The Black Phone Box Office Prediction

After ringing up lots of positive reception last fall at Fantastic Fest, the supernatural horror pic The Black Phone arrives in theaters June 24th. Based on a short story by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), Scott Derrickson directs. His biggest blockbuster is 2016’s Doctor Strange, but he’s a veteran of the genre including helming The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister. His lead from the latter – Ethan Hawke – stars as a serial killer. Costars include Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, and James Ransone.

In September 2021, Phone garnered serious buzz at the Austin fest. While some reviewers nitpicked pacing issues, the Rotten Tomatoes score is 100% with particular praise for its young performers Thames and McGraw. With a reported budget of under $20 million, this should be another profitable venture for Blumhouse. That production company is used to turning a tidy profit for many of their titles.

During the COVID era, frightening tales were generally immune from negative box office effects. I would look for Phone to earn its price tag back during the first weekend.

The Black Phone opening weekend prediction: $18.6 million

For my Elvis prediction, click here:

Elvis Box Office Prediction

May 20-22 Box Office Predictions

**Blogger’s Update (05/18): It appears as if Alex Garland’s Men will premiere wide on approximately 2500 screens. Due to that, my $4.1 million puts it in fourth place and that change is reflected below. For my detailed prediction post, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2022/05/18/men-box-office-prediction/

 

The aristocrats of the acclaimed PBS series are back on the big screen as Downton Abbey: A New Era is the only newcomer this weekend.

You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Downton Abbey: A New Era Box Office Prediction

Unless it seriously over performs, the sequel should place second to another one – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in its third outing (more on its sophomore frame below). I’m figuring Madness should dip in the mid 50s with Abbey posting a high teens gross.

The rest of the top five should consist of holdovers The Bad Guys, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Everything Everywhere All at Once with the bomb Firestarter falling out after its tepid start.

Here’s how I see it looking:

1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Predicted Gross: $27.8 million

2. Downton Abbey: A New Era

Predicted Gross: $18.4 million

3. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million

4. Men

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

5. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (May 13-15)

The MCU kept rolling as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness took in $61.7 million to bring its total to $292 million. In 10 days, it has easily surpassed the $232 million earned domestically by its 2016 predecessor. That said, it fell below my $66.8 million projection and its 67% decline is hefty one for the studio. All in all – Marvel is still minting $$$.

The Bad Guys held the two spot with $7 million, right in line with my $7.1 million estimate for a four-week take of $66 million.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was third with $4.6 million, on pace with my $4.3 million prediction as it now stands at $175 million.

The aforementioned Firestarter (which was also available on Peacock), a remake of a 1984 pic based on a Stephen King novel, failed to generate any heat. Its fourth place haul was a measly $3.8 million. I was more generous at $6.5 million.

Everything Everywhere All at Once rounded out the top five with $3.3 million (I said $3.1 million) as the future Oscar contender has amassed $47 million.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was sixth with $2.5 million (I went with $2.7 million) for $90 million as it’s struggling to reach nine digits.

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

May 13-15 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (05/12): Revising Firestarter down to $6.5 million

A different caped crusader set the 2022 opening weekend record with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness dominating the charts. It will reign supreme in its sophomore frame as only the Stephen King adapted horror reboot Firestarter debuts this weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Firestarter Box Office Prediction

I’m giving Firestarter (also available via Peacock) the benefit of the doubt by putting it in double digits considering its genre often over performs. That should easily give it the #2 slot behind MCU’s mystical doc.

Look for The Bad Guys and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to slide a spot to 3rd and 4th. The five spot could be close between Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and Everything Everywhere All at Once. 

The real question is how far Multiverse drops in its sophomore outing. The Strange sequel received mixed critical reaction that has carried over a bit with audiences. The B+ Cinemascore grade is among the lowest of the franchise. Only Eternals (B) was below it while 2011’s original Thor also received the B+ designation. Due to that factor, I could foresee a low to potentially high 60s range fall.

Here’s how I see the top 6 playing out:

1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Predicted Gross: $66.8 million

2. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

3. Firestarter 

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million

4. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

6. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (May 6-8) 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had the #11 largest domestic debut in history, positioning itself between fellow Disney sequels Avengers: Age of Ultron and Incredibles 2. Coming on the heels of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the MCU property amassed $187.4 million. While that didn’t get into top 10 all-time territory like I projected at $208.5 million, it’s still a marvelous haul (especially considering the 2016 original began with $85 million). For the reasons stated above, I do expect a larger than normal MCU decline in the mid 60s.

The Bad Guys, after two weeks in first, was second with $9.5 million. That’s in line with my $10 million estimate as the DreamWorks title has taken in $57 million thus far.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was third with $6 million, a bit under my expected $7.1 million. Overall gross is a sturdy $169 million.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore continued its underwhelming run with $4.2 million. I was on target as I said $4.3 million. Total is $86 million as it’s hoping to at least eek out $100 million.

Everything Everywhere All at Once rounded out the top five with $3.5 million. I projected a little higher with $4.4 million, but its pleasing tally is up to $41 million.

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

Firestarter Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (05/12): Revising my prediction down to $6.5 million

Based on Stephen King’s 1980 novel and a reworking of the 1984 film adaptation starring a young Drew Barrymore, Firestarter hopes to heat up multiplexes on Friday the 13th. Ryan Kiera Armstrong fills Barrymore’s original role as a pyrokinetic kid with Zac Efron, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, and Gloria Reuben among the cast. Keith Thomas directs.

Coming from the Blumhouse label which has produced plenty of horror hits, this will be released simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock, which is still finding its way in the streaming universe. The first Firestarter 38 years ago was not a hot property at the box office as it grossed $17 million. It’s also fair to say that it isn’t considered a genre classic like other King penned cinematic properties.

Horror pics are dangerous to underestimate, but my hunch is that Firestarter may not reach $13 million. The worst case scenario could be a start in the high double digits, but I’ll say it gets a bit beyond that.

Firestarter opening weekend prediction: $6.5 million

For my Downton Abbey: A New Era prediction, click here:

Downton Abbey: A New Era Box Office Prediction

Oscars 2019: The Case of Kathy Bates

My Case of posts on the major nominees for the Oscars brings us to our first contender for Supporting Actress – Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell. Let’s see what the verdict is for the veteran thespian:

The Case for Kathy Bates

She’s a critically acclaimed performer who’s excelled in drama, horror (earning an Emmy for TV’s American Horror Story), and comedy (she’s famously Adam Sandler’s Mama in The Waterboy). In 1990, she went from relative obscurity to winning the Best Actress Oscar for her terrifying role in the Stephen King adaptation Misery. Since then, she’s picked up two Supporting Actress nods for 1998’s Primary Colors and 2002’s About Schmidt. For her work in Clint Eastwood’s Jewell playing the title character’s mother, Bates also nabbed a Golden Globe nomination and a win from the National Board of Review.

The Case Against Kathy Bates

Even with the Globes recognition and NBR victory, she didn’t make the SAG cut. Her nomination was a bit of a surprise with most prognosticators assuming it might go to Annette Bening (The Report), Nicole Kidman (Bombshell), and especially Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. Her nomination represents the only one for Jewell, which had decent reviews but struggled mightily at the box office.

The Verdict

Considering her inclusion wasn’t totally expected, I would rank Bates 5th out of five in terms of likelihood for the win.

My Case of posts will continue with the second Best Actor hopeful… Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

Doctor Sleep Movie Review

Doctor Sleep often shines the most when it isn’t burdened with following up on its classic cinematic source material. Director/writer Mike Flanagan has one tough assignment here. Not only is he adapting Stephen King’s 2013 novel which served as the sequel to his beloved novel, but he must incorporate Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 vision of that original work. That adaptation, in case you didn’t know, did not count King among its ardent admirers due to many deviations from the book. Yet the iconic filmmaker’s take on The Shining is ardently admired by legions. This delicate balancing act isn’t always completely successful, but Flanagan sure makes it work most of the time. And that’s no small feat.

The opening takes place shortly after the events at the Overlook Hotel as Wendy Torrance (Alex Essoe) and young son Danny (Roger Dale Floyd) attempt to move on from their trauma and cold loss of their husband and father. Living in Florida, Danny is still blessed and cursed with the ability to “shine”, which encompasses numerous psychic powers. He’s able to put his visions and bad memories in a box (literally and figuratively) for years. We flash forward over 20 years and Danny now takes the form of Ewan McGregor and he’s not in a good place. He’s a raging alcoholic much like his dad was.

After hitting rock bottom, grown Danny enters a different kind of light in recovery. Through the kindness of his AA sponsor (Cliff Curtis), he’s given a small apartment and gets a job as an orderly in a hospice wing. He soon becomes known as Doctor Sleep with the ability to comfort patients in their last moments. Outside forces soon bring him back to past events. A group of vampires known as the True Knot are led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). In order to survive, they feed on small children with psychic abilities similar to Danny’s. One brutal scene depicts their practices with a famous young actor who cameos. It’s pretty terrifying. The new mission of the True Knot is tracking down teenage Abra (Kyliegh Curran), whose shining game is quite bright. When Danny and Abra team up, their fight eventually takes them to the well-known production design of that Colorado hotel.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Doctor Sleep is the introduction of its new characters courtesy of King’s novel. Ferguson’s performance as the cult leader is terrific. She appears like a roadie for an alt rock band, but she excels at making her character a demonic force to be reckoned with. Her supporting band of devotees are also memorable. I suspect a picture focused solely on the True Knot could have been fascinating. Curran gives a winning performance as Danny’s partner in shine.

Flanagan must pay homage to King and Kubrick. There’s a Spielberg connection here too. Henry Thomas (yep, little Elliot from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) fills in as Jack Nicholson’s boozy and demented father figure from the 1980 original. That’s in addition to previously mentioned actors playing young Danny and Wendy. Carl Lumbly fills in for Scatman Crothers as the telepathic Dick Halloran. It’s unavoidably jarring to see these roles inhabited by others if, like me, you’ve seen The Shining multiple times. I did admire the way they decided to bring Nicholson’s iconic ax wielder back.

There’s probably no way to avoid the Overlook set third act and it is a pleasure to see those sets recreated. That also constitutes another Spielberg link as that director brought back the haunted hotel for scenes in 2018’s Ready Player One. It is also the weakest segment of the bunch, though not without its nostalgia inducing pleasures. Flanagan is able to engross the audience with the grown Danny and especially the new players around him prior to check in. In that sense, there’s certainly no legacies darkened in Doctor Sleep.

*** (out of four)

It Chapter Two Movie Review

It bloats. That would be Chapter Two of the saga that was adapted from Stephen King’s novel to monstrous box office results in 2017. A rumination on childhood friendship and fears that happened to feature a demented clown (with a humdinger of a performance by Bill Skarsgard and his creepy eyes as Pennywise), it was easy to see why It cashed in. Set in the 1980s (when the book was released) as opposed to the 1950s, the pic had a retro vibe fitting the Stranger Things and Steven Spielberg mold. Featuring fine performances by its band of teens called The Losers, the scariest parts of It often involved what adults were capable of doing to the group as opposed to Pennywise in clown or other forms.

In Chapter Two, it’s The Losers who are the adults. They come together 27 years after the events of chapter one in the town of Derry, Maine. This was choreographed at the conclusion of It two years back, but the grownup Losers only have scant memories of warding off Pennywise in 1989. We as the audience remember it well, but it takes around an hour of the nearly three hour running time for nearly all of them to recall. And that’s a slog.

On the positive side, the casting here is impressive. James McAvoy is de facto leader Bill, now a successful horror author who can’t ever write a satisfactory ending to his works (something King himself is often accused of). In my It review, I speculated that Amy Adams could inhabit the part of Beverly, the lone female of the club who continues to suffer from physical abuse started by her demented father. Jessica Chastain got the role and she’s another obvious choice. The most memorable performances here, however, come from Bill Hader as Richie, now a standup comic and James Ransone as hypochondriac Eddie. They’re responsible for some much needed comic relief and occasional moments that are genuinely funny. And while Jay Ryan might not exactly physically resemble the younger overweight New Kids on the Block loving Ben (who still has a crush on Beverly), the casting club found a performer whose eyes match his youthful counterpart Jeremy Ray Taylor.

Of course, there’s also Skarsgard having a ball as Pennywise. It comes in many forms and in many situations. It comes at night. It comes during daytime. It comes as a creepy old lady who lives in Beverly’s old apartment. It comes as a giant spider. It comes as famous lumberjacks. It comes in ways that display decent CG and dodgy CG. It’s a mixed bag of appearances.

Chapter Two is overstuffed and overlong. It’s as if director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman (the team behind the first chapter) wanted to be as faithful as possible to King’s book and leave as little out as possible. A tightening of the screws might have been a wiser course of action. King himself (who cleverly cameos) has stated in interviews that the why of why monsters do what they do is fairly incidental. The time spent linking Pennywise to Native American rituals and the creature’s background feels just that. That Stephen King might be onto something.

The long continuation of this story does certainly feature a couple of spine tingling sequences, fine acting, and amusing bits. Unfortunately it does not represent a hefty portion of its 169 minutes and that’s why this chapter just can’t match the more tightly contained first one.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Doctor Sleep

When it was released nearly 40 years ago in theaters, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was not considered the landmark horror classic that it is today. In fact, the film received zero Oscar nominations. It did score two Razzie nods. That ceremony celebrates the worst in moviemaking each year. Both Kubrick and Shelley Duvall as the terrified wife of Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance were singled out for their (apparently) subpar work.

That seems hard to fathom these days with its standing as one of the genre’s best. This weekend comes Doctor Sleep, the sequel to both Stephen King’s 1977 novel and Kubrick’s picture. Reviews are mostly solid, but not across the board and the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 78%.

Truth be told, Sleep was never expected to be an awards player and reaction so far hasn’t done anything to alter that. There is one potential, if unlikely, exception. Critical buzz has heaped praise on the supporting work of Rebecca Ferguson, who’s said to steal the show as a cult leader with psychic powers.

A performance being recognized in the horror space is quite rare. Just last year, there were numerous calls for Toni Collette to get Best Actress attention in Hereditary. It never happened. Ferguson absolutely needs critics groups to bestow her with wins in order to get anywhere on Academy voters radar. If that occurs, she may have a small shot. If so, she would be the sixth performer Oscar nominated from a King adaptation: Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in Carrie, Kathy Bates (who won for Misery), Morgan Freeman for The Shawshank Redemption, and Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile.

Bottom line: Ferguson needs a whole lot of outside help to be a factor in the Supporting Actress derby and I wouldn’t count on it. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Doctor Sleep Box Office Prediction

Doctor Sleep hopes to shine at the box office next weekend. The horror pic is not just an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 novel, which is the legendary author’s sequel to his 1977 work The Shining. It also serves as a follow-up to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic. Mike Flanagan, who’s adapted King before with Netflix’s Gerald’s Game, is behind the camera. Ewan McGregor stars as Dan Torrance, the adult version of the child that Jack Nicholson tormented almost 40 years ago. Costars include Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Bruce Greenwood, and Cliff Curtis.

There’s no doubt that the cinematic version of The Shining has cemented its status as a genre landmark (even though King himself is famously not a big fan). The author has praised this and early word of mouth based off screenings is positive.

That said, 39 years is a long time ago. Interestingly, there’s a comp to be considered with 2017’s Blade Runner 2049. That sequel was also following an early 80s picture with a sterling reputation. Yet it came in well below expectations with a $31.5 million domestic premiere. Horror viewers tend to skew young, so it’s a legitimate question as to their affinity for the 1980 predecessor.

With all that considered, I’ll predict the Doctor is good for a mid 20s showing. This might be appointment viewing for some, but I’m skeptical it reaches over $30 million.

Doctor Sleep opening weekend prediction: $24.8 million

For my Last Christmas prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/30/last-christmas-box-office-prediction/

For my Midway prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/31/midway-box-office-prediction/

For my Playing with Fire prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/31/playing-with-fire-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: It Chapter Two

Two years ago, Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel It broke box office records in the horror genre and became an instant audience favorite. Yet it didn’t end up registering with awards voters in any fashion… not even for Pennywise’s creepy makeup job.

This weekend, the eagerly awaited sequel arrives and the review embargo has floated away. Chapter Two holds a decent 79% Rotten Tomatoes score, but that’s beneath the 86% achieved by its predecessor. A consistent theme in much of the critical reaction is that many parts work, but that it’s also overlong and doesn’t quite measure up to chapter one.

If It couldn’t garner Oscar attention, don’t expect this to. I will make make one further prediction. Another common factor in the reviews is praise for Bill Hader’s performance and he’s said to be a scene stealer. Don’t be surprised to see some chatter and wishful thinking for a Supporting Actor nod that will never come to pass. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…