Air Box Office Prediction

Amazon Studios hope adults are going for a night on the town when Air debuts on Wednesday, April 5th. The fifth directorial feature from Ben Affleck recounts the risky decision by Nike to develop a shoe based around an NBA rookie named Michael Jordan. SPOILER: It turned out well. Ben’s Good Will Hunting cowriter Matt Damon, as salesman Sonny Vaccaro, joins his pal Affleck (who plays company cofounder Phil Knight). The ensemble cast includes Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Matthew Maher, and real life married couple Viola Davis and Julius Tennon as MJ’s parents.

Solid buzz greeted the project when it debuted at South by Southwest. Air sports a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score and it could even be an awards player several months down the road. Adult dramas have faced a tough road recently though A Man Called Otto was a 2023 bright spot in the genre.

The connection to MJ and the star power could give this a lift over the five-day Easter frame. Amazon chose to go full theatrical and not simultaneously release on their streaming service. That is a vote of confidence and TV ads have played frequently during March Madness (in addition to a Super Bowl slot).

Some parents with 80s nostalgia might be distracted taking their kiddos to The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Yet I’ll say this manages to top $10 million over the traditional three-day with mid to high teens for the extended holiday.

Air opening weekend prediction: $12.7 million (Friday to Sunday); $18.9 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my The Super Mario Bros. Movie prediction, click here:

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Box Office Prediction

Paramount hopes audiences are game for a night of fantasy mixed with action and comedy when Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves debuts March 31st. Based on the role playing game that debuted nearly a half century ago and inspired many filmmakers and scribes, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (who made 2018’s Game Night) co-direct. Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez headline a cast that also includes Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, and Hugh Grant.

With a reported budget north of $150 million, this is a gamble for the studio. While the IP is certainly well-known, a previous cinematic rendering did not fare well. A 2000 version featuring Thora Birch, Marlon Wayans, and Jeremy Irons from New Line Cinema made a sorry $15 million domestically.

Nearly a quarter century later, this Dragons tale appears to have more heat behind it. After premiering at South by Southwest, word-of-mouth is positive and the Rotten Tomatoes score is 86% (the 2000 pic had 10%).

Most forecasts have this between $25-30 million for a so-so start considering the price tag (this will clearly need sturdy overseas earnings to turn a profit). My feeling is this could exceed the current projections and get to the low or mid 30s.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opening weekend prediction: $32.7 million

For my His Only Son prediction, click here:

Oscar Predictions: Air

Air is the fifth feature directed by Ben Affleck and it closed out the South by Southwest festival this weekend prior to its April 5th theatrical release. The 1984 set sports drama focuses on Nike’s decision to make a shoe deal with an NBA rookie by the name of Michael Jordan. In addition to being behind the camera, Affleck costars as the company’s co-founder Phil Knight. The director’s buddy Matt Damon headlines as marketing exec Sonny Vaccaro with a supporting cast including Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, and real life married couple Viola Davis and Julius Tennon as MJ’s parents and chief negotiators. #23 himself is not played by an actor and appears only in archival footage.

Early reactions from Austin indicate that Air might be the first legit awards hopeful to be released on the ’23 calendar. Several of the reviews are outright raves with comparisons to Jerry Maguire and Moneyball (both nominated for Best Picture). If this hits with audiences (and indications are it’s a crowdpleaser), that only increases its chances to make the big dance.

Affleck, of course, was famously snubbed by the Academy in 2012 even though his second directorial effort Argo won Best Picture. He’s yet to be nominated for his filmmaking. However, three of his previous four pics (Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Argo) achieved one or more mentions from Oscar voters. The one that didn’t was his last – 2016’s flop Live by Night.

It’s early, but the chances of Air garnering nominations is high. I don’t know if Affleck will get his first directing nod, but this already looks like it’s shooting for one of the ten slots in BP. The original screenplay by Alex Convery, cinematography from three-time winner Robert Richardson, and editing from William Goldenberg are all possibilities.

As for the cast, I’m curious to see category placement. Damon could be put in lead and vie for his fourth overall acting nom behind Good Will Hunting, Invictus, and The Martian. Amazon could also choose to campaign everyone in supporting. The other male performer drawing lots of attention is Chris Messina as MJ’s agent David Falk. Fresh off her EGOT, Viola Davis might have the best chance and it would be her fifth nom after Doubt, The Help, Fences (where she won), and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It might help that many felt she was just snubbed for The Woman King.

Bottom line: Air is a real contender in the game of Oscar and my prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Tetris

Tetris is not your typical blockbuster based on a video game, but instead a look behind the curtain at the iconic creation which burst onto the scene in the late 80s. Jon S. Baird (who previously made Stan & Ollie) directs Taron Egerton as the Dutch inventor who must face off with Soviets in the Cold War era to bring it to the masses. Costars include Toby Jones, Nikita Yefremov, Roger Allam, and Anthony Boyle.

Apple TV begins airing this on March 31st after it premiered at South by Southwest. It would seem that a corresponding theatrical output is not occurring. That would mean game over for its Oscar prospects from the get-go. This makes sense given the 81% Rotten Tomatoes is solid though most reviews aren’t outright raves. The streamer is far more likely to concentrate on the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon from Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon (and potentially others) anyway.

Even without the ineligibility factor, Tetris doesn’t seem to have the pieces put together for a legit campaign. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

**Blogger’s Note – shortly after posting, I was informed that this will have a limited L.A. theatrical run and is likely therefore eligible for consideration. It doesn’t change my underlying thoughts on the viability.

Oscar Predictions – Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

A year ago, Everything Everywhere All at Once premiered at the South by Southwest, therefore skipping the normal autumn film festivals in favor of the Austin event. It now appears on the precipice of winning Best Picture at the Oscars. We aren’t looking at the same storyline with SXSW in 2023 with its debut picture Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Could it have a role at all to play in next year’s awards mix?

It might. Based on the nearly half century old tabletop game that inspired many a filmmaker and writer, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (who made 2018’s Game Night) direct. The cast includes Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, and Hugh Grant. Early fest reviews are encouraging as the Rotten Tomatoes score is 100% based on the limited reaction. The critical takes indicate this will appeal to die-hards of the source material and neophytes.

I certainly don’t think we’re looking at two years in a row of the likely BP winner coming from SXSW. However, Dungeons (out stateside on March 31) is being particularly praised for its Visual Effects and Production Design. I wouldn’t completely count this out to be a contender in either category (especially the former). My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscars: The Case of Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once is fifth on the docket in my Case Of posts for the 10 Best Picture nominees. Let’s plead the case for and against it!

The Case for Everything Everywhere All at Once:

The sophomore feature from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as the Daniels) debuted at South by Southwest on March 11th and will have been a legit contender for over a year when the Oscars air March 12th. A critical darling with a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it has been nominated in every major precursor. This includes 10 BAFTA nominations, 14 Critics Choice mentions with 5 wins (including Picture, Director and Screenplay), 6 Golden Globe nods with two wins for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, and 5 pending SAG noms. While some have griped that recent BP recipients didn’t break through with mass audiences, Everything was a box office success with $71 million domestically. Its 11 Academy nods are the most of any picture and that includes four for its ensemble (Yeoh, Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu).

The Case Against Everything Everywhere All at Once:

In the last 10 ceremonies, only two films that led or tied in total nominations (Birdman and The Shape of Water) ended up winning BP. One could argue Everything is the frontrunner. In recent years, ask how that worked out for La La Land, Roma, and 1917. The Academy could follow the Globes suit and skew toward The Banshees of Inisherin. There are some prognosticators who feel it’s too strange for the Academy.

Other Nominations:

Director (the Daniels), Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis), Supporting Actress (Stephanie Hsu), Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan), Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song

The Verdict:

I’ve never bought the “too weird for the Academy” or not traditional enough argument. You could say the same for Birdman or The Shape of Water and Everything is looking to model them on the road to victory. It is risky to be out front, but I do feel this is the odds on favorite. A SAG Ensemble loss on February 26th (especially if it’s to Banshees or The Fabelmans) could cause more intrigue. If it wins, look for this to enter March 12th as even more of a probable BP.

My Case Of posts will continue with The Fabelmans!

If you missed my other posts in this series, you can find them here:

Oscar Predictions: Bodies Bodies Bodies

A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies premiered at South by Southwest in March and the theatrical release comes in limited fashion tomorrow. Marking the English directorial debut of Danish filmmaker Halina Reijn, the slasher comedy is drawing some kudos from critics. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at an impressive 94%.

Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova (recent Supporting Actress nominee for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm). Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace, and Pete Davidson lead the cast in this tale of a hurricane themed party goes awry. Numerous reviews have praised the screenplay’s twist on a well-worn genre.

Even with the solid notices, I would guess that A24 will be far more focused on campaigning for Everything Everywhere All at Once (which could win Original Screenplay) and not this. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down

Documentarians Julie Cohen and Betsy West specialize in focusing on female historical figures and their efforts have already captured the attention of the Academy. 2018’s RBG about Justice Ginsburg was a Best Documentary Feature nominee. Last year’s Julia, recounting the life of famed chef Julia Child, was in the mix but failed to receive a nod.

The duo’s latest is Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, which premiered at South by Southwest in the spring and has hit theaters in limited fashion this week. It will air on CNN later this year. The title subject is, of course, the former Arizona Congresswoman turned advocate following her 2011 assassination attempt.

As far as its awards prospects, history could repeat itself as Gabby sports a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating. With Second Amendment issues on the forefront of the news cycle, that could contribute to its timeliness and desire for the Academy to recognize it.

Yet when it comes to docs, there’s always the caveat that this branch is notoriously unpredictable and sometimes nominees that seem obvious don’t make the cut. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Box Office Prediction

Nicolas Cage may not always be picky with his projects and that gets him into hot water in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, out April 22nd. The acclaimed comedy casts the eccentric national treasure as an exaggerated (?) version of himself who accepts $1 million from Pedro Pascal’s superfan to attend a birthday party. It goes downhill from there. Tom Gormican directs and the supporting cast includes Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tiffany Haddish.

When Weight premiered in March at South by Southwest, it did so to sizzling reviews. The Rotten Tomatoes meter stands at a clean 100%. That should get a decent amount of cinephiles in multiplexes to see what all the buzz is about.

That said, I wonder if the concept is a little too inside baseball for general audiences. Additionally, plenty of viewers have grown accustomed to dialing up Cage’s new pics on streaming services and not in theaters.

Some forecasts have this reaching double digits in its debut, but I’m going a bit under that.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million

For my The Bad Guys prediction, click here:

The Bad Guys Box Office Prediction

For my The Northman prediction, click here:

The Northman Box Office Prediction

Everything Everywhere All at Once Box Office Prediction

Coming off terrific reviews and a sizzling limited rollout, Everything Everywhere All at Once debuts in wide release on April 8th. The sci-fi action comedy comes from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known as Daniels) with an acclaimed leading performance from Michelle Yeoh. The supporting cast includes Ke Huy Quan (Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data from The Goonies!), Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Sporting a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating, Everything grossed just over half a million bucks on only 10 screens last weekend (that’s a $50k average). It’s fair to assume that the A24 tale will play stronger on the coasts than in between.

That said, the buzz that began at South by Southwest should result in this earning its reported $25 million budget back domestically. I’ll project $7-10 million for the expansion.

Everything Everywhere All at Once opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Sonic the Hedgehog 2 prediction, click here:

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Box Office Prediction

For my Ambulance prediction, click here:

Ambulance Box Office Prediction