Welcome to the Box Office Oracle–where new movies are pitted against each other for box office supremacy and only one can claim victory. Each week, I will be doing a quick box office prediction for all wide new releases. Sorry, obscure indie films I’ve never heard of, but you aren’t going to be discussed here unless you become big.
This is also something I’m going to keep as free of “controversy” if I can. This means that if, I don’t know, Jon Voight is voicing an evil government agent talking bear in a DreamWorks movie, I’m not going to make a bunch of Trump jokes. If a Tom Cruise actioner comes out, I’m not going to make a bunch of Scientology cracks. You get the idea. I want for this to be kept fun and simple.
So, without any further discussion, let’s go into this weekend’s three big releases, Toy Story 4, Child’s Play and Anna.
Toy Story 4
After a couple of weekends of newcomers underwhelming financially, we finally have a movie that arrives with a very welcome “Who knows how much money this will make?” Toy Story 4 is a surefire blockbuster: all that remains to be seen is how big its block tower will be. Despite initial reservations from the public and the press following its announcement–since the third film pretty much sold itself as the “ending” of the franchise–Pixar has done an absolutely exceptional job at justifying this installment’s existence. Trailers have been terrific, promising plenty of laughs until the film inevitably reduces you to a salty puddle of tears during its reportedly quite moving final reel.
I mentioned last week that good reviews aren’t enough to make a hit. But they are enough to make a movie that’s already going to be a hit into an even bigger one. Reviews are through the roof here–as they have been for all the Toy Story movies–proclaiming it an instant classic. That’s going to create a “must-see” aspect for many adults, and I’m sorry to say that you’re old enough for Toy Story to count as a cross-generational franchise, as the first film came out nearly 25 years ago. This should be more than enough to ensure that Toy Story 4 will open to more than $100 million, but can it go much bigger than that?
That’s a hard question to answer. $100 million openings are actually strangely rare for animated films (Disney’s feature animation division has yet to enjoy one, but that’s going to change with Frozen II this November), and Pixar’s only had three of them to date, with Incredibles 2 holding the record with a $180 million debut. That film, however, had 14 years of fanboy demand backing it up, so Toy Story 4 being able to top that might be aiming a little too high. Incredibles 2 was also a very “safe” sequel, whereas the Toy Story flicks tend to be a little more risky (in that they’ve all been centered around themes of mortality ever since Toy Story 2). Could that impact this movie long term? We’ll find out in good time, but for now give Toy Story 4 an excellent $145 million opening, and there’s a good chance it could go even bigger.
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: Pixar has yet to do a misfire with this franchise, and Toy Story 4 looks like it will be no different. Also, Keanu Reeves plays a Canadian stunt cyclist, so that alone is worth a movie ticket.
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: Toy Story 3 was already a perfect “ending,” so you could make the case that a fourth one shouldn’t have been made. But even if you have that attitude, you’re probably going to see this movie anyway.
Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $145 million opening; $440 million finish.
Trying to sell itself as this week’s anti-Toy Story is Child’s Play, and before you write this off as a pointless horror remake, this film…actually looks pretty good. The special effects are great, and having Mark Hamill as the voice of iconic serial killer doll Chucky this time around is a big plus. Even reviews have been pretty kind, with a wonderful-for-the-genre 69% “freshness” rating over at Rotten Tomatoes at the time I write this.
Unfortunately, even as it tries to benefit from opening against Toy Story 4 via a series of posters in which Chucky kills Buzz Lightyear and Woody, Pixar’s tentpole is simply going to be too big of a beast to even attempt to compete with. Many of the people who would normally see Child’s Play are going to see Toy Story 4 instead, and hey, another evil doll movie opens in just a couple of days with Annabelle Comes Home, which might hurt Child’s Play even more. We should also note that the Child’s Play franchise has stayed alive largely thanks to a cult following, which is probably why it became incredibly campy as it went along. The new Child’s Play looks to return the series to its scarier roots, but hey, a lot of people complained when 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street did that, so maybe the same thing will happen here. I’m hoping for a sleeper hit myself, but for now we’ll give Child’s Play a debut of $10 million, which wouldn’t be terrible.
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: The previews have been effectively creepy and twisted for this one, and having The Joker himself as the voice behind an evil doll is almost ridiculously awesome.
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: Hey, you know when Jonah Hex opened against Toy Story 3 back in 2010? Yeah, that was a bad idea.
Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $10 million opening; $25 million total.
Falling into the “oh, yeah, this is also opening this weekend” category, Anna is an actioner that centers around a female assassin who…well, I’m not sure what exactly the plot is for this one. She’s a spy of some sort, she’s on a mission, she kills a ton of people, and that’s pretty much what the film’s only trailer tells me. And while director Luc Besson helmed the very well-liked The Fifth Element, he can be something of a wild card when it comes to box office returns, with 2014’s Lucy opening huge before taking a massive dive after marketing itself as a completely different movie.
Anna comes to us from Lionsgate in what feels like another attempt at a franchise for them. But with terrible tracking and an unknown as the lead, that simply isn’t going to happen here, and Anna should tank with an opening of just $5 million, if it even makes that much.
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: The trailer is decent enough, centered around a pretty nice action sequence which hopefully isn’t the only fight scene in the movie (again, we’re looking at you, Lucy).
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: You’re going to be seeing Toy Story 4 instead, and after Peppermint and Atomic Blonde, these attempts at “female John Wick” franchises are starting to feel a tad redundant.
Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $5 million, $14 million finish.
Other fun stuff…
* My five favorite Pixar films (in no particular order): Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Inside Out, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.
* Bo Peep is back with a more “active” role for this film, but she’s also made out of porcelain, so hopefully she won’t tragically shatter into a hundred pieces as Woody wails to the heavens.
* A common misconception about Bo Peep is that she’s one of Andy’s toys, but she isn’t: she’s actually a figurine attached to Molly’s bedside lamp that Andy simply steals for his playtime adventures whenever he feels like it.
* Michael Keaton’s Ken was an absolute delight in Toy Story 3, so it’s a bit of a shame that he appears to be absent for this film..
* I did pretty well with my predictions last week, if I do say so myself, though Men in Black: International did a little better than I was expecting while Shaft did even worse.
* Between Toy Story 4, The Lion King and the Sony co-production Spider-Man: Far From Home, Disney is looking to dominate the box office for six weeks until the release of Hobbs and Shaw in early August.
* What will you be seeing this weekend, Avocados? Toy Story? Evil dolls? Toy Story and evil dolls? Sound off in the comments!