Richard Jewell Box Office Prediction

Clint Eastwood continues to churn out film after film and his latest, Richard Jewell, keeps with his recent theme of fact based dramas recounting events of the past quarter century. Paul Walter Hauser (memorable in supporting roles in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) stars in the title role of the security guard falsely accused of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Costars include Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, and Olivia Wilde.

Jewell looks to bring in an adult audience amidst Christmas fare geared towards family crowds. With Eastwood at the helm, it could succeed. The director’s previous work, The Mule, debuted over the same mid December weekend last year to $17.5 million. Critics are mostly on his side here with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 88% and some awards chatter.

That said, I don’t believe Jewell will nab Mule numbers right away (it helped that Eastwood starred in the latter). This will hope to leg out as many grownup dramas do over subsequent holiday weekends. For its start, I believe low double digits to possibly low teens sounds about right.

Richard Jewell opening weekend prediction: $11 million

For my Jumanji: The Next Level prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/04/jumanji-the-next-level-box-office-prediction/

For my Black Christmas prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/05/black-christmas-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Richard Jewell

Few directors have made two Best Picture Oscar winners, but Clint Eastwood did that with 1992’s Unforgiven and 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. The latter came along late in the year and shifted the conversation 15 years ago. So anytime Mr. Eastwood screens a potential contender in time for Academy consideration, it’s time to take notice. The AFI Film Festival premiered Richard Jewell last night and the biographical drama centers on the title character who was falsely accused of the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.

So what’s the verdict? Jewell is sporting an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score thus far, but critical reaction brings a question mark as to its viability. While some reviews indicate it could very well contend, others are a little more mixed.

Eastwood filmed his last nominee five years back with the massive hit American Sniper. Since then, his filmography of Sully, The 15:17 to Paris, and The Mule has garnered scant awards attention (save for a Sound Editing nod for Sully).

Chatter has focused on three performances. Paul Walter Hauser, memorable in supporting roles in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman, is garnering raves. Yet Best Actor is fiercely competitive in 2019. In my weekly predictions, he hasn’t been in the top ten as I’ve waited for reaction to come. I honestly feel all ten of my current possibilities could get in. Hauser will really need to gather momentum for any shot. It’s doable, but I feel it would be more doable in a different year.

The same can be said for Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s lawyer. Two years ago, the actor won Supporting Actor for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Last year, he was nominated again as George W. Bush in Vice. It would be a quite a story for him to get nods three years in a row. Like Hauser’s category, Supporting Actor is also chock full of contenders. I’m a bit skeptical he makes it as he might also split his own votes for his work in Jojo Rabbit. 

It could be Kathy Bates that manages to get in playing Jewell’s mother. That’s because Supporting Actress is not quite as packed as the races of her costars. Nearly three decades have passed since she won Best Actress for Misery. Bates has received two Supporting Actress recognitions since in 1998’s Primary Colors and 2002’s About Schmidt. 

So… how about the film itself and Eastwood? It’s certainly feasible that it nabs a Picture nomination, but it’s definitely an on the bubble candidate. Due to that, I’m not sure Eastwood can make the final five. He’ll just have to rest on his already considerable mantelpiece.

Bottom line: Richard Jewell put itself in the mix at AFI, but there’s also a chance it comes up empty handed. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Mule Movie Review

If fish out of water tales with Mexican drug cartels is your desired viewing option, you can’t go wrong with “Breaking Bad”. Clint Eastwood’s The Mule is a considerably more mixed bag. Let’s call it Walter Whiter as our octogenarian subject makes a curious late career choice that is actually based (loosely) on true events. We have seen Eastwood go down the “I’m too old for this…” bit a few times in the past few years. This might rank as the strangest.

The first half of The Mule is engaging in its amiable way. Our star and director plays Earl, whose horticulture business is on its last legs thanks to that darn internet. He’s a man who makes fast friends and loves life on the road and has ignored his family along the way. That includes an ex-wife (Dianne Wiest), a child who won’t speak to him (real-life daughter Alison Eastwood), and granddaughter (Taissa Farmiga) who still wishes to connect.

A job opportunity arises for Earl to spend most of his time driving. It happens to be crossing state lines to transport larges volumes of cocaine. He’s pretty decent at the gig, earning the nickname “El Tata” (grandfather) from his heavily armed coworkers. Andy Garcia is head of the cartel. The new job leaves Earl flush with money and women. If you thought Clint Eastwood and threesome action isn’t something you’d ever see in a movie, think again. And again. Tata also garners the attention of the DEA, led by Bradley Cooper’s agent, Michael Pena as his partner, and Laurence Fishburne as their boss.

When The Mule enters its second phase, Earl is trying to make amends with numerous poor choices (a frequent theme in the filmmaker’s work). This is when the carefree tone shifts rather uncomfortably. None of the supporting characters are really developed at all. You get the feeling most of these accomplished actors just wanted to work with Clint. The dramatic exchanges with family members feels stilted.

I can’t deny there’s some joy in watching Eastwood for a while. If you loved Gran Torino, you’ll probably at least like this. There’s also no denying that he’s tackled similar themes with far superior results. As Earl attempts to get his act together, he goes off grid from his day job. I doubt one of the true elements in this fact based tale involved his bosses not being able to locate him for days. Don’t they track his cell phone? Or have his vehicle bugged? I found myself pondering this in the final act. Despite a game showcase performance, perhaps resenting the screenplay’s disregard for the intelligence of drug lords means the picture isn’t clicking on all cylinders.

**1/2 (out of four)

A Jewell Enters The Oscar Fray

Clint Eastwood works quickly and it’s become an almost common occurrence that his efforts pop up early in the fall for a late year release. That’s precisely what happened today with Richard Jewell, the filmmaker’s chronicle of the man falsely accused in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing.

The movie is set for a December 13 release. Anytime Eastwood has something out at this time of year, you can bet awards pundits will take notice. A project long in development, Jewell was originally set to star Jonah Hill as the title character and Leonardo DiCaprio as the lawyer defending him (they still serve as producers). Now it’s Paul Walter Hauser (memorable in supporting roles in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) and Sam Rockwell headlining with Kathy Bates, Olivia Wilde, and Jon Hamm included among the cast.

For now, it’s uncertain which races Hauser and Rockwell will be campaigned for. Both are likely to be included as possibilities in my weekly predictions next week (and probably Bates in Supporting Actress).

Eastwood has a mixed record with these “surprise” Christmastime outings. Fifteen years ago, Million Dollar Baby came out of nowhere to win Picture, Director, Actress (Hilary Swank), and Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman). Yet just last year, The Mule failed to gain any traction with voters. Bottom line: we shall see how it plays out, but Clint and company are at least back in the mix. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

January 4-6 Box Office Predictions

Happy New Year and welcome to the first box office predictions for 2019. It should be a weekend led by holiday holdovers with the only newcomer being horror pic Escape Room. You can find my detailed prediction post on it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/28/escape-room-box-office-prediction/

My low teens projection puts the newbie in the #3 slot, behind returning champions Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns, with Bumblebee and SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse filling out the rest of the top five.

Let’s see how I have the high-five playing out:

1. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $27.9 million

2. Mary Poppins Returns

Predicted Gross: $18.7 million

3. Escape Room

Predicted Gross: $13.8 million

4. Bumblebee

Predicted Gross: $12.2 million

5. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $10.9 million

Box Office Results (December 2830)

2018 was a record year at multiplexes and it closed out with Aquaman repeating in first place with $52.1 million, in range with my $53.8 million forecast. The DC superhero tale has amassed $189 million total.

Mary Poppins Returns was in the runner-up position yet again with $28.3 million compared to my $26.5 million estimate. The Disney sequel stands at $99 million.

Bumblebee was third with $20.9 million (I said $21.4 million) for $67 million overall.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse was fourth with $18.8 million, a touch higher than my $17.3 million take. The acclaimed animated feature crossed the century mark at $104 million.

The Mule rounded out the top five with $12.1 million, in line with my $11.5 million prediction. The Clint Eastwood thriller has made $61 million.

Vice was sixth and made the most of the two Christmas openers with $7.7 million over the traditional frame and $17.6 million since its Tuesday debut. The Dick Cheney biopic managed to top my respective estimates of $7.2 million and $14.8 million.

The critically lambasted Holmes & Watson had an underwhelming start in seventh with $7.4 million from Friday to Sunday and $19.8 million since Christmas Day. It came in under my projections of $11.3 million and $23 million.

Second Act was eighth in its sophomore frame at $7.3 million (I said $7.9 million) for a tally of $21 million.

Ralph Breaks the Internet was ninth at $6.7 million, ahead of my $5.2 million prediction. It’s up to $175 million.

The Grinch had a hefty drop-off in 10th at $4.1 million, well under my $7.3 million forecast. The total gross is $265 million.

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

2018: The Year of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga

The buzz got loud in late summer when A Star Is Born held its first screenings across the ocean at the Venice Film Festival. The third remake of the rags to riches Hollywood story that began in 1937, the musical drama marked the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper and the first headlining acting role for pop superstar Lady Gaga (after a smaller part in Machete Kills). It soon became clear that audiences and critics found the tragic romance between the pair as anything but shallow.

Star now shines with a domestic gross of $200 million and the status as a front-runner for Best Picture at the Oscars. If Mr. Cooper’s inaugural behind the camera effort manages to do that, he would follow in the footsteps of well-known actors like Robert Redford (1980’s Ordinary People) and Kevin Costner (1990’s Dances with Wolves) whose debuts won the Academy’s biggest prize. Theoretically Cooper coukd win as many as four gold statues – Picture for producing, directing, lead Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. And while he technically wouldn’t be nominated for his duet “Shallow” with Gaga since he doesn’t share writing credit, the tune will probably emerge victorious in that race. To add even more to Cooper’s dynamic year, he costars with his American Sniper director Clint Eastwood in The Mule, which is performing well.

As for Gaga, her splashy foray on the silver screen certainly rivals others such as Prince and Whitney Houston to name a couple. She stands a real shot at winning Best Actress in a competitive category. Cooper likely has an even stronger chance for his performance.

In 2018, Cooper and Gaga are responsible for creating perhaps the year’s most memorable couple. They could be generously rewarded for it.

Box Office Predictions: December 28-30

It’s Christmas Week at the box office as the merrily confusing week officially gets underway tomorrow! We have two newbies debuting on Christmas Day with the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy Holmes & Watson and Adam McKay biopic Vice starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/18/holmes-watson-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/12/19/vice-box-office-prediction/

As I see it, both risk not making the top five as I deduce Watson will premiere with low double digits over the traditional three-day portion of the frame with Vice under that. Returning holiday offerings often see increases in their grosses from the previous weekend. I expect that to benefit titles such as Mary Poppins Returns, Bumblebee, SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse, and The Mule as well as Second Act and The Grinch further down the chart.

Poppins came in below expectations this past weekend. If you’d asked me a week ago, I would’ve strongly suspected the Disney sequel would rise to top spot this weekend and knock current champ Aquaman down to second. Now, even though I expect the waterlogged superhero to have a decline in its sophomore frame, I feel it should manage to maintain the #1 position pretty easily.

As I close the box office predicting year out, let’s expand the list to my top 10 projections as I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

1. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $53.8 million

2. Mary Poppins Returns

Predicted Gross: $26.5 million

3. Bumblebee

Predicted Gross: $21.4 million

4. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $17.3 million

5. The Mule

Predicted Gross: $11.5 million

6. Holmes & Watson

Predicted Gross: $11.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $23 million (Tuesday to Sunday)

7. Second Act

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

8. The Grinch

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million

9. Vice

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $14.8 million (Tuesday to Sunday)

10. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (December 2123)

The pre-Christmas frame saw a slew of new debuts and they nearly all came in with less than I anticipated. It’s worth noting that most of these holidays numbers are not yet final and I’ll fill in those verified grosses once they occur.

As expected, Aquaman logged the #1 spot with $68 million, under my $77.3 million. I expect the DC effort to dip in the mid 20s this coming weekend. When factoring in early preview numbers, it’s made $72.7 million thus far.

Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns opened in second with less with anticipated returns grossing $23.5 million over the weekend and $32.3 million since its Wednesday beginning. That’s quite a bit under my respective projections of $34.8 million and $52.2 million. The well-reviewed sequel will hope for leggy earnings as the weeks roll along.

Bumblebee took third with $21.6 million, premiering under my $26.2 million prediction. The Transformers prequel actually had the best critical reaction of the newcomers and also has a shot of playing well in the coming weeks.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse fell to fourth in its sophomore outing with $16.6 million (I was higher at $20.1 million). The acclaimed animated hero tale is up to $64 million.

Clint Eastwood’s The Mule rounded out the top five at $9.5 million (I said $10.2 million) for $35 million at press time.

Jennifer Lopez’s romantic comedy Second Act debuted in seventh place with $6.4 million. I was right there at $6.5 million.

Finally, the poorly reviewed Steve Carell drama Welcome to Marwen was a massive flop in ninth place with $2.3 million, not even matching my $3.8 million take. This is quite the costly bomb for its studio.

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