2018 Oscar Season Preview Wrap-Up: September

Below is a wrap-up of the predictions I made several months ago, an exploration of what succeeded and what failed, and how I observe things to have gone.

September 7, 2018

The Nun

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $80 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Decent. While the Conjuring series has been fairly successful in making money, the prequels tend to perform more weakly, thus a fairly low expected tally for this film.”
Box Office Results: $117.5 M
Thoughts: [Success] This series cannot apparently do wrong. There’s not much special about it, but it continues to pay dividends.

Peppermint

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $45 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. It looks a lot like the Liam Neeson action films of late while having a faint Jodie Foster-in-The Brave One vibe. That combination suggests this film doesn’t have a lot of legs.”
Box Office Results: $35.4 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Poorly advertised and released in a terrible frame, the film had nowhere to go but down.

September 14, 2018

The Predator

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. None of the films featuring The Predator has been a box office hit, not even their outing with the far more popular villains of the Alien universe. Sure, this reboot could prove surprisingly popular. It could also easily be a flop.”
Box Office Results: $51 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] As with the Terminator series, sometimes trying to resurrect a rusty franchise from the ’80s doesn’t work out for anyone.

A Simple Favor

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. While the concept is somewht interesting, September’s typical box office weakness will usually mean a film like this fails to do incredibly well.”
Box Office Results: $53.5 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] Doing far better than expected, this small film pulled out a solid bottom line even if it didn’t get near 100.

Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $25 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Poor. The first film, directed by Angelina Jolie was a hit at the box office; however, Jolie and the rest of the cast have departed as Pure Flix takes over the series to explore the evangelical post-war life of the main character. That may appeal to a specific demographic, but that’s much narrower group of people than fans of the original.”
Box Office Results: $6.2 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] The first film had names attached and had a very loose affiliation with religion. This film went all-in on the religion and no one of import attached. It’s failure is not surprising.

White Boy Rick

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $30 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Matthew McConaughey isn’t exactly a box office draw and this film, while it might be a strong acting vehicle for him, is unlikely to have a broad appeal.”
Box Office Results: $24 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] Matthew McConaughey isn’t a box office draw and this poorly market and reviewed film had no chance.

The Children Act (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. There may a push for Emma Thompson for a Best Actress nomination, but I’m not so sure it’s much of a contender.”
Oscar Results: None. The film never got a good push and Emma Thompson was utterly ignored.
Box Office Prospects: $5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Unless Emma Thompson turns into a major Oscar player for this role, a fact that seems in dispute considering the film’s September release, it could be a much bigger success at the box office than I expect.”
Box Office Results: $0.548 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Originally, this even sounded like an Oscar contender, but a botched launch pretty much doomed the film at the box office.

September 21, 2018

Fahrenheit 11/9

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. While it would be a minor contender, it’s unlikely to make the cut.”
Oscar Results: None. The film was a box office disappointment and never even made the finalist list with the Academy. It got nothing from critics either.
Box Office Prospects: $25 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. The only documentary every to top $100 million at the box office was Michael Moore’s indictment of George W. Bush’s reasons for going to war in Iraq. Making just over $40 million more than the next most popular documentary, I doubt lightning will strike twice. This should perform about on par with Moore’s other popular, but far less visible documentaries like Bowling for Columbine and Sicko.”
Box Office Results: $6.4 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Striking lightning twice is difficult, striking it more than a couple of times is near impossible, even with a sequel to your most famous work.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Weak. It could be a Best Visual Effects contender, but there are far stronger contenders out there already.”
Oscar Results: None. In spite of an Art Directors Guild nomination for its production design, the film was otherwise ignored by the precursors.
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. There aren’t many options for families out there and this will be the first in a very long time. Add in Cate Blanchett and Jack Black, plus a popular children’s book, and you have a film that could be an even bigger hit than I expect.”
Box Office Results: $68.5 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] While it didn’t quite become the blockbuster the studio wanted, it was a solid performance by a minor Halloween-styled release that came out a month too early to be effectively boosted by it.

Life Itself

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Starring actors that aren’t exactly box office draws by themselves, this film looks like a fairly rote ensemble drama that doesn’t play incredibly well with modern audiences.”
Box Office Results: $4.1 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Had anyone heard much about this before it released? The marketing was terrible and the dismal box office performance is proof.

September 28, 2018

Hell Fest

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $40 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. A unique concept could pull horror fans to the theater when they have failed to turn up for most projects in the last few years.”
Box Office Results: $11.1 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Another too-early Halloween release had an interesting, if previously used premise, but should have been a bigger hit than this.

Little Women

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Without a huge star in the cast, this modern version of Little Women doesn’t have a lot of good prospects.”
Box Office Results: $1.4 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] The story of Little Women is a literary classic, but the myriad attempts to remake it, this one in a modern setting, just don’t have the same potential.

Night School

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $90 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. With Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish on board, this could be a fairly big comedy player. I’m underplaying its potential as Hart’s films have seldom been runaway successes.”
Box Office Results: $77.3 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] It might not have approached the stratospheric heights Kevin Hart has reached before, it performed quite well at the box office, especially for its budget.

Smallfoot

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Weak. There are few Best Animated Feature contenders this year, but this film doesn’t seem like the kind they would actively recognize.”
Oscar Results: None. Although the film managed to come from behind to win the battle between it and fellow release Night School in the longterm game, it finished below expectations and other than Detroit film critics and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, the film was ultimately ignored.
Box Office Prospects: $110 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. Because there have been so few animated films to appeal to younger audiences this year, each one has the potential for unwarranted success. This looks like one of those potential winners.”
Box Office Results: $83.2 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] A surprisingly good performance for a film that was poorly marketed. Had they positioned this as the musical that it apparently was, it might have done even better with audiences.

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