Firestarter Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (05/12): Revising my prediction down to $6.5 million

Based on Stephen King’s 1980 novel and a reworking of the 1984 film adaptation starring a young Drew Barrymore, Firestarter hopes to heat up multiplexes on Friday the 13th. Ryan Kiera Armstrong fills Barrymore’s original role as a pyrokinetic kid with Zac Efron, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, and Gloria Reuben among the cast. Keith Thomas directs.

Coming from the Blumhouse label which has produced plenty of horror hits, this will be released simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock, which is still finding its way in the streaming universe. The first Firestarter 38 years ago was not a hot property at the box office as it grossed $17 million. It’s also fair to say that it isn’t considered a genre classic like other King penned cinematic properties.

Horror pics are dangerous to underestimate, but my hunch is that Firestarter may not reach $13 million. The worst case scenario could be a start in the high double digits, but I’ll say it gets a bit beyond that.

Firestarter opening weekend prediction: $6.5 million

For my Downton Abbey: A New Era prediction, click here:

Downton Abbey: A New Era Box Office Prediction

The Friends Zone: A Movie History

Friends: The Reunion premieres today on HBO Max and millions of the show’s fans can rejoice in seeing the six main characters from the NBC sitcom together on the couch once again. Running from 1994 to 2004, the show was an instant smash that continues to gain new followers through streaming services.

I was a viewer going back to the mid 90s. Due to Friends becoming so gigantic at the outset, Hollywood studios quickly tried make the main cast immediate movie stars. This resulted in varying degrees of success.

So in honor of the reunion, let’s take a look back in movie history at this iconic sextet and I’ll rank each actor from 1-6 on their cinematic output!

Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 1

Before her casting as Rachel, Aniston’s only significant big screen credit was as a lead in the cult slasher Leprechaun. Yet her filmography during and after Friends easily puts her atop these rankings. She garnered critical raves in the indie dramas The Good Girl and Cake, was the love interest in the now beloved Office Space, and has plenty of comedic hits like Bruce Almighty, Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers, and Murder Mystery. 

Courteney Cox (Monica Geller)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 3

Cox is really the only Friendster with notable movie appearances before the show. Just a few months before the Friends premiere, she starred alongside Jim Carrey in the surprise hit Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Years before that, she acted alongside He-Man and Skeletor in Masters of the Universe. During Friends, she appeared in the horror blockbuster Scream and she’s about to turn up early next year in its fourth sequel. The rest of her filmography is pretty scant, but she’s the only one with a well established franchise.

Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 2

Many might call 1997’s cult favorite Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion her finest contribution to the silver screen. Kudrow has also appeared in several supporting roles over the years from The Opposite of Sex to Analyze This and its sequel to Easy A to Booksmart. There’s certainly been some clunkers (Hanging Up and Lucky Numbers), but the voluminous output is enough to rank Kudrow in second.

 

Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 6

He found further TV success post Friends (though it took some time after the ill-fated spin-off Joey). LeBlanc’s big screen career never really launched. The 1996 starring vehicle Ed paired him with a primate and was a critical and commercial disaster. To put it another way, the monkey business with Marcel on the TV show was far more profitable. Two years later, his participation in the Lost in Space pic was met with shrugs.

Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 4

Perry ranks first among the boys as he had solid performers alongside Bruce Willis in The Whole Nine Yards and Zac Efron in 17 Again. There were, on the other hand, some duds like his pairing with Chris Farley in Almost Heroes and in the Yards sequel. He’s about to appear in his most high profile entry in years with Don’t Look Up from Adam McKay which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence.

David Schwimmer (Ross Geller)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 5

The Pallbearer found Schwimmer in a rom com with Gwyneth Paltrow in 1996. It wasn’t quite the loud flop that Ed was, but it certainly came and went with little fanfare. His filmography is rather low-key with supporting appearances in Six Days, Seven Nights and Apt Pupil. His greatest successes can be found in voiceover work as Melman in the Madagascar franchise and on the small screen in the heralded limited series The People v. O.J. Simpson.

And there’s your trip down Friends memory lane, folks! For the real thing, watch the team reunion on HBO Max.

The Beach Bum Box Office Prediction

Director Harmony Korine brings his drug fueled comedic sensibilities to the screen next weekend with the release of The Beach Bum. The Kids and Spring Breakers maker’s latest casts Matthew McConaughey as a stoner poet named Moondog. The supporting cast includes Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill, Zac Efron, and Martin Lawrence.

There’s a niche market for Korine’s product and more solid reviews may have assisted. However, when Bum debuted at the South by Southwest Festival, it did so to mixed reaction. It currently has a 55% Rotten Tomatoes score.

It was only recently announced that this is being rolled out in wide fashion on Friday. A screen count could change my estimate, but as of now I’ll say it’ll be lucky to reach $2 million.

The Beach Bum opening weekend prediction: $1.6 million

For my Dumbo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/03/20/dumbo-box-office-prediction/

For my Unplanned prediction, click here:

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

For my Hotel Mumbai prediction, click here:

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

Oscar Watch: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

An eagerly anticipated premiere at the Sundance Film Festival occurred yesterday with the screening of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. Set for release on Netflix this year, the true life crime thriller casts Zac Efron as notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. Joe Berlinger, who’s known primarily for documentaries (his sole fictional work is the maligned horror sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2) directs. The filmmaker also made an extensive documentary about Bundy that’s up on the aforementioned streaming service this weekend. Costars in Vile include Lily Collins, Kaya Scodelario, Jeffrey Donovan, Jim Parsons, and John Malkovich.

Early reviews are mixed and its Rotten Tomatoes score is presently at 67%. Yet critics seem to agree on one thing and that’s the terrific work of Efron in the lead. Some suggest it could be a career changing performance. I know that the concept of Efron nabbing an Oscar seems far-fetched. Yet if Netflix can put together a solid campaign and depending on how competition plays out in 2019, you never know. The company did prove in 2018 that they’re now a factor with the Academy (see multiple nominations for Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist begins with filmmakers J.J. Abrams and Kevin Smith and actors Adam Scott, Danny McBride, and Kristen Bell extolling the strange virtues of The Room. That terrible movie became one of the most unlikely cult hits of the 21st century. The rest of the picture details its strange maker Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and the process to bring it to a midnight theater showing near you.

Just as The Room was Wiseau’s warped vision all his own, this is clearly a passion project for Franco. I suspect many of the other well-known actors who turn up in parts large and small are devotees of the unintentionally hilarious 2003 film that Franco is recounting. Like Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, this is a good movie about a bad director. Not as good, but it’s an entertaining watch that doesn’t probe too far into its subject’s real story. Truth be told, maybe we don’t really wanna know.

Tommy Wiseau wouldn’t want it any other way. We first meet him in San Francisco circa 1998 as he pours his heart into Marlon Brando’s monologue from A Streetcar Named Desire at an acting class. His rendering is quite awful, but it’s his devil-may-care attitude and blind commitment that gets the attention of Greg (Dave Franco). He’s a fellow student who’s more reserved. Tommy is too, but in a much different way. His age is a mystery and he’s not about to tell it. A European accent (where in that continent… who knows?) counters his contention that he hails from New Orleans. Most interestingly, Tommy seems to have a limitless supply of money and no one knows why.

His new pal Greg manages to ignore those puzzling personal aspects and they road trip it to L.A. to move in together and pursue their dreams. Although he seems to have some prospects, Greg can’t catch a break. Tommy’s overall bizarre vibe is an immediate red X to casting agents. The only solution is to finance his own feature.

And The Room is birthed throughout a long shooting process with a director who has no clue what he’s really doing. We see Wiseau torment his cast and crew because he read somewhere that’s how Alfred Hitchcock did it. Those who know The Room will revel in revisiting Wiseau (who casts himself as the romantic lead) and his humorously questionable line readings. There’s his screenplay that inexplicably brings up cancer subplots that go nowhere and sex scenes that would be deemed too horrible for 2am Cinemax play.

Franco, who also serves behind the camera, is obviously enamored with getting his portrayal of Tommy’s mannerisms and his journey to make this project as accurate as possible. Even if you’re not familiar with Wiseau’s cinematic opus, one YouTube viewing of an interview with him and you’ll know Franco nails it. The star/director, in addition to casting his brother, finds roles for Dave’s real life wife Alison Brie and his frequent costar Seth Rogen as a perpetually bemused script supervisor. Yet just as the real Tommy made his personal relationships and the shooting experience all about him, so is the case with The Disaster Artist.

That devotion from Franco is enough to make this a worthwhile experience. If you’re looking for any insight into what really made Tommy who he is, you won’t find it here. The ultimate irony is that Wiseau did end up succeeding in a town where that’s nearly an impossible feat. He didn’t know that the earnest drama he thought he was making would result in Rocky Horror Picture Show style late night screening madness. What kind of man could achieve this? We may never know, but it’s a fun question for Franco and others to ponder.

*** (out of four)

The Greatest Showman Movie Review

Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman doesn’t burden itself with much historical accuracy or being a full-fledged look at its title subject. Its pleasures are of the surface level variety. At one point, a stuffy critic begrudgingly tells P.T. Barnum that his show has succeeded in bringing joy to people. So does this musical in many moments.

Hugh Jackman is Barnum, an endless promoter who grew up poor and never forgot how he was treated by New York’s elite. He marries his childhood sweetheart Charity (Michelle Williams), who came up with wreath and privilege. After some career misfortune in the 19th century era Big Apple, Barnum develops his greatest idea: a stage experience featuring society’s freaks. This includes a bearded lady (Keala Settle) with a beautifully booming voice and a dwarf (Sam Humphrey) who dresses as a general. He teams up with playwright Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron), who also hails from the aristocracy but feels more at home among these outcasts. Phillip also finds love of the forbidden kind with the show’s trapeze artist (Zendaya).

While Barnum finally finds the financial success he’s longed for, it doesn’t buy him respect and that’s a consistent through line in the screenplay. Both the wealthy class and hecklers who lurk around the theater believe the freak show atmosphere is a disgrace. Barnum tries to combat this by touring with famed European opera star Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). Both his family and circus employees feel the neglect.

The brisk 105 minute running time features 11 song and dance numbers that move the plot along, often in montage fashion. Even a cursory Wiki read of Barnum’s grand life reveals that Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon’s script aren’t making a biopic. Like the man it’s about, this picture is style over substance. The message of inclusion and acceptance is unmistakable and frequently touching. Most importantly, the musical numbers (from the team behind La La Land) produce plentiful happy feels.

With his theater background, Jackman is more than well suited to play the man in the top hat. He’s the focal point in many of the song and dance interludes. Yet it’s “Rewrite the Stars”, a gorgeously choreographed sequence with Efron and Zendaya, that proved most memorable for me.

A stuffy critic could gripe that a rewrite should have explored more of Barnum’s real existence. However, the joyous vibe while I was watching is enough to justify admission here.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: The Greatest Showman

20th Century Fox waited until the last minute to lift their review embargo off The Greatest Showman, which is out in theaters today. That’s usually not a great sign and that’s been mostly proven. The musical drama featuring Hugh Jackman as circus leader P.T. Barnum is garnering mixed notices and it stands at only 43% on Rotten Tomatoes.

For the last several months, Showman hasn’t been considered much of a factor in the Oscar mix. The reaction out this morning solidifies that notion. Even though it was nominated for Golden Globes in Best Musical/Comedy and Actor for Jackman, I expect neither to be possible when it comes to the Academy. The same, by the way, can be said for Jackman’s more acclaimed work in Logan. 

Reviews have noted that Showman is more successful as an exercise in style than substance. For that, it could factor into some technical categories. Costume Design, Production Design, and Sound Mixing are all feasible nominations, but there’s a good chance that never materializes with any of them. The Globes did nominate “This is Me” for Song and Oscar could follow suit there.

Bottom line: The Greatest Showman will not play in the major categories, but down the line technical recognition is still on the table.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Greatest Showman Box Office Prediction

20th Century Fox is hoping moviegoers will be in tune with their offering The Greatest Showman over the long holiday when it opens next Wednesday. The musical period piece casts Hugh Jackman in the role of circus master P.T. Barnum with a supporting cast that includes Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. It marks the directorial debut of Michael Gracey.

Mr. Jackman has found Christmastime success in this genre before five years with Les Miserables. Expectations aren’t quite as high here, but the reported $84 million production will try to bring in an adult female audience that could be slightly under served. Showman received three Golden Globe nods just yesterday for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), for Jackman in Best Actor, and for Original Song.

That said, there is some direct competition in the form of Pitch Perfect 3, which arrives two days later and Downsizing, which is also looking to attract an older crowd. I’ll say Showman manages a mid to possibly high teens gross for the four-day weekend that includes Christmas and low to possibly mid 20s for its six-day take.

The Greatest Showman opening weekend prediction: $16.1 million (Friday to Monday), $22.4 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/11/jumanji-welcome-to-the-jungle-box-office-prediction/

For my Pitch Perfect 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/pitch-perfect-3-box-office-prediction/

For my Downsizing prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/13/downsizing-box-office-prediction/

For my Father Figures prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/14/father-figures-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Disaster Artist

Back in March, The Disaster Artist premiered at the South by Southwest festival and it will soon screen at the Toronto Film Festival. The pic comes from James Franco, who directs, produces, and stars. Disaster is the story of the making of The Room, a low budget 2003 experience that is considered among the worst movies of all time. Mr. Franco plays its director and lead actor Tommy Wiseau. The supporting cast includes Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, and Jacki Weaver.

Very positive reviews followed its Southwest bow and it currently stands at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have indicated this is Franco’s finest performance since 2010’s 127 Hours, in which he received an Oscar nomination. Could he do so here? I would venture to say that a Franco nod for Best Actor is probably the picture’s best chance at recognition. While Disaster has been compared to 1994’s Tim Burton pic Ed Wood (high praise), it’s worth noting that Wood wasn’t nominated for Best Picture.

The Disaster Artist opens wide in December and my Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Baywatch Box Office Prediction

Will audiences be ready for Baywatch when it debuts over Memorial Day weekend?

The action/comedy is, of course, a reboot of the 90s TV show that ruled the syndication waves and improbably became one of the biggest programs across the world. This version of Baywatch has more intentional humor and it’s R rated. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron headline with Alexandra Daddario and Priyanka Chopra costarring. Seth Gordon, director of Horrible Bosses and Identity Thief, is behind the camera. And, yes, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson are said to cameo.

Last month, Paramount moved the release date from Friday to Thursday so my estimate here is for its five-day haul over the holiday frame. Besides the brand familiarity, Baywatch‘s biggest asset is Johnson, who’s had a stellar track record as of late (he’s also been garnering publicity for apparent political aspirations in the future).

The studio is clearly going for a Jump Street vibe here. This would be fortunate to make the $57 million accomplished by 22 Jump Street in its first five days. I don’t think it will get there. Some moviegoers may be inclined to check out Jack Sparrow and the buzz here feels less substantial than for the Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill series.

I’ll predict Baywatch hits high 30s to low 40s for a second place showing behind Pirates.

Baywatch opening weekend prediction: $39.4 million (Thursday to Monday prediction)

For my Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/05/18/pirates-of-the-caribbean-dead-men-tell-no-tales-box-office-prediction/