October 15-17 Box Office Predictions

Jamie Lee Curtis is back battling Michael Myers in Halloween Kills while Ridley Scott’s medieval drama The Last Duel with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver also debuts. These are the new offerings in the mid October frame as No Time to Die enters its sophomore frame following a less than expected start. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the fresh offerings here:

Halloween Kills Box Office Prediction

The Last Duel Box Office Prediction

It has been two straight weeks of me either grossly underestimating (Venom) or significantly overestimating (Die) the newbies. So let’s see what happens with Halloween, shall we? I’m going with a low to mid 40s take and that would be well under the $70M+ that its 2018 predecessor made (Kills is curiously available for streaming on Peacock). Of course, given my October track record, watch it make $60 million or more. I gotta get something on the money in October though… right??

As for The Last Duel, the less than anticipated haul for 007 was further evidence that pictures geared toward older viewers continue to struggle. With scant awards buzz, I’m projecting Duel barely gets to double digits and that should mean a fourth place showing.

Back to Bond. 2015’s Spectre dropped 52% in its second frame and I see no reason why Craig’s finale wouldn’t dip about the same. Venom may fall in the mid 50s in weekend 3 with The Addams Family 2 rounding out the top five with the smallest decline (mid to high 30s) of the bunch.

Here’s how I see the top 5 looking:

1. Halloween Kills

Predicted Gross: $41.2 million

2. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $25.8 million

3. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $14.1 million

4. The Last Duel

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

5. The Addams Family 2

Predicted Gross: $6.6 million

Box Office Results (October 8-10)

Well, we all get carried away sometimes. The fantastic premiere for Venom and the hoopla surrounding Craig’s swan song got me thinking No Time to Die was capable of achieving a COVID era best start of $94.1 million. I was dead wrong. Die managed just the fourth best output of its star’s five features. The $55.2 million debut didn’t approach the vicinity of Skyfall ($88 million), Spectre ($70 million), or Quantum of Solace ($67 million). Only Casino Royale‘s $40 million fell under it. Theories will abound. Was six years (COVID delays were abundant) too long a break? Perhaps. As mentioned, it likely didn’t help that older moviegoers are still seemingly reluctant for a multiplex engagement. Die‘s saving grace is overseas grosses in line with expectations. Yet it’s hard to spin the fact that the 25th 007 adventure came in at the absolute lowest range numbers that prognosticators foresaw.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage was second with $31.7 million, not quite hitting my $33.7 million estimate. The $141 million ten-day tally is very impressive as it looks to reach $200 million by the end of its domestic run.

The Addams Family 2 took in $10.1 million in its second weekend, ahead of my $9.2 million projection for $31 million overall.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was fourth with $4.3 million (I said $3.4 million) and it’s up to $212 million.

Finally, The Many Saints of Newark crumbled after its weak beginning. The $1.4 million gross (I went with $1.8 million) brought its puny earnings to $7 million.

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

October 8-10 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (10/06): I have revised my No Time to Die prediction from $104.1 million down to $94.1 million, which would still set a COVID era record.

After the absolutely fantastic and record breaking performance of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, James Bond looks to set his own high mark this weekend with the 25th 007 adventure No Time to Die. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

No Time to Die Box Office Prediction

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final contribution to the storied franchise has been climbing up with my estimates. Early last week, I figured it would do $72.1 million (good for second in the series after the $88 million achieved by Skyfall). By Friday, I went with $84.1 million. Following what Tom Hardy’s superhero sequel did, I am now figuring this will be the first Bond feature to debut north of $100 million.

There are potential obstacles. It certainly has a longer runtime than Venom. We would be in new territory for this franchise with a gross that enormous. That said, no one foresaw the Venom follow-up hitting $10 million more than its predecessor. I also believe the hoopla surrounding Die being Craig’s swan song (and the solid reviews) will only help.

The original Venom fell 56% in its sophomore in October 2018 to $35 million. Competition this time around is steeper and I do believe a 60% or more dip is certainly possible (thought it could continue to confound expectations).

After a decent debut, The Addams Family 2 will be third and I’d look for a drop in the mid 40s range (similar to its predecessor from 2019). Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings should hold the 4 spot with The Many Saints of Newark (after a subpar showing) in the 5 position.

Here’s how I envision the chart playing out:

1. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $94.1 million

2. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $33.7 million

3. The Addams Family 2

Predicted Gross: $9.2 million

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

5. The Many Saints of Newark

Predicted Gross: $1.8 million

Box Office Results (October 1-3)

I’m pretty sure the number $58.7 million is going to haunt me for awhile. That’s what I said Venom: Let There Be Carnage would gross out of the gate and, umm, I was a little low. As mentioned, the Tom Hardy sequel set a pandemic era best haul with a cool $90 million (topping the $80 million of part 1 and the COVID times best $80 million achieved by Black Widow). I think it’s safe to say get ready for part III as champagne corks are popping over at Sony.

The Addams Family 2 couldn’t come close to the $30 million start of part 1, but it wasn’t expected to. The $17.3 million output is right in line with the best of expectations and slightly ahead of my $16.6 million projection.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was third with $6.1 million (I was higher at $7.6 million) for $206 million total. It’s the first pic to reach the double century milestone domestically since COVID.

Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark was a theatrical dud at just $4.6 million for fourth. I went considerably north of that with a $8.6 million projection. Look for this to fade fast as HBO hopes its Max subscribers stream it on their service.

Dear Evan Hansen tumbled badly in weekend 2 with $2.4 million. Again I was generous with $4.2 million. That’s a troubling 67% decline after a weak opening and the tally is $11 million.

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

The Many Saints of Newark Review

The Sopranos richly earned its reputation as a game changer that kickstarted a golden era of TV drama over two decades ago. James Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony Soprano certainly deserves all the praise it got. The late actor’s work influenced so many antiheroes that followed on the small screen. You loved to hate him and kind of hated to love him, but he was a fully realized character that played out over six celebrated HBO seasons.

The main problem with The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel set in the late 1960s and early 70s, is that it’s difficult to fully realize those that populate it in just two hours. The hook drawing fans in is viewing Tony in his formative years. I couldn’t help but think of Star Wars episodes I-III (particularly The Phantom Menace). Did we really need to see Darth Vader as a precocious youngster? We catch glimpses of Tony’s journey to the dark side as he begins to abandon thoughts of a pro football career in favor of a Mafioso life. Yet the players around him don’t have time to breathe and that makes for a disappointing watch.

Many Saints (which translates to Moltisanti in Italian) begins in the tumultuous year of 1967 when Newark is in the midst of race riots. For the DiMeo crime family, they’re hoping for business as usual but the political strife keeps interfering. Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) welcomes his gregarious father (Ray Liotta) and his gorgeous Italian bride (Michela De Rossi) back to the mainland. The organization’s enforcers include some familiar names from the show with more youthful faces: Junior (Corey Stoll), Sil (John Magaro), Paulie (Billy Magnussen) and Pussy (Samson Moeakiola). And there’s Johnny Soprano (Jon Bernthal), who’s nefarious activities are about to land him behind bars for a chunk of son Tony’s upbringing.

Played by William Ludwig in the ’67 portion and Michael Gandolfini (James’s real-life offspring) in the 70s, Tony is drawn to Dickie’s magnetism. With his father away and his deeply troubled mother Livia (Vera Farmiga, impressively adopting Nancy Marchand’s voice and mannerisms) not making life easy, we witness the seeds sown for Tony entering that thing of theirs.

Well… we kind of do. The screenplay (from show creator David Chase and Lawrence Konner) often focuses on Harold (Leslie Odom Jr.). He’s a low-level African-American employee of Dickie’s. The racial upheaval of the era causes him to develop his own little empire and that puts him at odds with the boss. Harold’s subplot is a fine example of one that could be fascinating given more time and context. Here it seems rushed and that includes an out of nowhere love triangle that seems forced to move plot points along.

Just as the older Tony housed multiple contradictions, so does Dickie. He fancies himself a good person, but his actions keep getting in the way. If Tony had mom issues, Dickie is chockfull of stepmom ones. And daddy ones. His most confessional relationship is with his dad’s identical brother Sally (also Liotta) who’s been locked up for years. Sally, in many ways, serves in the Dr. Melfi role from The Sopranos. He gets to hear the angst ridden thoughts of a crime leader who struggles with virtuous ideas while also being a madman.

Nivola gives an impressive performance as a character I ultimately didn’t care much about. As for Gandolfini, he’s the spitting image of his father and there are moments of wistful recognition in that (as well as short peeks at the rage). The script is littered with winking nods to the series past (or future I guess). Some are mildly fun while others come off as unneeded. The latter includes a surprise narrative structure that I won’t spoil. I left Newark appreciative of the rich experience that The Sopranos provided in its six course meal. The power dynamic of Dickie Moltisanti and Harold would be familiar in any Mafia tale. It’s just not as appetizing and it wasn’t enough to pull this viewer back in.

** (out of four)

October 1-3 Box Office Predictions

An October filled with potential heavy hitters begins Friday with the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Tom Hardy’s sequel to the 2018 comic book blockbuster. We also have spooky animated sequel The Addams Family 2 and Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the trio here:

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Box Office Prediction

The Addams Family 2 Box Office Prediction

The Many Saints of Newark Box Office Prediction

One thing seems certain: the September long reign of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will cease with the arrival of Venom. I don’t envision it approaching the $80 million premiere achieved by its predecessor, but a high 50s forecast has it ruling the roost.

The two other newbies are also both available for home viewing (Addams for general rental, Newark on HBO Max). Addams should have no trouble snapping into the 2 spot. I’m projecting it earns a little more than half of the original’s $30 million.

Newark is a bit of a head scratcher. It stands to reason that many Sopranos devotees may have a Max membership and simply choose to view from their couch. I’ll say it gets close enough to double digits to just outdo Shang-Chi in its fifth frame (though it could be close).

After a muted debut, Dear Evan Hansen should drop in the low to mid 40s for a fifth place showing.

Here’s how I see the top 5:

1. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $58.7 million

2. The Addams Family 2

Predicted Gross: $16.6 million

3. The Many Saints of Newark

Predicted Gross: $8.5 million

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $7.6 million

5. Dear Evan Hansen

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

Box Office Results (September 24-26)

As anticipated, Shang-Chi made it a September clean sweep as it remained #1 for the fourth weekend and became the highest grossing domestic earner of the COVID era. With $13 million (I overshot at $14.9 million), the impressive take is $196 million.

The musical drama Dear Evan Hansen couldn’t get most critics or crowds on its side. It underperformed with $7.4 million, falling shy of my $8.6 million prediction. Its A- Cinemascore rating could mean small declines ahead, but fans of the Broadway show may have already rushed to view it (just not as many as the studio hoped).

Free Guy was third with $4.1 million compared to my $4.5 million projection and it’s up to $114 million.

Candyman placed fourth with $2.5 million. My guess? $2.5 million! Total is $56 million.

Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho rounded out the top five in its sophomore frame with just $2 million (I said $2.8 million) for $8 million overall.

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

The Many Saints of Newark Box Office Prediction

Making its way to theaters and HBO Max on October 1 is The Many Saints of Newark, which follows the teen years of Tony Soprano in the 1960s and 70s. Series vet Alan Taylor directs with show creator David Chase cowriting. In a bit of bittersweet casting, the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael is Tony. The cast also features Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom, Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga.

The crime drama arrives 14 years after the celebrated HBO program faded to black. Early reviews are decent as it stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Devotees of the series will no doubt be curious. However, the big question for me is whether many of them will wake up on the morning of the 1st and realize they’ve got themself the opportunity to view it on HBO Max.

I suspect many will. It stands to reason that plenty of Sopranos fans may have a subscription to the streamer. This could limit its potential at multiplexes. My gut says the number on Max could be impressive, but Newark could struggle to reach double digits in its theatrical premiere.

The Many Saints of Newark opening weekend prediction: $8.5 million

For my Venom: Let There Be Carnage prediction, click here:

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Box Office Prediction

For my The Addams Family 2 prediction, click here:

The Addams Family 2 Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: The Many Saints of Newark

During its acclaimed eight year run on HBO, The Sopranos picked up 21 Emmys, 5 Golden Globe honors, and was named by Rolling Stone in 2016 as the greatest TV series of all time (a designation I wouldn’t argue with).

It has been 14 years since the show abruptly faded to black, but The Many Saints of Newark (out October 1 in theaters and HBO Max) serves as a prequel to the action. Set three decades before the New Jersey crime family made their way to the airwaves, Newark casts the late James Gandolini’s son Michael as Tony Soprano. Alan Taylor (a series vet) directs with creator David Chase cowriting. Costars include Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga as Tony’s complicated mother Livia.

The film has screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and the review embargo is lifted. Based on its small number of write-ups, Newark stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics are highlighting the performances of Nivola (as Tony’s mentor Dickie Moltisanti) and Gandolfini. However, I don’t believe what I’ve seen reaction wise indicates this will be an Oscar player in any category.

Bottom line: The Sopranos awards love will continue to rest with the TV branches of the Emmys and Globes. Don’t expect the Academy to make Newark a factor. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Is In the Heights Out of Oscar Contention?

Ten days ago, Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights went into its premiere weekend as the first bonafide Best Picture contender of 2021. Sporting a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96%, the musical (adapted from a play co-created by Lin-Manuel Miranda) was projected to gross around $20 million in its opening frame. And then reality happened.

The pic was a major box office disappointment and earned just $11.5 million out of the gate (landing at #2 behind the third weekend of A Quiet Place Part II). Even then not all hope was lost. With solid word-of-mouth and awards buzz, perhaps Heights would hold well in subsequent weekends.

And then reality happened again. Heights appears to have dropped to sixth place in its sophomore outing with a drop of over 60%. What a difference a week and a half can make. There’s really no positive spin for its box office performance. It’s simply very underwhelming. Furthermore, the bulk of publicity received for Heights in recent days was either for its disappointing numbers or controversy emerging from its casting choices (something for which Miranda issued an apology for).

At this juncture, it’s a legitimate question whether Heights is still a viable contender at the Oscars. Much of that could depend on if Warner Bros makes a robust effort to campaign for it. I would say its inclusion in the big categories is now iffy at best. This applies to Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Anthony Ramos in Actor (which was probably always a long shot), and Olga Merediz in Supporting Actress. Down the line categories such as Sound and Original Song are more questionable as well.

The studio could shift its focus to fall contenders including Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, and King Richard with Will Smith. Bottom line: Heights isn’t finished in the Oscar derby, but it is hard to say that it’s not wounded.