American Underdog tells the story of Kurt Warner, who went from undrafted quarterback to Super Bowl winner in his first season as a starter. It comes from directors Andrew and Joe Erwin, who have found success with faith based dramas like Woodlawn (another true life gridiron tale) and I Can Only Imagine. Zachary Levi of Shazam! fame is Warner with Anna Paquin as his wife and Dennis Quaid playing Coach Dick Vermeil.
Opening Christmas Day (a Saturday), Underdog will indeed be just that considering the holiday competition. The Erwin brothers have a commendable track record, but whether this registers with a Christian fanbase is an open question.
Underdog could surprise and reach double digits, but a gross of $6-8 million for its (rare) two-day opening weekend is likely where this plays.
American Underdog opening weekend prediction: $7.2 million
For my The Matrix Resurrections prediction, click here:
Mixing the typical comic book movie issues with a little Big and even a touch of the recent InstantFamily, the DC Comics adaptation of Shazam! is able to produce crowd pleasing results. As the DCU must turn to their less iconic characters for feature attention, I would say the title hero here is somewhat equivalent to the MCU’s Ant-Man. He’s sarcastic. He’s not as serious. In fact, if the knock on this overall universe is that it’s too dark (think BatmanvSuperman: DawnofJustice or JusticeLeague), Shazam! is practically translucent.
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a foster kid jumping between temporary dwellings after being separated from his mom as a toddler. The young teen seems to find a decent home with five other children and kindly caregivers. Yet he’s still searching from mom.
In a prologue circa 1974, we meet another youngster by way of Thaddeus Sivana. He experiences a mystical meetup with Shazam in the form of Djimon Hounsou in heavy old age makeup. Trying to find a human worthy of inheriting his considerable superpowers, he deems him not properly pure of heart. Sivana grows up to be Mark Strong with a myopic focus on battling the eventual Shazam.
That turns out to be Billy. When he is called for his own encounter with Hounsou, he gets the job. This means when he utters “Shazam!”, he turns into Zachary Levi (who could have been cast as Superman). He’s still a teen embodying a comic book strongman and that takes a lot of learning. One of his foster siblings (Jack Dylan Grazer) is in on the secret.
A lot of exposition must be established here and Shazam! probably doesn’t need to be over two hours long. The mommy and daddy issues explored are quite familiar to genre fans. The film does manage to find slightly different angles. Just as InstantFamily showed the true heroism of foster parents, so does this. Levi is a hoot as our crime fighting man child. Strong is fine, but he doesn’t exactly alter the general rule that the villains in many of these pics aren’t as interesting as they should be.
Shazam! works best when it’s focused on Billy/Shazam while he works with his new family and not while grappling with Savani and his monstrous CGI creatures that represent The Seven Deadly Sins. Director David F. Sandberg has crafted an origin story with a lot of heart among the usual action and it fosters enough appreciation to make this rewarding.
As we all catch our breath from the astounding debut of Avengers: Endgame, the first weekend of May brings three new titles all vying for second place behind Tony Stark and company. They are the animated UglyDolls, Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron comedy LongShot, and homeownership thriller TheIntruder with a demented Dennis Quaid. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
All three films have legit chances at premiering in second. I’m skeptical about UglyDolls, even though the plush toys it’s based on are well-known. LongShot has reviews on its side, but could be more of a slow builder. That leaves TheIntruder and I do believe it could appeal to an older and African-American audience. Therefore I’ll say it becomes the silver medalist.
This brings us to the sophomore frame of Endgame. It broke basically every record there is over the weekend (more on that below). Predecessor InfinityWar dipped 55% last year. This might be a tad more front loaded, but probably not by much. I’ll give it a 57% slide. That means another record should be in store as my estimate puts it over the best all-time second weekend, which is StarWars: TheForceAwakens at $149 million.
And with that, my top 5 estimates for the weekend ahead:
1. Avengers: Endgame
Predicted Gross: $153.6 million
Predicted Gross: $15.2 million
Predicted Gross: $13.8 million
Predicted Gross: $13.1 million
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million
History was made this weekend as Avengers: Endgame rocketed past even the most lofty expectations and left record after record in its wake. The MCU epic took in an otherworldly $357.1 million, scorching my $289.6 million projection. That’s not only the biggest opening of all time… it’s $100 million more than previous holder Avengers: InfinityWar from last summer. The question as to whether it eventually surpasses the $936 million achieved by all-time domestic earner TheForceAwakens is real.
As if Endgame didn’t provide enough embarrassment of riches, CaptainMarvel climbed to second (thanks drive-ins) with $8.3 million (I said $8.7 million) for $413 million overall.
TheCurseofLaLlorona was third with $8 million compared to my higher $10 million forecast. The two-week tally is $41 million.
Breakthrough was fourth with $6.8 million (I said $6.3 million). Total is $26 million.
Shazam! rounded out the top five with $5.5 million. I was generous at $7.4 million. It’s at $131 million.
After the worst Easter weekend at the box office in a decade and a sub par 2019 overall, expect things to pick up considerably on Friday. In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a little something called Avengers: Endgame debuting and it appears poised to smash the all-time opening record. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:
The grand finale of this current MCU phase has been selling out theaters for weeks and anticipation for the multi billion dollar franchise epic is sky-high. In order to top the record holder, it will need to rise up over the $257 million earned one year ago by predecessor Avengers: InfinityWar.
I believe it will do that with more than $30 million to spare as it injects needed life into the movie business. As you can imagine, no other feature dared to premiere against Iron Man and his pals. TheCurseofLaLlorona should fall to second after a decent debut. CaptainMarvel could be the beneficiary of the rare drive-in effect as the MCU flick should be paired with Endgame in multiple venues. This helped BlackPanther last year when it dropped only 4% thanks to InfinityWar. DC’s superhero tale Shazam! should dip to fourth with Breakthrough rounding out the top five.
And with that, my projections for a potentially historic weekend:
As mentioned, the Easter frame was hardly hopping as many moviegoers decided to save their cash for Endgame. TheCurseofLaLlorona, as expected, posted the lowest start ever for a Conjuring Cinematic Universe title. However, its $26.3 million haul did scare up more than my $20.1 million projection.
Shazam! dropped to second after two weeks in first with $16.4 million, ahead of my $14 million forecast. The total is $120 million.
Faith based drama Breakthrough was no HeavenIsforReal in third with $11.2 million from to Friday to Sunday and $14.7 million since its Wednesday premiere. That’s quite a bit under my respective expectations of $16.9 million and $22 million.
CaptainMarvel had a remarkable increase from the previous weekend with $9.1 million for fourth place. That’s well above my $6 million estimate as the MCU behemoth reached $400 million domestically, right in time for her Endgame appearance.
Little rounded out the top five with $8.3 million (I said $7.8 million) for $29 million in two weeks.
Finally, the DisneyNature doc Penguins fell flat with just $2.2 million for 12th place and $3.2 million counting its Wednesday jumpstart. I was higher at $3.5 million and $5 million.
It’s Easter weekend at the box office and we have three new pictures opening. There’s The Darkness (TheCurseofLaLlorona), The Light (Breakthrough), and The Penguins (Penguins). Two of them will attempt to dislodge Shazam! from its two-week perch in the top spot. Yet this holiday frame will likely be known as “the one before Avengers: Endgame opened”. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newcomers here:
TheCurseofLaLlorona takes place in the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, but it hasn’t really been marketed heavily as such. Therefore I believe it will easily have the lowest debut of the franchise, but still manage to top the charts.
Breakthrough has the potential to do just that with faith-based crowds. I do question whether it can manage to achieve what HeavenIsforReal accomplished five Easter’s ago ($29 million for its five-day gross). Debuting on Wednesday, I’ll say mid teens for the traditional weekend and low 20s when factoring in the extra days.
Penguins is the latest DisneyNature venture. The latest efforts in the series have earned between $4-$5 million for their starts. This opens on Wednesday as well, so I’ll put it a touch under. My $3.5 million Friday to Sunday projection ($5 million five-day) puts this outside my top five.
Shazam! should slide to third after two weeks in first position with Little coming in fourth. As for the five-spot, I’m saying CaptainMarvel. It should experience a smaller percentage decline than Hellboy and Dumbo. That could be good enough to take it from sixth to fifth before she joins her superhero pals next weekend in Endgame.
And with that, my take on the holiday weekend:
Predicted Gross: $20.1 million
Predicted Gross: $16.9 million (Friday to Sunday); $22 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
As expected, Shazam! retained its perch on top with $24.4 million, a bit lower than my $28.2 million prediction. The DC tale is sniffing the century mark after ten days with $94 million.
The Regina Hall comedy Little led four newcomers in second with $15.4 million, managing to exceed my $14 million projection.
The story of the weekend was the pitiful performance of Hellboy. The comic book based reboot bombed with just $12 million in third, under my $17.4 million take. This potential franchise pretty much ended before it began.
PetSematary was fourth in its sophomore outing with $9.7 million (I said $10.5 million). Total is $40 million.
I incorrectly had Dumbo outside the top five and it made $9.4 million to bring its tally to $90 million.
College romance After was eighth and topped most estimates with $6 million. I was much lower at $3.7 million.
Finally, Laika Animation has its worst opening by a lot. MissingLink, despite positive reviews, couldn’t find an audience. It took in just $5.9 million for ninth. I was considerably higher at $11.7 million.
Over the past year and change, the superhero genre has been flush with massive successes such as BlackPanther, Avengers: InfinityWar, Aquaman, CaptainMarvel, and current box office champ Shazam!, which has dutifully met expectations. The upcoming Avengers: Endgame is looking to set the all time opening record in two weeks. Something was bound to eventually get lost in the shuffle and that turned out to be Hellboy this weekend.
The film rebooted the Dark Horse Comics franchise that debuted in 2004 with Guillermo del Toro behind the camera and Ron Perlman as the horn clad anti-hero. A 2008 sequel, HellboyII: TheGoldenArmy, built on the grosses of its predecessor.
Neil Marshall took over directorial duties for the new Hellboy with David Harbour of “Stranger Things” cast as the title character. All along the way, the marketing campaign seemed curiously muted. It was as if Lionsgate might have known they had a dog on their hands. And they did. The review embargo didn’t lift until late this week. Rotten Tomatoes has been ripe with bad critical reaction with a 15% score. CinemaScore audiences haven’t been kind either with a lowly C rating.
On Sunday, the initial results have Hellboy in third place with just $12 million. Not only is that behind the second frame of Shazam!, it’s after the debut of the Regina Hall comedy Little. To put that in perspective, the 2004 Hellboy made $23 million out of the gate. TheGoldenArmy took in $34 million. For both of those films, the opening weekends represented a hefty chunk of the overall earnings. In the case of the second installment, it fell hard in its sophomore frame due to another comic boom sequel premiering called TheDarkKnight. With its toxic word of mouth, I expect this version to tumble at least 60% in weekend #2 and probably more.
If there’s any silver lining for the studio, it’s that the reboot cost a reported $50 million. That’s certainly low on the scale for this genre. Yet we can be sure this iteration of the character is a one-off. And we’ve found out what the depths of Hellboy are on a financial level and it’s not pretty.
A quartet of new titles attempt to knock critically acclaimed superhero Shaza! out of the top spot this weekend, but that looks to be a tall order. We have comic book franchise reboot Hellboy, Laika Animation’s MissingLink, Regina Hall comedy Little, and college set romance After. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
There is a great deal of uncertainty with how the newbies will perform this weekend. It seems highly likely, on the other hand, that DC’s newest crime fighter will retain the top spot. After premiering right in line with expectations, I have Shaza! dipping in the mid to high 40s and comfortably staying first,
Hellboy is a known brand, but it’s been a decade since the character was onscreen. Buzz seems very muted, but I’ll still say a high teens opening should be enough to nab it the runner-up spot. I’m shaky on it though.
Little has breakout potential, but I’m not willing yet to predict high teens. My lower teens estimate puts it in third and that’s just ahead of MissingLink, which I’m projecting will hit the lower debut end of other material from its studio.
After is a real head scratcher. The novel it’s based on has its fans. It opens on the smallest number of screens for the debuts (about 2000). I’m going pretty low with $3.7 million and that’s well outside the top 5. Yet the potential for it to surprise is real.
PetSematary could fall from second to fifth in its sophomore frame with about a 50% dip. That’s pretty normal for horror pics.
And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:
Predicted Gross: $28.2 million
Predicted Gross: $17.4 million
Predicted Gross: $14 million
Predicted Gross: $11.7 million
Predicted Gross: $10.5 million
As mentioned, DC had a nice weekend as Shazam! hit its mark with $53.5 million, just ahead of my $52.5 million take. Sporting solid reviews, it should make a sizable chunk of change before The Avengers roll in at month’s end.
PetSematary posted a decent start in second with $24.5 million. It also had critical stamp of approval. The Stephen King adaptation fell quite a bit shy of my generous $34.7 million prediction.
The middling news for Dumbo continued. After a lackluster start, the elephant tale was third in weekend #2 with $18.2 million. My estimate flew higher at $22.3 million. The two-week tally sits at $76 million.
Us was fourth with $13.7 million in its third outing, falling behind my expectation of $16.6 million. However, the $20 million horror pic has amassed $152 million thus far.
CaptainMarvel rounded out the top five with $12.4 million (I said $12.2 million) for $373 million overall.
Finally, the civil rights drama TheBestofEnemies underwhelmed in sixth with just $4.4 million compared to my $5.9 million forecast.
Rebooting itself 15 years after its half demon anti-hero first appeared in theaters, Hellboy hits theaters next weekend. Based on the Dark Horse Comics that started in the early 90s, David Harbour of “Stranger Things” takes over the title role from Ron Perlman. Costars include Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, and Thomas Haden Church. Neil Marshall, best known for making horror pic TheDescent, directs after Guillermo del Toro handled the first two installments.
In 2004, the original film adaptation took in $23 million in its opening frame and $59 million total domestically. It took on cult status quickly and that catapulted 2008’s HellboyII: TheGoldenArmy to a $34 million start with $75 million overall.
Those numbers are nowhere in the MCU or DCEU range as of late. While certainly different in tone, Hellboy arrives during the second weekend of Shazam!, which should still be performing well and a month after CaptainMarvel. The chances of this, which seems to be lacking buzz, getting lost in the shuffle is real.
I’ll predict that even though it arrives more than a decade since we’ve seen this character, Hellboy will experience the lowest premiere of the trio.
Blogger’s Note (04/04): On the eve of their premieres, some changes:
Shazam! from $59.5 million to $52.5 million
PetSematary from $28.7 million to $34.7 million
April has sprung at the box office and we have three new wide releases hitting multiplexes: critically hailed DC superhero pic Shazam!, Stephen King adapted horror remake PetSematary, and civil rights drama TheBestofEnemies with Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:
I’m on the higher end of the range with Shazam!, believing it could reach awfully close to $60 million or over and easily bolting into the top spot. Sematary could also exceed my estimate, but I’ll go high 20s for a second place showing. As for Enemies, I’m not as optimistic and my $5.9 million prediction would put it at #6.
Holdovers Dumbo and Us could be in line for drops close to 50% in their second and third respective weekends with CaptainMarvel rounding out the top five.
And with that, my view of the frame ahead:
Predicted Gross: $52.5 million
Predicted Gross: $34.7 million
Predicted Gross: $22.3 million
Predicted Gross: $16.6 million
Predicted Gross: $12.2 million
Tim Burton’s live action version of Disney’s Dumbo had no trouble hitting #1, but did so with rather mediocre results. Coming off mixed reviews, the elephant tale managed $45.9 million. That’s quite lower than my $55.6 million projection. That’s far less than other recent Mouse Factory renderings of their animated classics.
Us fell to second with a mid 50s dip to $33.2 million. I forecasted more at $38.4 million. Yet the $20 million budgeted horror flick stands at $127 million in just ten days.
CaptainMarvel was third with $20.6 million (I said $20.2 million) for $353 million total and $400 million in its sights.
The success story of the weekend was pro-life Pure Flix drama Unplanned, which easily exceeded expectations in fourth with $6.3 million. I was considerably lower at $2.6 million.
FiveFeetApart was fifth with $6.1 million (I said $5.9 million). Tally is $35 million.
With Unplanned reaching the top five, that put WonderPark in sixth with $5 million – on target with my $4.9 million prediction. The animated feature has earned $37 million.
HotelMumbai expanded to nearly 1000 screens and was eighth with $3.1 million compared to my $3.4 million.
Finally, Matthew McConaughey had yet another box office wipeout as TheBeachBum was tenth with $1.7 million (I said $1.6 million).
Blogger’s Note (04/04): On the eve of its premiere, I’m upping my estimate from $28.7 million to $34.7 million
Arriving in theaters 30 years following the movie it’s remaking, PetSematary hopes to bring scary flick fans to the multiplexes next Friday. The horror pic is based on Stephen King’s acclaimed 1983 bestseller. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer co-direct (making their first high-profile release) with a cast including Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow.
It doesn’t hurt that this is the first King adaptation since, well, 2017’s massive success It. That film certainly upped the legendary author’s brand and should help this bring in some cash. To add to that, reviews for the 2019 version are an improvement over the 1989 original (91% vs. 50% on Rotten Tomatoes).
Competition is a factor. While Shazam! is of a different genre, the two features could compete for similar audience members. That superhero tale will almost certainly come out on top and likely double the gross of this. There’s also Us, which will be in its third weekend after a huge debut.
Even with those potential impediments, PetSematary could approach $30 million for a healthy start.
PetSematary opening weekend prediction: $34.7 million