Oscar Predictions: Mr. Malcolm’s List

Adapting her own 2009 novel, Suzanne Allain scripts the period piece dramedy Mr. Malcolm’s List. Out July 1st and apparently borrowing influence from Jane Austen, Emma Holly Jones makes her directorial debut. The cast includes Freida Pinto (from 2008’s Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire), Sope Dirisu, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Park, Zawe Ashton, and Theo James.

Early reviews are decent at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes with the bulk calling it a pleasant diversion. That’s hardly enough for it to contend for any major awards prizes. Furthermore, distributor Bleecker Street has a sketchy track record getting their films noticed (ask the ensemble from Mass last year).

There’s always the possibility of Costume Design, but I suspect heavier hitters are arriving in the fall. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Underworld: Blood Wars Box Office Prediction

It’s the fifth film in a franchise that began over 13 years ago and Underworld: Blood Wars also has the distinction of being the first new wide release of 2017. Kate Beckinsale returns in the role of Selene in this latest chapter of these vampire diaries with Theo James, Tobias Menzies, and Charles Dance among the supporting cast.

Reviews haven’t been strong and it currently stands at just 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not that it really matters. The 2003 original posted a franchise best 31% on the aggregator site and yet every entry in the series has debuted to over $20 million. Let’s take a trip down Underworld premiere lane, shall we?

Underworld (2003) – $21.7 million

Underworld: Evolution (2006) – $26.8 million

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009) – $20.8 million

Underworld Awakening (2012) – $25.3 million

Note that all the previous flicks opened within three years of one another and that there’s been a five-year gap for Blood Wars. That delay may not bode well for it continuing the plus $20M streak alive. While the franchise clearly has a following, I’ll predict the lay-off gives Underworld #5 a mid to high teens debut for a series low.

Underworld: Blood Wars opening weekend prediction: $17.6 million

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The Divergent Series: Allegiant Box Office Prediction

Shailene Woodley and company are back next weekend in The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the third entry in the YA adaptations from author Veronica Roth. The dystopian sci fi pic arrives in the same March slot as its predecessors, 2014’s Divergent and last year’s Insurgent. Director Robert Schwentke is back behind the camera and costars include Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, and Zoe Kravitz.

Second installment Insurgent saw a slight dip from the first entry. While Divergent debuted to $54 million and eventually grossed $150M domestic, Insurgent opened at $52 million with an overall $130M tally. Reviews for Allegiant haven’t been kind… it sits at 0% currently on Rotten Tomaotes and I look for its returns to continue diminishing. Even the third and fourth Hunger Games pics saw dips from the first two and this should follow suit.

I’ll say this first Allegiant (the second part arrives in March 2017) will be the first of the series to fall below the $50M mark out of the gate with low to mid 40s being more probable.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant opening weekend prediction: $43.7 million

For my Miracles from Heaven prediction, click here:


Divergent Movie Review

Divergent exists because of The Hunger Games. While it may be based on its own series of popular YA novels (which were probably also “inspired” by the Games books), it’s the success of Jennifer Lawrence and company that made this possible. Imitation isn’t always so bad if you can find a somewhat interesting way to do it. Yet for the most part, despite a solid effort from the actors involved, Divergent often feels dull, way too familiar, and poorly paced.

In a dystopian future (of course), the city of Chicago now looks like District 12 and society is divided into five needlessly complicated factions where at age 16, citizens must choose where they wish to belong. There’s a faction for smart people and brave people and selfless people and so on. As we open, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is about to take her test to find out where she belongs, as is her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort). You take the test to show where to go, but have free will to join another group. You can also be considered divergent, which means you don’t fit into any faction. The powers that be don’t like the free will thinking of that subgroup and kill them. Beatrice turns out to be just that and must hide it from everyone. She joins Dauntless (the brave law enforcement team) to the surprise of her parents (Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd), who are involved in the government ruling selfless faction. Brother Caleb joins the smart people group. Katniss volunteers in place of her little sis… oh, wrong movie.

If this all sounds more complicated than it needs to be, you would be correct. Soon enough, though, we’re in known territory with training sequences that take Tris (she shortens Beatrice) on a physical and mental journey. There’s also several shades of Inception in the proceedings, as part of the training involves dream like worlds and reading minds.

One of Tris’s Dauntless superiors is Four (Theo James) and he becomes her love interest who may have some easily predicted secrets of his own. There’s also Woodley’s Spectacular Now boyfriend Miles Teller as a weasel of a faction member. This is in addition to Shailene’s romantic counterpart Elgort as her brother. So while there’s no love triangle, our lead actress’s filmography makes things kinda awkward.

Kate Winslet leads the smart people faction, who have evil designs on taking over the government themselves. This puts Tris in the position of needing to protect her family while furiously protecting her true divergent nature.

The plus side of Divergent is really with Woodley. She’s a fine actress and she provides a better performance than the material. Same goes for James and most of the other personnel. That’s pretty much where the compliments stop. Some of the action is OK, but Divergent is just so routine. The look and feel borrow way too heavily from the aforementioned other franchise. They even cast Hunger Games costar Lenny’s daughter Zoe Kravitz as Tris’s BFF (best faction friend).

There is an admittedly nifty sequence where Tris simulates flying, albeit in a different way than her costar Winslet did in that movie about a boat and an iceberg. Divergent tries too hard to emulate The King of the YA Adapted Films and hits its own metaphorical ‘berg.

** (out of four)

Insurgent Box Office Prediction

Opening a year after the hit Divergent, Insurgent is the second picture in a series of wildly popular YA novels penned by Veronica Roth. Stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Kate Winslet and Zoe Kravitz are back in the mix, along with newcomers to the franchise Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer.

While this series will likely never do Hunger Games level numbers, the original opened to an impressive $54 million last March on its way to a $150 million domestic haul. It doesn’t hurt that Woodley, Teller, and Elgort have kept themselves firmly in the public eye with recent commercial and critical hits such as The Fault in Our Stars and Whiplash.

The big question is whether or not Insurgent manages to open larger than its predecessor. My gut feeling is that it will, even though competition among female fans will be considerable with Cinderella’s second weekend. I believe this will manage to break the $60 million mark out of the gate.

Insurgent opening weekend prediction: $62.1 million

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Divergent Box Office Prediction

More than a year after their financial juggernaut Twilight franchise wrapped up, Summit Entertainment moves on with their next series based on wildly popular YA novels with Divergent, opening Friday. Based on Veronica Roth’s books, the futuristic sci-fi actioner comes with a healthy $80 million budget and high expectations from the studio. Two sequels have already been greenlit with Insurgent debuting a year from now.

Headlined by Shailene Woodley and Theo James, Divergent also features a supporting cast that includes Shailene’s Spectacular Now costar Miles Teller and Oscar winner Kate Winslet. The box office prospects for Divergent are a bit murky. It’s highly unlikely to reach Hunger Games types of numbers. It also hopes to avoid the disappointing performances of other YA movies like The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones or Beautiful Creatures from last year.

Recent speculation has focused on Divergent opening in range with the first Twilight, which earned $69.6 million in its premiere. This seems like reasonable territory to me. The chances of Divergent getting past $75M out of the gate are within reach. However, I’ll predict it falls just under what Bella, Edward, and company achieved in their debut.

Divergent opening weekend prediction: $68.4 million

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