Oct 9, 2020
Hit or Bomb? August 2019 movie predictions
As we all know, August is traditionally a dumping ground for films without much blockbuster potential, so it’s time for us to adjust our expectations way way down and predict which films released this month will be HITs and which will BOMB based solely on watching the trailers. Our box office gurus this time are Agony Booth staffers Thomas Stockel, Julie Kushner, Rick Lewis, and Tyler Peterson.
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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (August 2)
Lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and outlaw Shaw (Jason Statham) are sworn enemies from the Fast & Furious series, but when a villain (Idris Elba) described by the film’s official synopsis as a “cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist” (you read that right) gets hold of a dangerous bio-weapon, the two are forced to work together and partner up with a rogue MI:6 agent (Vanessa Kirby) who also happens to be Shaw’s sister.
Thomas S: Back in 2001, I saw The Fast and the Furious in the theater. I thought it was an entertaining film; nothing too special about it. If someone had told me eighteen years later this franchise would involve super-villains, I would have said they were high. Oh, how the motion picture landscape has changed. This film has three huge stars, it’s part of a massively successful franchise, and with no other real competition I predict it’s going to be a massive HIT.
Julie: It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of $15.75 must want to spend it on a film starring the Rock, Jason Statham, and Idris Elba, where cars race through the air, motorcycles are driven at insane speeds, and large buildings, people, and vehicles all get blown up at random, and for no particular reason at all. In fact, the writer of the bazillionth installment of this well-worn franchise is so cocky about it being a financial success that he’s already pitching a follow-up film that takes place in space. Seriously. HIT.
Rick: Spin-offs are hard with TV shows, and near impossible with movies. But I’ll be damned if the trailer doesn’t make the dynamic between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham look fun to watch. Considering how wildly this series has evolved from its origins only to become a bigger and bigger hit each time, I have to think they probably know what they’re doing and are gonna HIT it out of the park once again.
Tyler: I dunno. I’m worried that loyal fans of the Fast & Furious franchise will feel betrayed by the lack of street racing in Hobbs & Shaw. Just kidding, HIT.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold (August 9)
In this live-action sequel to Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer, the title prepubescent adventurer is now all grown up and played by Isabela Moner and trading the South American jungles for the blackboard jungle of high school. But soon she has to form a ragtag group of teens plus her old pal Boots the Monkey (Danny Trejo?!?) to find her parents (Michael Peña, Eva Longoria) in the ruins of a lost Incan civilization.
Thomas S: Is Dora the Explorer still a thing? Honestly, I had forgotten she existed before I saw this trailer. I guess with there being little competition in regards to kids’ movies, this will be a minor HIT.
Julie: Part of me feels like the producers of this film should have ditched the “Lost City of Gold” aspect of the plot entirely, and just leaned in to the fish-out-of-water comedy inherent in a sort-of grown-up former Nickelodeon character trying to survive in a modern-day inner city high school. Think of all the “amazing mysteries” Dora and her audience (with the help of repeated fourth-wall breaks) could solve there? Who’s smoking pot in the women’s bathroom? Who left a tuna fish sandwich in their locker for two weeks, and resultantly stunk up the entire east wing? Which teacher is hiding porn and liquor in their desk? Which football player is secretly doping? And which kid hacked the Instagram accounts of the entire student body and replaced all their stories with clips from “Go Diego Do?” (See what I did there?) Another part of me feels like the College Humor parody trailer for this film looks like it’s for a way better movie than this. Unfortunately, neither of those parts thinks that this movie is going to be very good, or very profitable. BOMB.
Rick: I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the BOMB.
Tyler: It feels kind of like the rash of movies we had in the ’90s that redid old sitcoms from a half nostalgic/half satirical perspective (The Beverly Hillbillies, The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, etc.) but as far as I know, this approach has never been tried on a series of Dora‘s intellectual caliber. This movie will BOMB, but I’m going to see it just to catch Werner Herzog’s uncredited cameo as Swiper.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 (August 14)
The mobile game adaptation that came out way too late back in 2016 somehow gets a sequel three years later, in which the Bad Piggies plot revenge on the Angry Birds but of course both sides have to come together when another faction threatens their entire world.
Thomas S: Who the hell was asking for this sequel? BOMB.
Julie: Sorry, moms and dads. Your tiny tots are going to make you take them to see this movie, and get them lots of sugary, overpriced candy and soda to eat and drink during the movie, and buy them all those stupid plastic Happy Meal toys inspired by this movie (the plastic bags they come in do say COLLECT THEM ALL, after all), which your dog will probably choke on, forcing you to make an impromptu visit to the vet. But remember, it could be so much worse. You could be forced to see Dora and the Lost City of Gold. HIT.
Rick: I kinda liked the first one, much to my own surprise, but not enough to remember it existed before this pointless drivel of a sequel forced its trailer into my eyeballs. Load that tubby blackbird into the catapult, because here comes a BOMB.
Tyler: [sobbing] Oww! Mommy, it hurts! It hurts so much! BOMB.
Good Boys (August 16)
Red Band/NSFW Trailer
(Safe for work trailer.) For this synopsis, we’ll follow the lead of the YouTube thumbnail and default to the wording of the official MPAA certification: “Rated R for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout – all involving tweens”.
Thomas S: I… Okay, I’ll admit it, I laughed a lot while watching the trailer. This actually looks like a lot of fun. With the only comedy to compete with it being Angry Birds Dos I think this is gonna be a HIT.
Julie: Oddly enough, I’m pretty sure this movie is actually going to help the box office numbers of Dora and Angry Birds, seeing as those are the two movies that all the 12- and 13-year-olds are going to actually buy tickets to see… before they sneak into this one. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure who the intended audience for this film is supposed to be. It’s one thing for adults to pay money to see an R-rated film about 17-year-olds played by attractive 25-year-olds that look 25, and another to see an R-rated film about 11-year-olds played by gawky 13-year-olds who look 9. Maybe they’d have better luck with the “olds” if they pitched this as a semi-prequel to Superbad? (Superbad-ish?) Regardless, the nice thing about casting mostly unknown child actors in your film is that they’re cheap, comparatively speaking. In fact, this whole movie looks pretty cheap, like “YouTube video shot by that annoying tween across the street” cheap. And because of that, I’m going to say this will score enough actually paid-for seat fillers to render it a very modest HIT.
Rick: There’s a brand new billboard ad campaign for a local radio morning show here in Nashville that’s a shocked woman’s face with the words “OMG, THEY CAN SAY THAT?!” Yeah, wow, a morning show that relies on shock value, how original. We’re way past the Howard Stern days where anyone cares how very inappropriate you can be on the radio. It’s not just passé, it’s boring now. Fortunately, this movie seems to understand that. There’s actual comedy here beyond the shock value. HIT.
Tyler: As an institution, the teen sex comedy hit a crossroads with the release of Superbad, and split into divergent camps that both chose to emphasize something different from that movie. On the one hand, you have the movies that lean hard on wokeness and emotional and sociological verisimilitude, like the recent hits Eighth Grade and Booksmart. On the other hand, you have the movies that lean hard on the raunch and rely on the protagonists’ youth to provide shock value, like any of a dozen movies cluttering up Netflix right now. The Good Boys looks like the latter, which is why I initially wanted to say Seth Rogen was stupid for not finding a streaming service to dump this on. And yet, watching the trailer, I realize why he didn’t. There’s nothing artsy about this; it’s raunch, but it’s really well-done raunch. The bits are well put-together. The kids have charm and chemistry and aren’t just pint-sized mouthpieces for adult material. They talk and act like actual tweens. I think this movie could really find an audience if given half a chance. HIT.
Angel Has Fallen (August 23)
Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who previously saved the free world in Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen, is now under arrest after being framed for an assassination attempt on the president (Morgan Freeman, still playing this role 20 years after Deep Impact). To clear his name, Banning has to evade authorities and team up with unlikely allies to prevent the real terrorist threat.
Thomas S: Not a whole lot to say about this one, either. I haven’t seen the first two in the franchise, and I’m not really looking forward to this one. Having Gerard Butler framed seems the only place to go with the series, but it’s pretty predictable and honestly, would anybody believe the guy who saved the president is now a traitor? Still, I think there’s enough of a fanbase that this will be a minor HIT.
Julie: Um, Gerald Butler is supposed to be the “Angel” in this situation, right? So, the first movie in this series was about the White House falling, and the second movie was about London falling, and the third movie is about Gerard Butler falling? Talk about diminishing returns. If I wanted to watch late middle-aged men fall, I certainly don’t have to pay $15 bucks to see it on the big screen—I can turn on the Hallmark Channel after 12 AM and watch one of those Lifeline commercials for free. All jokes aside, this looks like a poorly made, straight-to-streaming reboot of The Fugitive masquerading as the last vestige of a long-dead film franchise. And that would be fine from a box office standpoint, except all the dude-bros who would ordinarily go see this one will be in the theater next door seeing Fast and Furious #565,000. BOMB.
Rick: Whatever blind dog picks Gerald Butler’s scripts for him needs to be taken out and shot already. GeoStorm, Gods of Egypt, Gamer… this one doesn’t even start with a G but sucks nonetheless. BOMB.
Tyler: I did not make it through London Has Fallen. It got about ten times more fascist than Olympus Has Fallen, which itself was fascist even by the standards of save-the-president movies. More than that, though, it was boring—a dark, muddy, poorly-shot, mechanical arglebargle full of incoherent action. It’s hard to tell how reactionary Angel Has Fallen is, but it looks exactly as boring. Gerard Butler looks puffy, droopy, and tired beyond his years, and his level of engagement with the material approaches that of a hungover dad in a parent-teacher conference. It ought to be a hit with Oakley-clad boomer dads, but BOMB with everyone else.
How’d we do on last month’s predictions?
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Budget: $160M | Earnings to date: $345M | Projected total earnings: $370M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: The Amazing HIT
The Lion King (2019)
Budget: $260M | Earnings to date: $320M | Projected total earnings: $500M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: King-sized HIT
Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood
Budget: $90M | Earnings to date: $41M | Projected total earnings: $100-120M
Prediction: 80% said HIT (4 of 5)
Reality: Inglourious HIT
Budget: $16M | Earnings to date: $20M | Projected total earnings: $23M
Prediction: 20% said HIT (1 of 5)
Reality: Eh, stub-sized HIT, I guess?
FINAL SCORE: 3 Right, 1 Wrong
How movies are judged:
- The Agony Booth judges a movie to be a HIT if we project that it will significantly exceed its production budget in domestic (U.S and Canada) box office earnings. Our rule of thumb is +20%, but this may slide up or down based on the marketing budget.
- The Agony Booth only considers domestic box office total, because the share of international ticket sales that ends up with the studio varies not just from studio to studio, but often from movie to movie (although this is less true than it used to be).