2021 Oscar Season Box Office Wrap-Up: November

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.

November 5, 2021

Eternals

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. The film will surely compete in Sound and Visual Effects categories if nowhere else.”
Oscar Results: Flop. In spite of making the shortlist for Best Visual Effects, the only category it had much of a shot in, it came up empty-handed.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. With the box office starting to rebound, Disney has done tremendously well getting audiences to the theater for films like Shang-Chi, so I expect this one should do fairly well.”
Box Office Results: $164.9 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] This result, while solid, is unimpressive in terms of Marvel releases.

Spencer (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Kristen Stewart is in some conversations to land her first Oscar nomination for this performance. We’ll see if Hollywood is ready to reward her after her days in Twilight.”
Oscar Results: Unexceptional. The film was poised to make a handful of nominations, but as the season progressed, its chances became less and less assured until even Kristen Stewart wasn’t sure to make it. She did, but the film was otherwise blanked.
Box Office Prospects: $1.5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. While Anglophiles might make this one a success, past experience with films like Jackie suggests it isn’t likely.”
Box Office Results: $7.1 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] For an indie release, this is a pretty solid total.

November 12, 2021

Clifford the Big Red Dog (on Nov. 10, 2021)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still none.
Box Office Prospects: $75 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. While family films used to be big box office draws, those days aren’t quite back yet. This could be a nice litmus test in a non-streaming simulcast world.”
Box Office Results: $48.9 M
Thoughts: [Flop] There was so little advertising in advance of this release, that it isn’t surprising the film laid an egg at the box office.

Belfast

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Excellent. Word out of the festival circuti is strong, so expect this one to be one of the year’s biggest competitors”
Oscar Results: Unexceptional. Going into Oscar season, there was every reason to believe it would dominate like no others. When the nominations were released, it got several, including key citations in Picture, Directing, and Original Screenplay and even managed an unexpected nomination for Judi Dench. In the end, the film cratered pretty fast thereafter and managed to take home only a single award for Branagh’s screenplay.
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. They are opening this a bit wider than they should, but it could still succeed. That said, I would expect only film enthusiasts will be interested in it.”
Box Office Results: $9.2 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] You would expect an audience-pleaser like this one to do much better at the box office than it ultimately did.

November 19, 2021

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Weak. Best Visual Effects or Sound could be possible, but history doesn’t quite favor the film’s chances.”
Oscar Results: Flop. It was on the Visual Effects shortlist, but couoldn’t make it through to the finals.
Box Office Prospects: $200 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Excellent. The winter of blockbusters has a lot to offer and this should be another big seller.”
Box Office Results: $128.9 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] This second attempt to reboot the franchise made barely $500,000 more at the box office than its all-female predecessor. While that might seem impressive, this is five years later and adjusting for inflation, it severely underperformed. Heck, the Paul Feig film even managed to outplay this one at the international box office by more than $30 million.

King Richard

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Early word is solid, though whether the film can manage more than Will Smith’s Best Actor nomination remains to be seen. We’ll have to see how it performs outside the festival circuit first.”
Oscar Results: Success. The film was well poised to earn several Oscar nominations and it came up with almost exactly the nominations everyone predicted with its film editing being the most surprising “get.” It ultimately went home with a single award, which was tainted by the behavior of its recipient, but that doesn’t change its success.
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. Will Smith used to be a big draw, but his last few films haven’t done so well on his name alone. This one could do much better than I expect because it’s about the rearing of legendary tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams who are incredibly popular sports figures.”
Box Office Results: $15.1 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] With Will Smith in the lead and it being about the rise to fame of the tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams, this film should have performed far better at the box office than it did. Pandemic malaise can’t even be blamed considering the performance of other films around it.

C’mon C’mon

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. There’s a pedigree here that might help with Oscar consideration, but there are also far too many other competitors. This one is likely to be ignored.”
Oscar Results: Flop. It was never assured Oscar nominations, but even in the eyes of its fans, it should have gotten some attention. The film managed to complete whiff with the Academy, getting nothing.
Box Office Prospects: $1.5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. There’s no evidence to support Mike Mills being able to open and sell a movie, so a low gross is expected.”
Box Office Results: $2 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] Without Oscar nominations, the film had little to buoy its box office bona fides and the end result is decent by indie standards, but otherwise unimpressive.

November 24, 2021

Encanto

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Excellent. This looks like a wonderful musical adventure and should do well with Oscar nominations.”
Oscar Results: Success. It wasn’t always certain that it would win, but it definitely got nominations. 3 of them, in fact. All it won was Best Animated Feature, but that’s just fine.
Box Office Prospects: $150 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. While we haven’t seen much of what Disney animation can do in a “post-“pandemic era, this could well be the test. Raya did poorly earlier this year, but the box office has since rebounded, so it’s possible this could be an improvement. Of course, Disney+ may have its worst affect on family films since families have to spend lots of money to go to the movies and the big screen just isn’t as big of a draw.”
Box Office Results: $96 M
Thoughts: [Flop] Because Disney is still playing heavily to its Disney-plus subscribers, their numbers will always be suspect, especially this exceptionally low result for one of their flagship films.

House of Gucci

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Ridley Scott hasn’t had much luck at the Oscars in recent years, but a lot about this film just seems to click, so I expect it to do well.”
Oscar Results: Flop. Ridley Scott had two films in competition this year and House of Gucci was far and away his best opportunity at recognition. As the season started, it seemed certain that Lady Gaga and possibly Jared Leto would be Oscar-nominated for their work and the film could be in play for more. However, several missteps and the film managed to eke out a single nomination for Makeup & Hairstyling, which it lost.
Box Office Prospects: $30 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. It’s a story with a lot of drama, but it’s a story some have seen or heard before and there might not be as much interest in such a flick.”
Box Office Results: $53.8 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] The studio had to think that such a salacious story with Lady Gaga’s star power thrown in would make a huge impact at the box office, but it didn’t.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: Still none.
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. The laws of diminishing returns suggest a weak run for this film, but the franchise has remained surprisingly consistent, so it’s possible it does middling business.”
Box Office Results: $16.9 M
Thoughts: [Flop] That this franchise still has films made is surprising. That this one performed dimly at the box office isn’t surprising.

The Humans

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. The film had a terrific pedigree from its Tony run, so its Oscar run could also be worth a few nominations.”
Oscar Results: Flop. Some thought this could be one of the major Oscar contenders, but it never really caught on, picking up the odd screenwriting nomination, but never emerging as a major contender and it ultimately faded into obscurity without a single nomination.
Box Office Prospects: $3 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. It’s a small indie drama based on a play. There’s a finite number of potential viewers for a film like that.”
Box Office Results: $N/A M
Thoughts: [Flop] Released, but no numbers reported at the domestic box office.

Licorice Pizza (on Nov. 26, 2021)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. Anderson is typically a solid Oscar performer, but it’s been awhile and this seems more like his minor works that Oscar generally ignored.”
Oscar Results: Success. Paul Thomas Anderson is hit-or-miss with the Oscars, but even at the bottom of his game, they still take notice of his film. This film ended up with some of his best reviews in years and was a major Oscar player. While the cast was ignored, the film pulled out a handful of nominations, including Best Picture and Directing. That’s enough to declare the film a success. It went home with nothing, though.
Box Office Prospects: $2.5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Paul Thomas Anderson isn’t a box office draw, so don’t expect much from his movie.”
Box Office Results: $17.2 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] A strong performance at the indie box office, though it could certainly have gone higher with better marketing.

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