Bloodshot Box Office Prediction

Two months before F9 (the latest edition of his wildly successful Fast & Furious franchise) debuts, Vin Diesel hopes to kick off a new series with Bloodshot next weekend. Based on the Valiant Comics superhero, Diesel is tasked with the title role in this directorial debut from David S.F. Wilson. The supporting casts includes Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, and Guy Pearce.

Diesel is certainly a franchise man with three under his belt: Furious, xXx, and the Riddick pics (four if you count his voice work as Groot in the MCU). The $42 million budget is low for the genre and probably the catering cost for an Avengers epic. So while the pic hopes international grosses make it profitable, this could struggle stateside.

Outside of the aforementioned films, Diesel has had some disappointments. 2015’s The Last Witch Hunter was developed with sequels in mind, but sputtered with just under $11 million for its start. 2008’s Babylon A.D. couldn’t even reach double digits in its premiere.

With muted buzz, I expect Bloodshot to fire blanks with high single to low double digits. At least the headliner has his signature role on deck in short order.

Bloodshot opening weekend prediction: $9.6 million

For my I Still Believe prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/03/i-still-believe-box-office-prediction/

For my The Hunt prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/05/the-hunt-box-office-prediction/

For my My Spy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/05/my-spy-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Destroyer

Going into the Telluride Film Festival, one storyline was the possibility of Nicole Kidman garnering Oscar buzz for two roles. In the Supporting realm, her part in Boy Erased seemed like a somewhat safe bet for attention. That film’s mixed reaction has brought her inclusion in that race as more of a question mark.

When it comes to lead Actress, Kidman stars in the crime thriller Destroyer from director Karyn Kusama. Reaction from Colorado on the picture itself is also mixed. Some reviews have compared it to the work of Michael Mann while others have criticized its confusing storyline. Yet everyone seems to agree that Kidman is terrific in an unglamorous role.

Expect Annapurna Pictures to focus all of its Academy campaign on the four-time nominee and one time winner (for 2002’s The Hours). Don’t expect much chatter for the Picture, Director, or costars Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany, Toby Kebbell, and Bradley Whitford.

Bottom line: the Boy Erased reaction lessens Kidman’s chances at a nod in Supporting Actress. The buzz about her performance in Destroyer bolsters her shot at lead.

The film opens domestically on Christmas. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Hurricane Heist Box Office Prediction

The relatively new Entertainment Studios is hoping for another sleeper hit next weekend when The Hurricane Heist hits theaters. The disaster crime flick comes from director Rob Cohen (best known for making the original The Fast and the Furious and xXx) and centers on a group of bank robbers trying to pull off a job during a Category 5 hurricane. The cast includes Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Melissa Bolona, and Ralph Ineson.

Made for a reported $35 million, Heist‘s best hope is that it will make some cash based on its concept (star power will not be a factor). There is plenty of competition out there as Red Sparrow and Death Wish will be in their sophomore frames and The Strangers: Prey at Night opens against it looking for similar audience members.

Last summer, the studio had an unexpected hit with the shark tale 47 Meters Down. It debuted to $11.2 million with a $44 million overall domestic haul. Ironically, that film’s director is behind the camera with The Strangers sequel it’s competing with. Meters had the advantage of having a shark in it (maybe one of the bank robbers should have been a great white) so I don’t really see Heist reaching its gross.

Interestingly, I keep going back to last fall’s Geostorm as an example of a disaster pic that outperformed expectations. That critically drubbed pic managed to gross $13.7 million out of the gate. Could Hurricane somehow blow away expectations? I doubt it.

For now, I’ll say this doesn’t reach double digits, but it could make more than my current expectations.

The Hurricane Heist opening weekend prediction: $5.6 million

For my A Wrinkle in Time prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/28/a-wrinkle-in-time-box-office-prediction/

For my The Strangers: Prey at Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/28/the-strangers-prey-at-night/

For my Gringo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/gringo-box-office-prediction/

Gold Movie Review

Stephen Gaghan’s Gold tells another fairly recent “inspired by true events” tale of excess and greed. Instead of nefarious Wall Street types (though they’re here), our story takes place in the gold mining industry. Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is a third generation prospector trying to keep his business Washoe afloat.

A prologue shows happier times for the company in 1981. At that juncture, Kenny’s dad (Craig T. Nelson) is running it successfully and his offspring is merrily working at it. Seven years later, dad has passed and son isn’t so lucky. He runs Washoe from a bar where he indulges in their key product heavily.

Kenny has a dream that leads him to Indonesia to seek out Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez), a geologist who’s also run into lean times. They believe there might be gold in them Indonesian mountains. Finding it isn’t easy and Kenny even catches malaria, but eventually their fortunes turn.

As the company becomes an extremely hot commodity, Kenny must stave off the vultures of the corporate world, his competitors, third world governments, and the FBI. He also must battle his own issues, which includes the fact that he’s way out of his league suddenly running an operation of its size.

Gold is McConaughey’s show and we get the full Matthew here. That means effective dramatic moments mixed with comedic and quirky ones. He goes through a physical transformation here as he’s done before. Here, the effects of Kenny’s constant boozing shows. Magic Mike physique Matthew is nowhere to be found.

There’s plenty to admire about the lead actor’s work here. The problem is that none of the other characters are very interesting. Bryce Dallas Howard is Kenny’s wife and their relationship goes through the familiar ups and down that massive success brings. Ramirez’s Michael is a bit of a blank slate for most of the running time.

There are a couple of legit crises after Kenny hits its big. One is quite a surprise in the third act and it left me wishing the screenplay spent more time on it. Another involves shady Indonesian politicos and it might have been another subplot worth exploring. It could have provided a chance to give us characters matching the dynamism of what McConaughey brings.

Yet the screenplay doesn’t go there. While its star provides some memorable moments, too much of the rest of Gold feels standard.

**1/2 (out of four)

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Some stuff is considerably bigger and louder in the newest iteration of the 84 year-old franchise featuring cinema’s most famous plus sized ape. The sound effects are turned up to a higher volume. Since it’s set in the mid 70s, the fashion is louder. The cast of characters we have to keep track of is more populous and filled with familiar faces. And King Kong, himself, is quite bigger. He’s the size of a building this time around. What’s not larger is the running time and that’s a good thing. It was something that hindered Peter Jackson’s lovingly constructed remake of the 1933 classic in 2005. That version ran three hours plus, which was about an hour too long. Kong: Skull Island gets the running time right (two hours) and it gets other things right, too.

I liked the fact that our title character is truly monstrous in size this time around. I enjoyed that it’s set in the Watergate era right as the Vietnam War is winding down. I appreciated the sense of humor and B movie escapism that this Kong often gleefully exudes. Yet when the credits rolled, I couldn’t shake a feeling that the idea of Kong: Skull Island was cooler than the overall execution.

The pic opens with a prologue during World War II where an American and Japanese fighter pilot crash-land on a deserted island. Confronting one another, they mistakenly believe they must only fight each other for survival. Turns out there’s another inhabitant hanging around and he’s about the size of a building.

Flash forward to 1973. John Goodman is Bill Randa, who works for a government agency called Monarch. He’s seen as a crackpot with wild conspiracy theories and one of them involves Skull Island, a remote South Pacific island. Bill convinces his higher-ups to fund a mission to the location and he takes along a whole crew of military guys. They include Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), who’s looking for any action as the Vietnam War is closing out. There’s also British Captain Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who’s charged with navigating through this unknown jungle terrain. Brie Larson is Mason, an anti-war photojournalist fresh from the war and she’s there to document Skull Island. I could continue listing the supporting players. There are lots of them and few of them are very interesting. This is not a screenplay where the human beings are given preferential treatment.

When the team reaches their destination, they discover they are not alone. Kong is there, of course, but so are the island’s natives and that American WWII fighter pilot who is now John C. Reilly with a beard that rivals what David Letterman looks like now. There’s other creatures, too. “Skullcrawlers”, as Reilly coined them because it sounded cool, are reptile like menaces that are the real villains around these parts. That doesn’t matter to Colonel Packard, however, as he’s determined to wipe out Kong for protecting his territory and destroying some of the Colonel’s men along the way.

While 2005’s overstuffed King Kong attempted to be a five-course meal in the giant ape’s filmography, Skull Island is junk food. It mostly knows it is. Many of the actors involved (some fun overacting by Reilly and Jackson) know it is. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts allows moments where the kitschy 70s vibe provides some smiles (watch that Richard Nixon bobblehead shaking during some helicopter escapades). The special effects are, as expected, state of the art. Having said that, I didn’t really feel the Kong we see here is much more impressive than the 2005 version, even though he’s much more ginormous.

The film may have been more effective had it not introduced so many humans and their threadbare subplots and focused instead on – say – three or four of them. Better yet, the focus could have been on the mutated animals and their battle royales. After all, the point of this picture is to eventually produce a King Kong vs. Godzilla extravaganza. In that sense, the 2014 Godzilla reboot directed by Gareth Edwards was a more satisfying appetizer while Kong is a bit less filling.

**1/2 (out of four)

A Monster Calls Movie Review

J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls finds creative ways to deal with familiar themes and it often does so quite effectively. Based on a novel by Patrick Ness (who also did the screenplay), it tells the coming of age tale of Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall). Conor, as we’re told in the opening sequence, is too old to be a kid and too young to be a grown-up.

It’s at this delicate age in England that he must deal with some heart wrenching experiences. His mother (Felicity Jones) is terminally ill. Conor doesn’t particularly get along with his well-meaning grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and his father (Toby Kebbell) resides in Los Angeles with his second family. He’s also bullied at school. The boy’s active imagination allows him to conjure up the title character. It arrives in the form of a giant tree come to life (voiced by Liam Neeson), who visits Conor promptly at 12:07. The Monster does not terrorize him, but rather tells him three tales. These are done in animated form. While they begin as fairy tale like yarns, its listener isn’t sure what to make of them as they divert into surprising endings.

We as an audience aren’t sure either and we along with Conor are told that the boy will tell the final fourth tale. A Monster Calls may contain elements you’d find in many fantasy tales, including nifty creature design and impressive special effects. Yet it’s more concerned with themes of grief and how to find ways to cope with it.

A subpar child actor performance runs the risk of spoiling material, but MacDougall shows we needn’t worry about that. He delivers believable and touching work, as do Jones and Weaver in their supporting roles. Much credit is also due to Neeson’s voice over work (look for a cameo from the actor himself that becomes pivotal after the picture’s conclusion).

Bayona and Ness tug at the heartstrings mostly without being cloying and have a splendid visual landscape to go along with it. Is the story anything truly new? Not really, but they find rather inventive ways to tell it and it earns its emotional resonance.

*** (out of four)

Kong: Skull Island Box Office Prediction

The most famous ape in movie history in back on screen for the first time in over a decade when Kong: Skull Island debuts next weekend. With a reported $190 million budget, Warner Bros. is hoping to keep their monster franchise reaping big grosses as they move toward a planned Godzilla/Kong pic.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts directs and he’s certainly an interesting choice as his only feature was the low-budget indie The Kings of Summer in 2013. The director may not be high-profile, but the cast is. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell headline. Even with those recognizable names, the real star is that giant CG creature that first graced the screen almost 85 years ago.

Kong is not expected to match the earnings of the Godzilla reboot three years ago. It had a plum summer release date and made over $90 million out of the gate. Competition from the second weekend of the acclaimed Logan could also hinder this a bit.

I expect this will hover right above or below $50 million and word of mouth will determine how it goes from there.

Kong: Skull Island opening weekend prediction: $48.6 million