Box Office Oracle — 01/31/2020-02/02/2020

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 get into this weekend’s two big new releases. Gretel & Hansel and The Rhythm Section.

Gretel & Hansel 

No, they aren’t witch hunters in this one.

I don’t need to tell you the story of “Hansel and Gretel” (a delightful tale involving cannibalism, because children love that shit), which may or may not make this a tough sell at the box office, as it’s naturally dealing with audience familiarity as far as the source material is concerned. Still, this does appear to be a creepy and clever new take on it, even though it doesn’t look to be doing anything radical in order to spice things up (again, they aren’t witch hunters).

Yet another PG-13 horror movie for January, Gretel & Hansel (they reversed the order of the names because…reasons?) may be able to score with family audiences who are in the mood for entertainment on the same level of something like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. And reviews aren’t bad at all at 60% “fresh” so far, which as I’ve told you all here before, is an excellent rating for the genre. Having said that, breadcrumbs of the past indicate that Super Bowl weekend can be a lousy one as far as box office returns are concerned (Taken would be the exception that proves the rule), but we could still be looking at something fairly solid here. Let’s be optimistic and give Gretel & Hansel $12 million for now.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: The latest trailer has garnered 23 million views on YouTube since being launched at the start of the month. That indicates a surprising amount of audience interest here.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: The PG-13 rating is all fine and good, but this might have a bit more “umph” going for it if they had gone all out for an R.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $12 million debut; $40 million finish.

The Rhythm Section 

“Think of your heart as the drums, your breathing as the bass.”

Oh, no, that’s not from the fortune cookie section of the column. That’s how Paramount chooses to open their official plot summary for this revenge thriller starring Blake Lively, and gee, if a tagline that confusing doesn’t get you on board, I don’t know what will. The cheap way to describe this film is that it looks something like a female version of Taken (complete with the borderline potential maybe xenophobia?), while having Jude Law on board as someone who may or may not end up being a surprise villain probably helps some. Maybe.

The bottom line is this film simply doesn’t look particularly appealing, with an overly bleak trailer and Lively being virtually unrecognizable, which is why I think Paramount may have had initial Oscar hopes for this film until they decided to dump it into January. That would make sense given the quite bad for this sort of movie score of 31% “rotten” over at RT. Give it $4 million if it even makes it that far.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: It’s from a director of The Handmaid’s Tale, as the marketing is eager to tell me, and from producers who have worked on James Bond movies, so I guess that means it will be good.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: I mean, if you want to go to a “fun” movie, this…doesn’t look like it will be one. And again, this has “thrown away wannabe Oscar contender” written all over it.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $4 million; $11 million finish.

Other fun stuff…

* All joking aside, I don’t think The Rhythm Section looks “bad” or anything. It just doesn’t look like something most audiences are going to want to invest their movie dollar in.

Doolittle is still the only movie of 2020 I’ve gone to so far. I need to remedy that.

1917 has been enjoying quite the box office run, crossing the $100 million mark last weekend. Not bad for a World War I drama without star power going for it.

Frozen II is coming to Blu-ray in only a few weeks even though it’s still playing at most theaters. As an aside, the original Frozen was still playing at my local theater after it had been released on home video, which I think is the only time that’s ever happened where I live.

* It may have scored horribly with critics, but 2013’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was gloriously twisted, stupid fun. Give it a rental if you’ve never watched it.

* What will YOU be doing this weekend? (You know, besides watching football) Sound off in the comments!