2019 Blockbuster Season Preview Wrap-Up: May

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.

May 3, 2019

The Intruder

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $45 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. These kind of house-stalking movies have been known to be modestly popular, but not popular enough to be box office sensations.”
Box Office Results: $35.4 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] The film came into the box office competition already an underdog thanks to its terrible reviews, but even that couldn’t have stopped a dedicated audience from watching. There just wasn’t one.

Long Shot

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $70 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. It’s always hard to tell if a comedy is going to go over big or fade into obscurity. This one has all the potential of being a major success, but the advertising has seemingly been anemic.”
Box Office Results: $30.3 M
Thoughts: [Flop] This comedy was supposed to be a major box office player, but even strong reviews couldn’t save this semi-political laugher.

Uglydolls

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Weak. There are only a handful of studios who can earn Best Animated Feature nominations on nearly every picture. That also means there’s very little room for films that aren’t from those studios. This film probably has little shot, but if critics and audiences rally around it, it could.”
Oscar Results: Now None. The film was not a box office hit and it was destroyed by critics, two factors that will utterly doom its Oscar chances (if it had any to begin with).
Box Office Prospects: $55 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Sometimes animated films outperform expectations. Other times, they flop badly. Unless it’s Pixar, Disney, or Illumination, there is no guarantee of success. This one boasts a famous cast, but it’s a musical that has barely been advertised as such. That could mean it ends up a flop since no one will know for sure they want to see it based on the current advertising.”
Box Office Results: $20.2 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] Animated films are supposed to be box office hits, but the awful reviews were indicative of how audiences weren’t going to be enthralled either. Worse, the film was a musical, but the trailer never really suggested that, denying it the kind of demos Sing and Trolls managed.

May 10, 2019

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $45 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. It’s now been a decade since Pokemon: The First Movie pulled in $85 million at the box office. Since then, every other attempt has fizzled at the box office. This is also the first live-action version, which could help, as could the voice work by Ryan Reynolds.”
Box Office Results: $144.1 M
Thoughts: [Success] The vaunted Pokemon video game series produces another solid box office performer. While prior efforts have been lackluster, this one exceeded expectations.

The Hustle

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $80 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. This movie has Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, which could spell box office success. Yet, the film has gotten too little advertising it seems, suggesting the film isn’t likely to be a big box office performer. Maybe the studios know something we don’t.”
Box Office Results: $35.4 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] When you hire this cast for a female version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, you expect to make box office gold, not a piddling amount that probably doesn’t cover their salaries.

Poms

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $55 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Comedies about the elderly trying to recapture their youth have been hit or miss over the years, but mostly miss. This film starring Diane Keaton doesn’t have nearly as much going for it as it should.”
Box Office Results: $13.6 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Geriatric comedies haven’t been very successful in recent years and this one succinctly pointed out why: they have to be good.

May 17, 2019

A Dog’s Journey

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $55 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. This sequel to the $64 million success A Dog’s Purpose is coming out two years later in a more prime spot. With minimal competition, it could turn into a huge success, but returning to the same well for a film like this rarely results in improvement on prior figures.”
Box Office Results: $22.5 M
Thoughts: [Flop] The series has come to a premature end with the second film a disastrous flop.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. The first film was a minor production scoring a scant $43 million at the box office. However, it developed such a following that the sequel three years later pulled in $92 million. The third film in the series, barely two years after its prior entry, is sure to outperform the previous film as this character seems to have resonated with audiences in ways that were not expected back in 2014.”
Box Office Results: $171 M
Thoughts: [Major Success] The John Wick series seems to be continuing full steam ahead. The middling numbers the first film did have turned into a powerhouse performer at the box office with future films likely thanks to this result.

The Sun Is Also a Star

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $25 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The Young Adult adaptation movement continues unabated even though box office hasn’t been good. The Fault in Our Stars made $124 and set expectations high for such endeavors, but that is the only non-fantasy, non-sci-fi, non-dystopian adaptation to make more than $51 million at the box office. All of the others since have made less, and in many cases far less. Five Feet Apart looks like it will stumble past that mark, but I would be shocked if this one made much of a dent with audiences.”
Box Office Results: $4.9 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] Even the teen romantic drama genre hasn’t had a flop this bad and that could signal the end of them all…for awhile anyway.

May 24, 2019

Aladdin

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Even if it’s not a box office success, the production design and costume design could be Oscar contenders, as could the visual effects. If there’s an original song, that could also contend. That said, I doubt the film can overcome The Lion King‘s likely bigger pull with the Oscars and Disney’s likely decision to focus on that film rather than its others.”
Oscar Results: Still Uncertain. While the film was a huge box office success, it was not well liked by critics and that can often dissuade Oscar voters. Then again, Production Design and Costume Design, the two categories it was most likely to compete in, have tended to ignore critical acclaim if the designs are good, which could boost the film’s chances.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. Disney’s live-action adaptations of their prior films have been largely behemoths. That doesn’t take into account Dumbo tally, which will barely pass $100 million. Aladdin is far more recent and is more likely to perform at Cinderella levels given audience anticipation. That said, Disney is releasing three of these this year, which suggests that at least two of them aren’t that good and they don’t have a lot of hope for standing on there own. With The Lion King getting the lion’s share of advertising, I suspect this one is a miss as well and I may be significantly overestimating.”
Box Office Results: $335.4 (still in limited release) M
Thoughts: [Major Success] Reviews weren’t good, yet this live-action remake of Aladdin managed to far out perform early-year Dumbo by quite a margin. It isn’t quite up to the $540 million of The Lion King, but it’s still quite the outcome, even if it’s well below the inflation-adjusted $472 million of the prior effort.

Booksmart

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $40 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The trailer is humorous, but the premise may not be a box office magnet. It has no star power involved, so it might be utterly lost in a weekend of fantasy.”
Box Office Results: $22.7 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] This smart comedy wasn’t going to be a big hit, but with the critical acclaim that followed it to the cineplex, it should have done far better than this. That said, the film might have done a lot better with a platform release to builld up buzz first.

BrightBurn

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $75 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The film has been advertising like mad, but the premise isn’t something that blockbusters are usually made from. Having said that, the premise could be the right kind of original to surprise us.”
Box Office Results: $17.3 M
Thoughts: [Flop] The advertising made this film look like something the studio really wanted to turn into a bona fide hit, but the reviews weren’t good and without them, audiences don’t actually tend to follow.

May 31, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. The film could make a play for the Best Visual Effects Oscar nomination or even nominations in Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, but there’s far too much competition this year and those categories have been drifting away from big budget spectacles in recent years, so there aren’t nearly as many spaces available for it to compete for.”
Oscar Results: Now None. Critics were not impressed and there are far too many other better regarded visual effects films in release and in competition, so Godzilla will be lucky to make the finalist list.
Box Office Prospects: $150 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. 1998’s Godzilla made $136 million. 2014’s took in $200. This year, five years later, we have another attempt at bringing the grand Japanese beast to the big screen. It doesn’t look like a sequel to 2014’s, so it might not have that built in audience. That said, it should still perform well because monster disaster movies are solid box office performers.”
Box Office Results: $110.5 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] While not performing as well as expected, topping $100 million is still something of an achievement, even if a minor one.

Ma

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $55 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. While it seems to want to go after the Get Out and A Quiet Place crowds, the film seems a bit more generic than those, sporting no major inventive twist. Still there aren’t many horror flicks during this period at the box office, so it could surprise.”
Box Office Results: $45.4 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] It didn’t quite play to expectations, but the advertising didn’t seem to do a very good job of selling the film, making this middling tally unexceptional.

Rocketman

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. The film will need good to great reviews to avoid being compared to Bohemian Rhapsody and then it will have to be remembered until the end of the year, both very big hurdles to clear. I could see it performing as well as the Queen biopic, but I could also see it being utterly ignored.”
Oscar Results: Still Uncertain. Although the film was well regarded by critics, it didn’t manage to turn the kind of profit Bohemian Rhapsody did, which could hurt the film, along with its fairly early release. That said, the creative categories like Costume Design and Makeup & Hairstyling along with Sound Mixing could all still be in play thanks to the film’s bounteous designs.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. There’s no guarantee that this Elton John biopic pulls in the same figures as Bohemian Rhapsody, but it could do well with the magnetic chemistry of Taron Egerton on board.”
Box Office Results: $96.4 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] Releasing in November, the similar Bohemian Rhapsody played to $216 million at the box office. In a more visible Summer berth, Rocketman should have done just as well, if not better. It didn’t even make the $100 million mark, which is certainly not a good sign, but it came close enough to be thought of as a minor success.

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