predator feature

Movie News – Does Predator Have Any Claws For Concern?

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Box Office Brasserie – Movie News For Movie Lovers

Predator Returns To Terrorize Audiences

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It’s been 31 years since Fox’s “Predator” lit up screens with Arnold Schwarzenegger leading the charge–it became one of the top-grossing films of the summer with $59M domestic, or $141M adjusted for inflation.

To give you an idea of how big that is in today’s market, that would be about equal to “Ocean’s 8” or “Ready Player One,” and all this on the rising star power of Schwarzenegger with an R-rating.

With Shane Black’s “The Predator” debuting in nearly 4,000 theaters this weekend, he might have been better served to learn the lesson he did as a bit-player on the original—this type of film needs a star, or stars, to anchor it to audiences.

The fun of a B-movie like this is to try and guess which stars will meet their maker and how gruesome that end will be. Star power isn’t dead, despite what media spin says. In fact, in the right role—Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible,” Vin Diesel in “Fast & Furious,” Dwayne Johnson in every sequel he’s ever been in—they are the best special effect money can buy.

Having a cast of nobodies—yes, I realize Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, and Boyd Holbrook are, for the most part, noteworthy, but not in the same way Schwarzenegger, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and Carl Weathers were back in the day.

If “The Expendables” proved anything, it is that these action heroes die hard, and audiences will return time and time again no matter how leatherfaced and/or botoxed they become.

The original “Predator” was like a royal rumble, wound tight by the direction of John McTeirnan (“Die Hard,” “The Hunt for Red October”) and featuring—and this is the kicker—a bad-ass baddie the likes we had never seen.

That’s key here, and probably part of the reason “The Predator” isn’t exactly getting out-of-this-world reviews: this is cat-and-mouse territory we’ve all seen too many times before in subsequent sequels, none of which were more successful at the box office than the 1987 version.

Only 2004’s “Alien Vs. Predator” came close, but that was a given, considering Fox mashed up two of their most famous horror franchises. But even with cult clansman Lance Henriksen as the cornerstone, time has not been kind, and the film has basically been lost in the streaming video aisles.

Same goes for “Predator 2,” starring Danny Glover, which grossed less than half of the original in 1990, and soon after the franchise went dormant for 14 years.

That’s not to say that “The Predator” won’t take #1 this weekend with upwards of $30M; however, it could have been a lot more had Schwarzenegger returned, along with, say,  Ronda Rousey, John Cena, Kane, Undertaker, or some of the new WWE talent.

It really boils down to Charisma.

That’s exactly what these wrestling stars have in spades and that’s precisely what Fox’s sci-fi monster series needs.

The problem with “Predators” and “The Predator” is the fact that for all the acting talent they try to employ, these red-suited ensigns are basically cardboard cutouts–not given enough screen time or character development to showcase their acting chops…all which isn’t really necessary anyways.

Audiences attending a movie like this want to see brawn vs. brawn. This is a mega-galactic melee. This is the universe’s most intimidating adversaries going straight at each other’s throats…to the ultimate death. Topher Grace, no matter how buff, is not that. Nor is Holbrook. We need larger-than-life personalities to fight this crusade.

“The Predator” succeeded in hiring Black as writer/director, but quickly failed in the casting department—something every film in the franchise has done since the original. You’d think they’d get it by now—audiences want to see baddies go up against biggies. Of stature, and of box office might.

Remember, 2010’s “Predators?” Interesting casting choices with Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Alice Braga, and Grace…but even after assembling these actors of regard, the film itself was instantly forgettable, racking up a ho-hum $127M worldwide on a $44M budget.

These films don’t break any molds, and don’t offer up much new to the legacy, so why not give ticket buyers a damn good show with action stars  instead? Hopefully, if this series survives, they won’t make the same mistake again.

This is cat-and-mouse 101 here, folks. The chase is the fun part. Who dies and how they die is what audiences pay for. Can you imagine if Steven Seagal or JCVD or Sylvester Stallone was the first to feel the predator’s blade? Cheers. Celebrations. This is the kind of pop culture relevance the Predator franchise needs.

Even B-listers like Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, Jackie Chan, or a Nic Cage would have been welcome here, and might made this an event instead of an also-ran in the franchise.

“The Predator” will likely burn bright and then flame out fast and furiously, which isn’t the best of news for Fox, considering they dropped $88M for this film…obviously intending to reignite the franchise.

Speaking of casting choices, Paul Feig returns with an impeccable cast—Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, as well as “Freaks and Geeks” alum, Linda Cardellini—with his latest, “A Simple Favor,” which veers far away from his “Ghostbusters” reboot, a misfire that left Sony’s cult-favorite franchise in—wait for it—no man’s land.

Despite all the unwarranted political hoopla surrounding “Ghostbusters: Answer the Call,” or whether or not you actually liked it, that series lies dormant, and so it’s no surprise to see Feig switch gears and enter completely different territory with Lionsgate’s R-rated thriller.

Reviews have been solid—expect upwards of $13M in 3,000+ theaters, and good legs through the fall.

Studio 8 and Sony return to the table after the misfire that was “Alpha,” with another adult-oriented title, “White Boy Rick,” starring Matthew McConaughey and newcomer Richie Merritt.

While “Alpha” missed the mark, mostly on account of poor marketing choices, “White Boy Rick” expertly highlights McConaughey in the type of role he shines in: a good guy making bad choices.

Now, whether or not people will show up is a different story, as “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Mud,” despite receiving top critical accolades, only made $27M and $21M respectively.

Still, if word-of-mouth is good, this could stay relevant at the box office for a few weeks. That said, reviews are teetering on ho-hum to average…which may turn out to be its demise.

In 2,400+ theaters expect an opening weekend of under $10M.

Oh, hey, remember Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken?” Yeah, me too. Despite that, Pure Flix is releasing “Unbroken: Path to Redemption.” Yeah, it’s about the same guy. And no, it’s not a sequel, but it is being advertised as: “The rest of untold unbelievable true story,” and “When the war ended, his battle began.”

So there’s that. In 1,500+ theaters expect the faith-based flick to lift up around $2.5M.

In limited release, if you are so lucky, “Mandy” might just have a midnight screening at a theater near you. The psycho horror pic stars none other than Nic Cage. No explanation necessary, nor advisable—just watch the trailer. This be some crazy shit.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. The Predator – $28M
  2. The Nun – $24M
  3. A Simple Favor – $13M
  4. Crazy Rich Asians – $8M
  5. White Boy Rick – $7M

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Lead-In Image (“The Predator”) Courtesy of 20th Century Fox; Poster Design by LA

predator poster