October 22-24 Box Office Predictions

Arriving a year after its COVID delay is Denis Villeneuve’s version of the sci-fi epic Dune along with the animated Ron’s Gone Wrong. The latter will try to keep the October box office hot streak rolling along with the latter attempting to bring in family audiences. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Dune Box Office Prediction

Ron’s Gone Wrong Box Office Prediction

We have had three weekends in a row with newcomers premiering at over $50 million or darn close. Dune could fall right in that range. A potential drawback could be its simultaneous availability on HBO Max. However, I do believe enough viewers are aware that it should be seen on the biggest screen possible. I have it in the low 40s, but as Venom and Halloween Kills have shown us, the chance of over performing is certainly there for the taking.

As for Ron’s Gone Wrong, it has the disadvantage of not being based on known IP. Reviews are decent yet I have it placing fifth and under $10 million.

Halloween Kills exceeded most estimates (more on that below). Its 2018 predecessor fell 59% in its sophomore frame with a B+ Cinemascore average. The sequel has a B- and I envision it dropping in the high 60s range. No Time to Die could see around 50% decline in its third outing while Venom: Let There Be Carnage may see only a dip in the low 40s to mid 40s.

And with that, my top 5 take on the weekend ahead:

1. Dune

Predicted Gross: $42.8 million

2. Halloween Kills

Predicted Gross: $15.4 million

3. No Time to Die

Predicted Gross: $12.1 million

4. Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million

5. Ron’s Gone Wrong

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million

Box Office Results (October 15-17)

Haddonfield wasn’t the only place where Michael Myers made a killing over the weekend as Halloween Kills premiered at the highest end of projections. The $49.4 million start slashed my $41.2 million prediction. Its simultaneous release on Peacock didn’t appear to make much of a difference. That’s no huge surprise considering the streamer’s membership is minuscule compared to Netflix, HBO Max, and others. While the Kills gross is far under the $76 million achieved by Halloween in 2018, this is still a big win for Universal.

No Time to Die slipped to second with $23.7 million, a bit below my $25.8 million take. The 25th Bond adventure stands at $99 million. While its overseas earnings are pleasing, Daniel Craig’s swan song isn’t quite hitting the anticipated target stateside.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage was third with $16.5 million (I said $14.1 million) and it’s up to $168 million.

The Addams Family 2 had the best hold of all in fourth with $7 million, in range with my $6.6 million projection for $42 million total.

Finally, despite mostly solid reviews, Ridley Scott’s medieval tale The Last Duel with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver received little good will from moviegoers. It bombed hard with only $4.7 million in fifth. That’s a far cry from my estimate of $10.4 million. Duel is further proof that adult themed product is having a difficult time getting the intended demographic to the multiplex.

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

Ron’s Gone Wrong Box Office Prediction

After premiering to solid reviews at the London Film Festival last week, the sci-fi animated comedy Ron’s Gone Wrong hits multiplexes on October 22. From directors Jean-Philippe Vine and Sarah Smith, the voice cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, and Rob Delaney.

Wrong is the first effort from Locksmith Animation, a British outlet. Distributed by 20th Century Studios (a subsidiary of Disney), future Locksmith titles will be handled by Warner Bros. This is a rare wide release animated work not based on existing IP that isn’t coming specifically from the Mouse Factory or Illumination or DreamWorks.

Reviews are decent with an 84% Rotten Tomatoes score. Yet I really question whether family audiences are even aware of its existence. There’s not much competition for kiddos (The Addams Family 2 will be in its fourth weekend). I still am skeptical that this reaches double digits for the start.

Ron’s Gone Wrong opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Dune prediction, click here:

Dune Box Office Prediction

Dune Box Office Prediction

Coming nearly a year after its anticipated arrival, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is out in theaters and HBO Max on October 22. The sci-fi epic, with a budget of at least $165 million, comes with high hopes from Warner Bros (so much so that Part One follows its title). Based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel (beloved by genre fans), this is its second adaptation behind the 1984 version helmed by David Lynch. Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 maker Villeneuve employs a sprawling cast including Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.

Critical reaction is mostly strong as it stands at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dune is expected to contend for numerous Oscars including Picture and Director and multiple tech races. It could easily lead next year’s ceremony in terms of nominations. Reviews all seem to agree on one item: that it’s meant to be watched on the big screen. The studio has still stuck to its 2021 strategy of simultaneously premiering their product in multiplexes and HBO’s streaming service.

Sci-fi fans have been breathlessly awaiting Dune for years. This is nothing new to Villeneuve as the same could be said for 2017’s Blade Runner follow-up. However, it debuted to a disappointing $32.7 million and failed to reach $100 million domestically (despite similarly solid reviews).

Could the same fate await Dune? That’s definitely a possibility. Beyond its core audience (which is fairly sizable), this could struggle to find a younger crowd. We have seen this year that they are the driving force for pleasing returns in the COVID era market.

If No Time to Die could manage just $55 million and with the inevitability that some fans will opt for home viewing, I have a tough time envisioning Dune majorly surpassing expectations. That’s about $40 million and I do believe the decent buzz and event picture status should put it right in that range of mid 30s for the floor and high 40s (maybe even $50 million) for the ceiling.

Dune opening weekend prediction: $42.8 million

For my Ron’s Gone Wrong prediction, click here:

Ron’s Gone Wrong Box Office Prediction

The Many Saints of Newark Box Office Prediction

Making its way to theaters and HBO Max on October 1 is The Many Saints of Newark, which follows the teen years of Tony Soprano in the 1960s and 70s. Series vet Alan Taylor directs with show creator David Chase cowriting. In a bit of bittersweet casting, the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael is Tony. The cast also features Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom, Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga.

The crime drama arrives 14 years after the celebrated HBO program faded to black. Early reviews are decent as it stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Devotees of the series will no doubt be curious. However, the big question for me is whether many of them will wake up on the morning of the 1st and realize they’ve got themself the opportunity to view it on HBO Max.

I suspect many will. It stands to reason that plenty of Sopranos fans may have a subscription to the streamer. This could limit its potential at multiplexes. My gut says the number on Max could be impressive, but Newark could struggle to reach double digits in its theatrical premiere.

The Many Saints of Newark opening weekend prediction: $8.5 million

For my Venom: Let There Be Carnage prediction, click here:

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Box Office Prediction

For my The Addams Family 2 prediction, click here:

The Addams Family 2 Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Cry Macho

Over the past three decades, Clint Eastwood has made two Best Picture winners (1992’s Unforgiven, 2004’s Million Dollar Baby) and directed three nominees (2003’s Mystic River, 2006’s Letters from Iwo Jima, 2014’s American Sniper). So it stands to reason that anytime we see a new feature from the legend, an Oscar predictions post is warranted.

His latest is Cry Macho and the Western themed drama (based on a 1975 novel) was in development before Clint had won any gold hardware. Fun fact: Burt Lancaster was once tapped to headline it. The pic hits theaters and HBO Max Friday and the embargo was lifted today.

Eastwood’s return to the genre he’s most known for is split down the middle as far as critical reaction. Macho has a 52% Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time. This never seemed like much of an awards contender in his long filmography and reviews confirm just that. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Malignant Review

Malignant is exactly the kind of movie you get to make if you’re responsible for the success of three hugely profitable horror franchises like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring Universe. That’s James Wan and he’s also dabbled in other cinematic series by directing Furious 7 and Aquaman. Here he gets to return to his roots and clearly do whatever he pleases. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I volleyed between wanting to commend and condemn him for it.

A prologue set in 1993 introduces us in dimly lit fashion with Gabriel. He’s a young psychiatric patient who can control electricity and speaks in a manner where he sounds like he’s on a bad Zoom conference call. There’s also some serious killing skills involved.

In the present day, he reappears in the visions of Madison Lake (Annabelle Wallis). The Seattle native lives in a creepy home with her creepy abusive husband Derek (Jake Abel). She’s preggers and anxious after suffering previous miscarriages. A fight with Derek results in the appearance of Gabriel that leaves her a widow.

Turns out that Madison shares a connection with the murderer that’s stronger than his cell phone connection when he threatens victims. Writing a proper review would spoil the surprises of what’s to come, so I’ll be careful. Gabriel is exacting revenge on some medical professional who scarred his childhood. The adopted Madison must exorcise repressed memories from her own upbringing to solve the mystery. Helping our central figure is sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson). Searching for the bloody connection between Madison and Gabriel are two detectives – sympathetic Kekoa (George Young) and no nonsense Regina (Michole Briana White).

Much of the backstory is told via grainy videotapes. That seems appropriate as Wan is paying homage to 1980s slashers that would have went straight to the aisle for your VHS perusing. There’s cheesy dialogue, a reliance on splatter over scares, and I never had a doubt that Wan is having a ball getting away with making it. This might have gotten a lengthy writeup in Fangoria magazine and I bet its maker would’ve loved that. The magazine still exists but the article woulda been cooler in 1985.

Malignant is bound to be debated by genre fans for its WTF twist that occurs in the third act. I won’t lie – I grinned ear to ear when first revealed. Yet it was more of a reaction to the filmmaker getting a $40 million budget to put this out to unsuspecting viewers. Wan is a master craftsman and there are a few moments of technical bravura. Conversely there’s plenty of times where it looks like his cheapest pic since Saw and that’s not an accident.

I could never fully escape the thought that Wan is having more fun than I was. The first half of Malignant isn’t much different than your run-of-the-mill sound effects laden fright fest. Once it reaches the aforementioned nutty turning point, I admired the brazenness more than the execution.

**1/2 (out of four)

Cry Macho Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (09/16): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my estimate down from $8 million to $6.4M

At age 91, Clint Eastwood is still averaging about a movie a year and his latest is Cry Macho. The Western themed drama is based on a 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash. The cinematic version has been in development for so long that Burt Lancaster and Roy Scheider were once attached (as was Arnold Schwarzenegger close to 20 years ago).

Per usual, Eastwood directs. He also stars and it marks his first appearance onscreen since 2018’s The Mule. Costars include Dwight Yoakam and Eduardo Minett. As a Warner production, it will also be simultaneously available on HBO Max.

The question is whether fans of the filmmaker will pack theater seats… or will Eastwood mostly be talking to empty chairs? The Mule kicked off to a solid $17.5 million start nearly three years back. It had the advantage of having a higher profile December release date and more buzz.

Older audiences with streaming access may opt to view it at home. It seems a little risky to underestimate the legendary nonagenarian, but I’ll project Macho doesn’t quite reach double digits.

Cry Macho opening weekend prediction: $6.4 million

For my Copshop prediction, click here:

Copshop Box Office Prediction

For my The Eyes of Tammy Faye prediction, click here:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Dune

The arrival of Dune at the Venice Film Festival has been a breathlessly anticipated one. Denis Villeneuve’s epic version of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel is one of 2021’s most buzzed about projects. And that’s after it held the same status in 2020 before its COVID delay. The $165 million futuristic tale held its Italian screening and the results are fascinating to behold.

Dune currently has an 85% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Some reviewers are calling it quite special and the kind of technical achievement that we witnessed 20 years ago with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, there seems to be no question that it looks amazing. There was never much doubt that this would contend in several tech races including Visual Effects (where it should be the front runner), Sound (same), Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, and Score.

Whether this breaks through in above the line races is less clear. The mixed to negative critical reaction is mostly focused on its narrative shortcomings. That’s why I feel Adapted Screenplay could be a reach (not to mention that it looks quite competitive anyway). My hunch at the moment is that Dune, primarily due to its technical wizardry, should still manage a Best Picture nod. If it does, I would say Villeneuve makes it in for his direction and that would give him nomination #2 after 2016’s Arrival. I will extend a caveat: if Dune is considered to be a box office disappointment when it comes out October 22, that could hinder its chances in the big dance.

As for the cast, Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson are being praised for their work. Yet I suspect none of the sprawling ensemble will hear their names among the final five.

My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: King Richard

My previous Oscar Predictions post was for the Princess Diana biopic Spencer. I explained that it’s risky to make bold pronouncements at this juncture of the awards season. Yet the buzz from Venice strongly suggests that Kristen Stewart is going to nab a Best Actress nod for her work.

At Telluride, the same feeling holds true for King Richard from director Reinaldo Marcus Green. Hitting theaters and HBO Max on November 19, the title character is Richard Williams. He’s best known as the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena. Portraying him is Will Smith and he’s going for nomination #3 after 2001’s Ali and 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. 

So here we go again. The early reaction for Richard makes me comfortable enough to declare that Smith will get that third recognition. And he could win. Reviews also single out Aunjanue Ellis as Richard’s wife Brandy. An Emmy winner for When They See Us, I will likely include her in Supporting Actress when my estimates are updated on Monday.

As for the movie itself, it could certainly follow in the sports drama footsteps of previous Best Picture nominees like The Blind Side and Moneyball. I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s certainly a possibility as this sounds like a major crowdpleaser. There’s also an original song that plays over the credits from Beyonce (“Be Alive”) and I wouldn’t bet against her.

Bottom line: Will Smith has put himself in position to be the Fresh Prince of the Best Actor derby. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Malignant Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Note (09/09): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising from my prediction down from $10.2 million to $7.6 million**

The drawing power of director James Wan and a horror audience that’s had plenty to watch lately will be put to the test on September 10th with Malignant. The fright fest comes from a genre filmmaker who kickstarted the Saw, Conjuring, and Insidious franchises. Lately he’s been dabbling in other series as he helmed Furious 7 and Aquaman. The cast includes Annabelle Wallis (who starred in the Conjuring spin-off Annabelle), Maddie Hasson, George Young, and Mckenna Grace.

Originally slated for late summer 2020 before its COVID pause, the Warner Bros property will premiere simultaneously on HBO Max. As mentioned, moviegoers have been inundated with scare tactics in the last few months. This includes sequels to A Quiet Place, Escape Room and Don’t Breathe, a third Conjuring, another Purge, and the new Candyman. 

Malignant has a couple of disadvantages. It’s not based on a known property (though one could argue Wan’s original forays into his now well-known franchises weren’t either). The other is the over saturation of the market. My biggest concern is a lack of buzz and its availability at home. That said, horror fans continually demonstrate their willingness to show up.

The previous Conjuring experience also hit HBO when it landed at multiplexes and it took in $24 million. I have a feeling the prognosis for Malignant is that it may earn about half of that figure and maybe a little less.

Malignant opening weekend prediction: $7.6 million