Sing 2 Box Office Prediction

Sing 2 hopes to make a joyful noise in theaters when it debuts December 22nd. Illumination Entertainment’s animated sequel arrives five years after the original scored $270 million domestically. Garth Jennings returns to direct as do the vocal stylings of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, and Nick Offerman. New to the proceedings are Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Pharrell Williams, Letitia Wright, Eric Andre, Chelsea Peretti, and Bono.

So will Universal find what they’re looking for in terms of box office? In 2016, part 1 made a splash with a $55 million haul over its five-day Christmas rollout. That was good for second place behind Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The best hope here is also a runner-up showing as Spider-Man: No Way Home will most certainly be #1 in its sophomore weekend. However, Sing 2 might place third behind the premiere of The Matrix Resurrections. 

I think it’s going to be a close competition between this and Matrix for the two spot. This animated follow-up is bound to leg out more strongly than Neo and company. I’ll say high 20s to low 30s for the traditional weekend and mid 40s the five-day.

Sing 2 opening weekend prediction: $31.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $46.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my The Matrix Resurrections prediction, click here:

The Matrix Resurrections Box Office Prediction

For my The King’s Man prediction, click here:

The King’s Man Box Office Prediction

For my American Underdog prediction, click here:

American Underdog Box Office Prediction

For my A Journal for Jordan prediction, click here:

A Journal for Jordan Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Sing 2

Sing 2 is likely to make loud box office noises when it’s released December 22nd. The sequel to the animated musical comedy arrives five years after the original took in $270 million domestically. From Illumination Entertainment, Garth Jennings returns to direct as do the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, and Nick Offerman. Newbies include Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Pharrell Williams, Letitia Wright, Eric Andre, and Bono.

Despite part one being a smash hit, it did not manage to nab a Best Animated Feature nod. The first Sing achieved a decent 71% Rotten Tomatoes rating. There’s just a handful of reviews out for the follow-up and it’s currently lower at 60%.

With a trio of Disney efforts (Encanto, Luca, Raya and the Last Dragon), two Netflix properties (The Mitchells vs. the Machines, The Summit of the Gods), and acclaimed foreign features Flee and Belle all in the mix, Animated Feature is already crowded. I don’t foresee a sequel to something that couldn’t get in the first time around being viable.

In Best Original Song, a band that Bono started that you might be familiar with (U2) has “Your Song Saved My Life”. This is another category with plenty of high profile contenders (Beyonce and Billie Eilish among them). Bono and his mates probably won’t make the cut. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

The Oscar race for Best Actress takes center stage in my latest rundown of where the major competitions stand in early November. If you missed my posts covering lead actor and the supporting categories, they can accessed right here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

As I have with the others, let’s start with my track record during the same time period from 2019 and 2020. Two years ago, I somehow had all five nominated actresses forecasted correctly with two months to go: winner Renee Zellweger as Judy in addition to Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). For 2020, it was three: gold recipient Frances McDormand for Nomadland and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman). Both Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were listed in Other Possibilities.

In 2021, we already have a strong frontrunner and that’s Kristin Stewart in Spencer. Playing the high profile role of Princess Diana, Ms. Stewart is practically guaranteed to nab her first nod after plenty of critically appreciated post Twilight turns. She’s a serious threat to win and Stewart has been atop my chart ever since the picture screened back in September at the Venice Film Festival.

Her biggest competition could come from an as yet unseen performance – Lady Gaga in House of Gucci. Judging from the trailers alone, her part seems like the kind of bait that would cause Academy voters to bite. If so, the pop superstar would receive her second nomination three years after her breakout cinematic role with A Star Is Born. 

After that, there’s a lengthy list of hopefuls for the three remaining slots. When The Eyes of Tammy Faye premiered on the festival circuit, it was a given that Jessica Chastain would make the cut. I still think she will, but the pic’s barely existent box office numbers are reason for some uncertainty.

Screenings were also kind to Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter and that momentum could result in her third inclusion in the last four years after a 2018 Actress victory for The Favourite and a supporting nod for last year’s The Father. 

Colman isn’t the only actress from a Netflix offering eyeing the prize. There’s Tessa Thompson in Passing, Jennifer Lawrence in Don’t Look Up, Sandra Bullock for The Unforgivable, and Halle Berry with Bruised. All could factor in. Other than Thompson (her costar Ruth Negga stands a greater chance in supporting), the three others have yet to be unveiled. The streamer may have to pick and choose whose campaigns they go all in with.

There’s other possibilities in the unseen column where the buzz will shortly materialize: Cate Blanchett for Nightmare Alley, Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza, Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball with Being the Ricardos, and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story). At press time, I only have Kidman in the top ten but that could change as soon as reviews start posting.

As for pictures that have been available for awhile, I feel Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur’s supporting parts in CODA are more likely to be recognized than lead Emilia Jones. Renate Reinsve will have her share of supporters for The Worst Person in the World, but its best chance lies with an International Feature Film nomination. Bad financial returns could negatively impact Jodie Comer for The Last Duel, though I will note that a number of prognosticators have her in.

For the fifth spot, I currently see three performances with roughly equal chances. Frances McDormand took the prize last year and that might make the Academy think twice about putting her up again for The Tragedy of Macbeth. Penelope Cruz is just on the outside looking in for Parallel Mothers. That leaves me with Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in Respect. Even though the film received mixed reviews and so-so box office, praise for the Supporting Actress winner in 2006’s Dreamgirls was universal. Voters may have to think all the way back to summer to include her but I do believe it’s feasible.

And with that, here’s my standings:

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 3)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 2)

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)

7. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6)

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 8)

9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

10. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Now that the acting derbies are wrapped, I’ll have Best Director up next!

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

The 2021 derby for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars might have a bit more clarity than the currently wide open Supporting Actor race, but not much. I’m doing a deep dive on the four acting races as well as Picture and Director. If you missed the first post covering Supporting Actor, you can peruse it right here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

At this point when I was projecting the race in 2019 and 2020, I correctly identified three out of the five eventual nominees. Two years ago, that included the winner Laura Dern in Marriage Story as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie for Bombshell. Scarlett Johansson was mentioned in Other Possibilities while I didn’t have Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) listed. Last year, the trio of Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank) were in my five. Eventual victor Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were in Other Possibilities.

Since 2010, there have been three instances where two actresses for the same picture made the cut here. In 2010, it was Melissa Leo (who won) and Amy Adams in The Fighter. A year later, Octavia Spencer took gold for The Help while costar Jessica Chastain also got in. In 2018, both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were nominated for The Favourite. 

The best chance of that happening in 2021 lies with Caitriona Balfe and Judi Dench for Belfast. The former could be considered the frontrunner at press time. I’m confident that Balfe will be in the quintet of hopefuls. My Supporting Actor forecast has both Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds in for Kenneth Branagh’s period drama. It might be foolish to bet against Dench and she could absolutely get her 8th nod. I do, however, feel the competition is steeper than Supporting Actor at the moment and she could miss out.

Other double nominee possibilities lie with Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson in The Lost Daughter, but I could just as easily see lead Olivia Colman garnering all the attention. The as yet unscreened Nightmare Alley could see either Toni Collette or Rooney Mara competing.

Then there’s Mass. Ann Dowd looks to be a better bet than Martha Plimpton. If the acclaimed drama catches on with the Academy, there could be room for both. For now, I’m far more confident in Dowd receiving her first nod after her somewhat surprise omission for 2012’s Compliance. 

With Balfe and Dowd penciled in, Kirsten Dunst also appears headed for her inaugural inclusion at the dance for The Power of the Dog. She could even be a threat to win.

After that, it gets murky. There’s plenty of hopefuls. 50 years ago, Rita Moreno took gold as Anita for West Side Story. The forthcoming remake could see Ariana DeBose nominated for the same role in Steven Spielberg’s remake. Marlee Matlin (35 years after taking Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God) got fine reviews for CODA. If the film registers with voters, she could be swept in. King Richard is anticipated to give Will Smith a solid chance at his first Oscar crowning and Aunjanue Ellis (as the mother of Venus and Serena Williams) could share in the wealth. Salma Hayek is part of the House of Gucci ensemble. She hasn’t been visible in the trailers and that gives me pause. Online chatter will be heavy for Rebecca Ferguson in Dune, though I question whether any of its cast makes its way in. Also worthy of mention: Olga Merediz (In the Heights), Gaby Hoffman (C’Mon C’Mon), Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Sally Hawkins (Spencer), and Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans). All are feasible but will need lot some critics prizes to elevate their chances.

Meryl Streep is gunning for her 22nd (!) nomination for Don’t Look Up. Playing the President of the United States in the political satire, it feels strange to leave her out of the top 5 for such a high profile role. Let’s see what the critics think before I more carefully consider her.

One performer who seems to catching on is Ruth Negga for Passing. Nominated for Actress five years back for Loving, I was basically down to a coin flip between her and Aunjanue Ellis for a current slot. I’m leaning toward Negga in what would probably be the film’s sole nod.

Bottom line: right now I have Balfe, Dunst, and Dowd as (fairly) safe bets with the other two spots up for grabs. Here’s where it shakes out as October closes:

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 3)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5)

5. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 4)

7. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 7)

8. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley

Next up: Best Actor!

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…