Box Office Oracle — 02/14/2020-02/16/2020

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” as 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 four big new releases, Sonic the HedgehogThe PhotographFantasy Island, and Downhill.

Sonic the Hedgehog 

Well, talk about a turnaround.

I probably don’t need to tell you the story about the backlash the first Sonic the Hedgehog trailer got (though for me at least it seriously wasn’t that bad), and how it resulted in the title character getting a full redesign. But hey, it all appeared to work out, with Sonic riding an unexpected wave of positive buzz over the last few months, culminating in a fantastic-for-the-genre “freshness” rating of 63% over at RT. It’s important to note that critics walk into video game adaptations wanting to hate on them, so what we have here is comparable to last year’s Detective Pikachu, which also fared pretty well.

Of course, reviews don’t matter much for this sort of film anyway, but they can help give it a boost. Sonic is the first offering for families since Doolittle, and with a super fun preview and overall good will towards the movie over the past few weeks, we should be looking at $47 million.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: This looks like an appealing and lighthearted take on the classic video game. Also Jim Carrey appears to be hilarious as Dr. Robotnic.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: If you don’t like sugar-fueled, fast-paced entertainment, Sonic may not be your level of speed.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $47 million debut; $135 million finish.

The Photograph

It’s Valentine’s Day, which means we have a date movie for the weekend, this time coming in the form of a melodrama about a woman “who must learn from the secrets in her mother’s past if she is to move forward and allow herself to love and be loved.” So in other words, it sounds like a Nicolas Sparks story, except this one has an African American cast.

It’s also getting a warm reception from critics, who are praising it as a pleasant surprise, and buzz indicates it could play well over the holiday weekend. As the big romance of the week, it should do fine with $14 million.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: It’s Valentines Day, so lots of people will be in the mood for this.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: It’s Valentine’s Day, so lots of single people won’t be in the mood for this.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $14 million opening; $46 million finish.

Fantasy Island 

Uh, oh.

Now here’s something of an oddity: a movie that should have been given more of a marketing boost, given that it’s based on a quite popular TV show from a while back, which at the very least gives it the “brand name” factor. Yet it seems the trailer campaign for this one never took off, and hey, it’s kind of weird that they’ve decided to make a Fantasy Island update into a horror movie for some reason.

Then Sony made the even worse decision to not screen the film for critics. In the era of Rotten Tomatoes, that’s never a good idea. Anyway, reviews that are in are terrible, giving this Fantasy a very rotten rating of only 15%. Yikes. Combine that with an overall lack of any form of hype, and we should be looking at $9 million.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: This does look like a…unique take on the original TV series, and might’ve been tracking to be a bigger hit had it opened on another weekend.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: I mean, it can’t be helped now, but there is a notable lack of Ricardo Montalban here.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $9 million opening; $27 million finish.


Opening on far fewer screens than the other wide releases this week is Downhill, a comedy/drama starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as married couple who may or may not be reaching a crisis point in their relationship. Also, it involves skiing.

Trailers have been very funny for this one–as one would expect given the two leads involved–even though critics seem to be fairly split. However, I’m not sure if that’s going to have a negative impact on this one, as this does look like a solid dramady, even though it’s the sort of humor that’s not necessarily going to bring in big crowds. Look for $5 million.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus have terrific chemistry here. It even showed at the Oscars last week, where their presentation was easily one of the best of the evening (they fully sold the “earpiece gag” without dragging it out for too long, which is more than I can say for Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig’s sketch from the night).

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: Reviews have been mixed, and this does appear to be the Sideways brand of indie-comedy humor which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $5 million opening; $18 million finish.

Other fun stuff…

Parasite comes back to theaters this weekend following its Best Picture win at the Oscars, however since the film is already on DVD, it’s unlikely it’s going to make too much.

* But for those who do show up for it, they’re going to be in for a big surprise if they expect it to be the “wacky black comedy” all of the awards hype has built it up as.

* According to Rotten Tomatoes, Gretel & Hansel is a better movie than The Rise of Skywalker. Now, if you’ll excuse me for one minute…

* Following its underwhelming debut, Birds of Prey has pulled an Edge of Tomorrow and changed its title to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. That’s probably the title they should’ve gone for in the first place, but it feels like too little/too late at this point.

* One notable difference in the marketing for Sonic outside of the obvious one is tone: that initial teaser trailer tried to sell it as a badass action movie similar to The Fast of the Furious. The newer previews have been emphasizing the “fun” factor more than anything else.

* Happy Valentine’s Day!