May 1, 2020
Hit or Bomb? February 2017 movie predictions
Another new month is upon us, meaning it’s the time when I would normally go into a long-winded spiel about the kinds of movies you can expect over the next few weeks, but I think we all know the drill: It’s February. Lower your expectations accordingly.
Nevertheless, all your favorite Agony Booth writers are here once again to render their knee-jerk opinions about which upcoming movies will be HITs and which will be BOMBs based solely on viewing the trailers. And just like before, we implore you to stick around after the predictions to see how accurate we were in January. (Read our January 2017 movie predictions here!)
The Space Between Us (February 3)
The first humans arrive on Mars to colonize the planet, but it turns out one of them is pregnant, and she dies during childbirth. 16 years later, her son (Asa Butterfield) visits Earth for the first time, where he meets a girl (Britt Robertson) he video chatted with from Mars, and she helps him experience the wonders of the planet. Unfortunately, their budding romance may be doomed when it turns out the Martian-born teen’s body can’t survive in Earth’s environment.
Thomas S: There’s a definite market for a film like this, and it’s called the tween demographic. Fortunately, it looks smarter than your average Twilight-like fare. I’m going to give this a cautious HIT.
Julie: So it’s kind of like The Martian, only with teenagers, and without all that talk about the surprise health benefits of using your colleagues’ poo as fertilizer to grow potatoes. I liked The Martian, and I dislike poo, so this film’s basic premise and overall vibe had me from the get-go. But then it lost me with its shift from scientific phenomenon and space exploration to a forced romance between two early twenty-something actors playing teens who, at least based on the extended trailer, have next to no chemistry with each other. In light of that, all poop-as-potato-fertilizer jokes aside, sorry to say it, but: BOMB!
Thomas R: I like to think that this started off as a dartboard game between two execs trying to figure out their next movie based on hits from the last two years, and the darts landed on The Martian and The Fault in Our Stars respectively. Now that the trailer has given us a full recap of the results, what little incentive there was to see it is now gone. BOMB.
Joel: The premise is just too far-fetched to become the next HIT in the subgenre of low-key near-term space exploration sci-fi (e.g., Gravity, The Martian), and the stars of Ender’s Game and Tomorrowland do not exactly have the box office track record of the stars of Jurassic World and The Hunger Games. Not big-budget enough to be a fiasco on the scale of Mars Needs Moms or John Carter, but most definitely a BOMB.
Jonathon: The trailer seems to be the entire friggin’ movie, which is never a good sign, and the plot is just a rip-off of The Fault in Our Stars with a mild sci-fi twist. BOMB.
Rings (February 3)
13 years after the events of The Ring, a woman becomes concerned when her boyfriend investigates the urban legend of a videotape that kills you seven days after you watch it. She soon discovers there’s a movie within the movie that no one’s ever seen before.
Thomas S: Sequels coming out this many years after the original seem to have a way of not doing very well. While in its day, The Ring was a scary movie that took America by storm, I think people are not going to be coming to this one. BOMB.
Tyler: A sequel to a film that’s entered the Western horror canon. Solid investment, right? But several potential complications come to mind. First off, Rings appears to be trying to skew to a younger audience than either of the previous two installments. Did anyone at the pitch meeting mention that the last Ring movie came out twelve years ago? The target audience was barely out of diapers the last time there was a Ring movie. Not to mention that the central conceit of the first two Ring movies only really works in a world of physical media; it looks like they made efforts to bring the Ring mythology into the internet age, but will they succeed? More importantly, will the kids care? There’s a lot of X-factors here, and that, combined with the release date, and the steep drop-off in performance of The Ring 2, makes me smell a BOMB.
Julie: I believe the original The Ring franchise was so successful because, in addition to being based on a Japanese horror film, which was a very hip international origin for films to have around that time, it boasted sympathetic, relatable victims, in a way that horror movies of the past simply never had before. Specifically, I think most of us viewers would be smart enough to avoid taking our college friends to the ramshackle isolated cabin that the toothless hillbillies at the gas station warned us about. We also probably wouldn’t try on the creepy clown mask, or purchase the ugly doll rumored to be imbued with evil powers. And we definitely wouldn’t lead the axe murderer, who began chasing us in a public place, into a secluded forest where he could murder us in peace and where our body wouldn’t be found for four days. That said, I think a lot of us would watch a weird creepy video, expressly because we were told not to watch it, just as most of us would press a red button upon being told “please don’t press the red button,” and would think about elephants when warned, “I bet you can’t not think about elephants for 15 seconds,” even if before that, you hadn’t thought about elephants for years. Curiosity, and an inherent sense of independence/disobedience would ultimately win out over us all. That said, it’s been twelve years since the last Ring film came out, which is way too long for a franchise to successfully remain dormant and still succeed in its rebirth. Plus, rumor has it that the film has been in reshoot purgatory since November 2015, which either means that the movie sucks bad, or that the creepy little girl from the well came out of the television and murdered everyone who tried to make it. In either event, BOMB!
Thomas R: Did anyone ask for this? Anyone at all? Anyone? Thought not. BOMB.
Mendo: It’s strange, given my well-known Nipponophilia, that I never really got into the J-horror trend that hit about 12 years ago or so. As such, The Ring completely passed me by. This trailer doesn’t look to be reversing that anytime soon, but I would like to point out that this isn’t the only Ring movie to look out for. Sadako and Kayako from The Grudge are squaring off Freddy vs. Jason-style in the similarly titled Sadako vs. Kayako! Watch that instead. BOMB.
Joel: I own a VHS tape of The Ring from a video store that went out of business in the early 2000s, around the time a premise involving such a tape, corded landline phones, and “the color of a television tuned to a dead channel” passed its sell-by date. BOMB.
Rick: In the case of life imitating art, every single person who watches this film is guaranteed to die. Not in seven days or anything, but eventually. HIT.
Fifty Shades Darker (February 10)
Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) return in this sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey. Christian entices a cautious Ana to allow him back into her life, only for her to learn that angry and envious women from Christian’s past are out to destroy their relationship.
Thomas S: I think people went to see the first movie more out of curiosity than anything else. This one is going to BOMB and BOMB hard.
Tyler: I want to say, “Do middle-aged Amway reps still read terrible porn? Then this’ll be a HIT no matter how much it objectively sucks.” My only reservation is that, considering how much money the original made, it’s weird that the budget got halved for the next installment. That’s the opposite of how it’s supposed to work, right? I did some digging on that and found out that not only did the original Fifty Shades have a second-week drop-off even more precipitous than was expected, but it only managed to get a Cinemascore rating of C+, which means the film wasn’t even successful in winning over the fans of the novel who paid to see it onscreen. All in all, it seems the studio doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the franchise’s staying power. It’ll probably still be a HIT, but a much more modest one.
Julie: Though critics will probably hate it just as much as they hated the first one, I think commercially, this second installment of the Ode to BDSM trilogy novel series (which stemmed from, of all things, a then-novice author’s Twilight fanfiction) will be markedly successful. A whole slew of single women without dates for V-day will want to take their girlfriends. And an equally sized slew of not-so-single men will begrudgingly be willing to take their girlfriends/wives while under the belief that it will increase the possibility of their getting lucky afterwards. HIT!
Thomas R: Okay, I’ve never read the books, but all the first film’s sins will be redeemed if Anastasia does indeed get recruited into the sex cult from Eyes Wide Shut and haunted by the spirit of Christian’s vengeful ex, as the trailer seems to imply. In any case, it’s a guaranteed HIT.
Mendo: Once again, I’m reminded more of a perfume ad than a movie trailer. Incidentally, did you know that perfume ads are so weird because David Lynch directed one back in the ’80s?Seriously, look it up. Never saw the first movie on principle, but it was a big hit, so this should at least do as well. HIT.
Joel: This franchise has a lock on Valentine’s Day, even if it totally shouldn’t. HIT.
Rick: Anyone who watches this trash deserves to be whipped and beaten. (So email me if you’re into that.) Seriously, I can’t believe we’re only on the second one of these damn movies. It seems like the whole Fifty Shades craze was a million years ago. This one’ll be lucky to score half the box office of the original, but sadly, that’s still a HIT.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (February 10)
In this sequel to 2014’s John Wick, Keanu Reeves returns as the title hitman, who’s forced out of retirement when a former associate plots to seize control of an international assassins’ guild. John then journeys to Rome to battle the world’s deadliest killers.
Thomas S: Oh, I am so looking forward to this movie, and I don’t think I’m alone. John Wick was a surprisingly good action flick and Keanu Reeves was wonderfully intense in it. I think he’s going to bring that intensity back to this one, and he’s bringing his dog with him. HIT.
Tyler: The original John Wick came out of nowhere and became an instant action classic. The critics love it, the Internet loves it, I love it. HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT right in the face.
Julie: Though I’m not by nature an action movie fangirl, I loved the original John Wick, partly because it was just so surprisingly entertaining, well-choreographed, and oddly humorous, and partly because I absolutely adored the idea of a guy going on a killing spree for no other reason than to avenge the death of an adorable puppy.
Thomas R: The first John Wick was a welcome reminder of both how graceful violent shoot-outs can be made to look and how good Keanu Reeves can be when used right. I don’t know how much the sequel can expand upon the original’s ideas, but action junkies and Keanu fans ought to be more than enough to make it another HIT.
Mendo: I have no strong opinion one way or the other. HIT or BOMB, I’ll give even odds.
Joel: How do you mess up a sequel to an awesome Keanu Reeves flick? You reuse a premise that doesn’t work a second time (Speed 2), neglect to get Keanu Reeves back (Speed 2), or make a convoluted muddle of a promising setup (the Matrix sequels). John Wick’s return is good on the first two counts, and probably the third. HIT.
Rick: Another sequel destined to under-perform compared to the original, which in this case is really saying something. BOMB: CHAPTER 2.
The LEGO Batman Movie (February 10)
Thanks to the success of The LEGO Movie, we get this spin-off starring LEGO Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) as he deals with the Joker’s hostile takeover of Gotham City, while also accepting the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted named Dick Grayson (voiced by Michael Cera), and maybe learning to lighten up a bit along the way.
Thomas S: I saw The LEGO Movie because my condo lost power that day, and I loved it. But I’m looking at this movie and I’m thinking maybe the producers of the first film have taken the whole LEGO thing a little too far. Still, not a whole lot of kids’ films coming out this month, so I’m calling it a HIT.
Tyler: The original was a well-reviewed, breakout blockbuster, and LEGO Batman was by far the most popular character. It’ll benefit even more from adult viewership, particularly with Will Arnett and Michael Cera essentially doing an Arrested Development reunion. Clear HIT.
Julie: The original LEGO Movie, a box office darling that garnered an impressive 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was the perfect mix of family-friendly fun, and winkingly self-aware adult meta-humor. If the trailer is any indication, The LEGO Batman Movie (a spinoff, if not outright sequel to the original film) should capture the same enjoyable essence as its predecessor. And hey, it can’t possibly be worse than that last Batman movie, which shall remain nameless. HIT!
Thomas R: While I wasn’t as huge a fan of The LEGO Movie as virtually everyone else, the potential for this one looks tremendous: Give the grimdark self-seriousness that’s been plaguing Batman stories for over a decade a long-overdue satirical ribbing, all while telling a genuinely heartfelt story that understands Batman’s character and what the Bat-Family brings to him. Even if The LEGO Movie had been a flop, the very name “Batman” is bound to bring fans flocking to this by the millions. HIT.
Mendo: A sort-of sequel to a beloved and transcendent movie, and a Batman film? Someone call the Treasury Department, because this flick is gonna print money! HIT!
Joel: Would anyone have guessed that the most promising post-Nolan Batman movie would be a toy commercial? Even the DC movies nobody likes are HITs, but this looks like it’ll be fun for all but the sort of humorless Bat-fans who consider any Bat-Silliness unforgivable. HIT.
Rick: Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na HIT!
A Cure for Wellness (February 17)
A young executive (Dane DeHaan) is sent to a “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps, only to learn that its miraculous treatments aren’t quite what they seem.
Thomas S: I think this movie is going to worm its way into horror fans’ hearts, and it’s going to leech away viewers from other films this month. I expect to see many squirming asses in seats. HIT.
Tyler: Really? Dane Dehaan? I mean, people know who he is, but I wouldn’t hang a whole movie on him just yet. Gore Verbinski isn’t exactly a box office draw by himself, either. And the trailer’s too cryptic to offer much to the casual moviegoer. I’m thinking BOMB.
Julie: Giving off a distinct Shutter Island vibe (the lead actor even vaguely resembles and sounds like a young Leonardo DiCaprio), and with a score ripped straight from Inception, here’s another movie to remind us of how creepy insane asylums were back in the “olden days.” (Are we allowed to call them insane asylums anymore? Probably not?) What’s odd about this trailer is that the first portion of the film obviously takes place in the present day, possibly even the future, while all the “Wellness Center” scenes, and the crude “cures” that accompany them, seem firmly rooted in the past. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of this film. It may be too “weird” to resonate with a mainstream audience, and the obvious comparisons to Shutter Island (maybe even to Inception) might unfairly cast this film in a red-headed stepchild light before it gets a chance to find its own footing. So, for those reasons, I’m going to have to say BOMB.
Thomas R: The premise could make for a fun little psychological thriller, but it’s clear from the histrionic, over-composed cinematography and somber narration that this movie is taking itself far more seriously than it should. Plus, I’m pretty sure audiences liked this better when it was called Shutter Island. BOMB.
Mendo: I can’t shake the feeling that the trailer will be more interesting than the actual film. Maybe the story doesn’t make the mistake of the real world outside the asylum being just as bleak and dreary as inside it, but my expectations are weak and weary. BOMB.
Joel: It’s refreshing to see a horror movie creating tension with a vivid look, instead of relying on the clichés of desaturated murkiness. HIT.
Rick: Gorgeous, gothic, artsy film-making is not what horror audiences want right now. BOMB.
Fist Fight (February 17)
Ice Cube and Charlie Day are two high school teachers who decide to settle their differences with an old-fashioned thrown down after school. Naturally, news of a fistfight between teachers quickly goes viral.
Thomas S: Ugh, BOMB. Moving on.
Tyler: Man, they keep trying to make Charlie Day a comedy headliner and it’s just… not happening. His goofy, high-strung style serves him well in his voice work, and he’s good in comic relief roles in non-comedies, but he seems to flounder whenever he’s forced into a traditional Hollywood comedy structure. I think they’re counting on Ice Cube to provide enough of a contrast to generate comic tension, but he’s too much of a parody of himself at this point in his career for that to work. BOMB.
Thomas R: This movie looks too lazy for me to even muster up enough energy to feel annoyed. But Ice Cube comedies have been pretty bankable lately, so this will probably be a HIT.
Mendo: A solid enough premise for a comedy, I guess, but for whatever reason, this preview gave me serious flashbacks to Joe Somebody. Now, I liked Joe Somebody, but I’m reasonably certain I’m the only person who even remembers it. A modest HIT if the budget isn’t too high, would be my guess.
Rick: Did someone really make a comedy about being scared of black people? BOMB.
The Great Wall (February 17)
An action epic set in 15th Century China, where a group of westerners (led by Matt Damon) join up with Chinese forces to defend the Great Wall from an assault by monsters that attack every 60 years.
Thomas S: I see so many articles written about this movie, and the series of bad creative choices made, and the casting blunders, and the sheer weirdness of it. In China, it’s going to be huge. In the States, it will BOMB.
Tyler: I’m sure someone else will make this comparison, but you know what movie this trailer reminds me of? 47 Ronin. Both are off-the-wall goofy bastardizations of Asian history that feature white Hollywood A-list protagonists, garishly stylized action sequences, and inexplicable CGI monsters. I can’t remember, did 47 Ronin do well? BOMB.
Julie: [struggles hard not to make the way too obvious Donald Trump joke here] Not too long ago, a bloated-in-length movie with lame dialogue and a slightly racist plot (one white guy single-handedly saves all of China from destruction by monsters) could succeed at the box office with nothing more than a charismatic lead and some good special effects. Unfortunately, I’ve seen effects just as good or better than what I saw in this trailer in the Blackwater battle on Game of Thrones. I really like Matt Damon, so for his sake, I hope this does okay. But practically speaking, I’m going to have to call this one a BOMB.
Thomas R: “White savior” controversy aside, this is another movie too dour to have fun with its inherently silly premise. Box-office-wise, it’s already made more than its budget back thanks to Chinese audiences, but American audiences are likely going to steer clear, making this a BOMB in the long run.
Mendo: Honestly, the only interesting thing to me about this is that it’s a whitewashing of Chinese history that was actually made in China. The cacophonous din of people wondering how the hell they’re supposed to react to this will be interesting to watch. Dunno about the film, though. BOMB.
Rick: Matt Damon as Legolas joins the Night’s Watch to fight Godzilla in ancient China. BOMB.
Collide (February 24)
After a heist gone wrong, Casey (Nicholas Hoult) is on the run from a gang run by Hagen (Anthony Hopkins), and is forced to turn to former boss and drug smuggler Geran (Ben Kingsley) to keep his girlfriend (Felicity Jones) safe.
Thomas S: God, I’m half tempted to see this movie just for Ben Kinglsey’s performance alone. Will it be enough to make it a HIT? Nope. BOMB.
Tyler: This looks like someone took leftover cuts of Taken, Drive, John Wick, and Crank, ground them up, and baked them into a uniform loaf of man-with-a-dark-past-gets-pulled-back-into-his-former-life-and-saves-his-girlfriend-by-crashing-lots-of-cars bland action hurbledegurr. The timing’s poor, too; if released in 2015 as planned, it could have capitalized on Nicholas Hoult’s residual popularity from Mad Max: Fury Road and X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it got sold off in a bankruptcy deal and pushed back three or four times (bad, bad sign), effectively rendering that small advantage moot. BOMB.
Julie: Two minutes after watching this trailer, I forgot absolutely everything about it, except how weird Ben Kingsley’s accent was, and how he appeared to be impersonating an older version of James Franco’s character in Spring Breakers. BOMB!
Thomas R: You know what’s worse than a generic actioner with Eastern European stereotypes, a boring villain with a cellphone, and a damsel in distress? A generic actioner where said Eastern European stereotypes, cellphone villain, and distressed damsel are played by respectable British thespians clearly slumming for an easy paycheck. BOMB.
Mendo: Here’s a fun game: play this trailer with the sound off and try to guess what genre the movie is. Anyone else go through two or three? I thought so. I hadn’t even heard about this one until I got emailed to do this list, so this will definitely BOMB. Remember where you heard it first!
Joel: If this really is a great tribute to the power of love, what’s it doing waiting until a week and a half after Valentine’s Day? BOMB.
Rick: Nicholas Hoult has had more chances to be a leading man than any one actor deserves. It never works. BOMB.
Get Out (February 24)
From director Jordan Peele comes this tale of a black man (Daniel Kaluuya) dating a white woman (Allison Williams) and going to meet her parents, only to stumble upon a sinister, disturbing threat to the town’s black residents.
Thomas S: You know, before the election and inauguration, I would have said this would BOMB, but in the post-inaugural paranoia, I think this movie is going to find a huge audience. HIT.
Tyler: Huh. Interesting. I mean, I’m personally interested to see how Jordan Peele does at horror—I never thought of him as geared toward that—and apparently, the film cleaned up at Sundance and the advance reviews are good. That’s just me, though. Mainstream appeal is trickier to gauge. But I think Get Out lucked out on that front, in a way: the premise would otherwise have been a bit too off-the-wall and uncomfortably racially-themed for wide consumption, but now that we somehow are talking about Nazis in mainstream political discourse again, it’s starting to look a lot more topical. HIT.
Julie: After watching this trailer on YouTube, I was met with a slew of related videos of folks posting their live reactions to this trailer, most of whom seemed varying degrees of confused. I then developed a theory that a two-hour movie featuring back-to-back confused and flabbergasted reactions to the trailer for Get Out would probably end up being a better movie than Get Out itself. Then I read an early copy of the script for this movie on the internet, and confirmed that my theory was correct. BOMB!
Thomas R: Out of all the films advertised here, this is the one I’m most excited for: A provocative anti-racist update on the Stepford Wives scenario with hints of psychological horror, starring a young up-and-coming Daniel Kaluyya (check out his strong supporting turn in Sicario). Horror’s a pretty profitable genre right now, so this should be a minor HIT.
Mendo: Conceptually, I really wanted to like The Stepford Wives, but it was undeniably hokey. I suppose I thought the central metaphor (the way women are dehumanized = robots) was a little too on the nose. This pseudo-remake, which swaps out male chauvinism for racial inequality, looks like it has some more teeth. Race has been a hot topic for a while now, and the time is right for it to get the same smart horror treatment as any other social issue. Plus, with Jordan Peele behind it and amazing pre-release buzz, this looks to be a promising HIT!
Rick: Did someone really make a comedy about being scared of white people? Wait, this is not a comedy? It’s actual, straight-faced horror? Too bad, because as a comedy, it could have been awesome. As it is, I have no idea how well an intelligent and timely satire will play as a horror movie. Not great would be my guess, but against small expectations and a small budget, it’ll qualify as a HIT.
And here’s how we did in January:
100% said HIT (5 out of 5)
Reality: HIT, barely—and only because of its minuscule budget
83% said HIT (5 out of 6)
Reality: Massive HIT
83% said HIT (5 out of 6)
Underworld: Blood Wars
71% said HIT (5 out of 7)
Reality: BOMB (at the domestic box office)
60% said HIT (3 out of 5)
57% said HIT (4 out of 7)
Reality: Massive HIT
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
50% said HIT (2 of 4)
50% said HIT (2 of 4)
Reality: POSTPONED. Again. Indefinitely, this time.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage The
43% said HIT (3 out of 7)
Reality: BOMB (at the domestic box office)
A Dog’s Purpose
33% said HIT (2 out of 6)
A Monster Calls
17% said HIT (1 of 6)
Live by Night
17% said HIT (1 of 6)
Reality: Massive BOMB
0% said HIT (0 of 7)
Reality: Massive BOMB
0% said HIT (0 of 5)
Total: 8 correct, 4 wrong, 1 split (50/50), 1 postponed