Oscar Watch: Booksmart

Critics focused on the raunchy high school comedy Booksmart as one of the highlights coming from this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The film marks the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde. It stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, best known as Saoirse Ronan’s bestie in Lady Bird. Costars include Billie Lourd, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis.

The film doesn’t open until Memorial Day weekend, but the loud buzz could certainly assist in making it a sleeper hit. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 100% currently. Could awards voters take notice? It’s doubtful. Feldstein is said to have a breakout role here. If there is any nomination chatter, it could center on the Original Screenplay from its four screenwriters – Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silverman. That said, if last year’s acclaimed Eighth Grade couldn’t gain any traction, that doesn’t bode well here.

Bottom line: Booksmart is one to watch out for when it comes to box office surprises. Academy nods would surprise a lot more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Us Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/19/19): The upgrade has happened from $48.8 million to $56.8 million

Next weekend we will find out if lightning strikes again for director Jordan Peele with the release of Us. The horror pic is Peele’s eagerly awaited sophomore effort and follow-up to his 2017 debut Get Out. That film rode a cultural wave of excitement and critical raves that resulted in a Best Picture nomination and an Oscar for Peele for his original screenplay.

Perhaps not since M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (his feature after The Sixth Sense) have we seen a movie that can sold mostly on “from the director of…”. Us centers on a family being terrorized by a brood that appears to be different versions of themselves. The cast includes Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker.

Any fears of a sophomore slump were eliminated this past weekend when Us screened at South by Southwest. Reviews are strong with 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Get Out exceeded opening weekend projections two years ago when it made $33 million for its start and legged out considerably to $176 million.

Us doesn’t have the benefit of unknown expectations. Peele’s name and some seriously effective trailers have prognosticators thinking this will exceed the first weekend of Get Out. Whether it experiences the smallish declines from weekend to weekend is a better question as Us should be more front-loaded with its earnings.

I’ll say mid to high 40s is where this lands with $50 million certainly being a possibility.

Us opening weekend prediction: $56.8 million

Oscar Watch: Us

The South by Southwest festival is in full swing this weekend and the most eagerly awaited film premiere has occurred. That would be Us, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to 2017’s Get Out.  The horror thriller is out domestically on March 22.

Early reviews are quite encouraging as it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Could this follow in the footsteps of Peele’s debut effort? As you may recall, Get Out premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017 to red-hot buzz. It would end up grossing $176 million stateside and garnering four Oscar nods, including Best Picture. Peele won the gold statue for Original Screenplay.

Initial consensus for Us suggests it’s scarier than Get Out, though some reviews don’t quite put it at the level of Peele’s first pic. I’ll say that if Us can resonate with audiences in a manner similar to Out, it could find itself in the Oscar conversation (especially Original Screenplay). And it might be worth keeping an eye on Lupita Nyong’o in lead actress as an outside possibility.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Support the Girls

Opening this weekend in limited release is Support the Girls, a working class comedy from indie director Andrew Bujalski. It premiered at the South by Southwest festival earlier this spring and reaction was quite positive. More reviews are now rolling out and with over a dozen in, it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Particular raves have gone to Regina Hall, who plays the caring manager of a low rent Hooters type sports bar. Nearly every reaction I’ve seen lauds her work and singles her out. Other costars include Haley Lu Richardson, James Le Gros, and AJ Michalka.

Support may be deemed too small to gather any Oscar buzz and a nomination for Hall is an extreme long shot. However, don’t be surprised if several critics point her out as someone whom Academy voters should pay attention to. That would put her in similar company to recent comedic turns that were ignored like Emma Stone in Easy A, Hailee Steinfeld in The Edge of Seventeen, and Hall’s Girls Trip costar Tiffany Haddish.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Blockers Box Office Prediction

Like its direct competitor A Quiet Place that also opens next weekend, Blockers made quite an impression with journalists and festival goers when it debuted at South by Southwest earlier this month. The raunchy comedy about parents trying to prevent their daughters plan to lose their virginity on prom night marks the directorial debut of Kay Cannon, best known for penning the Pitch Perfect franchise. The cast includes John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Graham Phillips, and Hannibal Buress.

Its festival premiere caused some buzz and it now stands at 91% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. The Universal release has now been pegged as a potential sleeper at the box office. Competition is light in the genre and the solid reviews should help. As I see it, the ceiling for Blockers is likely the $17 million achieved in February by Game Night, another comedy that received kudos from the critical community.

I’m not sure it will reach quite that high. I’ll project an opening in the low to mid teens and it could continue to play in subsequent weekends, just as Game Night has.

Blockers opening weekend prediction: $15.2 million

For my A Quiet Place prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/27/a-quiet-place-box-office-prediction/

For my The Miracle Season prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/30/the-miracle-season-box-office-prediction/

For my Chappaquiddick prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/30/chappaquiddick-box-office-prediction/

A Quiet Place Box Office Prediction

Next weekend, A Quiet Place looks to make a lot of noise at the box office and early indications are that it may well succeed. The horror pic comes from John Krasinski, best known to many as Jim from “The Office”. The director stars alongside his real life spouse Emily Blunt with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe playing their children. The foursome play a family trying desperately to survive in a world terrorized by creatures that attack if you make a sound.

The Paramount release garnered significant buzz when it screened at the South by Southwest Festival earlier this year. Krasinski’s previous directorial outing, comedic drama 2016’s The Hollars, made little impression with moviegoers. Look for his career behind the camera to be on the upswing following this. Critical praise has been vocal and it’s currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The creepy and nearly silent trailers are effective and the marketplace seems primed for a hit in the genre.

Add all that up and I believe the opening for Quiet will be anything but. I could see this debuting between the $26 million achieved by 2016’s Don’t Breathe and the $33 million haul of last year’s Get Out.

A Quiet Place opening weekend prediction: $31.2 million

For my Blockers prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/28/blockers-box-office-prediction/

For my The Miracle Season prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/30/the-miracle-season-box-office-prediction/

For my Chappaquiddick prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/30/chappaquiddick-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Final Portrait

Premiering across the pond at the Berlin Film Festival in February and debuting stateside at the South by Southwest shindig days ago, Stanley Tucci’s fifth directorial effort Final Portrait comes out in limited release this Friday. The film centers on the relationship of famed Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) and American writer James Lord (Armie Hammer).

It’s been a decade since actor Tucci has been behind the camera. His debut effort Big Night from 1996 was his biggest critical and commercial success. Portrait has been met with solid reviews and it currently holds a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

That said, any potential Oscar attention would likely focus on its performers. Rush had a big 1996 as well, winning Best Actor for Shine. He’s been nominated three times since. This is said to be one of his most impressive performances in recent years. Hammer probably just missed out on a nod for last year’s Call Me by Your Name and would be vying for his first recognition.

My take right now is that Portrait could be forgotten come nomination time. The early date and good but now fawning critical reaction could serve as roadblocks for Rush’s fifth go round and Hammer’s first.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…