Disney’s The Little Mermaid surfaces in theaters over this Memorial weekend and it hopes to dominate the box office like the Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King live-action versions did. Rob Marshall, Oscar-winning director of Chicago who recently helmed Mary Poppins Returns, is behind the camera. Halle Bailey stars as Ariel with Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, and Javier Bardem among the supporting players.
The musical fantasy is, of course, a remake of 1989’s classic that won Oscars for Score and Original Song (“Under the Sea”). Another tune (“Kiss the Girl”) was also in contention. 34 years ago, Best Animated Feature didn’t exist at the Academy Awards. If it had, Mermaid almost certainly would’ve won (unless you think All Dogs Go to Heaven might have managed a shocking upset).
Could this Mermaid swim into contention for the 96th ceremony? Over the past decade, several efforts in this sub-genre have been nominated in different races. 2015’s Cinderella was up for its Costume Design. 2016’s The Jungle Book won Visual Effects. The following year it was Beauty and the Beast mentioned in Costume Design and Production Design. The Lion King in 2019 received a Visual Effects nod and 2021’s Cruella won Costume Design and contended in Makeup and Hairstyling.
Reviews for Mermaid are mixed with a 69% Rotten Tomatoes score. That’s better than The Lion King (52%) for example but nowhere near Jungle Book (94%). Some of the criticism is for its visual look and I’m skeptical it places among the final five. I’m also not feeling the love in the other aforementioned categories.
Original Song could be the saving grace. There are three new ditties in the remake with Bailey performing the ballad “For the First Time”. I would think it would be the track that the Mouse Factory campaigns for.
A lot of critics are praising Bailey herself. I highly doubt she is a possibility for Best Actress at the Oscars. However, a nom in Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes is doable depending on the competition in the next few months. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Back in 1989, Disney’s animated underwater musical fantasy The Little Mermaid helped usher in a new golden era for the studio. Over the past few years, the Mouse Factory has made a habit out of releasing live-action renderings of those classics. This includes the pics that immediately followed Mermaid in Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
It’s Ariel’s turn this Memorial Day weekend with Halle Bailey in the title role. Melissa McCarthy is Ursula and other supporting players include Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, and Javier Bardem. Rob Marshall, Oscar winning maker of Chicago as well as Mary Poppins Returns, directs.
Disney has mostly seen boffo results with this subgenre. This include four premieres over nine figures: 2016’s The Jungle Book ($103M), 2017’s Beauty and the Beast ($174M) and Aladdin ($116M) and The Lion King ($191M) from 2019. For Aladdin, that number represents the four-day Memorial weekend haul. Mermaid looks to swim in a similar financial pool as that effort. Anything below $100M would be a letdown.
I figure Mermaid will easily accomplish that goal. The original is beloved enough that the grown-ups who saw it 30 plus years ago should eagerly take their young ones. I’ll say the extended Friday to Monday gross may get beyond $130M.
The Little Mermaid opening weekend prediction: $132.1 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
Last year, The Power of the Dog scored the most Oscar nominations including Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. His return as Marvel’s superhero in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hopes to land at least one mention in a category where the MCU has received plenty.
The review embargo lifted today ahead of its Friday premiere and the Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 79% (that’s a match with last summer’s Black Widow). Sam Raimi’s directorial contribution to the world’s biggest franchise, based on some critics and their reservations, really only has a shot at Best Visual Effects.
That’s where 12 previous movies starting with Iron Man and ending with 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Spider-Man: No Way Home have made the final five. Somewhat shockingly, none have won. In the middle of that pack is predecessor Doctor Strange from 2016 (it lost to The Jungle Book).
Considering the original Strange made the cut, Madness could absolutely be in line to follow suit. It’ll need to do so over two forthcoming MCU adventures (Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). None of the Thor pics managed a VE nod and neither did the first Panther. Therefore it strands to reason that this could be the best MCU bet for inclusion in 2022. Like the others, I don’t believe it has a shot to win. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
More often than not, the Disney live-action remakes related to their animated classics have managed to score Oscar nominations in various technical races. Two days ahead of its Memorial Day weekend domestic bow, the studio’s Cruella (a reboot of their 1961 animated tale and the Glenn Close live-action features) has seen its review embargo lifted. It is widely expected that the Academy will reward it in some of the races that their previous features have been mentioned in.
The Rotten Tomatoes meter currently stands at a decent 72% with many critics praising Emma Stone (Best Actress winner in 2016 for La La Land) in the title role of the dog despising villainess. She’s unlikely to get much attention in the lead race, but should certainly find herself in the mix in the Musical/Comedy competition at next year’s Golden Globes… if there is a Golden Globes next year.
As mentioned, the Academy has been kind to the remakes over the last decade plus. Alice in Wonderland won Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and was nominated for Visual Effects. Nods for the costumes were also received by Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015). In 2017, Beauty and the Beast made the shortlist for Production and Costume Design. The Jungle Book (2016) was victorious in Visual Effects with Christopher Robin (2018) and The Lion King (2019) as nominees. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) nabbed a mention for its Makeup and Hairstyling. Last year’s Mulan got in for Costume Design and Visual Effects, winning neither.
All four categories mentioned are on the table for Cruella to varying degrees. Based on the buzz, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling are highly probable and could even be wins. Production Design is also feasible while Visual Effects could be more of a stretch due to expected competition.
Additionally, Florence and the Machine have contributed the original song “Call Me Cruella”. I wouldn’t bank on it making the final five in that race, but you never know (sometimes there’s surprises in that category).
Bottom line: Cruella is looking good for at least two Academy mentions and possibly more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Disney’s Cruella will try to scare up some box office business over the Memorial Day weekend after being delayed from its original December 2020 release date. The pic casts Emma Stone in the title role of the villainess as seen in the studio’s 1961 animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians and in the form of Glenn Close for two live-action flicks in the late 90s and early 00s. Craig Gillespie directs with a supporting cast including Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Mark Strong.
With a massive reported price tag of $200 million, Cruella hits theaters and Disney Plus premium on the same day. Home viewers will need to shell out $30 for couch watching, similar to Raya and the Last Dragon and the upcoming Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. It’s worth noting that Raya opened to $8.5 million in March under this platform. However, the holiday weekend and the fact that theaters are increasing capacity have set an understandably higher bar for Cruella.
Disney has had major success with their recent live-action remakes of animated classics, from The Lion King to Aladdin to The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast and more. Even the lower earners, like Dumbo, started out in the mid 40s. Obviously the dynamic has changed under COVID times. Some families may realize it’s more economical to pay the $30 compared to the cost of hauling the entire brood to the multiplex.
Early word of mouth is quite positive and that should help. I could easily foresee a low to mid 20s rollout for Ms. Stone, her likely to be Oscar nominated costumes, and company.
Cruella opening weekend prediction: $23.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
For my A Quiet Place Part II prediction, click here:
After its theatrical release was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney’s live-action version of their 1998 animated tale Mulan is set to stream on Disney+ beginning tomorrow for a fee of $30. With a reported budget of around $200 million, this is certainly one of the highest profile features to ever (if ever) hit the PVOD circuit.
Over the past decade, the Mouse Factory has made billions of dollars with this sub genre of bringing their well-known drawn properties to a human scale. And there’s already a history of these pics garnering technical nominations at the Oscars.
The review embargo for Mulan lapsed on the eve of its release and reaction thus far is mostly on the positive side. Niki Caro’s remake is generating praise for its action sequences and overall visuals. Some of the reviews are a bit less kind. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is currently 73%. That’s a marked improvement over last year’s Aladdin (57%) and The Lion King (52%). Yet it falls short of the highs of The Jungle Book (94%) or Cinderella (84%). It’s actually right in range with 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, which scored 71%.
Let’s take that trip down memory lane for Disney’s output in this genre, shall we? In 2010, Alice in Wonderland won both Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and was nominated for its Visual Effects. 2014’s Maleficent also received a nod for its costuming and that happened a year later with Cinderella. In 2016, The Jungle Book was victorious for its Visual Effects. Beauty and the Beast received nominations the next year for Production Design and its costumes. Christopher Robin got a Visual Effects nod in 2019. And last year, The Lion King picked up a Visual Effects mention while Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling.
You’ll notice that none of these pictures landed attention in the major categories and I don’t expect that Mulan will change that. When it comes to down the line nominations, I do expect this will contend in Production Design and Costume Design especially. Visual Effects and Makeup and Hairstyling are also possibilities and maybe even Cinematography. And there’s also the matter of Best Original Song. Christina Aguilera, who sang the track “Reflection” over the end credits 22 years ago, has composed some original works here. She recently put out the single “Loyal Brave True” and it certainly could contend.
Bottom line: Mulan is unlikely to be the first live-action Disney remake to compete for the big prizes, but it should carry on the tradition of its technical achievements being noticed. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Disney’s live-action rendering of its 1994 classic TheLionKing is out next weekend and it’s expected to make a killing at the box office. The computer generated saga from director Jon Favreau is among a quartet of Mouse Factory updates of their animated filmography out in 2019.
Reviews are out today and it’s a mixed bag. Even the majority of positive reviews essentially say it’s a carbon copy of the original. Even the majority of negative reviews seem impressed with its state of the art visuals.
The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 59% and that’s right in range with the 57% that Aladdin received two months ago. That certainly puts this out of Best Picture range. However, I look for this to be a serious player in Visual Effects. If so, it would follow Favreau’s 2016 smash TheJungleBook and it won the award. This has a shot at following suit. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Disney’s live action reimagining of TheLionKing roars into theaters next weekend a quarter century after the classic animated tale. Jon Favreau, who has some experience in the genre with 2016’s $364 million grosser TheJungleBook, directs. The computer animated animal epic features the voices of many recognizable faces. They include Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, and James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa.
Expectations are sky high and it’s easy to see why. The Mouse Factory has achieved massive successes in this unique sub genre and have done so very recently. This May’s Aladdin now stands at over $321 million in domestic earnings. The high water mark is from 2017 with BeautyandtheBeast. It opened to $174 million and topped out at $504 million total.
The 1994 original was a phenomenon, taking in $422 million. And that was 25 years ago and would be over $800 million when adjusted for inflation. It still stands as the fourth highest grossing animated feature of all time.
Considering those gaudy numbers, TheLionKing is likely to make a killing and set a new record for the studio’s remakes. $200 million is reachable in my view, but I’ll put it a bit under that.
TheLionKing opening weekend prediction: $192.7 million
Just a day before its theatrical release, Disney’s live-action update of Aladdin had its review embargo lifted. The big-budget fantasy, which casts Will Smith in the genie role made iconic by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated feature, could’ve certainly fared worse. Based upon fears from a poorly received first trailer, some wondered if the pic would be a disaster. Most critics, while certainly mixed with some negative, haven’t been too harsh. It stands at 60% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Particular praise has gone to the performances of Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, who respectively play the title character and Princess Jasmine.
When it comes to these updates of studio classics, many in the past decade have scored technical nods. This includes AliceinWonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, TheJungleBook, and BeautyandtheBeast. In 2019, Aladdin will find itself competing for space with three other Disney live-action renderings: the already released Dumbo, this summer’s TheLionKing, and this winter’s Maleficent: MistressofEvil. Don’t be surprised if TheLionKing gets the lions share of attention.
That said, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling could be the two best possibilities here. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Disney’s live-action version of their 1941 classic Dumbo arrives in theaters on Friday and the review embargo was lifted today. Tim Burton’s take on the flying elephant is the first of four Mouse Factory updates on their animated tales hitting screens in 2019.
The advance word out is quite mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 51%. No one seriously expected this would contend for Best Picture, but previous Disney updates in recent years have fared well with Oscar voters with technical nods.
Burton’s own AliceinWonderland in 2010 won Best Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and landed a nomination in Visual Effects. Costume Design nods were received by Maleficent in 2014 and by Cinderella the following year. In 2016, TheJungleBook emerged victorious in Visual Effects. BeautyandtheBeast nabbed nods for Production and Costume Design.
That’s a solid track record. Where’s that leave Dumbo? Tough to say at this juncture. Even the negative skewing reviews have praised the visuals. Yet there will be a lot of competition and that includes the other three live-action updates arriving later: Aladdin, TheLionKing, and Maleficent: MistressofEvil. Even more potentially serious competitors include Avengers: Endgame and the next StarWars.
Costume Design and Production Design remain more realistic possibilities. Bottom line: Dumbo could continue the recent tradition of this sub genre getting down the line category attention, but competition will be key. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…