Box Office Predictions: Audiences Won’t Lose ‘Focus’

Will Smith and Margot Robbie team up for the dramedy Focus, which for reasons unknown is also an IMAX release. I can’t see too many people paying the premium IMAX for this, so that won’t help much. Instead, Focus will have to rely on Smith’s name, and the general lack of competition (considering how fast Fifty Shades is falling). It opens against The Lazarus Effect, a horror film with a fairly recognizable cast. Will that cast (Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, Evan Peters, Mark Duplass) be able to pull in audiences? Reviews haven’t been kind, but Focus isn’t lighting fires either. Birdman is also expanding into 1,000 screens following its Best Picture win last weekend, but it is also now on DVD, so who knows if it’ll make any impact this weekend.

1) Focus- 22M Weekend, 22M Total
2) The Lazarus Effect- 11M Weekend, 11M Total
3) Fifty Shades Of Grey- 10M Weekend, 147M Total
3) Kingsman- 10M Weekend, 84M Total
5) Spongebob Squarepants 2- 9M Weekend, 138M Total
6) McFarland USA- 6.5M Weekend, 20M Total
7) The Duff- 6M Weekend, 19M Total
7) American Sniper- 6M Weekend, 329M Total
9) Hot Tub Time Machine 2- 3M Weekend, 11M Total
10) Jupiter Ascending- 2M Weekend, 43M Total

Top 10 Movies and Shows Coming and Going From Netflix

Each month, a block of films and TV shows leave Netflix Instant, and a block of films and shows come in. Here are 10 films and shows that are about to disappear from your queue (that you need to watch) and 10 that you need to add to your queue.

COMING TO NETFLIX:
1) Finding Neverland- March 1st
If you missed the story of how JM Barrie’s Peter Pan came to be, you’ve missed a rather perfect, unoffensive little movie. It’s some of the best work that Johnny Depp has ever done, and it’s also his most straightforward.

2) Patch Adams- March 1st
The movie itself is a bit sappy. But Robin Williams’s performance is what you come for. Be honest. You’re still grieving, and you needed another Robin Williams film to watch.

3) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1- March 6th
Netflix’s new comedy, which was originally supposed to be an NBC sitcom, is now premiering on Netflix. Ellie Kemper was a breakout star of The Office, so it’ll be nice to see what she can do in her own show.

4) Archer: Season 5- March 7th
It’s time to get on the Archer bandwagon. Archer is that show that your friend who is really into pop culture keeps referencing, and you’re always like “I don’t get it.” Start getting it.

5) How To Train Your Dragon 2- March 11th
Snubbed. This was the best animated film last year, but some people have hangups about sequels.

6) 3rd Rock From The Sun: The Complete Series- March 15th
If you’ve finished Friends already, it’s time to start your new obsession.

7) Life Itself- March 19th
The Roger Ebert documentary that should have been nominated for an Oscar is hitting Netflix this month.

8) Mad Men: Season 7- March 22nd
The beginning of the end.

9) Turn: Season 1- March 25th
Another exceptional, and underwatched, AMC original series.

10) Frankie and Alice- March 27th
Halle Berry’s performance got rave reviews. Now you can find out why. And figure out why you’ve never heard of this film.

LEAVING NETFLIX:
1) Cool Runnings- March 1st
Jamaican Bobsled Team + John Candy. Add in a dash of nostalgia and some good old Disney, and Cool Runnings made my list.

2) Dumb and Dumber- March 1st
A classic comedy. The sequel was crap, but the first one is hilarious.

3) Honey I Shrunk The Kids- March 1st
Also, more nostalgia. If you’ve been waiting to share this movie with your kids, now might be the time.

4) Pretty In Pink- March 1st
A classic 80’s teen movie. Molly Ringwald. Nostalgia for a different childhood.

5) Seven- March 1st
An absolute must see for any film lover. David Fincher’s classic thriller is one of the best movies ever made. Ever.

6) Girlfight- March 1st
If you’ve ever looked at Michelle Rodriguez and wondered “where did she come from?” The answer is this exceptional indie film that shows how well Michelle Rodriguez can really act. It’s a shame she’s never quite been given the same chance.

7) The Graduate- March 1st
Another classic. It’s another “you gotta see this” classic. Great film, great performances. If you’ve ever heard someone reference a Mrs. Robinson, you’ll understand what that means after finally watching this.

8) Muppet Movies- March 5th and 15th
Netflix is saying bye to a few Muppet films. The Muppet Movie disappears on March 5th, then 10 days later we lose Muppet Treasure Island.

9) Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion- March 22nd
Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino star in what eventually became a cult classic. There was a really bad TV movie sequel, but we like to pretend it never existed.

10) A Bunch Of Cartoon Network Kids Shows- March 30th
Adventure Time, Ben 10, Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo, and other Cartoon Network favorites are disappearing at the end of the month. Start your binge watching now! This also applies to some Adult Swim shows. Robot Chicken and Children’s Hospital are leaving as well.

So The Oscars Happened…

This is the point where your mom becomes really interested in Birdman. “Have you seen it? Is it playing anywhere near me?” My predictions this year were pretty solid. I missed Best Director, though I’m not entirely surprised that they didn’t split Picture/Director this year. I would have been more surprised if Bennett Miller won. I got all the acting categories, though the only one really “in contention” was Actor. I did not guess Animated Feature correctly, as I was pulling for a How To Train Your Dragon 2 win (Big Hero 6 won instead). I am satisfied with my care, however I would not have voted for Big Hero 6. It’s a decent animated film, but I didn’t feel like it was the best from last year.

I missed out on Foreign Film, thinking that the tide had turned away from Ida, but it had somehow swung back around. It was a good thing too, because that Ida director gave the most entertaining acceptance speech of the night. He spoke all the way through the playoff music, which apparently “runs out” at some point, and left the stage when he was damn good and ready to. Good for you.

Speaking of weird speeches, what the hell was Terrence Howard doing last night? That’s how you go and get yourself on the “Do Not Present” list. I can’t imagine the Oscar producers ask him back anytime soon. It was like he was having a panic attack or something. Either you can handle speaking in front of a room full of your peers or you can’t. If you can’t, don’t accept the gig. It’s actually that simple. Your TV show isn’t on ABC, so its not like you were forced to present through network synergy (hello Viola Davis and Kerry Washington).

I nailed both Screenplays, Costume Design, and Editing. I missed Makeup, and I’m even more surprised because my #2 would have been Guardians Of The Galaxy (which went home empty handed). I got Production Design, Score, Original Song, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Documentary, Documentary Short, and Animated Short. I missed Visual Effects, which shockingly went to Interstellar. I think that was the one that got a lot of people in their “prediction pools”, because it seemed like a race between Guardians and Dawn of the Planet Of The Apes. But, Interstellar has great VFX too, it just seemed to be behind in the race somehow. I technically got Live Action Short right, but my readers wouldn’t know it. I posted on social media shortly before the show my list of predictions, and I had a last minute change of heart and picked The Phone Call. As it was pointed out to me, since it stars actors you actually have heard of, there’s a higher chance that more people actually saw it and voted for it. Sure, Boogaloo and Graham won the BAFTA, but The Phone Call has Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent. You can’t beat that, and they didn’t.

The Best Moments Of Last Night:

1) Lady Gaga blowing everyone away with her Sound Of Music tribute. I had no idea she could sing like that. Can we redo the live Sound Of Music and put Gaga in it this time?

2) Graham Moore’s lovely acceptance speech, telling all the kids out there to “stay weird”. I feel like his story is so true, that there are so many people out there who feel lost and helpless as a kid, and then when they become an adult they hit their stride. He’s a perfect reminder of that.

3) Patricia Arquette calling for equal pay for women. We’ll be talking about that for a long time.

4) Weird moments. Other than Terrence Howard, we had John Travolta molesting poor Idina Menzel, and Sean Penn’s “green card” joke. Like, come on guys, get your shit together.

5) Naked Patrick Harris. Coming out on stage in your underwear is… ballsy.

So how did you feel about this years Oscars? Upset that Boyhood didn’t win more Oscars? Well, you have a whole year to get prepared for the crushing blow of Fifty Shades Of Grey walking away empty handed… so start now!

My Oscar Predictions

BEST PICTURE:Probably the hardest to predict category, right now. You’re gonna find almost every Oscar specialist saying it’s between Boyhood and Birdman, along with a few reminding you that American Sniper could take it all, or that Whiplash might surprise everyone. Realistically, this is between Birdman and Boyhood, and my gut instinct is to say that Birdman is more accessible than Boyhood, so it will edge out the win. I’m gonna go with Birdman, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Boyhood won. I would be pleasantly surprised if Whiplash won.

BEST DIRECTOR: This might be the year where we get a director/picture split. I think this is still Richard Linklater, even though Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has been making up a lot of ground. I think people recognize what Linklater did over 12 years, and even if they didn’t vote for Boyhood for picture, they’ll give him a vote here for director. I know that Inarritu won the DGA, so this is a daring prediction, but the DGA is a much wider voting body than the branch that gets to vote for the Oscars.

BEST ACTOR: This race has come down to Eddie Redmayne vs Michael Keaton, with a few people saying Bradley Cooper could upset. Again, this is pretty much a toss up, but while I’ve ignored the DGA, I’ll tip my hat to the SAG, and pick their winner Eddie Redmayne. The past 10 winners at SAG in this category have gone on to win the Oscar. That’s a pretty good rate of achievement. Of course, streaks are meant to be broken…

BEST ACTRESS: Julianne Moore has had this locked down. She’s never won an Oscar before, and this is her time. It’s so much of a lock, I can’t even predict who would be the upset.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:Also, a really big lock. JK Simmons is a beloved character actor who has existed in Hollywood for years, supporting everyone in the world. He’s not just the Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash, he’s the Best Supporting Actor working right now. It helps that everyone loved Whiplash, and loved him in it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Basically, a lock, but moreso because of her lack of competition. Patricia Arquette has this in the bag.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: This is a pretty open race, actually. Some people really loved each of these movies. It’s gonna be a photo-finish, but I’m going with How To Train Your Dragon 2, even if it is a sequel.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: You could say this is Ida and be done with it, but a large uprising has been happening, and it seems now that Leviathan has an equal shot at this. Just because Ida has a cinematography nomination doesn’t mean Leviathan can’t beat it. There’s also Timbuktu, which has a lot of support. Plus, now that everyone can vote for this category, it’s really wide open. I’m gonna go for Leviathan, by a very narrow margin.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: I’d say its a toss up between The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, and Boyhood. Considering that last year they picked the quirky off-beat Her in this category, you could make the case for either Birdman or Budapest. I’m betting Birdman flies away with this.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: This is between The Imitation Game and Whiplash (with a constant reminder that American Sniper made over 300 million, and could upset in literally any category it is nominated in). Since The Imitation Game is about a real person, and a real hero, I’m leaning toward The Imitation Game, especially considering Whiplash really is an Original screenplay.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Birdman. He won his guild award. Done.

COSTUME DESIGN: Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s up against some weak nominees.

FILM EDITING:This is between Boyhood and Whiplash. I’m going to predict Whiplash, edges the win here.

BEST MAKEUP:Just like Dallas Buyers Club last year, Foxcatcher will win for supporting the Oscar nominated performances of its lead and supporting actor.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: This is another award for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:It’s time that Alexandre Desplat won an Oscar, and he’s nominated for both Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game. Budapest seems to be the favorite here, so we’re going with that.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: The love for The LEGO Movie and the fact that it wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature could help Everything Is Awesome win. There’s a chance that Glen Campbell could get people to vote for his song as well. Lost Stars from Begin Again is a strong contender. At the end of the day, the safe bet is Glory from Selma, making Common an Academy Award Winner.

SOUND EDITING: The only category where American Sniper is actually the presumed frontrunner, regardless of what it made at the box office.

SOUND MIXING: This one, however, will go to Whiplash

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: It’s the chance to honor Guardians Of The Galaxy, which many felt is one of the years best, and could have even been a Best Picture nominee. That being said, Dawn of the Planet Of The Apes has more intricate work, and could steal this.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The upset here is The Last Days In Vietnam (I think), but Citizenfour is the favorite to win here. Virunga is also backed by Netflix, and could win this as well.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: Experts say Crisis Hotline, but I’ve heard Joanna is quite good as well.

LIVE ACTION SHORT:Boogaloo and Graham won the BAFTA, so bet on that.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Disney surprisingly lost this last year, but I’m sure Feast won’t lose this year.

Box Office Predictions: ‘Fifty Shades’ Of A Second Victory?

Fifty Shades Of Grey is destined for a huge tumble in week 2. It’s a Valentines entry, and it’s poorly reviewed. Even audiences only gave it a C+ cinemascore, so we can’t expect much long term. A drop of at least 60% should be expected. The Kingsman should hold better, dropping perhaps just under 50%.

This weeks new releases will have a hard time even hitting the top 3. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 should do the best, but without John Cusack, it’s just a sequel to a film that made a little over 50M. McFarland USA is getting good reviews, but it’s more of an under the radar thing. Same with The DUFF, which has no real stars.

Next week, Will Smith opens Focus, and that should be able to hit #1.

1) Fifty Shades Of Grey- 30M Weekend, 138M Total
2) The Kingsman- 20M Weekend, 71M Total
3) Spongebob Squarepants 2- 18M Weekend, 128M Total
4) Hot Tub Time Machine 2- 16M Weekend, 16M Total
5) American Sniper- 11M Weekend, 321M Total
6) McFarland USA- 9M Weekend, 9M Total
7) The DUFF- 7M Weekend, 7M Total
8) Jupiter Ascending- 4.5M Weekend, 41M Total
9) Paddington- 3M weekend, 68M Total
10) The Imitation Game- 2.5M Weekend, 83M Total

Weekend Box Office: ‘Fifty Shades’ Beats The Competition Into Submission

Oh yeah, I went there. Fifty Shades Of Grey did absurdly good, opening to 81.6M over three days for a 22,400 per screen average. It’s a shame it did so well, because no one will be talking about Kingsman, which actually did really well for a second place film. Kingsman pulled in 35.6M in second place… in February. The top two films both did huge business over a weekend in February. In June this would be nothing, but Kingsman’s second place opening was good enough to post as the 16th best February opening ever (Fifty Shades is 2nd). And if that wasn’t big enough, Spongebob pulled in another 30M. It was a huge weekend at the box office. In limited release, The Last Five Years pulled in 15K per screen (which is actually pretty good, and should signal an expansion).

1) Fifty Shades Of Grey- 81.6M Weekend, 81.6M Total
2) Kingsman- 35.6M Weekend, 35.6M Total
3) Spongebob Squarepants 2- 30.5M Weekend, 93.6M Total
4) American Sniper- 16.4M Weekend, 304.1M Total
5) Jupiter Ascending-9.4M Weekend, 32.5M Total
6) Seventh Son- 4.1M Weekend, 13.4M Total
7) Paddington- 4.1M Weekend, 62.3M Total
8) The Imitation Game- 3.5M Weekend, 79.6M Total
9) The Wedding Ringer- 3.4M Weekend, 59.7M Total
10) Project Almanac- 2.7M Weekend, 19.5M Total
11) Black Or White- 2.5M Weekend, 17.3M Total
12) The Boy Next Door- 1.8M Weekend, 33.8M Total
13) Still Alice- 1.7M Weekend, 4.6M Total
14) Taken 3- 1.1M Weekend, 86.8M Total
15) Old Fashioned- 1.0M Weekend, 1.1M Total
??) The Last Five Years- 45K Weekend, 45K Total

Early Box Office Projections: ‘Fifty Shades’ Of Box Office Records?

Fifty Shades Of Grey has now put the February Box Office Record in its sights. It is aiming for the highest opening weekend of the month ever, a record currently held by The Passion Of The Christ at 83.8M. Will Fifty Shades eek out a win, or will it fall short? It took in a tremendous 31M on Friday, and Saturday should be just as big (if not bigger), as Valentine’s audiences are the whole reason this film is opening this weekend. Also doing banner business is The Kingsman, which pulled in 10M on Friday, and is looking to keep hitting on all cylinders as great counterprogramming to Grey.

1) Fifty Shades Of Grey- 83M Weekend, 83M Total
2) The Kingsman- 32M Weekend, 32M Total
3) Spongebob Squarepants 2- 26M Weekend, 99M Total
4) American Sniper- 16M Weekend, 307M Total
5) Jupiter Ascending- 7M Weekend, 31M Total
6) Paddington- 4M Weekend, 63M Total
7) Seventh Son- 3M Weekend, 13M Total
8) The Imitation Game- 3M Weekend, 80M Total
9) The Wedding Ringer- 2.5M Weekend, 59M Total
10) Black Or White- 2.5M Weekend, 17M Total

James Franco Heads To Hulu?

James Franco has signed to star in the new Hulu limited event series 11/22/63, based on the book by Stephen King. 9 episodes have been ordered by the streaming service. JJ Abrams’s Bad Robot is producing.

The book is based around an English teacher who accidentally stumbles on a time portal that sends him back to 1958, and he tries to stop the assassination of JFK, though many complications arise. Franco is tapped to play the English teacher, Jake Epping. This is the first casting for 11/22/63.

Hot New Trailer: Aloha

Bradley Cooper headlines the newest effort from director Cameron Crowe, ‘Aloha’. Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin, and Danny McBride are along for the ride. It looks pretty awesome. I’m surprised this is opening in the summer, and not in Oscar season. It has an Oscar-comedy vibe to it. Aloha is currently scheduled for May 29th, against the disaster film San Andreas.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Paula Malcomson, Natalie Dormer, Evan Ross, Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Patina Miller
Directed By: Frances Lawrence

Yes, I’m tardy to the party. But, I did get to see this in theatres (even though I saw it very late). At first, I didn’t see the film because I had hopes of finding time to read the Mockingjay book prior to watching the film. As you might have guessed, that didn’t happen. I was disappointed, because I had read the first two Hunger Games books, but never made the time for the third. So, for once, I don’t know how well this lines up with the book. But, since it was split into two movies, I’d imagine it’s a terribly faithful adaptation of the book.

I’m a fan of the Hunger Games franchise, so I tend to overlook some key issues with the story, simply because I find the overall story to be entertaining. I didn’t really like Jennifer Lawrence’s acting (for the first time ever, I think). I thought her sad face was fake, and her danger face never felt like there was any imminent danger. Her acting bled over into Hemsworth, who just turns his brooding to 11, and Claflin, who seems to have lost every reason why Finnick was cool in the second book. Now he’s mopey, and completely quip free. Stanley Tucci’s fabulousness has been sidelined into boring TV interviews, Julianne Moore delivers a muted performance, and Woody Harrleson’s character has sobered up. All the fun has been sucked out of every character, including Elizabeth Banks’s Effie Trinket. HOWEVER, for Effie, it’s actually really part of her character development, and Banks soars with what she’s been given here. Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman commands an expanded Plutarch, and newcomer Natalie Dormer adds a lot to her scenes.

It’s the least action packed of the Hunger Games franchise, due to the fact that there are no Hunger Games. It’s a lot of plotting and planning and finger-pointing (but no finger-painting). It’s a lot of weird facial expressions from Katniss, mixed in with a few real emotions (Lawrence isn’t off her game the entire film). It might be the most uneven in the franchise, but it isn’t a huge letdown. The expansive story really ties the whole franchise together, revealing the existence of a 13th district, what happened in District 12, and the continued oppression by President Snow on his people. The characters in the Hunger Games series are growing up, and their films are growing up with them.

I’m definitely still looking forward to the big finale next year, knowing that we’re about to go from 0-100 in terms of tempo and action. Not my favorite Hunger Games film, but it’s not a bad film either.

FINAL GRADE: B

Too Cool For Comic-Con

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