Thor: Love and Thunder Box Office Prediction

Each Thor pic has outdone the last and Disney hopes that trend continues when Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on July 8th. The sixth MCU entry in the past 14 months, the franchise shows no signs of slowing down as this follows juggernauts Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. 

This particular series is only the second to have a fourth feature (the other being Avengers). Taika Waititi, who made 2017’s predecessor Ragnarok, returns behind the camera with Chris Hemsworth once again hammering away as the title character. Natalie Portman’s Jane is back after sitting out part 3 and other familiar faces include Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, and Jeff Goldblum. The Guardians of the Galaxy are also in the mix. Newcomers to the fold are Christian Bale as main villain Gorr the God Butcher and Russell Crowe as Zeus. Expect plenty of cameos as well.

The first Thor (only the 4th of now 29 MCU flicks) grossed $65 million out of the gate with an overall gross of $181 million. Two and a half years later, The Dark World improved upon that with $85 and $206 million, respectively. Ragnarok easily surpassed that with $122 million and $315 million eventually.

Love and Thunder should continue the trend. Since the character’s last stand-alone effort, Thor was prominently placed in the massive Avengers sagas Infinity War and Endgame. That said, Multiverse from early May was a direct benefactor of following No Way Home when it premiered with $187 million. Its Spidey predecessor swung the second largest domestic opening of all time behind Endgame. 

I don’t believe Thunder will reach the stratosphere of Multiverse. Somewhere between $140-$160 million seems doable. If buzz continues to grow louder in the coming days, I reserve the right to revise up. My current take puts it in the range of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($146 million) and Captain Marvel ($153 million). I’ll put it slightly over both.

Thor: Love and Thunder opening weekend prediction: $155.7 million

June 10-12 Box Office Predictions

Universal is looking for the dinosaurs to rule the box office landscape for the sixth time with Jurassic World: Dominion. It’s the only new wide release and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Jurassic World: Dominion Box Office Prediction

Dominion is the third feature in the second Jurassic trilogy and the numbers could be assisted by melding cast members from the original trilogy with the current one. I’m projecting it’ll improve on the opening weekend of predecessor Fallen Kingdom, but not approach the $200M+ debut of Jurassic World. That said – I have a strange feeling it might underperform so check back to see if my projection shifts later this week.

Top Gun: Maverick will be the runner-up after two incredible weeks on top including an astonishing sophomore hold (more on that below). It had no competition this past weekend and the dinos should eat into its grosses. Even with Dominion around, it still may only drop in the 40-45% range… maybe even less.

The rest of the top five should be populated by holdovers Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Bad Guys, and The Bob’s Burgers Movie. 

Here’s how I see it:

1. Jurassic World: Dominion

Predicted Gross: $155.3 million

2. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $58.8 million

3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

4. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

5. The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Predicted Gross: $2.2 million

Box Office Results (June 3-5)

In a turn of events that was even more impressive than its Memorial Day weekend rollout, Top Gun: Maverick is officially a phenomenon as it dropped only 29%. That means a #1 frame of $90 million – towering over my $67.5 million projection. The number is the 8th largest sophomore output of all time. For perspective – it’s $6 million higher than Spider-Man: No Way Home and just $13 million below what  The Avengers made during the same weekend. It’s the best hold we’ve ever witnessed for a picture that debuted above $100 million. The ten-day tally is $295 million and the sky looks to be the limit.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness remained in second with $9.1 million. My guess? $9.1 million! The MCU behemoth is up to $388 million.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie fell a steep 63% in its second serving with $4.6 million, a bit under my $5.3 million prediction. Total is $22 million.

The Bad Guys took fourth with $3.3 million (I said $3.1 million) as it inches close to the century mark with $87 million.

Downton Abbey: A New Era rounded out the top five at $3.1 million, in line with my $3.2 million estimate for $35 million overall.

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

May 6-8 Box Office Predictions

The summer box office season officially kicks off in the manner it has many times lately… with an expected Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks to accomplish some records after previous franchise entry Spider-Man: No Way Home set plenty of its own. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on Benedict Cumberbatch’s return as the mystical doc here:

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Box Office Prediction

My estimate would give Multiverse the 7th largest domestic premiere of all time and the highest ever for the month of May (topping The Avengers). It would be #4 in terms of MCU entries – behind Avengers: Endgame, No Way Home, and Avengers: Infinity War. 

No other film is daring to open against this and family friendly entries The Bad Guys (after two weeks on top) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 should slide a spot. Everything Everywhere All at Once is holding extremely well from week to week and it could rise to fourth over Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. 

Here’s how I think the top 5 will look:

1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Predicted Gross: $208.5 million

2. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $10 million

3. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million

5. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore 

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million

Box Office Results (April 29-May 1)

Before Marvel begins its domination, it was a pretty quiet weekend with The Bad Guys repeating in first. The DreamWorks Animation effort made $16.2 million, topping my $14.4 million projection for $44 million in 10 days.

Most holdovers managed to slightly exceed my expectations. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 stayed in second at $11.5 million compared to my $10.8 million call. Total is $161 million.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore continued its ho-hum run in third with $8.3 million, just above my $7.7 million take. The three-week tally is a disappointing $79 million.

The Northman was fourth in its sophomore outing with $6.3 million. I went with $5.6 million and it’s at $22 million.

Everything Everywhere All at Once actually had a 2% increase with $5.5 million to round out the top five (I said $4.2 million). The A24 Oscar hopeful has made an impressive $35 million.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was sixth with $3.8 million (I predicted $3.5 million) for $13 million in two weeks.

Finally, Liam Neeson’s streak of low grosses stayed intact as Memory opened in 8th with $3.1 million. That’s in line with his recent (non) earners and just below my $3.3 million projection.

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

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Box Office Prediction

In what Hollywood is hoping looks more like a traditional summer season, it’s the MCU kicking it off with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The 28th feature in the biggest franchise of all is technically the follow-up to 2016’s Doctor Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. It is, however, the character’s sixth appearance overall in the cinematic universe with the most recent being December’s massive Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

Speaking of Spidey, Sam Raimi, maker of Tobey Maguire’s 2002-2007 trilogy, directs (taking over from Scott Derrickson). Costars back in the mix are Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. Newcomers to the MCU include Xochitl Gomez and Patrick Stewart (in an undisclosed role that could turn out to be quite familiar).

Madness has the big advantage of following a juggernaut in No Way Home. That has served as an advantage to other MCU properties. For instance, Captain Marvel in 2019 was the follow-up to Avengers: Endgame and it made $153 million out of the gate. That was slightly better than the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel from two years earlier. Assisting Multiverse is that the good Doctor had a sizable part in the previous Spidey adventure.

Five and a half years ago, the first Strange took in $85 million for its start with an eventual domestic haul of $232 million. In the MCU world, it’s way more normal for sequels to outdo their predecessors and that will certainly apply here. It should have no trouble achieving the largest premiere for 2022 – currently held by The Batman at $134 million.

No one is really thinking this will approach the $260 million weekend of No Way Home, but $200 million is definitely feasible. Underestimating the MCU is usually not wise so I’ll say it hits that mark. My projection would get it the 7th largest domestic debut of all time (right behind Jurassic World and just ahead of The Avengers).

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opening weekend prediction: $208.5 million

Eternals Review

When the core group of Avengers assembled in their climactic battle for that classic shot from the 2012 film, it held power because we’d come to know them in previous MCU entries. By the time we got to 2019 as seemingly half of Hollywood was ready to take on Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, the same emotions were present. The mere fact that we were witnessing many members of Marvel’s extensive roster ready for action via high quality predecessors was impressive.

That’s a testament to what Kevin Feige and team had pulled off. For all the nitpicking about the franchise, it’s easy to forget the monumental achievement in bringing these heroes to life in 20 plus pictures and getting us back to care about them. That’s not an easy assignment and they pulled it off.

This brings us to Eternals, the 26th entry in the series. And it often feels like we are meant to feel the same sentiments that I’ve described above. There’s a problem with that. Chloe Zhao’s immersion into the MCU is tasked with introducing us to a brand new team of heroes in its 156 minutes. Most of them, quite frankly, aren’t very compelling. Comic book lovers may be familiar, but the masses aren’t. When Iron Man got the gang together nearly a decade ago, we knew the gang. Eternals, which loves it landscapes and sunsets silhouetting its protagonists, strains to properly introduce them. For a movie that feels long, it’s still short on character development and getting us to care about this team in ways we previously did. I admired plenty about this latest adventure, but it still stands as one of the MCU’s overall weakest experiences.

A prologue set in 5000 B.C. establishes the players. The Eternals are a group of immortals tasked with saving planets from Deviants, a lot of monstrous CGI creations. Their leader is Ajak (Salma Hayek), who takes her orders from the almighty Arishem. Each Eternal has their own set of powers. Sersi (Gemma Chan) can transform matter. Her love interest Ikaris (Richard Madden) can shoot freakin lasers from his eyeballs (think Cyclops). Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is the science nerd capable of advancing technology centuries ahead of time. And… we’re gonna be here all day if I keep this up, but a couple more. Sprite (Lia McHugh) can create illusions, but can’t hide the fact that she’ll look like a 12-year-old girl for eternity. Thena (Angelina Jolie) is capable of creating weapons from thin air. Yet she’s a weapon herself because she has a condition that causes her to turn against her counterparts and try to kill them.

The Eternals spend centuries on Earth taking on the Deviants and appear to achieve their mission in 1521. The band breaks up and they’re free to roam free on our Earthly soil, which Nomadland director Zhao frames in loving travelogue mode. Importantly, Ajak orders them not to interfere with the many conflicts that will transpire over the coming centuries. That means the Eternals are not involved when Thanos wipes out half the population in Avengers: Infinity War. They’re not showing up for house calls with Doctor Strange or assisting Hulk smash anything.

In present day, the Deviants resurface and they must assemble (!) again. Some have taken on unexpected careers. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Bollywood leading man with a trusty assistant (Harish Patel). He’s been a superstar for decades with the public believing his dad, granddad, and so on were different people. The real function for Nanjiani is to provide some comic relief in a story that needs it.. The actor and the superb Patel are up to the assignment. They might be the two characters I’d be excited to see return in future MCU tales.

On the flip side, the failed romance between Sersi and Ikaris is a yawner. And familiar faces like Hayek and Jolie aren’t given enough screen time to register. Barry Keoghan, always a compelling actor to watch, is Druig. He can manipulate minds and his superpower runs counter to his orders. Druig has the potential for a fascinating character arc yet, once again, the packed nature of the screenplay prevents it.

The look of Eternals is undoubtedly different than the MCU sheen we’re accustomed to. It has more of a real location feel as opposed to video game extravaganza. Some of the action sequences are well constructed. Others fall into the confused CGI jumble that’s hampered even some of the finest franchise flicks.

Here’s the bottom line – Eternals is by no means bad (even the middling stories in this series are quite watchable). It feels unnecessary because it never fully succeeds at making us understand why we need to be invested. Ajak’s hideaway in the present day is in South Dakota. Nothing that happens here made me think any Eternal will be carved into the Mt. Rushmore of Marvel’s cinematic universe.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Predictions – Spider-Man: No Way Home

When Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy kicked off nearly 20 years ago, it managed to nab a Best Visual Effects nod (losing to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers). Two years later, the 2004 sequel won the prize. Since then, the five Spidey features that followed (Maguire’s third, both Andrew Garfield iterations, and the first two Tom Holland MCU flicks) didn’t show up in the race. Will Spider-Man: No Way Home change that?

The 27th entry (and fourth this year) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts Friday and I have it pegged for the fourth best domestic opening of all time (behind Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The review embargo lifted early this morning and it stands at an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While nearly all critical notices are positive, I don’t think this will be the second MCU title to nab a Best Picture nomination behind Black Panther. While Best Sound is feasible, Home‘s best hope at Academy inclusion is in Visual Effects. MCU movies vying for that prize is not unusual. The inaugural pic in the biggest franchise of all (2008’s Iron Man) made the cut. So have Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Infinity War, and Endgame. None have won.

So despite the last quintet of web slinger sagas not being honored for their effects, Home should have no problem? I don’t think it’s quite that simple. There are two Warner Bros sci-fi extravaganzas (Dune and The Matrix Resurrections) that should get in. That leaves three slots. Warner has another hopeful with Godzilla vs. Kong. Marvel itself has Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals (and Black Widow to a lesser degree) vying for spots. Shang-Chi especially could get in (the Critics Choice Awards included it on their ballot). Don’t Look Up, Finch, and No Time to Die are other possibilities. It’s worth noting that whether Home makes the five, Dune is the very heavy favorite to take gold.

Here’s my hunch: by the time Academy voters cast their final votes, Home appears bound to have heightened box office numbers to their highest achievements in the pandemic era. That fact alone might get it some recognition from the Oscars and that would be for its visuals. Another interesting stat: of the ten current largest stateside premieres ever, only two (Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World) didn’t score at least one nomination from the Academy. That puts this in a decent position. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

July 16-18 Box Office Predictions

The seemingly endless slew of summer sequels continues this weekend with Lebron James facing the Toon Squad in Space Jam: A New Legacy and the horror follow-up Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. You can peruse my detailed predictions on both part 2’s right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/07/07/space-jam-a-new-legacy-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/07/07/escape-room-tournament-of-champions-box-office-predictions/

Can either newbie manage to top Marvel’s Black Widow after its record setting opening? Quite unlikely. I look for #23 and his animated competitors to manage a low to mid 20s start (it will also be available on HBO Max streaming).

As for Tournament, the first Escape Room easily outpaced expectations with a near $20 million debut. However, I think low double digits to possibly low teens is the target here.

Black Widow brought us to new heights in the post COVID world (more on that below). A drop in the 60% would generally keep it in line with other MCU entries and that means it shouldn’t have much trouble staying atop the charts in its sophomore frame.

Holdovers F9 and The Boss Baby: Family Business should keep the top five sequel heavy as has been the case all season.

And with that, here’s how I think it all shakes out:

1. Black Widow

Predicted Gross: $32.1 million

2. Space Jam: A New Legacy

Predicted Gross: $22.7 million

3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Predicted Gross: $11.4 million

4. F9

Predicted Gross: $6.2 million

5. The Boss Baby: Family Business

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (July 9-11)

As anticipated, the two-week old record for F9 achieving the highest premiere in the COVID era was rather easily eclipsed by Scarlett Johansson’s stand-alone Black Widow saga. Yet its $80.3 million haul was on the lower end of projections. I forecasted slightly more at $83.3 million. Since The Avengers (2012) and the 18 MCU blockbusters that have followed, only Ant-Man and its sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp opened lower. However, we still are not in normal times and Widow is the first franchise entry to be simultaneously be available on Disney Plus (for a $30 fee). The studio was quick to point out that the streamer pulled in an additional $60 million through the distribution method.

Widow was the only fresh product in the marketplace as F9 dropped to second after two weeks parked in first. It made $11.4 million which was right on pace with my $11.3 million prediction. The three-week total is $141 million.

The Boss Baby: Family Business was third with $8.8 million (I said $8.6 million) for a ten-day tally of $34 million.

The Forever Purge held up better than I figured in weekend #2 with $7.1 million (I went with $5.1 million). It’s at $27 million overall.

Rounding out the top five was A Quiet Place Part II with $3.1 million compared to my $2.7 million projection. The horror sequel became the first COVID era title to reach $150 million domestically (something F9 and Black Widow will accomplish in short order).

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

Black Widow Box Office Prediction

Hitting theaters two weeks after F9 sprinted to the best opening weekend for films released post COVID, Black Widow looks to make that record short-lived. Originally slated for May 2020 before its pandemic delays, the 24th saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a stand-alone showcase for Scarlett Johansson’s Avengers character. Cate Shortland directs with a supporting cast including Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenie, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz.

Widow, sporting a budget of at least $200 million, marks the longest delay between MCU pics that we have seen in over a decade. This is the creme de la creme of franchises where 11 of the past 18 titles have made over $100 million (or much more) in their debuts.

As has been the case with all pictures in this uncertain era, there are challenges Widow faces that could prevent that. For starters, its studio made the choice to simultaneously make this available for Disney Plus streaming. $30 will allow you to view it from the comfort of your couch (a cheaper proposition if buying for the whole family). Widow also doesn’t have the benefit of falling between two gargantuan Avengers features. That certainly helped 2019’s Captain Marvel which soared to $153 million for its start.

While the MCU is generally review proof, the positive reaction from critics won’t hurt. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is at 85%. And Johansson’s character (while not in the stratosphere of Iron Man or Captain America) is a familiar presence from The Avengers, its sequels, and more.

I can’t help but wonder if the Mouse Factory regrets making the Disney Plus decision. This will be a test to see how many fans will choose the home option. That said, I do believe Widow will top the $70 million that F9 reached. While $100 million may be out of range, a gross of $75-$85 million seems doable and that’s where I’m landing. My projection puts this just under what Doctor Strange (2016) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) achieved.

Black Widow opening weekend prediction: $83.3 million

Oscar Watch: Black Widow

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unless the film is named Black Panther, your best hope is to contend in Visual Effects at the Oscars and probably lose. This brings us to Black Widow, the 24th entry in the MCU that opens July 9th in theaters and on Disney Plus streaming. The stand-alone pic focused on Scarlett Johansson’s title character had its review embargo lifted today and results are mostly positive thus far. The Rotten Tomatoes score currently stands at 86%.

Johansson’s costars (Florence Pugh particularly) are getting the bulk of critical kudos. That said, no actor in an MCU flick has made the cut in those categories and it won’t start here. 10 of the previous 23 franchise blockbusters (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame) have landed slots in Visual Effects. As far as victories go – they are 0 for 10. In fact, only Panther (which nabbed a Best Picture nod) has won anything. It went 3 for 7 on Oscar night 2019 by taking Original Score, Costume Design, and Production Design.

Just over half of Marvel’s creations have received zero recognition from the Academy. Black Widow should face an uphill battle in Visual Effects. Late year arrivals like Dune and Top Gun: Maverick are just two possibilities outside of this cinematic universe. Then there’s the matter of 3 more hopeful MCU titles: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and (perhaps especially) Eternals. Bottom line: there’s a better chance of Black Widow not showing up anywhere at next year’s ceremony. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Top 25 SNL Alumni Performances: Numbers 10-6

We have reached the top ten in my personal favorite performances from the dozens of Saturday Night Live alumni. Today’s list covers numbers 10-6 and if you missed my previous editions, you may find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/06/21/top-25-snl-alumni-movie-performances-numbers-25-21/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/06/22/top-25-snl-alumni-movie-performances-numbers-20-16/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/06/24/top-25-snl-alumni-performances-numbers-15-11/

Let’s get to it!

10. Randy Quaid, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Ahhh, Cousin Eddie. One of the funniest supporting characters in film history with Quaid’s performance as the black sheep of the Griswald family. He was great in Vacation as well, but his work in the Yuletide classic gets the nod. Quaid only appeared in one ill-fated season of the show from 1985-86.

9. Kristin Wiig, Bridesmaids (2011)

Wiig is one of the greatest SNL performers period and her first starring role was a blockbuster showcase for her immense talents. Her costar Maya Rudolph deserves a shout out for her performance as well.

8. Eddie Murphy, The Nutty Professor (1996)

Beyond his terrific work as Sherman Klump and Buddy Love, this update of the Jerry Lewis tale also finds the versatile star hilariously playing nearly every member of the Klump clan under Rick Baker’s amazing makeup work. This was deservedly a major comeback vehicle for Murphy.

7. Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man (2008)

People tend to forget that Downey was a cast member in the forgettable 1985-86 season that Quaid was a part of. There’s other performances that I could have included here (including other Avengers work), but I’ll give his first appearance in his signature role the attention it warrants.

6. John Belushi, National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

This is the first breakout role for a SNL cast member and it’s absolutely one of the best with Belushi’s iconic performance as John Blutarsky (or Bluto). You can still find his photo chugging Jack Daniels in many a college dorm across the country.

We will reach the top 5 in short order! Stat tuned…