Adrift Box Office Prediction

Two stars known for their appearances in YA franchises team up for the romantic drama Adrift, setting sail in theaters next weekend. The pic stars Shailene Woodley (of The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent fame) and Sam Claflin (of The Hunger Games series) as sailors caught up in a perfect storm. Set in 1983 and based on a true story, the feature comes from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur – who made 2 Guns and Everest.

Adrift will attempt to bring in a female audience familiar with the two leads, but I believe it may face a rough forecast reaching them. There seems to be minimal buzz regarding the project. In my view, reaching low teens would be a high water mark and I have a feeling low double digits could be more likely.

Adrift opening weekend prediction: $11.7 million

For my Action Point prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/23/action-point-box-office-prediction/

For my Upgrade prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/24/upgrade-box-office-prediction/

Snowden Movie Review

Maybe there’s something to the notion that the passage of time when it comes to Oliver Stone’s political dramas is an asset. After all, JFK and Nixon are two of his most riveting and they took place a couple of decades beyond the events. Whether or not you agreed with the director’s conspiracy theories or characterizations, they both flourished on separate terms. The former crackled with energy as a legal and courtroom procedural. The latter felt like a glorious Shakespearean tragedy.

In these more recent years, Stone’s films of the genre have been concerned with issues in the fierce urgency of now. His third picture named after a President – 2008’s W. – was released while Bush 43 was still sitting in the Oval and it was unimpressive. His newest is Snowden, centering on the man who turned the American intelligence universe on its axis in 2013 and beyond. The common feeling I had for both? That a solid documentary about both stories would’ve been more effective. In this case, it actually was. The director’s visual flourishes and creative editing are here in spots, just as they were in his finest works. They’re welcome on occasion, yet 2014’s Oscar winning documentary Citizenfour essentially told the same story and didn’t need Stone’s talents to tell it in an interesting way.

Joseph Gordon Levitt is Edward Snowden, who worked for both the CIA and NSA and very famously grew disillusioned with their data mining practices. His disclosures of their content and of agency practice have given him both hero and traitor status, depending on who you’re talking to. The film opens in 2013 as he’s holed up in a Hong Kong hotel with three journalists as he prepares to reveal his secrets.

Snowden then traces about a decade of his journey through government employment, government frustration, and, finally, fleeing from the government. His relationship with girlfriend Lindsay (Shailene Woodley) is also explored, from the happy times to difficult ones as he can’t really talk about what happened at the office, ever. There are also a host of familiar actors playing reporters and federal employees, though the lens is firmly trained on the title character.

Stone’s biopic presents its subject as whip smart, patriotic, and determined to right perceived wrongs. That Mr. Snowden himself makes an appearance towards the conclusion stamps his approval. Levitt does a fine job mimicking his cadence and mannerisms and his low-key persona. For those who didn’t catch watching the real man in Citizenfour, this could serve as an OK telling of the tale as Stone sees it. Yet I could not completely escape the thought of that filmmaker who’s done much better dramatically when longer political seasons passed between their happenings.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Snowden

Oliver Stone has won two Best Director Oscars for 1986’s Platoon and 1989’s Born on the Fourth of July. He’s received little love from the Academy for the past two decades and his new true life political thriller Snowden hits screen next weekend.

It screened at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend. The verdict? Look for the lack of Oscar attention to continue. Some reviews marked it as a return to form for Mr. Stone, but others weren’t impressed. The tale of CIA analyst Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon Levitt) had originally been scheduled to open late last year before being delayed.

The buzz is muted enough that I don’t expect any nominations for it, including its director, lead, and supporting cast that includes Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Zachary Quinto, and Nicolas Cage.

As the Toronto Festival rolls along, so will my Oscar Watch posts.

Snowden Box Office Prediction

Four have passed since Oliver Stone released his last picture and it’s been eight years since he’s gotten political. That changes next weekend when Snowden hits theaters. This is a biopic of former CIA analyst Edward Snowden with Joseph Gordon -Levitt in the title role. A stellar supporting cast includes Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Zachary Quinto, Scott Eastwood, Timothy Olyphant, Rhys Ifans, and Nicolas Cage.

The thriller was originally set for release in December of last year before being pushed to May and, finally, September. Snowden will be a test as to whether audiences wish to spend over two hours witnessing a story well-publicized in the press and already covered in the recent documentary Citizenfour.

My feeling is the answer will be no. Political dramas often struggle at the box office and I don’t see that as an exception. My prediction is Snowden doesn’t reach double digits in its debut as many moviegoers may be getting their fill of current events on the small screen.

Snowden opening weekend prediction: $6.8 million

For my Blair Witch prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/07/blair-witch-box-office-prediction/

For my Bridget Jones’s Baby prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/07/bridget-joness-baby-box-office-prediction/

For my Hillsong – Let Hope Rise prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/12/hillsong-let-hope-rise-box-office-prediction/

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Box Office Prediction

Shailene Woodley and company are back next weekend in The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the third entry in the YA adaptations from author Veronica Roth. The dystopian sci fi pic arrives in the same March slot as its predecessors, 2014’s Divergent and last year’s Insurgent. Director Robert Schwentke is back behind the camera and costars include Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, and Zoe Kravitz.

Second installment Insurgent saw a slight dip from the first entry. While Divergent debuted to $54 million and eventually grossed $150M domestic, Insurgent opened at $52 million with an overall $130M tally. Reviews for Allegiant haven’t been kind… it sits at 0% currently on Rotten Tomaotes and I look for its returns to continue diminishing. Even the third and fourth Hunger Games pics saw dips from the first two and this should follow suit.

I’ll say this first Allegiant (the second part arrives in March 2017) will be the first of the series to fall below the $50M mark out of the gate with low to mid 40s being more probable.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant opening weekend prediction: $43.7 million

For my Miracles from Heaven prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/03/10/miracles-from-heaven-box-office-prediction/

Oscar History: 2011

For the Academy Awards, 2011 will forever be known as the year when a French black and white silent film came out of nowhere to win three major categories, including Best Picture. That would be The Artist and it picked up momentum over its rivals, becoming one of the more unlikely recipients of the prize in some time.

During that year, the number of Picture nominees was nine and it beat out The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. 

As for some others I may have considered, my favorite film of the year was Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. Another personal favorite: David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Furthermore, the expanded list of nominees could have given the Academy a chance to nominate some of the better blockbusters that year: Rise of the Planet of the Apes or Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol for example.

The Artist‘s auteur Michel Hazanavicius would win Director over stellar competitors: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), and Martin Scorsese (Hugo). Again, Mr. Refn and Mr. Fincher would have made my cut.

The Artist love continued in Best Actor where Jean Dujardin took the prize over Demian Bichir (A Better Life), George Clooney (The Descendants), Gary Oldman in his first (??) nomination (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Brad Pitt (Moneyball).

I may have found room for Ryan Gosling’s silent but strong work in Drive or perhaps even Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid, Love – in which he showed off real dramatic acting chops coupled with his comedic abilities for the first time.

Awards darling Meryl Streep took Best Actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher (no relation) in The Iron Lady. Othern nominees: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn).

The Academy’s penchant for ignoring comedy was shown here as Kristin Wiig should have merited consideration for her megahit Bridesmaids.

Beloved veteran Christopher Plummer won Supporting Actor for Beginners over Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn), Jonah Hill (Moneyball), Nick Nolte (Warrior), and Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).

Two others I may have made room for: Albert Brooks in Drive and especially the brilliant motion capture work of Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Octavia Spencer was victorious in Supporting Actress for The Help over her costar Jessica Chastain, as well as Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Melissa McCarthy in the rare nod for comedy in Bridesmaids, and Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs).

Two other comedic performances worthy of consideration: Rose Byrne in Bridesmaids and Jennifer Aniston’s scene stealing work in Horrible Bosses. I also would have found room for Shailene Woodley in The Descendants.

And that’s your Oscar history for 2011, folks! I’ll have 2012 up in the near future.

Divergent Movie Review

Divergent exists because of The Hunger Games. While it may be based on its own series of popular YA novels (which were probably also “inspired” by the Games books), it’s the success of Jennifer Lawrence and company that made this possible. Imitation isn’t always so bad if you can find a somewhat interesting way to do it. Yet for the most part, despite a solid effort from the actors involved, Divergent often feels dull, way too familiar, and poorly paced.

In a dystopian future (of course), the city of Chicago now looks like District 12 and society is divided into five needlessly complicated factions where at age 16, citizens must choose where they wish to belong. There’s a faction for smart people and brave people and selfless people and so on. As we open, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is about to take her test to find out where she belongs, as is her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort). You take the test to show where to go, but have free will to join another group. You can also be considered divergent, which means you don’t fit into any faction. The powers that be don’t like the free will thinking of that subgroup and kill them. Beatrice turns out to be just that and must hide it from everyone. She joins Dauntless (the brave law enforcement team) to the surprise of her parents (Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd), who are involved in the government ruling selfless faction. Brother Caleb joins the smart people group. Katniss volunteers in place of her little sis… oh, wrong movie.

If this all sounds more complicated than it needs to be, you would be correct. Soon enough, though, we’re in known territory with training sequences that take Tris (she shortens Beatrice) on a physical and mental journey. There’s also several shades of Inception in the proceedings, as part of the training involves dream like worlds and reading minds.

One of Tris’s Dauntless superiors is Four (Theo James) and he becomes her love interest who may have some easily predicted secrets of his own. There’s also Woodley’s Spectacular Now boyfriend Miles Teller as a weasel of a faction member. This is in addition to Shailene’s romantic counterpart Elgort as her brother. So while there’s no love triangle, our lead actress’s filmography makes things kinda awkward.

Kate Winslet leads the smart people faction, who have evil designs on taking over the government themselves. This puts Tris in the position of needing to protect her family while furiously protecting her true divergent nature.

The plus side of Divergent is really with Woodley. She’s a fine actress and she provides a better performance than the material. Same goes for James and most of the other personnel. That’s pretty much where the compliments stop. Some of the action is OK, but Divergent is just so routine. The look and feel borrow way too heavily from the aforementioned other franchise. They even cast Hunger Games costar Lenny’s daughter Zoe Kravitz as Tris’s BFF (best faction friend).

There is an admittedly nifty sequence where Tris simulates flying, albeit in a different way than her costar Winslet did in that movie about a boat and an iceberg. Divergent tries too hard to emulate The King of the YA Adapted Films and hits its own metaphorical ‘berg.

** (out of four)

Insurgent Box Office Prediction

Opening a year after the hit Divergent, Insurgent is the second picture in a series of wildly popular YA novels penned by Veronica Roth. Stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Kate Winslet and Zoe Kravitz are back in the mix, along with newcomers to the franchise Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer.

While this series will likely never do Hunger Games level numbers, the original opened to an impressive $54 million last March on its way to a $150 million domestic haul. It doesn’t hurt that Woodley, Teller, and Elgort have kept themselves firmly in the public eye with recent commercial and critical hits such as The Fault in Our Stars and Whiplash.

The big question is whether or not Insurgent manages to open larger than its predecessor. My gut feeling is that it will, even though competition among female fans will be considerable with Cinderella’s second weekend. I believe this will manage to break the $60 million mark out of the gate.

Insurgent opening weekend prediction: $62.1 million

For my prediction on The Gunman, click here:

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

For my Do You Believe? prediction, click here:

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

2014: The Year of Shailene Woodley

Just like I did in 2013, today brings us a series where I feature three actors and three actresses who had a very good year in 2014. To recap in 2013 – my individual honors went to Jennifer Lawrence, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Melissa McCarthy, and James Franco.

For 2014 – we have a fresh new crop of performers who had a significant impact at the box office and we begin with Shailene Woodley. Many of us first noticed the actress as George Clooney’s rebellious daughter in 2010’s The Descendants before moving to an acclaimed role in 2013’s The Spectacular Now. 

This year broke her out in a massive way. It began with March’s Divergent, which will be the first in a planned series of four pictures (with the second opening this March). Woodley headlined the YA feature which grossed a strong $150 million.

June brought The Fault in Our Stars, based on the bestselling YA novel which earned her rave reviews and went onto gross $124 million. With these two hits in a row, Woodley is successfully carving out an interesting career path that’s not unlike Jennifer Lawrence.

Her Divergent and Spectacular Now costar Miles Teller had a heckuva year himself with that feature plus the lauded indie hit Whiplash.

2014 will definitely go down as the year when Shailene Woodley burst into the mainstream and it looks like she’s here to stay.

For my post on The Year of Kevin Hart, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/23/2014-the-year-of-kevin-hart/

For my post on The Year of Scarlett Johannson, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/23/2014-the-year-of-scarlett-johannson/

For my post on The Year of Chris Pratt, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/23/2014-the-year-of-chris-pratt/

For my post on The Year of Angelina Jolie, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/23/2014-the-year-of-angelina-jolie/

For my post on The Year of Michael Keaton, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/12/23/2014-the-year-of-michael-keaton/

Todd’s Oscar Predictions: Round FOUR (December Edition)

We have arrived at take #4 of my Oscar Predictions and these reflect my first predictions in the month of December. Much has changed since my last pre-Thanksgiving picks. Most importantly, the nominations for the SAG and Golden Globe awards have been released and they obviously show many directions in which the Academy could go. Just as importantly, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken screened for critics. Many anticipated the picture could be a potential Oscar front runner. However, it didn’t pan out that way with its current 55% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It may struggle now to be nominated at all.

As I’ve done before, let’s breakdown the eight major categories one by one:

Best Adapted Screenplay

Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything appear to be locks for nominations here. I will still include Unbroken, though its inclusion is less clear. The fifth slot could be anything from Still Alice to American Sniper to Into the Woods. Yet (for now) I’ll go with Wild. This latest round replaces Into the Woods with the Reese Witherspoon drama.

Predicted Nominees

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Wild

Best Original Screenplay

No changes here in a very strong category. However, the list of movies that could be spoiler nominees includes Mr. Turner, Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year, and even The LEGO Movie.

Predicted Nominees

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Selma

Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Just one change here as I’m taking out Carmen Ejogo for Selma and replacing her with Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year. Other potential nominees: Laura Dern in Wild, Carrie Coon in Gone Girl, and Kristen Stewart in Still Alice.

Predicted Nominees

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

The disappointment of the Unbroken reaction has led me to take out Miyavi for that picture and replace him with Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Johnson in Selma. Other potential nominees: Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice and Tim Roth in Selma. Robert Duvall has landed SAG and Globe nods, but I still can’t bring myself to include him yet.

Predicted Nominees

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Tom Wilkinson, Selma

Best Actress

This category seems to have four locks: Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, and Rosamund Pike. The five spot is truly up for grabs. It could go to Hilary Swank (The Homesman), Jennifer Aniston (Cake), Emily Blunt (Into the Woods), or Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars). For now – I’m taking Blunt out and predicting the final slot goes to Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night.

Predicted Nominees

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Actor

In any other year – Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Jake Gyllenhall (Nightcrawler), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), and Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) might find themselves in the mix. However, there are five other strong contenders and they’re the same that I predicted last month.

Predicted Nominees

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

David Oyelowo, Selma

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Director

I’ve had Angelina Jolie included in my previous three posts, but she’s out for the first time. I’m replacing her with David Fincher for now. Other possibilities include Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), and JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year), among others.

Predicted Nominees

Ana DuVernay, Selma

David Fincher, Gone Girl

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Picture

Two changes here as Into the Woods and Interstellar are out. I’m still including Unbroken, but it may be in serious danger. The two newbies have both been predicted in previous posts but not last month: Foxcatcher and Gone Girl. 

Other pictures not predicted that could find a way in: The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, and Mr. Turner.

Predicted Nominees

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Whiplash

And that’s the latest folks! I’ll likely have a part two December predictions before the dawn of 2015. Stay tuned!