They say a pictures worth a thousand words. I say, those thousand words are extremely important. And sometimes, it takes a nerd to give those words life.
Welcome to Lamans Language (A.K.A.) Land of The Nerds, where I, Douglas Laman (A.K.A. Nerd In The Basement) discuss the world of pop culture, namely cinema, in the form of news pieces, editorials and reviews!
Now that we've looked at my predictions for the ten biggest movies of Summer 2018, it's time to look at all of the other wide releases of Summer 2018 and what kind of box office I currently think they'll drum up. As in years past, these remaining wide release titles will be split into three categories: Likely Hits, a categorization that should be self-explanatory, Wild Cards, films that could easily become either hits or flops, and Potential Box Office Misfires, films that currently seem like they'll miss the mark at the domestic box office.
Whose ready to dive into a whole bunch of movies? Let's get right into it, shall we?
One of the many pieces of connective tissue between the assorted directorial efforts of Wes Anderson is the element of families, Wes Anderson loves to explore complex, typically fractured, family dynamics. Whether it's the two brothers who lead Bottle Rocket, the expansive Tenenbaum clan or Mr. Fox and his kin, Anderson is fascinated by the storytelling possibilities offered up by complicated families. It's a recurring narrative pattern of his that has served him well in the past, but he's been eschewing it in his most recent works, first in The Grand Budapest Hotel and again in his newest feature Isle of Dogs. Both of these movies are superb works that indicate Anderson works just fine as a filmmaker without the aid of family dynamics in the stories he tells.
The fifth biggest movie of 1994 was The Flinstones, a live-action adaptation of the animated TV show of the same name. Only four movies (Forrest Gump, The Lion King, True Lies and The Santa Clause) managed to make more cash than this Brian Levant directed project, yet today, The Flintstones has basically faded away from the pop culture landscape. Some of that can be attributed to how its cartoon source material has not been as heavily utilized as a source for merchandise and direct-to-video follow-up's as fellow Hanna-Barbera toons Scooby-Doo or Tom & Jerry, but it can also be chalked up to the fact that The Flintstones is just thoroughly forgettable fare.
Here we are again folks. For the fourth year in a row, your o'l pal Douglas Laman is looking to size up every single wide release scheduled for the forthcoming summer and evaluate their box office prospects. The time has come for the Summer 2018 Box Office Predictions. We've got a lot of particularly big sequels this summer, with Avengers, Star Wars, Incredibles and Jurassic Park all debuting new installments that should generate heaps of dough, but we've also got a bunch of oddball releases (most of which we'll discuss in part two of this piece) looking to make a dent in the summertime marketplace. Like in years past, this summer box office prediction column will be split into two parts, the first of which covers my predictions for the top ten biggest movies of the summer, while the second details my thoughts on all the other forthcoming movies currently scheduled for wide release between April 27th and Labor Day weekend.
OK folks, I've got my thoughts ready to jot down and AC/DC's Moneytalks blaring as I type this, let's get going.
Yes, as you've heard ad nauseum at this point, Rampage is indeed the best video game movie of all-time. That's akin to saying something is the best post-1991 Terminator sequel in that the bar of quality to clear is so low it's comical, but yes, Rampage is indeed the new champion among video game movies. Unfortunately, it doesn't achieve this distinction by proving that video game movies can be great cinema like Spider-Man did for comic book movies back in 2002, but it does manage to be far better than the rest of its brethren by simply being goofy fun and good Lord is this movie ever goofy, sometimes to an utterly bizarre degree.
April 2018 continued to be a bustling place at the box office as the newest Dwayne Johnson blockbuster managed to secure the number one spot. That blockbuster was Rampage, which grossed $34.5 million over the weekend, about 38% below the opening weekend of San Andreas, the movie it was most clearly aping (no pun intended) in its marketing and the cast & crew assembled to bring it to life. Though that's on par with pre-release tracking, when you've got a movie costing $120 million, you want it to open to at least $40 or so million, though the fact that Rampage secured the third biggest opening weekend ever for a video game movie is a testament to Dwayne Johnson's appeal to audiences in family-friendly fare. Families came out in droves for this title, explaining why it held so well over the weekend. If Rampage holds like past April blockbusters that opened two weeks before a big Marvel movie like The Huntsman: Winter's War or Oblivion, it'll end it's domestic run with about $80 million.
Comedic actors crossing over to the world of dramatic acting is a process that typically yields quite successful and frequently fascinating results. The likes of Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and Adam Sandler have all managed in the past to show off their chops as actors without even attempting to make jokes. Typically these performances occur years into a comedic actors career, but Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco have both have decided to buck tradition and wade into such waters early on in their careers (hell, this is only the fourth live-action film appearance from Abbi Jacobson) by headlining the drama 6 Balloons, a bold move that results in a pair of memorably bleak performances.
The Polka King is one of many movies that comes off as being heavily confused about what it wants to be. Basing itself off a true story that sounds too ludicrous to actually be true, it never seems 110% certain how it wants to handle telling this tale. Is it a ludicrous farce with a heavy emphasis on comedy? Is it a complex examination of the man who called himself The Polka King? Is it a full-on sympathy piece of that same man? What is The Polka King trying to do? I saw the whole movie several days ago and I still don't know, the whole project just feels so confused about what it's trying to do that it ends up doing not much of anything.
The world of wrestling hasn't been anywhere near as prominent in cinema as it's sports cousin boxing, but it's still a common sight to see in pieces of cinema. Olivia Newman leaps to the world of feature films by helming the recent Netflix feature First Match, the newest entry in the wrestling movie subgenre. For her first time behind the camera on a feature film, she expands on a 2010 short film also entitled First Match and tells the tale of a troubled High Schooler named Monique (Elvire Emanuelle) whose constantly shifting between different foster families to live with and getting into trouble at school on a similarly regular basis.
After eight years, writer/director Armando Iannucci has returned to the world of feature films (he's been busy the last few years working on the highly acclaimed HBO TV show Veep) with The Death of Stalin. Like his 2009 film In The Loop, The Death of Stalin is a dark farce comedy depicting people in positions of noteworthy political power acting scummy in the name of personal gain. Instead of coming off as merely reheated leftovers of In The Loop though, The Death of Stalin takes this basic concept and clearly charts its own terrain. This is a film with its own distinct personality to its name, one that aids greatly in making The Death of Stalin as highly humorous as it is.
It's borderline impressive that someone made a politically tinged piece of media like Chappaquiddick in the year of 2018 and have it say so little, even inadvertently. I'm not saying this because this new John Curran directed movie doesn't reinforce my already held political beliefs, rather, because it struck me as strange how this movie could spend so much time on a real-life event like the Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick disaster and not come away with something to say, even just in an esoteric sense instead of commentating on specific modern issues. Chappaquiddick as a film isn't bad, at it's worst moments it's just "meh", but it's lack of substantive themes do speak to the more paint-by-numbers nature of the production that ends up leaving it feeling more underwhelming than engaging.
As said in my review of Rushmore, there's a fascinating undercurrent of melancholy to the works of Wes Anderson that sharply contrasts with the quirky visual aesthetic found throughout his work. Externally, Anderson's stories occupy realms populated by whimsical architecture and stylized characters, but such elements are typically in the service of stories very much in touch with reality. The themes of Anderson's works tap into universal human experiences just as potently as his visuals dazzle the eyes. His 2001 effort, The Royal Tenenbaums, is one of his most overtly despondent projects in tone as it explores the Tenenbaum family and the various problems its individual members are grappling with.
There's plenty about A Quiet Place worth pondering but one of the aspects of this film that I really can't stop thinking about is how much it feels like a deviation from John Krasinski's career up to this point. Nothing in his past acting or directorial credits indicate he had any interest in the horror genre (heck, Krasinski has been open in interviews about not growing up as an ardent fan of horror movies), up to this point Krasinski has been known as Jim Halpert from The Office first and also as comedic actor who starred or appeared in light-hearted feature-length dramedies. But here is, directing, writing and acting in an intense horror film with nary a joke in sight, an audacious move worth applauding on its own.
The April 2018 box office kicked off in a glorious fashion as two new titles and holdovers alike all found box office success. Of course, top of the class was A Quiet Place, which led the box office with a mighty $50 million. Nearly tripling it's $17 million budget in just three days, this project had one of the biggest opening weekends in history for a horror film and is the biggest opening weekend for Paramount Pictures in nearly two years since Star Trek Beyond and it's $59.2 million bow. It's also already the fourth biggest movie ever for John Krasinski (discounting films he either cameoed in or did voicework for) while it's the biggest opening weekend ever for Emily Blunt.