Memory Box Office Prediction

Can Memory reverse the string of forgettable Liam Neeson pics we’ve seen lately or will it fall in line with his recent underwhelming performers? Slated for April 29th, this casts him as an assassin dealing with cognitive lapses. Martin Campbell (who kicked off the Brosnan and Craig 007 eras with Goldeneye and Casino Royale) directs. He most recently helmed the lackluster The Protege with Maggie Q and Michael Keaton.  Costars include Guy Pearce (who starred in the acclaimed Memento which covered similar themes) and Monica Bellucci.

It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Neeson resurged his career with Taken. This second life as an action star resulted in some hits, but there’s been more misses recently. The Marksman and Blacklight took in $3.7 and $3.5 million, respectively, in the COVID era. I see no reason why Memory wouldn’t suffer a similar fate and the gross may even dip a bit.

Memory opening weekend prediction: $3.3 million

The Protege Review

For a not insignificant portion of The Protege‘s running time, the plot is incidental but also unclear. I found myself forgetting why assassin Anna (Maggie Q) was kicking the rear ends of the various henchmen of a shady and mysterious rich guy. There’s two of them actually as the main villain shifts from time to time. The more constant presence is Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), who also works for the crime syndicate but doesn’t fall victim to Anna’s skull crushing skills. She seems to want him around.

The interplay between them indicates a screenplay flirting with a desire to branch beyond its pulverizing 90s era action tropes. This feels like more of a direct to video title than a direct to streaming affair. Because of its similarities to that time period three decades ago, it only feels right that Samuel L. Jackson participates. He’s Moody and in a 1991 prologue, he rescues young Anna after her family is brutally murdered in her native Vietnam. Actually rescue is the wrong word. He finds her and becomes her mentor. It was Anna who exacted revenge on the killers.

Moody is an assassin for hire and since this is a movie, he generally only offs really evil people. Anna is a chip off the old block and they form a lucrative business exterminating such vermin. She masquerades as a rare book store owner in London and that’s when she first encounters Rembrandt. He’s mysteriously connected to a former mark of Moody’s. Just the mention of his name (Edward Davis) causes holes in people’s heads and it leads Anna back to ‘Nam to investigate.

The Protege is quick, violent, and nicely cast. Q is a convincing action heroine and the familiar faces of Keaton and Jackson are welcome… to a point. The Anna/Rembrandt dynamic feels alternately fascinating (there’s a nice little Heat restaurant type of sequence between them) or tiresome depending on which act we’ve reached. The “twists” aren’t too twisty when considering the actors playing the roles and the expected amount of screen time they’d be granted. Martin Campbell (best known for kicking off 007 eras with Goldeneye and Casino Royale) knows what he’s doing with action sequences though he’s absolutely done better.

This is a generic shoot-em-up that should partly satisfy cravings of genre enthusiasts who like it lean, mean, and rather dumb. With Keaton quipping, I kept expecting The Protege to enter self parody territory. It never does and if it had, we might be entering a guilty pleasure experience that hit harder. I wouldn’t call this bad by any means, but it’s not a blast either.

**1/2 (out of four)

August 27-29 Box Office Predictions

The month of August closes with the return of a familiar name in horror… just don’t say it five times. Nearly three decades after the original buzzed into theaters, the sequel/reboot Candyman is the sole new release this weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Candyman Box Office Prediction

I’m going with a mid to high teens estimate with the caveat that this genre can over perform. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this fly a bit higher, but I’ll stick with my guns for now. That should be enough for a #1 start. If it doesn’t meet expectations, that could allow Free Guy to spend a third frame atop the charts after its remarkable hold this past weekend (more on that below).

With no new product, holdovers should all slide a spot. That means the top five should be bookended by fright fests with family fare in the middle. Here’s how I think it will look:

1. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $17.3 million

2. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $13 million

3. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million

5. Don’t Breathe 2

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (August 20-22)

PAW Patrol: The Movie managed to bring the kiddos out and slightly outdid most forecasts. The new films catering to adults were all dogs.

Yet the headline of the weekend belonged to Free Guy as it remained in first with $18.5 million. That’s considerably better than my $13.9 million prediction. The Ryan Reynolds sci-fi comedy displayed the best sophomore hold we’ve seen all summer with just a 35% drop. We have become accustomed to seeing most titles plummet 50% or far more. That brings Guy‘s take to an impressive $58 million and its inclusion in the $100 million club seems assured. I wrote more about its earnings over the weekend here:

Free Guy Makes Them Pay

Paw Patrol: The Movie easily took second position with $13.1 million. The big screen rendering of the Nickelodeon show surpassed my $10.8 million projection.

Jungle Cruise was third with $6.3 million (I said $5.9 million). With $92 million overall, it’ll hit nine digits in short order.

The rest of the top five were returnees that I didn’t have slated to be there. Don’t Breathe 2 was fourth with $5 million. The fall of just over 50% in its second weekend is quite good for a horror flick and it’s made $19 million. Respect rounded out the top five with $3.7 million for a tally of $15 million.

And now for the trio of debuts that largely went unnoticed. The Protege was seventh with $2.9 million. I went with $4.7 million. In 8th place was The Night House with $2.8 million. I was a tad more generous at $3.1 million. And most embarrassingly, Hugh Jackman’s Reminiscence was the huge dud (considering its budget) as it placed 9th at $1.9 million. I said $6.8 million. Clearly audiences weren’t buying what was being sold with all three of these offerings.

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

Free Guy Makes Them Pay

As uncertainty regarding the box office continues amidst COVID concerns, there has been one undeniable bright spot in the dog days of August. That would be Shawn Levy’s Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds and its apparent second weekend grosses only puts an exclamation on the point.

The sci-fi family comedy surprised the film community originally with better than expected reviews (82% on Rotten Tomatoes). It continued to do so when it exceeded projections with a robust $28 million debut. Most forecasts ranged from the high teens to low 20s (my own was $21 million).

Yet perhaps the most encouraging sign are reports of its sophomore frame grosses. Free Guy will easily remain #1 with a projected drop around 40%. That should put it at approximately $17 million with an overall domestic take in the mid to upper 50s. With sturdy word-of-mouth, the Fox property seems destined to cross the $100 million mark stateside. The studio is already lining up a sequel. For context, that should be stronger than the second weekend for Jungle Cruise (which opened larger… more on that below).

Why is this somewhat unanticipated? To put it simply, Free Guy is performing in frame #2 much the same way it would without a pandemic. The few blockbusters of the season have experienced huge falls in their second outings and Free Guy is bucking that trend. Black Widow tumbled 68%. The Suicide Squad crashed at 71%. Even the aforementioned Jungle Cruise took a 55% dip.

What do all three of those titles have in common? That trio was available simultaneously on Disney Plus (Widow, Cruise) or HBO Max (Squad). Free Guy can be streamed only in the theater. With its positive audience reaction (it has an A on Cinemascore), moviegoers are proving that a title can have staying power if it’s: 1) good and 2) just in theaters.

This is a rare piece of good news for multiplexes in an industry starving for it. There are three other offerings this weekend aimed toward adults: Reminiscence, The Protege, and The Night House. All are headed toward meager starts outside of the top five. The other newbie is PAW Patrol: The Movie and it looks to slightly exceed expectations with around $12-$13 million (it’s also streaming on Paramount+).

So will studios adjust to Free Guy‘s solid performance? It could be a mixed bag. First, they might have to feel they have a product as pleasing as what Mr. Levy and Mr. Reynolds have created. Just yesterday, Universal Pictures announced they are keeping their animated sequel The Addams Family 2 in theaters but also making it available via streaming on the same say. On the other hand, Disney is keeping the next MCU adventure Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings only in cineplexes for 45 days starting Labor Day weekend. That might be the biggest test we have seen thus far for the theater only experiment.

Is Free Guy an anomaly or proof that if you build it only in theaters… they will come? We may need some more samples before studios make more decisions that favor theater chains.

August 20-22 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (08/18): I am revising my PAW Patrol: The Movie estimate up from $7.9M to $10.8M.

The dog days of summer continues with four new offerings in the marketplace and they could all fall short of the second weekend of Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds. Speaking of dogs, we have PAW Patrol: The Movie as well as three more adult oriented offerings: Hugh Jackman’s sci-fi thriller Reminiscence, action flick The Protege with Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson and horror pic The Night House. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

The Protege Box Office Prediction

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

The Night House Box Office Prediction

I don’t have any of the features from the fresh quartet (not a sequel in the bunch!) topping $10 million. That means Free Guy, after a better than anticipated bow, should manage to remain #1 in its sophomore outing. I’m assuming it will dip in the low to mid 50s like Jungle Cruise did a couple of weeks back.

As for those newcomers, the one I’m most conflicted about is PAW Patrol: The Movie. It certainly has a built-in fan base of youngsters who may drag their parents to see it. Rather unexpectedly, it’s generating quite decent reviews. However, my hunch is that some families may wait for it to be on the small screen and I’m projecting third place.

That’s behind Reminiscence which could approach double digits. Jackman’s latest is also available on HBO Max. It will be competing for eyeballs with The Protege, which I have pegged for mid single digits (if anything, I think it could go lower). In fact, it could be in a battle for fifth with Jungle Cruise in its fourth weekend.

The Night House comes at the tale end of a season packed with horror titles and I believe it’s bound to get lost in the shuffle. My meager $3.1 million estimate leaves it well outside the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

2. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million

3. Reminiscence

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. The Protege

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million

Box Office Results (August 13-15)

Friday the 13th wasn’t so unlucky for Ryan Reynolds and Free Guy. The Fox (and therefore Disney) property opened on the higher end of forecasts with $28.3 million, topping my $21.3 million estimate. With an A Cinemascore grade, audiences liked what they saw and it sounds as if a sequel will happen. The near $30 million start might have been called slightly disappointing in different times. All things considered, it’s rather strong.

Horror sequel (I’ve been saying that a lot lately) Don’t Breathe 2 debuted with $10.6 million, just under my $11.2 million take. That’s miles away from the $26 million that the 2016 predecessor took in, but generally in line with most predictions. At a cost of just $15 million, it should turn a nice profit for Sony Pictures.

Jungle Cruise was third in its third weekend with $9.1 million – right on pace with my $8.9 million estimate. The Disney adventure is at $82 million with $100 million in its sights.

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect with Jennifer Hudson also hit its anticipated mark in fourth with $8.8 million. That’s a tad ahead of my $8.5 million call. Reviews were only so-so though its lead could be on her way to a Best Actress nomination.

And, finally, the bad news for The Suicide Squad continued. Following a disastrous opening, the reboot/sequel plunged an equally disturbing 71% to fifth with $7.4 million. I was more optimistic at $10.1 million. The ten-day tally is a lowly $42 million.

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

The Protege Box Office Prediction

Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson star in the action thriller The Protege next weekend and it will attempt to carve its place into the typically limp late summer box office. Martin Campbell, director of Casino Royale, is behind the camera.

The Lionsgate release is only available in theaters and it will face serious competition for the same audience from Hugh Jackman’s Reminiscence. In this challenged marketplace, The Protege going straight to pay streaming wouldn’t have been much of a shocker.

I’ll give the studio credit for giving it a shot, but I’m guessing Jackman will propel his effort to slightly higher earnings. I only have Reminiscence at just under $7 million and I’ll say this gets just under $5 million.

The Protege opening weekend prediction: $4.7 million

For my PAW Patrol: The Movie prediction, click here:

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

For my Reminiscence prediction, click here:

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

For my The Night House prediction, click here:

The Night House Box Office Prediction

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

Hugh Jackman makes a return to sci-fi next weekend with Reminiscence. The film (reportedly budgeted at just under $70 million) is the rare summer feature in this genre not based on a known property. It marks the directorial debut of Lisa Joy, best known for co-creating HBO’s Westworld. Costars include Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, and Marina de Tavira.

The Home Box Office connections are strong. Since this a Warner Bros property, the pic will simultaneously have its 30 day HBO Max availability. Originally slated for April before it traded with Mortal Kombat, the film faces some challenges. This might seem minor, but the title doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. More importantly, Reminiscence opens against the Michael Keaton/Maggie Q/Samuel L. Jackson thriller The Protege and they’ll be battling for the same audience. Both may suffer as a result.

Add in the Delta variant concerns and I really question whether this gets past $10 million. My gut says to put it under.

Reminiscence opening weekend prediction: $6.8 million

For my PAW Patrol: The Movie prediction, click here:

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

For my The Protege prediction, click here:

The Protege Box Office Prediction

For my The Night House prediction, click here:

The Night House Box Office Prediction