Saturday, January 6, 2018

2018 Box Office Predictions Part One (January Through April)

For a couple of years now I've been trying my hand at box office predictions, with mixed results. Sometimes my prognostications are spot on, other times they're wildly inaccurate, proving there's just no telling what the general public is willing to pay to sit through. 

Looking over this list of upcoming films, it looks like we're in for a very miserable time during the first few months of 2018. There's little or nothing here that I even feel like writing about, much less driving to a theater and sitting through. I honestly can't remember the last time I saw such a collection of crap. The first quarter is always that magical time of year when studios dump their unwatchable garbage into theaters, but WOOF! This year they're pumping out a bumper crop of cinematic turds.

I'm shocked at how many of them I've never even heard of before. I generally go see a movie every weekend, and as a result am bombarded by dozens of trailers. Somehow I've never seen previews for three fourths of these dogs. That's definitely not a good sign, as it means the studios have so little faith in these films that they're unwilling to even advertise them.

My comments about the various films are in red.
NOTE: This list is for the first four months of the year. There're too many movies to cover all in one go.

January


Insidious: The Last Key
Parapsychologist Elise Rainier (played by the awesome Lin Shaye) gets a call from a man who says his house in Five Keys, New Mexico is haunted. Elise is unnerved by the fact that the home is where she grew up as a child. She then travels to the address with her ghost-hunting partners to destroy the demon she accidentally set free years ago. Premieres January 5.

Sounds interesting, but I'm confused— didn't Elise die in one of the earlier movies? I guess this must be a prequel. The Insidious movies have all been box office hits, grossing $100 million or more worldwide against their tiny budgets. I would expect this one to do the same. On the other hand, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is still in theaters, so that could cut into its take. I'm betting it'll gross $100 million worldwide. 

The Commuter
Insurance salesman Michael McCauley (Liam Neeson) is on his daily train commute home, when he's contacted by a mysterious stranger who forces him to participate in a deadly plan. Premieres January 12.

Sounds interesting, and Neeson's always reliable. But it's directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who helmed such gems as House Of Wax, OrphanUnknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night and The Shallows, none of which have been huge box office hits. Also worrisome is the fact that The Commuter sounds like the exact same plot as his Non-Stop, except set on a train instead of a plane. I think it'll gross between $50—$75 million here in the States.

Paddington 2
A sequel to the popular kids' movie, this second installment concerns Paddington trying to recover a stolen book he bought for his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday. Premieres January 12.

As with almost all kid movies, the first film was a big hit, grossing $268 million against its $55 million budget. This time the budget's almost doubled to $95 million, meaning Paddington 2's gonna have to gross much more than its predecessor to be another mega-hit. I don't think that's gonna happen. I think it'll gross $275 worldwide.

Proud Mary
Taraji P. Henson plays Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston. Her life's turned upside down though when a hit goes wrong, leaving a young boy orphaned. Premieres January 12.

Proud Mary looks like someone took equal parts John Wick and Atomic Blonde, dumped 'em in a bowl and stirred liberally. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. It's directed by Babak Najafi, whose only other film of note was the mediocre London Has Fallen, which is worrisome. That movie made $205 million worldwide though, proving that people will go see just about anything. I think Proud Mary will surprise us all and made at least $175 million worldwide.

Den Of Thieves
An elite unit from the LA Sheriff's Department faces off against a squad of thieves who plan to rob the city's Federal Reserve Bank. Premieres January 19.

Meh. The film stars Gerard Butler, who hasn't exactly been on a winning streak lately. Also worrisome: it's helmed by Christian Gudegast, who's making his directorial debut here. He previously wrote A Man Apart and London Has Fallen. I think this'll be buried by Proud Mary and The Commuter, and will be lucky if it manages to break $50 million in the States.

12 Strong
Captain Mitch Nelson (played by Chris Hemsworth) leads a U.S. Special Forces team into Afghanistan to take down the Taliban, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Based on a true story.  Premieres January 19.

12 Strong's got an impressive cast, including Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pe├▒a, William Fichtner and Rob Riggle (who was an actual marine until he turned to acting). It's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, so expect lots of rah-rah jingoistic "America, F*ck Yeah!" hooey. It's got an interesting writing pedigree as well. It's written by Peter Craig, who penned The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2, and Ted Tally, who gave us freakin' Silence Of The Lambs! The only worrisome part is Nicholai Fuglsig, as this appears to be his directorial debut. I think it might do $75—$85 million here in the States.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure
The final (thank the Maker!) installment in the Maze Runner series. Thomas breaks into the legendary Last City to free his friends from WCKD. Premieres January 26.

I hope they include a lengthy "Previously on Maze Runner" prologue in this film, because I don't remember anything that happened in the earlier installments. The Death Cure was supposed to premiere in February 2017, but production was postponed for several months after actor Dylan O'Brien was seriously injured on set. Maybe the movie gods were trying to tell them something. 

Worldwide, the previous films grossed $348 million and $312 million respectively. I would expect this one to continue the downward trend. I'm betting it'll gross between $250 million and $275 million worldwide.

February

Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built
After the death of her family, firearms heiress Sarah Winchester (played by Helen Mirren) is convinced she's being haunted by the ghosts of the victims of her family's guns. She then begins building the Winchester Mystery House, which was continually under construction, as she feared she'd die if it was ever completed. Premieres February 2.

The presence of Helen Mirren can only elevate this ghost story. It's directed by the Spierig Brothers, whose most recent work was Jigsaw. It's rated PG-13 though, so don't expect much in the way of genuine scares. I think it'll might make around $40—$50 million here in the States.

Fifty Shades Freed
It's the final chapter of the detestable Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy. At last, our long national nightmare is over. Premieres February 9.

Fifty Shades Of Grey grossed an inexplicable and astonishing $571 million worldwide back in 2015! The sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, didn't do nearly as well, but still made a very respectable $380 million. I expect this downward trend to continue, and bet that Fifty Shades Freed will "only" make around $200—$250 million worldwide.

Peter Rabbit
The beloved children's story is now an animated CGI film. Premieres February 9.

Hmm. On the one hand, this isn't a Pixar or DreamWorks picture, so that's probably a strike against it. On the other hand, kids' movies tend to do well no matter who's making them. It's got the usual all-star voice cast, but the director is Will Gluck, who's helmed several non-animated films such as Fired Up!, Easy A, Friends With Benefits and Annie. I think it might gross between $50 and $75 million in the States.

The 15:17 To Paris
The true story of three Americans who face a terrorist attack on a train headed for Paris. Premieres February 9.

The film's directed by Clint Eastwood, which is a plus. On the other hand, it supposedly follows the three main characters from childhood, rather than focusing solely on the terrorist attack. That seems like an odd approach, but I guess Clint must know what he's doing. His American Sniper grossed $547 million worldwide, and his most recent film Sully reeled in $240 million. I'd expect this one to be successful as well, grossing between $250-$300 million worldwide.

Black Panther
Marvel's latest, about an African prince who rules a secret, technologically-advanced nation when he's not dressing as a feline-themed superhero. Premieres February 16.

It's Marvel, so it's automatically guaranteed to make at least $800 million worldwide. Due to its all black cast, writer and director, I think this one might actually do even better than that, inching toward $900 million.

Early Man
From Aardman Studios, the story of a caveman named Dug, who unites his tribe against a new enemy. Premieres February 16.

Sadly the Aardman films don't do as well as Pixar's do. Their most recent effort, Shaun The Sheep, grossed just  $106 million worldwide. I'd expect this one to do the same. I think it'll gross $75—$100 million worldwide.

Annihilation
A group of soldiers enter an environmental disaster zone, and only one makes it out alive. Lena, the soldier's wife (played by Natalie Portman) volunteers for a second expedition, to discover what happened to her husband. Also stars Oscar Isaac, who's been on fire lately. Premieres February 23.

The trailers look interesting, and the film's based on the Southern Reach Trilogy novels by Jeff VanderMeer. It's directed by Alex Garland, who previously wrote 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd, which were all pretty good. Garland wrote and directed Ex Machina, which was a highly regarded, thinking man's sci-fi film. 

As good and thought provoking as Ex Machina was, it was a MASSIVE box office flop, grossing an embarrassing $36 million WORLDWIDE against its $15 million budget. Apparently the general public just doesn't like to think! I'm betting Annihilation will do just as poorly, grossing maybe $30—$40 million here in the States.

The War With Grandpa
When scheming child Peter is forced to give up his room to his grandfather (played by Robert De Niro), he devises a series of wacky plans to force him to move out. It's Home Alone meets Meet The Fockers! Premieres February 23.

Remember when Robert De Niro was a respected actor, and the release of one of his movies (like Taxi Driver or The Godfather: Part II) was considered a special event? Yeah, me either. This is a kid's movie, but I think De Niro's presence is gonna create a lot of confusion, as parents will see him and think it's for adults. Somehow it took a whopping FOUR people to write this thing. I'm confidently predicting a bomb here. I think it'll be lucky if it grosses $30—$40 million here.

Game Night
A group of friends meet for their weekly game night, but find themselves investigating an actual murder mystery. Hijinx then ensue. Premieres February 23.

I know nothing about this film, but let's look at its pedigree. It's written by Mark Perez, who gave the world such hits as The Country Bears, Herbie Fully Loaded and Accepted. It's directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who previously helmed the Vacation remake. I smell me a bomb! $25—$30 million, tops.

March

Death Wish
A remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film, in which a Chicago doctor becomes a violent vigilante after his wife is murdered and daughter brutally attacked by thugs. Starring Bruce Willis. Premieres March 2.

Does the world need a Death Wish remake? Of course not, but that never stopped any movie studio in the past. My concern here is that there've been so many Death Wish clones over the years that this remake's going to look quaint and derivative in comparison. Bruce Willis hasn't exactly been tearing up the box office lately, which might be a problem for the film. It's directed by Eli Roth, which is another cause for concern. His previous film Green Inferno only grossed $7 million during its forty two day theatrical run! Ouch! I think it might gross around $20-$30 million here.

Red Sparrow
After ballerina Dominika Egorova (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is injured, she fears her career is over. She's then recruited by Sparrow School, which trains young adults to be secret agents. After becoming a spy, Dominika meets a CIA agent who tries to convince her to defect. Premieres March 2.

Looks like another Atomic Blonde clone. I love how every one of these movies features the female assassin sashaying down the street in a short, platinum blonde wig. Proud Mary even does this, and the main character's black!

Anyway, it's directed by Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jen) who gave us I Am Legend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2. Who knows, it could be good. I'm betting it'll make around $40-$50 million here in the States.

Alpha
Set 20,000 years ago, a young boy (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is separated from his tribe and has to survive on his own in the wilderness. Premieres March 2.

I won't lie, the trailer looks interesting. It's directed by Albert Hughes (formerly of the Hughes Brothers), who gave us Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, From Hell and The Book Of Eli. So it's got that going for it. On the other hand, it's a Sony picture, so it's practically guaranteed to suck. I predict it'll make $30-$40 million here, tops.

A Wrinkle In Time
Meg and Charles Murray's scientist father has disappeared to another planet after inventing a "tesseract." They then search for their dad with the help of three astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. Premieres March 9.

I remember trying to read the book a couple times when I was younger, but giving up in frustration, so I'm not sure what to think about this. The SJW and "woke" contingent of the internet are all losing their minds over the film though, praising its diverse casting and the fact that it's directed by a woman, so it could very well be a hit.

On the downside, director Ava DuVernay previously helmed Selma, which of course makes her the perfect choice to direct a whimsical scifi adventure. Disney's also marketing the hell out of it, which can often be a bad sign. It's got a $103 million budget, which means it's gonna have to gross over $206 million just to break even. That's just not gonna happen here in the States. I think it might make $275-$300 million worldwide. Who knows though, it may surprise me and make even more.

The Upside
A comedy (?) about a wealthy paraplegic man (Bryan Cranston) and his relationship with the ex-con (Kevin Hart) he hires as a caregiver. Premieres March 9.

A remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables. It's directed by Neil Burger, who gave the world The Illusionist, The Lucky Ones, Limitless and Divergent. I smell a bomb. $20 million in the States, tops.

Strangers: Prey At Night
A sequel to 2008's The Strangers, which wasn't bad as horror films go. This time a group on a road trip stops in a deserted mobile home park, that's soon invaded by three masked psychopaths. Premieres March 9. 

I liked the original film quite a bit, so this one could be OK. It's directed by Johannes Roberts though, who gave us last year's awful 47 Meters Down. He also directed Storage 24, which has the dubious honor of being one of the lowest grossing theatrical movies of all time, making just $72 at the box office. That's not a typo— it made seventy two DOLLARS.

The original film grossed $82 million worldwide in 2008. I don't think this one will do that well, making around $50-$60 million.

Tomb Raider
A reboot of the video game franchise, as Alica Vikander (and her oddly long neck) takes on the role of adventurer Lara Croft. Premieres March 16. 

It's been fifteen years since the last Tomb Raider movie, so I suppose the franchise is due for an upgrade. It could be decent if done right, but it's directed by Roar Uthaug, who's done absolutely nothing you'd have ever heard of before. Plus his names "Roar."

I honestly think this one could go either way. I'm gonna say it might make around $150-$200 million worldwide.

Sherlock Gnomes
After a string of garden decoration disappearances, Gnomeo & Juliet hire legendary detective Sherlock Gnomes (oy) to solve the case. Premieres March 23. 

I don't understand— this movie's a sequel to Gnomeo & Juliet. So why are they still alive? Since the film's based on the Shakespearian play, they should have both killed themselves at the end. Right?

Johnny Depp voices Sherlock Gnomes, giving him yet another chance to do a wacky accent.

I wonder if Sherlock Gnomes will be addicted to cocaine and morphine, like his human namesake? Probably not. If nothing else, this movie will go down in history for bringing the phrase "No sh*t, Sherlock" to kids' films.

Directed by John Stevenson, who previously helmed Kung Fu Panda. Gnomeo & Juliet (love how they just gave up trying to think of a "punny" name for her) grossed $193 million worldwide. I don't see this one doing that well, and I'm gonna say it'll make $150 million tops.

Isle Of Dogs
In this animated adventure, an outbreak of canine flu cases the mayor of a Japanese town to banish all dogs to a garbage dump island. A young boy then embarks on a journey to the island, to find his beloved dog. Premieres March 23. 

Filmed in stop motion, this is Wes Anderson's latest whimsey-fest. It looks and feels similar to his Fantastic Mr. Fox, which grossed a disappointing $49 million worldwide back in 2009. I don't see this one doing much better. I think it'll be lucky to make $75-$100 million worldwide.

Pacific Rim Uprising
Jake (played by John Boyega) and his estranged sister, the children of Stacker Pentecost, must lead a new generation of pilots to battle otherworldly monsters with their giant robots. Premieres March 23. 

I liked the original film quite a bit, but it struggled here in the States, where it only grossed $101 million against its massive $190 million budget. It did quite well overseas though, where it made $309 million (which is the only reason its getting a sequel). 

The budget's been pared down to $150 million this time, which can only help the film at the box office. Director Guillermo del Toro's sitting this one out, as Uprising's being directed by Steven S. DeKnight. That's a bit worrisome, as so far all he's directed are several episodes of various TV series.

There's little or no blockbuster competition for it in March, so I think it might do OK. I'm betting it'll make $400-$450 million worldwide.

Unsane
A young woman is committed to a mental institution, and isn't sure if what she experiences is real or a delusion. Premieres March 23. 

I'm honestly not sure if this is actually a real movie, or an elaborate hoax. Supposedly in 2017, director Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean's 11 films, Contagion and Logan Lucky, among many others) secretly shot the film on an iPhone (???). 

If it is real, it's gonna have a very limited release, and make $15-$20 million tops.

Midnight Son
When a young man's health begins to slowly deteriorate, he accidentally discovers he needs to drink blood to survive. Premieres March 23. 

The trailer looks interesting, but it looks VERY similar to George Romero's 1978 film Martin, which has the same basic plot. It's directed by Scott Leberecht, who's previously done... well, nothing, except for a few shorts. I don't see any way this could possibly gross more than $15-$20 million.

Ready Player One
Or as I like to call it, Remember This? The Movie. In the far off year of 2045, a young man named Wade Watts enters the virtual reality world of the OASIS to seek its creator's $240 billion fortune. Based on the 2011 novel of the same name. Premieres March 30.

Despite the fact that this film looks like two straight hours of nothing but cultural references, there's a tremendous online buzz about it. I don't get it myself, but each to their own. On the downside, it's directed by Steven Spielberg, who's been in an inexplicable career spiral lately. His The BFG was a HUGE box office flop, grossing an embarrassing $55 million in the States against its massive $140 million budget. Yikes!

Hopefully Spielberg can pull off a miracle here, and elevate the vapid material a bit. I'm betting it'll make around $300-$350 million worldwide.

April

A Quiet Place
A family living on a remote farm hides from some... thing that's attracted by sound. In order to survive, they're forced to pad the floors of their house and communicate only in sign language. Premieres April 6.

Finally, a film that actually looks interesting! The trailer's absolutely terrifying, so I'm hoping the final film can live up to it. It stars the husband and wife team of John Krasinksi (of The Office fame) and Emily Blunt. Krasinski also directed and co-wrote the film. He's directed nothing of note before, but... eh. Everyone's gotta start sometime, right? 

My only worry is it looks awfully similar to last year's It Comes At Night, which was a huge disappointment. This looks like a small indie film, so no matter how good it is, I don't see it making much more than $20-$30 million. If that!

Blockers
When several parents learn their teenage daughters are planning to lose their virginity on prom night, they do everything it takes to stop them. Premieres April 6.

What a lovely concept for a film. I wonder if the original title was Cock Blockers? It's directed by Kay Cannon, who previously helmed... well, absolutely nothing. It's good to know that here in the diverse world of 2018, even women are given the change to make sh*tty teen sex comedies. FLOP! I predict it'll make $10-$15 million. Maybe even less!

Chappaquiddick
No, kids, it's not the name of a new Pokemon, it's the life story of Ted Kennedy, whose political career was derailed by an auto accident that killed his campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne. Premieres April 6.

Yay, an Oscar-bait movie! No matter how good it is, I don't see it being a big hit. I think it'll gross $30-$40 million if that.

New Mutants
Several mutant tens learn to control their powers in a secret lab facility. Based on the Marvel comic series. Premieres April 13.

Be advised this is not a Marvel Studios film— it's from Fox, who own the X-Men and all related characters. The general public won't know or care about that though, and will likely flock to it thinking it's another Marvel film. 

I'll give Fox this much— this has to be the first superhero horror film ever made. While I applaud them trying something different here, I think the public might be confused and even turned off by this. Especially the clueless parents who bring their kids, thinking it's another wacky Thor movie.

It's directed by Josh Boone, whose only previous work is Stuck In Love and The Fault In Our Stars. Make of that what you will. 

I don't see this one doing Deadpool or Logan business, but I think it might surprise me and gross $550-$600 million.

Rampage
Dwayne Johnson stars as a primatologist studying a gorilla named George. When an experiment goes horribly wrong, George, a wolf and a reptile all grow to monstrous size and begin destroying the city. Based on the Bally Midway video game from the 1980s. Premieres April 20.

This film could go either way— it's either going to be a hell of a lot of tongue in cheek fun, or the biggest disaster in movie history. Johnson's a charismatic actor, but his films tend to be pretty uneven in quality and popularity. For every successful Fast & Furious, there's an equally awful Baywatch.

It's directed by Brad Peyton, who gave us Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, San Andreas and the deplorable Incarnate. That's worrisome. 

There's not much else out there in April, so who knows? It could be a hit. San Andreas made $473 million worldwide, so this one could easily make $250-$300 million.

Overboard
A remake of the 1987 Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn comedy, in which a working class man convinces an heiress who's lost her memory that she's his wife. But get ready for a 2018 twist! This time, the roles are reversed, and the woman convinces the rich man that he's her husband! Hooray! The world's a better place not that we have social justice in our mediocre comedies! Premieres April 20.

I have nothing more to say about this film, other than I like the original and hope this pointless remake is a huge flop. I think it'll probably do pretty well though, simply because I hate it. It'll probably make $30-$40 million.

Super Troopers 2
The Broken Lizard comedy troupe returns in a sequel to the 2001 film. Timely! Premieres April 20.

I am not a fan of the original film, as I'm completely mystified by its appeal. It wasn't even a box office hit back in 2001, as it only grossed $23 million— worldwide! It didn't actually become popular until it came out on home video, where it developed something of a cult following. I honestly don't see it doing very well, and think it'll gross maybe $25-$30 million in the States.

Truth Or Dare
A game of truth or dar turns deadly for a group of friends. Premieres April 27.

The film's from Blumhouse Studios, who've had great success the past couple of years pumping out low budget but incredibly lucrative horror films (see Get Out and Split for prime examples). I could see this one making $75-$100 million worldwide.

Come back in a few months to see how I did!

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