that below). I’m assuming it drops about 60% which puts it just over $10 million. The third weekend of Jungle Cruise and premiere of Respect could be right behind that, but it could be close.

Here’s how I foresee the top five shaking out:

1. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $21.3 million

2. Don’t Breathe 2

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million

3. The Suicide Squad

Predicted Gross: $10.1 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million

5. Respect

Predicted Gross: $8.5 million

Box Office Results (August 6-8)

The underperformance of The Suicide Squad generated plenty of attention this weekend. The reboot of the DCEU franchise earned just $26.2 million and that’s well below my projection of $40.8 million. I could go on, but I already did a separate blog post on it. You can find it here:

Squad Goals Thwarted

Disney’s Jungle Cruise didn’t fall quite as much as other pics in their sophomore frames in recent weeks. The Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt family adventure made $15.8 million (in line with my $15.5 million prediction) for a $65 million ten day take.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Old was third with $4.1 million in its third frame -a bit more than my $3.5 million projection for $38 million total.

Black Widow was fourth with $3.9 million (I said $3.7 million) as it stands at a COVID era best $174 million.

Stillwater rounded out the top five in its second outing with $2.8 million. I incorrectly had it outside the high five. It’s at a mere $9 million.

Finally, The Green Knight was sixth with $2.5 million (I went with $2.7 million) for $12 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Oscar Watch: Free Guy

Three years ago, the video game extravaganza Ready Player One from Steven Spielberg was enough of an eyeball feast to earn a Visual Effects nod at the Oscars. Could the same logic apply to Free Guy, out next week?

Shawn Levy’s sci-fi action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds had its review embargo lifted today. Early word indicates a lightweight but highly entertaining and heartwarming experience. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at a better than anticipated 85%.

Yet its visual effects may well be too lightweight compared to heavy hitters coming this fall including Dune, The Matrix 4, Nightmare Alley, Eternals, and more. The VE category does sometimes produce surprises and Free Guy could make the shortlist and then who knows? I wouldn’t expect it to play though. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…