Box Office Oracle — 02/07/2020-02/09/2020

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 solo big new release, Bird of Prey.

Bird of Prey

Suicide Squad was something of a risk when it was first announced, but it was a gamble that ended up paying off in a big way when it opened in 2016, earning more than $300 million in the states alone (don’t listen to those in the entertainment press who claimed “money was left on the table”; outside of The Joker, all of the film’s characters were of the more obscure comic book variety). Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was easily the movie’s MVP (no offense, Will Smith), so a spin-off starring her was perhaps inevitable, and while the title may be Bird of Prey (I refuse to address it by the ridiculous full title here), the marketing makes no secret about her taking center stage here.

Still, in terms of tone, this appears to be almost identical to Suicide Squad with a bit of R-rated Deadpool naughtiness thrown in, with Harley Quinn joining a team of female superheroes in order to take down a gangster played by a scene-stealing Ewan McGregor. It all looks like good fun, even if the trailers have done a pretty lousy job at highlighting the other characters in the film, instead choosing to promote this “The Harley Quinn Show” more than anything. That may all pay off given the character’s popularity, but I don’t like that Jared Leto’s Joker is completely absent here given that Quinn breaking up with him is apparently instrumental to kicking off the plot. Yes, yes, his take on the character divided some fans (in ways which were probably blown out of proportion), but it wouldn’t have hurt anyone to have him in the movie for even two minutes simply to show audiences this important moment in Quinn’s life.

But I’m digressing. The thing that seems to be “lacking” here is a hook to get people in their seats on opening weekend, but that may not be needed since there’s pretty much nothing to compete for its market right now, as Bad Boys For Life has already been playing for three weeks. We’re not going to be looking at anything close to the $130 million Suicide Squad pulled off, but $51 million sounds like a safe enough prediction.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is a hoot, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who plays Huntress) is someone I’ll watch in anything.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: The movie might too manic and wacky for many, as Harley Quinn is the sort of character who may be exhausting for some when not taken in small doses.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $51 million opening; $110 million finish.

Other fun stuff…

* People can say whatever they like in the “DC Vs. Marvel” fight (something I’ve never been a fan of), but DC is in a place where they have more “creative freedom” than Marvel does. Within the last year, they released a family friendly superhero comedy, an R-rated Taxi Driver-style crime drama, and a wild and crazy female superhero shoot ’em up. Marvel meanwhile has become too big to fail and more or less has to deliver the same kind of movie over and over again (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course).

* It’s also kind of cool that a Harley Quinn movie is opening in theaters the same weekend that a Joker solo outing is set to win a couple of Oscars.

* I’ve gone to only two of the Best Picture nominations so far this year: Joker and 1917.  My verdict? Both are pretty terrific and left me feeling floored.

* Having said that, I’m not going to get “upset” if my favorite nominated movies do or don’t win in the categories I want them to. It’s an awards show. It’s not the end of the world if your picks don’t bring home a trophy or not.

Gretel & Hansel is not the movie it’s been marketed as. It’s like if Terrence Malick directed a fairy tale movie, except that’s not being fair to Malick, as love him or hate him he’s good at what he does. Gretel & Hansel is a horror film in which a bunch of batshit insane stuff happens which somehow manages to be pretty dull, and I’m sorry to say its young leads don’t help matters.

* Next weekend finally brings us Sonic the Hedgehog, which I’m thinking is going to surprise and deliver some big numbers. Fantasy Island? Not so much.

* What are YOU doing this weekend? Sound off in the comments!