Oscar Watch: Jungle Cruise

Debuting in multiplexes and on Disney Plus, Jungle Cruise sails into theaters and couches on Friday hoping for smooth box office returns. Based on the longtime attraction at the Mouse Factory’s theme parks, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt headline the fantasy adventure from director Jaume Collet-Serra.

The studio has, of course, made a boatload of cash with similar fare. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise stands at over $4 billion worldwide. That series also earned some Oscar love. In addition to Johnny Depp’s nominated performance in the 2003 original, part 1 nabbed four tech nods in the sound races (when they were divided into categories), Makeup, and Visual Effects. Sequel Dead Men’s Chest earned four mentions in the two sound contests, Art Direction (now Production Design), and Visual Effects (where it won). Threequel At World’s End also won Visual Effects and was nominated in Makeup. The fourth and fifth editions garnered no Academy attention.

The early chatter for Jungle Cruise compares it to more to The Mummy (as in the Brendan Fraser one) and not Pirates. That adventure earned a lone Sound nod in 1999.

So where does Jungle Cruise stand? Reviews are decent with a 69% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Sound and Visual Effects are certainly possible. That said, even some of the positive critical reaction isn’t overly kind to the CG effects. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this make the shortlist for VE and not make the final five while Sound is a bit iffy as well. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Jungle Cruise Box Office Prediction

Disney has certainly had luck basing movies on their theme park quantities before and they hope it continues on July 30th with the release of Jungle Cruise. The adventure pic (with a reported budget north of $200 million) pairs Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt (fresh off her hit sequel A Quiet Place Part II) in the early 20th Century set tale. Costars include Jack Whitehall, Edgar Ramirez, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. Jaume Collet-Serra, best known for Liam Neeson action flicks such as Unknown and Non-Stop or horror fare like The Shallows, directs.

As the studio has in 2021 with recent projects like Cruella and Black Widow, this will simultaneously premiere on Disney Plus for an extra viewing fee of $30. That strategy has been called into question in recent days considering the precipitous sophomore drop for Widow. Truth be told, the $30 doesn’t seem so high when factoring in families watching and that could negatively impact theatrical earnings.

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (and The Haunted Mansion to a lesser degree) has shown an appetite for these Mouse Factory ride based attractions turned films. The star power of Johnson and Blunt doesn’t hurt either and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this swing to over $30 million. However, the streaming competition could easily prevent that and I’ll estimate high 20s as it sets sail at multiplexes and at home.

Jungle Cruise opening weekend prediction: $28.4 million

For my Stillwater prediction, click here:

Stillwater Box Office Prediction

For my The Green Knight prediction, click here:

The Green Knight Box Office Prediction

Summer 2001: The Top 10 Hits and More

My annual recounting of the cinematic seasons that preceded 30, 20, and 10 years prior continues on the blog today with the summer of 2001! It was a frame dominated by an animated jolly green giant that kicked off a massive franchise for its studio.

As is tradition, I’ll run through the top 10 domestic grossers as well as other notables pics and some flops. If you missed my post covering 1991’s May-August output, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/26/summer-1991-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Let’s get to it!

10. Dr. Dolittle 2

Domestic Gross: $112 million

Eddie Murphy returned as the doc who talks to animals in this sequel that managed to cross the century mark, but failed to approach the $144 million earned by its 1998 predecessor. This would mark the end of Eddie’s involvement in the franchise, but a direct to DVD third helping came in 2006.

9. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Domestic Gross: $131 million

Angelina Jolie (fresh off an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted) headlined the video game adaptation that, despite weak reviews, spawned a sequel and an eventual reboot with Alicia Vikander that will soon get its own follow-up.

8. The Fast and the Furious

Domestic Gross: $144 million

We first saw Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and those souped up whips 20 years ago. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or haven’t heard of The Rock), this begat a franchise which is still running strong today. F9 is currently the #1 movie in America in this series that has topped a billion bucks.

7. American Pie 2

Domestic Gross: $145 million

Universal quickly green lighted this sequel to 1999’s smash hit comedy. The gross out gags in part 2 (which resulted in another theatrical effort in 2003 and numerous direct to DVD entries) stands as the largest worldwide earner of the bunch.

6. Planet of the Apes

Domestic Gross: $180 million

Tim Burton’s reimagining of the 1968 classic didn’t result in the new franchise that 20th Century Fox hoped for. Critics had their knives out for Mark Wahlberg’s lead performance and the surprise ending that didn’t pack the wallop of Charlton Heston’s encounter with the Statue of Liberty. The studio would get their successful trilogy a decade later beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which will be covered in 2011’s blog post).

5. Jurassic Park III

Domestic Gross: $181 million

Joe Johnston took over directorial duties from Steven Spielberg is this threequel. Sam Neill was back in this dino-tale that (while profitable) failed to reach the heights of the first two commercially. A reboot 14 years later would get the series back in billion dollar good standing.

4. Pearl Harbor

Domestic Gross: $198 million

Michael Bay’s romantic war epic failed with reviewers but still approached $200 million domestically and $450 million worldwide. Its six Golden Raspberry nominations topped its four Oscar nods.

3. The Mummy Returns

Domestic Gross: $202 million

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz returned for this adventure sequel to the 1999 hit that topped part 1 domestically by nearly $50 million. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would join the fun here and was rewarded with his spin-off (The Scorpion King) the next year. A third Mummy landed with disappointing results in 2008.

2. Rush Hour 2

Domestic Gross: $226 million

It was the best of times for director Brett Ratner and stars Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan as this action comedy built upon the grosses of the 1998 original. A third would follow six years later.

1. Shrek

Mike Myers as the title character ogre, Eddie Murphy stealing scenes with his voice work as Donkey, and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona proved that Disney wasn’t the only animation game in town. Shrek even competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in this DreamWorks game changer that resulted in three sequels and a stage musical.

And now for some other notables flicks from the summer that was:

The Princess Diaries

Domestic Gross: $108 million

Disney’s live-action fairy tale served as a breakout role for Anne Hathaway and a return to the studio for Julie Andrews for the first time since Mary Poppins. A 2004 sequel followed.

The Others

Domestic Gross: $96 million

With its own Sixth Sense style twist ending, this gothic horror pic with Nicole Kidman earned solid reviews and got genre fans to turn out.

Legally Blonde

Domestic Gross: $96 million

Shrek isn’t the only feature to spawn a Broadway treatment. So did this Reese Witherspoon hit which also resulted in a sequel and a third Blonde that is slated for May 2022.

Cats & Dogs

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Dr. Dolittle wasn’t the only animal game in town. This kiddie pic featuring featuring talking creatures also began a franchise.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Domestic Gross: $78 million

Long planned as a project for Stanley Kubrick (who passed away in 1999), Steven Spielberg directed this sci-fi visual feast with Haley Joel Osment. The film elicited strong reactions from critics and crowds (both positively and negatively). It may not have reached $100 million domestic, but it’s still a picture people like to debate about today and that’s more that can be said for most titles on this list.

Swordfish

Domestic Gross: $69 million

Hugh Jackman and John Travolta headlined this action pic which somewhat underperformed expectations. This is mostly known as the film that paid Halle Berry an extra $500,000 to go topless during a few seconds of screen time.

Moulin Rouge!

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Baz Luhrmann’s postmodern musical with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor scored 8 Oscar nominations and has its legions of fans that have endured over the past two decades.

Sexy Beast

Domestic Gross: $6 million

This crime drama is mostly known for its menacing supporting turn from Sir Ben Kingsley, who was rewarded with an Oscar nod.

Ghost World

Domestic Gross: $6 million

Terry Zwigoff’s dark comedy (based on a late 90s comic book) earned raves for its screenplay and for costars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi.

And now for some pictures that did not meet expectations:

America’s Sweethearts

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Yes, it may have approached $100 million, but this rom com starring Julia Roberts and featuring John Cusack, Billy Crystal (who cowrote), and Catherine Zeta-Jones didn’t come near what her previous blockbusters like My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, and Runaway Bride managed.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Domestic Gross: $84 million

Disney’s animated sci-fi adventure was a letdown that didn’t recoup its reported $100 million budget domestically. A hoped for franchise with TV spin-offs and Disneyland ride attraction never rose to the surface.

Scary Movie 2

Domestic Gross: $71 million

This rushed horror spoof follow-up to the 2000 surprise smash couldn’t get close to the $157 million of the original. However, this didn’t stop several sequels from following that achieved greater success.

Evolution

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Director Ivan Reitman and supernatural comedy sure worked well in 1984 with Ghostbusters. Not so much here in this DreamWorks flop with David Duchovny which earned less than half its budget in North America.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Tomb Raider was an example of a video game adaptation that made money. Not so here with this rendering of the popular role playing fantasy series that didn’t score with audiences.

Ghosts of Mars

Domestic Gross: $8 million

It wasn’t a good day at the box office for this science fiction flop from director John Carpenter and Ice Cube.

Pootie Tang

Domestic Gross: $3 million

Moviegoers didn’t turn out for this comedy written and directed by Louis C.K. that originated from a sketch on The Chris Rock Show (who costars). Despite the failed run at the box office, it has since become a cult hit.

And that does it for 2001, folks! Look for my post about summer 2011 in the coming days…

Connery. Sean Connery.

It is, quite simply, the greatest screen introduction of all time. Nearly 60 years ago, the suave tuxedoed super agent lighting his cigarette in the posh casino and uttering three words that changed cinematic history.

“Bond. James Bond.”

They were, of course, spoken by Sean Connery. And that line of dialogue, flawlessly delivered, kicked off the franchise of all franchises. The role of 007 was followed by George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. Yet to most lovers of the art form – Connery is Bond. He perfected Ian Fleming’s British hero from the start in Dr. No and continued to do so in the seminole pictures from the series including From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. 

When a performer passes on, as Connery has at age 90, it’s easy to delve into hyperbole. That doesn’t apply here. The man truly was and is an icon. Just being the best and original Bond would be enough to cement that legacy.

However, there’s plenty more. His Oscar winning turn as the tough and gruff Malone in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. His role as the father to Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade. Being Alfred Hitchcock’s leading man in Marnie. His Soviet captain in The Hunt for Red October. The escape artist opposite Nicolas Cage in The Rock. His shining star among other legends in Murder on the Orient Express.

The man who will always be Bond and much more may be gone, but that famous introduction and hours of additional first rate entertainment will be there for us to appreciate. And nobody looked cooler providing it to us.

Sean Connery. Icon. August 25, 1930-October 31, 2020.

Summer 1998: The Top 10 Hits and More

Continuing with my recaps of the movie summers from 30, 20, and 10 years ago – we arrive at 1998. If you missed my post recounting the 1988 season, you can find it right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/11/summer-1988-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

1998 was a rather astonishingly sequel lite summer with only one making up the top ten moneymakers. And while 2018 will be known for its Avengers phenomenon, it was a much different story with Avengers two decades ago.

Behold my synopsis of the top 10 hits, along with other notables and flops:

10. The Mask of Zorro

Domestic Gross: $94 million

He may be playing Pablo Picasso on TV now, but Antonio Banderas had a significant hit (alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins) in this tale of the famed swashbuckler. A less successful sequel would follow in 2005.

9. Mulan

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Disney’s 36th animated feature (with a voice assist from Eddie Murphy) didn’t reach the heights of titles like Aladdin or The Lion King, but the Mouse Factory has already commissioned a live-action version slated for 2020.

8. The Truman Show

Domestic Gross: $125 million

Jim Carrey’s first major big screen foray outside of zany comedy, Peter Weir’s reality show pic garnered critical acclaim for the film itself and the star’s performance.

7. Lethal Weapon 4

Domestic Gross: $130 million

The final teaming of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (with Chris Rock and Jet Li joining the mix) made slightly less than part 3 and was generally considered rather mediocre, especially considering the heights that the franchise started from.

6. Godzilla

Domestic Gross: $136 million

Coming off the massive success of Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s tale of the giant green monster was expected to possibly be summer’s biggest hit. It came in well below expectations with critics and audiences. A better regarded version arrived in 2014.

5. Deep Impact

Domestic Gross: $140 million

Our first asteroid disaster flick on the list came from Mimi Leder with a cast including Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, and Robert Duvall. Moviegoers loved their asteroids 20 years ago.

4. Dr. Dolittle

Domestic Gross: $144 million

Eddie Murphy was still in popular family guy mode with this remake of the Rex Harrison animal tale. A sequel would follow in 2001.

3. There’s Something About Mary

Domestic Gross: $176 million

The Farrelly Brothers had the comedic smash of the summer in this effort that made Ben Stiller a huge star and had a showcase role for Cameron Diaz’s talents.

2. Armageddon

Domestic Gross: $201 million

Our second asteroid pic (this one from Michael Bay) comes with Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler… and an Aerosmith ballad that played all season long.

1. Saving Private Ryan

Domestic Gross: $216 million

Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed World War II drama with Tom Hanks has one of the most intense first scenes in cinematic history. It was considered the Oscar front-runner until it lost in an upset to Shakespeare in Love. 

And now for some other notable films:

The X-Files

Domestic Gross: $83 million

Bringing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s alien themed FOX TV show to the big screen turned out to be a profitable venture. An ignored sequel would follow 10 years later.

Blade

Domestic Gross: $70 million

The vampire-centric Wesley Snipes flick spawned two sequels and major cult status.

Out of Sight

Domestic Gross: $37 million

Its box office performance was middling, but Steven Soderbergh’s romantic crime pic showed George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez at their best. Critics dug it.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Domestic Gross: $10 million

Not a success at the time, but Terry Gilliam’s wild ride featuring Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson created a serious following in subsequent years.

And now for some flops:

Six Days, Seven Nights

Domestic Gross: $74 million

Harrison Ford was flying high off the success of Air Force One one summer earlier, but audiences and reviewers weren’t as kind to this action comedy with Anne Heche.

Snake Eyes

Domestic Gross: $55 million

Likewise, Nicolas Cage experienced a trilogy of mega hits during the two previous summers with The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off. This one from Brian De Palma didn’t impress nearly as much.

The Avengers

Domestic Gross: $23 million

Not THOSE Avengers, ladies and gents. This big screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series with Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and Sean Connery landed with a thud in August. No sequels here.

54

Domestic Gross: $16 million

Mike Myers was coming off a little something called Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when this pic about the famed NYC nightclub opened. Critics weren’t kind and crowds didn’t turn up.

BASEketball

Domestic Gross: $7 million

Trey Parker and Matt Stone rarely create something that isn’t massively successful – like “South Park” and The Book of Mormon. This sports comedy is the rare exception, though it has developed a following since.

And there you have it – the summer of 1998! Look for 2008 shortly…

Summer 1996: The Top Ten Hits and More

Well, it’s officially summertime and that means on this blog of mine, I recount the top ten movie hits of the season from 10 years ago and today… 20 years ago. When it comes to the film that ruled summer 1996, there’s a major connection to a sequel coming this very weekend…

As I have in years past, I’ll count down the top ten and then also mention some other notable pics, as well as big old flops. Let’s get to it…

10. The Cable Guy

Domestic Gross: $60 million

It may have managed to place in the top 10, but The Cable Guy (with its darker tones than any of his previous material) was considered to be Jim Carrey’s first flop. This was coming after a quintet of hits that included Ace Ventura and its sequel, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, and Batman Forever. Critics and audience didn’t know what to make of this Ben Stiller directed effort at first, but it’s since gained a deserved cult following.

9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Domestic Gross: $100 million

It couldn’t match the earnings of previous 90s Disney animated fare like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, or Pocahontas and it isn’t talked about too much anymore, but the studio did manage to get this to the century club… barely.

8. Eraser

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Arnold Schwarzenegger had his first major flop in summer 1993 with Last Action Hero and rebounded the following season in 1994 with True Lies. Action thriller Eraser falls somewhere in the middle. It did pretty well, but critics and audiences were a bit ambivalent.

7. Phenomenon

Domestic Gross: $104 million

John Travolta was still riding high on the momentum of Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, and Broken Arrow and that continued with this fantasy drama that also included the Eric Clapton hit “Change the World”.

6. A Time to Kill

Domestic Gross: $108 million

John Grisham was a serious box office commodity when Kill hit, directed by Joel Schumacher (doing his second adaptation after 1994’s The Client). The all-star cast that included Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey helped and this gave mainstream audiences their first exposure to Mr. Matthew McConaughey.

5. The Nutty Professor

Domestic Gross: $128 million

After a trio of bombs (The Distinguished Gentleman, Beverly Hills Cop III, Vampire in Brooklyn), Eddie Murphy experienced a huge comeback with this remake of the Jerry Lewis comedy. It also kicked off a series of family friendly titles that gave Eddie a second wind in his filmography.

4. The Rock

Domestic Gross: $134 million

Fresh off his Oscar win for Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage parlayed that buzz into the action genre in this Michael Bay directed Alcatraz shoot-em-up with Sean Connery and Ed Harris. This one’s pretty good. Much of what would follow from Cage? Not so much.

3. Mission: Impossible

Domestic Gross: $180 million

Tom Cruise got his franchise and it started here with Brian De Palma’s rendering of the 1960s TV series. Ethan Hunt and his cohorts are still rolling today.

2. Twister

Domestic Gross: $241 million

Jan De Bont followed up Speed with this high-priced disaster pic starring Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, and that infamous flying cow.

  1. Independence Day

Domestic Gross: $306 million

Moviegoers loved their destruction in summer 1996 and they saw the White House and plenty of other landmarks blown to smithereens in this alien invasion extravaganza from Roland Emmerich. This was what really made Will Smith a superstar – so much so that he isn’t bothering with the long gestating sequel, out this Friday.

Something that struck me about those 10 highest grossing pictures? Not one sequel. Try getting away with that these days…

And now for some other notable movies in the hot months of ’96:

Kingpin

Domestic Gross: $25 million

The Farrelly Brothers followed up their smash hit Dumb and Dumber with this bowling comedy starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and a glorious Bill Murray. It flopped upon release but has since gained a devoted following.

Trainspotting

Domestic Gross: $16 million

This British import was an indie fave of the season and gave American audiences their first big exposure to both director Danny Boyle and its star Ewan McGregor. A sequel is coming in 2017.

And now – the flops of the summer and there were many:

Dragonheart

Domestic Gross: $51 million

This fantasy adventure starring Dennis Quaid and the voice of Sean Connery couldn’t make its $57 million budget back domestically and critics were lukewarm.

Striptease

Domestic Gross: $33 million

Critics and audiences alike didn’t shell out their dollar bills for this Demi Moore “comedy” set in the world of strip clubs.

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Domestic Gross: $27 million

This massive flop gave us Marlon Brando at his most bizarre in this doomed adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel. Do yourself a favor and read about the making of for this project. It’s considerably more entertaining than the picture itself.

Escape from L.A.

Domestic Gross: $25 million

Sixteen years after the well-received Escape from New York, this sequel reuniting director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell was mostly ignored.

Chain Reaction

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Keanu Reeves had a smash with Speed two summers before. Director Andrew Davis made the Oscar nominated The Fugitive three summer prior. Putting the two together for this stale action thriller was met with yawns.

Kazaam

Domestic Gross: $18 million

A few months before basketball fans turned out in droves for Michael Jordan and Space Jam, they said no thanks to Shaquille O’Neal’s entry onto the silver screen. Charles Barkley still gives him hell for it on “Inside the NBA”.

The Fan

Domestic Gross: $18 million

Between two major hits with 1995’s Crimson Tide and 1998’s Enemy of the State, Tony Scott had this bomb starring Robert De Niro as a baseball nut stalking favorite player Wesley Snipes.

The Phantom

Domestic Gross: $17 million

Comic books adaptations hadn’t quite hit their stride yet during the mid 1990s, as evidenced here with Billy Zane as the title character that couldn’t even earn half its $45 million budget.

The Frighteners

Domestic Gross: $16 million

This horror action comedy is the last major starring role for Michael J. Fox before he turned his attention back to TV and “Spin City”. This failed with moviegoers, but the director would go on to bigger things. His name? Peter Jackson.

Barb Wire

Domestic Gross: $3 million

Here’s another comic adaptation you don’t think of much – this ill-fated Pamela Anderson vehicle that proved audiences liked her better on the beach… or in other videos you didn’t have to pay for.

And that does it, folks! Your recap of summer 1996. I’ll be back next week talking about 2006…

 

Hercules Box Office Prediction

This Friday, audiences are treated to their second Hercules themed film of 2014. This would considered the higher profile one as The Legend of Hercules bombed in January with an abysmal $18 million domestic gross. Expectations are understandably bigger for this one – as it stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and is directed by Brett Ratner. It’s likely to gross more in its first weekend than Legend did in its whole domestic run.

Having said that, I’m anticipating a fairly muted opening for Hercules. The trailers and TV sports aren’t bad, but they’re rather unimpressive. There’s also Lucy, the Scarlett Johannson action thriller that seems to have more buzz around it and could be more successful in attracting a female audience. As I see it, Hercules will need to do solid business internationally to justify its reported $110 million budget because I don’t see it reaching very close to that stateside.

Hercules opening weekend prediction: $21.4 million

For my Lucy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/07/20/lucy-box-office-prediction/

For my And So It Goes prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/07/20/and-so-it-goes-box-office-prediction/