May 1, 2020
Hit or Bomb? November 2018 movie predictions
It’s early November, which means that much like the big box retailers, it’s time for Hollywood studios to put away the Halloween stuff and start pushing the Christmas crap way too early. So join us as we once again make knee-jerk assessments about which upcoming releases will be HITs and which will BOMB based entirely on watching the trailers. Our box office gurus this time around are Tyler Peterson, Marion Stein, Thomas Ricard, and Jordon Davis.
Bohemian Rhapsody (November 2)
Bryan Singer directs this biographical film about the British rock band Queen, focusing on the life of lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) from his youthful songwriting aspirations in the early 1970s to the band’s formation, meteoric rise, and historic performance at 1985’s Live Aid concert in Wembley Stadium.
Tyler: Although I’m a huge Queen fan, this movie hasn’t really been on my radar. The only music biopics I usually find entertaining are either clearly fake (see My Dinner with Jimi) or only tangentially related to music (see Control). Con: for a movie about a groundbreaking queer music star, could there maybe have been a better choice for director than a dude who touched some boys? Pro: Freddie Mercury did actually look like a weird janky-toothed goblin IRL, and I heartily applaud the decision not to find a more conventionally attractive actor to play him. It doesn’t look like it’ll contribute much to the Mercury mythos, but these movies only rarely do. Respectable HIT.
Marion: Super-mega HIT. Everyone will love this movie. This movie might possibly bring us all together and save humanity. The only reason not to see it is that it will make you cry too much.
Thomas R: I’ve been waiting for this movie to happen since I was a teen. So when I learned it was being directed by blandness king extraordinaire Bryan Singer, I was crushed. This trailer has somewhat alleviated my doubts, mainly by the strength of Rami Malek’s performance, though I do hope the movie goes easy on the music montages. With all the hype around Malek and the Queen fans out there, count this one a HIT.
Jordon: This movie already opened in England. That’s a baller move—it gets some credibility before coming to the US and positions it like an Oscar contender. I’m not sure they were expecting the middling reviews. I sure wasn’t. I was psyched for this. Now I’m not. This movie will make money. Rami Malek might even get a Best Actor nod. But neither thing will be deserved. HIT.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (November 2)
In the perfect holiday film for anyone who ever wished The Nutcracker Ballet were dark, gritty, and action-packed, a girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is on a quest for a magical key to unlock a box that holds a priceless gift, which draws her into a fantasy land made up four realms, where she meets soldiers, talking mice, and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley). Clara and the titular Nutcracker himself must journey to the mysterious fourth realm to retrieve the key and return order to his world.
Tyler: Yes, this movie was clearly very expensive and has obvious franchise aspirations, and yes, the whimsical-fairy-tale-puffed-up-into-a-self-serious-grimdark-epic-with-inexplicable-messianic-overtones trend has all but completely run out of steam, and yes, the movie looks like dreadful shit to boot; but on the other hand, it’s based on a property every kid adores: ballet! BOMB.
Marion: Needs moar zombies! Seriously, if they’d gone all out with blood, gore, and the undead, this might have worked. This is still too Nutcracker to attract boys, and the bunheads aren’t going to see it. BOMB.
Thomas R: This ugly, garish CGI hodgepodge synthesizes everything wrong with the mass-marketed corporate aesthetic. It’s like someone poured rainbow diarrhea all over a fashion exhibit reel and blended it with leftovers from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Please let this BOMB so that my retinas can finally recuperate.
Jordon: You have to respect Disney’s business model: take a public domain work they don’t have to pay for and turn it into a franchise. And you can tell that’s what they’re doing, because Tchaikovsky’s been dead for a hundred and thirty years and this movie has a subtitle like it’s already part two. I don’t want to see it, my sons don’t want to see it, and it will still make all the money. HIT.
The Grinch (November 9)
In this latest reimagining of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the green grump is now fully CGI animated and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, while Pharrell Williams serves as narrator and Tyler, the Creator provides an all-new version of “You’re a Mean One”. As in previous versions, the Grinch hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the nearby village of Whoville, while young Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely) hatches her own plan that might just see the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes by the end of the film.
Tyler: Every Illumination movie is worse than its predecessor and they keep making more and more money, so I don’t see why this charmless dross shouldn’t score as a big HIT.
Marion: There doesn’t seem to be a reason to remake this, and yet we have a gazillion versions of A Christmas Carol, and the trailer looks good on all sorts of levels—visual, voice, and even music. So sure. HIT.
Thomas R: I would like to extend the following message to Jim Carrey and Ron Howard: All is forgiven. Compared to this regurgitation of predictable slapstick and wink-wink jokes, their 2000 adaptation was a model of poetry, charm, and reverence. Sadly, this is Illumination we’re talking about, so of course expect a solid HIT.
Jordon: Hey, guess what I’ve never read! I’ve never read this book. I have never seen any of its adaptations. I am not Christian and I have no immediate plans to become one. Does that make me a grinch? I have no idea! I don’t know what a grinch is! HIT!
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16)
In this sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped from the custody of the Magical Congress of the United States, and is now plotting to raise an order of pure-blooded witches and wizards to rule over muggle-kind. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) recruits Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to thwart those plans amidst increasing discord and divisions in the wizarding world.
Tyler: Will I get kicked out of all the polyamory meetups if I say that Newt Scamander sucks major ass, no one wanted these fucking movies, there are a thousand slash writers who can put together more coherent fanfic than J.K. Rowling, and Crimes of Grindelwald is a perfect encapsulation of why no one under thirty has willingly read Harry Potter in years? It doesn’t matter, though—beady-eyed Tumblr addicts can write all the outraged threads they want about about Dumbledore’s straightwashing and some arglebargle with Nagini the snake that I refuse to investigate any further, but come opening day, they’ll be at the theater in their House scarves, if only to find out exactly how mad they should be. HIT.
Marion: Sure, the Harry Potter movies were huge, and this could be a start of a related franchise, but I dunno. It seems too British, and at least from the previews, nowhere near dark enough. BOMB.
Jordon: You know, I wasn’t much for the Harry Potter series, but I liked Fantastic Beasts I. And that film did $800 million worldwide. This is an expensive film. It’ll still make money. It’ll make all of my family’s money. I’ve basically been mailing monthly checks to J.K. Rowling since my son was six. HIT.
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (November 21)
Six years after Wreck-It Ralph, video game characters Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) use the arcade’s new Wi-Fi router to venture out onto the internet, where they’re confronted by an unprecedented level of tech company product placement that will in no way look like the Atari logo in Blade Runner in 20 years. They also encounter an extraordinary amount of Disney self-promotion, as they mingle with characters from other Disney properties like Star Wars, Marvel, the Muppets, and the entire Disney princess lineup.
Tyler: The original Wreck-It Ralph was unbelievably excellent, but it looks like they’re leaning a little bit too hard on the irony for this one. I don’t know why they think kids will latch onto jokes about autocorrect and social media catchphrases, but then again, I wouldn’t have thought Q*bert jokes would land either. HIT, I guess, if only for every clickbait writer in America buying a ticket to write listicles about all the Disney references we may have missed.
Marion: There’s enough here for parents to want to take their kids, even if the kids don’t get it. Plus, it’ll be shown online at holidays for years to come. HIT.
Thomas R: I suppose it was inevitable Disney would reach complete insufferable self-awareness before taking over everything, but could they at least furnish us with something resembling a story here? Because I sure don’t see any in this trailer. Doesn’t matter though, because Disney owns us all and this will be a HIT.
Jordon: Oh, finally! A Disney property that’s a commercial for other Disney properties! I was worried they may have forgotten how to market their stuff. Corporate synergy aside, this looks entertaining. I liked the first one. HIT.
Creed II (November 21)
The sequel to 2015’s Creed basically becomes Rocky IV Part II as heavyweight fighter Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) gets challenged to a fight by Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the man who famously killed his dad Apollo in the ring right after a James Brown musical number. Adonis trains for the fight with the help of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and together both men confront their past demons.
Tyler: Wow, it took the original Rocky series three movies to get totally ridiculous. Creed built up so much goodwill by shedding franchise baggage, and to see Creed II pick it back up and run up a mountain with it gives me sympathy aches. BOMB.
Marion: So basically, Bohemian Rhapsody is the only major release this month that’s neither a sequel nor based on a ballet? Once upon a time, there was a good movie called Rocky. Then there were many increasingly stupid and forgettable sequels. Then came a good movie called Creed. And it could have stopped there, but it won’t. Creed II won’t be as good as the original, and the next one will be worse, but this will probably be at least a minor HIT.
Thomas R: This is going to be one weird experience, reconciling Creed’s urban grittiness with the Saturday morning cartoonishness of Rocky IV, but I guess this was bound to happen. Not sure how far they can push the “how far will he go?” drama before the climatic fight, and Ryan Coogler’s presence behind the camera will likely be missed, but if it manages to be on par with Rocky II, we should be fine. HIT.
Jordon: Man, this month’s movies are all over the place. At least this one isn’t a sequel or a remake. It’s a sequel to a remake. That has to mean money. HIT.
How’d we do on last month’s predictions?
Budget: $10M | Earnings to date: $126M | Projected total earnings: $60M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: Undisguised mega-HIT
A Star is Born
Budget: $36M | Earnings to date: $149M | Projected total earnings: $180-190M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: Twinkle, twinkle, mega-HIT
Budget: $100M | Earnings to date: $187M | Projected total earnings: $205-210M
Prediction: 60% said HIT (3 of 5)
Reality: Slimy, goopy HIT
Budget: $59M | Earnings to date: $38M | Projected total earnings: $50M
Prediction: 40% said HIT (2 of 5)
Reality: One small BOMB for man
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Budget: $35M | Earnings to date: $38M | Projected total earnings: $45-50M
Prediction: 25% said HIT (1 of 4)
Reality: Duck, duck, HIT
Final Score: 4 Right, 1 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).