2022 Oscar Season Box Office Preview: December

Here we look at the upcoming month’s offerings.

December 2, 2022

Violent Night

Premise: From IMDb: “When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).”
Box Office Prospects: $45 M
Expectations: Poor. There isn’t a lot of good history for Christmas-set horror, most of the films go direct to video or to a streaming service that caters to such films. This one will be an interesting test of the genre.
Oscar Prospects: None.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Emancipation (Limited)

Premise: From IMDb: “A runaway slave forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape plantation owners that nearly killed him.”
Box Office Prospects: $5 M
Expectations: Weak. It’s unlikely that AppleTV+ will leave this one in theaters very long and considering the downward trend in Will Smith’s Q score, I doubt the film can make much bank in its likely short tenure in release.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. AppleTV+ is trying desperately to replicate its CODA success. The problem is they have a toxic cast member whose apology tour never commenced, is banned from the Oscars itself and likely any related events, so he can’t promote the film, which is for the best. Had Will Smith actually gone out and done some good in the community, it would have gone a long way towards repairing his self-damaged reputation, but he hasn’t and that’s going to hinder this film’s chances. I won’t say that the Academy would punish the film for his transgressions, but the new Birth of a Nation didn’t get anywhere, did it?
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Women Talking (Limited)

Premise: From IMDb: “In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Based on the novel by Miriam Toews.”
Box Office Prospects: $5 M
Expectations: Weak. For an indie, this could do decently well. However, the film is unlikely ever to go wide and while it might generate Oscar attention, that won’t be enough to make it a major hit.
Oscar Prospects: Good. The film earned strong reviews early in the season and with sucha strong female cast with an important subject matter, I can imagine it working very well with the Academy. While it might struggle for acting citations with such a large supporting cast, several categories are within reach.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

December 9, 2022

The Whale

Premise: From IMDb: “A reclusive English teacher attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter.”
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Expectations: Uncertain. This is an Oscar-capable film and it’s releasing wide? Not many titles like this can succeed and with the recent flop of Bros, clearly audiences aren’t willing to put down money on gay-oriented features.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. While star Brendan Fraser is almost certain a nomination, Darren Aronofsky’s latest film hasn’t gotten an otherwise strong reception, so that could be the film’s only citation.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Spoiler Alert (Expanding)

Premise: From IMDb: “The story of Michael Ausiello and Kit Cowan’s relationship that takes a tragic turn when Cowan is diagnosed with terminal cancer.”
Box Office Prospects: $10 M
Expectations: Weak. Going for the platform release, the studio is no doubt trying to do better than Bros did, but I can’t imagine that strategy succeeding with this particular film.
Oscar Prospects: None.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Empire of Light (Limited)

Premise: From IMDb: “A love story set in and around a beautiful old cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s.”
Box Office Prospects: $5 M
Expectations: Uncertain. It’s an Oscar-bait period film. I can’t imagine audiences wanting to give this one a go.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. This is one of the last films to be seen in Oscar season and the delay is either sign of trouble or a poorly calculated attempt to elicit late viewings. Unfortunately, the film is coming out after a slew of other titles are getting to inboxes and that could put it behind without strohng support from critics. It has the pedigree of a film that could do great with the Academy, but it’s still a major question mark.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

December 16, 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water

Premise: From IMDb: “Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet.”
Box Office Prospects: $400 M
Expectations: Uncertain. It’s been 15 years. Is anyone really excited about taking a trip back to Pandora? Cameron’s films are spectacle and that could help it do well, but it will have to be a major spectacle with lots of repeat business to even come close to its predecessor’s near-$800 million tally.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. Another of the last-to-be-screened features, there’s no doubt that James Cameron wants this to be both a box office success and replicate his prior film’s Oscar performance as well. The problem is that it is coming far too long after the last film that most people probably won’t remember it well enough to have the fond memories needed to score it more than below-the-line attention at the Oscars.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

December 23, 2022

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (on 12.21.2022)

Premise: From IMDb: “The joyous, emotional, heartbreaking celebration of the life and music of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest female R&B pop vocalist of all time. Tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom.”
Box Office Prospects: $60 M
Expectations: Uncertain. The film wants to make tons of money like Bohemian Rhapsody and Whitney Houston is the kind of figure people can get behind. However, the film doesn’t seem like a strong Christmastime release.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. This seems like a film that may be waiting because it’s not as good as one would hope. That said, it’s following the Bohemian Rhapsody-style push and that could either be a winning combination or a dismal failure. At this point, it’s impossible to be certain.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (on 12.21.2022)

Premise: From IMDb: “Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll: he has burned through eight of his nine lives. Puss sets out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish and restore his nine lives.”
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Expectations: Uncertain. While the Shrek franchise fizzled out some time ago, Puss in Boots is still out there, but 11 years after the predecessor isn’t a profile in potential success.
Oscar Prospects: None.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Babylon (on 12.23.2022)

Premise: From IMDb: “Set in Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies, focusing on a mixture of historical & fictional characters.”
Box Office Prospects: $30 M
Expectations: Uncertain. Like Amsterdam, this film just doesn’t seem like the kind of title that can open wide and make lots of money. A platform release might have helped it build buzz, but if it isn’t that great, then this might be their best option to catch people off guard.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. The film was screened late, but some have seen it and the early buzz isn’t as strong as one would expect from the La La Land filmmaker. Of course, First Man didn’t do well either and it was right up the Academy’s alley. The mediocre response may foretell the film’s struggle with Oscar voters with only a small amount of buzz for Margot Robbie and some decent below-the-line options.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Corsage (Limited on 12.23.2022)

Premise: From IMDb: “A fictional account of the later years of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. On Christmas Eve 1877, Elisabeth turns 40 and is officially deemed an old woman and starts trying to maintain her public image, once idolized for her beauty.”
Box Office Prospects: $1.5 M
Expectations: Weak. Audiences just don’t love period films, so I wouldn’t imagine it doing much business.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. It’s a festival player so it should have already built buzz, but it hasn’t. Right now, its only likely chances are in Production Design and Costume Design and even those are iffy at present.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

Living (Limited on 12.23.2022)

Premise: From IMDb: “An English-language adaptation of the script of “Ikiru” (1952), set in London in the 1950s.”
Box Office Prospects: $1 M
Expectations: Weak. It’s an indie film with an actor who has no cult following, so I wouldn’t expect it to do much business outside of the art house circuit.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. There was a raft of strong buzz for Bill Nighy when this was first seen, but that buzz has almost all died away with the emergence of Brendan Fraser. Nighy could still contend, but it’s a stacked category and the film just isn’t building the right profile at the right time.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

A Man Called Otto (Limited on 12.25.2022)

Premise: From IMDb: “A grumpy widower whose only joy comes from criticizing and judging his exasperated neighbors meets his match when a lively young family moves in next door, leading to an unexpected friendship that will turn his world upside-down.”
Box Office Prospects: $15 M
Expectations: Uncertain. Tom Hanks could help the film build buzz and some bank, but the platform release strategy might not be the way to go.
Oscar Prospects: Uncertain. This is another of the last films to be seen and the fact that it’s a remake of Oscar nominee A Man Called Ove should give anyone pause. That star Tom Hanks isn’t playing an excessively-aged character suggests this one will be an Oscar no-show.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

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