2019 Spring Season Preview Wrap-Up: April

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.

April 5, 2019

The Best of Enemies

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. It was briefly in the hunt for Oscar consideration last year, but got pushed into 2019. That fact, combined with the April release, suggests that the film isn’t much of a contender.”
Oscar Results: Now None. The film was a flop both with critics and at the box office.
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. This is just not the kind of movie that sells many tickets. I’d be surprised if it even makes it to the tally I predicted.”
Box Office Results: $10.2 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] When it was moved from its pre-Oscar berth to an April release, it was clear the studio didn’t have any faith in its Oscar chances and for a film like this, no Oscar chances means no box office chances and so it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Pet Semetary

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. While it won’t be the box office smash that It was, I suspect the renewed interest in Stephen King could bolster this film’s chances. The original film made $57 million in 1989. That translates to about $130 million today, suggesting the film could have a lot of interest.”
Box Office Results: $54.7 M
Thoughts: [Flop] With the succes of It, it seemed a foregone conclusion that all other Stephen King adaptations would be rousing successes. Enter Pet Semetary and its surprising failure to produce more than middling horror box office returns.

Shazam!

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Not Likely. The film might boast some strong visual effects, but there will be other, better superhero films this year that will compete for the Oscars.”
Oscar Results: Now None. The film wasn’t a huge success and the good reviews won’t bolster its chances with Oscar.
Box Office Prospects: $150 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The DCEU has done surprisingly well at the box office, but this film doesn’t seem to belong to that universe and the hero isn’t one that most fans of DC would cite as a major interest. That said, there aren’t a lot of superhero movies out right now and they seem to be almost immune from failure.”
Box Office Results: $140.4 M
Thoughts: [Success] It wasn’t bound to be the massive success most other superhero films are simply because the character isn’t as broadly known as Superman, Wonder Woman, et al. That it was also a comedy and targeted at younger audience may have hindered its box office. Still, the results had to be pleasing for a film that could have entirely bombed.

Peterloo (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Not Likely. This was another potential Oscar contender from 2018 that got booted into 2019. It is also releasing in April, which could harm its chances. That said, it stands a slightly better chance than Best of Enemies, simply because of the costumes and production design.”
Oscar Results: Now None. The film was a flop and barely a blip with critics and thus will be forgotten.
Box Office Prospects: $3.5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Mike Leigh’s films have rarely ever been box office draws, even on the indie circuit, so don’t expect much from him other than from his avid fans.”
Box Office Results: $0.152 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Another film that had been moved from the Oscar competention into the pre-Summer month of April and the results are even more disappointing than The Best of Enemies At least that film managed to pull in double digits. This one couldn’t even manage a tenth of a single digit.

Teen Spirit (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $2 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Poor. The film may boast one of my favorite young actresses, but no one goes to the movies to see her and this one doesn’t look like the kind of movie to become a breakout success.”
Box Office Results: $0.441 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] This decently reviewed indie drama about a teen pop star was never destined for wide release and with little hubbub about any future Oscar chances, the film managed mediocre expectations to deliver mediocre performance.

April 12, 2019

After

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $40 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Young adult love stories have been somewhat popular in recent years, but few have been outright successes. This one could over perforrm my estimations, but I doubt it.”
Box Office Results: $12.1 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Angsty teen romances are commonplace these days. That doesn’t seem to be a recipe for victory as the number of hits in the subgenre have been far fewer than the number of releases. This film suffered a particularly terrible fate even underperforming a lot of the weaker entries.

Hellboy

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Not Likely. The first film didn’t get any nominations, but the second was nominated for Best Makeup. That said, the Academy doesn’t like repeat performances very much and there’s little here that looks like it could cause them to make an about-face.”
Oscar Results: Not Likely. The film was a flop with critics, which might hinder its chances, but where it has its strength, in Best Makeup & Hairstyling, doesn’t care about that.
Box Office Prospects: $45 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The first film made $59 million in 2004 (or about $86 million today). The second film made $76 million in 2008 (or $95 million today). That puts this series in a solid position. The difference, though, is that this film doesn’t star Ron Perlman and wasn’t directed by Guillermo del Toro, two of the reasons those films were so successful. That said, I wouldn’t expect too much from this one.”
Box Office Results: $21.9 M
Thoughts: [Flop] The first two Guillermo Del Toro-directed films weren’t massive hits, but they performed respectably. This reboot under a new director was a pretty heavy flop.

Little

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $75 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. This comedy is sure to hit its target audience in the funny bone, as well as anyone else who sits down to it, so it will likely do quite well.”
Box Office Results: $40.7 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] The premise and composition of the film was enough to suggest it could be a surprising hit; however, the film’s box office performance helped showcase how dull April was at the box office, but ultimately it was the tepid critical response that kept the film from soaring.

Missing Link

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Excellent. Although the premise doesn’t look like something the Academy would stand up and cheer, there is no more prominent studio for the animation branch than Laika, which has never failed to have a film nominated for Best Animated Feature. Even its weakest entry, The Boxtrolls, managed it. While I’m not quite as certian about this one as some of the others, it’s still a pretty solid bet.”
Oscar Results: Uncertain. The film was a box office flop, but the Academy has shown a particular affinity for Laika’s output (they’ve never failed to earn a nomination); however, the film wasn’t as supported by critics as prior efforts, so it might struggle for a nomination.
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. None of the stop-motion animated films of Laika have made much more than the $50 million range, so I suspect this one will fall right in line with those.”
Box Office Results: $16.6 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Laika has never produced box office behemoths, its top performer being Coraline ten years ago. Still, this result has to be particularly galling as it’s less than half of what its weakest performer, the unfairly ignored Kubo and the Two Strings, made at the box office.

April 19, 2019

Breakthrough

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Christian-themed films just aren’t a box office draw. Those interested in these types of films usually wait until they are out on home video.”
Box Office Results: $40.7 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] Performing above my expectations, but not doing particularly well, this film may have benefited from the typical church-targeted marketing, though it still doesn’t approach the more popular films of the genre.

The Curse of La Llorona

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $70 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. While it won’t do The Conjuring-level business, it’s a supernatural horror film, which should allow it to perform well enough.”
Box Office Results: $54.7 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] In the realm of horror, supernatural titles often do best, but there seems to be a mid-50-million cap on all of them, meaning this film wasn’t the hit it needed to be.

Penguins

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Poor. DisneyNature documentaries seem to be fading in the amount of interest they generate. Their box office receipts have been steadily declining over the years. Of course, the last penguin-themed documentary that hit the cineplex made over $77 million (March of the Penguins). I doubt lightning strikes twice.”
Box Office Results: $7.7 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] In the realm of both DisneyNature documentaries and penguin-oriented films, this film’s box office performance is hugely disappointing. Just over half of the total of the former lowest performer on the DisneyNature slate (Born in China), the success of this types of films just isn’t what it used to be.

April 26, 2019

Avengers: Endgame

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Even if the film didn’t manage to win Best Visual Effects this year, it’s likely to be back at next year’s Oscars, though probably in equally few categories.”
Oscar Results: Good. It continues to be a major Oscar player and Best Visual Effects seems like its best category and may very well win.
Box Office Prospects: $750 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. Likely to pass Black Panther‘s franchise-topping $700 million, the final (for some of the characters at least) Avengers film is sure to be a box office powerhouse.”
Box Office Results: $858.4 M
Thoughts: [Major Success] It would have been a huge shock if this film hadn’t blown expectations out of the water. Far outpacing its predecessor (Avengers: Infinity War), Endgame brought to a conclusion so many important storylines that if it had gone even higher it wouldn’t have been surprising.

The White Crow (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $10 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Ralph Fiennes’ directorial effort looks at the defection of legendary ballet dancer Rudolph Nuryev. It might promise intrigue and danger, but it won’t do much at the box office.”
Box Office Results: $1.8 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] For an indie film, this movie performed surprisingly well, especially considering the fates of most other of these films in April. That said, 1.8 million is no great performance, but it’s solid enough to be a modest winner.

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