Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie Review

Based upon Alvin Schwartz’s three horror short tale collections from the 1980s and early 1990s (with some celebrated illustrations by Stephen Gammell), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has caught the attention of Guillermo del Toro. He has, of course, turned his monster material into Oscar winning work. Mr. del Toro didn’t direct this and he shares a producer and story credit. However, this reminds one of Steven Spielberg’s output at the time when Schwartz’s works were originally being released. Films like Poltergeist, Gremlins, and The Goonies came from other filmmakers, but they might as well have been made by Spielberg because his fingerprints are all over them. Andre Øvredal directed this and he’s proved his genre chops previously with effective material like The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Yet you get the feeling this is del Toro’s vision through and through.

Set in 1968 when political upheaval and the Vietnam War were true scary stories of their own, this brings us to a small Pennsylvania town in a year where Night of the Living Dead is just out. Teenage Stella (Zoe Colletti) is obsessed with the living dead as a horror enthusiast and aspiring writer. Her seemingly only friends are Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) and the trio gets their kicks by playing Halloween themed pranks on the school bullies. They are soon joined in this quest by drifter Ramon (Michael Garza), who appears to be living out of his car. Their exploits lead them to an alleged haunted house once lived in by the wealthy and mysterious Bellows family. Their daughter Sarah was a writer like Stella. The difference is that Sarah’s writing hasn’t stopped after death and her words describe the PG-13 horror antics that follow.

This plot line allows for a small number of Schwartz’s old tales to come to life. And the CG creature effects due to that are as solid as we’d expect from anything with del Toro’s name attached. A couple of sequences radiate with a ghoulish vibe that impresses. Those moments are scary, but there’s not a lot of them. The screenwriters occasionally bring the turbulent late 1960s happenings to the mix, but that feels a bit clumsy and tacked on as they don’t really commit to it.

Instead we have a novel concept from source material of anthological form. Perhaps Sarah and Schwartz’s short stories could have worked a little better had this been adapted into a series on Netflix or another streaming service. After all, it’s probably Stranger Things and its retro goldmine of success that sped up the green light here. There’s no doubt that the those involved (particularly one) have deep affection for what they’re adapting. Despite its moments, it’s the format that’s limiting.

**1/2 (out of four)

August 23-25 Box Office Predictions

Expect a rather sleepy weekend at the box office as the dog days of August roll along. We have three releases ahead of us as action threequel Angel Has Fallen, sports themed Christian drama Overcomer, and critically hailed black comedy Ready or Not debut. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/13/angel-has-fallen-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/14/overcomer-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/16/ready-or-not-box-office-prediction/

While I do have Angel flying to the top spot, I have performing under the premieres of predecessors Olympus and London Has Fallen. I think there’s a chance it goes even lower and finds itself in a race for #1 with the second weekend of Good Boys (which surpassed all prognoses this weekend).

Overcomer is an interesting one. It’s from the director of War Room, which performed spectacularly four summers ago. These faith based pics have a history to over perform, though that’s not always guaranteed. I’m giving it the five spot behind the fourth weekend of Hobbs & Shaw and sixth weekend of The Lion King.

I am not seeking an impressive gross for Ready or Not despite its solid reviews. It’s out on Wednesday. My $5.8 million traditional Friday to Sunday estimate and $7.7 million five-day projection leaves it outside my top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Angel Has Fallen

Predicted Gross: $15.2 million

2. Good Boys

Predicted Gross: $12.5 million

3. Hobbs & Shaw

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

4. The Lion King

Predicted Gross: $7.5 million

5. Overcomer

Predicted Gross: $7.4 million

Box Office Results (August 1618)

It was a frame that saw five new releases and if it wasn’t named Good Boys, it didn’t do well. The aforementioned preteen comedy took in $21.4 million, way beyond my $14.3 million prediction. Boys is the first R rated comedy to hit #1 in over three years and it should manage to leg out decently.

Hobbs & Shaw was second with $14.1 million, a touch more than my $12.8 million estimate. It’s at $133 million.

The Lion King took third at $12.3 million (I said $11.1 million) for a whopping $496 million overall.

The Angry Birds Movie 2, which I said would be #1, struggled in fourth with just $10.3 million from Friday to Sunday and $16 million since its Tuesday opening. That’s well below my expectations of $17.2 million and $25.4 million, respectively.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark rounded out the top five in weekend #2 with $10 million. My prediction? $10 million! Tally is $40 million.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold mined $8.5 million in its sophomore outing for sixth (I said $9.3 million). The unimpressive total is $33 million.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged was lost at sea in seventh place with $8.4 million. I was higher at $10.2 million. The shark sequel couldn’t match the $11 million plus earned by its predecessor two summers ago.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was eighth with $7.6 million, in line with my $7.1 million estimate. The Quentin Tarantino flick stands at $114 million.

I incorrectly had The Art of Racing in the Rain outside the top ten, but it was ninth with $4.5 million. Two-week gross is $17 million.

The Bruce Springsteen inspired dramedy Blinded by the Light failed to find an audience in tenth with $4.3 million (I gave it more at $5.8 million).

Finally, Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette performed even weaker in 11th with a measly $3.4 million compared to my $5.6 million forecast.

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

August 16-18 Box Office Predictions

For the second weekend in a row, we have a quintet of new titles populating the marketplace. And like those previous five pictures, all could struggle to break the $20 million mark with some failing to reach double digits. We have the animated sequel The Angry Birds Movie 2, raunchy preteen comedy Good Boys, shark sequel 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, British musical dramedy Blinded by the Light, and Richard Linklater directed mystery comedy Where’d You Go, Bernadette with Cate Blanchett all out. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/06/the-angry-birds-movie-2-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/07/good-boys-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/08/47-meters-down-uncaged-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/11/blinded-by-the-light-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/11/whered-you-go-bernadette-box-office-prediction/

The Birds follow-up debuts tomorrow in theaters. Even with that early start, I believe the Friday to Sunday traditional gross should be enough for it to fly into the top spot. That said, I have it well under the $33 million debut of its 2016 predecessor.

The earnings of Boys and Meters might be similar, but my projection puts the former ahead. There could be a legit battle between these two newcomers with the third frame of Hobbs & Shaw, the sophomore frame of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and the fifth weekend of The Lion King. In other words, the placing of the top five could be extremely fluid.

I’m anticipating mid single digits for both Blinded and Bernadette, leaving them well outside the top five and behind Dora and the Lost City of Gold and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

So while this column is normally estimating the top half of the top 10, I’m doubling it given all the new product:

1. The Angry Birds Movie 2

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $25.4 million (Tuesday to Sunday)

2. Good Boys

Predicted Gross: $14.3 million

3. Hobbs & Shaw

Predicted Gross: $12.8 million

4. The Lion King

Predicted Gross: $11.1 million

5. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

6. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Predicted Gross: $10 million

7. Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Predicted Gross: $9.3 million

8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

9. Blinded by the Light

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

10. Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million

Box Office Results (August 911)

Hobbs & Shaw parked in first for the second weekend with $25.2 million, a smidge below my $27.5 million forecast. The two week tally stands at $108 million.

In a weekend where I assumed Dora and the Lost City of Gold would fare best among the five newcomers, it was Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark achieving that status. It exceeded most expectations at $20.9 million, well beyond my $14.3 million take.

The Lion King was third with $20.2 million. My prediction? $20.2 million! It now is Disney’s largest earning live action title at $473 million.

Aforementioned Dora was fourth with a middling $17.4 million, falling below my projection of $19.7 million.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood hit the century mark and rounded out the top five. Earning $11.6 million (I said $11.3 million), the total is a cool $100 million.

The Art of Racing in the Rain premiered in sixth with a meh $8.1 million. Good news for me for the second time as I said $8.1 million.

Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish learned audiences wouldn’t turn out for them in a crime thriller. The poorly reviewed The Kitchen was seventh with just $5.5 million compared to my more generous $8.3 million prediction.

Finally, Brian Banks opened in 11th with $2.1 million. I was close at $2.3 million.

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

 

August 9-11 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (08/07): My Scary Stories prediction has risen from $10.7 million to $14.3 million

After several weeks of one giant blockbuster hopeful debuting and having the weekend to itself, a quintet of mid tier titles open in this second weekend of August. We have the kid friendly Dora and the Lost City of Gold based on the Nickelodeon series, PG-13 horror flick Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Melissa McCarthy/Tiffany Haddish crime thriller The Kitchen, dog tale The Art of Racing in the Rain, and wrongful imprisonment drama Brian Banks all out. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on all of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/31/dora-and-the-lost-city-of-gold-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/31/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/31/the-kitchen-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/31/the-art-of-racing-in-the-rain-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/04/brian-banks-box-office-prediction/

Some weekends, it’s fairly easy to project the order of the top five. This isn’t one of them. A couple of things seem highly likely. After a decent start that was still on the bottom end of expectations, Hobbs & Shaw should manage to repeat in first place. I will say a drop of over 50% is where I see it landing in the sophomore frame.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold seems poised to have to biggest premiere of the five newbies. However, my high teens projection puts it in third behind The Lion King.

I have Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Kitchen, and The Art of Racing in the Rain all in the high single digits to low double digits range and all behind the third weekend of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

As for Brian Banks, its lack of promotion and lowly 1500 theater count means my $2.3 million prediction means it shouldn’t even compete for the top five.

So on this weekend of multiple new releases, my top seven take:

1. Hobbs & Shaw

Predicted Gross: $27.5 million

2. The Lion King

Predicted Gross: $20.2 million

3. Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Predicted Gross: $19.7 million

4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Predicted Gross: $14.3 million

5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Predicted Gross: $11.3 million

6. The Kitchen

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

7. The Art of Racing in the Rain

Predicted Gross: $7.8 million

Box Office Results (August 24)

Fast and Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw cruised over holdover competition as anticipated, but it couldn’t match the starting earnings of the last several traditional franchise entries. It took in $60 million, under my take of $72.6 million.

The Lion King was second after two weeks of dominance with $38.5 million, right on pace with my $38.7 million projection. The massive total stands at $431 million.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was third in weekend #2 with $20 million, in line with my $20.7 million prediction. The two week haul is $78 million.

SpiderMan: Far From Home took fourth with $7.9 million (I said $7.1 million) for $360 million overall.

Toy Story 4 rounded out the top five with $7.3 million (I was slightly lower with $6.6 million) for a take of $410 million.

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

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/07): My prediction has increased from $10.7 million to $14.3 million

Based on a series of Alvin Schwartz horror novels geared towards children, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark opens in theaters next weekend. Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro, the film comes from director André Øvredal who mostly recently made the critically appreciated The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Cast members include Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, and Lorraine Toussaint.

The concoction of the horror genre marketing to a young audience is a risky one. I’m not confident this mix will result in pleasing box office earnings and I wouldn’t expect the “Stranger Things” crowd to turn out. Even though we’re talking PG-13 here vs. an R rating, I’ll project this performs similarly to what Overlord (which boasted its own known producer J.J. Abrams) did last year.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark opening weekend prediction: $14.3 million

For my Dora and the Lost City of Gold prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/31/dora-and-the-lost-city-of-gold-box-office-prediction/

For my The Kitchen prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/31/the-kitchen-box-office-prediction/

For my The Art of Racing in the Rain prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/31/the-art-of-racing-in-the-rain-box-office-prediction/

For my Brian Banks prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/04/brian-banks-box-office-prediction/