Oscar Watch: The Mitchells vs. the Machines

As we wait to hear the Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards this Sunday evening (hint: it’s Soul), we have a fresh possibility for the competition next year. Formerly titled Connected, Netflix premieres The Mitchells vs. the Machines on April 30. The computer animated sci-fi comedy comes from director Michael Rianda and is produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the team behind 2019’s Oscar recipient Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Lego Movie franchise). Actors doing voice work include Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Conan O’Brien, and Olivia Colman.

The Sony Pictures release was originally slated for theatrical release before the COVID-19 pandemic switched it to streaming. Reviews out today are nearly across the board positive with a current 96% Rotten Tomatoes score. It is early in the year and there’s eight more months of animated hopefuls to come. Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon is already out and could easily make the final cut. Pixar’s Luca (out this summer) is certainly one to keep an eye on. However, Mitchells has already established itself as a contender in the 2021 mix.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Lego Movie Collapse

This was a weekend where The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part was expected to easily nab the #1 spot at the box office. That mission was accomplished, but it did so with much less money than any prognosticator figured. The sequel to the 2014 original took in $34 million and that was about $20 million less than expected. I had a feeling it would under perform and forecasted a $48 million debut. However, I never figured a mid 30s premiere.

For some context, the first Lego experience five years ago made $69 million out of the gate and eventually earned $257 million domestically. In 2017, first franchise spin-off The Lego Batman Movie debuted to $53 million ($175 million total). The first sign of trouble came a few months later when The Lego Ninjago Movie came in far under estimates with $20 million in its opening weekend and a lowly $59 million stateside. Yet some attributed the poor Ninjago performance to its limited niche audience.

The Second Part marked a hopeful return to form for Warner Bros considering it was a direct sequel to a picture that made over $250 million. There is no doubt that the number produced this weekend could block future plans for the series. Its best hope ahead could be the President’s Day weekend as the studio hopes it will have a small decline. Any way you cut it, though, part two will seriously come in under its predecessor. We now have two Lego Movie collapses in a row and it will be interesting to see how Warner handles it.

Oscar Watch – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

The Lego franchise has made nearly half a billion dollars at the domestic box office for Warner Bros since 2014 and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will add to those coffers next weekend. It’s money hauls, however, have not translated to success with Oscar voters.

The Lego Movie was critically acclaimed and seemed assured an Academy nod in Animated Feature four years ago. It was one of the most surprising snubs when it didn’t make the cut. There were two Lego pics in 2017 (The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie). Neither of them managed to make the race that year.

While reviews for The Second Part are strong, several critics have said it doesn’t quite match the first part. Competition from animated sequels alone in 2019 (How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4) is serious. Therefore it appears highly unlikely that this will be the year where Lego builds any standing with the awards crowd.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Box Office Prediction

The Warner Animation Group hopes to build back up its near half billion dollar domestic franchise next weekend with the release of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. This direct sequel arrives five years after its hit predecessor, though there’s been two spin-offs in the meantime. Mike Mitchell, who made Shrek Forever After and Trolls, takes over directing duties from Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (they wrote the screenplay). Returning voices include Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett (he’s Batman), Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Will Ferrell. Familiar faces joining the voiceover party are aplenty. They include Tiffany Haddish, Maya Rudolph, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Brooklyn Prince, and thespians from the DC Cinematic Universe (Gal Gadot, Margot Robbie, Jason Momoa).

In February of 2014, The Lego Movie earned $69 million out of the gate with an eventual stateside take of $257 million. Our first spin-off, 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie, achieved $53 million for its start and $175 million total. A few months later, The Lego Ninjago Movie was a legitimate disappointment. It premiered with only $20 million and didn’t leg out well ($59 million).

As they were with the first part, reviews are positive as this stands at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Several critics, however, have noted it doesn’t quite match up to the original. While this should easily debut at #1, I’ll project that it falls short of the 2014 earnings. Topping $50 million is certainly possible, but I’ll go just shy of that number.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part opening weekend prediction: $48.6 million

For my What Men Want prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/30/what-men-want-box-office-prediction/

For my Cold Pursuit prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/30/cold-pursuit-box-office-prediction/

For my The Prodigy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/31/the-prodigy-box-office-prediction/

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Box Office Prediction

An iconic superhero swings into theaters in yet another iteration next Friday when SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse debuts. This time around, the friendly neighborhood character is animated in a world where multiple individuals can don the spandex. Phil Lord (part of the team behind The Lego Movie) shares writing credit along with co-director Peter Ramsey. Shameik Moore and Jake Johnson both provide voice work for Spidey. Other actors behind the mic include Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber, Brian Tyree Henry, and Lily Tomlin.

Sony Pictures certainly has reviews on their side as this stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics even claim it’s the overall best of the series (this is now the seventh stand-alone entry focused on the Marvel web slinger). It appears destined for an Oscar nod in Best Animated Feature.

I believe the raves and familiarity with its title character should propel this to pleasing returns. With projections in the $30-$40 million range, I’m estimating SpiderVerse will premiere on the high-end of that spectrum and likely top it.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse opening weekend prediction: $43.4 million

For my The Mule prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/05/the-mule-box-office-prediction/

For my Mortal Engines prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/06/mortal-engines-box-office-prediction/

Smallfoot Box Office Prediction

The Warner Animation Group sets the Legos aside momentarily when Smallfoot debuts next weekend. The 3D computer animated comedic musical (a twist on the Bigfoot story) comes from director Karey Kirkpatrick. He made the well-received Over the Hedge over a decade ago and the not so well-received live-action Eddie Murphy pic Imagine That in 2009. Channing Tatum, James Corden, LeBron James, Zendaya, Common, Danny DeVito, and Gina Rodriguez are among the voices heard here.

As mentioned, the current animation department at Warner Bros has mostly been giving us Lego titles as of late. One exception was 2016’s Storks. It also opened in September and made $21.3 million for its start. That is likely a far better comparison that anything involving those famous blocks.

A low 20s to mid gross should put this in second place next weekend behind the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School. 

Smallfoot opening weekend prediction: $23 million

For my Night School prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/18/night-school-box-office-prediction/

For my Hell Fest prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/20/hell-fest-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Teen Titans! Go To the Movies

This Friday, Warner Bros animation is out with Teen Titans! Go To the Movies based on the Cartoon Network series. It’s a superhero spoof blending the characters of the show with notable icons from their catalog, including Nicolas Cage voicing Superman and Jimmy Kimmel as the Caped Crusader.

Early reviews are quite encouraging and it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has the potential to be a summer sleeper that could appeal to kids and their parents. Will  Oscar take note?

That could be a reach. Warner Bros has had a critically acclaimed output recently with their Lego series. However, The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and The Lego Ninjago Movie all failed to garner recognition in the Best Animated Feature category.

We can pretty safely say that two 2018 releases are already in for nods: Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Pixar’s superhero toon Incredibles 2. And there’s plenty more animated material to come. Despite positive buzz, that could mean Academy voters could fail to remember the Titans in a few months.

The Lego Ninjago Movie Box Office Prediction

The second spin-off from 2014’s blockbuster (get it?) The Lego Movie, next weekend we have The Lego Ninjago Movie. It’s based on the popular toy line with a martial arts flavor. The animated action/comedy features the voices of Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Pena, Fred Armisen, Olivia Munn, and Jackie Chan.

Ninjago will attempt to retain a good portion of the family audience and Lego lovers that populated The Lego Movie. That feature opened to $69 million in February 2014 with an eventual $257M domestic haul. First spin-off The Lego Batman Movie couldn’t quite match those numbers. It made $53 million for its start and ended up with $175M.

My feeling is that this will continue the downward trend, but still post respectable earnings. It will also have the benefit of having nothing in the way of major family audience competition for several weeks, so holdovers could be pleasing. As for its opening, Ninjago could find itself in a fierce battle for #1 with Kingsman: The Golden Circle. It’s also worth mentioning that It will only be in weekend #3 and still posting big numbers.

The Lego version of Batman was off nearly 25% out of the gate from The Lego Movie. If you applied that here, we’re talking an approximate $40 million debut. That sounds just about right and perhaps a tad under.

The Lego Ninjago Movie opening weekend prediction: $38.6 million

For my Kingsman: The Golden Circle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/09/13/kingsman-the-golden-circle-box-office-prediction/

For my Friend Request prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/09/17/friend-request-box-office-prediction/

Box Office Predictions: February 17-20

President’s Day weekend has arrived at the box office with three new titles debuting over the four-day holiday frame: Matt Damon’s action epic The Great Wall, Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy Fist Fight, and Gore Verbinski’s horror thriller A Cure for Wellness. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/09/the-great-wall-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/09/fist-fight-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/09/a-cure-for-wellness-box-office-prediction/

None of the trio is likely to dislodge the Caped Crusader and his Lego friends from the top perch in its second weekend. In fact, this particular February weekend often sees holdovers experience smallish declines. The Lego Movie dipped just 9% in the 2014 PD weekend and I expect the same type of minor dip for its spin-off.

With the #1 film safely (I think) determined, the rest of the top five is much more unpredictable. Looking over the past few President’s Day weekends, newbies opening in the mid to high 20s is commonplace. This applied to titles such as Unknown, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, A Good Day to Die Hard, Safe Haven, About Last Night, and Robocop. I foresee both Wall and Fight falling in this range for a photo finish for #2.

Then there’s Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2, both in their sophomore weekends. I don’t see Darker having a 74% drop like its predecessor Fifty Shades of Grey experienced (it had a much bigger opening for one thing). However, I could see it losing half its audience easily as grosses for this franchise are front loaded. Wick may lose less than a third of its debut crowd for a solid hold. And that could create another photo finish between these sequels.

This leaves A Cure for Wellness. Strong reviews may have helped this, but it’s not getting them and I’m diagnosing just a low double digits premiere for a probable sixth place showing.

And with that, my top 6 projections for this busy weekend:

1. The Lego Batman Movie

Predicted Gross: $49.4 million (representing a drop of 6%)

2. The Great Wall

Predicted Gross: $25.6 million

3. Fist Fight

Predicted Gross: $25.1 million

4. John Wick: Chapter 2

Predicted Gross: $21.5 million (representing a drop of 29%)

5. Fifty Shades Darker

Predicted Gross: $21.3 million (representing a drop of 54%)

6. A Cure for Wellness

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million

Box Office Results (February 10-12)

The Lego Batman Movie took the top spot, though not with as much ease as many thought it would. The critically acclaimed animated spin-off grossed $53 million, a decent number but not near the $69M made by The Lego Movie in its inaugural weekend and under my $65.8M projection. That said, as mentioned above, its drop this weekend should be slight.

Fifty Shades Darker opened in second at $46.6 million, in line with my $44.8M estimate. This is far from the $85 million achieved two years back by Fifty Shades of Grey, but it’s actually above some of the predictions from prognosticators in the past week or so.

John Wick: Chapter 2 capitalized on the goodwill left over from the 2014 original with a strong $30.4 million, more than doubling the $14M earned by its predecessor two and a half years back. It easily eclipsed my $20.7M estimate.

Holdovers rounded out the top five with Split dropping to fourth at $9.5 million (I said $8.2M) for a $112M total and Hidden Figures at fifth with $8 million (I said $6.9M) for a $131M overall haul.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: February 10-12

It’s a bustling weekend of sequels and spin-offs as three new high-profile releases debut: animated spin-off The Lego Batman Movie, risque sequel Fifty Shades Darker, and Keanu Reeves action follow-up John Wick: Chapter 2. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/02/the-lego-batman-movie-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/01/fifty-shades-darker-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/02/john-wick-chapter-2-box-office-prediction/

As I see it, the trio of newcomers should have no trouble placing 1st-3rd on the charts. Lego is highly likely to come out on top and I’ve got making a bit less than the $69 million earned by The Lego Movie in 2014.

Prognosticators are pegging Fifty Shades Darker to earn about half of the fantastic $85 million made by Fifty Shades of Grey two years ago. That sounds about right.

The original John Wick from 2014 has turned into a cult hit after a decent box office performance and it looks to expand a bit on the $14 million debut of its predecessor.

The newbies should cause M. Night Shyamalan’s Split to fall to fourth place after three weeks at #1. The 5 spot could be a battle between A Dog’s Purpose, Hidden Figures, and Rings, but I’ll give Figures the slight edge.

And with that, my top 5 estimates for the weekend:

1. The Lego Batman Movie

Predicted Gross: $65.8 million

2. Fifty Shades Darker

Predicted Gross: $44.8 million

3. John Wick: Chapter 2

Predicted Gross: $20.7 million

4. Split

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million (representing a drop of 43%

5. Hidden Figures

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million (representing a drop of 32%)

Box Office Results (February 3-5)

The Super Bowl weekend is typically a slower one at multiplexes and 2017 was no different. Split managed a three-peat in weekend #3 in the top spot as it grossed $14.4 million. My prediction? $14.4M! Yay! The Shyamalan hit stands at $98 million through the weekend and should pass the century mark today.

Audiences were more interested in Tom Brady’s rings than Rings, which disappointed at second with an unlucky $13 million. I went way higher with $20.3 million. It had been 12 years since the horror franchise was around and ambivalence to it was clearly shown. The pic is likely to experience a large drop in its sophomore frame and plummet right out of the top 5.

A Dog’s Purpose was third with $10.5 million, shy of my $12.5M forecast for a two-week total of $32M.

Hidden Figures was fourth with $10.1 million (in line with $10.7M prognosis) for a $119M overall tally as $150M looks well within its sights.

La La Land rounded out the top five with $7.3 million (I said $8.3M) for a $118M haul as it dances its way to probable Oscar glory.

Finally, the oft delayed teenage sci-fi romance The Space Between Us bombed in ninth place with a measly $3.7 million debut compared to my $6.7M estimate.

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