September 23-25 Box Office Predictions

Olivia Wilde’s psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling with Florence Pugh and Harry Styles will test the “all publicity is good publicity” theory when it opens this weekend. We also have the re-release of James Cameron’s 2009 phenomenon Avatar ahead of the December debut of sequel Avatar: The Way of Water. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both here:

Don’t Worry Darling Box Office Prediction

Avatar Box Office Prediction

Darling, with my projected high teens start, should manage a first place showing. Yet it may need to worry a little about the sophomore hold of The Woman King (more on its opening below). I still think the former should edge the latter fairly easily.

Avatar is a little tricky to project (the reported 1800 screen count is lower than I would’ve thought). $10 million could be a reach and my estimate is in higher single digits. Either way, it’s looking at 3rd place.

As for the rest of the top 5, it should be filled with horror holdovers Barbarian and Pearl. 

Here’s how I see it:

1. Don’t Worry Darling

Predicted Gross: $18.9 million

2. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $12.4 million

3. Avatar

Predicted Gross: $8.5 million

4. Barbarian

Predicted Gross: $4.9 million

5. Pearl

Predicted Gross: $1.9 million

Box Office Results (September 16-18)

Viola Davis and company were crowned box office champions as The Woman King made $19 million. That’s better than my $14.7 million prediction as the historical action tale opened on the north end of its anticipated range. There’s better news still as it’s only the second 2022 release to nab an A+ Cinemascore grade (the other is Top Gun: Maverick). That should mean minimal drops in coming weekends and I only have it falling about 15% in weekend #2.

Barbarian held up well in its follow-up frame (especially for a horror pic) with $6.5 million (I was lower at $5 million). The critically heralded scary movie has made $21 million in ten days.

The fright fest competition may have hurt Pearl, which opened in third with $3.1 million (in line with my $3.4 million take). That’s more than a million under what its spring predecessor did out of the gate.

Audiences weren’t into solving the mystery of See How They Run as the Saoirse Ronan/Sam Rockwell caper posted a fourth place debut with $3 million (I was close with $3.2 million).

Finally, Bullet Train rounded out the top five with $2.5 million. This is on track with my $2.3 million estimate and the total is $96 million.

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

September 16-18 Box Office Predictions

**Blogger’s Update (09/14): Two changes to discuss as I’ve revised my See How They Run estimate down from $4.8M to $3.2M and my Pearl estimate up from $2.4M to $3.4M. That changes the dynamic of the top five from what I discussed below.

The Viola Davis led historical action epic The Woman King, Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell in the comedic murder mystery See How They Run, and Ti West’s horror prequel Pearl are the new offerings coming our way this weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

The Woman King Box Office Prediction

See How They Run Box Office Prediction

Pearl Box Office Prediction

The Woman King should have no trouble debuting in first place as it’s the only pic that should top double digits. Reviews are solid and this could manage a gross close to $20 million, but I’m hedging and projecting a low teens start.

I’m not anticipating much of the other newcomers. Run has been flying under the radar. Assuming Barbarian has a typically hefty horror sophomore dip (more on its opening below), the crime caper should still manage a second place showing thought it could be awfully close.

As for Pearl, its predecessor made $4.3 million in its March premiere. I’m thinking the prequel won’t match that. However, even if it snatches $2-3 million, that should be enough to make top five.

Here’s how I see this rather ho-hum mid-September frame playing out:

1. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $14.7 million

2. Barbarian

Predicted Gross: $5 million

3. Pearl

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

4. See How They Run

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million

5. Bullet Train

Predicted Gross: $2.3 million

Box Office Results (September 9-11)

Critics enjoyed Barbarian more than audiences though the scary movie landed on the higher end of its range. It opened in first with $10.5 million and that’s ahead of my $7.1 million prediction. The C+ Cinemascore grade doesn’t approach that 92% RT score. Note that its opening weekend matches it reported budget. This’ll be a profitable little venture for 20th Century Studios.

The Indian adventure Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva had a second place opening with $4.5 million, managing to top my $3.2 million estimate. I would expect the debut to be front loaded and for it to drop out of the top five this weekend.

Bullet Train was third with $3.3 million (I said $3.4 million) as it inches closer to nine figures with $92 million.

Top Gun: Maverick (after rising back to first place over Labor Day) was fourth with $3.1 million, under my $4.2 million take. The gargantuan gross is $705 million.

The Invitation rounded out the top five and I incorrectly didn’t have it there. With $2.6 million, it’s up to $18 million after three weeks.

DC League of Super-Pets was sixth with $2.6 million (I went with $3 million) to bring its tally to $85 million.

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

See How They Run Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Note (09/14): I am revising down estimate down from $4.8 million to $3.2 million.

Shades of Agatha Christie are said to inspire See How They Run, a whodunit slated to hit approximately 2200 venues on September 16th. Marking the directorial debut of Tom George, the cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, and David Oyelowo.

The Searchlight production has generated mostly positive reactions thus far (it opens in UK cinemas a week prior to the North American start). The Rotten Tomatoes score is 75%. Run‘s existence is likely due to the success of recent genre fare like Murder on the Orient Express and especially Knives Out. 

Without significant star power and with buzz muted, I do believe this could struggle to find an audience. Murder mystery aficionados may wait to get their fix with the forthcoming Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. An opening in double digits would be surprising. I think the range is more $4-6 million and my estimate  is at the middle of it.

See How They Run opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

For my The Woman King prediction, click here:

The Woman King Box Office Prediction

For my Pearl prediction, click here:

Pearl Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: See How They Run

With plenty of critics citing inspiration from Agatha Christie, the humorous murder mystery See How They Run arrives in UK theaters Friday and in the US on September 16th. Marking the directorial debut of Tom George, four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan and one-time winner Sam Rockwell lead a cast that includes Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, and David Oyelowo.

Run forewent the fall festival circuit which surprised me a bit. Some reviews are appreciative of its charms while others aren’t nearly as impressed. The 76% Rotten Tomatoes indicates that most write-ups don’t have their knives out for it.

Speaking of, we’ll know whether Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is an awards player when it premieres in Toronto this weekend. I don’t believe this genre predecessor will be. Perhaps something like Production Design or Costume Design but that’s likely the extent of it. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Banshees of Inisherin

Officially, The Banshees of Inisherin is Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Five years ago, that pic nabbed 6 Oscar nods including Picture and the playwright/filmmaker’s original screenplay while winning acting trophies for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Yet Banshees, thematically and personnel wise, may feel more like a follow-up to 2008’s In Bruges. That pitch black comedy earned critical raves and a Golden Globe for Colin Farrell in the Musical/Comedy Best Actor race. Mr. Farrell reunites with Brudges costar Brendan Gleeson in this 1920s set tale of Irish feuding friends. Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon are among the supporting cast.

Early reviews are quite encouraging with some critics already claiming it’s McDonagh’s finest work to date. If that narrative holds, Banshees could be a bigger Oscar player than I had been assuming. It could even be Fox Searchlight’s strongest contender over Empire of Light, which has its ardent admirers but also drew some mixed Venice reaction. I certainly believe Farrell and Gleeson could be in line for their first nominations (I would think in Actor and Supporting Actor respectively). Condon is generating solid ink and could factor into Supporting Actress (though that category is looking increasingly stuffed). Original Screenplay seems a given while the Carter Burwell score could also make the cut.

If much of the above pans out, we could have another legit BP hopeful in Banshees. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2022 Venice Film Festival Preview

How important is the Venice Film Festival when it comes to premiering Oscar hopefuls? In the past decade, nearly half of the Best Picture winners got their rollout in Italy. That would be Birdman, Spotlight, The Shape of Water, and Nomadland. It’s tough to find a recent Venice fest where there’s not at least 2 eventual nominees for the Academy’s biggest race.

This year’s competition kicks off tomorrow and you can anticipate plenty of individualized Oscar prediction posts coming your way. Telluride follows this weekend (with the lineup announcement on Thursday) and Toronto starts next Thursday (I’ll be there!).

Let’s take a look at ten Venice entries looking to create their Oscar buzz over the next few days…

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed 

Laura Poitras, who won an Academy Award for her 2014 Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, turns her eye to activist Nan Goldin and her fight against the opioid epidemic. This could certainly be a player in the Doc competition.

The Banshees of Inisherin 

The last time filmmaker Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell, and Brendan Gleeson collaborated, the result was the acclaimed 2008 black comedy In Bruges. They’re playing in the same genre here with McDonagh’s follow-up to 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which earned acting Oscars for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.

Bardo

3 out of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s last four films were nominated for Best Picture. Birdman took gold with Babel and The Revenant contending. Expectations are that his latest drama (available on Netflix in December) could be the streamer’s most serious contender and it could immediately become a frontrunner for International Feature Film.

Blonde

Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Ana de Armas (another Netflix offering) comes with an NC-17 rating and lots of prognosticators wondering if it’s too risqué to get awards attention. We’ll know soon.

Bones & All

Luca Guadagnino had a pic in the BP derby five years ago with Call Me by Your Name and then followed with the confounding Suspiria remake. This horror romance with cannibalistic themes stars Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell. I have’t really had this as much of a threat for the Oscar race so let’s see if that narrative shifts.

Don’t Worry Darling

Olivia Wilde’s follow-up to Booksmart is a tale of marital and suburban strife headlined by Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. The thriller  has been generating headlines for some wrong reasons lately, but great reviews could turn that buzz around.

The Son

Florian Zeller took home a Screenplay Oscar for 2020’s The Father while Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor. The Father is next and Hugh Jackman is seeking his first statue. The supporting cast includes Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, and Hopkins. Any and all could be in the mix for acting honors.

Tar

Cate Blanchett could be lined up for a third Oscar win in Todd Field’s latest in which the acclaimed actress plays a composer. It’s the director’s first feature in over 15 years after both In the Bedroom and Little Children received Academy nods.

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Natalie Portman to the podium in 2010’s Black Swan. There’s chatter he could do the same and assist in mounting a significant career comeback for Brendan Fraser (something he did for Mickey Rourke with 2008’s The Wrestler). The Mummy star plays a 600 pound man reconnecting with his daughter (Sadie Sink).

White Noise

Noah Baumbach’s last Netflix film was the BP contending Marriage Story from 2019. His Marriage star Adam Driver is back in this adaptation of a 1980s sci-fi dark comedy. It will open Venice tomorrow and it will be my first Oscar Predictions post. Stay tuned!

Oscar Predictions: The Bad Guys

We’re not yet a third of the way into 2022 and it’s at least feasible that three of the five eventual Best Animated Feature nominees will have been released. DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys opens this Friday and with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score, it shouldn’t be counted out for inclusion.

It joins the already out Turning Red (Disney) and Apollo 10 1/2 (Netflix) as viable contenders for the prize. None are shoo-in nominees, but all three had their chances assisted today with the announcement that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been pushed to 2023.

Bottom line: there’s two-thirds of the year left for other hopefuls to emerge, but The Bad Guys has a fighting shot to make the cut. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…

The Bad Guys Box Office Prediction

Having already premiered to decent grosses overseas, DreamWorks Animation is hoping for good returns for The Bad Guys when it debuts domestically on April 22nd. From first-time director Pierre Perifel, the crime comedy features the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos, Craig Robinson, Awkwafina, Richard Ayoade, and Zazie Beetz.

Based on a series of children’s graphic novels, Guys arrives during an April with other high-profile family offerings. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 will be in its third weekend with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in its sophomore frame.

That should dilute the money that this brings in. Impressive reviews (94% currently on Rotten Tomatoes), however, could help this open or perhaps exceed its expected $10-15 million range. I’ll give it the slight benefit of the doubt.

The Bad Guys opening weekend prediction: $16.7 million

For my The Northman prediction, click here:

The Northman Box Office Prediction

For my The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent prediction, click here:

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Box Office Prediction

22 for ’22: Oscars Early Look

It’s been an entire week since The Slap… check that, the 94th Academy Awards where CODA parlayed its Sundance buzz from January 2021 all the way to a Best Picture victory.

That also means I’ve managed to wait a whole week without speculation for the next Academy Awards which will hopefully be a slap free zone. So what are some titles that could be vying for attention?

On May 27th and after numerous delays, Top Gun: Maverick will find Tom Cruise returning to his iconic role some 36 years after the original. There’s a decent chance it could be up for similar prizes that its predecessor landed like Sound, Film Editing, and Song (courtesy of Lady Gaga apparently). Visual Effects is a possibility as well.

My weekly Oscar prediction posts won’t begin until mid to late August. In the meantime, you’ll get individualized write-ups for pics that open or screen at festivals.

Yet for today – I feel the need. The need to identify 21 other 2022 titles that might end up on the Academy’s radar. Enjoy!

Armageddon Time

Despite acclaimed movies like The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra, James Gray has yet to connect with awards voters. This drama, rumored to be centered on his Queens upbringing, is the next hopeful and features a stellar cast including Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeremy Strong. Release Date: TBD

Avatar 2

The 2009 original amassed nine nominations and won took home three. The first sequel (there’s three more on the way) arrives in December from James Cameron. Will it capture the critical and box office magic of part one? That’s impossible to know at this juncture, but one can safely assume it’ll be up for some tech categories like Sound and Visual Effects. Release Date: December 16th

Babylon

Damien Chazelle is no stranger to the big dance. Whiplash was a BP nominee and J.K. Simmons won Supporting Actor. Chazelle took Director for his follow-up La La Land along with Emma Stone’s Actress victory and it almost famously took BP. First Man nabbed four nominations, but missed the top of the line races. Babylon is a period drama focused on Hollywood’s Golden Age and should be right up the Academy’s alley. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Tobey Maguire. Release Date: December 25th

Canterbury Glass

Robbie also turns up in David O. Russell’s latest ensemble piece. Anytime he’s behind the camera, Oscar nods typically follow (think The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). Slated for November, the dramedy also features Christian Bale, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, and… Chris Rock. Release Date: November 4th

Elvis

Arriving in June but with a Cannes unveiling in May, Baz Luhrmann’s musical bio of The King stars Austin Butler in the title role and Tom Hanks as The Colonel. If this doesn’t contend for the major awards, I would still anticipate potential tech recognition (Production Design, Sound, etc…). Release Date: June 24th

Empire of Light

Sam Mendes was likely in the runner-up position in 2019 for Picture and Director (behind Parasite) with 1917. His follow-up is an English set romance starring Olivia Colman (who would be going for her fourth nomination in five years), Michael Ward, and Colin Firth. Release Date: TBD

Everything Everywhere All at Once

From two filmmakers known collectively as Daniels, Once is already out in limited release with spectacular reviews (97% on RT). The sci-fi action comedy might be too bizarre for the Academy, but I wouldn’t count it out as its admirers are vocal. Picture, Director, Actress (Michelle Yeoh), and Original Screenplay are all on the table. Release Date: out in limited release, opens wide April 8th

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg directs a semi-autobiographical tale and cowrites with his Lincoln and West Side Story scribe Tony Kushner. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Paul Dano. Needless to say, this is a major contender on paper. Release Date: November 23rd

Killers of the Flower Moon

Alongside The Fabelmans, this might be the most obvious nominee from a personnel standpoint. Martin Scorsese helms this western crime drama featuring Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, and his two frequent collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Apple TV just became the first streamer to get a BP victory with CODA. This could be the second in a row. Release Date: November

Poor Things

In 2018, The Favourite scored a whopping ten nominations. Based on an acclaimed 1992 novel, Poor Things is Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up and it reunites him with Emma Stone along with Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, and Mark Ruffalo. The plot sounds bizarre but it could also be an Oscar bait role for Stone and others. Release Date: TBD

Rustin

One of Netflix’s contenders is George C. Wolfe’s profile of gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (played by Colman Domingo). In 2020, Wolfe directed Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman to nods for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Look for Domingo to be a competitor and the supporting cast includes Chris Rock (maybe he will be back at the show), Glynn Turman, and Audra McDonald. Release Date: TBD

See How They Run

The 1950s set murder mystery could provide 27-year-old Saoirse Ronan with an opportunity to land her fifth nomination. Sam Rockwell, David Oyelowo, Adrien Brody, and Ruth Wilson are among the supporting players. Tom George directs. Release Date: TBD

She Said

Five years after the scandal rocked Hollywood, She Said from Maria Schrader recounts the New York Times sexual misconduct investigation into Harvey Weinstein. Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, and Patricia Clarkson lead the cast. Release Date: November 18th

The Son

Florian Zeller won Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020 for The Father along with Anthony Hopkins taking Best Actor. This follow-up (based on the director’s play) finds Hopkins reprising his Oscar-winning part in supporting fashion. Other cast members seeking awards attention include Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby. Release Date: TBD

TAR

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Todd Field behind the camera. Previous efforts In the Bedroom and Little Children received 8 nominations between them. A decade and a half following Children comes this Berlin set drama with Cate Blanchett, Noemie Merlant, and Mark Strong. Release Date: October 7th

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Scheduled for a Cannes bow in May, Longing is a fantasy romance from the legendary mind of George Miller (who last made Mad Max: Fury Road which won six tech Oscars). Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton star. Release Date: TBD

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Mickey Rourke to a comeback narrative nod for 2008’s The Wrestler. Two years later, his follow-up Black Swan earned Natalie Portman a statue. Brendan Fraser is hoping for the same treatment with The Whale as he plays a 600 pound man attempting to reconnect with his daughter. Costars include Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, and Samantha Morton. I’d expect Makeup and Hairstyling could also be in play with this. Release Date: TBD

White Noise

Not a remake of the Michael Keaton supernatural thriller from 2005, this is Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to Marriage Story. Based on a 1985 novel, it’s the filmmaker’s first picture based on other source material. Marriage landed three acting nods (with Laura Dern winning Supporting Actress). The cast here includes frequent Baumbach collaborator Adam Driver, real-life partner Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Andre Benjamin, Alessandro Nivola, and Don Cheadle. This could be Netflix’s strongest contender. Release Date: TBD

The Woman King

Expect this West Afrian set historical epic from Gina Prince-Bythewood to be heavily touted by Sony with awards bait roles for leads Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu. The supporting cast includes John Boyega and Lashana Lynch. Release Date: September 16th

Women Talking

Based on a 2018 novel, Sarah Polley writes and directs this drama focused on eight Mennonite women and their story of abuse. The sterling cast includes Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Claire Foy, and Rooney Mara. Release Date: TBD

And that’s just a small preview of the features that could materialize for the 95th Academy Awards! As always, the speculation on this site will continue throughout the year and into the next. Stay tuned…

Oscars 2021: The Case of Jesse Plemons

My Case Of posts arrive at the third Supporting Actor contender and it’s Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog. The first two write-ups can be found here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Ciaran Hinds

Oscars 2021: The Case of Troy Kotsur

The Case for Jesse Plemons:

Having appeared in acclaimed TV and cinematic works including Breaking Bad and Fargo on the small screen and The Master, The Irishman, and Judas and the Black Messiah on the big one, Plemons scores his first Academy nod. Dog led all nominees with 13 and that includes Kirsten Dunst (the actor’s real life love interest).

The Case Against Jesse Plemons:

It also includes his costar Kodi Smit-McPhee, who’s nominated in the same category and won the Golden Globe. Despite a BAFTA mention, Plemons didn’t make the SAG, Globe, or Critics Choice shortlists. Smit-McPhee and Troy Kotsur (CODA) are looked at as the potential victors. Woody Harrelson in 2017 lost to his costar Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as did Lakeith Stranfield last year to Daniel Kaluuya for the aforementioned Judas. Plemons could play that role this time around.

Previous Nominations: 

None

The Verdict:

Plemons might be back again next year with Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Don’t look for an Oscar delivery here.

My Case Of posts will continue with Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s direction of Drive My Car