5 Ways to Prep for Holiday Releases
By George Rose
January 1, 2019
With Christmas finally behind us, we have nothing but free time to fill and gift cards to spend. The weather outside is frightful and and the best thing to do with friends when it’s cold is see a movie. Luckily, the week leading up to New Year’s Eve is jam-packed full of potential blockbusters. Holdovers like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are riding rave reviews and a respectable opening weekend to a nice run over the holidays, while others like Mary Poppins are praying the power of the season carries a softer-than-expected opening weekend into a blockbuster total.
Remember when we were thinking Poppins would open to $30+ million, earn over $300 million and possibly win some Oscars? Well there’s nothing like a mid-70’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a $23 million debut to crush some dreams. It would take a rare Jumanji-like 10x multiplier to top $250 million and get it into the 2018 Top 10, while it would take an unfathomable Greatest Showman-style super run (20x multiplier) to land it near the $400 million we expected from Disney. At this point, I just don’t see that happening. God I miss 2017. For now, it’s up to Aquaman and Bumblebee to give us some real surprises. And with that, my friends, we begin looking past Poppins for the next best thing to bring us joy. With an army of new releases, there’s too much to choose from and I’m here to help level the playing field. Instead of prepping for one new release we are going to do a holiday season LIGHTING ROUND!!! Buckle up your seatbelts, everyone, because we are going to ride the rest of this year out with a bang!
DC’s latest attempt to feed off Marvel scraps is here and word on the street is it’s the best of the worst! Though not quite at Wonder Woman levels of greatness, it’s better than Suicide Squad and Justice League so… that’s something. With the absence of a Star Wars movie and with Poppins under-performing early on, Aquaman could soak up those losses and surge past $300 million. If it does, it could revitalize the DC brand and help give Shazam some much-needed pre-release awareness before it opens next Spring. Is the DC Renaissance really upon us?! It’s about freaking time! And here’s how you can prep...
JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017) - Because it’s Aquaman’s first major DC movie universe appearance and features events that immediately proceed the new movie.
STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 (1999) - Because not every world set underwater can build a franchise. Sometimes it ruins a franchise by giving you Jar Jar Binks.
LAURA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE (2003) - Because Aquaman isn’t the first movie to feature the sunken city of Atlantis, the search for buried treasure, or protective creatures with long claws, sharp teeth and eyeless faces.
ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011) - Because Aquaman also isn’t the first movie to feature - treasure hunter and his shanty plane travels over the desert, or action sequences that go down the side of a Mediterranean-style mountain town.
THE LITTLE MERMAID (1989) - And because it’s also not the first time a red headed princess living underwater met a land-dwelling prince that took her on a date through a small town square where she then found herself doing strange things without the knowledge of normal customs. Eating flowers is the new dinglehopper!
Speaking of a renaissance, did the sixth film in the Transformers franchise really crush all the mainline films by scoring over 90% positive reviews?! It’s unfortunate that The Last Knight destroyed the series and a prequel about the sidekick was needed to right the ship. It’s a good thing, too, because if Bumblebee hadn’t already been in production when Knight bombed then we may have missed this chance at this greatest Transformers flick yet. At this point, anything over $100 million is a win. The major victory, though, is that this brand just got the rebirth fans of the series have been begging for. Regardless of what Bumblebee earns, Transformers is being given a second chance. Let’s hope they don’t blow it.
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (2017) - Because there’s nothing like the worst film in a franchise to help make the new guy look good.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017) - Because I once compared Transformers 1-3 to Spider-Man 1-3, Transformers 4-5 to Amazing Spider-Man 1-2, the animated Transformers Movie to the new animated Spider-Verse, and the 80’s-inspired Spider-Man: Homecoming to the 80’s-set Bumblebee. With reviews now in, the comparison seems accurate as critical acclaim has found these franchises again!
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (2016) - Because it’s the only movie before Bumblebee directed by Travis Knight and it was also very well reviewed family fare.
PITCH PERFECT 3 (2017) - Because it’s not the first time Hailee Steinfeld joined a franchise late in the game, then appeared in that franchises first foray into a Christmas release. Is she finally destined for spin-off stardom?
TRAINWRECK (2015) - Because no matter how hard John Cena tries he will never be as big or shine as bright as The Rock. Then again, his nearly-nude towel scene in this Amy Schumer comedy goes a long (loooooooong) way to helping me fall for him.
#3) SECOND ACT
With action films and animated options each getting two or three choices to pick from, other genres are lucky just to have one. Poppins is the sole musical and Second Act is proving to the only romantic comedy. Remember the good old days in 2002 when Jennifer Lopez had Maid in Manhattan released against Sandra Bullock’s Two Weeks Notice? Both opened in the mid-teen millions and stuck it out to between $93-94 million? Those were good times, simpler times. Now, J.Lo is fighting a one-film war against nobody. It will be the biggest and smallest romantic comedy of the season, and will be lucky to earn half of Maid in Manhattan, NOT adjusted for inflation. Ugh, 2018, you disappoint me.
MONSTER-IN-LAW (2005) - Because it’s my favorite J.Lo movie and features the most epic return of former Hollywood heavyweight, Jane Fonda.
MAID IN MANHATTAN (2002) - Because this was the movie that turned “Jenny from the block” into her own version of Hollywood royalty.
TWO WEEKS NOTICE (2002) - Because it’s nice to know Hollywood can handle two films from the same genre featuring two A-list actresses during the same holiday season, and they can earn almost exactly the same amount of money.
THE INTERN (2015) - Because we’ve already seen an “older” person try going back to work in corporate America. Except, Robert De Niro didn’t lie to get his job. If the man had lied, it would be wrong and conniving. When a woman lies, it’s inspiring. Then again, as a gay person I have no horse in this race. My people are just lucky to be the comic relief in these kind of movies soooooo let’s move on...
LOVE ACTUALLY (2003) - Because there are fantastic holiday-set romantic comedies out there that include many versions of love: good and bad, rich and poor, young and old, between same race couples and interracial couples, between straight people and… more straight people. At least there’s a gay best friend! Wait, there’s not? Ugh, at least there’s Christmas.
#4) WELCOME TO MARWEN
This is another solo entrant in a genre, albeit the worst possible one ever: former white male box office champions (this time, Steve Carell) plays a character having a midlife crisis that leads to experimental visuals and a bunch of boring drama. It’s a time of year to be happy and yet, for some reason, studios insist on trying to make us cry. Save the drama for your mama and for Oscar season. Christmas week isn’t the time to be a big crybaby.
DOWNSIZING (2017) - Because white Hollywood actors (this time, Matt Damon) like to have their midlife crisis dramedies released around the holidays and use trippy visuals as a gimmick to detract from the otherwise overly depressing story.
SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013) - Again, because white Hollywood actors (this time, Ben Stiller) like to have their midlife crisis dramedies released around the holidays and use trippy visuals as a gimmick to detract from the otherwise overly depressing story.
THE 40-YEAR-OLD OLD VIRGIN (2005) - Because the world fell in love with Carell in this comedy and he has slowly moved further and further away from the genre.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006) - But who can blame him? He received lots of acclaim for his portrayal of a suicidal man in this comedic drama. Wait, the suicidal guy was gay? I’m not sure if I should be happy to have my people in a movie at all or suicidal because of how poorly our portrayals are. Eh, I’ll go with apathetic. Some people have it worse.
FORREST GUMP (1994) - I could be the former super director Robert Zemeckis, who followed up a string of blockbusters and Oscars with the financial disaster that is Welcome to Marwen. Who’s ready for Forrest Gump 2: Gump Gets Gay and Suicidal?
#5) HOLMES AND WATSON
Each of the prior releases came out the weekend just before Christmas, whereas this was only one of two movies (the other is Vice) to come out on Christmas Day. As a result, marketing has been all but absent as the movies before it hogged up all the commercial time. What should have been a surefire blockbuster will now be lucky to become a mid-level hit. I hope I’m wrong, though, as there are few pairings like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly that can guarantee a few laughs over two hours.
SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009) - Because there was once a time America spent over $200 on a Sherlock Holmes movie at Christmas. It’s also good to know about a subject matter before seeing a comedy that enjoys the idea of lampooning it.
STEP BROTHERS (2008) - Because it’s helpful to see when an audience fell in love with a comedic duo doing nothing but acting like brothers in a normal setting.
TALLADEGA NIGHTS (2006) - And it’s nice to see that same duo doing their comedy routine in a more exaggerated manner within a more targeted genre. They’ve done brotherhood and NASCAR, but can they do detectives of the Victorian era?
GET HARD (2015) - Current reviews say NO! Which makes sense, as this isn’t the first time director Etan Cohen has directed Ferrell in a critically trashed comedy.
ELF (2003) - if you want a good Ferrell comedy and you’re still holding onto Christmas, this is the movie to watch.
And with that, my friends, the final lighting round of 2018 is complete! Next time will bring my recap of the year we just completed and probably a bunch of ranting over all the things that went wrong. I’ll definitely gush over all things Marvel and maybe we can get a sneak peek of the year to come, too. Happy Holidays, everyone, and have an amazing, blessed New Year!