Oscar Watch: Teen Titans! Go To the Movies

This Friday, Warner Bros animation is out with Teen Titans! Go To the Movies based on the Cartoon Network series. It’s a superhero spoof blending the characters of the show with notable icons from their catalog, including Nicolas Cage voicing Superman and Jimmy Kimmel as the Caped Crusader.

Early reviews are quite encouraging and it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has the potential to be a summer sleeper that could appeal to kids and their parents. Will  Oscar take note?

That could be a reach. Warner Bros has had a critically acclaimed output recently with their Lego series. However, The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and The Lego Ninjago Movie all failed to garner recognition in the Best Animated Feature category.

We can pretty safely say that two 2018 releases are already in for nods: Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Pixar’s superhero toon Incredibles 2. And there’s plenty more animated material to come. Despite positive buzz, that could mean Academy voters could fail to remember the Titans in a few months.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies Box Office Prediction

***Blogger’s Note II (07/26): On the eve of its premiere, I’m bumping my estimate back up from $13.4M to $16.4M

**Blogger’s Note (07/20): My estimate for Titans has dwindled from $17.4M to just $13.4M. That could mean a debut in the lower rungs of the top 5.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies attempts to be the next animated hit of the summer when it debuts next weekend. This is a big screen version of the Cartoon Network’s series that debuted five years ago focusing on some fresh DC Comics superheroes. The cast of the show is here to voice their characters including Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, and Hynden Walch. And we have some familiar faces joining the voice over party including Kristen Bell, Will Arnett, Jimmy Kimmel as Batman, James Corden, Halsey, and Lil Yachty. Nicolas Cage, who was supposed to play the Man of Steel in a scrapped live-action Tim Burton pic nearly two decades ago, finally gets to be Superman.

Fans of the series won’t propel this to the heights of other animated efforts this season like Incredibles 2 or Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. While Mission: Impossible – Fallout will undoubtedly dominate the charts next weekend, Titans will make a go for the #2 spot over holdovers Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and The Equalizer 2. 

A mid to high teens gross might be enough to achieve it and that’s the ballpark where I have this landing.

Teens Titans Go! To The Movies opening weekend prediction: $16.4 million

For my Mission: Impossible – Fallout prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/17/mission-impossible-fallout-box-office-prediction/

Show Dogs Box Office Prediction

Global Road Entertainment is hoping family audiences turn out for next weekend’s Show Dogs. The live-action comedy exists in a world where humans and canines communicate verbally. That means the voice-over cast includes Ludacris, Jordin Sparks, RuPaul, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O’Neal, Stanley Tucci, and Alan Cumming alongside real cast members Will Arnett and Natasha Lyonne. The pic is directed by Raja Gosnell, who has experience with pup flicks including Scooby-Doo and Beverly Hills Chihuahua (as well as the first two Smurfs entries).

Show Dogs doesn’t exactly seem to be generating much heat, but there isn’t much out there for kids who won’t be allowed to see Deadpool 2 (which opens against it). Family pics can always outdo projections, but I’ll say this falls a under double digits for its premiere. That would put it far from best in show and towards the bottom end of the top 5 for its weekend.

Show Dogs opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million

For my Deadpool 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/09/deadpool-2-box-office-prediction/

For my Book Club prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/09/book-club-box-office-prediction/

For my Pope Francis: A Man of His Word prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/13/pope-francis-a-man-of-his-word-box-office-prediction/

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature Box Office Prediction

Annabelle: Creation isn’t the only follow-up to a 2014 picture opening next weekend as animated sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature debuts. Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Gabriel Iglesias, and Jeff Dunham return their voices from the original as Maya Rudolph, Bobby Cannavale, Bobby Moynihan, and Jackie Chan lend their stylings as well.

The animal heist pic hopes to repeat the success of the first which was made for a reported $42 million, made $64 domestically and $128 million worldwide. That stands as the largest gross ever for distributor Open Road.

Summer 2017 has seen its share of sequelitis and there’s been a plethora of higher profile animated offerings. In my estimation that likely means a bit of a drop for part 2’s debut (the first opened to $19 million). Even though I give it a modicum of credit for subtitling itself after an awesome early 90s hip hop group (yeah you know me), I’ll say a low double digits to low teens premiere is the result.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature opening weekend prediction: $12.2 million

 

For my Annabelle: Creation prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/02/annabelle-creation-box-office-prediction/

For my The Glass Castle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/03/the-glass-castle-box-office-prediction/

The Lego Batman Movie Box Office Prediction

Three February’s ago, Warner Bros hit the animation jackpot with The Lego Movie. A proper sequel is on its way come 2019, but in the meantime we have a spin-off based on one of the most popular characters as The Lego Batman Movie hits theaters next weekend.

The 3D computer generated pic returns Will Arnett as the Caped Crusader in this action comedy from director Chris McKay, who was animation co-director on Lego. Zach Galifianakis voices The Joker, Michael Cera is Robin, Rosario Dawson is Batgirl, and Ralph Fiennes lends support as butler Alfred.

As the original is only three years old and the Lego line has a dedicated base, Lego fans should come out in droves for this. That said, I don’t quite expect this to match the $69 million achieved in the first weekend by its predecessor (it eventually made $257 million domestically). A high 50s to potentially high 60s gross seems more feasible, meaning it should debut at #1 ahead of Christian and Anastasia in Fifty Shades Darker.

The Lego Batman Movie opening weekend prediction: $65.8 million

For my Fifty Shades Darker prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/01/fifty-shades-darker-box-office-prediction/

For my John Wick: Chapter 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/02/john-wick-chapter-2-box-office-prediction/

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

In the humorously titled Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, there’s a gag involving the terrific Will Arnett that only takes up maybe three minutes of screen time. He plays the host of “CMZ” (think TMZ) as he hilariously chats with his staff of gossip reporters and furiously downs big gulps and other assorted beverages. It struck my funny bone so much that I found myself wondering how good a movie would be if it were just about them. Then I remembered that taking memorable three minute bits and stretching them into feature length comedies usually doesn’t work.

There are other moments in Popstar that work. Yet it didn’t quite change my theory above. Fans of “Saturday Night Live” are familiar with The Lonely Island, Andy Samberg’s music group responsible for several YouTube friendly videos packed with catchy lyrics and musical icon cameos. Here, Samberg and his colleagues Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone (that pair share directing duties) make up The Style Boyz – a hip hop pop trio that hit it big. Yet it’s Kid Connor (Samberg) that was the Justin Timberlake (who cameos), Beyoncé or Method Man of the group and branches out on the solo tip. Taccone’s Kid Contact becomes his DJ and Schaffer’s Kid Brain leaves the business to become a farmer in Colorado (wonder where that development will lead to??).

We pick up as solo act Connor4Real is set to debut his sophomore album, which is a disaster looming. Along the way, Popstar parodies the extreme narcissism of its industry while throwing in plenty of ridiculous songs. None of them really hold a candle to the brilliance displayed in the granddaddy of music doc spoofs, This is Spinal Tap.  As mentioned, there’s just not enough solid material to totally justify the 90 minutes here.

One mistake is that the Lonely team who wrote the screenplay seem to believe that cameos count as jokes. There are tons and tons of cameos. Admittedly some work (Seal’s bit is a trip and Timberlake gets to flex his comedic chops), but many others leave no impression. For the performers not playing themselves, a little of Samberg’s Connor goes a long way. Sarah Silverman and Tim Meadows are mostly background players as his publicist and manager. And the versatile Joan Cusack pops up so briefly as Connor’s hard partying mom that I can only think her part was left on the cutting room floor.

While there are laughs to be had here, you’re probably better off looking up the trio’s SNL work. They’re shorter and more consistently funny. See if you can find Arnett’s scenes too…

**1/2 (out of four)

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Box Office Prediction

It has, at least to me, a title that makes me laugh every time I think of it. Yet I’m not convinced that will lead to an impressive performance on the charts.

Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island partners Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone headline the music documentary spoof Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Costars include Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Bill Hader, Joan Cusack, Maya Rudolph, Will Arnett (pulling double duty over the weekend with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows), and Martin Sheen. There’s also a bunch of cameos from real pop stars such as Adam Levine, Mariah Carey, Usher, and Carrie Underwood.

Mr. Samberg’s digital shorts on “Saturday Night Live” were a solid staple of the show for many years with classics like “Lazy Sunday” and “Dick in a Box”. His film career, on the other hand, has been pretty unimpressive box office wise. 2007’s Hot Rod and 2012’s That’s My Boy both were critical and commercial disappointments.

I’ll predict Popstar struggles to even reach high single digits.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping opening weekend prediction: $5.6 million

For my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/25/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-out-of-the-shadows-box-office-prediction/

For my Me Before You prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/25/me-before-you-box-office-prediction/

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Box Office Prediction

Box office prognosticators such as myself were a little shell shocked two summers ago when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made its return to the big screen and posted a $65 million opening weekend. Its eventual domestic haul was $191M. The pizza loving reptiles are back again in Out of the Shadows alongside returnee non-reptile performers Megan Fox, Will Arnett, and William Fichtner. Chris O’Donnell look alike Stephen Amell joins the mix as Casey Jones, as do Tyler Perry and Laura Linney.

The Michael Bay produced franchise may not see much of a drop-off from its predecessor. The well-received 2014 effort (critics weren’t fans, but audiences ate it up) is still fresh in viewers minds. Youngsters who dug the first one and older fans introduced to Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello in the late 80s and early 90s should bring this sequel to a gross in the low 50s.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows opening weekend prediction: $50.3 million

For my Me Before You prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/25/me-before-you-box-office-prediction/

For my Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/26/popstar-never-stop-never-stopping-box-office-prediction/

The LEGO Movie Review

The central theme of The LEGO Movie is ultimately about allowing one’s creative impulses to be set free and not conforming to the set ways of the world. That statement could apply to the directors and writers of this picture, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. A movie based on the timeless LEGO toys might have made its studio a lot of money regardless of its quality. Yet Lord and Miller allow their creativity to run wild and what results is a highly entertaining experience that no doubt will serve as the building block (so to speak) of a new franchise.

We begin in the community of Bricksburg, where regular old construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) is perfectly happy with the micro-managed society that’s run with an iron fist (or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene fist, to be technically accurate) by President Business (Will Ferrell). The truth is that the dastardly President has plans to end the LEGO Universe and that Emmet may or may not be The Special or Master Builder (think Chosen One) who must save the world. Emmet’s journey partners him with Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a hipster who would be the traditional love interest if she weren’t dating Batman… yes, Batman (voiced marvelously by Will Arnett). There’s also a wise old wizard who is naturally voiced by Morgan Freeman and a humorous “good cop/bad cop” character figure voiced by Liam Neeson. The team of resistors to President Business’s schemes journey through visually splendid other worlds such as The Old West and Middle Zealand and even come across friends from a galaxy far far away. This is in addition to a little help from the 2002 NBA All Stars, which includes Shaquille O’Neal.

In case you’re already picking it up, The LEGO Movie is jam packed with pop culture references. There’s a lot here to keep adults smiling as much as the kids. Miller and Lord also get in their digs at corporate culture – many are quite clever, some are a bit well-worn. The voice over work is filled with smart choices and Chris Pratt now has two 2014 film heroes that youngsters will idolize.

There’s a “twist” later in the proceedings that truly did surprise me and it creates a level of emotion that I didn’t expect. It isn’t quite Pixar when it reaches its heart tugging heights (think another animated franchise about toys or Up), but it works very well. Emmet’s main problem for awhile is not believing he has the capability to be exceptional in a world that prides itself in conformity. President Business and others don’t want to allow for the innovations of others. The LEGO Movie shows its audience how important it is to strive to be unique and also be part of a team and that’s a good message for all of us. And kudos to Warner Bros. for allowing its filmmakers the chance to take what could have been an assembly line cash cow and make it something… well, pretty special.

***1/2 (out of four)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Box Office Prediction

Almost 25 years after they first made their debut on the silver screen – Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello are back as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hitting theaters Friday. The franchise has been rebooted with Nickelodeon and Michael Bay producing for Paramount Pictures. Former Transformers star Megan Fox headlines the cast as April O’Neil with Will Arnett and William Fichtner costarring and Jackass‘s Johnny Knoxville voicing Leonardo.

It is a legitimate question as to whether the TMNT franchise is strong enough to ensure a healthy debut. As mentioned, it’s been nearly a quarter century since the pizza lovin’ crime fighters hit the multiplex and about 20 years since the last installment of the original trilogy. A 2007 computer animated entry TMNT only managed $54 million domestically. Recently, the Turtles have been featured in a hit Nickelodeon cartoon that’s about to enter its third season and that should help a bit.

Truth be told – the biggest Turtle hurdle may be another team of heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel’s latest flick got off to a fantastic and record setting August opening. Its second weekend should also be huge and many of TMNT’s target audience could be watching Guardians for the first time or going back for seconds.

I believe the Turtles name recognition will be enough to earn a debut in the high 20s, which would be considered a bit of a letdown due to its reported $125 million price tag. With that predicted number, it should fall behind Guardians and have to settle for a second place opening.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opening weekend prediction: $28.2 million

For my Into the Storm prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/08/03/into-the-storm-box-office-prediction/

For my The Hundred-Foot Journey prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/08/03/the-hundred-foot-journey-box-office-prediction/

For my Step Up: All In prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/08/03/step-up-all-in-box-office-prediction/