June 21-23 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (06/19): and it’s a significant one. Revising my Toy Story 4 estimate down from $191.5 million to $167.5 million.

It’s a toy fest at the box office this weekend as Pixar’s massive franchise and an iconic demonic doll look to populate the 1-2 spots on the charts. Toy Story 4 and the reboot of Child’s Play are the big debuts, as well as Luc Besson’s action thriller Anna. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/12/toy-story-4-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/13/childs-play-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/13/anna-box-office-prediction/

The question for the fourth iteration of Woody and Buzz is not whether it opens at #1, but whether or not it sets the all-time opening record for an animated feature. Unlike what we’ve seen in the past few weekends, this should not be a sequel that fails to meet expectations. In order to nab the record, it needs to top Pixar’s Incredibles 2 from last summer. That sequel made $182 million out of the gate. I’m predicting Toy Story 4 will outdo it by nearly $10 million.

I’m projecting that Child’s Play will reach high teens and that should be enough to put it in second place. I figure enough horror fans can assist Chucky’s return to multiplexes to get it there (as long as they’re not all holding their money for next week’s Annabelle Comes Home).

The real battle could be for the third position. Men in Black: International was a major flop. While I don’t see it plummeting over 70% like Dark Phoenix, a mid 50s (and maybe a bit more) dip is certainly feasible. That puts it in a horse race with The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Aladdin, which could benefit from drive-in pairings with Toy Story.

As for Anna, my lowly $3.6 million puts it outside the top five.

Here’s how I have it playing out:

1. Toy Story 4

Predicted Gross: $167.5 million

2. Child’s Play

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

3. Men in Black: International

Predicted Gross: $13.1 million

4. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $13 million

5. The Secret Life of Pets 2

Predicted Gross: $12.6 million

Box Office Results (June 1416)

While Will Smith’s genie in Aladdin is raking up the bucks, Sony was not granted their wish of a successful franchise reboot with Men in Black: International. The film opened in first, but with a disappointing $30 million (on target with my $30.7 million projection). Don’t look for Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson to don the shades again – though you’ll probably see them revise their Thor characters again.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 dropped to second with $24.4 million (I said $23.4 million) as it sniffs the century mark at $92 million after two weeks.

Aladdin was third with $17.3 million, topping my $15.7 million forecast. It’s up to $264 million as it should cross $300 million domestically.

Rocketman was fourth and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. The Elton John biopic took in $9.4 million and it’s at $52 million overall.

After its poor debut, Dark Phoenix tumbled to fifth with $9.3 million. I was more generous at $11.8 million. With just $52 million in ten days, this looks to be the first X-Men entry that won’t reach $100 million stateside.

The sequel and reboot fatigue manifested itself again with Shaft, which flopped in sixth with only $8.9 million, coming in far below my $16.8 million prediction.

Late Night expanded nationwide to so-so results in ninth place with $5.2 million, a touch more than my $4.5 million take.

Finally, zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die was 12th on just over 600 screens with $2.5 million compared to my $1.8 million projection.

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

June 14-16 Box Office Predictions

A variety of new pictures debut or expand this weekend with franchise reboot Men in Black: International, another franchise reboot Shaft, critically appreciated comedy Late Night, and not so critically appreciated comedy The Dead Don’t Die hitting screens. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/05/men-in-black-international-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/06/shaft-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/__trashed/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/the-dead-dont-die-box-office-prediction/

With Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson taking over lead roles from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, International hopes to bring in a new generation of alien crime fighter aficionados. Yet this could go the way of last weekend’s Dark Phoenix, which set a franchise low for an opening weekend. I predict that a low 30s haul will achieve that dubious mark, but it should have little difficulty hitting #1.

My mid teens estimate for Shaft should put it in third after the sophomore frame of current champ The Secret Life of Pets 2, which itself suffered from an acute case of sequelitis.

The rest of the top five should be filled by holdovers Aladdin and Phoenix, which I anticipate having a severe drop just like Godzilla: King of the Monsters did in its second weekend.

As for Late Night, it had a terrific limited release on just four screens this past weekend, but it could face some difficulties with its 1500 theater release. My $4.5 million forecast puts it outside the top five. Same for The Dead Don’t Die, which I have at $1.8 million at its approximately 550 theater count.

And with that, my top five estimates for the weekend ahead:

1. Men in Black: International

Predicted Gross: $30.7 million

2. The Secret Life of Pets 2

Predicted Gross: $23.4 million

3. Shaft

Predicted Gross: $16.8 million

4. Aladdin

Predicted Gross: $15.7 million

5. Dark Phoenix

Predicted Gross: $11.8 million

Box Office Results (June 79)

It was not a good weekend to be a sequel as the two newbies placed 1-2, but with significantly less cash than their predecessors. The Secret Life of Pets 2 was first with $46.6 million, well under my estimate of $65.2 million. That’s not even half of the $104 million achieved by its 2016 predecessor and with Toy Story 4 on the horizon, it could fade quickly.

The X-Men franchise cratered as Dark Phoenix was second with $32.8 million compared to my $45.3 million projection. The previous lowest premiere in the series occurred in 2013 when The Wolverine made $53 million out of the gate. This fell more than $20 million under that. Studio Fox didn’t even bother sugarcoating it… it’s a serious flop. New owner Disney will need to figure out a new way to make this series of characters viable into the future.

Aladdin was third with $24.6 million (I said $26.5 million) for a three-week tally of $232 million.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters fell hard in its second frame with $15.4 million, under my $16.9 million prediction. It’s at $78 million.

Rocketman was fifth in its sophomore outing at $13.8 million (I said $14.9 million) for a ten day total of $50 million.

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

Shaft Box Office Prediction

The third generation of the Shaft family debuts in theaters next weekend with Jessie Usher playing an FBI agent in the action pic. Arriving nearly 50 years after Richard Roundtree played John Shaft and almost two decades after Samuel L. Jackson played his nephew, both actors are present in the newest iteration. Tim Story (maker of the Ride Along pics) directs with a supporting cast including Alexandra Shipp, Regina Hall, and Method Man.

Reportedly made for a smallish $30 million budget, the studio behind Shaft would love to match the $21 million opening weekend debut of the 2000 Jackson led summer flick. Tracking puts in right in that range. However, we’ve seen reboots disappoint in 2019.

I’ll say this gets to mid to high teens and considering the price tag, that’s not too shabby.

Shaft opening weekend prediction: $16.8 million

For my Men in Black: International prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/05/men-in-black-international-box-office-prediction/

For my Late Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/__trashed/

For my The Dead Don’t Die prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/09/the-dead-dont-die-box-office-prediction/

BlacKkKlansman Movie Review

Spike Lee mixes laughter with anger in the truth is stranger than fiction tale BlacKkKlansman. While it takes some liberties with historical accuracies (set seven years earlier than when its events actually transpired), there’s no mistaking Lee’s connecting of the then with the now. He’s not a subtle filmmaker and this finds him in his feisty and stylish element.

It’s 1972 and we know that from the strategically placed Nixon re-election signs. There’s also discussions on who’s a better movie hero – Superfly or Shaft? Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is a rookie cop hired as the first black officer in Colorado Springs. His superiors assign him to go undercover at a civil rights rally to monitor behavior. That leads Stallworth requesting a more unconventional operation, especially for the era. He wishes to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, a group whose actions are more worthy of keeping tabs on. The color of his skin obviously presents a challenge. So while he establishes a relationship with Klansmen over the phone, it’s fellow detective Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) who joins them.

The main characters of the local Klan organization are the untrusting Felix (Jasper Paakkonen), the too trusting Walter (Ryan Eggold), and trusted to be always drunk Ivanhoe (Paul Walter Hauser). Stallworth’s telephone skills eventually put him in touch with Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace). It so happens that the Klan’s targets could involve Stallworth’s love interest Patrice (Laura Harrier), the president of the black student union.

BlacKkKlansman is a police procedural for much of its running time with numerous excursions in grander issues. There’s a wonderfully edited sequence going back and forth between two very different rallies discussing the same subject – D.W. Griffith’s incendiary 1915 epic The Birth of a Nation. While this is set 46 years ago, the screenplay explores that time over 100 years ago in riveting fashion. It also touches on the present day in Charlottesville with fierce urgency.

There are times when Lee is saying that little has really changed. Washington (whose voice in particular resembles his father Denzel’s) shows himself to be a promising performer. Some of the biggest laughs come from his phone banter with the clueless Duke. Driver’s character has perhaps the most interesting story arc. He’s a non-practicing Jew who’s at first ambivalent about his assignment. His disgust with the people he’s infiltrated with soon matches that of Stallworth. The romance with Patrice is a bit underwritten, but it’s a minor quibble.

Tonal shifts are abundant here. It serves less as a distraction than a message that humor can be found through the pain of racism and the characters who display it. The images of Charlottesville also show both rallies in that event and it’s a heart wrenching scene. BlacKkKlansman, through light and dark moments, is a stark reminder of our past and present that is Lee’s own rallying cry.

***1/2 (out of four)