Weekend BO Predictions: One Step Too Small For ‘First Man’ As ‘Venom’ Keeps First Place With $30m+

Written by Dapo Olowu

Three new wide releases enter the Box Office sphere this weekend, with Ryan Gosling’s Neil Armstrong biopic, ‘First Man’, blasting off ahead of ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ and ‘Goosebumps 2’ to top the chart. Standing in its way are the sophomore weekends of ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star Is Born’, both contributing to a record October start 7 days ago. Top spot might be one leap too giant for ‘First Man’ however, as both ‘VenomandA Star is Born’ find themselves in one of the closest Box Office weekend battles in recent memory.

Venom’, having already grossed $102.8m domestically and $230m worldwide, should break the $300m global barrier this weekend – heavily funded by a $31m 3-day gross in the U.S. It’s a second weekend drop around 61%, similar to that of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’, ‘Spider-Man 3’, and even last summer’s much-loved ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’.

Steep weekend drops are expected when it comes to hotly anticipated superhero blockbusters, with the film’s audience having bought tickets by the Friday release date. It’s a completely different story for Warner Bros.’ ‘A Star is Born’ however, a film depending more on word-of-mouth reviews. The critically-acclaimed romantic musical is nearing a $30m gross in its second weekend to put the pressure on Sony’s superhero flick after just a week in its release. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is to reach $100m worldwide by Sunday, a fantastic return from a $36m production cost.

The first of our new releases, ‘First Man’, marks director Damien Chazelle’s third major Hollywood film (and second with Gosling), and like the rest (‘Whiplash’, ‘La La Land’), brings with it a superb critical reception. Boasting 89% on the Tomatometer and a Metascore of 85, ‘First Man’ will also be Chazelle’s first to open wide straight out the gate, and not have a limited release.

Will this harm its chances of financial success? Hard to say, as while limited-to-wide openings lead to mixed Box Office results, a dramatic biopic like this is usually the type to be released that way. Regardless, we’re being as ambitious as the 1969 moon landing with this one, forecasting a strong $27m start to put it just behind the Tom Hanks biopic ‘Sully’ ($35m), but far away from ‘Gravity’s $55.8m, which keeps the prestigious crown of October’s biggest astronaut-themed movie. Unlike ‘Gravity’, it boasts a medium-sized budget at around $70m. The film stars Gosling as Neil Armstrong, as well as Claire Foy as his wide Janet Shearon, and Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin.

First Man’ isn’t the only film set in 1969. Drew Goddard’s ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’, released by Fox, is an end-of-the-60s thriller boasting an all-star cast. Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, and Nick Offerman (amongst others) feature as strangers in a hotel on the Nevada-California border. It’s opening is a little strange to predict – could it be the next ‘Hotel Artemis’ ($3.2m opening) or ‘Atomic Blonde’ ($18.3m)? Its promo has definitely alluded to both, but our optimism knows no bounds, meaning we’re looking at the latter here, for a $17.5m opening.

Such a gross would put it right above the final new release ‘Goosebumps 2’, which has the unfortunate pleasure of not only looking identical to recent comedy-horror ‘The House With a Clock In Its Walls’, but also starring ‘The House’s Jack Black as one of the main characters. Coupled with the recent child-friendly competition in the form of ‘Smallfoot’, we can’t see this film matching the heights of its predecessor, which grossed $23.6m 3 years ago. Therefore, a $16m 3-day weekend is in store for the film that cost just $35m to produce.

In one of the closest Box Office races we can remember, who do you see prevailing? Will ‘Venom’ keep top spot like we’re expecting? Will ‘A Star is Born’ hold strong against the rest? Or will new release ‘First Man’

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Weekend BO Report: ‘Venom’ Smashes The October Opening Record With $80m

Written by Dapo Olowu

In a year where ‘Black Panther’ became the 3rd biggest film of all time in the States, ‘Infinity War’ broke both the domestic and worldwide opening record, and ‘Incredibles 2’ became the only animation to break $600m in the U.S.A., it’s really no surprise that Spider-Man spinoff ‘Venom’, even with poor reviews, became another superhero record-breaker. Its $80.3m opening completely smashes the October record of $55.8m held by 2013s ‘Gravity’, and almost certainly has Sony greenlighting a sequel as we speak.

It’s almost double that of nearest competitor ‘A Star is Born’, whose $42.9m is the 4th biggest musical opening of all time (behind ‘Beauty & The Beast’, ‘Pitch Perfect 2’, and ‘High School Musical 3’). In-line with our expectations, it also grossed around $14.2m from 31 countries, including $5.3m from the U.K. This, of course, again couldn’t compare to the might of ‘Venom’; its $125.2m from around 60 countries gave it the October record for a global opening, too. What’s even more impressive is that it managed well over $100m without China, who isn’t getting a release until November 2nd.

The question now for the two films is, where can they go from here? Both films have very different target audiences in mind, with ‘Venom’s young male audience (59% male, 64% under 25) differing massively from ‘ASIB’s older female crowd (66% female, 86% over 25). The two thus won’t have to concern themselves with eating into eachother’s markets, and while ‘Venom’ has barely any superhero competition until ‘Aquaman’, ‘ASIB’s critical reception (including an A on Cinemascore) should provide it with a lengthy Box Office run.

To be precise, a performance similar to ‘Gone Girl’ would see Bradley Cooper’s directing debut close in on $200m domestically, and a run like ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s would see ‘Venom’ end on a solid $180m – a success story for both movies. Of course, ‘TASM 2’ being a summer blockbuster and ‘Gone Girl’ being based on a best-selling book means we should take these comparisons with a pinch of salt, but their opening weekend performances show real potential for breakout hits.

Last weekend’s winner ‘Night School’ saw a 54% fall to gross $12.5m, in behind ‘Smallfoot’s $14.4m. The Universal Studios comedy is now just $3m away from $50m domestically, while ‘Smallfoot’s just $7.7m away from the same number. Rom-com ‘Crazy Rich Asians$2.2m leaves it on $169.2m in the U.S., just $7m away from becoming the 5th biggest romantic comedy in American history.

We only saw ‘Venom’ doing $65m this weekend, so how surprised were you by its gross? And with Bradley Cooper’s directing debut earning rave reviews and $42.9m, is a star truly born here? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Predictions: ‘A Star Is Born’ Will Shine Bright But ‘Venom’s $65m Opening Will give It Top Spot

Written by Dapo Olowu

It’s here. It’s finally here.

After 21 years (yes, 21) after it was first considered a viable project, Sony’s ‘Venom’ hits U.S. shores on Friday, looking to dim the light of Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born’. The Spider-Man spinoff ‘Venom’, starring Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed, aims to kick things off with a $65m gross, making it the biggest opening for an October release ever, comfortably beating ‘Gravity’s $55.8m from 2013.

This isn’t to say that ‘A Star is Born’ won’t open big. The R-rated musical, the 3rd remake of the 1937 classic, should earn $40m in its first 3 days – just under ‘High School Musical 3: Senior Year’s $42m to become the 3rd biggest opening for a musical ever. There’s a strong belief that the $36m-budgeted Warner Bros. flick could even break $50m, a figure that transforms the romantic drama from light counter-programming to a viable competitor for ‘Venom’.

Differing audiences aside, it’s easy to see why: both films are fronted by Hollywood A-listers, (Cooper, Gaga, Sam Elliott, & Dave Chappelle vs. Hardy, Ahmed, Michelle Williams, & Jenny Slate), and both stem from pretty popular source material. Lady Gaga fans have even taken to creating fake Twitter accounts to trash ‘Venom’ and bolster the musical’s opening figures, as if the Sony/Marvel film’s 30% Tomatometer score isn’t hurting it enough.

The apparent hurt may even have dulled the excitement for ‘Venom’, which had been flying high for months (the April trailer even broke into the top 20 most-watched worldwide ever within 24 hours). While a few at first predicted an opening closer to $100m, tracking has fallen to under $70m, for an opening close to ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’.

This may still be good enough to kick off the franchise Sony hoped for, especially as its international release from 59 markets this weekend (not including Japan and China) may bring in an additional $100m. The film, directed by ‘Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer, features journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy), who investigates the operations of the Life Foundation and its CEO, Carlton Drake (Ahmed), but gets attached to an alien symbiote.

A Star is Born’, on the other hand, is a critical hit that’s even been touted for awards come the end of the year. After working its way through various festivals (Venice, Toronto, San Sebastián, and Zurich), it’s now boasting 93% on Rotten Tomatoes to further bolster audience anticipation. It stars Cooper (who also directed, produced, and wrote) as musician Jackson Maine, who falls for young, unknown singer Ally (Lady Gaga).

Looking past the opening weekend, we can’t see ‘Venom’ having as strong a run as ‘A Star is Born’. B.O. runs like Sony’s previous ‘Spider-Man’ films with similar critical receptions (‘TASM 2 and ‘Spider-Man 3’) have ‘Venom’ barely reaching $150m, while ‘A Star is Born’ could have a chance of reaching $200m domestically. It’s the final gross that studios ultimately look upon, meaning while ‘Venom’ will be happy winning the opening weekend battle, it’ll be the longer legs (sorry, lungs) of ‘A Star is Born’ that’ll win it the domestic war.

Elsewhere, last weekend’s top 2 ‘Night School’ and ‘Smallfoot’ continue their own battle, looking to gross close to $13m respectively. Slasher film ‘Hell Fest’ will remain in the top ten by the skin of its teeth, earning around $2m to bring its domestic figure to $10m.

It’s unlikely, but could ‘A Star is Born’ muster a surprise to win this weekend? Where do you see both films ending? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Report: ‘Night School’ Gets An A With The Biggest Comedy Opening Of The Year

Written by Dapo Olowu

It may not have hit the $30m heights we expected, but the $27.3m earned by ‘Night School’ in its freshman weekend still put it comfortably atop of the Box Office class, and confirmed its place as the U.S.’s biggest comedy opening of 2018.

Who said comedies were dead?

In a year where we’ve had to rely on rom-com ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ to provide the genre’s biggest opening at $26.5m, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish proved that creating an original comedy isn’t just possible, but profitable. The Malcolm D. Lee flick, Universal’s Studios’ second consecutive number one, received a respectable A- on Cinemascore, right in-line with other Hart films such as ‘Think Like a Man Too’, which opened to $29.2m and finished on a solid $65.2m in 2014.

It also marks co-lead Haddish’s second biggest opening of all time, and her second $20m+ opening after appearing in just 6 films.

A lack of direct competition in coming weeks gives ‘Night School’ some breathing space as we enter the tail-end of the year, and coupled with the opening weekend’s audience nearly hitting all four major quadrants (even gender splits and 59% being over-25), the legs on this film could definitely stretch. ‘Johnny English 3’s the next real test, and that comes into play at the end of October. Daylight, it seems, is on the horizon for ‘Night School’.

From marvellous to just ‘meh’, Warner Bros’ ‘Smallfoot’ stomped in at number 2 with $23m – again just under our forecast. It’s not a bad opening, but isn’t really a great one either for a film with an $80m budget. Just like ‘Storks’ from 2016 and recent PG films, it’s child-friendly nature and decent critical reception should be enough for the film to leg it out, although it faces heavy competition from ‘Goosebumps 2’ next Friday.

Its international footprint was similarly unremarkable. It made $14m from 49 countries, bettering ‘Night School’s $5.5m from 14, for a worldwide total thus far of $38.5m. Still, it’s domestic weekend gross was enough to almost double that of ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’, whose $12.6m leaves last weekend’s winner just $6m away from hitting the $50m domestic mark.

Gregory Plotkin’s slasher ‘Hell Fest’ may not have frightened the Box Office, but Lionsgate won’t be complaining, as a $5.1m start off of a similar budget is decent business. The C on Cinemascore, 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the fact that 40% of its gross so far was made on the opening Friday alone means that, on the other hand, it’ll be incredibly front-loaded, but with horror films like this potentially better-suited for Blu-ray and digital releases, ‘Hell Fest’, unlike its viewers, won’t be losing any sleep.

The weekend’s final wide release, drama ‘Little Women’, opened to almost half of our expectations, bringing in a paltry $705k from just 643 cinemas across the United States. The seventh adaptation of the ‘Little Women’ book at least ends this report on a high note – it marks studio Pinnacle Peak’s biggest ever opening for a film. Sure, it’s also the only film they’ve ever released, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

So ‘Night School’ becomes the biggest comedy opening of the year, but where does it go from here? Could it realistically hit $75m? Also, do any other comedies coming out between now and December realistically challenge its crown?

Let me know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Predictions: ‘Night School’ To Teach Other Comedies A Lesson With Its $30m+ Opening

Written by Dapo Olowu

We here at JUMPCUT love a good Box Office race.

Two new films, Universal Studio’s ‘Night School’ and Warner Bros’ ‘Smallfoot’, aim to please fans and those (well, me) looking for a close fight for first place in the B.O. standings this weekend. Both look likely to earn close to $30m, although the comedy ‘Night School’ should finish top of the class by Sunday night. The film, starring the likes of Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart, revolves around a group of adults who attend night school in the hopes of passing their high school exams.

It’ll definitely pass the commercial test – Kevin Hart is rapidly becoming Box Office gold for comedy movies, while Tiffany Haddish still has enough heat off of last summer’s hit ‘Girls Trip’ to draw in the cinemagoers.

Helmed by ‘Girls Trip’ director Malcolm D. Lee and produced by Will Packer (who also produced ‘Girls Trip’), its 30% on the Tomatometer won’t stop this from being the biggest comedy opening of 2018 – a year full of disappointment for the genre. While films like ‘Life of the Party’ and ‘I Feel Pretty’ may have suffered from an over-reliance on a singular waning lead, ‘Night School’ bucks the trend by having two of the biggest comedians in the world (Kevin Hart alone has around 100m social media followers) take top billing.

Girls Trip’ opened to $31.2m last summer, while some of Kevin Hart’s recent films, like ‘Jumanji’ ($36.2m), ‘Central Intelligence’ ($35.5m), ‘Ride Along 2’ ($35.2m), and ‘Get Hard’ ($33.8m) have also consistently opened over the $30m mark. There’s a strong chance for ‘Night School’ to do the same, and we’re expecting a finish around $33m.

Following closely is ‘Smallfoot’, the $80m-budget adventure animation starring a host of famous faces (or voices). Channing Tatum, Zendaya, LeBron James, Danny DeVito, and Gina Rodriguez, among many others, feature in this adaptation of the book ‘Yeti Tracks’ by Sergio Pablos, and looks to earn up to three times as much as the last WB animation (‘Teen Titans Go!’) opened to back in July.

After ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’ release last weekend, ‘Smallfoot’ will be hoping to not be in its second weekend shadow, as the family audience both films aim for are now more spoilt for choice. ‘Smallfoot’ wins the battle in the critical department (75% on Rotten Tomatoes), but as it isn’t a Disney/Pixar release, or even from Illumination (‘Minions’, ‘Secret Life of Pets’), we’re capping its opening at $26m – similar to ‘The House’, and also fellow child-friendly release ‘Christopher Robin’ from last month.

Talking about ‘The House’, last weekend’s victor should gross just under $15m to keep it alongside 2016s fantasy ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’, which earned $15.1m in its second Friday to Sunday run. Both are below ‘The House’ star Jack Black’s other Halloween flick, 2015s ‘Goosebumps’ second weekend, which brought in $15.5m on its way to an $80.1m domestic gross.

The Halloween films don’t stop coming either – slasher-horror ‘Hell Fest’ looks to claim multiple Box Office victims from just 2,300 cinemas. It’s perhaps been a little under the radar in the States when compared to ‘Night School’ and ‘Smallfoot’, especially with its modest $5.5m budget, but this could definitely spring a nasty surprise. Its young, female cast, lead by Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, and Bex Taylor-Klaus, hopes to better last weekend’s similarly-targeted ‘Assassination Nation’, and should with a gross near $7m.

The final new wide release this weekend is drama ‘Little Women’, showing in only 643 cinemas across the U.S for a likely gross of $1.2m. Fun fact: ‘Little Women’, directed by Clare Niederpruem, is an adaptation of a 150-year-old novel (called – get this – ‘Little Women’) and marks the 7th time a film has been made from the book, after versions released in 1917, 1918, 1933, 1949, 1978, and 1994. Next year sees Greta Gerwig direct the latest adaptation, aiming for a Christmas release.

‘Night School’ should be crowned the victor this weekend, marking yet another strong opening for Kevin Hart. Is he a bonafide Box Office star? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Report: ‘The House With A Clock In Its Walls’ Earns $26m In A Disappointing Weekend For The Rest

Written by Dapo Olowu

Time to sound the alarm! Although ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’ over-achieved this Box Office weekend with a $26.6m gross, it’s the disappointing returns from the other three releases that’s the big news. Critically-panned romantic drama ‘Life Itself’, directed by Dan Fogelman and starring Oscar Isaac, didn’t even make the top ten with its $2.1m gross, while edgy black comedy ‘Assassination Nation’ barely made it past $1m.

Not even the great documenter Michael Moore could muster a strong opening, bringing in a paltry $3m from nearly 2,000 cinemas with ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’. It’s a story reflective of this weekend; it’s the smallest Friday-to-Sunday period of 2018 so far with just $91.8m grossed from 100 films.

A massive chunk of that, of course, came from Universal’s fantasy flick ‘The House’ (or ‘THWaCiIW’), which marked the biggest opening of director Eli Roth’s career thus far. Straying away from his usual gory horrors led to a 68% RT score – another career best. It also marks actor Jack Black’s biggest opening of 2018 and 4th biggest live-action opening ever, although doesn’t even sniff the top ten of Hollywood great Cate Blanchett, who stars as Florence Zimmerman, a witch and friend of Black’s character Jonathan Barnavelt, a magical warlock.

The film is matching 2016s fantasy ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Perculiar Children’, which opened to $28.9m at the end of September and finished on a respectable $87.2m, although it’s $110m is almost triple that of ‘The House’s impressive $42m production cost. A similar run through the Halloween period for ‘The House’ will do it nicely, and it’s likely this will be the case, as both boast pretty similar scores on the Tomatometer and on Cinemascore (B+).

Conjurverse’ horror ‘The Nun’ became the 4th film of the franchise to reach the coveted $100m mark domestically, grossing $10m in its 3rd weekend, while last weekend’s winner, ‘The Predator’, fell harshly, barely putting up a fight with $9.2m. Now just $600k over 2010s ‘Predators’ at the same time in its run (which ended with a domestic total of just $52m), the latest film in the Fox franchise is a certified flop.

The same can’t be said for Jon Chu’s ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, which continued to astound by officially breaking the $200m worldwide barrier this weekend. Its $6.3m gross left it ahead of ‘White Boy Rick’ ($4.9m), and marks a 27% drop from last weekend.

Michael Moore can only dream of his latest offering, ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’, living up to those lofty standards. The political documentary, sequel to the biggest documentary of all time in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’, opened in 1,719 cinemas to just $3m – a whole $20m short of the opening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ 14 years ago. It marks Moore’s worst wide opening ever, although it’s still his 4th best opening out of the 10 films he’s released since 1989. It’s also the best reviewed of the weekend, as its A on Cinemascore stands tall amongst the B+’s of ‘The House’ and ‘Life Itself’. Silver linings, I guess.

Talking about ‘Life Itself’, the drama, released by Amazon Studios, endured a torrid start to life in U.S. cinemas with just $2.1m, but still bested its R-rated rival ‘Assassination Nation’s $1.1m. Reaching number 11 and 15 respectively, the two films can easily be classified as D.O.A, with the two even managing the unwanted label of earning a per-cinema average of under $1k in their opening weekend.

Although it was a disappointing weekend for many, Universal’s ‘The House’ managed to open alongside both ‘Miss Peregrine’ and ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’, even though it cost a fraction of their budgets. How well do you see this film doing? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram and Twitter – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Predictions: ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Trumps ‘Assassination Nation’ As ‘The House With A Clock In Its Wall’ Earns $20m+

Written by Dapo Olowu

The 38th weekend of 2018 promises no major Box Office shocks, but will provide an opportunity for all four wide releases to break into the top ten, mirroring last weekend’s quad-feat. Universal’s fantasy ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’, based on a 1973 novel, looks to be the one that tops the charts with an okay $22m – the studio’s first B.O. win since ‘Jurassic World’ in June.

This marks new territory for director Eli Roth, who’s usually known for his low-budget gory horrors (remember the ‘Hostel’ franchise?). The $42m-budget family-friendly fantasy looks to become the biggest opening for the 46-year-old, leapfrogging ‘Hostel’s $19.6m back in 2006.

It’s easy to draw comparisons between ‘The House’ and to films like ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ and ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’; the fantasy-heavy nature of these PG book adaptations contributed to ‘Wrinkle’ and ‘Alice’ opening in the $30m region, even with their poor critical reception. While these two films bombed rather heavily, ‘The House’s lower budget diminishes most of the risk for the Jack Black and Cate Blanchett-fronted family film.

It also boasts the best Rotten Tomatoes score (58% vs. ‘Wrinkle’s 42% and ‘Alice’s 30%) and a lack of direct competition, but in the end it won’t be able to hit that $30m target due to the studio likely spending far less on promo. Still, it’ll be the only film this weekend to see its gross enter the double digits, as nearest competitor ‘A Simple Favor’ should gross around $9.7m.

From a purely Box Office viewpoint, it hasn’t been the best of years for Oscar Isaac. First came critical-darling but commercial-flop ‘Annihilation’, then last month’s ‘Operation Finale’ (currently struggling to reach $20m domestically), and now it’s the romantic comedy-drama ‘Life Itself’. Its 14% on Rotten Tomatoes and relatively small 2,500 cinema count means that our already-optimistic $8m could even be halved once Sunday is over.

The film also stars ‘Ready Player One’ actress Olivia Cooke, as well as Mandy Patinkin, Antonio Banderas, and Olivia Wilde, and follows different generations of people across the world who are connected through one single event. It’s an interest concept with a strong cast, but one that seemingly falls flat with the critics, and won’t impress in the Box Office either.

Last weekend’s winner ‘The Predator’ continues to lose its Box Office fight, with a near-70% drop to gross just $7.9m. It’ll be battling Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’, the sequel to the biggest ever documentary of all time, 2004s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’. While before the focus was on presidential reign of George W. Bush, now the politically-charged documentary sets its sight on the Trump administration, and looks to kick things off with a $6m gross from 1,719 cinemas.

Finally, we round the weekend off with female-centric ‘Assassination Nation’, produced by David S. Goyer. Originally meant to be a limited release, but now opening wide in 1,400 cinemas, the indie flick directed by Sam Levinson hopes to make over $2m for a shot at the top ten.

Will ‘The House With a Clock In Its Wall’ match the heights of ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ and ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’, or will it fall short? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram and Twitter – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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REVIEW: A Simple Favour

Year: 2018
Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding

Written by Elena Morgan

Single mum and vlogger Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) seeks to uncover the truth about the disappearance of her glamourous best friend Emily (Blake Lively).

Directed by Paul Feig, who’s best known for his comedy films, A Simple Favour combines humour with an intriguing mystery. Scriptwriter Jessica Sharzer has crafted a stylish semi-thriller that has nearly as many unbelievable twists as it does laughs. That’s the thing about A Simple Favour, by it having a dark and twisted sense of humour at its core, the drama is even more compelling.

Kendrick and Lively are both fabulous in their roles, and whenever they share a scene their chemistry is off the charts. Stephanie is sweet and kind and is the sort of person who annoys the other parents for being almost too good a parent. Emily on the other hand, is reserved and elegant with a high-powered job in the city. She and Stephanie are opposites but as their sons are friends, they get to know one another and become friends too. Though I feel friends should be in quotation marks because as Stephanie investigates Emily’s disappearance, it becomes clearer to her that she knew very little about her friend. However, the audience, much like the other parents at the school, could see from the outset that it seemed Emily was using Stephanie.

A Simple Favour manages to be both quirky and stylish at the same time, with its dark witty humour and tense thriller elements; mysterious letters, children seeing things and unexpected phone calls abound. This juxtaposition is seen in Stephanie and Emily too. Stephanie wears bright, cutesy clothes while Emily wears sharp suits. Stephanie’s home is lived in and comfy, while Emily’s is all monochrome and straight lines. Stephanie looks completely out of place in Emily’s house, but you soon learn Stephanie isn’t as naïve or meek as she appears.

A Simple Favour is wild in the best possible way. There’s twists and turns, characters say and do outlandish things but amazingly it all works. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out something else happens out of the blue. The fact the film keeps going, getting bolder and stranger as it goes, might not work for some but if you’re happy to hang on and go for the ride, A Simple Favour is brilliant.

Elena’s Verdict:

4.5

Weekend BO Report: ‘The Predator’ Falls Prey To Bad Press With A $24m Opening

Written by Dapo Olowu

One of the likely headaches facing Disney in their upcoming acquisition of 20th Century Fox revolves around the decisions to be made about the future of a few Fox franchises. While some, like ‘Kingsman’, ‘X-Men’, and the ‘Fantastic Four’ are nailed on certainties for continued usage and redevelopment, others, such as the ‘Independence Day’ franchise, are potential casualties in Disney’s pursuit of market domination.

Which brings us to ‘The Predator’.

Made on an eye-watering $88m budget (before another $120m was splashed on promo), Shane Black’s latest directing foray succumbed to its poor critical reception and casting controversy by opening to a measly $24.6m – the 3rd worst opening ever for a film released in over 4,000 cinemas. To put this into context, it’s $12m behind ‘Alien: Covenant’s opening, and even $7m behind last summer’s disappointment ‘The Mummy’.

With its Box Office fight lost before it really even begun, ‘The Predator’ series now falls prey to a potential culling by Disney.

The opening mirrors its 2010 prequel ‘Predators’, which made $24.8m in its opening 3 days, on its way to an so-so $52m domestic finish. While that performance benefited from its $40m budget, a similar domestic finish for ‘The Predator’ puts heavy emphasis on its international gross (which has seen a similarly poor start at just $30.1m).

The performance shouldn’t really be a surprise. Its C+ on Cinemascore and ever-dropping Rotten Tomatoes rating (currently 33%) only compounds the misery of the surrounding negative press, which resulted in the film earning just $6m more than second-place ‘The Nun’, which dropped an expected 66% to earn $18.2m. The horror’s current worldwide total of $229.9m leaves it on track to become the biggest ‘Conjurverse’ film to-date.

Our forecast for ‘A Simple Favor’ may have been optimistic, but its $16m opening from a $20m budget is nonetheless a solid start for the mystery-thriller. With 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, currently sits on $19.5m worldwide, and hopes to leg it out in a similar vein to ‘Gone Girl’.

Meanwhile, crime-drama ‘White Boy Rick’s $8.9m puts it just ahead of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ ($8.7m) and ‘Peppermint’ ($6m) as expected, but those over at Sony may be cursing their decision to greenlight its $29m budget.

The Meg’, a joint American-Chinese production, finally broke the $500m worldwide mark this weekend, and earned $3.9m domestically, ahead of ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’s $2.3m. The action-thriller recently became the biggest domestic hit of the franchise, and currently sits on $216.1m, just ahead of ‘MI:II’s $215.4m. Its weekend earnings scraped ahead of Christian biopic ‘Unbroken: Path to Redemption’, directed by Harold Cronk. Cronk’s second release in consecutive week continued the trend of disappointed openings, as ‘Unbroken’ only got in at number 10 with just $2.2m.

‘The Predator’s poor opening leaves the future of its franchise in a perilous position – is it worth saving? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram and Twitter – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE

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