2021 Spring Season Box Office 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 12, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. With February being the last month to release movies for Oscar consideration this year, due to the pandemic, a lot of major contenders are finally making their way to cinemas. This one had some early buzz, but that buzz hasn’t really gone anywhere of late.”
Oscar Results: Winner. Not only did the film manage to break out in a strong way when Oscar nominations were announced, its two starts scored nominations with Daniel Kaluuya winning as expected while the original song “Fight for You” surprised with a victory.
Box Office Prospects: $12 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. This would be the kind of film that might turn out to be a sleeper hit at the early February box office, but the pandemic is still going and its chances are probably minimized because of the simultaneous streaming release that Warner Bros. is forcing on them.”
Box Office Results: $5.5 M
Thoughts: [Unexceptional] What should have been a better performer in a non-pandemic box office performed adequately given the constraints of cinema at the time.

Land

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Oscar Results: None.
Box Office Prospects: $1 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Why this kind of film is opening wide is beyond me. Even if it’s targeting a lot of older audiences, they aren’t likely to go to the theaters for this film, which looks like a bit of a snooze.”
Box Office Results: $2.6 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] Whereas some films underperformed, this one surprisingly overperformed. As expected, it appealed to a smaller crowd than might have otherwise gone out to the theater, it did well enough to take in a solid pandemic number.

French Exit (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Unlikely. Michelle Pfeiffer had some early buzz for a Best Actress nomination for this film, but the studio botched the release and no one’s really gotten a chance to see it, meaning it isn’t likely to be very competitive.”
Oscar Results: None. The film flirted briefly with Oscar consideration for star Michelle Pfeiffer, but the crowded Best Actress race never changed enough for her to make her way in, especially for a film that wasn’t incredibly well reviewed.
Box Office Prospects: $0.5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. On the indie circuit, the film might do quite well, but the lack of Oscar buzz might diminish its prospects.”
Box Office Results: $0.7 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] Indies rarely do incredibly well and when there’s a pandemic around, that performance is even lower, which is still rather sad considering this film had a lot of potential that it didn’t live up to.

February 19, 2021

The Mauritanian

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Unlikely. This film was rushed to theaters to compete in a supposedly less competitive Oscar market and at first, it sounded like Oscar catnip. Reviews haven’t been very good in general, so it’s probably going to be ignored.”
Oscar Results: None. In spite of some early inroads for supporting actress Jodie Foster (winner of the Golden Globe), the film fell flat with Oscar voters.
Box Office Prospects: $2 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Weak. Jodie Foster isn’t the box office draw she might once have been. The combination of that and the Guantanamo prisoner storyline and the unexceptional reviews suggest this will die a quick death at the box office.”
Box Office Results: $0.8 M
Thoughts: [Major Flop] Without much competition, the film should have done much better in wide release, but it didn’t. Was it speaking to the right times? No.

Nomadland (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Excellent. While this is technically a 2020 release in terms of qualifications for many precursors, Nomadland has been lighting up the critics prizes taking numerous awards, which could make director Chloé Zhao only the second woman in Oscar history to win a Best Directing Oscar.”
Oscar Results: Winner. The film scored major nominations and took up three of the evening’s top awards for Best Picture, Directing, and Actress.
Box Office Prospects: $2 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Good. This film’s biggest problem is that the people who were likely going to make it a platform releasing hit are holed up for the pandemic. Still, the IMAX release earlier in the month might bolster its prospects, but I doubt it will be a surprise hit.”
Box Office Results: $2.2 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] The film still managed to meet expectations.

February 26, 2021

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “None.”
Box Office Prospects: $25 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. This film could have been huge without the pandemic in the way, but its appeal to younger audiences who may not be at risk for death from COVID-19 might be willing to risk it for a fun night at the theater. I doubt it, though.”
Thoughts: Release Date changed to 9/17/21.

Cherry

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Uncertain. This is a late-breaking release, which didn’t get onto most critics groups’ lists, which means the potential buzz for Spider-Man actor Tom Holland will probably evaporate.”
Oscar Results: None. The film had a potential of scoring a nomination for Best Cinematography, but the Academy gave the film a hard pass.
Box Office Prospects: $1 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. A streaming release won’t help the film and the choppy, disjointed, and confusing trailers aren’t likely to entice many to the theater.”
Thoughts: Did not release in theaters.

The Father (Limited)

Oscar Prospects: What I said: “Good. Another 2020 release waiting for its regular limited release until closer to the Oscar deadline to earn last-minute attention, this film got its Oscar-qualifying run already, making it eligible for several precursors. Those precursors recognized the film mostly for Anthony Hopkins’ lead performance, but supporting actress Olivia Colman and the film’s director have also gotten a few mentions meaning it’s a minor contender right now for Picture, Directing, Actor, Supporting Actress, and for its writing, but a single nomination for Hopkins wouldn’t be a shock either.”
Oscar Results: Winner. It was a strong player at the Oscars, winning two awards, Best Adapted Screenplay, and in a surprise victory in Best Actor over the clear frontrunner.
Box Office Prospects: $0.5 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: “Uncertain. While it’s an Oscar contender, there have been a lot of Alzheimer’s films in recent years and few of them have been successful. This film does have Anthony Hopkins in it, which might give it a little more gravitas with older audiences.”
Box Office Results: $2.1 M
Thoughts: [Success] The film was to be a limited release feature, but ended up re-releasing wide after Oscar nominations were announced and doing quite considering its best shot at success was with an audience that skewed quite older and were the primary victims of the pandemic.

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