Feb 12, 2020
Hit or Bomb? January 2019 movie predictions
It’s January, Hollywood’s usual dumping ground for lackluster movies, and this year might be the Januariest January in recent memory. Despite a paltry slate consisting mostly of films you can’t believe didn’t go straight to streaming, our box office gurus are here again to determine which will BOMB and which will be HITs based on watching the trailers. Our prognosticators this time around are Tyler Peterson, Marion Stein, Julie Kushner, and Rick Lewis.
Escape Room (January 4)
Six characters are in search of an exit after they sign up for a million dollar puzzle-solving competition that turns out to be a sadistic game of life or death.
Tyler: Hey, lookit that. Saw and Cube got married and made a hip millennial baby. This movie’s obviously trendsurfing, but I for one could never mistake this for an actual escape room, since it’s not in a former insurance office in a dying strip mall and doesn’t have three broken props and employees too baked to remember your clues. The cast does have a certain charisma about them, and some of the traps seem fairly inventive, but the fact is there are like six murder-trap movies on Netflix right now and it’s January. Why should I put on pants and brave the polar vortex for you, Escape Room? Are you really arguing you’re worth it? BOMB.
Marion: The theme song from Weeds. How original! The trailer tries too hard to keep it simple, appealing to a demographic that can’t keep up. “Solve the puzzle. Escape the room. Find the clues. Or die.” Since when do we need instructions? Why should we care about any of these generic types? Meanwhile in a parallel universe, I’m still reeling from the Us trailer released on Christmas day. That won’t open until March, but it’s guaranteed to be verrry scarrry, as Count Floyd might have said. As for this $15 excuse to nap in a seat, BOMB!
Julie: Ugh, really? Has it truly come to this, Hollywood? Are we so out of novel film ideas, we’ve been reduced to making movies about things we do on Bad Date Nights? What’s next? A movie about going to Dave and Busters, or making Color Me Mine Ceramic soap dishes, or hitting up one of those free comedy nights that those guys try to harass you into buying tickets for on the streets of Manhattan? (“What’s a matter? YOU DON’T LIKE TO LAUGH??”) Also, $1 million is only $500K after taxes. In 2019, that’s not even enough to make me retire, let alone be brutally tortured for two hours, and then likely murdered anyway. BOMB!
Rick: Painfully late on the whole escape room trend. Even more painfully late on ripping off Saw. And yet these low-budget, half-assed horror flicks never seem to fail. HIT. Fun fact: a 2017 movie called Escape Room earned $0 at the domestic box office.
Replicas (January 11)
A brilliant neuroscientist (Keanu Reeves, of course) loses his entire family in an accident and uses cloning to bring them back to life. Unfortunately, cloning is illegal and soon a police task force is after them.
Tyler: Did that seem like an unusually short trailer to anybody else? Did they run out of scenes anyone would want to see? I’m so confused as to what the conflict is supposed to be. Is Keanu in trouble with the law? Are his clones going to die? Are his clones going to turn evil? Are the clones really robots? Are his robots going to kill the clones or become the clones or what? This trailer’s more confused than Keanu in a British elocution class. BOMB.
Marion: Mad scientist clones family after a tragic accident. What could go wrong? Intriguing idea. However, between way too many cliches, and Keanu Reeves’s one note performance, I’m going to have to go with BOMB.
Julie: OMG, Keanu! Get this through your John Wick-avenging, Neo-red-pill-eating, Speed-bus-driving, Bill-and-Ted’s-Excellent-Adventure-having skull! Cloning your dead family members never ends well! Anyone who’s ever watched Pet Sematary or Pet Sematary 2 (those movie/book titles contain misspellings of the word cemetery, by the way. Anyone ever notice that?), half the episodes of Black Mirror, or pretty much any sci-fi horror movie that’s ever existed could tell you that! Granted, based on the trailer, this film seems to be headed more in the “Government is Trying to Kill Me Because It Hates Science” route than the “Clones of People I Used to Like Become Evil, Psychotic Demons Who Also Try to Kill Me” route. But still, cloning = BAD. Another tired movie about cloning = WORSE. BOMB!
Rick: The poster for the movie is likely to be the new featured image on the Wikipedia entry for shit movies dumped into theaters in January for being shit movies. BOMB. Fun fact: a 2012 movie called Replicas earned $0 at the domestic box office.
Glass (January 18)
M. Night Shyamalan brings together the worlds of Unbreakable and Split as David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is on the hunt for the Beast (James McAvoy), while Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) reveals himself to be the mastermind behind it all.
Tyler: Everything’s coming up Shyamalan lately. After a rough decade, not only did the Shyam-Man find his form again with the secret sequel Split, but he lived to see a version of The Happening that people actually like. Here’s the catch, though—this time around, everyone knows it’s an Unbreakable sequel, and that means we have to contend with a lot more Bruce Willis screentime. Neither Bruce himself nor his default actor persona have aged in a positive direction since 2000, and if you see Glass, you’re guaranteed to have to look at Bruno’s beady-eyed, grouchy, wattled, Hank-Hill-butt-lookin’ boomer mug for potentially dozens of minutes. Can early-’00s nostalgia and James McAvoy’s grab bag of creepy accents propel Glass to success? Can Sammalone keep his career momentum going? I say: yeah, sure. I mean, what else are people going to see in January, Escape Room? HIT.
Marion: M. Night Shyamalan is like Ed Wood with a film school degree. This is going to be such dreck! I have no idea why actual movie stars showed up or whether or not people will pay to see it, but you couldn’t pay me enough. This has got to be a BOMB, right? Then again, 65 million people voted for Trump.
Julie: In what is either a truly ballsy or naively arrogant move, M. Night Shyamalan and Co. set their sights on producing an initial movie trailer that leans pretty heavily on the assumption that you, the viewer, possess and intimate knowledge about both the movie Unbreakable, which premiered 19 years ago, and the movie Split, which premiered 3 years ago. Because, let’s face it, if you don’t remember these two movies or aren’t familiar with them, this film trailer, at least for the first half, makes this movie appear to be about nothing more than three old-ish dudes engaging in a group therapy session at the local assisted living home, and attempting to get out of their weekly enemas. (Grumpy Old Men 3: Escape from the Dementia Ward, anyone?) That said, you can’t ask for a better cast these days than one where Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, James McEvoy, and Sarah Paulson share a screen. Plus, as you can see from the rest of this article, there are literally no other movies to see this month. So maybe there is something here that movie goers can get behind. After all, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t produced any movies in between Unbreakable and Split, and thus has a virtually spotless film career. HIT!
Rick: The last one did well. Like, really well. As in $138 million on a $9 million budget well. This one’s got a budget of $20 million and has competition at the box office like Replicas and Escape Room. So I’m thinking it’s gonna do okay. HIT. Fun fact: a 2008 movie called Glass earned $20,018 at the domestic box office.
The Kid Who Would Be King (January 25)
A young boy (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) stumbles upon the mythical sword of Excalibur, and is told by Merlin (disguised as a teenager who occasionally reveals his true form of Patrick Stewart) that he’s destined to form a new round table and defeat the evil schemes of Morgan le Fay.
Tyler: Why is Hollywood convinced that King Arthur is a popular character among kids? What kid is stoked about him? You don’t get to learn the cool parts of Arthurian legend until you go to college, anyway (I doubt this movie’s going to feature Merlin telling this kid to kill all of Britain’s babies), and until then you only know Arthur as a vague, bland archetype plugged into every fantasy screenplay too weak to be sold on its own merits. When I was a kid, we had A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, which had the kid from Rookie of the Year in it. Today’s kids have this, which has nothing. BOMB.
Marion: The title is a little hokey, but it’s got Merlin, Morgana, Excalibur, and Captain Picard/Professor X. So sure, this probably would have been better as a less calculated indie surprise, but it’s still a labor of love that someone fought to get made, maybe. Minor HIT, god willing.
Julie: Apart from 1) the Patrick Stewart appearance, 2) the admittedly cute joke about opening up the leaves on a square table to make it a round one, and 3) the novelty of a film starring Andy Serkis’ kid (he’s literally the son of Gollum from Lord of the Rings—no wonder precious metals talk to him), there’s positively nothing that differentiates this movie from every other “Kid and his Rag-Tag Group of Friends Accidentally Find a New Fantasy World and Now Have to Save It” film that ever existed. That said, I could probably get behind this if they added an adorably comedic CGI talking-animal to the cast. Will there be a talking animal in this movie? No? BOMB!
Rick: Twenty years from now, a bunch of 30 year olds will fondly remember this movie as being much, much better than it was and talk about it endlessly on whatever-the-internet-is-called-in-20-years. That’s not going to help it much now, however. BOMB. Fun fact: no other movie has ever used this title before, because it’s incredibly stupid.
How’d we do on last month’s predictions?
Budget: $160M | Earnings to date: $190M | Projected total earnings: $250-280M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: HIT the beach
Mary Poppins Returns
Budget: $130M | Earnings to date: $99M | Projected total earnings: $150-180M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Budget: $90M | Earnings to date: $104M | Projected total earnings: $125-145M
Prediction: 80% said HIT (4 of 5)
Reality: With great power comes a modest HIT
Budget: $135M | Earnings to date: $67M | Projected total earnings: $90-105M
Prediction: 60% said HIT (3 of 5)
Reality: Autobots, BOMB out!
Budget: $60M | Earnings to date: $18M | Projected total earnings: $34-40M
Prediction: 60% said HIT (3 of 5)
Reality: A heartBOMB away
Holmes & Watson
Budget: $42M | Earnings to date: $20M | Projected total earnings: $30M
Prediction: 40% said HIT (2 of 5)
Reality: Elementary, my dear BOMB
Budget: $100M | Earnings to date: $15M | Projected total earnings: $16M
Prediction: 0% said HIT (0 of 4)
Reality: Steam(punk)ing pile of MEGA-BOMB
FINAL SCORE: 5 right, 2 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).