The ensemble drama LifeItself opens next weekend and it likely faces an uphill battle for eyeballs. Dan Fogelman, best known as creator of NBC’s hit series “This Is Us”, directs. The cast includes Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Life premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last week to poor reviews and word of mouth. It stands at just 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and the marketing campaign has been lackluster.
Add all that up and this is looking like a major flop that could struggle to hit $5 million.
LifeItself opening weekend prediction: $3.8 million
For my TheHousewithaClockinItsWalls prediction, click here:
This should come as no surprise, but reviews out today for Incredibles 2 (out Friday) are pretty encouraging. The sequel from Pixar/Disney arrives 14 years after the original, which stands as one of the vaunted studio’s high marks. The current Rotten Tomatoes score for part 2 stands at 97%.
As I would with any Pixar offering, we turn to its Oscar viability and that takes us on a trip down memory lane. The Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards has been around since 2001. That means the first three Pixar tales (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2) existed in a time when the category did not. I would say all three would have been nominated had the race been around (and the Toy stories likely both would have been victorious).
Since 2001, Pixar pics have won 9 times and they are as follows:
2003: Finding Nemo
2004: The Incredibles
2010: Toy Story 3
2015: Inside Out
There have been two occasions where a Pixar movie was nominated and lost. In 2001, Monsters Inc. couldn’t get over Shrek. In 2006, Happy Feet took the prize over Cars.
Five Pixar features have failed to garner a nomination. Four were sequels. The only outlier is 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. The others:
2011: Cars 2
2013: Monsters University
2016: Finding Dory
2017: Cars 3
Which brings us back to Incredibles 2. So where does this stand? Note that this sequel is the only one to a predecessor that won before. And seeing that early reviews are overwhelmingly glowing (even though some say it doesn’t match #1), I’ll predict this Pixar sequels makes the final five come next year. The director, Brad Bird, is also responsible for two of the Pixar statues (The Incredibles and Ratatouille). There will certainly be competition (Isle of Dogs was already released and seems assured a spot) and its possibility to win is still a giant question mark. Yet these superheroes seem primed for a return engagement down the red carpet.
Disney/Pixar is back on the summer scene as Incredibles 2 blasts into theaters next weekend. The superhero comedy sequel is the follow-up to the studio’s sixth blockbuster that opened in November 2004. Fourteen years later, this is Pixar’s 20th assured mega grosser. Brad Bird, who made the original, is back in the director’s seat after shepherding live-action pics Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland. Returning voices from the original cast include Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, and John Ratzenberger. Fresh voices for part 2 include Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Isabella Rossellini, and Sophia Bush.
The question mark here is not whether Incredibles 2 is another huge hit for Pixar (it will be). Rather, the question is whether it sets the all-time opening record for the Mouse Factory’s multi-billion dollar subsidiary. In order to do so, it would need to surpass the current one held by 2016’s Finding Dory. That sequel earned $135 million in the same weekend two summers ago.
For some context, the predecessor to Dory (2003’s Finding Nemo) made $70 million out of the gate with an eventual gross of $339 million. As for the first Incredibles? It did exactly the same in its first weekend ($70 million) and went on to earn $261 million domestically. Of course, most Pixar titles take on long shelf lives and introduce themselves to a new generation of youngsters. The Incredibles is no exception and stands as one of the most appreciated studio offerings.
I see no reason why Incredibles 2 wouldn’t perform very similarly to Dory. That said, I’m reluctant to project that it will get to $150 million plus or anything in that stratosphere. I’ll say this just manages to achieve a personal Pixar high. In doing so, just as Nemo and Incredibles got to the same number in weekend 1, so essentially will the sequels.
Incredibles 2 opening weekend prediction: $138.1 million
Mid August at the box office comes with some star power as two new pictures open competing for the same audience: Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson action comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Steven Soderbergh’s heist action comedy Logan Lucky with Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:
The newbies could find themselves in a battle for the #1 spot. Lucky is winning on the reviews side with a terrific 96% on Rotten Tomatoes while Bodyguard stands at 55%. However, my inkling is that Mr. Reynolds will edge out Mr. Tatum with a gross in the mid to higher teens with Lucky in the lower teens.
There’s also the matter of Annabelle: Creation, which got off to a strong start this past weekend (more on that below). If Bodyguard and Lucky both underwhelm, the demonic doll has a slight chance to repeat at #1. However, the horror prequel is likely to suffer a drop in the mid to high 50s. If it all pans out as I see it, we will have our fourth weekend of 2017 where no movie manages to top $20 million.
The rest of the top five should be filled out by holdovers Dunkirk and The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature in its second frame after a weak start.
Lastly, the Taylor Sheridan directed thriller Wind River with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen is slated to expand to approximately 600-700 screens. It’s been performing well with critics and in limited release. If that screen count holds true, I’d peg it at $3.1 million this weekend.
And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend:
1. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Predicted Gross: $16.7 million
2. Annabelle: Creation
Predicted Gross: $14.6 million (representing a drop of 58%)
3. Logan Lucky
Predicted Gross: $10.5 million
Predicted Gross: $7 million (representing a drop of 36%)
5. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Predicted Gross: $4.5 million (representing a drop of 46%)
Box Office Results (August 11-13)
Annabelle: Creation scared up some solid business taking in $35 million (beating my $31.4M forecast) to easily place #1. The horror prequel fell just shy of the $37.1 million accomplished by its 2014 predecessor and keeps the Conjuring universe chugging right along.
Dunkirk remained in second with $10.8 million (I was a touch higher at $11.7M). It’s made $153M thus far.
Family audiences largely rejected The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which debuted in third to just $8.3 million (under my $12.2M prediction). The sequel made less than half of the $19 million achieved out of the gate by the 2014 original. Opening on over 4000 screens, it had a per screen average of just over $2,000. On the bright side, parents who did take their kids to see it probably had plenty of room to roam about the theater. Ouch.
The Dark Tower went from first to fourth with $7.8 million (I said $7.6M). bringing its lackluster two-week tally to only $34M.
Girls Trip placed fifth with $6.4 million (I projected $7.2M) as it stands at $97M and should cross the century mark this week.
The Emoji Movie was #6, also with $6.4 million (I said $6M) for a $63M total.
Finally, Brie Larson drama The Glass Castle had a respectable debut in ninth with $4.6 million (I was close at $4.2M). On a relatively small 1400+ screens, it actually achieved the second highest per screen average of the top ten.
Blogger’s Note (08/17): I am revising my Logan Lucky prediction down to $10.5 million on the eve of its debut.
The eclectic Steven Soderbergh is back in theaters with heist comedy Logan Lucky, debuting next weekend. It marks the director’s first theatrical release in four and a half years since Side Effects and first picture altogether since 2013’s Behind the Candelabra which premiered on HBO.
Lucky is headlined by many familiar faces, including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig (getting raves for the role), Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, and Sebastian Stan. Reviews have been quite pleasing and it stands at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes, being frequently compared to the Ocean‘s trilogy that Soderbergh made.
Even with the solid reviews and a NASCAR tie-in (the film’s heist takes place at a race), there could be some issues with this completely breaking out. There is direct competition in the form of The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and it’s more likely to debut a bit higher. The mid August release date is also not one that lends itself well to openings above $20 million.
I’ll predict Lucky‘s number falls in the low to possibly mid teens, as it will hope to leg out well in future weekends (and may well do so).
Logan Lucky opening weekend prediction: $10.5 million
For my The Hitman’s Bodyguard prediction, click here:
Deadpool may never appear in an Avengers film, but he costars with Nick Fury next weekend when TheHitman’sBodyguard opens. The action comedy brings together Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and looks to target the #1 spot over a rival competing for a similar audience. Patrick Hughes directs with Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek in the supporting cast.
It’s been a year and a half since the star power of Mr. Reynolds went way up with the aforementioned Deadpool. Since then, he’s appeared in supporting roles in Criminal and Life (both box office disappointments). Bodyguard, however, is his first headlining role since his winter 2016 blockbuster.
The pic could somewhat benefit from the dog days of August release and scarce competition – with one notable exception. Another action comedy with some big names – Steven Soderbergh’s LoganLucky with Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig – debuts against it and it’s getting solid reviews. Lucky could charm some viewers away, but the net result could be slightly lower numbers for both because they’re directly competing against each other.
I’ll say Bodyguard manages to come out on top with a debut in the mid to high teens, which should be good for the top spot.
TheHitman’sBodyguard opening weekend prediction: $16.7 million
Some stuff is considerably bigger and louder in the newest iteration of the 84 year-old franchise featuring cinema’s most famous plus sized ape. The sound effects are turned up to a higher volume. Since it’s set in the mid 70s, the fashion is louder. The cast of characters we have to keep track of is more populous and filled with familiar faces. And King Kong, himself, is quite bigger. He’s the size of a building this time around. What’s not larger is the running time and that’s a good thing. It was something that hindered Peter Jackson’s lovingly constructed remake of the 1933 classic in 2005. That version ran three hours plus, which was about an hour too long. Kong: Skull Island gets the running time right (two hours) and it gets other things right, too.
I liked the fact that our title character is truly monstrous in size this time around. I enjoyed that it’s set in the Watergate era right as the Vietnam War is winding down. I appreciated the sense of humor and B movie escapism that this Kong often gleefully exudes. Yet when the credits rolled, I couldn’t shake a feeling that the idea of Kong: Skull Island was cooler than the overall execution.
The pic opens with a prologue during World War II where an American and Japanese fighter pilot crash-land on a deserted island. Confronting one another, they mistakenly believe they must only fight each other for survival. Turns out there’s another inhabitant hanging around and he’s about the size of a building.
Flash forward to 1973. John Goodman is Bill Randa, who works for a government agency called Monarch. He’s seen as a crackpot with wild conspiracy theories and one of them involves Skull Island, a remote South Pacific island. Bill convinces his higher-ups to fund a mission to the location and he takes along a whole crew of military guys. They include Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), who’s looking for any action as the Vietnam War is closing out. There’s also British Captain Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who’s charged with navigating through this unknown jungle terrain. Brie Larson is Mason, an anti-war photojournalist fresh from the war and she’s there to document Skull Island. I could continue listing the supporting players. There are lots of them and few of them are very interesting. This is not a screenplay where the human beings are given preferential treatment.
When the team reaches their destination, they discover they are not alone. Kong is there, of course, but so are the island’s natives and that American WWII fighter pilot who is now John C. Reilly with a beard that rivals what David Letterman looks like now. There’s other creatures, too. “Skullcrawlers”, as Reilly coined them because it sounded cool, are reptile like menaces that are the real villains around these parts. That doesn’t matter to Colonel Packard, however, as he’s determined to wipe out Kong for protecting his territory and destroying some of the Colonel’s men along the way.
While 2005’s overstuffed King Kong attempted to be a five-course meal in the giant ape’s filmography, Skull Island is junk food. It mostly knows it is. Many of the actors involved (some fun overacting by Reilly and Jackson) know it is. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts allows moments where the kitschy 70s vibe provides some smiles (watch that Richard Nixon bobblehead shaking during some helicopter escapades). The special effects are, as expected, state of the art. Having said that, I didn’t really feel the Kong we see here is much more impressive than the 2005 version, even though he’s much more ginormous.
The film may have been more effective had it not introduced so many humans and their threadbare subplots and focused instead on – say – three or four of them. Better yet, the focus could have been on the mutated animals and their battle royales. After all, the point of this picture is to eventually produce a King Kong vs. Godzilla extravaganza. In that sense, the 2014 Godzilla reboot directed by Gareth Edwards was a more satisfying appetizer while Kong is a bit less filling.
The most famous ape in movie history in back on screen for the first time in over a decade when Kong: SkullIsland debuts next weekend. With a reported $190 million budget, Warner Bros. is hoping to keep their monster franchise reaping big grosses as they move toward a planned Godzilla/Kong pic.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts directs and he’s certainly an interesting choice as his only feature was the low-budget indie TheKingsofSummer in 2013. The director may not be high-profile, but the cast is. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell headline. Even with those recognizable names, the real star is that giant CG creature that first graced the screen almost 85 years ago.
Kong is not expected to match the earnings of the Godzilla reboot three years ago. It had a plum summer release date and made over $90 million out of the gate. Competition from the second weekend of the acclaimed Logan could also hinder this a bit.
I expect this will hover right above or below $50 million and word of mouth will determine how it goes from there.
Kong: SkullIsland opening weekend prediction: $48.6 million
Lest ye forget, the Fast and Furious series isn’t the only franchise that Vin Diesel has been a part of and I’m not talking about Riddick or Guardians of the Galaxy. Next weekend, Mr. Diesel returns in the title role of xXx: Return of Xander Cage.
In 2002, the star (hot off the first Fast feature) headlined summer action blockbuster xXx, which opened to $44 million with an eventual $142M domestic haul. Yet, just like the first Furious sequel, he decided to sit out the follow-up, xXx: State of the Union which featured Ice Cube instead. That one didn’t fare so well with just a $12 million debut and $26M overall gross.
Cage finds D.J. Caruso taking over the directorial duties with a supporting cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Deepika Padukone, Nina Dobrev, and Tony Jaa. The question is: will moviegoers return to the super spy action series nearly 15 years after the original?
The answer: to an extent. Diesel has obviously gotten max exposure in recent years with the well-received Furious extravaganzas. There is the cautionary tale of 2015’s The Last Witch Hunter, which he hoped would turn into a franchise but sputtered with just $27 million domestically. xXx may earn that and then some in its first weekend of release. I’ve got it pegged in the mid to high 20s and even though that’s not reaching what the first Cage opus made a decade and a half ago, it’s OK.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage opening weekend prediction: $25.4 million
Over the years, Ryan Reynolds has seen his share of hits in multiples genres from rom coms (The Proposal) to action flicks (Safe House). He’s also earned the kudos of critics for appearing in acclaimed indie product such as Woman in Gold, Buried, and Definitely, Maybe.
Reynolds has also had his share of flops, from R.I.P.D. to Self/less to name some recent ones. And while they weren’t necessarily big financial disappointments, he also had the distinction of appearing in two comic book adaptations that aren’t well-regarded: 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern. It was in Wolverine where he costarred with Hugh Jackman as Wade Wilson, better known as raunchy superhero Deadpool. Again, this wasn’t met with much approval from comic book lovers.
For years, Reynolds fought hard to make a version of Deadpool the way he wanted to and finally got his wish in 2016. The result? Well, the aftermath easily earns him a place among performers who had a sterling year. Deadpool opened in February to an astonishing $132 million and an eventual $363 million domestic haul. The pic is easily the actor’s largest grosser ever. It had the largest opening ever for an R rated feature and is second all-time for pictures with that rating (just behind The Passion of the Christ). Additionally, it is 2016’s current #5 earner. And he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his work.
So… yeah, the gamble paid off for Reynolds in a way that was unimaginable just a year ago. Naturally, we will see a sequel in 2018 yet Mr. Reynolds will have a busy 2017 as well. In March, he costars with Jake Gyllenhaal in the outer space thriller Life and in August he headlines action comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman.
For 2016, the massive Deadpool juggernaut gave Reynolds his likely signature role and a different kind of superhero tale that was tremendous fun.