The Oscars Go Streaming

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed the operation of movie theaters for the past two months and that looks to continue into the foreseeable future in many states across the nation. For someone who has a blog that focuses on a lot on Oscar forecasting, this has raised numerous questions. The primary one is: could there really be an Oscar telecast for 2020 pictures next year if there’s little product being released? And I certainly don’t think Sonic the Hedgehog or Birds of Prey will sweep the ceremony in February 2021.

A significant part of the answer to that question was revealed today. The Academy, after an internal Zoom conference, announced that streaming and VOD product will indeed be eligible for Oscar consideration. You may ask – weren’t Netflix and other streamers already being nominated? After all, 2019 saw Best Picture and/or acting nods for The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes. Well, not really. The previous rule was that each streaming entry had to screen in Los Angeles for a one week awards qualifying run. That rule (at least for 2020) has been abolished.

So what does that mean? The uncertainty surrounding the opening of theaters could mean a lot more features hitting Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and any other VOD platforms. We have witnessed this already with Trolls World Tour landing on small screens when it was supposed to hit multiplexes. That’s not all. Just yesterday, Judd Apatow’s latest comedy King of Staten Island starring Pete Davidson skipped its theatrical run and opted for a June VOD date. The Lovebirds, which reunites Kumail Nanjiani with his The Big Sick director Michael Showalter, arrives May 22 on Netflix. The Seth Rogen comedy An American Pickle will now premiere on HBO Max.

With today’s announcement, I suspect we could see many Oscar contenders (especially lower budget ones) make the streaming move. And with the uncertainty regarding film festivals like Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and Telluride (typically the launching pads for such content), this could be the easiest way to get such features to the masses around the same time frame.

My Oscar coverage, when it’s available, will continue here!

March 13-15 Box Office Predictions

Uncertainty at the box office persists this weekend as three new titles open in wide release: the faith-based drama I Still Believe, comic book based Vin Diesel action pic Bloodshot, and Blumhouse thriller The Hunt. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the trio here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/03/i-still-believe-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/04/bloodshot-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/05/the-hunt-box-office-prediction/

Pixar’s Onward should manage a second frame atop the charts. However, a drop of close to 50% could occur and that would mean high teens or low 20s. Of the newcomers, I Still Believe looks poised for runner-up status as its core Christian audience should turn out (similar to 2018’s I Can Only Imagine).

As for Bloodshot and The Hunt, I question whether they can reach double digits and there could be a battle in the 3-5 slots between them and holdover The Invisible Man. The uncertainty I speak of is, of course, due to current events. The Coronavirus impact on the moviegoing public is playing out as we speak and is certainly a factor to consider with estimates.

And with that, my top 5 take:

1. Onward

Predicted Gross: $19.8 million

2. I Still Believe

Predicted Gross: $14.6 million

3. Bloodshot

Predicted Gross: $9.6 million

4. The Invisible Man

Predicted Gross: $8 million

5. The Hunt

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million

Box Office Results (March 6-8)

One doesn’t expect Pixar to have an underwhelming start at multiplexes, but that’s precisely what happened with Onward. Its $39.1 million premiere marks the weakest wide rollout in the studio’s modern era. It’s well under my $54.3 million estimate. Reviews that weren’t as gushing as their other titles may have contributed, in addition to previously mentioned outside factors.

The Invisible Man dropped to second with $15.1 million, a bit under my $17.2 million projection. The two-week total is $52 million against the minor $7 million budget.

Sports drama The Way Back with Ben Affleck opened in third and right in line with expectations with $8.1 million (I said $8.3 million).

Family fare filled the rest of the top 5 as Sonic the Hedgehog was fourth at $7.7 million compared to my $9 million take for $140 million overall. The Call of the Wild was fifth with $6.7 million (I said $7.1 million) for $57 million at press time.

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

March 6-8 Box Office Predictions

March ushers in two new releases with Pixar’s Onward featuring the vocal stylings of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt and the sports drama The Way Back with Ben Affleck. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the pair here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/27/onward-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/27/the-way-back-box-office-prediction/

The latest Pixar adventure is the first to be released outside of the summer or winter frames. This lends to some uncertainty about the opening range. Reviews are sturdy, but with many critics saying it’s not quite up to the level of their classics. Onward isn’t anticipated to hit the highest levels of the studio’s debuts either, but upwards of $50 million is still likely.

The Way Back could struggle to find an audience. I will say there’s a chance this could over perform with adult audiences and sports fans as Mr. Affleck has been making the rounds on ESPN and similar platforms. However, the probable scenario is a gross under double digits.

As for holdovers, The Invisible Man finally broke the 2020 horror glut and was quite visible with genre fans (more on that below). With solid word-of-mouth, this could avoid the hefty sophomore drop-offs that many scary pics experience (especially with no real competition for its audience). I’m predicting a slide of only around 40% and an easy runner-up showing.

Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild should each dip in the mid 40s with the newly arrived Pixar competition. And with that, my top 5 take:

1. Onward

Predicted Gross: $54.3 million

2. The Invisible Man

Predicted Gross: $17.2 million

3. Sonic the Hedgehog

Predicted Gross: $9 million

4. The Way Back

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

5. The Call of the Wild

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

Box Office Results (February 28-March 1)

As mentioned, we have seen a string of horror genre disappointments this year. Blumhouse changed that dynamic as The Invisible Man, coming off fine reviews, took in $28.2 million. While that didn’t match my $33.8 million estimate, the start quadruples its measly $7 million budget and I expect a healthy run ahead.

Sonic the Hedgehog was second with $16.2 million, a bit above my $14.9 million projection. In three weeks, the Sega based hit stands at $128 million.

The Call of the Wild placed third in its second outing with $13.3 million, a tad under my $14.5 million forecast. Tally is $46 million.

The anime superhero flick My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising expanded wide and was fourth with $5.7 million ($9.1 million overall). I incorrectly had it outside the top five.

The five spot belonged to Bad Boys for Life at $4.3 million (I said $3.6 million) as the sequel nears the double century mark with $197 million.

Birds of Prey was sixth with $4.1 million compared to my $3.2 million take. It’s made $78 million.

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

Onward Box Office Prediction

The 22nd Pixar pic in the past quarter century debuts next weekend with Onward. The fantasy flick comes from director Dan Scanlon, who also made the sequel Monsters University in 2013. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt lead a voice cast that includes Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, Mel Rodriguez, Wilmer Valderrama, Tracey Ullman, Dave Foley, and John Ratzenberger.

Per usual for Pixar, reviews are strong with a current 85% Rotten Tomatoes score. Some critics have said this isn’t quite in the league of their classics. Interestingly, this is the first selection from the studio not to open in either summer or fall (with the vast majority having premiered in June or November).

That could have the effect of making Onward not seem like the event debut that most Pixar offerings are. There is also some family competition from holdovers Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild. Still, Disney knows how to market their product. Only three of the Pixar titles that had wide releases have made under $50 million out of the gate. I expect this will top that, but $60 million could be a slight reach. I’ll say mid 50s is the likely scenario – on par with non-Pixar Mouse Factory pictures such as Big Hero 6 and Ralph Breaks the Internet. 

Onward opening weekend prediction: $54.3 million

For my The Way Back prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/27/the-way-back-box-office-prediction/

February 28-March 1 Box Office Predictions

As February ends and March begins at the box office, we have one new wide release out this weekend. Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man with Elisabeth Moss hopes to reverse the 2020 trend of horror pics posting unimpressive grosses. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/19/the-invisible-man-box-office-prediction/

With impressive early word-of-mouth, I’m estimating that Invisible will be quite visible to genre fans and easily top the charts with a low to mid 30s haul. If that occurs, it will more than quadruple its measly $7 million budget out of the gate.

The battle for #2 should be closer with holdovers Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild, which exceeded expectations in its start (more on that below). I’ll give Sonic a slight edge. The rest of the top five should consist of returnees Bad Boys for Life and Birds of Prey. And with that, my take on the frame ahead:

1. The Invisible Man

Predicted Gross: $33.8 million

2. Sonic the Hedgehog

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

3. The Call of the Wild

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million

4. Bad Boys for Life

Predicted Gross: $3.6 million

5. Birds of Prey

Predicted Gross: $3.2 million

Box Office Results (February 21-23)

Sonic the Hedgehog was expected to easily repeat at #1 in its sophomore outing. However, the Sega based action comedy just held onto the top spot at $26.1 million (a bit under my $30.2 million projection). The film has still outperformed estimates as it stands at $106 million after ten days.

The close call came at the hands of The Call of the Wild. Harrison Ford and his CGI hound was second and debuted well at the top of its range with $24.7 million. I was much lower at $14.6 million. The downside? Call has a reported budget of $125 million.

Birds of Prey was third with $6.8 million compared to my $7.9 million estimate. In three weeks, the disappointing DC flick is at $72 million.

Bad Boys for Life was fourth at $5.8 million (I said $6.5 million) as it nears the double century mark with $191 million.

Finally, Brahms: The Boy II was fifth and also made $5.8 million. The sequel is another example of horror fans tuning out this year. My forecast of $5.5 million was on target.

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

February 21-23 Box Office Predictions

After a fantastic opening over the long weekend, Sonic the Hedgehog looks to fend off two new challengers: Harrison Ford and his CGI dog in The Call of the Wild and horror sequel Brahms: The Boy II with Katie Holmes. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/12/the-call-of-the-wild-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/13/brahms-the-boy-ii-box-office-prediction/

Sonic might lose about half its Friday to Sunday premiere audience, but that should be enough to easily top the charts for the second frame in a row. The runner-up position should go to Wild, but with a muted low teens start. Birds of Prey is likely to fall from second position to third.

I haven’t seen much anticipation for the return of Brahms and have it in fifth place. My guess is that the drop for Bad Boys for Life should be less than the sophomore frame falls of Fantasy Island and The Photograph. I look for both of them to fall out of the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Sonic the Hedgehog

Predicted Gross: $30.2 million

2. The Call of the Wild

Predicted Gross: $14.6 million

3. Birds of Prey

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

4. Bad Boys for Life

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million

5. Brahms: The Boy II

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million

Box Office Results (February 14-17)

Topping Detective Pikachu for the all-time best video game adapted debut, Sonic the Hedgehog opened at the very highest end of expectations over the Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day frame. From Friday to Monday, the Jim Carrey led pic took in $70 million and that blasted past my meager $51.8 million projection. As mentioned above, it should repeat in first this weekend.

Birds of Prey was second with $19.7 million, on target with my $19.5 million estimate. Its unimpressive two-week tally is $61 million as it should struggle to reach the century mark.

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island was third at $13.7 million, which isn’t bad considering its low budget. I was a tad lower at $11.6 million. Look for it to fade quickly.

Romantic drama The Photograph was fourth and came in at the low end of its range with $13.2 million. I gave it more credit with a $17.4 million projection. My suspicion is that this Photograph fades fast as well.

Rounding out the top five was Bad Boys for Life with $13.1 million with a strong hold and well ahead of my $10 million estimate. The threequel is up to $183 million.

Finally, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Will Ferrell sputtered in 10th with $5.1 million. It did post slightly ahead of my $4.1 million forecast.

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

The Call of the Wild Box Office Prediction

Harrison Ford and a furry friend that isn’t Chewbacca team up for The Call of the Wild next weekend. Based on Jack London’s 1903 adventure book, the wilderness tale pairing Ford with canine pal Buck comes from director Chris Sanders. It’s his live-action debut, but he’s had success making animated features including The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon. Costars include Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, and Bradley Whitford.

Coming from the newly named 20th Century Studios (now owned by Disney), Wild is a rather large gamble. The price tag reportedly tops $100 million and that’s steep considering the source material may not be as familiar to some of the young audience it is counting on. To add to that, Sonic the Hedgehog will be in its sophomore frame and that could cut into the crowd.

Older viewers turning out for Ford and the short novel it’s based on could potentially get this to top of its range ($20 million). Yet my feeling is low to mid teens is most likely.

The Call of the Wild opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million

For my Brahms: The Boy II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/02/13/brahms-the-boy-ii-box-office-prediction/