After helming critically appreciated genre titles The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister (as well as the first Doctor Strange), Scott Derrickson is back in the horror lane this weekend with The Black Phone. Based on a short story by Joe Hill, the supernatural tale began garnering solid buzz when it premiered at Fantastic Fest last fall. Ethan Hawke is the most recognizable name in a cast that includes Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, and James Ransone.
Scary movies always face an uphill battle for awards attention. Despite its 100% Rotten Tomatoes score, I don’t foresee Phone dialing up a Best Picture nod. On the other hand, particular acclaim has been afforded to its young costars Thames and McGraw. In order for them to grab any buzz in the supporting fields, the film’s box office reception would need to be fantastic. While I’ve got it performing well, I am not envisioning it reaching that kind of level. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
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
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s mega billion dollar alliance with Disney rolls along as Doctor Strange opens in theaters next weekend. Based on the character created by Steve Ditko over a half century ago, this is the 14th entry in the MCU that began with Iron Man in 2008.
And that first Tony Stark pic over eight years ago is the film many critics are comparing the Doctor to. Benedict Cumberbatch is the title character with a stellar supporting cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, and Mads Mikkelsen. Scott Derrickson (most known for horror flicks such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister) directs. Advance word of mouth for the reported $165 million has been quite encouraging, with reviewers praising Cumberbatch’s performance, the striking visuals, and an origin story said to be satisfying in the way that Iron Man’s was. It stands at 97% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.
This is only the second MCU feature to open in the autumn season. 2013’s sequel Thor: The Dark World premiered to $85.7 million in early November. That’s probably the range that Strange is looking to debut at, but I’m not sure it’ll quite get there. I certainly don’t see it reaching the $94 million accomplished by Star Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy or the $98 million that Robert Downey Jr.’s signature character got the first time out of the gate. Yet I see it outpacing the $65 million that Thor opened to in his first solo saga and $57 million from Ant-Man in summer 2015. The buzz for this one seems stronger.
Ultimately, I think this manages a mid to high 70s opening weekend. Low 80s is reachable. Regardless, this should be a new franchise for the Mouse Factory’s comic book division.
Doctor Strange opening weekend prediction: $77.3 million