June 2-4 Box Office Predictions

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swings into multiplexes for a highly likely first place debut while The Boogeyman lurks for a start in third position. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newcomers here:

Spidey is the follow-up to 2018’s Oscar-winning animated adventure Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In addition to plenty of awards, it had an A+ Cinemascore grade and nearly $200 million in domestic sales. Anticipation should be elevated for the sequel (with part 3 coming next year). That’s why some estimates have this as lofty as $100 million. I’m a tad more conservative, but I’ll say it clears $90 million.

The Boogeyman should take advantage of its PG-13 rating, the connection to Stephen King for the source material, and that there’s been a slight lull between horror flicks. Heck – it probably helps that it’s called The Boogeyman. I could see this opening similarly to The Black Phone and Smile. That would mean high teens or low 20s for a solid third place showing.

Memorial Day weekend champ The Little Mermaid should drop to second after a mixed bag of a debut (more on that below). A mid 50s dip (similar to the live-action Aladdin four years ago) would mean a number slightly north of $40 million.

The 4-5 slots should belong to sequel holdovers Fast X and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. It could be a close race between the two as they each may earn a tad over $10 million.

Here’s how I see it looking:

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Predicted Gross: $96.4 million

2. The Little Mermaid

Predicted Gross: $40.5 million

3. The Boogeyman

Predicted Gross: $17.7 million

4. Fast X

Predicted Gross: $10.1 million

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Predicted Gross: $9.6 million

Box Office Results (May 26-29)

As expected, Disney’s The Little Mermaid (updating the 1989 classic) swam to the top of the charts. It did so on the lower end of its expected range. Over the four-day holiday, the total was $118.8 million. That’s below my take of $132.1 million. While nowhere near the starts of Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King from 2017 and 2019, it is on pace with what Aladdin accomplished over Memorial Day four years back.

Fast X slipped to second with $28.5 million and that managed to exceed my $25.4 million estimate. Vin Diesel and company have seen the beginning to the end of their two-decade long franchise earn $113 million thus far.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was third with $26.8 million, on target with my $26 million call. The MCU threequel stands at $306 million.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie took fourth place with $8.2 million (I said $7.6 million) to bring its massive haul to $560 million.

Spots 5-7, as anticipated, went to three newcomers. I didn’t correctly call their placements. The Machine with popular standup and podcaster Bert Kreischer was fifth with $5.8 million, ahead of my $3.7 million forecast. While not spectacular, it’s on the better end of its predicted range.

About My Father, featuring another popular standup Sebastian Maniscalco alongside Robert De Niro, was on the lesser end of the range. The family comedy was sixth with $5.3 million. I said a touch more at $6.2 million.

Finally, Gerard Butler’s action pic Kandahar bombed in seventh with only $2.8 million. I was more generous at $4.2 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Catch my podcast where I discuss all things box office by searching Movies at the Speed of Speculation wherever you like to stream. Until next time…

May 26-29 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (05/24): I am revising my Kandahar prediction from $7.9 million to $4.2 million

Disney is hoping for a memorable holiday weekend as The Little Mermaid surfaces over the long frame. We have three other newcomers with Gerard Butler’s action thriller Kandahar, the father/son comedy About My Father with standup comic Sebastian Maniscalco and icon Robert De Niro, and the father/son comedy The Machine featuring standup comic Bert Kreischer and icon Mark Hamill. My detailed prediction posts on the quartet of newcomers can be accessed here:

There’s no doubt that Mermaid will bubble up to the #1 spot. The mystery is the number. While I don’t think it reaches the heights of other Mouse Factory live-action remakes like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, I do think it exceed the 2019 Memorial Day take of Aladdin. That said – there’s a wide range of possibility and my estimate is admittedly on the higher end compared to some others.

The real battle might be for the runner-up position. Fast X came in below its predecessor F9 (more on that below). It also received the same so-so B+ Cinemascore grade. A drop to the mid or high 20s could put it slightly behind the fourth weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which held impressively in the second and third outings. I’m going to give Star-Lord and company the slight edge over Vin Diesel and his cinematic family.

Butler has shown the ability to get his action flicks past $10 million and into the teens, but I’m not seeing much buzz for Kandahar. I’ll say it just reaches fourth place over The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

As you can tell from the descriptions, About My Father and The Machine have a lot in common. Both are tests for their leading men Maniscalco and Kreischer in their first headlining roles. Comedies have struggled at multiplexes lately and I believe these will. I think Father has a bit more broad appeal and I’ll give it sixth with The Machine trailing behind.

And with that, here’s how I envision the Friday to Monday Memorial weekend:

1. The Little Mermaid

Predicted Gross: $132.1 million

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Predicted Gross: $26 million

3. Fast X

Predicted Gross: $25.4 million

4. The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Predicted Gross: $7.6 million

5. About My Father

Predicted Gross: $6.2 million

6. Kandahar

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

7. The Machine

Predicted Gross: $3.7 million

Box Office Results (May 19-21)

Fast X continued the diminishing returns of the franchise though its dip wasn’t too far off from F9. The tenth pic in the 22-year-old series made $67 million (F9 did $70M) and that’s right in line with my $67.8 million prediction. As mentioned, I look for a hefty fall coming up. Luckily for Universal, the overseas grosses are solid (they need to be considering the reported $340 million sticker price).

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was second after two weeks on top with $32.4 million, on pace my with $33.5 million take. The three-week total is $266 million and, per above, I think it could stay parked in the runner-up position over the holiday.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie made $9.6 million for third compared to my $8.3 million forecast. The remarkable seven-week earnings are $549 million.

Book Club: The Next Chapter, after a poor debut, tumbled 55% in fourth with $3 million (I said $3.2 million). The rom com sequel has made a mere $13 million in ten days.

Finally, Evil Dead Rise was fifth with $2.4 million. My projection? $2.4 million! The horror pic has amassed $64 million in five weeks.

And that does it for now, folks! Catch my podcast… or Toddcast as I call it… by searching Movies at the Speed of Speculation on your favorite streaming platform. Until next time…

Oscar Predictions: The Little Mermaid

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…

The Little Mermaid Box Office Prediction

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)

For my About My Father prediction, click here:

For my The Machine prediction, click here:

For my Kandahar prediction, click here:

Oscar Predictions: Pinocchio

There could be a Pinocchio movie that contends for Oscars in 2022, but it’s not the one this post is focused on. Today marks the Disney Plus premiere of Pinocchio, the studio’s latest live-action remake of their iconic IP. The musical fantasy has some high profile talent with Robert Zemeckis directing and Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo, and Luke Evans appearing. Voice work is contributed by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (as the title character), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Keegan-Michael Key.

Some reviews claim it’s an OK watch, but plenty others have been quiet derisive. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 32%. Even without critical acclaim, the Mouse Factory’s live-action retelling of The Lion King managed a Visual Effects nod three years back. Don’t look for that to occur here as some of the buzz is quite dismissive of its overall look.

In November, Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion animated version of the puppet turned real boy arrives on Netflix. We’ll see if it garners Academy chatter. This won’t. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank Box Office Prediction

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank from Paramount and Nickelodeon hopes to bite into the family audience market when it opens July 15th. The animated martial arts comedy takes its inspiration from the classic 1974 Western spoof Blazing Saddles. Rob Minkoff (a former Disney vet who co-directed 1994’s The Lion King) helms along with Mark Koetsier. The voice cast includes Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, Michelle Yeoh, Samuel L. Jackson, George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Gabriel Iglesias, and Mr. Mel Brooks himself.

Originally titled Blazing Samurai, Legend arrives two weeks after Illumination’s massive Minions: The Rise of Gru and two weeks before DC League of Super-Pets. This isn’t based on known IP and I suspect it may get lost in the summer shuffle.

Even lower tier animated offerings can over perform, but I’m putting this barely over double digits for a quiet start.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank opening weekend prediction: $10.5 million

For my Where the Crawdads Sing prediction, click here:

Where the Crawdads Sing Box Office Prediction

For my Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris prediction, click here:

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Box Office Prediction

Oscar Watch: Cruella

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…

Cruella Box Office Prediction

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:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/11/a-quiet-place-part-ii-box-office-prediction/

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Nathan Lane in The Birdcage

And now for a new category on this here blog where I’ll be covering performances and films that I feel merited some Oscar attention. I’m calling it “Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders” and I’ll start with a breakout comedic turn from the mid 90s.

Nathan Lane was mostly known as a stage performer in 1996. While he was featured in supporting turns in a few features, his best known cinematic work was as the voice of Timon in Disney’s 1994 animated blockbuster The Lion King. That all changed two years later when he was cast as Albert, life partner to Robin Williams in The Birdcage from director Mike Nichols. A remake of the 1978 French hit La Cage aux Folles, the pic pleased audiences and critics alike.

Even with the inclusion of high profile thespians like Williams, Gene Hackman, and Dianne Wiest (all previous or eventual Oscar recipients), it was Lane’s performance that stole the show. The Hollywood Foreign Press took notice and nominated him for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (he lost to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire).

My guess is that the Academy considered him in the supporting race, but he didn’t make the cut. Looking over the five nominees in 1996, I would easily take out James Woods (Ghosts of Mississippi) to make room for Lane. This is the first post in this new series, but I know it won’t be the last to hone in on a performance played mostly for laughs. The Academy is notorious for ignoring those roles. They shouldn’t have this time and you’ll see examples of others quite soon.

Oscar Watch: Mulan

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…