Summer 1989: The Top 10 Hits and More

In what has become tradition on this little blog of mine, the summer season brings us a lot of nostalgia on the silver screen. In the present, that means a slew of sequels and remakes and reboots coming on a near weekly basis. For these purposes, it means taking a look back on the movie summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago.

As has been written in previous years, I’m listing the top ten hits as well as other notable pics and some flops. One thing is for sure about 1989. It will forever be known as the summer of the Batman and that blockbuster influenced what has become the predominant genre of the 21st century.

A recap of 1999 and 2009 will follow soon, but we start with what audiences were watching three decades ago.

10. Uncle Buck

Domestic Gross: $66 million

John Candy had one of his most notable headlining roles in this John Hughes family friendly comedy that also introduced the world to Macaulay Culkin. No sequel followed, but a short-lived TV series did.

9. Turner & Hooch

Domestic Gross: $71 million

Shortly before Tom Hanks started collecting Oscars and doing primarily dramatic work, he was still known for comedy in the late 80s. This one teamed him with a dog in a buddy comedy that followed the similarly themed with K9 with Jim Belushi from three months earlier. This one made a bit more cash.

8. When Harry Met Sally

Domestic Gross: $92 million

Rob Reiner’s romantic comedy (scripted by Nora Ephron) is considered one of the genre’s landmarks. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan headlined with a diner scene that has become quite iconic.

7. Dead Poets Society

Domestic Gross: $95 million

Robin Williams seized the day and an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an unorthodox English teacher in Peter Weir’s film, which also nabbed a nod for Best Picture.

6. Parenthood

Domestic Gross: $100 million

Ron Howard’s dramedy sported an ensemble cast with Steve Martin and a crowd pleasing vibe. This is a rare pic that spawned two TV shows. The one from 1990 flopped while the 2010 version ran six seasons. Parenthood marks appearance #1 in the top ten for Rick Moranis.

5. Ghostbusters II

Domestic Gross: $112 million

The eagerly awaited sequel to the 1984 phenomenon was a disappointment critically and commercially when considering the original’s $229 million haul. That said, it gives us appearance #2 for Rick Moranis. A direct sequel will follow in 2020.

4. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Domestic Gross: $130 million

And we reach the trifecta for Rick Moranis as Disney had an unexpected smash hit here. It stood as the studio’s largest grossing live-action feature for five years. Two less successful sequels followed.

3. Lethal Weapon 2

Domestic Gross: $147 million

Of the four action comedy pairings of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, part 2 stands as the franchise’s top earner. This one threw Joe Pesci into the mix with sequels that followed in 1992 and 1998.

2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Domestic Gross: $197 million

While Harrison Ford’s third appearance as his iconic character didn’t match the grosses of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, it did earn more than 1984 predecessor Temple of Doom. Pairing Indy with his dad played by Sean Connery, the character wouldn’t make it to the screen again until Steven Spielberg and Ford teamed up again 19 years later.

1. Batman

Domestic Gross: $251 million

As mentioned, 1989 was dominated by Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader. While the casting of Michael Keaton in the title role was controversial upon announcement, it turned out quite well (as did Jack Nicholson’s turn as The Joker and a funky Prince soundtrack). Three sequels and multiple reboots followed.

And now for some notable pictures outside of the top ten:

The Abyss

Domestic Gross: $54 million

James Cameron was riding a high after The Terminator and Aliens when he made this sci-fi aquatic adventure. Known just as much for its difficult production as its Oscar winning visuals, it had a mixed reaction that has grown more positive through the years.

Weekend at Bernie’s

Domestic Gross: $30 million

Turns out corpses are hilarious in this low budget comedy that turned into enough of a hit that a sequel followed four summers later.

Road House

Domestic Gross: $30 million

It may not have had critics on its side or been a huge success originally, but Patrick Swayze’s turn as a midwestern bouncer became a serious cult hit subsequently.

Do the Right Thing

Domestic Gross: $27 million

A cultural milestone, Do the Right Thing served as the major breakout for Spike Lee and was named by numerous critics as the greatest film of 1989.

sex, lies, and videotape

Domestic Gross: $24 million

Winning the Cannes Film Festival, Steven Soderbergh’s provocative debut helped usher in a wave of independent films that followed in the 90s.

It wasn’t all success stories in the summer of 1989 and here’s some that failed to meet expectations:

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Domestic Gross: $52 million

Captain Kirk himself directed this installment after Leonard Nimoy made its two well received predecessors. This one was met with ambivalence and stands at the second lowest earner of this particular Trek franchise.

The Karate Kid Part III

Domestic Gross: $38 million

In 1984, the original made $90 million and the 1986 sequel made $115 million. Three summers later, moviegoers had tired of Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in their signature roles. Yet TV watchers are currently tuned to a series reboot with Macchio back as Daniel.

Licence to Kill

Domestic Gross: $34 million

Timothy Dalton’s second turn as 007 was a stateside flop and is the lowest grossing Bond flick when adjusted for inflation. Its star would never return in the role and the six year gap that followed when Pierce Brosnan reinvigorated the series with Goldeneye stands as the lengthiest gap in its near 60 years of existence.

Lock Up

Domestic Gross: $22 million

Sylvester Stallone had plenty of hits during the decade, but this one casting him as a tortured convict wasn’t one of them.

Casualties of War

Domestic Gross: $18 million

Brian de Palma was coming off a massive hit with The Untouchables, but this Vietnam War drama with Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn didn’t find an audience.

Pink Cadillac

Domestic Gross: $12 million

Three summers later, Clint Eastwood entered Oscar territory with Unforgiven. This action comedy with Bernadette Peters is one of his forgotten efforts and stalled with critics and crowds.

I hope you enjoyed this look back on the 1989 summer period and I’ll have 1999 up soon!

Best Actor: A Look Back

My look back at the major Oscar categories from 1990 to the present arrives at Best Actor today! If you missed my posts covering Actress and the Supporting races, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/31/best-actress-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/25/best-supporting-actor-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As with those previous entries, I am picking the three least surprising winners of the last 28 years, along with the three biggest upsets. Additionally, you’ll see my personal picks for strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the winners from 1990 to now:

1990 – Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune

1991 – Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

1992 – Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

1993 – Tom Hanks, Philadelphia

1994 – Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

1995 – Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas

1996 – Geoffrey Rush, Shine

1997 – Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets

1998 – Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

1999 – Kevin Spacey, American Beauty

2000 – Russell Crowe, Gladiator

2001 – Denzel Washington, Training Day

2002 – Adrien Brody, The Pianist

2003 – Sean Penn, Mystic River

2004 – Jamie Foxx, Ray

2005 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

2006 – Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

2007 – Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

2008 – Sean Penn, Milk

2009 – Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

2010 – Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

2011 – Jean Dujardin, The Artist

2012 – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

2013 – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

2015 – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

2016 – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

2017 – Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Let’s begin with the three that I’m deeming as the non-surprise winners. Whittling this down to that number was a challenge. The double wins by Hanks and Penn and even last year’s winner Oldman could’ve easily been named here, too. Here goes…

3. Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

The legendary thespian was 0 for 6 when it came to nominations and wins entering 1992. He picked up his 7th and 8th nods that year with his supporting role in Glengarry Glen Ross and lead role as a blind former colonel in this Martin Brest directed drama. By Oscar night, it was clear he was finally going to make that trip to the podium.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Like Pacino, DiCaprio had been an Academy bridesmaid before… four times. His fifth nod for The Revenant guaranteed he’d finally be a winner against weak competition (more on that below).

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

I could have named the Method actor’s victory in 2007 for There Will Be Blood as well, but his win five years later as the nation’s 16th President edges it out. From the moment the Steven Spielberg project was announced, Day-Lewis was the odds on favorite and it never changed.

Now – my selections for the upsets:

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

While it might seem an obvious win nearly 30 years later, Nick Nolte’s work in The Prince of Tides had nabbed him the Golden Globe. Additionally, there was some controversy about Sir Anthony’s inclusion in the lead race due to his approximate 16 minutes of screen time. This is truly evidence of a performance so towering that it couldn’t be ignored.

2. Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

The Italian director/writer/actor was an underdog against competition that included Nick Nolte (once again) for Affliction and Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters. Mr. Benigni seemed a bit shocked himself when his name was called, as he famously bounded exuberantly to the stage.

1. Adrien Brody, The Pianist

The smart money in 2002 was with Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt or Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York. Brody’s win was pretty shocking, as was the giant smooch he planted on presenter Halle Berry.

When it comes to overall fields, I’m going recent history with both. For strongest, I’ll give it to 2012. That’s the year Day-Lewis won for Lincoln. All other nominees were rock solid as well with Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

For weakest, I’m picking 2015. This is the aforementioned year of DiCaprio’s overdue win. The rest of the field, however, was a bit lacking. It consisted of Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).

And there’s your Actor look back, folks! Keep an eye out for Best Picture soon as the final post in this series…

Best Supporting Actor: A Look Back

Continuing on with my look back at the major categories from 1990 to the present at the Oscars, we arrive at Best Supporting Actor! If you missed my post regarding Supporting Actress, you can find it right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As I did with that blog entry, I’m picking the top 3 least surprising winners (performers who essentially sailed right through awards season) and the 3 biggest upsets in each race. I am also selecting the strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the 28 actors whose support earned them a golden statue:

1990 – Joe Pesci, GoodFellas

1991 – Jack Palance, City Slickers

1992 – Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

1993 – Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

1994 – Martin Landau, Ed Wood

1995 – Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects

1996 – Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire

1997 – Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting

1998 – James Coburn, Affliction

1999 – Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules

2000 – Benicio del Toro, Traffic

2001 – Jim Broadbent, Iris

2002 – Chris Cooper, Adaptation

2003 – Tim Robbins, Mystic River

2004 – Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

2005 – George Clooney, Syriana

2006 – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

2007 – Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

2008 – Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

2009 – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

2010 – Christian Bale, The Fighter

2011 – Christopher Plummer, Beginners

2012 – Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

2013 – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

2015 – Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

2016 – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2017 – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

There are plenty to choose from as far least surprising winners, but here’s my top ones:

3. Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood’s Western picked up a slew of awards on Oscar night and Hackman’s inclusion in that race was never really in doubt. It was his second statue after winning Best Actor 21 years previously for The French Connection.

2. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

It was director Christopher Nolan giving numerous awards speeches on behalf of the late Ledger, as his work playing the iconic villain swept all precursors as well. This remains not only the only win in the omnipresent superhero genre in the 21st century, but the only nomination.

1. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Like Ledger, Bardem created a bad guy for the ages in the Coen Brothers Oscar-winning picture. He picked up all the precursors as well for his role.

And now the upsets!

3. James Coburn, Affliction

There was clearly no front-runner in 1998 as a different actor was honored in each preceding awards show. Ed Harris took the Golden Globe for The Truman Show, Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan) was victorious at the Critics Choice Awards, Robert Duvall’s role in A Civil Action was honored at SAG, and Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth) was the BAFTA recipient. Surely one of them would win the Oscar, but it instead went to Mr. Coburn.

2. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

In 2015, the general consensus was that Sylvester Stallone would punch out the competition in his signature role for Creed. That would have been quite a feat after Rocky took Best Picture in 1976 – nearly four decades prior. Yet it didn’t materialize when Rylance made the trip to the podium.

1. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

Along the same lines, Eddie Murphy was the strong favorite for his rare dramatic work in Dreamgirls. With Jennifer Hudson as a sure thing for Supporting Actress (which did happen), the musical looked safe for a supporting sweep. The Academy surprisingly went another route by honoring Arkin.

And now to the fields overall and choosing a strongest and weakest. For the least impressive of the bunch, I’m going with 2011. Here were the nominees:

Christopher Plummer, Beginners (winner)

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

When it comes to best overall field, I chose 1993. This is the year that Tommy Lee Jones got the gold in The Fugitive. That’s a rare acting win for an action flick. It was deserved in my view and the other four nominees were very strong as well. They were:

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father

Furthermore, I could keep going with other deserving actors that year, including Val Kilmer in Tombstone and Sean Penn for Carlito’s Way. 

The next trip down memory lane will be Best Actress and it will be up soon!

The Angry Birds Movie Box Office Prediction

The Angry Birds Movie, out next weekend, marks a first as the animated tale is our inaugural film to be based on an app. Millions worldwide have spent countless hours flinging those ill-tempered fowls into various structures and we’ll soon find out whether they wish to spend a couple of hours watching them on the silver screen.

Based on the Rovio Entertainment game, Birds features the voices of many familiar names including Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage. Reviews have been mixed with a 47% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Frankly, Angry Birds is a big question mark. A high-profile family friendly animated flick should perform quite well in the month of May. However, without the Disney brand or well-established franchise tag (Ice Age, Rio, Madagascar, etc…), it’s unclear whether kids and their parents will flock (get it?) to this.

The range of possibility for this opening is wide, but I’ll go with a mid 30s debut.

The Angry Birds Movie opening weekend prediction: $34.5 million

For my Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/11/neighbors-2-sorority-rising-box-office-prediction/

For my The Nice Guys prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/11/the-nice-guys-box-office-prediction/

The Gunman Box Office Prediction

After winning two Oscars in the previous decade, Sean Penn tries to go all Liam Neeson mode in The Gunman, out Friday. The action thriller actually comes from the maker of the original Taken, Pierre Morel. Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, and Ray Winstone costar.

If something like Neeson’s own Run All Night can’t make much dough, it’s difficult to see this making an impact. Reviews have been highly negative so far and there’s nothing in its advertisements that set it apart from typical genre fare. It could perhaps benefit from catering to the male audience with the female audience flocking to Insurgent and Cinderella, but I doubt it.

I’ll predict The Gunman doesn’t reach double digits and fades away to the VOD screen soon enough.

The Gunman opening weekend prediction: $6.8 million

For my Insurgent prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/14/insurgent-box-office-prediction/

For my Do You Believe? prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/03/14/do-you-believe-box-office-prediction/

Oscar History: 2008

The 2008 Oscars will likely go down as the final year when only five films would compete in the granddaddy category of them all, Best Picture. The following year, the Academy would change it to ten and a couple years after that, developed a formula where anywhere from 5-10 movies could be recognized.

Many believe the reason is 2008’s exclusion of the critically lauded superhero sequel The Dark Knight, which had become the year’s highest grossing feature and was considered a major milestone in the burgeoning genre. Yet with the exception of its acclaimed Joker, Knight was shut out in the major categories.

Best Picture instead went to a true “little movie that could” – Danny Boyle’s out of nowhere critical and audience pleaser Slumdog Millionaire.

It would win out over David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon, Gus Van Sant’s Milk, and Stephen Daldry’s The Reader. It is a bit surprising that Oscar voters left out Knight and I would put forth that a decent argument could also be made for Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, which also stands as a creative high point in the comic book canon of movies.

In the Best Director category, it was a rare example of the five nominated auteurs matching the Picture nominees and Boyle would take home the gold over Fincher, Daldry, Van Sant, and Howard. Once again, Christopher Nolan would be on the outside looking in for his Knight direction.

Sean Penn would win his second Best Actor statue (2003’s Mystic River being the first) for playing gay activist Harvey Milk in Milk.

Other nominees: Richard Jenkins in The Visitor, Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon, Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button, and Mickey Rourke in a career comeback role as The Wrestler.

Certainly Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man could have been considered along with Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road, Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, and the Slumdog Millionaire himself Dev Patel.

After a number of nominations with no victories, Kate Winslet would win Best Actress for The Reader, beating out Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married). Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), and the omnipresent Meryl Streep (Doubt).

It was a bit surprising to see Cate Blanchett’s work in Benjamin Button go unrecognized.

The Dark Knight would win its Oscar with the late Heath Ledger taking Supporting Actor as the Joker. Other nominees: Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road).

While it was refreshing to see the Academy nominate a comedic performance like Downey’s in Tropic Thunder, an equally good argument could have been made for Tom Cruise’s role in that picture. Same goes for James Franco’s exemplary work as a stoner in Pineapple Express.

Woody Allen has directed several actresses to Supporting Actress wins and he did it again with Penelope Cruz in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

She would be victorious over Amy Adams in Doubt, Viola Davis – also for Doubt, Taraji P. Henson in Benjamin Button, and Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler.

I might’ve found room for Frances McDormand in the Coen Brothers Burn After Reading.

And that’s all for now on the Oscar History front! I’ll be back with 2009 in the near future…

This Day in Movie History: December 29

Eighteen years ago on This Day in Movie History – December 29 – brought a trio of pictures opening for Oscar qualifying runs. While none of them were nominated for Best Picture, they all found varying degrees of success with their actors being nominated for awards.

First up, Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi pic 12 Monkeys starring Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe, and Brad Pitt. It earned Oscar nominations for Mr. Pitt for Supporting Actor (his first nomination) and Costume Design. Pitt would lose in the category to Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects, but he did win the Golden Globe.

Next is Dead Man Walking, the capital punishment drama from director Tim Robbins starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. It would earn nominations for Director, Actor, Actress, and Original Song with a title track from Bruce Springsteen. Only Sarandon was victorious while Penn would lose to Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas.

Finally, Mr. Holland’s Opus with its Oscar nominated performance from Richard Dreyfuss in this drama spanning the life of a music teacher. Dreyfuss’s work was the only Academy nomination, but the pic turned into an unexpected box office hit with an $82 million domestic haul.

As for birthdays today, Jude Law is 41. Mr. Law has worked with some of the greatest directors alive from Scorsese (The Aviator) to Spielberg (A.I.: Artificial Intelligence) to Eastwood (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) to Nichols (Closer). Other notable roles include Gattaca, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Road to Perdition, Cold Mountain, Side Effects, and his work as Watson alongside Robert Downey Jr. in the two Sherlock Holmes flicks.

Danny McBride is 37 today and he’s one of the most recognizable faces in comedy over the past few years with roles in Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, Up in the Air, 30 Minutes or Less, Your Highness, and This is The End. There’s also his starring role in the HBO cult hit “Eastbound&Down”.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between the birthday performers:

Jude Law was in Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. was in Tropic Thunder with Danny McBride

And that’s today – December 29 – in Movie History!

Box Office Results: Christmas 2013 Weekend

There was a whole bunch of new movies that opened Christmas Day, but numbers 1-4 were occupied by holdovers. The Wolf of Wall Street was the top newcomer while The Secret Life of Walter Mitty had a just OK opening and 47 Ronin, Grudge Match, and Justin Bieber’s Believe disappointed.

For the third weekend in a row, it was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the top spot with $29.8 million – above my $25.7M estimate. The middle chapter in Peter Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy has earned $190 million in its three weeks of release so far.

Disney’s Frozen was close behind with $28.8 million, surpassing my $22.1M projection. The animated feature has grossed an impressive $248 million so far and should go north of $300 million when all is said and done.

Ron Burgundy and company were third with Anchorman: The Legend Continues earning $20.1 million in weekend #2, right in line with my $19.6M estimate. Anchorman has made $83.6 million so far, nearly matching the entire domestic gross of the original.

David O. Russell’s awards contender American Hustle was fourth with $19.5 million – beyond my $14.9M projection. Hustle has grossed $60 million in two weeks and is very likely to cross the century mark at some point.

It was Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street taking honors as top newbie. The three hour sex and drugs fest with Leo DiCaprio made $18.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend and $34.3 million since its Wednesday debut. While this is below my respective estimates of $25.4M and $44.2M, this is still a solid opening. Where Wolf could soon falter is with its C Cinemascore average. Audiences are clearly not liking what they’re seeing and there could be rather substantial drop-offs in future weekends.

Saving Mr. Banks with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks had a big jump in its second weekend with $14 million for sixth, above my $10.6M estimate. It’s earned $37.8M in two weeks.

Ben Stiller’s comedic drama The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was seventh with $13 million over Friday-to-Sunday and $25.5 million since the Wednesday start, outpacing my projections of $11.7M and $19.3M. This opening could best be described as middle of the pack and it’ll be interesting to see how it holds up over the next couple of weekends.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was eighth with $10.2 million, above my $7.7M projection. Fire has made $391 million since its November opening, currently sits at #18 for all-time domestic grossers, and still looks to top Iron Man 3 as 2013’s biggest hit.

The martial arts flick with Keanu Reeves 47 Ronin opened at ninth with $9.8 million over Friday-to-Sunday and $20.5 million since Wednesday. It earned under my predicted three-day estimated (I said $11.4M) but over my five-day estimate ($17.8M). Look for it to fade fast.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas rounded out the Top Ten with $7.4 million (I didn’t predict it would be in the top ten).

This left the Sylvester Stallone/Robert De Niro comedy Grudge Match at #11 with a very poor opening well below my expectations. Match grossed $7.3 million from Friday-to-Sunday and $13.4 million since Wednesday. I thought it would do much better and predicted $13.9M for the three-day and $24.5M for the five-day. Oops. This is Stallone’s third bomb of the year after Bullet to the Head and Escape Plan.

Finally, Beliebers totally failed to turn out for his documentary Believe. It sputtered at #14 with $2 million from Friday-to-Sunday and $4.2 million since the Wednesday start. I predicted it would do $5.8M for the three-day and $10.3 million for the five. Oops again.

Whew. And there’s your Christmas weekend box office results! Be sure to check the blog later today for my prediction next weekend’s only newcomer, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Box Office Prediction

One of the big question marks entering into the crowded Christmas holiday season is how The Secret Life of Walter Mitty will perform at the box office.

Ben Stiller directs and stars in the fantasy themed drama, which is loosely based on a 1947 Danny Kaye picture of the same name. Walter Mitty has been in development for nearly two decades. During that time period, various directors and actors were attached to the project including Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Gore Verbinski, Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson, Mike Myers, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Eventually it turned into a vehicle for Mr. Stiller, making his first directorial effort since 2008’s Tropic Thunder. Kristin Wiig and Sean Penn are among the costars.

At one time, Mitty was seen as a potential awards contender but the reviews have ended that prospect. The pic has generated mixed reviews and stands at a troubling 42% on Rotten Tomatoes. As has become a theme in my Christmas box office predictions, the high amount of competition is a factor in my estimate. This picture is going for an adult audience and there’s The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle out there. Those seeking a film with comedic elements may look to Anchorman 2 or Grudge Match. There’s also Saving Mr. Banks, which I anticipate will perform well in its second weekend after a rather soft debut. This all leads to me to believe that Mitty, coupled with its middling reviews, could get somewhat lost in the holiday shuffle.

I’m not convinced the pic’s marketing campaign has been successful in drawing significant audience interest for it. Mitty may struggle to reach $20 million over the five-day holiday time period.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty box office prediction: $11.7 million (Friday-to-Sunday), $19.3 million (Wednesday-to-Sunday)

For my prediction on The Wolf of Wall Street, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/the-wolf-of-wall-street-box-office-prediction/

For my prediction on Grudge Match, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/grudge-match-box-office-prediction/

For my prediction on 47 Ronin, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/47-ronin-box-office-prediction/

For my prediction on Justin Bieber’s Believe, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/justin-bieber-believe-box-office-prediction/

Gangster Squad and Broken City Movie Reviews

January is typically seen as a dumping ground for films that studios have little confidence in. When a picture opens in the first month of the year with big stars, that can usually be seen as a red flag. And so it is with Gangster Squad and Broken City, which both opened in January to disappointing box office results. Audiences got it right here – they’re both forgettable titles that don’t deserve the considerable talent involved.

Gangster Squad is from Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and takes place in Los Angeles circa 1949 when gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) has taken over the city with his particularly deadly Mob tactics. A straight-laced Sergeant (Josh Brolin) is enlisted by the police chief (Nick Nolte) to form a squad to take Mickey out and restore order at any cost. Brolin enlists lots of recognizable actors to help in the cause, from Ryan Gosling to Giovanni Ribisi to Michael Pena to Robert Patrick to Anthony Mackie.

The pic is a highly stylized exercise whose tone is closer to The Untouchables than other genre entries. The difference? The Untouchables was really good and effective. Squad feels unoriginal and derivative. Sure, it looks good, but you won’t remember much about it the morning. Most of the actors try their best, but they have skimpy material to work with.

Among the issues I had: we get a romance between Gosling’s character and Mickey’s girlfriend, played by Emma Stone. As you will recall, Gosling and Stone had major chemistry in 2011’s romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love. Here, their relationship is underwritten and dull and it left me wishing I was watching their previous movie. Sean Penn, one of the finest actors of his generation, goes way over the top as Mickey. Also, his make-up job is pretty ridiculous. Brolin’s character is a bit of a bore and ultra cliched. He even comes with the pregnant wife whose character is straight outta Screenwriting 101.

Gangster Squad wants to bash us over the head with its excessive violence, but never bothers to give us interesting, well-written characters to get involved with. Director Fleischer showed tremendous promise with the original Zombieland. This movie doesn’t have an original idea or thought in its head.

Gangster Squad: ** (out of four)

Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe headline Broken City from director Allen Hughes (who co-directed Menace II Society and From Hell with his brother). The city is New York City, where Wahlberg is an ex-cop turned private eye who’s hired by the corrupt Mayor (Crowe) to find out who his wife is sleeping with days before the Mayoral election. This leads to your usual double crosses and instances where “not all is at it seems!”.

The first hour or so of City is decent if unremarkable. Eventually, the screenplay moves toward twists and turns that rely on BIG and unbelievable conveniences, like Wahlberg finding key pieces of evidence in a dumpster where the rest of the documents are being shredded. Thank goodness they forgot to shred the most important piece of evidence!

Like Squad, the characters are poorly developed. Wahlberg’s story arc is a familiar one – he’s a cop who may or may not have shot an unarmed suspect. He had a drinking problem… wanna take bets on if he relapses? He’s conflicted about doing the right thing, yada, yada, yada…

Crowe adds some decent acting to an otherwise unremarkable character. Catherine Zeta-Jones doesn’t have much to do as his neglected wife, who may or may not be having an affair.

Broken City fails mostly because of a lackluster screenplay. Wahlberg and Crowe deserve better and director Hughes has certainly shown an ability to do far better.

Broken City: ** (out of four)

So the January curse holds true for these pictures. Are they both watchable? Sure, but with lots of end of 2012 titles just reaching home release and the summer season beginning at the multiplex, why waste your time? I just did that for you!