Mickey Mouse Blinks

Today marked even more release shifting in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and it’s a lot of news of Disney. The Mouse Factory, to no one’s surprise, has moved their live-action remake of Mulan from August 21st to that date we’re all growing accustomed to… (say it together now) TBD.

That’s not all. Two of the studio’s biggest franchises saw their anticipated sequels, spin-offs, and reboots pushed back one year. The as yet untitled next episodes of Star Wars will not begin until December 2023 (with follow-up pics now slated for 2025 and 2027).

James Cameron’s four (yes, four) sequels to Avatar are delayed yet again. Part two is now pegged for December 2022 with parts 3, 4, and 5 now planned for December 2024, 2026, and 2028.

And… that’s not all. Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile (his follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express) has been pushed back two weeks from October 9th to October 23rd of this year (we’ll see it that holds). Mr. Branagh has already seen a COVID change a few weeks back when his critically reviled Artemis Fowl scrapped its theatrical bow in favor of a Disney+ debut.

Some other developments: Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel changed from Christmas 2020 to October 2021. Wes Anderson’s eagerly awaited (and potential Oscar contender) The French Dispatch saw its October 2020 premiere altered to… (say it again) TBD.

This follows the announcement from Warner Bros. earlier this week that Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (long seen as the first real COVID test for theaters) is now a TBD property after its hoped for August rollout. After the Tenet news, the ball was passed to Mulan. Not anymore.

Now the paradigm shifts again… to Disney. One could say that the MCU’s Black Widow is now the first massive blockbuster scheduled to debut on November 6th. Let’s see if it stays that way in our new cinematic universe.

Dumbo Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/27): My Dumbo prediction has dropped from $65.6 million to $55.6 million.

With Tim Burton at the helm, Disney’s live-action rendering of Dumbo flies into theaters next weekend. The elephant tale (based on the Mouse Factory’s 1941 animated feature) is headlined by Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, and plenty of CG effects.

This is the first live-action remake from the studio in two years, following up on the monstrous success that was Beauty and the Beast. That lapse in their sub genre won’t apply to 2019 as there’s three more on the way – Aladdin in May, The Lion King in July, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil this October.

It’s also not Burton’s first foray remaking Disney classics. 2010’s Alice in Wonderland was a huge hit that grossed $116 million for its start. When it comes to Beauty, Aladdin, and Lion King, they have the advantage of being based on 90s efforts as opposed to a title released 50 years prior.

Expectations for Dumbo aren’t quite as lofty and they’re in the $60-$70 million premiere range. That sound about right and I’ll put it right in the middle of those numbers, similar to what Cinderella achieved in 2015.

Dumbo opening weekend prediction: $55.6 million

For my Hotel Mumbai prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/hotel-mumbai-box-office-prediction/

For my Unplanned prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/unplanned-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beach Bum prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/24/the-beach-bum-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet is expected to easily hit the #1 spot at the box office over the Thanksgiving holiday. The film is Disney’s highly anticipated sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It-Ralph and reviews are out today.

The verdict? Much like its predecessor, critical notice is strong as it currently stands at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some early notices say it doesn’t quite match the original, but it’s all pretty much a positive vibe.

As to where that puts Internet in the Oscar race for Best Animated Feature, I’d say it’s almost certainly in. Wreck-It-Ralph also nabbed a nomination in that category, but lost to Disney/Pixar’s Brave. That would appear to be what will happen again as Ralph should get a nod and lose to the heroes of Pixar’s Incredibles 2.

Bottom line: Ralph officially broke into awards chatter today, but studio competition should keep it from achieving gold. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

For my Creed II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/creed-ii-box-office-prediction/

For my Robin Hood prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/robin-hood-box-office-prediction/

Ralph Breaks the Internet Box Office Prediction

Disney is no stranger to debuting high-profile titles over the long Turkey Day weekend and they’re back at it again with Ralph Breaks the Internet. It’s the sequel to 2012’s WreckItRalph and brings back the vocal stylings of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, and Ed O’Neill. New actors behind the mic include Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, and Alfred Molina. Rich Moore and Phil Johnston direct.

While we’re not in Incredibles 2 territory as far as expectations, Ralph is forecasted to easily break into the top spot for the Thanksgiving holiday. The original made $49 million for its start six years ago and ended up with $189 million.

Animated sequels can and have exceeded debut earnings of their predecessors. There’s been several years for kids to watch the original repeatedly and Internet could also appeal to younger adults. As mentioned, the Mouse Factory likes this frame for their drawn efforts. On the high-end, there’s Frozen, which made $93 million over the full Wednesday to Sunday frame ($67 million traditional weekend). On the low-end is The Good Dinosaur with a $55 million five-day ($39 million three-day). Two years ago, Moana took in $82 million ($56 million Friday to Sunday). Last year it was Coco with $72 million ($50 million three-day).

So where does this fit in? I like it falling in between Disney’s output from the last two years. That means I’m estimating it slightly outshines WreckIt for the traditional weekend with upper 70s for the whole holiday.

Ralph Breaks the Internet opening weekend prediction: $54.4 million (Friday to Sunday); $79.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Creed II prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/creed-ii-box-office-prediction/

For my Robin Hood prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/14/robin-hood-box-office-prediction/

For my Green Book prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/17/green-book-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Disney’s expensive rendering of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms dances into theaters on Friday and it does so with mostly negative reviews. It stands at just 26% on Rotten Tomatoes and the studio may have a rare commercial disappointment on their hands (the budget is a reported $130 million).

So why in the world am I doing an Oscar Watch post on it? Well, the one positive aspect most critics point out is its set design and outfits adorning the actors. That could put Nutcracker in a similar situation with the Mouse Factory’s live-action version of Alice in Wonderland in 2010.

That also received middling reviews (though it did very well financially). It was rewarded with nominations in Art Direction (now called Production Design) and Costume Design. Realms could certainly play in both of those categories and perhaps Makeup and Hairstyling. Wonderland also won Best Visual Effects, but that race could be a reach with this.

Bottom line: even though word-of-mouth is not strong, Nutcracker has a shot at some down-the-line categories.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Box Office Prediction

Disney is hoping for a sizable family and female audience next weekend when The Nutcracker and the Four Realms dances into theaters. The fantasy adventure is based on both the 1816 E.T.A. Hoffmann story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Tchaikovsky’s ballet with a cast including Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew MacFadyen, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman. Realms shares directing credit between Lasse Hallstrom (who shot most of it) and Joe Johnston (who came in for late re-shoots). In a strange twist of irony, the pic’s directorial drama is shared by Bohemian Rhapsody, which opens on the same day.

Unlike many Mouse Factory properties, The Nutcracker is a big question mark as to its box office viability. Buzz for this doesn’t seem on the level with many of their other productions. While Disney has been churning out one blockbuster after another, we have seen both A Wrinkle in Time and Christopher Robin come in with less than anticipated opening weekends. Both of those features struggled to eventually reach the $100 million mark. While Realms won’t have much family competition its first weekend out, that will change quickly as Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Ralph Breaks the Internet all debut shortly afterwards.

I believe this could struggle to join the century club like Wrinkle and Robin. It appears poised to come in second to the aforementioned Rhapsody. That said, I don’t want to underestimate the studio’s marketing prowess too much. Yet my gut says a gross in the $20 million range is where this starts and word-of-mouth will decide the rest.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms opening weekend prediction: $19.4 million

For my Bohemian Rhapsody prediction, click here:

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

For my Nobody’s Fool prediction, click here:

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

Christopher Robin Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/02/18): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my estimate down a tad from $34 million to $29.6 million

Disney’s Christopher Robin hopes to make a pot of money when it’s released next weekend. The mix of live-action and CG brings back Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and other notable creatures that originated from the 1926 novel. Ewan McGregor plays an adult Christopher with Hayley Atwell as his wife. Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, and Sophie Okonedo provide voiceover work. Marc Forster directs. I’m guessing this is more in tone with his 2003 pic Finding Neverland and not Quantum of Solace and World War Z.

This is not to be confused with last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin with Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie. That biopic about Pooh’s author went nowhere at the box office.

That shouldn’t be the case here. The Mouse Factory is certainly astute at marketing their product and the familiarity with Winnie and friends won’t hurt. It may even succeed at tapping into adult moviegoers hungry for a nostalgic fix. Depending on how high Mission: ImpossibleFallout flies this coming weekend, a low to possibly mid 30s gross from Robin could put it in contention for the top spot. That seems reasonable for where this begins.

Christopher Robin opening weekend prediction: $29.6 million

For my The Spy Who Dumped Me prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/24/the-spy-who-dumped-me-box-office-prediction/

For my The Darkest Minds prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/24/the-darkest-minds-box-office-prediction/

A Wrinkle in Time Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/07): I am revising my estimate from $42.8 million to $37.8 million, meaning I have it debuting at #2

What film could knock Disney’s Black Panther off its perch atop the box office charts after its momentous performance? Well, it should be another Disney property as A Wrinkle in Time debuts next Friday. Based on the famed and acclaimed 1962 novel from Madeleine L’Engle, the sci-fi fantasy comes from Selma director Ana DuVernay and marks the biggest budgeted feature ever (a reported $103 million) from an African-American female director. The cast includes Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Gugu-Mbatha Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena, and Storm Reid.

The Disney marketing machine is certainly a formidable one and familiarity with the source material and high-profile actors should serve as a benefit. One potential hindrance: while reviews are embargoed until March 7, initial word-of-mouth from screenings has been mixed.

On the low end, Wrinkle could see a debut in the mid 30s. However, I feel it will manage to climb higher with low 40s gross that could certainly reach as a high as $50 million. I don’t see it hitting the high 60s grosses that Disney’s live-action adaptations like Maleficent or Cinderella managed. That should be enough to allow the Mouse Factory to hold the 1-2 position next weekend with this and Panther.

A Wrinkle in Time opening weekend prediction: $37.8 million

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

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

For my The Hurricane Heist prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/the-hurricane-heist-box-office-prediction/

For my Gringo prediction, click here:

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

Cars 3 Box Office Prediction

Pixar has its entry in the summer box office derby as Cars 3 opens next weekend. The threequel will have the honor of being the highest grossing animated sequel of the season for two weeks until Despicable Me 3 arrives.

Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Bonnie Hunt, Kerry Washington, and Nathan Fillion are among the actors lending their voices to the project. Reportedly, the late Paul Newman (who contributed to the original) will also be heard in flashback sequences.

The auto themed comedy franchise is not considered among the best that Pixar has produced. The 2006 original opened to $60 million with an eventual $244 million domestic haul. The 2011 sequel premiered a bit higher at $66 million, but earned considerably less overall at $191 million. That’s rather low compared to what Pixar has done in recent years. It’s also worth noting that Cars 2 is generally considered the worst of the 17 pictures the studio has produced thus far.

Bottom line: summer ’17 Pixar will be nothing compared to summer ’16 Pixar when Finding Dory opened to $135 million and ended up being the season’s highest grosser at $486 million. I’ll predict Cars 3 does manage to make just under what the first did 11 years ago and eventually struggles to make $191 million made by its predecessor.

Cars 3 opening weekend prediction: $57.8 million

For my Rough Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/08/rough-night-box-office-prediction/

For my All Eyez on Me prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/09/all-eyez-on-me-box-office-prediction/

For my 47 Meters Down prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/09/47-meters-down-box-office-prediction/

 

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Any challenges of adapting one of Disney’s classics that happens to be one of their best mostly fall by the wayside in Beauty and the Beast. Over a quarter century ago, the 1991 Mouse Factory version earned the status of being the first animated feature to receive a Best Picture nomination. It was deserved and Beauty helped usher in a renaissance for the studio with Broadway level music coupled with its tale as old as time storylines.

Our new Beauty doesn’t rock the boat by any means. Is it a factory made production meant to fog up our nostalgia goggles? Sure. Yet it’s crafted with reverence, the music still holds up, and it looks lovely.

It seems silly to recount the plot that’s been around for our collective childhoods in one form or another, but let’s get through it. We have Belle (a strong Emma Watson) living a rather boring existence in 18th century France with her doting dad (Kevin Kline). She’s being pursued by the chauvinistic Gaston (Luke Evans) who wishes to marry her. Her ho hum existence takes a turn when Dad is captured by the Beast (Dan Stevens), who lives in a dilapidated castle that the other French villagers have long forgotten. He was cursed many moons ago for his inability to love. When Belle travels there and trades her father’s freedom for her own, the strange relationship between the title characters commences.

There really isn’t too much new from this reboot compared to 1991. We have a couple more musical numbers, lest you forget the animated version was a mere 85 minutes. Alan Menken returns to do the music and those magnificent staples like the title track and “Be Our Guest” are happily intact. Bill Condon (whose varied filmography includes Twilight pics and more adult fare like Gods and Monsters and Mr. Holmes) directs with an eye on preserving what we appreciated about what came before.

Like the drawn Beauty, the Beast’s castle is filled with inanimate objects who are quite animated. Ian McKellen is clock Cogsworth, Ewan McGregor voices candelabra Lumiere, and Emma Thompson is Mrs. Potts. She acquits herself just fine in the part, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Angela Lansbury singing that iconic dancing tune toward the finale. Speaking of animated, Josh Gad has his proper comic relief moments in the role of LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick.

Disney has unleashed a gold mine with this recent strategy of updating their canon with live-action. Some have worked better than others and Beauty falls on the better side because it had incredibly strong material adapt from. The team behind this recognize it and are content knowing they had something there to begin with.

*** (out of four)