Jul 3, 2019
Hit or Bomb? February 2018 movie predictions
February looks to be yet another month where a Disney release runs laps around its competitors at the box office. But that’s not going to stop us from once again getting judgmental about this month’s big releases and deciding if they’ll be domestic HITs or BOMBs, based solely on the trailers. And make sure to stick around after the predictions to find out how well we did last month.
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Fifty Shades Freed (February 9)
As in, this is the end of the Fifty Shades trilogy and Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are now “freed” from having to make any more softcore BDSM Twilight fanfic together. As you might gather from the trailer, Ana and Christian are now married, but plenty of Christian’s disgruntled ex-employees and former lovers (including Kim Basinger as the woman who introduced Christian to BDSM when he was 15 [!]) are back to make trouble for the newlyweds.
Jordon: Look, I’m a red-blooded American. I like the idea of handcuffing Dakota Johnson just as much as the next guy. I mean, just as much as the next guy would like to handcuff Dakota Johnson, not that I would be just as happy to handcuff any random guy. That was clear, right? Anyway, this not going to be a good movie. Grey only had 23% on Rotten Tomatoes and Darker somehow managed to sink to 10%. Both of them made money. Sadly, this one will, too. HIT.
Thomas R: This is amazing. This trailer’s throwing in watered-down BDSM-lite, tourism commercials for rich people, evil stalkers, even a fucking car chase, and I’m still bored out of my mind. If you showed this to someone from 2010, they’d have no idea what this movie is even trying to be. But hey, it’s the last Fifty Shades, so maybe after this one’s a HIT, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan can finally move on to projects they actually care about.
Tyler: I was half-hoping they were going to quietly give up, Divergent–style, but they’ve instead gone for a halfhearted, obligatory finish. I can’t tell what this movie is even about, the two leads are visibly struggling to tolerate one another, and it looks about as romantic as a chemical sewer explosion. It’ll be a HIT based on die-hard fans wanting to complete the trilogy, but completely fail to generate any crossover appeal whatsoever.
Peter Rabbit (February 9)
Based on the children’s books by Beatrix Potter (who at this moment is spinning furiously in her grave), Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden) is now a wisecracking bunny with attitude, causing lots of mischief as he vies with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) for the affections of their neighbor Bea (Rose Byrne).
Jordon: Look, I like the idea of handcuffing a rabbit just as much as the next guy. But this movie looks terrible. The writers don’t seem to have much experience with children’s movies. Sony Pictures Animation appears to specialize in very bad films. I’m going to follow my heart and just hope that this is a BOMB.
Thomas R: There’s only one rational explanation I can conjure for this: someone, somewhere, must really, deeply hate Beatrix Potter. Someone’s ancestors must have felt horribly offended by the woman at some point in their lives and their descendant is now avenging those ancestors by turning Potter’s gentle poetry into a loud, soulless Alvin and the Chipmunks clone. Please, in the name of all good and innocent things left in this world, let this BOMB.
Tyler: It rules that Hollywood is doing new, hip takes on these fusty old storybooks. When I read them as a kid, I was consistently disappointed by the lack of sassy one-liners, butt jokes, pop culture references, and borderline abusive slapstick. I hope they do more of these. I hope they make Raggedy Andy fart out a tuft of cotton. I hope they get the Poky Little Puppy to crump to “Despacito”. I hope they get Anna Kendrick to narrate Goodnight Moon to her ferrets or something wacky! like that. This is 21st Century Hollywood, and I’ve made my peace with it. BOMB.
The 15:17 to Paris (February 9)
Director Clint Eastwood keeps chugging along and making movies about real-life acts of heroism. This time, he tackles the story of three military men who thwart a 2015 terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris, featuring the actual three guys playing themselves.
Jordon: Look, I like the idea of handcuffing several American heroes to Dakota Johnson and a rabbit as much as the next guy. Clint Eastwood has proven himself a capable director. But this stunt of casting the actual participants in a fictionalized version of their story has me worried. And I don’t think enough people have heard of the Paris train incident to generate much interest. The movie has very modest goals, but I think it will still miss them. BOMB.
Thomas R: I’m 100% for casting real heroes as themselves, but if you’re going to make them spout clichéd lines about life “pushing you towards some greater purpose”, maybe you’re better off just hiring actors. Still, Clint Eastwood + real-life American heroes = big bucks, so while it may be no American Sniper, expect at least a modest HIT.
Tyler: This movie basically can’t not make money. War on Terror biopics are always in season in America, and the setting means that it’ll catch a fair bit of business from European Islamophobes as well. Plus, you know how much actors cost? Well, Clint Eastwood saved a ton by not hiring any. HIT.
Black Panther (February 16)
After the death of his father, T’Challa AKA the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to assume his rightful place as king of Wakanda, the world’s most technologically advanced nation. But his assumption of the throne is challenged by the villainous Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), and the Panther has to gather his allies to prevent Wakanda from being pulled into a world war.
Jordon: Look, I like the idea of handcuffing all of America to their seats and forcing them to watch Marvel movies as much as the next guy. That’s it, really. This movie is going to make money. HIT.
Thomas R: What’s this? An exciting, politically relevant, visually distinct Marvel movie that isn’t set in space? Count me the hell in! Plus, I’ve been rooting for Chadwick Boseman to become a big star since Get On Up, and it looks like I’m finally getting my wish. MEGAHIT.
Tyler: This movie is generating the amount of online buzz usually reserved for fast-food Twitter feuds and celebrity N-bombs. It’s going to be huge. Being only black in spirit, I don’t presume to speak for the community, but I think we can all be happy that, after ten years and seemingly forty thousand movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally has a movie with a black lead. At this rate, we might just get one with a woman by 2025. HIT.
Annihilation (February 23)
Alex Garland (Ex Machina) directs this adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s sci-fi/horror novel, where a team of soldiers venture into an area undergoing radical environmental change, but only one comes back (Oscar Isaac), and he’s not doing a whole lot of talking. It’s up to his biologist wife Lena (Natalie Portman) to lead another expedition to find out what happened to him, and journey past a shimmering wall to a place where the laws of nature don’t apply.
Jordon: Look, I actually don’t like the idea of handcuffing Natalie Portman. In my very elaborate fantasy, she comes with me willingly and she and I become King and Queen of all the Jews. There’s nothing about this movie that makes me think I’d like it. Still, I’m willing to give it a shot… you know, for Natalie. HIT.
Thomas R: Judging from this trailer’s jarring jumps from intellectual drama to Jurassic Park-inspired horror, I’d say the studio has no idea how to market their hard sci-fi movie because test audiences apparently found it “too complicated”. I loved Ex Machina, so I hope I’m wrong, but this has the makings of a box-office BOMB.
Tyler: Alex Garland’s turned himself into one of the big names on the highbrow sci-fi circuit. Nearly everyone who saw Ex Machina is still trying to bring it up at parties (myself included). And he’s usually most successful commercially when he balances between headiness and genre thrills, as he seems to have done here. I’m gonna see it, if only because that creepy four-note theme is already stuck in my head. HIT.
As promised, here’s how we did last month:
Budget: $50M | Earnings to date: $32M | Projected total earnings: $45M
Prediction: 80% said HIT (4 of 5)
Reality: Minor BOMB on this side of the pond
Budget: $50M | Earnings to date: $59M | Projected total earnings: $80-90M
Prediction: 60% said HIT (3 of 5)
Budget: $35M | Earnings to date: $30M | Projected total earnings: $45-55M
Prediction: 60% said HIT (3 of 5)
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Budget: $62M | Earnings to date: $24M | Projected total earnings: $60-70M
Prediction: 20% said HIT (1 of 5)
Reality: Too early to call, but looking like a minor BOMB
Final Score: 2 right, 1 wrong, 1 too early to call
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).