Oscar Watch: Capone

Originally scheduled for a theatrical release prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Josh Trank’s Capone hits the VOD circuit tomorrow and reviews are out. The biopic casts Tom Hardy as notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone during the last illness ravaged years of his life. The supporting cast includes Linda Cardellini, Jack Lowden, Kyle MacLachlan, and Matt Dillon.

While it currently sports a 50% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the number does not quite tell the tale. Some critics are simply savaging it while others are far more kind. It’s probably safe to say that Capone will spur much chatter on both sides. The director became known to many moviegoers based on 2012’s well-received sci-fi tale Chronicle before his 2015 Fantastic Four reboot that was a commercial and critical flop.

Much of the review space has centered on Hardy’s work. Similar to his performance in Venom, some writers are calling it an inspired and somewhat bonkers portrayal. Others say it is just plain bonkers. A Supporting Actor nominee for 2015’s The Revenant, don’t expect a second nod here.

In fact, the level of vitriol from some makes you wonder if Capone could be a contender for some Razzie nods at the end of 2020. As for Oscar contention, the enthusiasm is steered in a different direction. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Joker Box Office Prediction

Opening wide in theaters amidst controversy regarding its violence and fresh off a surprise Golden Lion victory at the Venice Film Festival, Joker is unleashed next weekend. Donning the makeup once worn by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto, this stand-alone and hard R rated DC Universe pic casts Joaquin Phoenix in the title role as Batman’s most legendary villain. And like Ledger before him in The Dark Knight, our multiple Oscar nominee here is garnering Oscar buzz for his work. Todd Phillips (best known for the Hangover trilogy) handles directorial duties with a supporting cast including Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, and Bill Camp.

As mentioned, Joker made quite a splash overseas when it premiered in Venice. Critics have mostly been on board and it sits at 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. There’s awards chatter and an equal amount of ink about its potential adverse influence on audiences. This is certainly not a picture flying under the radar. No other movie studio chose to open anything against this Warner Bros potential juggernaut.

Forecasts range all the way up to $100 million or over with most below that mark. In order to set the all-time October opening record, this will need to set one achieved just last year with Venom ($80.2 million). It should have no issue representing a personal best for Phoenix, which is 2002’s Signs at $60 million. As for Phillips, his highest start is The Hangover Part II at $85.9 million.

I believe all the buzz surrounding this (both positive and negative) could propel Joker to a record setting weekend on all fronts mentioned.

Joker opening weekend prediction: $89.6 million

January 18-21 Box Office Predictions

The four-day Martin Luther King holiday frame brings just one new release and it’s a big one as M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass debuts. The melding of the director’s past hits Unbreakable and Split looks to achieve January’s second largest debut ever. You can peruse my detailed prediction post for it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/08/glass-box-office-prediction/

While reviews have been mixed at best, I have a hunch Glass could be fairly critic proof (think Venom from a few months back). My low 70s estimate for its Friday to Monday performance easily has it dominating the charts and nabbing the month’s runner-up status as far as all-time openers behind 2015’s American Sniper.

With no new wide releases out, The Upside should fall to second after its better than anticipated premiere (more on that below). Aquaman, A Dog’s Way Home, and SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse should fill out the rest of the top five.

My estimates are as follows and keep in mind they’re for the four days of grosses:

1. Glass

Predicted Gross: $72.1 million

2. The Upside

Predicted Gross: $15.4 million

3. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $13.8 million

4. A Dog’s Way Home

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million

5. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

Box Office Results (January 1113)

As mentioned, The Upside had just what its name suggested. The Kevin Hart/Bryan Cranston comedic drama surprised prognosticators like me with a healthy start of $20.3 million, easily surpassing my $11.6 million projection. It’s further proof of Hart’s potency at the box office and marks the first #1 opening for studio STX Entertainment.

Aquaman was second after three weeks on top with $17.3 million, in line with my $17.7 million prediction. The impressive total stands at $287 million.

A Dog’s Way Home had a so-so start in third with $11.2 million – not quite reaching my guesstimate of $12.8 million.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse was fourth and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. The animated superhero tale (fresh off a Golden Globe win for Best Animated Film) made $9 million to bring its tally to $147 million.

Escape Room was close behind in fifth with $8.9 million (I said $9.4 million) for a two-week gross of $32 million.

Mary Poppins Returns fell to sixth with $7.6 million (I went higher with $8.8 million). The Disney sequel has made $151 million.

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex expanded nationwide and placed eighth with $6 million. I went with a little more at $7.9 million.

Finally, the Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller Replicas bombed badly in 13th with just $2.3 million compared to my take of $3.4 million.

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

Venom Movie Review

A comic book origin story that often masquerades as an otherworldly buddy comedy, Venom will likely be remembered for the weirdly inspired performance of Tom Hardy and not much else. We’ve seen the title character before with Topher Grace in SpiderMan 3. The alien creature made of black goo played as a superfluous extra villain in that picture. Now Venom is ready for his closeup.

Hardy is Eddie Brock, a San Francisco investigative reporter with a lovely DA fiancée Anne (Michelle Williams) and a penchant for asking one too many questions. He does just that with gazillionaire inventor Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who’s a beloved mogul in the community. He’s also, unbeknownst to the masses, experimenting on poor people with a mysterious alien life form that his company the Life Foundation discovered in outer space. Eddie’s inquires into these practices lead to his firing as a journalist and the dissolution of his romance.

A few months later as Eddie is down on his luck, one of Drake’s scientists spills the beans to him about further tomfoolery at the Foundation. This leads to a break-in at their research facility and one of those nasty and gooey extraterrestrials attaching themselves to Eddie. It turns out these visitors intend to destroy Planet Earth.

Yet we also find out that Eddie’s new inhabitant of his vessel has a sense of humor. And Hardy’s performance filled with strange noises, facial tics, and general bizareness makes for an often memorable duo. Venom himself is inside Eddie’s head constantly with what sounds like Christian Bale’s basement octave range from The Dark Knight series. I’m really not sure if Hardy’s work here is what you’d call good, but it’s definitely not forgettable. He seems committed to whatever the heck he’s decided Brock/Venom is and that itself is fun.

Unfortunately there’s lots of other forgettable aspects to the movie itself. This would include lots of the dialogue, the action sequences, Williams as the love interest, and Ahmed as the bad guy. Important stuff generally. It’s also amusing how crystal clear it is that director Ruben Fleischer (who’s done better with Zombieland) and the screenwriters so want this to be rated R. I assume Sony said otherwise, but the script has to reach the absolute highest level of profanity and heads being bitten off without achieving the restricted tag. I will give the writers a thumbs up for setting this in San Francisco and avoiding the umpteenth climactic battle at the Golden Gate Bridge.

I can’t deny that Hardy’s bewildering and bewitching and sometimes annoying acting nearly make this worth of the price of admission. There’s just a bit too much muck attached to it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: November 2-4

Blogger’s Note (10/30/18): My estimate for Bohemian Rhapsody has increased from $31.8M to $41.8M

A flurry of box office activity greets November as three new releases are unveiled. We have the Queen musical extravaganza Bohemian Rhapsody, Disney’s fantasy adventure The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and Tyler Perry directed Tiffany Haddish comedy Nobody’s Fool. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/23/bohemian-rhapsody-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/nobodys-fool-box-office-prediction/

Rhapsody appears poised to, ahem, be the champion. How much it earns is very much in question. Forecasts have it anywhere between $25-$35 million. Reviews have been mixed, but the band’s fan base and rocking trailers have the potential to make the point moot. The film has the potential to over perform ($40 million is in the cards), but I’m estimating it ends up falling in the middle of current projections. **Note updated above.

As for The Nutcracker, it’s risky to underestimate the marketing power of the Mouse Factory. That said, buzz for this seems curiously muted. While it should have no problem nabbing the runner-up spot, I believe it will do so with less than $20 million.

Tiffany Haddish has had a pair of hits with Girls Trip last summer and Night School just a month ago. The latter had the benefit of featuring Kevin Hart. My prediction for Fool gives it about half of what School made out of the gate. That could put it in a battle for third place with the third weekend of current champ Halloween, with A Star Is Born rounding out the top five.

And with that, my top 5 take on as November comes in:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody

Predicted Gross: $41.8 million

2. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Predicted Gross: $19.4 million

3. Nobody’s Fool

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million

4. Halloween

Predicted Gross: $14.1 million

5. A Star Is Born

Predicted Gross: $9.7 million

Box Office Results (October 26-28)

As expected, Halloween easily topped the charts for the second weekend in a row with $31.4 million, a bit below my $35.4 million estimate. The latest pairing of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode has taken in $126 million. That already gives it the all-time franchise earner by far (the previous record was 2007’s remake at $58 million).

For the fourth weekend in a row, A Star Is Born held the #2 spot with $14 million, a tad higher than my take of $13.3 million. It’s up to $148 million with $200 million in its sights.

Venom was third with $10.6 million (I was right there at $10.5 million) for an overall tally of $187 million.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween was fourth with $7.2 million (I said $6.9 million) for $38 million thus far.

None of the newcomers performed well. Hunter Killer managed just a fifth place showing with $6.6 million, not matching my $8.2 million prediction.

Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s expanded nationally with middling results in 10th with $2.9 million (I said $3.6 million).

In 12th place was Johnny English Strikes Back with $1.6 million compared to my $1.3 million projection. Faith-based drama Indivisible was 13th with $1.5 million (I said $1 million).

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

Box Office Predictions: October 26-28

Blogger’s Note (10/25/18): On the eve of its premiere, I am revising my Hunter Killer estimate from $10.2 million to $8.2 million

Jamie Lee Curtis and her long running nemesis Michael Myers should have no trouble topping the box office charts once again as a trio of newcomers enter the marketplace. They are the Gerard Butler action thriller Hunter Killer, Pure Flix drama Indivisible, and Rowan Atkinson comedy sequel Johnny English Strikes Again. You can peruse my individual prediction posts on them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/16/hunter-killer-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/22/indivisible-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/17/johnny-english-strikes-again-box-office-prediction/

Let’s deal with the low hanging fruit first. I don’t expect Indivisible or English to come anywhere near the top 5 with respective estimates of $1 million and $1.3 million.

We also have Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s expanding into wide release after a four screen engagement this past weekend. A theater count will be key here, but if it gets 1000 screens I’ll say it hits around $3.6 million (this could rise or fall depending on volume).

Hunter Killer is a trickier proposition. It doesn’t seem to be generating much buzz, but recent Butler pics such as Geostorm and Den of Thieves have both managed to go slightly above projections. It’s tempting to say Killer won’t do double digits, but I’m putting it just over that for what would be a fourth place showing (though it could go higher).

Speaking of killers, Michael Myers and his Halloween sequel slashed its way to the second largest October opening of all time (behind Venom) and second highest horror premiere ever (behind It). I’ll say it dips around 53% for the weekend.

A Star Is Born and Venom seem poised to keep their 2-3 positions with Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween rounding out the top five.

And with that, the top 5 estimates for the weekend ahead:

1. Halloween

Predicted Gross: $35.4 million

2. A Star Is Born

Predicted Gross: $13.3 million

3. Venom

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million

4. Hunter Killer

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million

5. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

Box Office Results (October 19-21)

As mentioned, Halloween achieved near record-setting status this weekend with a fantastic $76.2 million start, right in line with my $75.4 million prediction. It easily soared above the previous franchise record with $50 million to spare. That mark was held by Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake at $26 million.

A Star Is Born kept the runner-up spot for the third weekend with $19 million (I said $19.2 million) to bring its earnings to $126 million.

After two weeks on top, Venom dipped to third place with $18 million (I was a tad lower at $16.9 million) for a three-week tally of $171 million.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween was fourth with $9.7 million (I said $9.4 million) for a two-week gross of $28 million.

First Man continued its disappointing returns in fifth with $8.3 million – under my $10 million take. In two weeks, it’s earned an unimpressive $29 million.

Critically acclaimed The Hate U Give expanded wide with a solid $7.6 million for sixth place, getting past my $6.7 million estimate.

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

Box Office Predictions: October 19-21

Halloween looks to dominate the box office and slash all competition with a potentially record-setting opening. In order to do so, it would need to top the $80 million earned just days ago by Venom when it smashed the all-time October opening of all time. You can peruse my detailed prediction post in it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/09/halloween-box-office-prediction/

As you can see, I’ve got earning just north of $75 million. That puts it short of Venom, but easily at #2 as far as all-time debuts for the month (it only needs top the $55 million that Gravity took in five years ago). That shouldn’t be a problem at all.

While this weekend’s #1 pic is not in question, the holdover battle should be interesting as well. The Michael Myers appearance will likely made Venom lose at least half its audience and that could cause it to drop to third place after two weeks in first place. That means A Star Is Born should hold steady in second.

First Man had a rather lackluster debut (more on that below) and it hopes to experience a smallish decline in the low to mid 30s. If so, it should rank fourth with Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween not far behind.

The Hate U Give expands to approximately 2300 theaters after it’s performed well in limited fashion. I’ll put its gross at $6.7 million and that would leave it outside the top 5.

Here’s the top 5 predictions for the scary weekend ahead:

1. Halloween

Predicted Gross: $75.4 million

2. A Star Is Born

Predicted Gross: $19.2 million

3. Venom

Predicted Gross: $16.9 million

4. First Man

Predicted Gross: $10 million

5. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

Box Office Results (October 12-14)

Venom and A Star Is Born continued to rule the charts while all newcomers came in with rather lackluster returns. Marvel’s Venom repeated in first with $35 million in its second weekend, managing to top my $31.2 million estimate. The comic book based hit has amassed $142 million thus far.

A Star Is Born, as expected, held up well in its sophomore frame with $28.4 million (right in line with my $28.3 million projection). It’s about to join the century club after two weeks with $94 million currently.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was First Man, which failed to achieve liftoff in third with a disappointing $16 million, well below my $23.5 million take. Damien Chazelle’s Oscar hopeful with Ryan Gosling will hope for smallish declines, but this is unquestionably a letdown.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween couldn’t match its predecessor’s mid 20s start. It debuted in fourth with a mediocre $15.8 million compared to my $17.3 million prediction.

Smallfoot rounded out the top five with $9 million (I said $8.9 million) to bring its tally to $57 million.

Finally, Bad Times at the El Royale failed to generate many check-ins as it opened in seventh place with $7.1 million, a tad under my $8 million estimate.

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