Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Predator - Movie Review

Starring Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Keegan Michael-Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski and Augusto Aguilera.
Written by Shane Black & Fred Dekker.
Directed by Shane Black.


None of the Predator movies have been high art, but the original 1987 classic with Arnold has enjoyed good will over the decades. Predator 2 was okay, but people rarely talk about it. The Alien v. Predator movies are wisely ignored by the Alien and Predator franchises, and Predators (starring Adrien Brody) wasn't bad, even though it did feel like the script was the winner of a fan-fic contest.

The Predator is about on par with Predators. I was entertained. It's fine. It has some unique kills; it has some Shane Black dialogue. Some members of the cast are better than others. When you have Jake Busey show up as a scientist, you know how unseriously it's taking itself. The ending is bad, in the way most "keep things open for sequels!" endings are.

But for me, the weak parts were the giant leaps in expositional logic. Humans keep figuring out what the plot is without enough evidence to support their theories. "This must be his motivation!" Wait, based on what exactly?

Boyd Holbrook (Logan, Narcos) is good as the lead. He's a soldier who winds up getting lumped in with some other crazy ex-soldiers called the Loonies. I appreciated how none of them started dying until late in the movie so we could get to know them, and each of them are interesting. (Moonlight's Travente Rhodes shows he was no fluke. Keegan-Michael Key can credibly fire a gun. Augusto Aguilera's going to start getting offered "younger Michael Pena" roles. Etc.)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Predator #1, Simple Favor #3 at box office

For the weekend of September 14-16, 2018, The Predator was #1, but it came in much lower than it was tracking. It had to have been hurt by bad reviews, plus no real star to hook audiences with.

Of the other new releases, A Simple Favor did well, considering. Marketing had the unenviable task of publicizing a movie that combines comedic elements with a mystery thriller, and it also needs to not give any of the significant twists away. White Boy Rick, meanwhile, continues to show that Matthew McConaughey's star power is pretty diminished.

The Nun had a big drop-off but that was to be expected. It'll easily hit $100 million next week and still has potential to be the highest grosser in the Conjuring universe.

September 21
THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS with Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.
LIFE ITSELF with Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas.
FAHRENHEIT 11/9 with Michael Moore.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Meg - Movie Review

Starring Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Jamie McNamee, Robert Taylor, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Sophia Cai and Masi Oka.
Written by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub.


This is a movie about a giant prehistoric shark. When the movie focuses on the giant prehistoric shark, the dumb popcorn fun happens. When it tries to focus on "character development," it falls flat. And at a two-hour running time, there's too airtime that does not contain the giant prehistoric shark.

It's based on a series of books, so I would assume that means there's somewhat intelligent source material to draw from. Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) takes a hammy script and makes it worse by dwelling too long on reactions after alleged laugh lines, choppy pacing, and very lopsided acting. Some of the acting is so bad, I was begging for this character or that to get killed off as soon as possible so I wouldn't have to hear their painful line-reads anymore.

But this movie's budget didn't hit $130 million because of some all-star cast. It's about the effects, and the Megalodon is a really cool creation. It's ominous in the dark waters, its giant mouth can bite through a whale, and there's some genuine excitement/suspense when it approaches.

Overall, I don't mind having seen it on $5 Tuesday. I would see a sequel, because I assume they'd try to learn from what doesn't work here. Is it the next Jaws? Nope. Is it the next Jaws 2? Close.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

BlacKkKlansman - Movie Review

Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Ryan Eggold, Michael Buscemi, Corey Hawkins, Ken Garito, Jasper Paakkonen, Paul Walter Hauser, Harry Belafonte, Robert John Burke and Alec Baldwin.
Written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee.
Directed by Spike Lee.


Along comes Spike Lee with his most vibrant film since Inside Man. He's taken a true story, gave it some sizzle, and it results in one of his funniest movies to date, while also still able to deliver a knock-out punch at the end.

Denzel's son John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, a rookie cop in 1970's Colorado who just wants to make a difference. He gets himself into undercover work, at first to follow the radical Stokely Carmichael (Corey Hawkins), see if he's riling up black folks too much. But if he's going to check on black radicals, why not check on white radicals? He puts in a call to the local KKK chapter, and he's instantly in.

Since Stallworth has to eventually meet them in person, he enlists his partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to play him. On the phone, it's Washington. In person, it's Driver.

Lee isn't subtle about drawing parallels between white supremacists then and now. About every 20 minutes, David Duke (Topher Grace) or one of the other Klansman says a line that could have been lifted from a Donald Trump rally. And yet it's earned by the way the movie ends.

Washington gives a solid performance with his first real leading role. Grace is terrificly slimy as Duke. He can be the nicest guy until race comes up, and he maintains that same pleasant veneer while saying the most vile things. The stand-out for me is Driver. He's so natural in the role, and when I look at his work in Silence, Logan Lucky, and The Last Jedi, I'm convinced he can do whatever's asked of him. He'll eventually win an Oscar.

(P.S. Lee does take some liberties with the true story. That didn't subtract from my enjoyment, but I'm glad I didn't read about them until I'd seen the movie first.)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians #1 for second week

For the weekend of August 24-26, 2018, Crazy Rich Asians was the big winner for a second week in a row. Based on a best-selling book, the movie is the first major US motion picture to feature a predominantly Asian cast, and even if Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh aren't box-office gold, it demonstrated that it pays off for Hollywood to take more risks on diverse stories.

The Happytown Murders had bad reviews and looked DOA from its first trailer. Maybe it's a testament to Melissa McCarthy it didn't open in single digits.

A.X.L. opened as poorly as predicted. On fewer screens, the Papillon remake starring Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek, failed to get many people in seats. In limited release, Searching, starring Star Trek's John Cho as a dad trying to find his missing daughter, did really well and should make it in the top five when it expands next week.

In its second week, Mile 22, the fourth collaboration of Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, looks like it will be their least successful yet. It's also their most poorly reviewed. The other second week release, Alpha, had terrible marketing, but excellent reviews. It'll be interesting to see how big or small its third week drop-off is.

Christopher Robin may have opened below Disney's expectations, but it's having long legs. It helps that there aren't any other major family movies opening until The House with a Clock in Its Walls on September 21. BlacKkKlansman is also doing well in keeping audiences coming.

Sometime next week, Incredibles 2 will pass $600 million domestic.

Ant-Man & the Wasp is on pace to out-gross Solo: A Star Wars Story. Solo has yet to hit $400 million worldwide.

Opens August 31
OPERATION FINALE with Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley and Melanie Laurent.
KIN with Myler Truitt, James Franco, Jack Reynor, Dennis Quaid and Zoe Kravitz.
THE LITTLE STRANGER with Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling.

Monday, July 23, 2018

'Equalizer 2' edges 'Mamma Mia 2' for #1 at box office

For the weekend of July 20-22, 2018, The Equalizer 2 edged Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again, giving Denzel Washington a big summer win. Reviews aren't great, but he hasn't had a summer movie gross more than $75 million domestic since Crimson Tide over a quarter-century ago, and it looks like this movie will pull it off.

MM2 has to be happy with its performance as well. Nowhere near the opening of the original, but when a sequel comes ten years later, it's always a wildcard how accepting audiences will be of it.

Unfriended: Dark Web hardly had any marketing, but with only $1 million budget, it'll still ultimately have been worth it for BH Tilt to make.

Among the holdovers, Hotel Transylvania 3 has well justified the studio making a fourth one. Heck, Incredibles 2 has well justified making a third one; we'll see if they actually do it, but it's now their highest domestic grosser ever, and it should pass Toy Story 3 soon to be its highest worldwide grosser ever as well. Pixar has Toy Story 4 coming next year, and an as-yet-untitled movie for 2020 that takes place in a suburban world populated not by humans, but by elves, trolls and sprites. There's also rumors that we may get a third Monsters Inc movie, or sequels to Ratatouille, Brave or A Bug's Life.

Opens July 27
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT with Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson and Henry Cavill.
TEEN TITANS GO! with the voices of Greg Cipes, Will Arnett and Kristen Bell.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Full List of Emmys Nominations for 2017-2018

Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Drama Series

The Crown
Game of Thrones
The Handmaid’s Tale
Stranger Things
The Americans
This Is Us

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Bill Hader, Barry
William H. Macy, Shameless

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Allison Janney, Mom
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Ed Harris, Westworld
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Claire Foy, The Crown
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Keri Russell, The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso
Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
Jeff Daniels, The Looming Tower
John Legend, Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesse Plemons, Black Mirror: USS Callister

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Jessica Biel, The Sinner
Laura Dern, The Tale
Michelle Dockery, Godless
Edie Falco, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Regina King, Seven Seconds
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Cult

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid's Tale
David Harbour, Stranger Things
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Matt Smith, The Crown

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid's Tale
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid's Tale
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Vanessa Kirby, The Crown
Thandie Newton, Westworld
Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid's Tale

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Louie Anderson, Baskets
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live
Henry Winkler, Barry

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Zazie Beetz, Atlanta
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Jeff Daniels, Godless
Brandon Victor Dixon, Jesus Christ Superstar
John Leguizamo, Waco
Ricky Martin, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Michael Stuhlbarg, The Looming Tower
Finn Wittrock, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Sara Bareilles, Jesus Christ Superstar
Penelope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Judith Light, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Adina Porter, American Horror Story: Cult
Merritt Wever, Godless
Letitia Wright, Black Museum (Black Mirror)

Reality/Competition Series

The Amazing Race
American Ninja Warrior
Project Runway
RuPaul's Drag Race
Top Chef
The Voice

Variety Sketch Series

At Home with Amy Sedaris
Drunk History
I Love You, America
Saturday Night Live
Tracey Ullman’s Show

Variety Talk Series

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
The Late Late Show with James Corden
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Limited Series

The Alienist
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Genius: Picasso
Patrick Melrose

Television Movie

Fahrenheit 451
The Tale
USS Callister (Black Mirror)

Documentary or Nonfiction Special

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond — Featuring A Very Special, Contractually
Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling

Documentary or Nonfiction Series

American Masters
Blue Planet II
The Defiant Ones
The Fourth Estate
Wild Wild Country

Variety Special (Live)

The 75th Annual Golden Globes
60th Annual Grammy Awards
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
Night of Too Many Stars
The Oscars

Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)

Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special
Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2018
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American Puerto Rico (It’s Complicated)
Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life

Informational Series or Special

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman
StarTalk With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Guest Actor in a Drama Series

F. Murray Abraham, Homeland
Cameron Britton, Mindhunter
Matthew Goode, The Crown
Ron Cephas-Jones, This Is Us
Gerald McRainey, This Is Us
Jimmi Simpson, Westworld

Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Viola Davis, Scandal
Kelly Jenrette, The Handmaid's Tale
Cherry Jones, The Handmaid's Tale
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid's Tale

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Sterling K. Brown, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Bryan Cranston, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Will Ferrell, Saturday Night Live
Donald Glover, Saturday Night Live
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Katt Williams, Atlanta

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Tiffany Haddish, Saturday Night Live
Jane Lynch, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Maya Rudolph, The Good Place
Molly Shannon, Will & Grace
Wanda Sykes, Black-ish

Monday, June 11, 2018

RBG - Movie Review

Directed by Julie Cohen & Betsy West.

Documentaries have always been a fascinating art form. They're usually agenda-driven, but it's most important they have an interesting story to tell. RBG is a loving tribute to liberals' favorite Supreme Court Justice. (At one point I thought "We will never get a loving Alito doc.")

What's nice about this, and about the Supreme Court in general, is that they're the only branch of government not prone to toot their own horns. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is by nature a shy introvert. She would never run for public office, but in a way, we'd be better off as a country if more people with her temperment were in public office. She knows the law and can do the work and doesn't need to be on TV.

We get to see how she grew up, and how the cases she would tackle would make history. We understand how she and Antonin Scalia could be genuinely good friends. May everyone live a life so you could have a movie like this made about you.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Solo is #1 for 2nd week

For the weekend of June 1-3, Solo: A Star Wars Story was #1, but it took a steep drop in week 2 without any major competition. It's also been rolling out more slowly to international markets so it might not be that profitable after all.

Of the new releases, none of them made much of a splash. Adrift might break even. Upgrade deserves to find a bigger audience. Action Point fell on its face.

Book Club has had legs since it opened. It will probably finish in the top 20 for summer domestic gross.

Black Panther just needs another $870,000 to cross the $700 million mark domestically, but seeing as how it's aleady out on DVD, I don't think it's going to get there.

Avengers: Infinity War will cross the $2 billion mark for its worldwide gross later this week.

Opens June 8
OCEAN'S 8 with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and Mindy Kaling.
HOTEL ARTEMIS with Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Jeff Goldblum and Sofia Boutella.
HEREDITARY with Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne and Ann Dowd.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Deadpool 2 - Movie Review

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, TJ Miller, Lesley Uggams, Karan Soni, Brianna Hildegard, Terry Crews, Bill Skarsgard, Rob Delaney, Eddie Marsan and Stefan Kapicic.
Written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds.
Directed by David Leitch.


Deadpool, the anti-hero that can't die, is back, and he's as zippy and self-referential as ever. This movie recaptures the magic of the first one and moves along nicely to new characters, particularly Cable (Josh Brolin, having the best summer ever), an assassin from the future hear to kill a young mutant that Deadpool was trying to help.

There are fun cameos, funny side-jokes, and really, the plot doesn't matter that much. Even when Wade Wilson is having a tearful moment, he has to mention this is for the Academy voters. This movie feels like everyone had a blast making it, and their enjoyment is infectious.

Bring on X-Force and/or Deadpool 3!

Deadpool 2 is #1

For the weekend of May 18-20, 2018, Deadpool 2 finally ousted Avengers: Infinity War from the #1 spot. The $125 million opening is actually a little lower than what the original opened to; nevertheless it's a big hit and it should cross $300 million domestic once it's all said and done.

Book Club opened to be decent counter-programming.

Show Dogs bombed; it always felt like a straight-to-DVD sequel to something that somehow got a theatrical release.

In limited release, Paul Schrader's First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke as a conflicted priest, had a $25,068 per-screen average. A re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey had a $50,000 per-screen average.

Avengers: Infinity War is now at $1.8 billion worldwide.

Rampage is in the black; it's grossed over $400 million worldwide.

Opens May 25
SOLO with Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Avengers #1 for 2nd week

For the weekend of May 4-6, 2018, Avengers: Infinity War snapped its fingers and demolished the competition, as expected. It's already grossed $1.2 billion worldwide.

Overboard did surprisingly well with its per-screen average. The gender-flipped comedy is already more successful than the 1987 Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell original.

Despite being a reunion of the writer and director of Juno, Tully couldn't find an audience. The marketing was never really clear what it was about, besides that it's hard to be a mom. Bad Samaritan flopped.

In limited release, RBG did well. The documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg had a per-screen average of over $17,000.

Opens May 11
LIFE OF THE PARTY with Melissa McCarthy and Gillian Jacobs.
BREAKING IN with Gabrielle Union and Billy Burke.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War - Movie Review

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Tom Hiddleston, Karen Gillan, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Benecio Del Toro, Danai Gurira, Idris Elba, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Letitia Wright, William Hurt, Carrie Coon, Ross Marquand and Winston Duke.
Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.
Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo.


This 2-hour 38-minute epic showdown is what all 18 previous movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been leading up to, and this movie is leading to the next Avengers movie opening in May 2019. This movie ends on a cliffhanger. It is definitely part 1. And it needs every minute it takes to get there.

I like how this just assumes you're up to speed and you've seen most of the Marvel movies leading up to this one. The action starts immediately, with Thanos (Josh Brolin) attacking Asgard looking for one of the infinity stones. The infinity stones have been around in previous movies. We know the tesseract that Loki used is one. That the stone in Vision's forehead is another. Dr. Strange's amulet is another. There are six total, and with Thanos's gauntlet, he will have ultimate power over the universe if he's able to attach the six stones to it.

There are so many superheroes in this movie that they use one line to explain why Hawkeye and Ant-Man aren't here (but they'll surely be in the next one). We get to see characters meet and interact in fun, unexpected ways, like the arrogant Tony Stark and the equally arrogant Dr. Strange. Chris Hemsworth gets to continue showing his comic chops he displayed in Thor Ragnarok by bouncing off the Guardians of the Galaxy. And so on.

This movie is really about Thanos, who's lurked in the shadows but takes center stage here. He wants ultimate power because he believes his cause is ultimately for the greater good.

I've seen a lot of references to people crying at certain deaths in this movie. I didn't. It's pretty obvious that many of the characters who die in the final battle are going to be brought back to life in the next one. And I for one am excited to see Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and (after-credits spoiler hero) team up with the survivors in the next one to take on Thanos.

Summer Box Office Preview

Summer usually doesn't start until May, but Marvel threw us a loop. Those who listen to Jedi & Jerms know I had my list written up before Avengers opened, but here's my write-up.

1. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR - $720 million - Every Marvel movie made has lead up to this point, and this movie is leading up to next year's Avengers movie, and so forth. The record opening was easy to predict.

2. INCREDIBLES 2 - $410 million - Pixar's had a couple stumbles lately (Cars 3, The Good Dinosaur), but Coco soared, and this movie should do Finding Dory type numbers.

3. SOLO - $380 million - This "smaller" side adventure looks like it's finally come together.I don't feel like this has the buzz of Rogue One, but it'll still make a ton of money.

4. JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM - $350 million - The marketing campaign has reminded me of Terminator: Genisys, where the initial trailers don't really spark excitement, so they cut another trailer that makes it look like a completely different story. I just get the feeling the reviews are going to be mixed and it'll fall quickly after a massive opening.

5. DEADPOOL 2 - $300 million - It's opening in a great spot, and I see it outgrossing its predecessor.

6. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT - $210 million - Tom Cruise's track record may be hit and miss lately, but the Mission Impossible franchise is rock-solid reliable. Looking forward to seeing him and Superman fight.

7. ANT-MAN & THE WASP - $190 million - Ant-Man may have sat out the latest Avengers movie, but things are getting darker over there. Here he gets to keep his light touch going, and it'll be another grossing example of how Marvel can do no wrong.

8. OCEAN'S 8 - $144 million - All-star female cast. Breezy ad campaign. Sequel without really being a sequel. It has all the markings of a summer hit, and hey, three Oscar-winning actresses letting their hair down.

9. HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 - $125 million - This franchise is fine. Not great, not bad. I don't see why this won't be successful.

10. MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN - $118 million - I have zero interest in this, but I'm not the target audience. I could be wrong, and this could be a Rock of Ages level dud, but I think it's more likely to be a hit.

11. SKYSCRAPER - $110 million - Dwayne Johnson takes a break from pre-established IP and stars in a semi-original movie that looks like a cross between Die Hard in the Towering Inferno.

12. THE EQUALIZER 2 - $108 million - Denzel Washington movies tend to come out in the fall, but I see this doing just a smidge better than the original thanks to its release date.

13. CHRISTOPHER ROBIN - $100 million - Haven't seen much of this yet, but I have a sneaking suspision Disney's going to be able to pull this off, with Ewan McGregor as an adult Christopher Robin who suddenly starts seeing his old friend Winnie-the-Pooh in real life.

14. THE FIRST PURGE - $90 million - This has been a pretty reliable franchise, and while the third one effectively wrapped it up, this goes back to the beginning to show where it all began. Plus it has Marisa Tomei.

15. UNCLE DREW - $72 million - I think tracking for this will rise as it gets closer, as the NBA Finals heat up. Reliable comic actors like Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and LilRel Howery (Get Out) mix together with NBA greats in old-age makeup (Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, etc.)

16. TEEN TITANS GO TO THE MOVIES - $70 million - Hey, I didn't think the Emoji Movie would be successful either, but it was.

17. LIFE OF THE PARTY - $63 million - Melissa McCarthy's own version of Back to School looks all right.

18. THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME - $60 million - Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon look like a decent comedic pair, and something has to make money in August.

19. THE MEG - $58 million - This giant shark movie has the weekend to itself, so why not?

20. HEREDITARY - $55 million - I've heard this is a genuinely frightening movie, so it'll need that word-of-mouth to crack the top 20.

Wild Cards:
(Between $30-50 million)

Action Point - Johnny Knoxville's slapstick humor might get some people out, but after seeing the preview more than once, I feel like I've seen the whole movie.

Adrift - Those waves look amazing, but otherwise I don't think this'll break out.

The Darkest Minds - Looks like a YA X-Men rip-off, but if it hits the right emotional notes...

The Happytown Murders - Haven't seen a trailer yet, but the thought of a murder mystery in a world where humans and muppets interact is intriguing.

Hotel Artemis - It looks like a blast, like a John Wick spin-off, but I don't trust the studio releasing it. I'm rooting for it to be good.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado - The marketing's been going on forever, but the first one, while really good, wasn't exactly a box office smash. And Emily Blunt's not here this time around.

Slender Man - You never know what horror movie will take off, but this has a decent chance.

Tag - Looks like one of those comedies that opens in the mid-teens, grosses around $45 million.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Rampage is #1, Quiet Place #2

For the weekend of April 13-15, 2018, Dwayne Johnson has another #1 movie on his resume. Rampage blasted through the competition to a $34 million opening. However, with a $120 million production, it's going to need superior overseas performance to break even.

The poorly reviewed Truth or Dare benefited from those frightening face contortions in the marketing campaign to manage being profitable immediately. It wasn't enough to best the horror movie A Quiet Place, which only dropped 35% in its second week, a very good sign for a movie that opened to over $50 million the week before.

The other new release - Beirut - came out of nowhere and didn't do much better than 7 Days in Entebbe, which also starred Rosamund Pike.

Isle of Dogs added a few more screens, and it's on the way to passing The Fantastic Mr. Fox as Wes Anderson's most successful animated movie. He's made two. In fact, here's how specific Wes Anderson films are. His highest-grossing movie was The Grand Budapest Hotel, at $59 million domestic.

Opens April 20
I FEEL PRETTY with Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams and Emily Ratajkowski.
SUPER TROOPERS 2 with Jay Chandrasekhar, Rob Lowe and Kevin Heffernan.
TRAFFIK with Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Roselyn Sanchez and Laz Alonso.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ready Player One is #1

For the weekend of March 29-April 1, 2018, Ready Player One took the #1 spot, earning over $50 million (as it really opened on Thursday). It's Steven Spielberg's highest opening in ten years (partially in thanks to him doing mostly prestige fare like Lincoln and The Post lately.)

Tyler Perry has another mid-budget success with Acrimony, about a woman who gets revenge on her cheating husband. Meanwhile the third film in the God's Not Dead series should be its last. In the faith-based corner of cinema, I Can Only Imagine is vacuuming up all the ticket-buyers.

Tomb Raider's slipping quickly, and while it will probably break even thanks to overseas success, I wouldn't hold my breath for a sequel.

Opens April 6
A QUIET PLACE with Emily Blunt and John Krasinski.
BLOCKERS with John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz.
CHAPPAQUIDDICK with Jason Clarke, Kate Mara and Bruce Dern.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising is #1, Black Panther #2

For the weekend of March 23-25, 2018, Pacific Rim: Uprising pulled off what movies the past five weeks have not been able to do: keep Black Panther out of the #1 spot. Even without the original's director (Guillermo Del Toro) and stars (Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam), the monsters vs. robots sequel blasted into the #1 spot. Now relative to its budget, that'd be the sign of a bomb, but this movie was greenit with the assumption 80% of its gross would come from overseas. It'll be huge in China.

Audiences weren't thrilled with the other new offerings. Sherlock Gnomes will make more money than Early Man, and Unsane was a low-budget indie disguised as a wide release, but Midnight Sun bombed, and Paul Apostle of Christ couldn't keep enough of the faith-based audience away from week 2 of I Can Only Imagine.

Tomb Raider's steep drop in week 2 showed that a new franchise is not born.

Peter Rabbit passed the $100 million domestic mark. Who saw that coming?

Black Panther is now 5th on all-time domestic grosses list, and it's on pace that it should be able to jump Titanic to 3rd by the time it's done. (Panther is currently 12th all-time for worldwide grosses.)

Opens March 30
READY PLAYER ONE with Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn and Mark Rylance.
TYLER PERRY'S ACRIMONY with Taraji P. Henson, Jazmyn Simon and Lyriq Bent.
GOD'S NOT DEAD 3 with John Corbett, Ted McGinley, Tatum O'Neal and David AR White.
FINDING YOUR FEET with Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie.

The Strangers: Prey at Night - Movie Review

Starring Bailee Madison, Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson and Lewis Pullman.
Written by Bryan Bertino, Ben Ketai.
Directed by Johannes Roberts.


The first one was a methodically paced home invasion thriller. The three killers slowly circled in, and they had the ability to be at the right place at the right time. This time around, the pacing stops and starts, and the killers apparently have the gift of teleportation.

Mom, Dad, Son, and Daughter pull into a trailer park at night that an aunt and uncle run. There's 15 minutes or so of backstory, where Daughter's about to be sent away to boarding school and is furious with her family. But the Strangers make their presence known fairly quickly and from that, it's a lot of running around in the dark in a trailer park that must exist in some mind-bending section of the universe where it keeps circling back on itself.

It has some perverse flavor (the Man in the Mask listens to Air Supply when he kills), but it uses all the usual slasher-flick tropes without much creativity. The beginning is early Wes Craven nastiness, but by the end, it's more of the later Friday the 13th self-awareness.