Feb 6, 2020
Hit or Bomb? September 2019 movie predictions
September is typically when the prime moviegoing audience is too busy heading back to school to head to the theater, and the studios schedule their major releases accordingly. This year, it’s all about a killer klown… and not much else. But could there be a sleeper hit in the mix? Our team of box office prognosticators are back again to figure it all out for you, and here’s what Thomas Stockel, Rick Lewis, and Tyler Peterson have to say.
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It: Chapter Two (September 6)
In this adaptation of the second half of Stephen King’s bestselling novel, it’s been 27 years since the Losers Club defeated Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), but the evil clown returns to the town of Derry to prey upon more kids. So it’s up to the now-adult Losers (including James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader) to reunite and defeat It once and for all.
Thomas S: I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with It: Chapter One. Oh sure, it had the ’80s nostalgia going for it, and the kids all did a great job, and Pennywise looked fantastic. But I wasn’t scared. At all. I go to a film to be terrorized and this was just… there. That being said, I think the sequel will be as big a HIT as the first, and I’ll probably go and see it in the hopes it can give me some legitimate scares.
Rick: ARGH! ‘Tis the movie title the Knights who say Ni cannot stand to hear! Okay, enough clowning around. (See what I did there?) Look, this is a surefire HIT after the first one did insanely well, so there’s not much to say about it.
Tyler: I don’t know anyone whose favorite part of the It miniseries was the half where they’re all adults. Nonetheless, it looks like they’re expanding the mythology of It (with the notable exception of the giant space turtle) so it doesn’t feel like a pure retread. I’d say it (It?) will be a HIT.
Hustlers (September 13)
The true story of how a crew of strippers (led by Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and in a case of art imitating life, Cardi B) conspired to drug their mostly Wall Street clients without their knowledge and steal thousands from them.
Thomas S: This is the first time I heard this movie existed, meaning either I’m not going to the theater enough to see trailers, or I’m just not visiting the same parts of the internet other people are. Anyway, I’m always skeptical about movies “based on” or “inspired by” true stories, because they usually take a ton of liberties with the source material. But I think I’m in the minority and a lack of adherence to the facts seldom gets in the way of most people enjoying a movie, and this one looks like it could be a minor HIT.
Rick: The track record for female-led revenge movies is pretty poor, but this one has a lot going for it, especially in that the villains are Wall Street bankers and it’s based on a true story. With a budget under $30 million, this one should pull in a respectable profit without wowing anyone. HIT.
Tyler: Is your heist movie lacking flavor? Try… boobies! BOMB, but I will be seeing it to see how Bernie Sanders’ running mate handles herself.
Ad Astra (September 20)
An astronaut (Brad Pitt) travels to the far reaches of the solar system in search of his long-lost astronaut father (Tommy Lee Jones), who may be involved in nefarious activities that threaten the entire human race.
Thomas S: I’m a big Brad Pitt fan. I love science fiction. But this movie isn’t exactly rockin’ my world. I can’t put my finger on it, or fully articulate what it is, but it’s not pressing my buttons. I felt the same way about The Martian and Interstellar. Is it because there’s too much science and not enough fiction? I dunno. Whatever the case, I’m not seeing it and I have a feeling I won’t be the only one. BOMB.
Rick: Unabashed high-concept science fiction that’s lovingly and lavishly shot? I’d vote HIT on pure hope, even if the early buzz wasn’t so good. This one should have legs like Arrival and be a respectable HIT for a September.
Tyler: Some of the earlier trailers for this movie looked promising, but this looks like a mess. There are about fifty different things going on here. Why isn’t “Brad Pitt in space” enough to sell tickets? Why do they have to have weird space elevator hijinks and rover chases and Mars landings and space guns? We all made fun of astronauts with guns when Armageddon did it, but they’re cool now? It’s just plain overstuffed. It looks like they started out with something really similar to First Man but had to add a bunch of Interstellar stuff after that movie bombed. Worst of all, no one wants to see Bradd Pitt brood. McConaughey can brood all he wants, but we want Brad Pitt to be a live wire. Ad BOMBa.
Rambo: Last Blood (September 20)
In the fifth installment of the Rambo franchise, Sylvester Stallone reprises his second most famous role as a Vietnam vet who—despite declaring war on all cops in the first movie—constantly gets called upon by the government for crucial missions. But this time it’s personal, as Rambo is forced back into action when a Mexican drug cartel kidnaps his daughter. [EDIT: Upon further research, the kidnap victim might be Rambo’s niece, not his daughter. Or maybe it’s a friend’s daughter. Or his granddaughter? Fuck it, who cares.]
Thomas S: Rambo has a daughter? Really? Checking IMDb… Oh, please don’t tell me it’s Yvette Monreal; she’s young enough to be Rambo’s granddaughter! That just boggles my mind. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as for all its liberal pretensions, Hollywood is ruthless when it comes to casting women. Here’s me hoping Hustlers is a bigger hit than I expect just to spite the suits in the front office. As for Rambo: Last Blood… eh, a HIT? I guess?
Rick: The most inspired thing about this movie is the title, but no one goes into a Rambo movie looking for something new and mind blowing. We just want to see an aging badass grunting out bleak pith in a gravely voice between shooting bad guys with over-sized machine guns and explosive arrows. Is that what you’re giving us? Fine, HIT.
Tyler: With Stallone rediscovering his acting chops in old age and bringing nuanced character work back to Rocky Balboa, one would’ve hoped he’d do the same for John Rambo. This series that began as a sensitive and subversive portrayal of a disaffected, scarred veteran could’ve circled back there, but instead will end its run as a dumb vehicle for fist-pumping nationalistic badassery and the slaughter of nonwhite hordes. At least Rambo (2008) had some good setpieces—by the fragmentary scenes we see, Stallone is in need of a rocking chair. BOMB.
Abominable (September 27)
When a teenager (voiced by Chloe Bennett) meets a young Yeti on her Shanghai rooftop, she and her friends embark on a journey to the Himalayas to reunite the magical creature with its family.
Thomas S: With no other kids movies coming out this month and no competition until maybe the Addams Family movie in October, I predict this will be a… Well, no. No, despite the lack of competition, this movie doesn’t look very promising. At all. I’m guessing it will BOMB and its failure will reaffirm Disney’s decision to focus on more live-action remakes of animated classics. Cynical? Moi?
Rick: Another animated yeti movie? Smallfoot did kinda okay, I guess, although this one looks cuter and more crowdpleasing. Still, DreamWorks has a mediocre track record at best lately outside of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. I suppose they’re releasing it in September when kiddos are back in school already because they’re acknowledging reality and ceding summer and Christmas to the Disney/Pixar juggernaut. Only because DreamWorks movies tend to be pricey, with well over a $100 million budget, I’m gonna go with BOMB domestically on this one.
Tyler: Here’s another movie I liked from the first trailers and then they stuffed a whole bunch of crap in. Why isn’t a yeti enough? Why is the yeti magic? Why is there an annoying vaudeville duo tagging along? However, the movie looks gorgeous and that yeti is totes adorbs, so I’m erring on the side of HIT.
How’d we do on last month’s predictions?
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Budget: $200M | Earnings to date: $172M | Projected total earnings: $174M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (4 of 4)
Reality: 2 Fast 2 BOMB
Budget: $20M | Earnings to date: $80M | Projected total earnings: $85M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (4 of 4)
Reality: Who’s a good HIT? Yes, you are! Yes, you are!!!
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Budget: $65M | Earnings to date: $41M | Projected total earnings: $42M
Prediction: 25% said HIT (1 of 4)
Reality: Angry BOMBs
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Budget: $49M | Earnings to date: $59M | Projected total earnings: $60M
Prediction: 25% said HIT (1 of 4)
Reality: I’m the HIT, I’m the HIT, I’m the HIT, I’m the HIT
Angel Has Fallen
Budget: $40M | Earnings to date: $67M | Projected total earnings: $70M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: Devil of a HIT
FINAL SCORE: 2 right, 3 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).