2019 Spring Season Preview Wrap-Up: February

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.

February 1, 2019

Miss Bala

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. I’m tempted to compare the film to Proud Mary, which released a couple of weeks earlier last year with the same general feel. However, this film feels more in the vein of Liam Neeson revenge flicks and the Hispanic community tends to rally behind films that have good word of mouth.”
Box Office Results: $15 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] The early-year positioning didn’t likely help this film, nor did the anemic advertising.

February 8, 2019

Cold Pursuit

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $85 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. And speaking of Liam Neeson, his latest revenge actionery comes out a week later and has the same potential of his other films like the Taken series and Non-Stop.”
Box Office Results: $32.1 M
Thoughts: [Flop] The box office renaissance of Liam Neeson seems to have come to a blistering end. After several high profile failures in recent years, this ship-shod performance suggests that not everything he touches can be golden.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. When the original debuted five years ago, it cleaned up the precursors and was on its way to certain victory at the Oscars. That is until the Academy’s animation branch collectively voted not to nominate the film. It was the biggest scandal of the year and may have led to the eventual changes made to the voting process, hoping to get more popular films nominated. That said, anything that uses technology that’s been used for various direct-to-video and TV animation tends not to impress the Academy’s animation voters, so it could still face an uphill battle. If it’s good, would the Academy do it again?”
Oscar Results: Still Uncertain. While not as well received as the first film, the second still received positive marks from critics. That box office weakness, however, will probably hurt the film in the long run.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. The original film took in an unexpected $257 million at the box office. While the sequel isn’t likely to strike twice, it will still do incredibly well at the box office.”
Box Office Results: $105.8 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] Barely eking past $100 million when the predecessor made $257 in its initial run provides a glimpse into the collapse of the isntant sequel. It was once thought that follow-ups to blockbusters had a chance of bringing in additional millions. While $105 million is nothing to sneeze at, it’s a significant drop from the prior film’s high.

The Prodigy

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $45 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. There haven’t been a lot of horror films released in the last year that have been exceptionally successful at the box office. This film trades on supernatural elements, which could help bolster its bottom line.”
Box Office Results: $14.9 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] When supernatural horror films are dropped into the middle of February, there isn’t a lot of hope for their success. Yet, they can still do well in these frames. The Prodigy, which didn’t seem as supernatural in previews as the target audience would have liked, proved that not every horror film can draw even a modicum of support.

What Men Want

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $70 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Taraji P. Henson hasn’t done very well as a solo draw at the box office, but this film is a bit different than her last few tries and if Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish can turn Night School into a $77 million hit, Henson can make this film a success. A funny trailer helps.”
Box Office Results: $54.6 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] While not the superlative success the studios would have hoped, this comedy’s $54 million box office tally doesn’t make it a hit, but it’s adequate enough.

February 15, 2019

Alita: Battle Angel

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $50 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. If the live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell with Scarlett Johansson in the lead cannot win at the box office, this film with a cast of mostly no name actors isn’t going to do much better. Anime just hasn’t caught on enough in the U.S. to make a film like this a huge hit even if only one the characters has an anime vibe.”
Box Office Results: $85.7 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] In spite of its origins, this film should have been a much bigger hit than it was. While it’s certainly a step above the likes of Aeon Flux, this sub-$100 million tally has to be a disappointment considering how much money was likely funneled into effects.

Happy Death Day 2U

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still None.
Box Office Prospects: $60 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The original film was a surprise $55 million hit two years ago. Can lightning strike twice? The change in release windows might hurt the film a bit, but there’s not a lot of strong competition to give it a huge challenge.”
Box Office Results: $28.1 M
Thoughts: [Flop] A surprise performance doesn’t always mean a sequel can shine as brightly as its predecessor. This film is a superb example of a film that did quite well in its initial run and built a following after and then managed nothing significant in its second outing.

Isn’t It Romantic

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Any major original musical should be considered for at least some consideration in the Best Original Song category. If the songs aren’t any good, though, all bets are off.”
Oscar Results: Still Uncertain. The film was a flop, so its chances are weak, but an Original Song nomination is still not entirely out of the question.
Box Office Prospects: $65 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Rebel Wilson hasn’t proven herself a box office draw. While a part of the ensemble of the Pitch Perfect films, Anna Kendrick was the star and probably better contributed to those films’ success than Wilson. However, the first trailer for this promises a fascinating concept that could draw in fans of the Pitch Perfect series to the theater and then some.”
Box Office Results: $48.8 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] The studio probably hoped that this romantic musical comedy would perform better, but without true box office draws attached, it’s no surprise that the film couldn’t manage to top $50 million at the boxx ofice.

Birds of Passage (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. There’s some stiff competition this year and this film just hasn’t built enough momentum to break through to a nomination. That said, the Academy’s voters in this category have gone strange directions before, so it’s possible.”
Oscar Results: Not nominated. In the end, it couldn’t overcome the other more mainstream contenders.
Box Office Prospects: $1 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. This finalist for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is going to need broad support from critics to succeed. If it gets the nomination, it could do well. Otherwise, might be forgotten. The prior film by this director, Embrace the Serpent pulled in $1.3 million three years ago, but that film got the nomination.”
Box Office Results: $0.507 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] Without the customary box office boost an Oscar nomination yields, this film managed to pull in a piddling sub-$100,000 tally.

February 22, 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Few sequels or prequels have ever been nominated for Best Animated Feature. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was one of them. That means the third film will have a solid chance. However, the group does not care much for sequels, so look to Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet and whether each are nominated for a clue to whether the new rules hurt or favor good sequels.”
Oscar Results: Still Good. While there haven’t been a lot of animated films release this year, this remains one fo the better reviewed, so it still has a strong chance of a nomination
Box Office Prospects: $150 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. The original film made $217 million. The second film dropped, but still did a solid $177 million. The third, and purportedly final film, will likely play well like the others, but I don’t think it will surpass either of its predecessors.”
Box Office Results: $160.8 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] The biggest success of the month, the $160 million success was a weak one. The first film made over $217 million and spawned a successful animated series and a sequel. That sequel pulled in $40 million less. This third and final outing managed to slide only $17 million, which is still a success, though for a series that held such promise and in comparison to everything rival Pixar has put out, the total is not as high as it should have been.

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