‘Aquaman’ To Be Crowned Christmas King While ‘Poppins’ Swoops In With $35m On A Weekend Of Eight Releases: Box Office Predictions

Written by Dapo Olowu

It’s Christmas time, and the Box Office bells aren’t so much jingling than crashing in with a deafening roar as a record eight new wide releases sound in the weekend.

We start with Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, the big-budget sequel to Robert Stevenson’s 1964 classic. Over half a century after ‘Mary Poppins’ wowed the world, Disney faces the joint task of appealing to the original fans while introducing a new generation of youngsters to the magic of P. L. Travers’ creation.

The mega-studio seem to be appealing to all so far, with the film earning a solid 77% on the Tomatometer, alongside an A- on Cinemascore. ‘Mary Poppins Returns$4.8m Wednesday opening may insignificant next to its hulking $130m budget, but we mustn’t forget how ‘The Greatest Showman’s entire opening weekend of just $8.8m preceded a whopping $174.3m total this time last year. A leggy run is possible, especially for a well-received family musical released at Christmas.

Let’s make this clear, however: Rob Marshall’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is no ‘Greatest Showman’. It’s Friday to Sunday opening, for one, is more likely to finish in the $35m region than below $10m (similar to ‘A Wrinkle in Time’), and won’t have the extraordinary 20x opening weekend multiplier that ‘Greatest Showman’ had.

Still, the film, which sees Poppins (Emily Blunt) return to the Banks’ (Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer) after 30 years, will hope that Mary’s counter-programming magic will see it defeat Paramount’s ‘Bumblebee’ for second place this weekend, behind James Wan’s ‘Aquaman’.

Both ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Bumblebee’ enter U.S. cinemas looking to become the catalysts for their respective franchise’s revivals. Both come from properties struggling in recent years, where their latest releases barely made over $600m from $200m+ budgets. While the DCEU still has a breath of fresh air in ‘Wonder Woman’, the name ‘Transformers’ became Box Office poison after last summer’s ‘The Last Knight’ grossed half a billion less than its 2014 predecessor.

Aquaman’s position is much less precarious than ‘Bumblebee’s. After last year’s ‘Justice League’ earned a disappointing $657.9m worldwide off a $300m budget, ‘Aquaman’ has seemingly bounced the DCEU back from the brink, already grossing $332m outside the U.S. in a matter of weeks, including a Warner Bros best $209.5m from China. The film has set its sights seriously on becoming the first DC movie since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ to hit $1bn.

Bumblebee’, on the other hand, has had to completely reboot the franchise and even remove all mention of ‘Transformers’ from its name, an indication of Paramount’s intention to start anew.

It isn’t just the name that’s different. For the first time, a ‘Transformers’ film is critically adored (not that that’s ever affected its Box Office takings), with ‘Bumblebee’ boasting a franchise-best 94% on the Tomatometer. Similarly, ‘Aquaman’ is getting the plaudits with 64% (and an audience score of 86%) – only behind ‘Wonder Woman’ in the DCEU’s best reviews films. The film is a continuation of the events in ‘Justice League’, and sees Jason Momoa as the title character, who must fight his half-brother on behalf of the surface world.

While it’s clear that ‘Aquaman’ will top the Box Office with ease this weekend, with around $83m from Friday to Sunday (just over ‘Venom’s $80m from October), forecasting ‘Bumblebee’s performance remains a bit of a mystery. It doesn’t benefit from the counter-programming of a Disney musical like ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, but instead appeals to a very similar demographic to ‘Aquaman’, as both aim to please those looking for big-budget spectacle over the holidays.

Bumblebee’ sees Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie, who befriends and must protect the aforementioned Autobot Transformer against agent Jack Burns (John Cena) of Sector 7, a government agency that investigates aliens on earth.

Its interesting premise won’t necessarily translate into high Box Office takings in its first weekend with just $26m, but Paramount can bank on the film to restore some faith in the failing franchise in coming weeks to potentially push the film into profitability. Remember, if ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ could finish on $404.5m after opening to $36.2m, there’s hope for ‘Bumblebee’ yet.

Jennifer Lopez-fronted rom-com ‘Second Act’ looks to finish STX Films’ torrid time at the Box Office this year on a high note with a $10m opening, similar to that of ‘Love Simon’ ($11.8m) and ‘Aloha’ ($9.7m). Benefiting from half the budget of STX’s biggest domestic grosser of the year ‘I Feel Pretty’, ‘Second Act’ should find little trouble in at least breaking even by the time its theatrical run is done.

A flop was always expected with such a high number of new releases, and in this case, it falls to the ‘Downsizing’ of 2018, ‘Welcome to Marwen’, starring Steve Carrell and directed by Robert Zemeckis. Made on inflated $39m budget, we’re forecasting this to open below last Christmas’ ‘Downsizing’ ($5m), at around $4.3m.

Finally, period dramas ‘The Favourite’ and ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ hit 800 cinemas each in their wide releases, but won’t trouble the top ten, earning around $2m each. War documentary ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ opened on a special one-day release on Monday to $2.3m, and will be re-released on the December 27th.

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‘Spider-Man’ Soars To $35m In Mixed Weekend: Box Office Report

Written by Dapo Olowu

After two weeks of no new major releases, we’d be forgiven for expecting ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ to open big this Box Office weekend, or at least break the $40m barrier.

Still, it swung in at $35.4m, meaning it takes the record as December’s biggest ever animated start anyway, beating out the likes of ‘Sing’ from 2016 ($35.3m). ‘Sing’ makes for an apt comparison – its $75m budget is just a shade under ‘Spider-Man’s $90m, and the musical’s eventual $270.4m domestic finish potentially signals a long, leggy ‘Jumanji’-like run for the Sony animation.

For such a run to be had, however, ‘Spider-Man’ must benefit from overwhelmingly positive word of mouth reviews – which it has in excess. Boasting 97% on the Tomatometer and an A+ on Cinemascore, the film, which stars the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and others, could breakout in coming weekends, although heavy competition in the form of ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Bumblebee’ should definitely stifle its attempts.

Internationally, ‘Spider-Man’ earned $21m from 44 markets, yet won’t be making the front pages just yet, due to the continued runaway success of Warner Bros’ ‘Aquaman’, which brought in a whopping $126.4m in its second weekend overseas.

To date, its non-U.S. total stands at $261.3m, and includes a DCEU-record $190m from China. To put this into perspective, it’s already Warner Bros’ second biggest film there ever (after ‘Ready Player One’), and only ‘Age of Ultron’, ‘Venom’, and ‘Infinity War’ stand in its way of becoming the country’s biggest superhero movie of all time.

With its U.S. release perfectly timed for this coming Friday, we could genuinely see ‘Aquaman’ swim to levels never before seen by the DCEU, and could even hit the $1bn mark.

With much smaller ambitions comes Clint Eastwood’s crime drama ‘The Mule’, which opened to a solid $17.5m. It’s an opening that marks Eastwood’s 5th biggest as a director, and 3rd biggest as an actor (inflation aside), as well as his biggest of the year, comfortably seeing out his February effort ’The 15:17 to Paris’ ($12.6m).

While many may balk at its seemingly pricey $50m production cost, Eastwood and those over at WB will be quietly optimistic at the potential for it grow in coming weekends, as it looks to appeal to a crowd uninterested in upcoming (and current) major action blockbusters. Its A- on Cinemascore implies a film highly-rated among audiences that were practically all (88%) over the age of 25, so perhaps we may see a ‘Book Club’-type performance here.

It wasn’t all good news in the Box Office, however. Universal’s ‘Mortal Engines’, the YA steampunk dystopian adaptation of the 2001 novel, failed to get started at the domestic Box Office, spluttering in with a miserable $7.6m.

Two things of note here: firstly, that ‘Mortal Engines’ has somehow outdone ‘Robin Hood’ as the flop of the season, and secondly, that Universal and co. decided it wise to spend $100m+ on a YA dystopian, as if ‘The Darkest Minds’, ‘The 5th Wave’, and ‘Allegiant’ haven’t already put the struggling genre out of its misery in recent memory. Regardless, it’ll be a real surprise to see this one reach $30m, or even be around by early January.

Finally, in the battle for 10th spot between ‘Green Book’, Deadpool-lite ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’, and ‘The Favourite’, it was ‘Green Book’ who prevailed and kept its place in the ranks, earning $2.8m in its 5th weekend of release.

Next weekend sees ‘Aquaman’ come up against the might of ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ and ‘Bumblebee’. Can the latter cause an upset, or will Warner Bros earn its 10th chart-topper of the year? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’ To Swing In With $50m, While ‘Mortal Engines’ Can’t Get Started: Box Office Predictions

Written by Dapo Olowu

After two barren weekends without a major cinematic release, the theatrical cobwebs and tumbleweed will be brushed aside as three new films bring an end to the post-Thanksgiving void, and usher in the Christmas period.

Finally.

Kicking off the weekend is ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’, Sony’s latest foray into the world of Marvel’s most beloved hero after releasing the spinoff ‘Venom’ back in October. The film sees teenager Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) taking up the ‘Spider-Man’ mantle, after teaming up with multiple parallel-universe Spider-Men to defeat crime lord Wilson Fisk.

Its all-star cast, featuring the voices of Mahershala Ali, Nicolas Cage, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, and Lily Tomlin among many others, is only bolstered by an equally strong team behind the scenes, with Lord & Miller producing, and the latter getting a co-writing credit.

The quality in production has apparently shone through to the final product; its near-perfect 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, A+ on Cinemascore, and 87 on Metacritic means it’s one of the best-reviewed superhero films in modern memory, perfect fuel for a great Box Office lift-off.

We’re optimistically forecasting a gross just below $50m from Friday to Sunday, considering the recent slew of family-friendly animations (and superhero movies) that have already quenched the thirsts of the general audience. It’s an opening that falls just behind another Lord & Miller production ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ from 2017, which made $53m in its first 3 days, on its way to earning $175.8m domestically.

Next is Clint Eastwood’s second film of the year after February’s ’15:17 to Paris’ – ‘The Mule’. Eastwood directs and stars as Earl Stone, an elderly drug trafficker (based on the true story of World War 2 veteran Leo Sharp). The film also sees Bradley Cooper as DEA Agent Colin Bates, alongside Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Taissa Farmiga, and Andy García.

This R-rated crime flick has the better of ’15:17’ when it comes to critical reception, but this makes little difference for the $50m production, which looks to open at around $14m$1.5m more than ’15:17’. ‘The Mule’, it seems, will need to keep delivering the goods in coming weeks, or else get caught by the chasing pack.

What’s a Box Office weekend without a big budget flop? First-time director Christian Rivers teams up with Peter Jackson (‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’) to deliver ‘Mortal Engines’, Universal’s steampunk dystopian based off of Phillip Reeve’s 2001 novel of the same name.

Fears of a ‘Robin Hood’-like failure are warranted, given its bloated $100m+ budget and poor response from both critics and audiences (28% on RT, B- on Cinemascore). Therefore, we’re predicting a start of $10.6m, meaning ‘Mortal Engines’ has already stalled upon release.

Finally, Oscar-hopeful ‘The Favorite’, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, looks to beat out ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ and ‘Green Book’ for a place in the top ten. Still in a limited release, playing in just 423 cinemas, the historical period-piece, starring Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, should earn $3.4m for 10th place.

The Box Office is back in full swing this weekend, with ‘Spider-Man’ leading the way. Will it hit the lofty $50m heights we predict, or will it just fall short? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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REVIEW: Mortal Engines (2018)

Directed by: Christian Rivers
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae

Written by Elena Morgan

Based on the book by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic future where in order to survive, whole towns and cities are on wheels, roaming the Earth looking for fuel. Smaller towns are on the constant lookout for predator cities, London being the biggest and deadliest of them all. If a town gets caught, the predator city ingests it and strips it for parts.

What you need from a whole new fantasy film, especially one where not everyone will have read the source material, is to be instantly immersed into this world – Mortal Engines succeeds in this. Opening with a thrilling chase as London pursues and eventually captures a small town, you’re seamlessly introduced to its world, how these towns work, and how its people live. Unbeknownst to London’s hero Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), on their newly acquired fuel source is Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) a young woman who is hell-bent on revenge for her mother’s murder. After Hester’s attempt to kill Valentine fails, she, along with historian Tom (Robert Sheehan) who had naively tried to help Valentine, are flung from the city and are forced to fend for themselves.

While there are big fights, explosions, and aerial spectacles, it’s Hester and Tom slowly learning to trust and care for one another that’s at the heart of this film. Sheehan’s natural charisma shines through, and his chemistry with Hilmar makes Tom and Hester’s relationship surprisingly sweet. They’re like an odd couple, Tom is friendly and enthused about ancient technology, while Hester is wary and untrusting. Having there be no big-name actors as the heroes, means there is a real sense of peril for these characters as you soon realise anyone might not make it.

The set design and special effects are incredible, these towns and cities feel like living creatures and they each have their own unique style. The same thing can be said for the various flying aircraft as well. The costumes and props flesh out this futuristic world that’s simultaneously old-fashioned with their love of books and need for coal, but also modern with their guns and planes. It’s like steam-punk mixed with sci-fi, making Mortal Engines a world of its own.

Some subplots aren’t that great and never really reach their potential, one in particular concerns Valentine’s daughter (Leila George) and her unlikely ally. They are both interesting characters but once they’ve discovered enough so the audience is aware of what’s happening, they disappear and there’s no real conclusion to their arcs.

Mortal Engines is an action-packed, fun adventure about outlaws attempting to save the world from a greedy capitalist. What more could you want? 

 

ELENA’S VERDICT:

4

Reel Women: December UK Releases

Welcome back to Reel Women, the monthly feature that highlights the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. This month we’ve got a couple of Netflix releases, some foreign language films, and the latest offering from the Transformers franchise. There’s plenty to tide you over this holiday season.

 

7 December

Dumplin’
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Written by: Kristin Hahn

Based on the YA novel by Julie Murphy, Dumplin’ (Danielle Macdonald) is the plus-size daughter of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston) who signs up to her mum’s pageant as a protest. But soon things escalate as others follow in her footsteps.

Anne Fletcher is an actress, producer and director. Dumplin’ is her seventh film and some of her previous films include The Proposal (2009) and Step Up (2006). Kristen Hahn is a director, writer and producer, Dumplin’ is her second produced screenplay.

 

Tulip Fever
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Written by: Deborah Moggach and Tom Stoppard

An artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.

Deborah Moggach is a film and television screenwriter and wrote the novel Tulip Fever is based on. In 2006 her adapted screenplay of Pride & Prejudice was nominated for a BAFTA

 

Mug
Directed by: Malgorzata Szumowska
Written by: Michal Englert and Malgorzata Szumowska

When Jacek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz) undergoes a face transplant, he suffers identity issues as he struggles to find his place again in the tight knit community he’s from.

Mug is Malgorzata Szumowska’s seventh feature film and at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival it was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear and won the Jury Grand Prix. Szumowska has won 25 awards and has another 30 nominations to her name.

 

Theatre of War
Written & Directed by: Lola Arias

A documentary that reveals the personal stories of both British and Argentinean former soldiers whose lives were deeply affected by the Falklands war.

Theatre of War is Arias’s first film.

 

8 December

Mortal Engines
Directed by: Christian Rivers
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson

Set in a dystopian future where all cities are constantly moving across the Earth on wheels, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) fights for revenge for her mother’s murder.

Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have collaborated with Peter Jackson previously on King Kong (2005), the Hobbit trilogy, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They both won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).

 

12 December

Out of Many, One
Directed by John Hoffman and Nanfu Wang

Documentary about immigration has become a divisive issue in the United States.

Nanfu Wang is a director, editor, cinematographer and producer.

 

14 December

Free Solo
Directed by: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

A documentary about Alex Honnold, the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall.

Free Solo is Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s sixth feature-length documentary. Her previous film Incorruptible (2015) is currently on Netflix.

 

21 December

Bird Box
Directed by: Susanne Bier
Written by: Eric Heisserer

After a mysterious event leaves the world in fear, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and her two children must travel through a forest blindfolded in order to survive.

Susanne Bier has over 20 directing credits to her name and she’s also a writer and producer. In 2016 she won an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special for her work on The Night Manager.

 

24 December

Bumblebee
Directed by: Travis Knight
Written by: Christina Hodson

Set in the 1980’s, a teenage girl finds and befriends Bumblebee, an alien robot from another planet.

Bumblebee is Christina Hodson’s third produced screenplay. Her next screenplay is Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).


That’s nine films made by women released this month – three of them are on Netflix. As always, we’d love to hear what you think of any of these films if you get the chance to see them. We’ll see you next year as we continue to shine a spotlight on female filmmakers.

It’s A Game Of Survival In A Brand New ‘Mortal Engines’ Trailer

“Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.”

Directed by: Christian Rivers

Cast: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Frankie Adams, Stephen Lang

Release Date: December 14th, 2018

It’s Survival Of The Fastest In Brand New Trailer For ‘Mortal Engines’

“Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.”

Directed by: Christian Rivers

Cast: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Frankie Adams, Stephen Lang

Release Date: December 14th, 2018

 

Epic First Trailer For Peter Jackon’s New Saga ‘Mortal Engines’

“Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.’

Directed By: Christian Rivers

Cast: Robert Sheehan, Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang, Joel Tobeck

Release Date: 14th December 2018