The Best of Enemies Box Office Prediction

Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell headline true life drama The Best of Enemies, out this Friday. Set in 1971, the film casts Henson as a civil rights activist tasked with co-chairing a community meeting with Rockwell’s KKK leader. Robin Bissell directs with a supporting cast including Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, and Bruce McGill.

Enemies hopes to bring in a similar audience that caused Green Book to nearly make $90 million domestically. However, this doesn’t have Oscar buzz and while its two leads are certainly highly respected, neither can open a movie.

Considering that, I see $10 million as too high a bar for this. Mid single digits is more likely.

The Best of Enemies opening weekend prediction: $5.9 million

For my Shazam! prediction, click here:

For my Pet Sematary prediction, click here:

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Movie Review

The Mission: Impossible franchise has now reached its sixth feature and its 22nd year of existence, providing the seemingly ageless Tom Cruise with a hit making series that continues to deliver. That’s a rather remarkable accomplishment and Fallout belongs in the upper echelons in terms of bang for your buck entertainment.

Truth be told, there’s been no total dog yet in the Mission sagas. My one minor complaint about its predecessor, 2015’s Rogue Nation, was its lack of directorial vision. Christopher McQuarrie and his large squad of tech and stunt wizards pulled off some impressive action sequences in that picture. However, unlike the previous four pics, it didn’t feel quite as distinctive. Part 1 was certainly a Brian De Palma experience and the first sequel was all kinds of John Woo (for occasionally better and more for the worse). Same goes for J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird in the next ones (Ghost Protocol still stands as my personal favorite).

McQuarrie is the first filmmaker to return in the director’s chair. I must admit that maybe I just didn’t fully recognize his stamp on the series the first time around. These latest missions are all about spectacle and not really concerned with melding the mayhem to its maker’s vision. In Fallout, that’s pretty much perfectly OK even more so than in Rogue. That’s because the team of people making the action are the best at it. We’ve seen plenty of car chases, helicopter battles, and bathroom brawls in our time. This franchise excels at it in ways few others do.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF squad (including Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) pick up two years after the events of the fifth installment. Learned Mission watchers know the plot will likely be convoluted and a secondary consideration. That’s true here, but let’s go over the basics. We have lost plutonium that IMF must find or risk nuclear attack. Part 5’s villain (Sean Harris) is involved. Ethan is forced to partner with a bulky CIA agent (Henry Cavill). MI6 agent Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) from Rogue resurfaces. She continues to be one of Hunt’s more interesting partners. And the short-lived wedded bliss that we witnessed Ethan in during part 3 with Michelle Monaghan becomes a focal point. Oh… and there’s plenty of double crosses. And those masks. Fallout also features the most satisfying use of a CNN anchor ever committed to film.

Of course, all of this leads to Ethan globe-trotting from London to Paris to Kashmir. And the song remains the same: our hero is the only one capable of figuring out how to keep the world from crumbling. What’s often startling is just how much care is expended in creating the impossible situations he finds himself in. McQuarrie’s biggest contribution may just be the go for broke style vibe to Ethan’s dangerous exploits. As always, Cruise is a more than willing subject and he even broke his ankle during one stunt.

Cruise and McQuarrie simply refuse to allow Mission to coast on auto pilot. The franchise continues to come up with new and exciting ways to put our mega star in peril. Six films in, that is quite a feat.

***1/2 (out of four)

Pete’s Dragon Box Office Prediction

The Disney live-action remake train keep rolling along next weekend as Pete’s Dragon debuts in theaters. The Mouse Factory has found great success in the past couple of years taking their storied animated hits of decades past and repackaging and re-imagining them with real actors and tons of CG effects.

Pete’s Dragon, however, is a slightly different story. Unlike Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book (and next year’s Beauty and the Beast for that matter), the pic this is based on is not considered a classic. The Disney Dragon ‘toon opened in 1977 at a time when the studio was in a downturn in their animation department. It was only a mild box office performer and reviews weren’t too strong.

The fact that Disney has been on a roll lately should help Pete and his magical dragon change the narrative somewhat with this property. David Lowery (best known for directing the low budget indie drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is behind the camera. Oakes Fegley plays the title character (the Pete part) while the dragon is handled by Weta Digital. Costars include Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, and Karl Urban. Early reviews have been mostly positive with an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Let’s start here: this has no real chance of reaching the heights of the live action reboots before it. 2014’s Maleficent made $69 million for its start. Last year’s Cinderella earned $67 million. This spring’s The Jungle Book made $103 million. Dragon may be lucky to make half of any of those titles in its opening. Disney should be pretty happy if this manages to top $35 million, but my prediction reflects a belief that just over/under $30 million is the more likely scenario.

Pete’s Dragon opening weekend prediction: $29.8 million

For my Sausage Party prediction, click here:

For my Florence Foster Jenkins prediction, click here:

We Are Your Friends Box Office Prediction

In his first major role since last summer’s hit Neighbors, Zac Efron is back in theaters with the musical drama We Are Your Friends next Friday. As you will recall, it was music that first made Efron a star with the High School Musical series. The pic finds its lead as a DJ struggling to enter the popular EDM scene. Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley and Jon Bernthal costar.

For those thinking this is a return to Efron’s high school crooning days, the R rating would indicate otherwise. Friends stands no chance of reaching the heights of Neighbors, which rode a wave of positive buzz to blockbuster status. I believe this is more likely to perform similar to Efron’s pic before that one – That Awkward Moment, which earned $8.7 million for its start in spring 2014.

For Warner Bros, this is a rather low risk venture as it comes with a reported budget of only $10 million. I’ll predict it just manages to outdo that budget in weekend one.

We Are Your Friends opening weekend prediction: $10.9 million

For my No Escape prediction, click here:

For my War Room prediction, click here:

Interstellar Movie Review

There are many terms that could be used to describe Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, but my choice is “spacejerker”. For all the visual bells and whistles on display (and they’re considerable), the picture is really an old-fashioned family drama that attempts to wring tears from its audience on an often annoyingly consistent basis.

It’s also a mix of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Field of Dreams, and, surprisingly, vintage M. Night Shyamalan at times. Add that peculiar concoction up and Interstellar is a mixed bag that still demands to be seen on the big screen (preferably an IMAX one).

As do most pics of the genre, we begin in the “near future” as Earth’s resources are becoming alarmingly scarce. The belief is that the planet will soon become uninhabitable and the citizens of Earth have resigned themselves to their eventual fate. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a relic of a time gone by as a former astronaut whose services are seemingly no longer required. The widower lives on a desolate farm with his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two young children. His daughter Murphy believes their home is haunted by a spirit attempting to communicate with her. Her father soon comes to believe that the messages she’s getting are legitimate. These otherworldly signals put Cooper in contact with NASA, who exist now as a secret organization. Professor Brand (Michael Caine, of course) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) are spearheading a mission to investigate a wormhole orbiting the planet of Saturn. This wormhole may lead to a planet that can allow the human race to travel there and survive. Naturally, they pick Cooper as their pilot.

Cooper’s decision to depart devastates Murphy, even though he promises her he’ll return. The mission begins and leads to many surprises that bend the course of time, so much so that we soon see Murphy all grown as Jessica Chastain (and Casey Affleck as her big brother) while McConaughey is off in galaxies of space still looking like he’s behind the wheel of his beloved Lincoln.

Going any further into Interstellar‘s plot would be getting into spoiler territory. In case you don’t already know, there’s an A list actor who makes a “surprise” appearance around midway through. There are twists and turns (some handled better than others) that gave me the aforementioned Shyamalan vibe at times.

Yet at its heart, Interstellar is about a relationship between a dad who promised his little girl he wouldn’t be gone forever and whether he’s capable of keeping that vow. When the emotional resonance of that dynamic is pulled off well, it’s due in main part to McConaughey’s skill. He’s proven himself to be a fine actor, especially in recent years and that holds true here.

It is not because of the dialogue, which handles the family dynamic in mostly familiar fashion. Hathaway’s character soon has her own daddy issues with her Professor father. This adds up to a lot of crying. McConaughey crying. Hathaway crying. Murphy crying – as a child and an adult. Caine crying. If the robots who help the team on their mission were capable of tears, I’m confident they would’ve as well. However, it’s only in a couple of spots where the film came close to hitting an emotional moment for me. The rest of the plentiful moments seem forced and don’t have powerful dialogue to accompany them.

On the bright side, Interstellar truly is phenomenal looking. Even with my issues pertaining to the screenplay, this is unquestionably worth the trip to the theater. Nolan is successful at staging a number of intense and impeccably choreographed action sequences, whether on a planet with giant awesome looking waves or on one that makes Antarctica look downright tropical.

When Interstellar endlessly tries to pull your heartstrings, it often comes up short. There are a host of significant “wow” moments thankfully that will make your eyes widen. They just won’t be as wet as the filmmakers want them to be.

*** (out of four)

Interstellar Box Office Prediction

One of the most eagerly awaited titles of the year arrives Friday when Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar blasts into theaters. The science fiction epic stars recently minted Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Nolan mainstay Michael Caine, among others.

Nolan, of course, is best known for his massive Dark Knight trilogy. He is one of the few directors around whose name sells tickets. Of course, Interstellar is not expected to come near the box office grosses of his Batman flicks. A more fair benchmark may well be 2010’s Inception, which opened to $62 million on its way to a $292 million domestic haul.

The picture currently sits at a respectable though unspectacular 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The TV ads and trailers certainly succeed at marketing Interstellar as an “event movie” while maintaining Nolan’s desired secrecy prior to release. Reaching the Inception take of above $60M is certainly a major possibility, but my gut feeling reflects a belief that its debut will be more in line with Gravity last year. That film opened with $55.7 million in October of 2013. There could be a real battle for #1 next weekend with Disney’s Big Hero 6 premiering as well and I believe it’ll likely edge out Interstellar. Still – Nolan’s pic should enjoy a very solid roll out.

Interstellar opening weekend prediction: $57.2 million

For my Big Hero 6 prediction, click here:

Oscar Watch: Interstellar

A very large and important piece of the Oscar puzzle came into focus today as Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar had its review embargo lifted. It opens next Friday (November 7), but the critics are having their say, which obviously impacts its standing in the Academy Awards races.

The verdict? Somewhat mixed. While some reviewers have been over the moon on it (forgive the pun), others are having issues with its screenplay. It’s the same issue that hindered Gravity‘s chances of a win last year. Currently it stands at a respectable though unspectacular 69% on Rotten Tomatoes (though that number is bound to change as more notices roll in).

The acting has been pretty much praised up and down beginning with Matthew McConaughey’s lead role. However, it’s unlikely he’ll figure into the Best Actor race due to how crowded it is and the fact that he won just last year. Of all the performers, Jessica Chastain probably stands the best chance at a Supporting Actor nod, though that’s far from certain and even she is likely on the outside looking in.

It will certainly be a major factor in the technical categories, from Cinematography to Editing to the two Sound categories to Visual Effects. Hans Zimmer may also be recognized for his Original Score.

As for Screenplay, that remains a big question mark considering it seems to be what some critics are leveling their complaints about.

I still believe Nolan stands a good shot at a Directing nomination considering the lauded visual scope of the picture. And with the possibility of up to ten movies being nominated, Interstellar still should make the cut. Yet one nearly assured declarative statement can be made today that we didn’t know yesterday: Interstellar is extremely unlikely to win Best Picture.