Mar 4, 2020
Hit or Bomb? October 2018 movie predictions
It’s October, which means Halloween is upon us and movie fans get to witness true horror: namely, Sony trying to make its own Marvel movie. It’s also time for us here at the Agony Booth to 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, Julie Kushner, Thomas Ricard, Rick Lewis, and Jordon Davis.
Venom (October 5)
The Sony Marvel-Adjacent Universe that nobody wanted finally kicks off with Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, a journalist who gets fused with an alien symbiote and becomes Venom, better known as the arch-nemesis of a hero who will not be appearing in this film. Instead, Venom becomes an anti-hero, taking on an evil genius who gets his own symbiote and becomes the [redacted] villain Riot.
Tyler: The last time we saw the Venom symbiote in a movie, its corrupting effects caused unconscionable acts like eating cookies, disco dancing, uh… exposing fake news, and, um… demanding fair payment for one’s work? There’s only room for improvement with this character is what I’m getting at, and I for one am excited to see how violent they can get with it. I don’t give a fig how this fits into Spider-Man or Marvel continuity, and I certainly don’t care that every Tom Hardy voice is sillier than the last—this movie looks like it whomps ass and I think it’ll be a grisly, gory HIT.
Julie: While watching this trailer, it randomly occurred to me that the superhero [?] in this film vaguely resembles my vomit. (At least in terms of size, shape, and consistency, though I can’t really account for taste or smell, for obvious reasons.) And that got me thinking about whether there would ever be a situation in which I would willingly subject myself to a two-hour plus film starring Julie’s Vomit. Perhaps; maybe if I had accidentally ingested poison, and needed to naturally throw it up, before I like died or something? Otherwise, no. BOMB!
Thomas R: I have so many questions: What tone are they going for? Why is this advertised as an “anti-superhero” film when Venom’s behavior is barely different from, say, the DCEU’s Batman? Why does the CGI somehow look more cartoonish than the Spider-Man 3 version? Why is Tom Hardy, one of our great actors, playing Eddie Brock like a drunk hillbilly? How does a faceless torso even remotely look like a “turd in the wind”? Given bad reviews and widespread online mockery, I smell an under-performing BOMB.
Rick: A horror superhero black comedy sci-fi franchise-starter is just too much for any one movie to be, so there’s no doubt it’s going to be a train wreck. But will it be an entertaining train wreck? Yeah, probably, and just enough to count as a HIT while still disappointing the studio.
Jordon: I’m so confused. This is a Marvel character being made by Sony. Unlike Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, Marvel had no involvement here. It shows. The director Ruben Fleischer, best known for comedies, doesn’t look to be having any fun at all. It just seems like a mess and it sure as hell hasn’t been marketed correctly. I think this will be a Suicide Squad-level bomb, which means that people will hate it and yet it will still technically be a HIT.
A Star is Born (October 5)
Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with this fourth iteration of a well-worn Hollywood fable. And just as in the previous three versions, a seasoned performer (Cooper, in the James Mason/Kris Kristofferson role) falls in love with an up and coming singer (Lady Gaga, in the Judy Garland/Barbara Streisand role), and her star rises while his star falls into a downward alcoholic spiral.
Tyler: Two impressions of this movie: First, it’s so weird how Lady Gaga’s just like a regular person now. Second, Bradley Cooper looks, sings, and acts so much like Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart that I kind of want to watch that movie again, which I don’t think is the effect they intended. It looks like they chose the treacle route over trying to beat anything new out of this rented mule of a story, but it’s got a modest budget combined with its date-night glamour, which ought to make this a modest HIT.
Julie: I know there have already been about a thousand versions of this story, both in film and on Broadway. But honestly, I haven’t seen any of them, so it’s new to me. You know, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it,” and all that. (Or perhaps more accurately, if an aging country singer falls down drunk in a bar, and Lady Gaga isn’t around to drag him home, does he have to go to rehab?) Either way, the film is clearly going to have a killer soundtrack. The trailer is intriguing. And Bradley Cooper is still kind of sexy in a “your high school friend’s hot dad” kind of way. Plus, let’s face it, the ladies are going to need to find some film to watch this month that doesn’t star Killer Gummy Bears or Julie’s Vomit. HIT!
Thomas R: I gotta say, I was a little apprehensive when I first heard of the project, given its scale and Bradley Cooper’s inexperience as a director. Judging by this trailer, however, it looks like he’s learned a lot from his previous collaborations, especially from Clint Eastwood (who was once slated to direct a version of this with Beyoncé back in the ‘00s). Gaga looks radiant, and the music’s pretty good. Expect a big, crowd-pleasing, Oscar-contending HIT.
Rick: Okay, so… this movie again. Fine. Whatever. I can’t work up a flying flip about it, but the buzz is phenomenal, so I’m sure it’ll be a solid HIT.
Jordon: My son took my headphones and now I can’t watch this trailer. So I’m just going to cheat. It’s currently at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has huge stars. Everyone is hailing Lady Gaga as an Oscar contender. This will pull off a Crazy Rich Asians kind of thing where word of mouth gives it a surprisingly long run. HIT.
First Man (October 12)
Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to La La Land reunites him with Ryan Gosling in this biographical profile of NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong during the decade-long mission that saw him become the first man to walk on the moon.
Tyler: My mind is so warped by following Hollywood news that I saw this trailer and was like “Oh sweet, a prequel to Apollo 13″. The bad part is how I didn’t stop thinking about Apollo 13 afterwards. All sorts of Space Race-themed properties from The Right Stuff to Apollo 13 to From the Earth to the Moon have trodden this territory before. Same themes, same shots, same performances… and same lines, I’m pretty sure. The only new thing First Man has to offer is Ryan Gosling’s breathtaking boy-pretty, and I don’t think that’ll be enough to do it this time. BOMB.
Julie: Argh! I really wanted to like this trailer, if only because I have an inappropriately large crush on Ryan Gosling. And this way, if I ever actually meet him in person, instead of just saying to him, “I love your work,” or “your ab muscles looked ridiculous in Crazy, Stupid, Love” like everybody else does, I could say, “I never downvoted any of your films in the monthly movie prediction posts on agonybooth.com.” But now I can’t say that, because this trailer looked so boring; like, fall asleep in your morning Cheerios boring. Now I’m going to have to find something else to say. Maybe something involving the “Hey Girl” meme? BOMB!
Thomas R: While I really love the contemporary Super 8-inspired texture Chazelle seems to be going for, it really doesn’t gel with the generic suspense-thriller vibe created by the music and editing choices. I get that they’re trying to remind us how dangerous this was, but it feels weirdly anachronistic given the decade’s prevailing optimism. At any rate, the American flag controversy (and lingering competition from A Star is Born) might hurt it a bit, but I think it should be a decent enough HIT.
Rick: The only way this could look more formulaic and dull is if it slapped “Directed by Ron Howard” across the trailer. Early reviews are strong, but eh, too many people are going to think maybe they’ll catch it on Netflix someday. Minor BOMB.
Jordon: I just read the box office results from the last weekend in September and they were very low all across the board. Some people, let’s pretend, are saying that the whole country just wasn’t in the mood to go to the movies after watching the Brett Kavanaugh show. I think that this may be just the kind of cornball, feel-good, jingoistic triumph that Americans need right now. Just don’t tell me how it ends. I want to be surprised. HIT.
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (October 12)
On Halloween night in a small town, two boys open up a mysterious manuscript by R.L. Stine, and release an onslaught of witches, monsters, ghouls, and (most horrifying of all) a talking ventriloquist’s dummy who wants to bring about something called the Halloween Apocalypse. It’s up to the kids and R.L. Stine himself (Jack Black) to stop them.
Tyler: As I remarked about Christopher Robin, it’s a super unpromising sign when the promotional material has to spell out for you how popular this property is. It reeks of desperation: “C’mon, you love this shit! Come see the movie—it’s got lots of this shit in it!” It’s even worse in this case because the first Goosebumps turned out better than it had any right to, and should’ve been able to stand on its own legs. But it turns out that, out of all the elements in that movie which totally shouldn’t have worked and totally did, for the sequel they decided to chuck everything except the grating, unfunny, un-scary, obnoxious dummy with Jack Black’s hammiest voice inside it. BOMB.
Julie: I feel like the first installment of this franchise worked because, in addition to being a scary-but-not-too-scary movie for kids to see on Halloween, it also had that nostalgia factor for adults who got to revisit the memorably creepy characters that appeared in the R.L. Stine books they read when they were kids. This one, however, looks more like the kind of fever dream Elmo from Sesame Street would have if he was drunk on absinthe. That said, I think the homicidal gummy bears in the trailer are awesome, and should totally have their own spin-off movie. Hey Winston, can I skip reviewing this and instead argue the merits of a movie about evil gummy bears entitled Gummy or Die? No? Well, you can’t blame a girl for trying. BOMB!
Thomas R: Well, I guess Jack Black’s too busy making money with that other kids’ fantasy movie currently playing at your local theater. Sadly, it looks like he’s been replaced with generic kid protagonists and terrible CGI. At least it’s nice to see the house from It get some work. BOMB.
Jordon: The first movie was good. It was surprisingly good. And it was appropriate for kids (about 10 or older). This movie looks a lot like that one. I’m going to guess it’ll be good, too. It won’t exceed expectations, but I’ll call it a modest HIT.
Halloween (October 19)
The John Carpenter-produced 11th entry in the Halloween franchise is a direct follow-up to the first film that ignores all the sequels (making it totally different from Halloween H20, which ignored all sequels except II). Jamie Lee Curtis is back again as Laurie Strode, who 40 years later is still haunted by her encounter with crazed killer Michael Myers (who’s definitely not her brother in this one—they even say so in the trailer). When Michael predictably escapes from prison and comes after her, Laurie makes sure she’s ready for him this time.
Tyler: These movies always make bank no matter how bad they are, and this doesn’t look that bad. HIT.
Julie: Internal franchise plot consistency or not, I feel like whenever you slap the word “Halloween” on a film it pretty much always does well at the box office, regardless of quality. Well, except for maybe that one they stuck in the middle of the franchise. You know, the weird one with the Halloween masks that ate kids’ faces off? Come to think of it, that’s probably how they came up with the character of Venom. HIT!
Thomas R: I only ever saw the original Halloween and didn’t bother with the rest. By the sounds of it, I didn’t miss much and it looks like it was all for the best because, man, Laurie Strode as a suburban Terminator 2-mode Sarah Connor is the best possible direction they could have gone with. Love David Gordon Green’s work, love seeing Jamie Lee Curtis back in the business, love seeing John Carpenter in the producer’s chair… I’m all set to go see this along with everybody else. HIT.
Rick: This movie was made on the same slender budget at Slender Man, a mere $10 million, and that was a hit despite every critic and moviegoer universally agreeing it sucked, so how could this one fail to live up to that legacy, whether or not it lives up to the original Halloween‘s? HIT.
Jordon: I’m so confused. This is the eleventh movie in the series but it has the same title as both the first and the ninth one? And it’s being helmed by a completely new team composed mostly of alumni of Eastbound & Down? I’m not going to see this. Movie franchise continuity should not be more complicated than a subway map. But every Halloween movie has made a profit, including the one that was released in friggin’ July. So let’s just call this a HIT.
How’d we do on last month’s predictions?
Budget: $22M | Earnings to date: $109M | Projected total earnings: $120M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (4 of 4)
Reality: Ungodly HIT
Budget: $88M | Earnings to date: $48M | Projected total earnings: $55-60M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (4 of 4)
Reality: Bottom of the food chain BOMB
The House with a Clock in its Walls
Budget: $42M | Earnings to date: $45M | Projected total earnings: $70M
Prediction: 75% said HIT (3 of 4)
Reality: The big hand is pointing toward HIT
Budget: $80M | Earnings to date: $23M | Projected total earnings: $70-90M
Prediction: 75% said HIT (3 of 4)
Reality: Too soon to tell
A Simple Favor
Budget: $20M | Earnings to date: $43M | Projected total earnings: $60M
Prediction: 0% said HIT (0 of 4)
Reality: Simply a HIT
Final Score: 2 Right, 2 Wrong, 1 Too Soon to Tell
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).