September 10-12 Box Office Predictions

In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas: I was way off! I’m speaking of the marvelous performance of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which smashed the Labor Day weekend all-time record. We’ll get to that in a second. The major release this weekend is James Wan’s latest horror offering Malignant. My detailed prediction post on it can be found here:

Malignant Box Office Prediction

There’s arguably been an over saturation in the market lately for scary pics. Malignant doesn’t seem to have much heat, but I have to give the reminder that this genre often over performs. I’ll still go with under $10 million and that would be good for second place.

Back to Shang-Chi. The acclaimed 25th MCU entry claimed the second highest COVID era debut (barely behind the other Marvel premiere from 2021 – Black Widow). Scarlett Johansson’s stand-alone title fell a steep 68% in its sophomore frame. I don’t foresee that occurring with Shang-Chi. With an A Cinemascore grade and it not being available on Disney Plus, a mid 50s dip seems more likely as it could foreseeably be #1 for the entire month of September.

Here’s how I see the top 5 shaking out:

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

Predicted Gross: $36.4 million

2. Malignant

Predicted Gross: $7.6 million

3. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million

4. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million

5. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

Box Office Results (September 3-6)

Mark it down as one of my incorrect forecasts ever. I thought the challenges facing Shang-Chi (COVID and the fact that big movies don’t really come out at this time of year) meant a $58.9 million four-day gross. Whoops. Try $94.6 million! Its $75 million traditional three-day take, as mentioned, is just after the $80 million that Widow made. Simply put, this is another testament that theatrical only can still be a moneymaking venture and that’s music to industry ears. To put it in perspective, the previous Labor Day record was 2007’s Halloween at $30 million. Rings tripled that and then some.

On the flip side, I was a little too generous to the holdovers. Candyman earned $12.5 million in its sophomore frame (a bit under my $13.4 million projection). The horror sequel/reboot, after its better than expected start, is up to $41 million.

Free Guy was third with $11.2 million (I said $14.2 million) and it’s made $94 million as it hurls towards the century mark.

PAW Patrol: The Movie sat in the four spot with $5.3 million compared to my $6.7 million prediction. Tally is $31 million.

Rounding out the top five was Jungle Cruise with $5.1 million. Once again, I went with more at $6.9 million. It has sailed off with $106 million.

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

August 6-8 Box Office Predictions

James Gunn’s version of The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max streaming this Friday and it’s got surprisingly terrific reviews as a bonus feature to bring viewers out. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

The Suicide Squad Box Office Prediction

The first Squad from 2016 (the one without the THE in front of the title) landed just a 26% Rotten Tomatoes score while THE reboot is perched at an unexpectedly lofty 96%. However, with the Delta variant in play and the availability to HBO subscribers, I have this Squad achieving a low to possibly mid 40s start.

Margot Robbie and her devious friends represent the only newcomer. Jungle Cruise opened a bit above most projections (including mine). The question is whether its Disney Plus simultaneous debut will cause it to drop precipitously like Black Widow and other recent titles. I suspect the sophomore frame dip may not be quite as severe and mid 50s is my forecast.

The holdover battle for the #3 spot could be close between M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, critical favorite The Green Knight, and Black Widow. I actually think Widow could rise from 4th to 3rd with the smallest drop (assuming Old falls about 50%). Knight, despite the laudatory reviews and a larger than expected debut, only nabbed a C+ Cinemascore grade and that could mean a 60% range dip is in the cards.

And with that, my top 5 take on the frame ahead:

1. The Suicide Squad

Predicted Gross: $40.8 million

2. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $15.5 million

3. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $3.7 million

4. Old

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million

5. The Green Knight

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (July 30-August 1)

Disney had reason to celebrate over the weekend as Jungle Cruise with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt opened at the high end of projections. The theme ride based adventure, sporting mostly positive reviews, landed with $35 million (ahead of my $28.4 million estimate). Additionally, the studio’s streamer Disney Plus reported $30 million in rental action. That’s about as rosy as scenario possible given the continuing complications for theaters.

Old dropped to second with a near 60% plummet at $6.8 million, in line with my $6.6 million take. It’s earned $30 million so far and that’s decent considering the small budget.

The Mouse Factory wasn’t the only studio that exceeded projections as The Green Knight was third with $6.7 million – well beyond my meager $3.4 million guesstimate. As mentioned above, the middling audience reaction could halt its momentum in weekend #2, but that’s certainly a better start than anticipated.

Black Widow was fourth with $6.4 million (I said $5.6 million) to bring its tally to $167 million.

Matt Damon’s Stillwater premiered in fifth with a muted $5.1 million. That’s right in line with my $5.2 million estimate as mostly solid reviews couldn’t bring adult moviegoers out in substantial fashion.

Space Jam: A New Legacy was sixth with $4.2 million (I was close with $4.5 million) for a three week $60 million total.

Lastly, Snake Eyes nosedived in its second outing after a disastrous opening with $4 million (I said $4.7 million). The ill-fated G.I. Joe reboot has amassed just $22 million.

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

July 23-25 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (07/21): I am revising some predictions from my original Monday. Taking Old from $22.8 million down to $19.8 million; Snake Eyes from $21.2 million to $17.2 million; and Space Jam: A New Legacy from $14.8 million up to $15.8 million.

We could see a real battle for the #1 position this weekend as M. Night Shyamalan’s Old and the G.I. Joe reboot Snake Eyes both debut. I have both nabbing similar grosses and you can peruse my detailed write-ups on each right here:

Old Box Office Prediction

Snake Eyes Box Office Prediction

My estimates have the pair landing in the low to mid 20s and I’m giving Shyamalan’s latest a slight edge. Truth be told, either one of them could over or underperform so this lends some genuine suspense to the forthcoming results.

Assuming both manage to reach high teens to $20 million, that should mean Space Jam: A New Legacy will drop to 3rd following its better than expected debut (more on that below) with a dip in the 50-55% range. Black Widow, after experiencing a larger than anticipated sophomore drop, should fall to fourth position. There could be a close competition for the five spot between  Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and F9. I’ll say Vin Diesel and his merry band of racers triumphs since Escape might lose around half of the opening audience from its lackluster start.

And with that, let’s do a top 6 this time around:

1. Old

Predicted Gross: $19.8 million

2. Snake Eyes

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million

3. Space Jam: A New Legacy

Predicted Gross: $15.8 million

4. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $12.9 million

5. F9

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million

6. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

Box Office Results (July 16-18)

In a surprise development, Lebron James and the Tune Squad dunked over Scarlett Johansson as Space Jam: A New Legacy opened ahead of projections with $31 million. That’s well above my $22.7 million estimate as the long in development sequel (which is also available on HBO Max) clearly brought in families and the nostalgic fans of the 1996 original.

Black Widow was anticipated to repeat at #1, but it fell to second with a massive 68% drop. The MCU stand-alone feature took in $25.8 million compared to my more generous $32.1 million prediction. The pic stands at $131 million as theater owners are griping about its simultaneous streaming  showings on Disney Plus.

Horror sequel Escape Room: Tournament of Champions couldn’t emerge with an impressive start with $8.8 million. That’s about $10 million below what the 2019 original achieved and under my take of $11.4 million.

F9 held up better than I figured in fourth with $7.6 million (I lowballed it at $6.2 million). The four week tally is $154 million as it has become to second COVID era flick after A Quiet Place Part II to reach $150M+.

The Boss Baby: Family Business was fifth with $4.7 million (I said $5.2 million) and it stands at $44 million.

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

July 16-18 Box Office Predictions

The seemingly endless slew of summer sequels continues this weekend with Lebron James facing the Toon Squad in Space Jam: A New Legacy and the horror follow-up Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. You can peruse my detailed predictions on both part 2’s right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/07/07/space-jam-a-new-legacy-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/07/07/escape-room-tournament-of-champions-box-office-predictions/

Can either newbie manage to top Marvel’s Black Widow after its record setting opening? Quite unlikely. I look for #23 and his animated competitors to manage a low to mid 20s start (it will also be available on HBO Max streaming).

As for Tournament, the first Escape Room easily outpaced expectations with a near $20 million debut. However, I think low double digits to possibly low teens is the target here.

Black Widow brought us to new heights in the post COVID world (more on that below). A drop in the 60% would generally keep it in line with other MCU entries and that means it shouldn’t have much trouble staying atop the charts in its sophomore frame.

Holdovers F9 and The Boss Baby: Family Business should keep the top five sequel heavy as has been the case all season.

And with that, here’s how I think it all shakes out:

1. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $32.1 million

2. Space Jam: A New Legacy

Predicted Gross: $22.7 million

3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Predicted Gross: $11.4 million

4. F9

Predicted Gross: $6.2 million

5. The Boss Baby: Family Business

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (July 9-11)

As anticipated, the two-week old record for F9 achieving the highest premiere in the COVID era was rather easily eclipsed by Scarlett Johansson’s stand-alone Black Widow saga. Yet its $80.3 million haul was on the lower end of projections. I forecasted slightly more at $83.3 million. Since The Avengers (2012) and the 18 MCU blockbusters that have followed, only Ant-Man and its sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp opened lower. However, we still are not in normal times and Widow is the first franchise entry to be simultaneously be available on Disney Plus (for a $30 fee). The studio was quick to point out that the streamer pulled in an additional $60 million through the distribution method.

Widow was the only fresh product in the marketplace as F9 dropped to second after two weeks parked in first. It made $11.4 million which was right on pace with my $11.3 million prediction. The three-week total is $141 million.

The Boss Baby: Family Business was third with $8.8 million (I said $8.6 million) for a ten-day tally of $34 million.

The Forever Purge held up better than I figured in weekend #2 with $7.1 million (I went with $5.1 million). It’s at $27 million overall.

Rounding out the top five was A Quiet Place Part II with $3.1 million compared to my $2.7 million projection. The horror sequel became the first COVID era title to reach $150 million domestically (something F9 and Black Widow will accomplish in short order).

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

Black Widow Review

The Marvel movies have become as American as apple pie. Or “American Pie” since that Don McLean ditty is featured prominently in Black Widow, a stand-alone feature designed to fill some backstory of Scarlett Johansson’s OG Avenger. Is it necessary? That’s debatable. However, the unexpected COVID layoff of nearly two years between MCU titles and some solid performances makes this a welcome addition to the franchise.

I guess I should say SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t taken in the rest of the cinematic universe so there’s your warning. Avengers: Endgame marked the demise of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow as she went out in self sacrificial fashion. Her previous sacrifices for a darker cause are explored here. The film opens in 1995 Ohio with Natasha and her little sister Yelena being raised by parents Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz). It’s all a front, though, as mom and dad aren’t really their folks. They are Russian spies on a mission for General Dreykov (Ray Winstone) and once the Midwest job is completed, the fake family unit is broken apart.

Natasha, of course, grows up to be the fighter we have seen in numerous other blockbusters beginning with Iron Man 2 and so on. Yelena grows up to take the form of Florence Pugh and she gets her training as well through Dreykov along with numerous other orphaned girls turned assassins. As far as timeline purposes go, Black Widow happens between the actions of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. That’s when The Avengers were experiencing their roughest patch with Tony Stark and Captain America at odds and the others being forced to choose sides.

Since Natasha is a wanted woman by the U.S. Government, she reunites with her long lost “sister” and “parents” in Budapest (remember to pronounce the SH sound in the word) in an effort to stop Dreykov’s mind control of his female army. Unlike other MCU pics, this truly is a stand-alone piece. None of the other Avengers are present and that gives time for new secondary characters to shine. Foremost among them is Yelena and the winning performance given by Pugh. She makes enough of an impression that I hope for her future involvement in other chapters. Harbour is good for a few comedic highlights as he reminisces about his time as Red Guardian (when he apparently had some battles with Captain America).

The MCU always comes down to bloodline dynamics and it is in abundant supply here. If Black Widow previously felt like a slightly underdeveloped character, there’s enough familiar familial dynamics to check off some boxes. Where Black Widow is weakest is not in the action sequences. They’re as first-rate as you’d expect. Cate Shortland makes her first contribution to the series in the director’s chair and she and the tech team certainly get a passing grade. The film’s liability is the villain Dreykov who doesn’t make much of an impression in the fairly short amount of screen time he’s given. This is not a unique flaw in the MCU. For every Loki or Thanos, there seems to be a handful of forgettable baddies.

We already said bye-bye to Johansson’s Black Widow once, but this callback to a time before her heroic departure proves the levee isn’t dry when it comes to her entertainment value. And it also shows she leaves behind previously unknown associates that could provide more highlights.

*** (out of four)

July 9-11 Box Office Predictions

After an unexpected year and a half long break between their comic book blockbusters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back in theaters with the release of Black Widow. The Scarlett Johansson stand-alone title looks to break the two-week old record of F9 by achieving the largest post COVID debut thus far. My detailed prediction post on it can be found here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/29/black-widow-box-office-prediction/

Despite also being available (for $30) on Disney Plus, I do believe Scarlett and company will reach a low to mid 80s number out of the gate. That easily surpasses the $70 million that F9 accelerated to in late June. Unsurprisingly, Widow is the only new wide release out on Friday.

The rest of the top five will consist of sequel holdovers with F9 slipping to second and probably losing at least 50% of its sophomore frame audience. The drop might be slightly lower for The Boss Baby: Family Business while a 55-60% dip for The Forever Purge seems likely. A Quiet Place Part II should spend its final frame in the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend that lies ahead:

1. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $83.3 million

2. F9

Predicted Gross: $11.3 million

3. The Boss Baby: Family Business

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

4. The Forever Purge

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million

5. A Quiet Place Part II

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (July 2-5)

It may not have been your typical summer fireworks at the box office, but it was still booming for Hollywood considering what we’ve recently come out of. F9 easily took the top spot for the second weekend with $29.1 million over the four-day holiday frame. That’s just below my estimate of $30.1 million as the ninth saga in the series is up to $122 million.

The Boss Baby: Family Business started in second and in line with most projections at $19.6 million (a tad under my $21.7 million take). The animated follow-up (which was also streaming on Peacock) opened at a far cry from the $50 million of the original.

The Forever Purge showed some wear and tear to this franchise with $15.7 million in third. I was close at $16.1 million. That’s just over half of what 2016’s The Purge: Election Year made in the same July 4th period.

A Quiet Place Part II was fourth with $5.3 million (I said $5.5 million) as its loud total stands at $145 million.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard rounded out the top five and I incorrectly didn’t have it spotted there. The $3.8 million earned in its third go-round brings it to $32 million.

Finally, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway was seventh and I wrongly had it pegged at fifth (Cruella was 6th). The bunny hopped to $2.8 million and an overall $35 million tally.

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

Summer 2001: The Top 10 Hits and More

My annual recounting of the cinematic seasons that preceded 30, 20, and 10 years prior continues on the blog today with the summer of 2001! It was a frame dominated by an animated jolly green giant that kicked off a massive franchise for its studio.

As is tradition, I’ll run through the top 10 domestic grossers as well as other notables pics and some flops. If you missed my post covering 1991’s May-August output, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/26/summer-1991-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Let’s get to it!

10. Dr. Dolittle 2

Domestic Gross: $112 million

Eddie Murphy returned as the doc who talks to animals in this sequel that managed to cross the century mark, but failed to approach the $144 million earned by its 1998 predecessor. This would mark the end of Eddie’s involvement in the franchise, but a direct to DVD third helping came in 2006.

9. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Domestic Gross: $131 million

Angelina Jolie (fresh off an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted) headlined the video game adaptation that, despite weak reviews, spawned a sequel and an eventual reboot with Alicia Vikander that will soon get its own follow-up.

8. The Fast and the Furious

Domestic Gross: $144 million

We first saw Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and those souped up whips 20 years ago. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or haven’t heard of The Rock), this begat a franchise which is still running strong today. F9 is currently the #1 movie in America in this series that has topped a billion bucks.

7. American Pie 2

Domestic Gross: $145 million

Universal quickly green lighted this sequel to 1999’s smash hit comedy. The gross out gags in part 2 (which resulted in another theatrical effort in 2003 and numerous direct to DVD entries) stands as the largest worldwide earner of the bunch.

6. Planet of the Apes

Domestic Gross: $180 million

Tim Burton’s reimagining of the 1968 classic didn’t result in the new franchise that 20th Century Fox hoped for. Critics had their knives out for Mark Wahlberg’s lead performance and the surprise ending that didn’t pack the wallop of Charlton Heston’s encounter with the Statue of Liberty. The studio would get their successful trilogy a decade later beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which will be covered in 2011’s blog post).

5. Jurassic Park III

Domestic Gross: $181 million

Joe Johnston took over directorial duties from Steven Spielberg is this threequel. Sam Neill was back in this dino-tale that (while profitable) failed to reach the heights of the first two commercially. A reboot 14 years later would get the series back in billion dollar good standing.

4. Pearl Harbor

Domestic Gross: $198 million

Michael Bay’s romantic war epic failed with reviewers but still approached $200 million domestically and $450 million worldwide. Its six Golden Raspberry nominations topped its four Oscar nods.

3. The Mummy Returns

Domestic Gross: $202 million

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz returned for this adventure sequel to the 1999 hit that topped part 1 domestically by nearly $50 million. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would join the fun here and was rewarded with his spin-off (The Scorpion King) the next year. A third Mummy landed with disappointing results in 2008.

2. Rush Hour 2

Domestic Gross: $226 million

It was the best of times for director Brett Ratner and stars Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan as this action comedy built upon the grosses of the 1998 original. A third would follow six years later.

1. Shrek

Mike Myers as the title character ogre, Eddie Murphy stealing scenes with his voice work as Donkey, and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona proved that Disney wasn’t the only animation game in town. Shrek even competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in this DreamWorks game changer that resulted in three sequels and a stage musical.

And now for some other notables flicks from the summer that was:

The Princess Diaries

Domestic Gross: $108 million

Disney’s live-action fairy tale served as a breakout role for Anne Hathaway and a return to the studio for Julie Andrews for the first time since Mary Poppins. A 2004 sequel followed.

The Others

Domestic Gross: $96 million

With its own Sixth Sense style twist ending, this gothic horror pic with Nicole Kidman earned solid reviews and got genre fans to turn out.

Legally Blonde

Domestic Gross: $96 million

Shrek isn’t the only feature to spawn a Broadway treatment. So did this Reese Witherspoon hit which also resulted in a sequel and a third Blonde that is slated for May 2022.

Cats & Dogs

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Dr. Dolittle wasn’t the only animal game in town. This kiddie pic featuring featuring talking creatures also began a franchise.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Domestic Gross: $78 million

Long planned as a project for Stanley Kubrick (who passed away in 1999), Steven Spielberg directed this sci-fi visual feast with Haley Joel Osment. The film elicited strong reactions from critics and crowds (both positively and negatively). It may not have reached $100 million domestic, but it’s still a picture people like to debate about today and that’s more that can be said for most titles on this list.

Swordfish

Domestic Gross: $69 million

Hugh Jackman and John Travolta headlined this action pic which somewhat underperformed expectations. This is mostly known as the film that paid Halle Berry an extra $500,000 to go topless during a few seconds of screen time.

Moulin Rouge!

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Baz Luhrmann’s postmodern musical with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor scored 8 Oscar nominations and has its legions of fans that have endured over the past two decades.

Sexy Beast

Domestic Gross: $6 million

This crime drama is mostly known for its menacing supporting turn from Sir Ben Kingsley, who was rewarded with an Oscar nod.

Ghost World

Domestic Gross: $6 million

Terry Zwigoff’s dark comedy (based on a late 90s comic book) earned raves for its screenplay and for costars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi.

And now for some pictures that did not meet expectations:

America’s Sweethearts

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Yes, it may have approached $100 million, but this rom com starring Julia Roberts and featuring John Cusack, Billy Crystal (who cowrote), and Catherine Zeta-Jones didn’t come near what her previous blockbusters like My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, and Runaway Bride managed.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Domestic Gross: $84 million

Disney’s animated sci-fi adventure was a letdown that didn’t recoup its reported $100 million budget domestically. A hoped for franchise with TV spin-offs and Disneyland ride attraction never rose to the surface.

Scary Movie 2

Domestic Gross: $71 million

This rushed horror spoof follow-up to the 2000 surprise smash couldn’t get close to the $157 million of the original. However, this didn’t stop several sequels from following that achieved greater success.

Evolution

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Director Ivan Reitman and supernatural comedy sure worked well in 1984 with Ghostbusters. Not so much here in this DreamWorks flop with David Duchovny which earned less than half its budget in North America.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Tomb Raider was an example of a video game adaptation that made money. Not so here with this rendering of the popular role playing fantasy series that didn’t score with audiences.

Ghosts of Mars

Domestic Gross: $8 million

It wasn’t a good day at the box office for this science fiction flop from director John Carpenter and Ice Cube.

Pootie Tang

Domestic Gross: $3 million

Moviegoers didn’t turn out for this comedy written and directed by Louis C.K. that originated from a sketch on The Chris Rock Show (who costars). Despite the failed run at the box office, it has since become a cult hit.

And that does it for 2001, folks! Look for my post about summer 2011 in the coming days…

Black Widow Box Office Prediction

Hitting theaters two weeks after F9 sprinted to the best opening weekend for films released post COVID, Black Widow looks to make that record short-lived. Originally slated for May 2020 before its pandemic delays, the 24th saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a stand-alone showcase for Scarlett Johansson’s Avengers character. Cate Shortland directs with a supporting cast including Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenie, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz.

Widow, sporting a budget of at least $200 million, marks the longest delay between MCU pics that we have seen in over a decade. This is the creme de la creme of franchises where 11 of the past 18 titles have made over $100 million (or much more) in their debuts.

As has been the case with all pictures in this uncertain era, there are challenges Widow faces that could prevent that. For starters, its studio made the choice to simultaneously make this available for Disney Plus streaming. $30 will allow you to view it from the comfort of your couch (a cheaper proposition if buying for the whole family). Widow also doesn’t have the benefit of falling between two gargantuan Avengers features. That certainly helped 2019’s Captain Marvel which soared to $153 million for its start.

While the MCU is generally review proof, the positive reaction from critics won’t hurt. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is at 85%. And Johansson’s character (while not in the stratosphere of Iron Man or Captain America) is a familiar presence from The Avengers, its sequels, and more.

I can’t help but wonder if the Mouse Factory regrets making the Disney Plus decision. This will be a test to see how many fans will choose the home option. That said, I do believe Widow will top the $70 million that F9 reached. While $100 million may be out of range, a gross of $75-$85 million seems doable and that’s where I’m landing. My projection puts this just under what Doctor Strange (2016) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) achieved.

Black Widow opening weekend prediction: $83.3 million

Oscar Watch: Black Widow

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unless the film is named Black Panther, your best hope is to contend in Visual Effects at the Oscars and probably lose. This brings us to Black Widow, the 24th entry in the MCU that opens July 9th in theaters and on Disney Plus streaming. The stand-alone pic focused on Scarlett Johansson’s title character had its review embargo lifted today and results are mostly positive thus far. The Rotten Tomatoes score currently stands at 86%.

Johansson’s costars (Florence Pugh particularly) are getting the bulk of critical kudos. That said, no actor in an MCU flick has made the cut in those categories and it won’t start here. 10 of the previous 23 franchise blockbusters (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame) have landed slots in Visual Effects. As far as victories go – they are 0 for 10. In fact, only Panther (which nabbed a Best Picture nod) has won anything. It went 3 for 7 on Oscar night 2019 by taking Original Score, Costume Design, and Production Design.

Just over half of Marvel’s creations have received zero recognition from the Academy. Black Widow should face an uphill battle in Visual Effects. Late year arrivals like Dune and Top Gun: Maverick are just two possibilities outside of this cinematic universe. Then there’s the matter of 3 more hopeful MCU titles: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and (perhaps especially) Eternals. Bottom line: there’s a better chance of Black Widow not showing up anywhere at next year’s ceremony. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Early 2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

My big announcement today is the selection of my first candidates for Best Actress in the 2020 Oscar field! If you happened to miss my predictions for the supporting categories and Best Actor, you can find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/10/early-2020-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/09/early-2020-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/09/early-2020-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

Unlike Best Actor, none of my initial top 5 picks here have seen their pictures screened. As discussed in previous posts, 2020 is a mighty speculative year for these early August estimates. The potential contenders are certainly some heavy hitters and it was, frankly, hard to whittle the list to this quintet. 4 of my 5 choices here are past winners. Both Viola Davis and Jennifer Hudson are Supporting Actress victors for 2016’s Fences and 2006’s Dreamgirls respectively. Frances McDormand is a two-time lead Actress winner for 1996’s Fargo and 2017’s Three Billboards Outside, Missouri. Kate Winslet took this prize in 2008 for The Reader. The only non-winner is Michelle Pfeiffer and she’s been nominated three times. If she makes it here, it would mark her first nod in 28 years since 1992’s Love Field. 

This is in addition to acclaimed actresses such as Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, and Julianne Moore as possibilities and up and comers like Jessie Buckley, Liu Yifei, and Rachel Zegler. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the silver screen return of cinematic legend Sophia Loren. She last won an Oscar for Two Women some 60 years ago. Elisabeth Moss has two already released pics for which she’s received solid reviews. Of the two, Shirley seems more viable than the horror hit The Invisible Man.

In 2019, my original late summer projections yielded a whopping 4 of the 5 eventual nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). In my ten other possibilities, I also identified eventual trophy recipient Renee Zellweger as Judy. 

Lots of intrigue in this race and here’s the first take:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTRESS

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit

Kate Winslet, Ammonite 

Other Possibilities: 

Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy

Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Rashida Jones, On the Rocks 

Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead

Julianne Moore, The Glorias

Elisabeth Moss, Shirley

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Liu Yifei, Mulan 

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

That completes the acting portions of the early predictions and Best Director is up next! Until then…