Hit or Bomb? March 2019 movie predictions
After two solid months of “how in the hell did this not go direct to streaming?” releases, 2019 finally gets a few potentially huge blockbusters. No movie is a guaranteed success, of course, which is why we’re here to determine which of these films will BOMB and which will be HITs based solely on watching the trailers (and sometimes, not even doing that). Our box office Nostradamuses this time around are Jonathan Campbell, Thomas Ricard, Tyler Peterson, and Rick Lewis.
Captain Marvel (March 8)
Marvel’s first solo female superhero movie is set in the ‘90s, and stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who becomes one of the universe’s most powerful beings and gets caught up in the interstellar Kree-Skrull War. And with the help of a young(er) Nick Fury (a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson), she presumably becomes the deus ex machina that brings everyone back to life in Endgame.
Jonathan: Early reviews are coming in and it sounds like a pretty average Marvel movie as far as quality goes, which is probably about right given all the praise and hatred it got just from the trailers in the months leading up to its release. But regardless of quality, Captain Marvel kicks off the blockbuster movie season and people will see it because a) it leads into Avengers: Endgame, the one people really want to see, and b) it’s a Marvel movie, so even if it underperforms, it should still manage to be a modest HIT.
Thomas R: At last, the movie that will answer the most burning questions Marvel fans have, like “How did Nick Fury lose his eye?” “Where’s Captain Marvel been this whole time and how will she stop Thanos?” “How old is this going to make me feel?” Or my personal favorite, “How many fragile manbabies are going to sulk this one out because the mean lady said she wanted more diverse critics?” My guess is: not enough to stop this from being one of the year’s biggest HITs.
Tyler: I would love to meet the casting agent who saw a super-depressing movie about a sex slave who raises her rape baby in a one-room basement and said “That’s exactly who I need for my alien superhero movie!” There’s a definite sense of obligation here, not only in the “we haven’t had a lady movie yet” sense, but also a “you gotta see this if you want to have any idea what’s going on in Avengers: Endgame” type of deal, and that really turns me off; but also, holy shit she’s really wailing on that old lady. That gets better every time I watch it. HIT.
Rick: Shazam! Okay, honestly, I get the controversy. Brie Larson is a bizarre casting choice for a 12-year-old boy to turn into when he screams a magic word. I mean, I’m all for transgender rights and equality and stuff, but I’m just really uncomfortable looking at her in that sparkly spandex and knowing that’s really a tween kid in there. It makes this erection really awkward, you know? Wouldn’t that dude from Chuck have been a much better choice? Still, I’d HIT it.
Five Feet Apart (March 15)
In this latest entry in the “dying teens fall in love” genre, Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) is a cystic fibrosis patient who meets Will (Cole Sprouse), another teen with the same condition. The attraction between them grows, but due to their illness, they’re forced to maintain a safe distance between each other at all times.
Jonathan: The Fault in Our Stars meets… cystic fibrosis. A cheesy YA romance asking the question if love can conquer sensible medical advice isn’t exactly something I’m the intended audience for, but it seems to have been made because there’s a market for it, and with its presumably low budget and lack of obvious competition for the week it comes out, I’ll be charitable and say it’ll be a minor HIT.
Thomas R: Has it already been five years since The Fault in Our Stars? Because this trailer just took me on a trip back in time when YA romances about Very Serious Subjects were still popular. In all seriousness, this looks as predictable and played-out as these dramedies come but no worse than the next one. Unfortunately, it’s being released in theaters rather than on Netflix where it would have a much better chance of turning a profit. BOMB.
Tyler: Durrrrr I wonder if they’ll eventually get close to each other?? Also, aaahhh, this boy is a creep. He’s a creepy little creep on a creep list somewhere. Also pushy. And whiny. I want him to die quicker because near-death is clearly bringing out all the wrong things in him. BOMB
Rick: No. BOMB.
Us (March 22)
Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out features a married couple (Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o) who take their kids to a beach house to unwind. But then the house is invaded by four masked strangers who reveal themselves to be duplicates of each member of the family.
Jonathan: Jordan Peele continues on his new career path trading jokes for terror. Get Out even being nominated at the Oscars let alone winning big was presumably a surprise to him as much as anyone, and the buzz alone should guarantee Us will make money, although from the trailer it also looks like it’ll be a solid movie in its own right too. HIT.
Thomas R: Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets It Follows with a psychological bent? I am IN. It probably won’t be as big as Get Out, but Jordan Peele’s name and the smart marketing campaign are bound to make this a HIT.
Tyler: First off, points for using the Luniz’ classic banger “I Got 5 on It”. Nonetheless, the sophomore slump is a real phenomenon, and I think Us is going to disappoint a lot of people. After Get Out, I think people are expecting more social-commentary horror , but aside from the relative anomaly of an all-black principal cast in a horror movie (how do they decide who dies first?), it looks like Jordan Peele is shooting for a relatively straightforward movie that critics are going to beat their brains into a lather trying to make about imposter syndrome or false consciousness for their thinkpieces. But the creeps look well-executed, and Lupita Nyong’o is a great actor as well as the most beautiful person alive, so I’m going with a tentative HIT.
Rick: This doesn’t look like it has the political resonance to run away with all the money like Get Out did, but it’s still scary as shit. And horror almost never fails. HIT.
Dumbo (March 29)
Tim Burton directs Disney’s latest live-action retread of an animated classic, where a circus worker (Colin Farrell) and his children discover that a newborn elephant in their care is able to fly. Then Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton reunite for the first time since Batman Returns in a quest to turn the elephant into a star.
Jonathan: Disney continues to bleed itself for ideas, and now Dumbo is up for the mediocre live-action treatment. I’ll be honest: in the name of clinging onto the innocence of my childhood, I conscientiously object to watching the trailer, but that isn’t what will put people in seats. I don’t expect it to have any more soul than the other pitiful crash-grab remakes the Mouse has put out over the last decade, but if they weren’t making money they wouldn’t be made, so this is as much the fault of the shameless public as it is the studio. HIT, unfortunately.
Thomas R: Oh, Tim Burton. You were my cinematic hero growing up, so why does most of your recent work look so phoned-in and boring? Part of me is glad this remake isn’t just rehashing the original à la Beauty and the Beast, but do we really need marketing-department-generated kids and obvious human villains to tell us how to feel? The only way I’d be remotely interested in this is if it turned out Danny DeVito’s character was the same werewolf circus ringmaster he played in Big Fish. Sadly, Disney owns us all now, so of course expect a big HIT.
Tyler: I know we’re only supposed to go by the trailer, but I cheated and looked at Dumbo’s IMDb page. Did you know that this remake is over twice as long as the original? Did you think there was an extra hour of story hiding in there? Also, I’m not seeing any voice credits for animal characters, which may mean they won’t have any talking animals whatsoever. Quick, name two human characters you remember from the original Dumbo. Also, Tim Burton hasn’t made a good movie this entire millennium. His recent work is all bloated, listless, off-putting, and lacking any real emotional core, which makes him a natural choice to direct a live-action Disney remake. BOMB
Rick: Turning a Disney princess’s fairy tale adventure into a grand live-action fantasy epic makes sense. This, on the other hand, is a circus elephant. Which is something that doesn’t even exist anymore. I seen a peanut stand, I heard a rubber band, I seen a needle that winked its eye. But I be done seen ’bout everything when I see this elephant movie fly with audiences. BOMB.
How’d we do on last month’s predictions?
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
Budget: $99M | Earnings to date: $92M | Projected total earnings: $105-110M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: Poorly fit HIT
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Budget: $129M | Earnings to date: $98M | Projected total earnings: $160M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (4 of 4)
Reality: Toothless HIT
Isn’t It Romantic?
Budget: $31M | Earnings to date: $41M | Projected total earnings: $50M
Prediction: 80% said HIT (4 of 5)
Alita: Battle Angel
Budget: $170M | Earnings to date: $72M | Projected total earnings: $85-90M
Prediction: 20% said HIT (1 of 5)
Reality: Big-eyed BOMB
FINAL SCORE: Perfect 4 for 4 Right
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).