Feb 6, 2020
Hit or Bomb? September 2018 movie predictions
It’s another month, and it’s time once again for us to make knee-jerk assessments about which upcoming releases will be HITs and which will BOMB based solely on watching the trailers. Our box office gurus this time around are Tyler Peterson, Rick Lewis, Thomas Ricard, and Jordon Davis.
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The Nun (September 7)
In the fifth installment of what’s quickly becoming the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, a priest with a haunted past journeys to Romania to investigate a young nun’s suicide, and ends up confronting an evil force in the form of the demonic nun from Conjuring 2.
Tyler: Halloween sure comes earlier every year, doesn’t it? I sort of lost interest in the Waniverse after that dogshit Annabelle movie, but I can’t deny that people really love these movies. I’m tempted to say they would have released it closer to Halloween if they had more confidence in it, but the last Annabelle movie was released in June and it did all right. It most likely did well thanks to all the Catholic imagery, because as we all know, Catholicism is the spookiest of all religions. I’m calling this a HIT.
Rick: If last month’s Slender Man can make $30M despite being universally despised by critics and ticket buyers alike, then why bother even watching this trailer before slapping HIT on this paint-by-numbers sequel? With the minuscule budgets of today’s creepy jump-scare-a-thons, they’re money in the bank.
Thomas R: “Pray For Forgiveness”? I will when you guys do the same for making Annabelle. The spooky nun was easily the best part of that otherwise lackluster Conjuring sequel and it looks like the Transylvanian monastery (because of course it’s in Transylvania) is being put to good use. Despite being educated in Catholic schools, I wasn’t exposed to many nasty nuns, but I’ve no doubt a lot of people are going to experience either vivid flashbacks or some serious catharsis. HIT.
Jordon: This is the fifth movie in the Conjuring series and I have seen exactly none of them. They appear to derive their horror from some sort of Catholic mythology, I think. As a not-at-all-Catholic person, it’s meaningless to me. It would be like two Americans in the middle of Deir ez-Zor, Syria having a heated discussion about whether Ross and Rachel were on a break. Those people have never seen Friends, don’t speak English, and have way bigger problems to worry about. But my main point is all the other Conjuring movies made massive profits compared to their budgets so this probably will, too. HIT.
The Predator (September 14)
Shane Black writes and directs this sixth Predator movie (Black played a supporting character in the first one) where a young boy (Jacob Tremblay) accidentally summons the Predators back to Earth, and it’s up to a team of ex-soldiers (including Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, and Jake Busey as the son of his dad’s character from Predator 2) along with a high school science teacher (Olivia Munn) to stop them.
Tyler: Fuck yes. Goofy, gory, scary… if the movie is one-eighth as awesome as thus trailer, this is the Predator movie we’ve been waiting two and a half decades for. HIT.
Rick: Shane Black is absolutely perfect for embracing and modernizing the unabashed macho fuck-yeah-ism that made Arnold a powerhouse in the ’80s. I went from rolling my eyes at the Predator-vision 20th Century Fox logo to “Holy shit this is going to rock” in the length of half a trailer, so yeah, HIT, despite being a September action flick.
Thomas R: You gotta give this franchise credit for its adaptability: It’s gone from Vietnam War allegory to big sci-fi actioner to poorly-conceived crossover, then back to its Vietnam roots complete with a Colonel Kurtz character, and now it’s squarely into Marvel-esque snarky semi-self-aware action, only with more gore. So expect it to do pretty well. HIT.
Jordon: I spent this entire trailer yelling, “Faaaahhhkkk yeeaahhh!” nonstop. It looks unbelievably great. I’m a little worried about this release date, though. The studio had it slated to kick off the summer, then moved it to August, and now is throwing it against the nine hundred British WWII dramas that make up the average Oscar season. It’s as though they know something that we don’t. It’ll be a disappointment compared to what the studio originally thought they were getting, but it’ll make enough to be a HIT.
A Simple Favor (September 14)
In director Paul Feig’s first suspense thriller, a small-town mommy blogger (Anna Kendrick) tries to uncover the truth behind the suspicious disappearance of her best friend (Blake Lively).
Tyler: This movie baffles me. I can’t think of a more unlikely director or star for this kind of vehicle. Paul Feig doing a moody crime thriller makes about as much sense to me as Uwe Boll directing a Disney movie. Plus, I just can’t see how Anna Kendrick is right for this role; she’s got a face and general bearing that suggest she’s restraining herself from slipping into a silly costume. And the whole Missing Girl/Double Lives/Murderous Shenanigans plot is a well that’s been visited an awful lot lately. BOMB.
Rick: When Anna Kendrick is trying to drum up attention for this flick by bragging about how awesome it is to make out with Blake Lively, there’s a reek of desperation around this one. The premise is so hokey that Paul Feig might have squeezed a brilliant comedy out of it. As is, a BOMB.
Thomas R: So we’re still trying to rip off Gone Girl four years after the fact, huh? Unlike Paper Towns, this one doesn’t benefit from its author’s name or the YA romance fad, so don’t expect it to make much noise, especially when audiences can get their small-town mystery fix by re-watching Sharp Objects on TV. BOMB.
Jordon: Oh, man, I really want to like this movie. I mean, Paul Feig did Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters. Henry Golding is killing it in Crazy Rich Asians. And Anna Kendrick is basically my spirit animal. But I’m seriously concerned this is going to suck. It looks terrible. Feig is best when he’s doing comedy. Blake Lively is best when she doesn’t speak or move too much. And Anna Kendrick doesn’t even sing. I mean, like, um, hello? BOMB.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls (September 21)
Eil Roth directs this adaptation of a 1973 YA fantasy/mystery novel where a young boy is sent to live with his uncle (Jack Black) who turns out to be a warlock, and their neighbor (Cate Blanchett) turns out to be a witch. Together, they try to find the titular clock that was hidden in the walls of their titular house by the previous owners, which has the power to bring about the end of the world.
Tyler: My targeted ads have been humping this movie pretty hard. After the surprisingly good Goosebumps, Jack Black seems to have embraced his new niche as the go-to guy for kid-friendly fantasy horror. Unfortunately, this looks like a swing and a miss for him. If they’re banking so hard on drawing in fans of such an obscure novel, they can’t have much else going for them. BOMB.
Rick: The music and the font are screaming Harry Potter at me so loudly it’s almost hard to hear Jack Black chewing the scenery, but no one chews scenery better than Jack Black, and damn if this doesn’t seem pitch perfect for the elementary school crowd. HIT.
Thomas R: If nothing else, this certainly looks more interesting than that Death Wish remake. While Jack Black’s running commentary is already getting on my nerves and I’m still skeptical as to whether Eli Roth can keep the tone consistent throughout, recent history has taught me not to underestimate kid-friendly fantasy that isn’t Harry Potter. Call this a minor HIT, though it really should be released around Halloween.
Jordon: Here’s the thing: you don’t particularly think of a horror movie for children as a genre that would do well, but it can be made to work. The first Goosebumps movie was really good. Yes, it’s weird that Jack Black turned down the sequel to do… a movie that looks exactly like the Goosebumps sequel. But I’m not here to comment on Jack Black’s career choices. I’m here because I have literally nowhere else to be. That being said, pending the court’s permission, I want to see this movie with my kids. Man, this review got dark fast. HIT.
Smallfoot (September 28)
In an animated twist on the legend of the yeti, an abominable snowman (voiced by Channing Tatum) has a chance encounter with a human (James Corden) and goes on a quest to prove to his people that the “smallfoot” truly does exist.
Tyler: Okay, this movie tickled my cute bone pretty hard. Unremarkable but inoffensive, this’ll be a HIT because of all the people who need to take their kids to something but find Jack Black just a bit much.
Rick: Cute premise, charmingly executed. No reason this won’t do fine. HIT.
Thomas R: Does someone at Warner Bros. actually hate me? Did they compile a checklist of everything I hate about modern kids’ animation and make a movie out of it, then add insult to injury by trying to lure me in with Channing Tatum’s adorable wholesomeness? Please, God, let this BOMB and be forgotten.
Jordon: I don’t think this looks funny or engaging at all. My kids didn’t seem that excited about it either (according to the court). But Warner Brothers Animation is developing a pretty impressive track record. There’s no other movie for young children for competition. Late September is a weird time to release this, or really, to release anything. Still, I’m going to predict this as a solid family HIT.
Before we get to last month’s results, a mea culpa: Last month, we called Mission: Impossible – Fallout a “minor bomb domestically” based on projected total earnings after just one weekend at the box office. Our projections were based on a typical summer action flick, but Fallout’s strong critical and fan reaction, combined with Tom Cruise’s appeal to older filmgoers gave this one a lot more legs than we anticipated. It’s a HIT. Last month’s results have been updated.
And now, here’s how we did on last month’s predictions:
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Budget: $40M | Earnings to date: $33M | Projected total earnings: $34M
Prediction: 75% said HIT (3 of 4)
Budget: $130M | Earnings to date: $120M | Projected total earnings: $140-150M
Prediction: 50% said HIT (2 of 4)
Reality: Minor HIT (domestically—and devouring money overseas)
Budget: $75M | Earnings to date: $86M | Projected total earnings: $95M
Prediction: 25% said HIT (1 of 4)
Reality: Minor HIT
Budget: $10M | Earnings to date: $28M | Projected total earnings: $32M
Prediction: 25% said HIT (1 of 4)
The Happytime Murders
Budget: $40M | Earnings to date: $17M | Projected total earnings: $25-30M
Prediction: 0% said HIT (0 of 4)
FINAL SCORE: 1 Right, 3 Wrong, 1 Split 50-50
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).