Dark Phoenix Box Office Prediction

Closing out the latest chapter of the X-Men Universe that began in 2011, Dark Phoenix rises or falls in theaters next weekend. The fourth official entry in the current franchise iteration is a direct sequel to 2016’s XMen: Apocalypse. This one is focused more on the Jean Grey character played by Sophie Turner, but it brings back Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. The familiar cast additionally includes Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Evan Peters with Jessica Chastain joining the fray for the first time. Simon Kinberg, responsible for penning three previous X pics, makes his directorial debut.

Phoenix comes at a time where the franchise is going through a major transition. With Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox, it is believed the X-Men characters will be cast anew and melded with the vaunted Marvel Cinematic Universe at some juncture. The series is coming off Apocalypse, which didn’t impress critics and had a $155 million overall domestic gross that ranked well under predecessor Days of Future Past. The next X title (spin-off The New Mutants) is out next spring and has been delayed on numerous occasions.

Anticipation seems muted here. Phoenix has the very real possibility of having the lowest premiere ever in the franchise’s history. That distinction for a non spin-off currently belongs to the 2000 original, which started with $54 million (not adjusted for inflation). Just below that is 2013’s The Wolverine at $53 million.

The opportunity for Disney to reinvigorate the series is coming, but I’ll project this latest entry will mark an overall low in earnings.

Dark Phoenix opening weekend prediction: $45.3 million

For my The Secret Life of Pets 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/29/the-secret-life-of-pets-2-box-office-prediction/

Ranking the Superhero Summers

We’re past the midway point of the 2017 summer box office and one thing is clear: it’s been a rather terrific season for the superhero flick genre. In fact, there’s a very good chance the summer’s top 3 earners will belong in that classification. That’s not the first time this has happened (more on that later), but it’s still pretty remarkable.

This got me thinking – what have been the greatest and worst superhero summers of this 21st century? After all, it was the summer of 2000 that got the superhero genre alive and kicking again and it’s never let up. 17 summers ago, it was the release of X-Men that helped revive a genre that had hit a low point three summers earlier with Batman & Robin. In 2002, it would be Spider-Man that would set the opening weekend record and ensure that no summer following would be missing some comic book character headlining. **2001 is the only summer of this century in which there’s no superhero pic.

This leads to my newest list: ranking the superhero summers with explanations provided below. We’re talking 17 summers, so I’m counting down from the worst to the best in my humble opinion.

17. 2009

The Movie: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Just one flick in this particular summer. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had just kicked off the year before, so there was no follow-up ready. Instead, we got Wolverine’s first spin-off and it’s the worst of the whole bunch by a significant margin.

16. 2007

The Movies: Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

The third Spidey entry closed the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire on a very weak note and the Four sequel was none too impressive either (to be expected after a middling at best predecessor).

15. 2010

The Movie: Iron Man 2

Tony Stark’s return to the screen after 2008’s juggernaut suffered from being overstuffed with two many villains, etc… One of the lesser MCU entries.

14. 2006

The Movies: X-Men: The Last Stand, Superman Returns

Two pics that failed to meet expectations – The Last Stand suffered a big quality drop-off after the second X and Superman Returns (the first Supes flick in nearly 20 years) couldn’t live up to the hype.

13. 2015

The Movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four

Disappointing as it featured two of the weaker MCU entries and a seriously misguided Fantastic Four reboot.

12. 2013

The Movies: Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine

IM3 was an improvement over part 2, The Wolverine was an improvement over Origins. Man of Steel? A letdown in many respects, just like Superman Returns.

11. 2004

The Movies: Spider-Man 2, Catwoman

Would probably rank higher because Spidey 2 is arguably the best of the bunch, but loses points due to the catastrophe that is Halle Berry as Catwoman.

10. 2016

The Movies: Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad, X-Men: Apocalypse 

A mixed bag. Civil War is one of the finer MCU pics, Squad is that mixed bag, and Apocalypse was a major disappointment.

9. 2003

The Movies: X2: X-Men United, Hulk

X2 is perhaps the strongest X entry, but Ang Lee’s Hulk (while having its moments) was often a pretentious bore.

8. 2000

The Movie: X-Men

Only X-Men in this summer, but it deserves props for kicking off the genre in a major way once again.

7. 2002

The Movie: Spider-Man

Even more than X-Men, Sam Raimi’s first Spidey ensured a heaping of genre entries for years to come.

6. 2014

The Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Guardians was pure joy, Past was a solid X pic. Loses points for the mess of a Spidey sequel.

5. 2005

The Movies: Batman Begins, Fantastic Four

OK, so Fantastic Four was not so good. Yet this is in my top 5 because Batman Begins not only kicked off the heralded Nolan trilogy, but it’s my personal fave superhero pic of the century.

4. 2011

The Movies: Thor, Captain America: First Avenger, X-Men: First Class

Though not of these flicks are great, they’re all solid in my view. Thor and Captain helped usher in the MCU era as we know it and First Class rebooted its franchise in a pleasing way.

3. 2012

The Movies: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man

Avengers is the granddaddy of MCU, Rises ended up the trilogy in a mostly satisfactory manner while Spidey was a slight letdown (though miles better than its sequel). As referenced earlier, these 3 pictures would mark the highest 3 earners of that season.

2. 2017

The Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming

Three highly entertaining and well-done entries that marked the first super-heroine success.

1. 2008

The Movies: The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy II: The Golden Army

The Dark Knight is considered by many to be the genre’s artistic peak and Iron Man was a fine start to a franchise that just keeps charging along. Incredible was a more satisfying (though still flawed) Hulk pic than five years earlier and Guillermo del Toro brought his visual splendor and humor once again to the Hellboy series. A rather easy pick for #1.

Or is it? What are your thoughts on the superhero summers?

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

XMen: Apocalypse isn’t the only disappointing entry in the franchise, but it’s the only one directed by Bryan Singer that I’d classify as such. He directed the first two X entries in 2000 and 2002 and got the series off to a satisfying start. Singer would return in 2014 with Days of Future Past to mostly pleasing results. Apocalypse may have you feeling blue about where this series is at. The villain is shrug worthy, some of the actors seem to not be giving it their all, and some of the CG effects are questionable at best. It also makes the error of providing dull backstory material for characters we didn’t really need to know backstory for.

When Singer left the franchise for the first time in 2002, Brett Ratner took over with The Last Stand in 2006 and was crucified for his efforts. In fact, when Singer returned in 2014, much of Future Past erased Last Stand. Maybe Apocalypse is a bit of revenge for Ratner, because it’s worse than his X-perience. Quite a bit worse actually. Stand doesn’t quite deserve its bad reputation and Apocalypse does.

The whole proceedings get off to a shaky start with a prologue set in Egypt where the first believed mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, in heavy and ugly makeup) is entombed by his enemies. Flash to centuries later and it’s 1983. When Apocalypse breaks out of his long slumber, he is hell bent on exacting revenge on the human race and showing off his many mutant abilities. He doesn’t comment on the awful 80s fashion, but it probably doesn’t make him any more fond of the people he seeks to destroy.

Fighting Apocalypse are many familiar X-Men, including Professor X (James McAvoy, still with hair for awhile) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Meanwhile, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is laying low in Poland working in factory with lots of metal (oh the temptations!). He has a wife and daughter and a tragic family scene between them is actually rather well handled. While this trio of movie stars playing the most liked X characters get their screen time, Simon Kinberg’s screenplay also spends an unnecessary amount of ink on backstories for Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Storm (younger versions of them all). These are unsought subplots that feel like filler and not much else. We also get a young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) storyline that should be more interesting than it is.

All in all, there’s simply nothing very exciting about Apocalypse. Lawrence seems downright bored and her performance reflects that. Oscar Isaac is a tremendously talented performer who’s utterly wasted in a one-note villain role. The 60s vibe worked in X-Men: First Class and the 70s era feel of Future Past was pretty cool. Here, the 80s references add little.

There’s a sequence early on when Jean and friends leave Return of the Jedi disappointed and says everyone knows that the third one in a series is always the worst. Was screenwriter Simon Kinberg trying to warn us? Apocalypse isn’t terrible, but it’s the low point of this series so far.

** (out of four)

Logan Box Office Prediction

After nearly 17 years playing the most popular cinematic character in the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine for reportedly the final time in Logan, out next weekend. This is the third stand-alone feature focused on Jackman’s character following 2009’s XMen Origins: Wolverine and 2013’s The Wolverine. Like the 2013 entry, it’s directed by James Mangold. Patrick Stewart appears here as Professor X and other supporting players include Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant.

One thing is for certain: Logan is receiving easily the best reviews of the trio and it currently sits at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a considerable upgrade of the 38% of Origins and 69% of The Wolverine. On the flip side, the franchise as a whole suffered a minor setback when last summer’s XMen: Apocalypse was the second lowest grosser of the six X pics, with only XMen: First Class earning less.

Let us take a further trip down stand-alone lane, shall we? Origins made $85 million for its start in summer ’09 with an overall $179M haul. Four years later, The Wolverine managed a $53 million opening weekend with $132M overall.

So where does Logan land? The solid reviews should help (something Apocalypse didn’t have). So should the report that it’s Jackman’s swan song. It should land higher than The Wolverine, but not achieve what Origins accomplished (it was the first X flick to open after franchise highest grosser The Last Stand).

I suspect mid to high 60s is the result.

Logan opening weekend prediction: $68.6 million

For my The Shack prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/24/the-shack-box-office-prediction/

For my Before I Fall prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/25/before-i-fall-box-office-prediction/

Box Office Predictions: June 17-19

Disney/Pixar looks to have their biggest debut ever while Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart team up for an action comedy as Finding Dory and Central Intelligence premiere this weekend. You can find my detailed prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/08/finding-dory-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/08/central-intelligence-box-office-prediction/

My estimates do have that animated fish pulling off Pixar’s largest opening weekend haul with Intelligence performing similarly to Hart’s two last pics, Ride Along 2 and Get Hard.

As for holdovers, I look for current champ The Conjuring 2 to lose about half its audience. Another sequel, Now You See Me 2, should experience a better sophomore hold than Warcraft.

And with that, my top five predictions for the weekend:

  1. Finding Dory

Predicted Gross: $117.3 million

2. Central Intelligence

Predicted Gross: $34.1 million

3. The Conjuring 2

Predicted Gross: $20.3 million (representing a drop of 49%)

4. Now You See Me 2

Predicted Gross: $12.5 million (representing a drop of 44%)

5. Warcraft

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million (representing a drop of 63%)

Box Office Results (June 10-12)

Horror fans turned out for The Conjuring 2 as it debuted on top with $40.4 million, just below my $42.6 million estimate and just under the $41.5 million that the original made in its first weekend in 2013.

The video game based Warcraft managed a pretty minor debut with $24.1 million – though it did barely outdo my $23.3M projection. Mostly scathing reviews and poor word of mouth didn’t help for the mega-budget production, but it is doing well overseas.

Another sequel to a 2013 hit, Now You See Me 2, came in third with $22.3 million. I went just over with a $24.1M forecast. This doesn’t match the $29 million that the first made.

Last weekend’s #1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows slipped to fourth with $14.3 million, on target with my $14.4M prediction for an underwhelming two week tally of $60M.

X-Men: Apocalypse was fifth with $9.9 million (I said $10.4M) for a $136M total and Me Before You was sixth with $9 million (I said $10M) for a gross of $36M.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Top 25 Highest Grossing Actresses of All Time (10-6)

We have now reached Top Ten of the Top 25 Highest Grossing Actresses in box office history.

And now, numbers 10-6 before we reach our finale tomorrow…

10. Jennifer Lawrence

Career Earnings: $2.3 billion

Franchises: The Hunger Games, X-Men

Highest Grossing Picture: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – $424 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 9 (The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle)

Lowest Grosser: Garden Party (2008) – $10,000

Overall Rank: 57

9. Anne Hathaway

Career Earnings: $2.3 billion

Franchises: The Princess Diaries, Rio, Alice in Wonderland

Highest Grossing Picture: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $448 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 10 (The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, Get Smart, Valentine’s Day, Alice in Wonderland, Rio, The Dark Knight Rises, Les Miserables, Rio 2, Interstellar)

Lowest Grosser: Song One (2015) – $32,000

Overall Rank: 52

8. Sandra Bullock

Career Earnings: $2.4 billion

Franchises: Speed, Miss Congeniality

Highest Grossing Picture: Minions (2015) – $336 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 8 (Minions, Gravity, The Blind Side, The Proposal, The Heat, Speed, A Time to Kill, Miss Congeniality)

Lowest Grosser: Who Shot Patakango? (1992) – $2,000

Overall Rank: 47

7. Emma Watson

Career Earnings: $2.6 billion

Franchises: Harry Potter

Highest Grossing Picture: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – $381 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 10 (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, This is the End, Noah)

Lowest Grosser: Colonia (2016) – $15,000

Overall Rank: 32

6. Elizabeth Banks

Career Earnings: $2.7 billion

Franchises: Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect

Highest Grossing Picture: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – $424 million

Number of $100M+ Earners: 8 (The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, The LEGO Movie, Pitch Perfect 2, Seabiscuit, The 40 Yr. Old Virgin

Lowest Grosser: Ordinary Sinner (2003) – $4,000

Top 5 manana!

 

Sequelitis: A 2016 Story

Over Memorial Day weekend this year, Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass opened to an abysmal $33 million over the holiday weekend, immediately making it one of the biggest bombs of 2016. How poor was that opening? It’s the sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, which made $116 million in its first weekend (which was a three-day frame, not a four-day one). Looking Glass will be lucky to make $80M in its entire domestic run, nearly $40M under what Wonderland earned in its premiere weekend. Ouch.

Is there an easy explanation? Did Disney take too long with the six year hiatus between franchise entries? Perhaps. Did the negative tabloid publicity surrounding star Johnny Depp hurt? Maybe.

Yet another explanation is likely part of the equation. In 2016, moviegoers have seemed to catch a case of “sequelitis” and their symptoms have been affecting box office grosses for a number of pictures already this year.

Over that same Memorial Day weekend, X-Men: Apocalypse ruled the charts with a $79 million debut. That would seem impressive, except X-Men: Days of Future Past made $110 million over the same weekend just two years earlier.

This story has repeated itself repeatedly in recent months. Ride Along 2 was expected to build on its predecessor’s opening weekend. The 2014 original cruised to a $41M opening. The sequel: $35M. When all was said and done, the first Ride made $44M more than its follow-up.

Other comedies have suffered the same fate. 2001’s Zoolander actually only made $45 million in its initial run, but became a major cult hit in subsequent years. It’s long gestating sequel would surely earn more. It didn’t. Just $28M.

2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding became the unexpected smash of that year with $241M stateside. Part 2? $59 million (to be fair, this was on the higher end of many expectations, but still just 25% of what the first Wedding did).

2014’s Neighbors? $150 million. Last month’s Neighbors: Sorority Rising? It should top out at around $60M.

Barbershop: The Next Cut will make $55 million, under the $75M and $65M of its predecessors (though still not bad).

The action crowd has showed their ambivalence. London Has Fallen earned a just OK $62 million compared to Olympus Has Fallen‘s $98M.

2014’s Divergent made $150 million. 2015’s Insurgent: $130 million. This year’s Allegiant: a troubling $66 million.

Then there’s The Huntsman Winter’s War, which may not even reach $50 million. It’s the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, which made $155 million.

Just this weekend, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows took in $35 million in its debut, which is a shell of the $65 million that the first made two summers ago.

Faith based audiences propelled God’s Not Dead to a heavenly $60 million gross in 2014. Part 2? $20 million.

Kung Fu Panda 3 performed decently with $143 million, but couldn’t match part 1’s $215M or part 2’s $165M.

Seeing a trend here, folks?

There have been rare exceptions in 2016 so far. 10 Cloverfield Lane managed $72 million. Even though that’s below the $80M of Cloverfield, it’s still a solid gross and a profitable venture for its studio.

And Captain America: Civil War was widely expected to outdo the respective $176M and $259M earnings of the first two entries. This was due to it basically being The Avengers 3. It did and will top $400M domestically.

Coming this weekend: two more sequels will try to avoid the 2016 trend and both actually have a decent chance of succeeding. The Conjuring 2 is receiving positive reviews and its studio is hoping the goodwill left over from the 2013 original will propel it to similar grosses (I’m predicting it’ll make $42 million for its start, slightly above the first).

Now You See Me 2 is hoping to match the $29 million made by the 2013 original for its beginning. I’m predicting $24M.

If both of these titles come in below expectations, that may truly show that crowds are just plain sick and tired of seeing roman numerals and numbers behind titles. Looking over the remainder of the 2016 calendar, there’s a heap of sequels that could also struggle to match what came before them. They include:

The Purge: Election Year. Bridget Jones’s Baby. Underworld: Blood Wars. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Ouija 2. Bad Santa 2.

Even this month’s Independence Day: Resurgence is an iffy proposition to capitalize on the nostalgia factor from the 1996 original. It appears unlikely to match the $306M earned 20 years ago by the first one.

Next month’s Star Trek Beyond could have trouble matching the $228M made by part 2 in 2013.

Inferno, the third Tom Hanks thriller based on Dan Brown’s novels, is a question mark to match the $133M that Angels & Demons made in 2011 and certainly won’t approach The Da Vinci Code‘s $217M a decade ago.

When it comes to 2016 sequels, it might not all be bad news. Finding Dory (out June 17) shouldn’t have much trouble topping the $70M that Nemo made in 2003 (though whether it reaches its eventual gross of $380M is a mystery).

And July’s Jason Bourne should benefit from having Matt Damon return to the franchise after nine years away. It should manage to outpace the $113M made by Jeremy Renner’s The Bourne Legacy in 2012. However, could it approach the $227M earned by Damon’s last one, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum? Probably not.

Perhaps these disappointing results for so many sequels will cause studios to give us more original programming, but don’t hold your breath. Next year is already packed with follow-ups and some of them already look like they could be in trouble.

For instance, it’s probably safe to assume Disney is sweating over the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean flick, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Same goes for Lionsgate with their final Divergent pic, Ascendant.

Some of the 2017 sequels that may not have much to worry about: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Fast 8. And, of course, Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Yet given the recent trends, who knows? No one thought Alice or Huntsman or Allegiant would do that poorly and it’s contributed to a bad… and maybe badly needed downturn for sequels in 2016.