Mar 9, 2021
Hit or Bomb? February 2020 movie predictions
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (February 7)
Sometime after Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) breaks things off with “Mr. J”, but soon finds herself the target of crime boss Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), and so she enlists the all-female gang of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) to take him down.
Thomas S: God, does this movie look like a mess. I’m not sure who this film was made for outside of hardcore Margot Robbie fans, and I’m not sure a lot of those exist. It feels like a movie with a message and considering how terribly Charlie’s Angels and the latest Terminator film did, I think maybe Hollywood should back off on being so obvious about said message. This movie will BOMB.
Tyler: Taking visual design cues from all the goofy parts of Suicide Squad, ratcheting up the “mature” content, paying lip service to the cliche internet complaints about the unhealthiness of Joker and Harley’s relationship while quietly reassuring fans they won’t do anything truly new with the character, and stamping the whole thing with the most self-parodic title imaginable, Birds of Prey, Etc. truly has its finger on the pulse of the kind of audience who watches DCEU movies in the year 2020. HIT.
Rick: For months I dismissed this as another DC/Warner Brothers disaster-in-the-making until the rave reviews made me pay closer attention. I’m not ready to say Birds of Prey is to Suicide Squad what Wonder Woman was to Batman v Superman, but it at least seems to be a sincere attempt at storytelling, no matter how over-the-top its trappings. Something of a punk feminist Deadpool, perhaps, which is something I’d be willing to drop $12 on. HIT.
Jordon: Please, I just can’t even with this movie. It just looks like a colorful mess. It’s Little Women for people who thought Suicide Squad was too cerebral. This film is getting very good reviews and I wish everybody the best, but DC needs to get its act together. I can’t even focus on a single image because they won’t stop exploding things in my face like they’re trying to cause an epileptic seizure. At $100 million, this is going to make money. Hell, I’ll even go see it. But I will hate every frame. HIT.
Sonic the Hedgehog (February 14)
The creepy CGI of last year’s trailer has all been smoothed out, and now the tale can be told of a blue hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) with super-speed who comes to Earth and befriends a small-town sheriff (James Marsden), and together they join forces to stop the world domination schemes of evil scientist Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
Thomas S: So the studio did the right thing and went back to the drawing board in regard to Sonic’s design. Good for them. Still, I don’t think that’s going to be enough to put butts in seats. The film is going to BOMB and sadly the message it will send is that Hollywood shouldn’t listen to fans.
Tyler: Kids will enjoy Ben Schwartz’s ADHD-fueled comic mugging. Adults will enjoy Jim Carrey channeling the rubber-face antics of his ’90s heyday. Hope it was worth working a whole team of animators half to death and then laying them all off! HIT.
Rick: If Pikachu with Ryan Reynolds couldn’t quite make back its budget at the domestic box office, what hope does poor, dated, irrelevant Sonic the Hedgehog with poor, dated, irrelevant Jim Carrey have? BOMB.
Jordon: Oh, come on. This? This is what they’re spending money on at Paramount? How many creative, original scripts went in the garbage for this algorithm of Sega nostalgia and product tie-ins? Why is everything in February so kinetic and loud? Were they this afraid of a pre-Oscar rerelease of Little Women? I think this movie might be fun. I know it got a lot of press by redoing all of the CGI after people howled in horrified disbelief. I just can’t see it being better than Little Women. Still, HIT.
Fantasy Island (February 14)
The ‘70s TV drama that was mostly about learning corny life lessons gets the cheapo Blumhouse horror makeover, as Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) welcomes lucky guests to a tropical resort where they get to live out their fantasies that soon turn into nightmares.
Thomas S: I used to watch Fantasy Island when I was a kid right after Love Boat, mostly for the sexy guest stars. Granted, I thought the more serious stories could be compelling and sometimes they were even legit scary. But were we asking for a motion picture adaptation? Still, I think going the horror route was a smart move rather than attempting something more camp. A minor HIT.
Tyler: I refuse to accept that this trailer is for an actual movie and isn’t a College Humor sketch. BOMB.
Rick: This is actually genius. Take away the ’70s cheese, and the concept of a supernatural island where the idle rich can buy their fantasies into reality is exquisitely ripe for horror—and even more so for schadenfreude. And with a very Blumhouse $7 million production budget, how could it not be a HIT?
Jordon: No. No, no, nope, never, not a chance. My beloved 10 PM show from my childhood is a Blumhouse horror movie? How is this sort of sacrilege even possible? It actually makes me yearn for the days of the Hays Code. What’s next? Little Women but Beth dies and her ghost seeks revenge on Jo and Amy? This only cost $7 million, so no matter how blasphemous it may be, it’ll be a HIT
The Call of the Wild (February 21)
The classic Jack London novel again comes to life, sort of, as an obviously CGI dog named Buck gets abducted and pressed into service as an Alaskan sled dog, where he bonds with crusty outdoorsman John Thornton (Harrison Ford).
Thomas S: Has anyone seen that meme? The one with Harrison Ford sitting next to the dog and the caption reading something like “When the ‘shrooms wear off and you realize you aren’t a space smuggler with a Wookie sidekick?” That’s about the most interesting thing I’m seeing coming out of this movie. BOMB.
Tyler: Sonic looks more like an actual living creature than this dog does. BOMB.
Rick: How did this end up on the big screen with Harrison Ford and not in a time machine back to the early 1980s for a Wonderful World of Disney made-for-TV movie of the week? Is the same person who greenlighted Robert Downey, Jr. in a boat with a bunch of CGI animals responsible? BOMB.
Jordon: What is up, February? How is what should be a Disney B-movie from 1964 a major studio release? I l don’t even dislike it; After I was mercilessly teased for reading Little Women, I picked up the manlier Jack London instead. And then I was mercilessly teased for reading anything at all. At $100 million, I don’t see this making a profit, but it has to be better than Sonic the Hedgehog. Also, they’ve got to do something about the plot because it was really sad when Beth died. HIT.
The Invisible Man (February 28)
Originally envisioned as a “Dark Universe” entry starring Johnny Depp, Universal has now scaled this classic monster reboot down to the story of a brilliant scientist who turns himself invisible for the sole purpose of enacting a revenge gaslighting scheme against his ex (Elisabeth Moss).
Thomas S: So if I’m understanding the trailer correctly, the movie is basically a stalker flick with a twist? And I guess the bad guy is, well, the guy? Like we’ve seen in a hundred films before? At least with the original 1933 Invisible Man movie, it’s about a guy who descends into madness and there’s some shades of gray going on here. This movie looks like trash. BOMB.
Tyler: When the Dark Universe gives you lemons, you make lemonade. A clever, risk-taking adaptation with lots of hot themes, well-crafted visual scares, a buzzy lead actress, an even buzzier director, and a very modest budget, this shouldn’t have any problem making a profit (forgive me) appear. HIT.
Rick: So it’s Kevin Bacon’s Hollow Man but even more focused on the crazy obsessive ex angle? Taking away anything either epic or symbolic about a person literally disappearing and instead turning the story into straightforward stalker situation seems like a squandered opportunity to me. Invisible or not, the villain is just too petty and mundane to excite horror fans, or anyone else. But hey, at least it was made on the cheap, so HIT.
Jordon: Yet another $9 million horror film co-produced by Blumhouse in the same month. Blumhouse is competing against itself. This one looks at least a little interesting. I keep trying to figure out if Elisabeth Moss is good looking or not. I’m sorry, that was sexist. Man, I feel like all the men in Little Women. I should do better. And I will do better—in March, when all the real movies start again. Due to the budget alone, this will be a HIT.
How did we do on last month’s predictions?
Budget: $19M | Earnings to date: $20M | Projected total earnings: $30M
Prediction: 80% said HIT (4 of 5)
Bad Boys for Life
Budget: $90M | Earnings to date: $148M | Projected total earnings: $180M
Prediction: 60% said HIT (3 of 5)
Reality: You have the right to remain a HIT
Budget: $175M | Earnings to date: $55M | Projected total earnings: $70M
Prediction: 0% said HIT (0 of 5)
Budget: $50-80M | Earnings to date: $17M | Projected total earnings: $17M
Prediction: 0% said HIT (0 of 5)
FINAL SCORE: 4 right, 0 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).