The Holiday

(Photo by ©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

No podcast fans, your ears do not deceive you: It’s August, the country is sweltering, and we – like your local Cracker Barrel gift shop – are rolling out the Christmas things, with a brand-new episode devoted to Nancy Meyers’ house-swap rom-com, The Holiday.  


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Now, before you can say “But we haven’t even done pumpkin season yet!”, hear us out. The Holiday is an absolute Christmas cracker of a film and worthy of debate, any time of year: two rom-coms in one, with some of Hollywood’s most charming and beautiful people at the peaks of their powers, and enough real-estate porn to rival a 24-hour HGTV marathon.

Also, it was the film of choice for a very special podcast guest, but we will get to that in a minute.

If you are one of the rare movie lovers who doesn’t check in with the movie every December, here’s a quick refresher: LA-based movie trailer producer Amanda (Cameron Diaz) swaps her SoCal manse for the Surrey cottage of British journalist Iris (Kate Winslet), both women looking to get away from their day-to-day lives for a holiday. (OK, “vacation” for the Americans.) Each discovers a little something about themselves while away, as well as the potential loves of their lives in the form of Jude Law (for Amanda) and Jack Black (for Iris).

Oh, and Eli Wallach shows up to steal the entire movie as a Golden Age Hollywood screenwriter.

Sounds divine, right? Well, according to critics at the time of its 2006 release, it was a little too divine, with the schmaltz laid on too thickly and the story far too predictable. They slapped the film with a Rotten Tomatometer Score of 49%; fans, on the other land, have grown to love it, and its Audience Score stands at a very lovely 80% Fresh.



One such fan is British actor Billie Piper, who joins us for our latest episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong to stand up for The Holiday as well as to chat about her debut film as a writer and director, the very un-Holiday-like Rare Beasts, a savage comedy that some critics are calling a nervy and auspicious debut. Will she convince regular RT Is Wrong co-hosts and notorious grinches Mark Ellis and Jacqueline Coley that The Holiday deserves to be a Christmas classic?

Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”


Check out some more episodes of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong:


If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at rtiswrong@rottentomatoes.com.


Meet the hosts

Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.

Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.


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(Photo by © 20th Century Fox, © Buena Vista, @ Universal)

Just because a film is Rotten doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with plenty of Christmas cheer — or at least enough one-liners, touching scenes, or outright weirdness — for it to win our affections at this time of year. This Christmas, for the first time, we at Rotten Tomatoes are spreading the love, giving you an expanded list of the Best Christmas Movies ever – all Fresh and sparkly and ranked by Tomatometer – but also the below list of movies that fall on the Rotten end of the Tomatometer, but which are still on our own nice lists come December. They’re movies the critics mostly dismissed, but that are still worth your yuletide time.


This 2017 sequel celebrates Father Christmas by doubling the number of moms in the first film. Titular bad moms Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn butt heads with their own mothers, played by Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon, in a comedy that doesn’t aspire to much more than a chance for these talented actresses to pass on a little Christmas cheer and chaos. And that they do.


Almost Christmas (2016)

49%

The worst thing Almost Christmas has going for it is also the best thing: it’s so familiar. It’s a big family coming together for the holidays and they all have their own personal drama and relationships but also there’s love there, and more than a few laughs. We’ve seen this movie before, but we keep seeing it (and studios keep making it) because it works. Like milk and cookies for Santa, comedy-dramas like Almost Christmas and the yuletide are a natural, comforting fit.


No, not the classic animated special featuring Frankenstein’s Monster himself, Boris Karloff, as the narrator; that holiday gem sits at 100% on the Tomatometer. This Jim Carrey vehicle, directed by Ron Howard, translates Dr. Seuss’ whimsical illustrations into live-action, and the results aren’t particularly good, for goodness sake. But, while the Dr. Seuss-meets-Tim Burton’s nightmares aesthetic is a bit unsettling, the comedy holds up — especially in a scene where the Grinch’s own echo shouts “you’re an idiot” at him.


You’ve got to appreciate a movie that gives the whole plot away in the title. One of the earliest Ernest films, Ernest Saves Christmas sees Ernest (who began life as a character in local TV commercials) helping Santa Claus as he seeks his replacement. It’s kind of a proto-Santa Clause, in a weird way.


The Family Stone (2005)

52%

Imagine if the worst blowout your family had over a holiday meal was a movie, and also kinda charming and cathartic rather than stressful. That’s The Family Stone, which stars the great Diane Keaton as a forceful matriarch and Sarah Jessica Parker as a potential (emphasis on the “potential”) future daughter-in-law. Rachel McAdams as a kind of Regina George in sweatpants almost steals the show. Bring tissues.


Four Christmases (2008)

25%

Four Christmases understands that the holidays can be rough, especially if you’re dealing with multiple families who may or may not all like each other and/or you and your partner. This 2008 film – which has developed a following over the past decade – adds some hilarious big-name actors (Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon) to that reality in order to create a movie experience that’s a relatable escape. Look out for a very funny turn by Katy Mixon, who would go on to star in American Housewife.


Last Christmas (2019)

46%

Take the Mother of Dragons and the hot guy from Crazy Rich Asians, mix them with the music of George Michael, bring in Emma Thompson to co-write the script and Paul Feig to direct, and sprinkle a bit of holiday magic over the whole thing, and you’re looking at Last Christmas. Look, we get that the story is somewhat predictable – pretty much everyone figured out where it was going just from watching the trailer – and it’s all a tad overly sentimental, but with this kind of pedigree, it’s hard not to be charmed by its immensely likable stars and its feel-good fuzziness.


The Holiday (2006)

50%

It’s fair (if a little reductive) to say that The Holiday is what would be if it only focused on two couples instead of, like, 25. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet star as two women who swap homes for the holidays and fall in love with Jude Law and Jack Black, respectively. A little predictable, sure, but in that special way that’s warm and reassuring — the Christmas rom-com equivalent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.


There’s something charmingly old-school about Kevin McCallister’s second adventure. He travels to New York by mistake thanks to lax airport security regulations, enjoys a New York City that feels bygone for some vague nostalgic reason, and Donald Trump makes a cameo (that was cute, rather than controversial, at the time). But, if remembering Christmases of yesteryear isn’t enough for you, Home Alone 2 is worth it if only because it’s a hoot to see young Kevin inflict a possibly fatal amount of damage to the hapless Wet Bandits, once again.


The Ice Harvest (2005)

47%

The Ice Harvest is a Christmas movie in the way Die Hard is a Christmas movie: Arguably. Harold Ramis’ thriller comedy is set on Christmas Eve, and there’s a cool wintry vibe throughout the whole thing. It’s enough to make The Ice Harvest a good Christmas watch when you want to come up for some less holly jolly air while still feeling like you’re honoring the Christmas spirit.


Jingle All the Way (1996)

20%

Jingle All the Way is not just an unfairly maligned Christmas movie — it’s also a pretty good Power Rangers movie in disguise. Turbo-Man is a hero for our time, as are dads like Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Myron Larabee (Sinbad) who, in the true spirit of Christmas (read: capitalism), will brave crowded malls to make sure their kids get the perfect present under the tree on Christmas morn.


A typical workplace Christmas party is either underwhelming (oh, there’s fake holly in the break room) or a terrible mistake (how many co-workers did I kiss?). This 2016 comedy is about the latter sort. Starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, and T.J. Miller, Office Christmas Party doesn’t quite go so far as to put the “X” in “X-mas,” but it certainly earns its R rating, making it a rowdy change of pace for this time of year.


The Polar Express (2004)

56%

Robert Zemeckis’ take on the classic Christmas children’s book was extremely ambitious — only problem was that motion-capture technology wasn’t quite there yet in 2004, so CGI Tom Hanks and Co. ride the titular train straight through the uncanny valley. You can’t help but appreciate what Zemeckis was trying to do, and there’s a very sweet Christmas story underneath the eerily smooth textures. In fact, there’s a case to be made that the uncanny look of the movie only adds to the surreal holiday magic that propels this mighty train’s engines. A case – but not an open-and-shut one.


Reindeer Games (2000)

26%

Another action flick set at Christmastime, Reindeer Games sets itself apart from Die Hard and The Ice Harvest,/i> by making the holiday a little more than just scenery. When Ben Affleck and Co. rob a casino, they’re all dressed as Santa Clauses (Santas plural, not the Tim Allen kind). Reindeer Games is a pretty thorough fusion of Christmas and kick-ass, which is no small feat.


Kris Kringle doesn’t actually do much conquering in this extremely cheap-looking 1964 sci-fi comedy. Instead, Martians kidnap him in order to bring some Christmas cheer to their very boring martian children. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is the subject of one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, but even without the bots’ commentary, it’s a hall-of-fame “so bad it’s good” flick – every character acts like they’re high on a mixture of sugarplums and quaaludes. Also, fun fact: This was the first time Mrs. Claus ever appeared on screen.


The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

56%

The Santa Clause 2 is a charming second reminder to always read the fine print – and one that’s just 5% shy of Freshness on the Tomatometer. It’s fun to see Tim Allen as a more confident Santa Claus in his second go-around, and the film operates in a neat space thematically. Everything is fantastical and Christmasy, while also being grounded with talk of contracts, parenting, and finding love after divorce. Let’s call it “Christmas magical realism.”


It doesn’t take a lot of work to make the Santa Claus fable horrifying (“he knows when you are sleeping / he knows when you’re awake”). So, Silent Night, Deadly Night takes the next logical step and makes an axe-murderer out of him. There are some depictions of mental health in this movie that deserve big lumps of coal, but if you’re willing to just accept Silent Night, Deadly Night as a seasonally appropriate ’80s slasher, you won’t be disappointed.


George Lucas made a habit of going back to update or change parts of the Star Wars films he didn’t like for new “special editions,” but the one thing he can’t do is erase this 1978 TV special from history. Sure, there was a cool cartoon that introduced Boba Fett to the far, far, away galaxy, but the actors all look miserable and/or stoned, large swaths of the dialogue are incomprehensible Wookie-speak, and at one point Chewbacca’s grandpa gets noticeably horny. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth tracking down this holiday season, if only to see why George hates it so much.


Imagine if Psycho was set at Christmastime and centered on a demented British lady and her mummified daughter instead of a demented American man and his mummified mother. Who Slew Auntie Roo — originally titled Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?, because, British — is excellent counter-programming for all that colorful feel-good Christmas fare.

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Disney

(Photo by Disney)

All Jude Law Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

Jude Law made his breakthrough splash in The Talented Mr. Ripley, though anyone who had been following his early career through Gattaca, Music From Another Room, and Wilde already knew what he was capable of by the time the world saw him in the Anthony Minghella thriller. Not too long after that, Law would be working with the likes of Steven Spielberg (he was the robot Gigolo Joe in A.I. Artificial Intelligence), taking lead roles (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Alfie), and showing off his dark side as nasty villains (Road to Perdition).

And sometimes it seems Law is at his best in large ensemble casts: Just check out Cold Mountain, I Heart Huckabees, Contagion, The Grand Budapest Hotel, or even Captain Marvel for proof. His latest film was The Rhythm Section, starring Blake Lively. See where it places as we rank all Jude Law movies by Tomatometer!

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 18154%
Critics Consensus: With a scenery-chewing performance from Sean Penn, an absence of political insight, and an overall lack of narrative cohesiveness, these Men give Oscar bait a bad name.
Synopsis: Charismatic Southern politician Willie Stark's (Sean Penn) idealism and good intentions give way to corruption after he becomes governor of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Zaillian

#44

360 (2011)
20%

#44
Adjusted Score: 22532%
Critics Consensus: Spreading itself thin across a sprawling narrative without a unifying focus, 360 just keeps running in circles.
Synopsis: A man (Anthony Hopkins) searches for his missing daughter in one of several vignettes dealing with issues of love, loss... [More]
Directed By: Fernando Meirelles

#43

Repo Men (2010)
22%

#43
Adjusted Score: 27333%
Critics Consensus: Repo Men has an intriguing premise, as well as a likable pair of leads, but they're wasted on a rote screenplay, indifferent direction, and mind-numbing gore.
Synopsis: In the future, medical technology has advanced to the point where people can buy artificial organs to extend their lives.... [More]
Directed By: Miguel Sapochnik

#42

Rage (2009)
38%

#42
Adjusted Score: 13450%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A blogger shoots interviews at a New York fashion house on his cell phone.... [More]
Directed By: Sally Potter

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 26647%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A young man (Jonny Lee Miller) reminisces about how a childhood friend introduced him to the biggest gangster in London.... [More]
Directed By: Dominic Anciano

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 41439%
Critics Consensus: Blake Lively delivers an impressive lead performance, but The Rhythm Section plods predictably through a story that could have used some flashier riffs.
Synopsis: Stephanie Patrick veers down a path of self-destruction after a tragic plane crash kills her family. When Stephanie discovers it... [More]
Directed By: Reed Morano

#39
Adjusted Score: 50747%
Critics Consensus: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword piles mounds of modern action flash on an age-old tale -- and wipes out much of what made it a classic story in the first place.
Synopsis: After the murder of his father, young Arthur's power-hungry uncle Vortigern seizes control of the crown. Robbed of his birthright,... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 12805%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As a young boy, Danny (Jude Law) helped deliver his neighbor's infant daughter, Anna Swann. Despite his various relationships, Danny's... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Peters

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 38972%
Critics Consensus: This class warfare drama feels contrived and superficial: characters don't act logically as the movie manipulates them towards deconstructing various social issues.
Synopsis: Will (Jude Law), a landscape architect in London, is in the middle of a life crisis. His relationship with Liv... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#36

Sleuth (2007)
36%

#36
Adjusted Score: 40351%
Critics Consensus: Sleuth is so obvious and coarse, rather than suspenseful and action-packed, that it does nothing to improve on the original version
Synopsis: Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine) is a highly successful mystery writer living in a beautiful and technologically advanced mansion in England.... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#35
Adjusted Score: 56395%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has glimmers of the magic familiar to Harry Potter fans, but the story's spell isn't as strong as earlier installments.
Synopsis: In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists... [More]
Directed By: David Yates

#34
Adjusted Score: 14895%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Daisy (Claire Danes) is a smart and pretty teen who attends a prestigious private academy. Despite her privileged upbringing, Daisy... [More]
Directed By: Billy Hopkins

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 49918%
Critics Consensus: Though well filmed, My Blueberry Nights is a mixed bag of dedicated performers working with thin material.
Synopsis: After her boyfriend of five years breaks up with her, Elizabeth (Norah Jones) consoles herself by consuming creamy confections at... [More]
Directed By: Kar Wai Wong

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 47229%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, but emotionally uninvolving.
Synopsis: After years of murdering single women for their blood, debonair vampire Steven Griscz (Jude Law) can no longer quench his... [More]
Directed By: Po-Chih Leong

#31

Alfie (2004)
48%

#31
Adjusted Score: 53408%
Critics Consensus: This unnecessary remake wants Alfie to have his cake and eat it, too, but a lack of sexual fizz and a sour performance by Jude Law conspire to deliver audiences a romantic comedy that isn't romantic or funny.
Synopsis: British-born ladies' man Alfie (Jude Law) exploits his job as a New York City limousine driver to meet and sleep... [More]
Directed By: Charles Shyer

#30
Adjusted Score: 51691%
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood's spare directorial style proves an ill fit for this Southern potboiler, which dutifully trudges through its mystery while remaining disinterested in the cultural flourishes that gave its source material its sense of intrigue.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of John Berendt's book, a young journalist, John Kelso (John Cusack), travels to Savannah, Ga., to cover... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#29

The Holiday (2006)
50%

#29
Adjusted Score: 56103%
Critics Consensus: While it's certainly sweet and even somewhat touching, The Holiday is so thoroughly predictable that audiences may end up opting for an early check-out time.
Synopsis: Two women, one (Cameron Diaz) from America and one (Kate Winslet) from Britain, swap homes at Christmastime after bad breakups... [More]
Directed By: Nancy Meyers

#28

Genius (2016)
52%

#28
Adjusted Score: 58380%
Critics Consensus: Genius seeks to honor worthy subjects, yet never gets close enough to the titular quality to make watching worth the effort.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Michael Grandage

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 58677%
Critics Consensus: Atmospheric and thrilling, Enemy at the Gates gets the look and feel of war right. However, the love story seems out of place.
Synopsis: Vassili (Jude Law) is a young Russian sharpshooter who becomes a legend when a savvy polical officer (Joseph Fiennes) makes... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Jacques Annaud

#26

Dom Hemingway (2013)
57%

#26
Adjusted Score: 61057%
Critics Consensus: Jude Law is clearly having fun in Dom Hemingway's title role, but viewers may find this purposely abrasive gangster dramedy isn't quite as enjoyable from the other side of the screen.
Synopsis: After serving 12 years in prison, a skilled safecracker (Jude Law) seeks payback and a chance to reconcile with his... [More]
Directed By: Richard Shepard

#25
Adjusted Score: 67883%
Critics Consensus: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a good yarn thanks to its well-matched leading men but overall stumbles duplicating the well-oiled thrills of the original.
Synopsis: When Austria's crown prince is found dead, evidence seems to point to suicide. However, detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#24

Vox Lux (2018)
62%

#24
Adjusted Score: 76181%
Critics Consensus: Intriguing albeit flawed, Vox Lux probes the allures and pitfalls of modern celebrity with intelligence, visual style, and an assured Natalie Portman performance.
Synopsis: Celeste is a 13-year-old music prodigy who survives a horrific school shooting in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1999. Her talent... [More]
Directed By: Brady Corbet

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 69319%
Critics Consensus: I Heart Huckabees certainly isn't for everyone, but audiences attuned to its quirky wavelength will find a singularly brainy screwball comedy that refuses to pander.
Synopsis: Environmentalist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) enlists the services of "existential detectives" Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian (Lily Tomlin) to solve the... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#22

Anna Karenina (2012)
63%

#22
Adjusted Score: 70088%
Critics Consensus: Joe Wright's energetic adaptation of Tolstoy's classic romance is a bold, visually stylized work -- for both better and worse.
Synopsis: Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley), the wife of a Russian imperial minister (Jude Law), creates a high-society scandal by an affair... [More]
Directed By: Joe Wright

#21
Adjusted Score: 70359%
Critics Consensus: Terry Gilliam remains as indulgent as ever, but The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus represents a return to the intoxicatingly imaginative, darkly beautiful power of his earlier work, with fine performances to match all the visual spectacle.
Synopsis: Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), the leader of a traveling show, has a dark secret. Thousands of years ago he traded... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#20

Closer (2004)
68%

#20
Adjusted Score: 74764%
Critics Consensus: Closer's talented cast and Mike Nichols' typically assured direction help smooth a bumpy journey from stage to screen.
Synopsis: Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper who has moved to London, meets Dan (Jude Law) on the street. While looking... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#19

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
69%

#19
Adjusted Score: 80466%
Critics Consensus: Guy Ritchie's directorial style might not be quite the best fit for an update on the legendary detective, but Sherlock Holmes benefits from the elementary appeal of a strong performance by Robert Downey, Jr.
Synopsis: When a string of brutal murders terrorizes London, it doesn't take long for legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#18

Cold Mountain (2003)
70%

#18
Adjusted Score: 79636%
Critics Consensus: The well-crafted Cold Mountain has an epic sweep and captures the horror and brutal hardship of war.
Synopsis: In this classic story of love and devotion set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, a wounded Confederate... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#17
Adjusted Score: 77764%
Critics Consensus: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is slim on plot and characterization, but the visuals more than make up for it.
Synopsis: When gigantic robots attack New York City, "Sky Captain" (Jude Law) uses his private air force to fight them off.... [More]
Directed By: Kerry Conran

#16

Wilde (1997)
72%

#16
Adjusted Score: 74233%
Critics Consensus: Wilde can't hope to communicate the entirety of its subject's fascinating life or outsize talent, but Stephen Fry's stellar performance offers abundant compensation.
Synopsis: Oscar Wilde (Stephen Fry) is a married writer who has occasionally indulged his weakness for male suitors. After much toil,... [More]
Directed By: Brian Gilbert

#15
Adjusted Score: 78987%
Critics Consensus: Although it softens the nasty edges of its source material, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a gothic visual treat, and it features a hilariously manic turn from Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf.
Synopsis: After the three young Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned by a fire in their mansion, they are carted off to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#14

eXistenZ (1999)
74%

#14
Adjusted Score: 76805%
Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.
Synopsis: Video game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has created a virtual reality game called eXistenZ. After a crazed fan... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 80995%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Avengers for the elementary school set, Rise of the Guardians is wonderfully animated and briskly paced, but it's only so-so in the storytelling department.
Synopsis: Generation after generation, immortal Guardians like Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Tooth Fairy (Isla... [More]
Directed By: Peter Ramsey

#12
Adjusted Score: 82828%
Critics Consensus: A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick's chilly bleakness and Spielberg's warm-hearted optimism, A.I. is, in a word, fascinating.
Synopsis: A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#11

Captain Marvel (2019)
79%

#11
Adjusted Score: 113649%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU's latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise's signature formula.
Synopsis: Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her... [More]
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

#10

Black Sea (2014)
80%

#10
Adjusted Score: 85271%
Critics Consensus: Black Sea may not be particularly deep, but thanks to Kevin Macdonald's judicious direction and a magnetic performance from Jude Law, it remains an efficiently well-crafted thriller.
Synopsis: Soon after losing his salvage job, former naval officer Robinson (Jude Law) assembles a misfit crew of unemployed sailors for... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 89004%
Critics Consensus: Somber, stately, and beautifully mounted, Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition is a well-crafted mob movie that explores the ties between fathers and sons.
Synopsis: Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is an enforcer for powerful Depression-era Midwestern mobster John Rooney (Paul Newman). Rooney's son, Connor (Daniel... [More]
Directed By: Sam Mendes

#8

Gattaca (1997)
83%

#8
Adjusted Score: 86115%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
Synopsis: Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 89387%
Critics Consensus: With Matt Damon's unsettling performance offering a darkly twisted counterpoint to Anthony Minghella's glossy direction, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a suspense thriller that lingers.
Synopsis: To be young and carefree amid the blue waters and idyllic landscape of sun-drenched Italy in the late 1950s; that's... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#6

Side Effects (2013)
81%

#6
Adjusted Score: 90193%
Critics Consensus: A smart, clever thriller with plenty of disquieting twists, Side Effects is yet another assured effort from director Steven Soderbergh.
Synopsis: For four years, Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) has awaited the release of her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), from being imprisoned... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#5

Contagion (2011)
85%

#5
Adjusted Score: 95478%
Critics Consensus: Tense, tightly plotted, and bolstered by a stellar cast, Contagion is an exceptionally smart -- and scary -- disaster movie.
Synopsis: When Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to Minnesota from a Hong Kong business trip, she attributes the malaise she feels... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#4

The Aviator (2004)
86%

#4
Adjusted Score: 93425%
Critics Consensus: With a rich sense of period detail, The Aviator succeeds thanks to typically assured direction from Martin Scorsese and a strong performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who charts Howard Hughes' descent from eccentric billionaire to reclusive madman.
Synopsis: Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood films such... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 104697%
Critics Consensus: Typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful, The Grand Budapest Hotel finds Wes Anderson once again using ornate visual environments to explore deeply emotional ideas.
Synopsis: In the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave H. (Ralph... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#2

Hugo (2011)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 102852%
Critics Consensus: Hugo is an extravagant, elegant fantasy with an innocence lacking in many modern kids' movies, and one that emanates an unabashed love for the magic of cinema.
Synopsis: Orphaned and alone except for an uncle, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in the walls of a train station in... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#1

Spy (2015)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 104613%
Critics Consensus: Simultaneously broad and progressive, Spy offers further proof that Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig bring out the best in one another -- and delivers scores of belly laughs along the way.
Synopsis: Despite having solid field training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has spent her entire career as a desk jockey,... [More]
Directed By: Paul Feig

Romantic comedies often rely on a specific formula to dole out warm fuzzy feelings and fantasy wish fulfillment, so it’s no wonder they’re frequently dismissed as disposable fluff. Sometimes, though, that’s exactly the sort of undemanding entertainment you’re in the mood for, and when that mood strikes, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as some familiar comfort food, even if it amounts to empty calories. This isn’t to say all rom-coms are bad; some of the best movies ever made fall into the genre. But we all have our guilty pleasures, and as Valentine’s Day rolls around, we invite you to bask in some personal favorites that, for one reason or another, failed to enrapture the critics. Snuggle up with your dearly beloved — or a gallon of your favorite ice cream — for these Rotten rom-coms we love anyway, and let us know what you’d put on the list.


27 Dresses (2008) 41%

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride… until you fall for a newspaper columnist who writes a piece about your dilemma, that is. This one’s got everything you’d expect from the genre — the unrequited love, the wacky sibling, the good-looking red herring, the explosive misunderstanding, the subsequent self-realization and redemption — and it even sort of mirrors the plot of another movie on this list (Runaway Bride). But writer Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) infuses the admittedly familiar proceedings with wit and heart, and the world hadn’t quite learned to hate Katherine Heigl just yet.


50 First Dates (2004) 45%

If you need someone to play a guileless sweetheart who rises every morning with a sunny disposition and absolutely no memory of the previous day, you could do a lot worse than Drew Barrymore, who helps ground this Adam Sandler vehicle even as she perpetually suffers a reverse Groundhog Day of sorts. To his credit, Sandler manages to tone it down a notch, and Rob Schneider is great in the only type of role he should ever play: the goofy sidekick. Yeah, it’s crude in spots and the high-concept premise is a bit of a stretch, but it’s also genuinely charming if you let down your guard.


America's Sweethearts (2001) 32%

Considering the cast of America’s Sweethearts, there probably isn’t a more appropriate title for any film on this list. Catherine Zeta-Jones may never have scored anything quite as iconic in the genre as When Harry Met Sally, Say Anything, or half of Julia Roberts‘ filmography, but the combination of Roberts, John Cusack, and Billy Crystal in an outsized romantic farce set in Hollywood? Come on. It’s a little uneven and not as funny as it should be, given the wackiness of its story, but it’s got some hilarious bits, and it skewers the industry pretty thoroughly while offering a reason for Cusack and Roberts to combine their rom-com powers for once.


French Kiss (1995) 48%

She’s the betrayed fiancée on her way to France to win back her lover; he’s the gruff, “hygiene-deficient” Frenchman who uses her as an unwitting mule to smuggle the goods he needs to start his own vineyard. Do they bristle at each other at first? Yes. Do they eventually fall for each other? Yes. Does he rush to the airport to declare his love for her? Yes. Is it all wonderful? Yes. Chemistry can go a long way, and in French Kiss, Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline make such a convincing odd couple that it makes up for some of the film’s other shortcomings.


Head Over Heels (2001) 10%

It’s reasonable to assume the premise of Rear Window might not make for a jaunty romantic comedy — and a lot of critics would largely agree with you — but there’s something to be said about a movie that utilizes a murder (albeit staged) as the catalyst for a meet-cute. Specifically, it’s a ballsy move, and it only works becaue Freddie Prinze Jr. is at his heartthrobbiest here and Monica Potter flusters with grace. Mix them together with a bit of action and you’ve got a Grosse Pointe Blank for the teenage set.


The Holiday (2006) 50%

Sometimes, all you need to put a little spark in your love life is a change of scenery. That’s the idea behind The Holiday, which stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two women from opposite sides of the Atlantic who agree to swap houses for Christmas and end up in relationships (one with Jude Law and the other with Jack Black). It’s a simple premise that plays out as you might expect, but it benefits tremendously from its cast, Nancy Meyers‘ directing, and the kind of earnestness frequently absent from modern rom-coms.


Just Friends (2005) 42%

Ah, the friend zone, the relationship quagmire that slowly engulfs and suffocates the best of us before we even realize we’re in it. Back in 2005, a pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds fled this platonic impasse in Just Friends as Chris, an overweight nerd who returns to his 10-year high school reunion with a slimmer bod and a pop star on his arm, only to find he still has feelings for his childhood crush and BFF (Amy Smart). It’s not the first time we’ve seen this story play out, but Reynolds is in prime goofy-leading-man mode here, and the supporting cast, which includes Anna Faris, Chris Klein, and Stephen Root, is golden.


Just Wright (2010) 46%

Like a lot of the films on this list, Just Wright fell victim to its own overreliance on genre cliches. Also like a lot of the films on this list, Just Wright is entirely enjoyable if you can look past those cliches. Queen Latifah and Common — two stars previously better known for their musical talents — prove they can hold a film together, and their easy interplay elevates an otherwise predictable film. It also doesn’t hurt that the cast is rounded out by people like Paula Patton, Phylicia Rashad, and Pam Grier.


Maid in Manhattan (2002) 38%

Jennifer Lopez entered the rom-com game a bit later than some of her contemporaries, but films like Maid in Manhattan paved the way for a long career as a big-screen sweetheart that continues to this day. Here she plays the titular hotel housekeeper, who’s mistaken for a high-profile socialite by a senatorial candidate (Ralph Fiennes) and begins a romance with him under false pretenses. You can pretty much guess where it goes from there, but thanks to Lopez’s bubbly charisma, it’s a breezy Cinderella story with a lot of heart.


The Proposal (2009) 45%

Ask anyone to name their top five underrated rom-coms and The Proposal is likely to make the list. This fan favorite pairs immensely likable stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in a comedy about a publishing exec from Canada facing deportation who makes a deal with her assistant in exchange for his hand in marriage — and the accompanying citizenship status that comes with it. Of course they discover feelings for each other that weren’t there before, and it all culminates in a last-minute desertion and a public declaration of love, but with Bullock and Reynolds leading the way and a supporting cast that includes Mary Steenburgen, Betty White, Craig T. Nelson, and a scene-stealing pup named Kevin, it’s so much better than it has any right to be.


Runaway Bride (1999) 46%

Pretty Woman is widely recognized as the standard-bearer of modern romantic comedies, so it’s not surprising that the director (Garry Marshall) and stars (Julia Roberts and Richard Gere) of that film decided to give it another go. Is it as charming? Not exactly, but the familiarity feels like a warm blanket, and Roberts and Gere are such pros that they make it work. The film gets docked a few points for following formula, but that’s par for the course here, and at the end of the day, it’s just so damn likable that it doesn’t really matter.


Sweet Home Alabama (2002) 39%

One thing Sweet Home Alabama has over its peers from the get-go is that its central romance takes place between a couple who are already married. There’s no awkward first meeting, no getting-to-know-you phase, and no secrets to unravel… save for the fact that Melanie, played by Reese Witherspoon, is hiding her Deep South roots and estranged husband (Josh Lucas) from her new fiancée (Patrick Dempsey). In other words, this is a reconciliation rom-com, which puts a slightly different spin on the proceedings, and it’s populated by a killer cast that includes Candice Bergen, Fred Ward, Jean Smart, and Mary Lynn Rajskub, among others. Thanks to that cast — and Witherspoon’s effortless charms — the film is tender and funny in all the right ways.


The Sweetest Thing (2002) 26%

The Sweetest Thing is road-trip rom-com about three club-hopping besties banding together to reunite one of them with the hot guy who got away. It’s also a movie that stops midway through for an impromptu musical number about penis size in the middle of a Chinese restaurant. Does it have many insights to offer about love and singlehood? Maybe not, but in a pre-Bridesmaids era, seeing a trio of capable actresses carry a raunchy comedy from the female perspective is something of a revelation.


Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! (2004) 55%

Nothing in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! is overtly nasty, which is why it endures as a good-natured exemplar of the rom-com genre. Even when Josh Duhamel is playing the cad, he’s kind of charming, and you can’t help but sympathize with Topher Grace‘s Pete a little. But it’s Kate Bosworth who carries the film on her shoulders with her wide-eyed wonder and makes you root for her every step of the way, no matter who she ends up with. Throw in a great cast that includes Nathan Lane, Ginnifer Goodwin, Sean Hayes, and Gary Cole, just to name a few, and you’ve got yourself a cute little romance to cuddle up with, even if it sometimes feels like it’s just going through the motions.

 

GWEN STEFANI: YOU MAKE IT FEEL LIKE CHRISTMAS (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

A holly, jolly holiday season kicks off now with our guide to the most festive TV coming in December. Read on to find out which network is airing those famous Rankin and Bass stop-motion television classics and where you can find all sorts of seasonal programming fare from Gwen Stefani to Bruno Mars to fragile leg lamps, the Grinch, and more.

(We will update this list with more holiday programming as new information becomes available.)


MARATHONS

The Nutcracker by The Royal Ballet (Tristram Kenton/Ovation TV)

(Photo by Tristram Kenton/Ovation TV)

Turner Christmas Classics — Set your DVRs for these lesser-known black-and-white seasonal options starting with 1947’s Bush Christmas. It’s a family adventure film about a group of children who set out across the Australian bush to get back their horses from thieves. Airs Friday, Dec. 1 at midnight ET/PT on TCM followed by Tenth Avenue Angel at 1:30 a.m. ET/PT. Angela Lansbury stars in this 1948 drama about a child who helps an ex-con find love for Christmas. The triple feature ends with the hour-long documentary Night at the Movies: A Merry Christmas, which traces the history of Yule inspired movies at 3 a.m. ET/PT.

Nutcracker Overload — Ovation TV will air its 11th annual “Battle of the Nutcrackers,” a five-day marathon beginning Monday, Dec. 11 at 7 a.m. ET with Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker from the Australian Ballet. The latter is considered one of the world’s most beautiful renditions. Viewers can decide by voting on Ovation’s Facebook page. This will be followed by Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7 a.m. ET, as performed by the Dutch National Ballet. The Nutcracker Semperoper Ballet will do the honors Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 7 a.m. ET with the Berlin State Opera performance airing Thursday, Dec. 14 at 7 a.m. ET. The Royal Opera House will close out the competition Friday, Dec. 15 at 7 a.m. ET.

A Christmas Story — Remakes are cool, but there is nothing like the original. Relive the fun from the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story when it airs around the clock like it does every year. The fun kicks off Sunday, Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.

Big Laughs — Enjoy the biggest and funniest pranks when the Impractical Jokers Christmas Day marathon spotlights some of Sal, Q, Joe and Murr’s best work. It airs all day Monday, Dec. 25 on truTV.

Harry Potter: The Entire Adventure — Every Harry Potter movie airs on HBO in handy binge-format Jan. 1, 2018.


SPECIALS 

Charlie Brown Christmas

(Photo by ABC)

A Charlie Brown Christmas —Celebrate the holidays with this digitally-re-mastered hit, which originally aired in 1965. It airs Thursday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration — Join Emmy winner Julianne Hough and multiplatinum recording artist and TV personality Nick Lachey, as they host the two-hour show from the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. The special airs Thursday, Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

A StoryBots Christmas — The StoryBots are headed to the North Pole in this all-new Netflix original holiday offering. The animated special begins streaming Friday, Dec. 1 on Netflix and stars Ed Asner and Judy Greer.

Masters of Illusion: Christmas Magic — Illusionist Michael Grandinetti will add his own brand of magic to the holidays in this new special. It airs Friday, Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

Miss Me This Christmas — The “perfect couple,” Regina (Erica Ash, Survivor’s Remorse) and Franklin (Redaric Williams), celebrate a fairy-tale Christmas wedding anniversary and seem to have it all. Yet their marriage is on the rocks. Can mistletoe and holly save their love? Find out when this made-for-TV offering airs Sunday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. ET on TV One.

Psych: The Movie — Catch up with fake psychic Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his best friend, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill) in this two-hour movie set three years after the series finale of the popular USA Network detective show. A mystery assailant brings the duo together during the holidays. Airs Thursday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on USA.

Freshly Baked: The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freakout Special: Special Edition — The Robot Chicken holiday special kicks off season 9 of the series. St. Nick meets his idol Jared Leto and more in the special, which airs Sunday, Dec. 10 at 11:30 a.m. ET/PT.

The Nightmare Before Christmas — Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s popular Pumpkin King, becomes obsessed with bringing Christmas under his control in this 1993 hit. It airs Friday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform and repeats Saturday, Dec. 2 at 3:10 p.m. ET/PT and Wednesday Dec. 13 at midnight.

Will Ferrell in Elf (New Line Cinema)

Elf – Buddy the Elf goes looking for his biological father in this hilarious holiday movie from 2003. It airs Friday, Dec. 1 at 9:15 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. Look for re-airings at Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. ET/PT and Sunday, Dec. 24 at 9:15 p.m ET/PT.

The Chew: Snowed In For the Holidays — Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall whip up festive dishes and crafts, while pop vocal group Human Nature sings fun holiday carols. It airs Sunday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. PT  on ABC and re-airs Christmas Day at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.

The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special — Tune in to this 50th anniversary celebration of the award-winning comedy series The Carol Burnett Show, which premiered on Sept. 11, 1967. The tribute airs Sunday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

Christmas at Holly Lodge — A business owner falls in love with a real-estate developer who wants to buy her lodge. The problem is, the lodge isn’t for sale. It stars Alison Sweeney, Jordan Bridges and Sheryl Lee Ralph and premieres Sunday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the Hallmark Channel.

My Christmas Prince — Alexis Knapp (Pitch Perfect) stars as Samantha, a dedicated teacher in Manhattan who returns to her small Wyoming hometown every year for Christmas. This year, she’s thrilled when her boyfriend Alex, a European diplomat, joins her. But when Samantha discovers Alex is actually a prince destined for the throne, her entire world is turned upside down. It airs Sunday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.

The Holiday — Cozy up to this adorable 2006 romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black when it airs Monday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.

Toy Story That Time Forgot – Woody, Buzz and more beloved Toy Story characters return for this holiday treat, which features Trixie the triceratops (Kristen Schaal) as the hero. The animated offering airs Dec. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town — Feel warm and fuzzy with Rankin and Bass’ perennial favorite from 1970, which airs Monday, Dec. 11 at 1:35 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.

Gwen Stefani’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas — The Grammy winning singer will perform holiday classics from her album of the same name including “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.” It airs Tuesday Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

TARAJI'S WHITE HOT HOLIDAYS - Taye Diggs, Taraji P. Henson, Tituss Burgess and Jay Pharoah (Michael Becker/FOX)

Taraji’s White Hot Holidays — The star behind Empire’s heroine Cookie is back to host another star-studded affair full of caroling and classic holiday songs. Special guests include Chaka Khan, Leslie Odom Jr., Salt-N-Pepa and more. It airs Thursday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas — Boris Karloff narrates this classic 1966 animated favorite, which airs Saturday, Dec. 16 at 9:15 p.m. ET/PT and Saturday, Dec. 23 at 9:20 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. NBC is also airing the movie Christmas Day at 8:30 p.m ET/PT.

(Photo by Tommy Garcia/Fox)

A Christmas Story Live! — Enjoy this three-hour live musical television event, which like the original movie focuses on 9-year-old Ralphie (Andy Walken), a boy who incessantly dreams of getting a Red Ryder Range Model Carbine Action BB Gun for Christmas. It premieres Sunday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

Last Tango in Halifax Holiday Special — The drama follows Celia’s daughter Caroline as she moves the family to a less-than-desirable farmhouse in time for Christmas. It airs back-to-back Sundays, Dec. 17 and 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.

Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic — Tap into your inner child with this inside look at how Disney destinations are turned into winter wonderlands just in time for the holidays. It airs Monday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.

I Love Lucy Christmas Special — This one-hour special features back-to-back classic and colorized episodes of the beloved sitcom. It airs Friday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

The Dick Van Dyke Show – Now In Living Color — Series creator Carl Reiner selected this pair of newly colorized episodes as two examples of the late great Mary Tyler Moore’s best work. They air Friday, Dec. 22 beginning at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

How Murray Saved Christmas — Laugh along as Murray (Jerry Stiller), a very unlikely hero, saves the big day. The animated special airs Sunday, Christmas Eve at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

It’s a Wonderful Life  Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings in this beloved holiday classic from 1946. It airs Sunday, Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Christmas Eve with Fairfield University This hour-long Christmas special features musical performances from the University Glee Club, an ensemble of jazz musicians and the alumni band Lionfish. Fairfield University is located on a 200-acre campus on the Connecticut coast. The special airs Sunday, Christmas Eve at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

Call the Midwife Holiday Special — Neither a thick blanket of snow nor the coldest winter in 300 years can stop this group of dedicated midwives from helping their patients. Tune in when this special installment airs Monday, Christmas Day at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.

Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration — This holiday showcase will be brighter and bigger bringing together the beloved Christmas Day parade, magical musical performances and surprise celebrity guests. It airs Monday, Christmas Day at 10 a.m. ET/ 9 a.m. PT on ABC.

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time — Get into the holiday spirit when the Doctor comes face to face with the Doctor in this epic finale to the Peter Capaldi era. In “Twice Upon a Time,” the twelfth Doctor (Capaldi) still refuses to change but starts to see the light when he goes on an adventure with the first Doctor (David Bradley, Game of Thrones). Pearl Mackie and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) also star. It airs Monday, Christmas Day at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America.

Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day — Peter, a young boy in a red snowsuit, jumps off the pages of this beloved children’s book and right into our hearts in this animated special. It begins streaming Tuesday, Dec. 26 on Amazon Prime Video.

Pete the Cat: A Groovy New Year — Pete the Cat needs a New Year’s resolution but first he must figure out what a resolution is. The animated special starts streaming Tuesday, Dec. 26 on Amazon Prime Video.

Great Performances — From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2018 — Ring in the New Year with the Vienna Philharmonic as they perform a selection of beloved Strauss Family waltzes with guest conductor Riccardo Muti. It airs Monday, Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.


 SERIES 

Homicide for the Holidays — Season 2 of this perennial series features a whole new batch of holiday crime stories with interviews from the detectives who worked the cases as well as the friends and family of the victims. The five-part program premieres Saturday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.

The Great Christmas Light Fight  Nothing punctuates the holidays like Christmas lights and fights about Christmas lights especially when there’s a $50,000 prize. Season 5 of the holiday offering airs for three consecutive weeks beginning Monday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Happy! — Based on the graphic novel of the same name, this dark comedy follows Nick Sax (star Christopher Meloni), an intoxicated, corrupt ex-cop who becomes a hit man. After an assassination gone wrong, his inebriated life is permanently changed by an imaginary but relentlessly positive blue-winged horse named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt). The series kicks off Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SyFy.

The Great American Baking Show — Feast your eyes and stomachs on this two-hour season premiere, which kicks off Thursday, Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.


HOLIDAY EPISODES 

The Powerpuff Girls - "You're a Good Man, Mojo Jojo" (Cartoon Network)

(Photo by Cartoon Network)

Teen Titans Go! — “TTG v. Santa,” Dec. 1, 6 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network

We Bare Bears — “The Perfect Tree,” Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network

The Powerpuff Girls — “You’re a Good Man, Mojo Jojo,” Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network

Will & Grace — “A Gay Olde Christmas,” Dec. 5, 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC

Superstore  — “Christmas Eve,” Dec. 5, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC

Dynasty —”The Best Things in Life,” Dec. 6, 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW

Bob’s Burgers — “The Bleakening Christmas Special Pt. 1” and “The Bleakening Christmas Special Pt. 2,” Dec. 10, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Fox

Family Guy  — “Don’t Be A Dickens At Christmas,” Dec. 10, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Fox

(Photo by Eddy Chen/Fox)

Lethal Weapon — “Wreck the Halls,” Dec. 12, 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox

Little Women: LA —”A Little Festive,” Dec. 13, 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime

Steven Universe — “Dewey Wins” and “Gemcation,” Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network

Great News — “A Christmas Carol” and “Sensitivity Training,” Dec. 21, 8 and 8:30 p.m ET/PT on NBC

Saturday Night Live — “Christmas Special,” Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC

Peppa Pig — “Father Christmas,” Dec. 22, 12:30 p.m. ET/PT on Nickelodeon

The Rap Game — “Holiday Remix,” Dec. 22, 10 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime

The Simpsons — “The Nightmare After Krustmas,” Christmas Eve, 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox

Married at First Sight — “Holiday Game Night,” Dec. 26, 9 p.m. on Lifetime

Cyberchase — “A Reboot Eve to Remember,” Dec. 29, air times vary so check your local listings, PBS


R2D2 bike helmet

If he’s taking up skateboarding, or snowboarding or bicycling, he may want to have the assistance of everyone’s favorite astromech droid. Of course we don’t think the helmet will actually talk to him and assist with navigation. It’s just a helmet. But it sure looks techie-chic. If he starts hearing Artoo’s voice though, we recommend another type of guidance.

Check it out


Best Actresses of the 1990s Paper Dolls

Does she like playing dress-up but doesn’t have access to all the nifty clothes? Does she feel nostalgic for the 90’s film era? Does she prefer the mobility and convenience of paper dolls to the rigidity and space-consumption of porcelain and plastic versions? This book of ten Oscar-winning movie starlets from the 90’s, like Jessica Lange, Hilary Swank and Jodie Foster, may be the perfect thing for her. The collection of wardrobe changes includes the actress’ Academy Award dresses along with costumes of some of their most famous film roles.

Check it out


Avengers Remote Control Cars

HULK DRIVE! And hopefully he’s not smashing while driving (don’t smash and drive, kids). Not a Hulk fan? Other Avengers Hero cars are available too. But this dynamic Hulk car is incredible enough to have your kid’s friends green with envy. And it might even be able to protect from gamma radiation. OK that was a long shot, but it’s still an awesome toy.

Check it out


Leonard Maltin’s 2013 Movie Guide: The Modern Era

There can be no more important gift than the one of knowledge, and that’s precisely what Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide gives us every year that it’s published. Including selected reviews from the first edition published in 1969 all the way to present day, this can be used to settle all of your cinematic curiosities and arguments. Plus you look really smart having it on your coffee table.

Check it out


Marilyn Monroe collectible Fossil watch

Dazzle ’em all with a splendiferous watch featuring the legendary beauty. May or may not grant access to secret Some Like It Hot screenings across the nation.

Check it out

It may not have been quite the box-office phenomenon that its predecessors were — and critics may have disliked it enough to keep it down at 20 percent on the Tomatometer — but that didn’t stop Rush Hour 3 from emerging as the top DVD rental of 2007.

The third Rush Hour racked up over $70 million in rental revenue, roughly half of what it took in at the box office, and besting another third installment, The Bourne Ultimatum. Count down the rest of last year’s DVD-rental top 25 below!

1. $71.2 Rush Hour 3 ($140.1M box office)
2. $69.7 The Bourne Ultimatum ($227.5 box office)
3. $66.4 The Kingdom ($47.5 box office)
4. $64.3 Superbad ($121.5 box office)
5. $57.2 Live Free or Die Hard ($134.5 box office)
6. $56.7 The Simpsons Movie ($183.1 box office)
7. $55.3 Night at the Museum ($250.86 box office)
8. $54.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($292 box office)
9. $51.8 Shrek the Third ($322.7 box office)
10. $51.2 The Heartbreak Kid ($36.8 box office)
11. $50.6 The Pursuit of Happyness ($163.57 box office)
12. $49.0 The Departed ($132.38 box office)
13. $47.5 Borat ($128.51 box office)
14. $47.5 Transformers ($319.3 box office)
15. $45.0 Blood Diamond ($57.38 box office)
16. $43.8 Spider-Man 3 ($336.5 box office)
17. $43.7 300 ($210.6 box office)
18. $43.0 I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry ($120 box office)
19. $42.9 Casino Royale ($167.45 box office)
20. $42.7 Disturbia ($80.21 box office)
21. $42.6 The Holiday ($63.22 box office)
22. $41.8 Knocked Up ($148.8 box office)
23. $40.8 Deja Vu ($64.04 box office)
24. $40.5 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($131.9 box office)
25. $40.5 The Good Shepherd ($59.95 box office)

Source: End of Boredom

A wave of new product hits the marketplace at a time when exciting films are desperately needed to end the current box office funk. The science fiction thriller I Am Legend leads the way but will be joined by the family comedy Alvin and the Chipmunks and the romantic comedy The Perfect Holiday. For only the second time all year, just two films managed grosses of more than $5M last weekend. Hollywood critically needs this weekend to turn things around if it wants to end the year on a happy note.

Gunning for his seventh consecutive number one opening, Will Smith headlines the sci-fi thriller I Am Legend, the latest Hollywood film based on the classic 1954 novel of the same name. The PG-13 entry finds the superstar playing the last man alive on Earth after a virus wipes out the entire human population in the not-so-distant future. Legend could prove to be Smith’s greatest box office challenge to date since there are no famous co-stars, no big director, and the novel it is based on is not exactly a hot item in today’s era. This film is Will’s to make or break.

But for millions of movie fans, the former Fresh Prince plus action equals a definite trip to the local multiplex. The actor is right at the top of the current A list and is arguably the most bankable star alive consistently drawing in audiences that cut across all race, gender, and age barriers. Will Smith can bring out paying audiences for sci-fi (I, Robot), comedy (Hitch), drama (The Pursuit of Happyness), action (Bad Boys II), and animation (Shark Tale). With Legend he now flirts with the boundaries of horror as battling killer zombies that attack at night is a far cry from being a date doctor.

Warner Bros. has good timing for I Am Legend. The marketplace has been about as dead as the world depicted in the film and audiences are hungry for an event film to get them back into the habit of moviegoing. Competition will not be much of a factor and business will be coming in from many directions with teens and young adults leading the way and fans of sci-fi and action delivering a big bang too. The studio’s massive marketing push will do the trick and adding more bite will be the simultaneous Imax release where higher ticket prices ($16 in New York City) will give the grosses a boost. Plus the strategic move of playing the new prologue for next summer’s much-anticipated Batman flick The Dark Knight with the Imax release of I Am Legend just fuels more excitement and guarantees more asses in the seats.

Will Smith is looking to score one of the biggest December openings ever for a non-Peter Jackson flick. A big drop next weekend is likely, but for now consumers are keeping all eyes on I Am Legend which attacks 3,606 theaters on Friday. An opening weekend gross of about $50M could result.


Will Smith and friend in I Am Legend

Some younger moviegoers may not be in the mood for flesh-eating mutants. Luckily, Fox had the bright idea of getting jiggy with its new kidpic Alvin and the Chipmunks which will give parents and smaller children some harmless fun for the holidays. The PG-rated film is the latest big-screen treatment of a popular kids property from yesterday that gets a makeover for today’s sensibilities. When done right, ticket sales pour in from multiple generations. But when done wrong, you get disasters like The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Competition should not be too bad since Enchanted which is going into its fourth session is the only family film generating any decent dough right now. Instead, holiday shopping may be the real threat as many parents will wait until a little later before heading to the cinemas for this one. The property is not popular enough to create any true sense of urgency. But this is common in mid December. Last year, Charlotte’s Web got off to a slow start with a $11.5M bow but went on to make seven times that amount with a final tally of $82.6M. Fox’s marketing push has been aggressively targeting young kids and the studio knows that little success lies with teens and young adults. Going very wide with 3,476 playdates on Friday, Alvin and the Chipmunks could gross about $15M this weekend but hold on well over the holidays.


Alvin, Simon and Theodore

Christmas fun hits the multiplexes in another package with The Perfect Holiday from Yari Film Group. Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union star as single folks whose love lives cross while Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard play naughty and nice spirits along for the ride. The PG-rated film will play primarily to an African American audience which will make it a tricky sell at this moment in time. Though a very different film, Legend will steal away many in the target demographic and others who just saw This Christmas may not be looking for another story from the same category so soon. Poor reviews will also cause some box office headaches. Opening Wednesday in 1,306 locations, The Perfect Holiday could bow to about $7M over three days and $9M over five days.


The Perfect Holiday

Adding to the end-of-year frenzy that arthouse films find themselves in during awards season, Paramount Vantage’s The Kite Runner opens in 35 theaters in selected cities on Friday hoping to appeal to fans of the best-selling novel. The R-rated film in English and Dari tells of two young boys in Afghanistan whose lives take two very different paths after a violent incident right before the Soviet invasion of the country. Kite Runner has been included on some recent ten-best lists and scored two Golden Globe nominations. Reviews have been generally positive.


The Kite Runner

Following its not-so-explosive debut, The Golden Compass will have tough work cut out for it during the sophomore frame. The New Line adventure will see the sci-fi audience abandon ship and line up for Will Smith while parents looking for some fun for their kids will have some talking chipmunks to consider. A 50% drop could be in order for Compass which would give it about $13M for the weekend and a ten-day tally of $45M.

Disney’s Enchanted, which earned a pair of Golden Globe nominations, is slowly but surely making its way towards the $100M mark. Another moderate 35% decline would give the fairy tale pic around $7M which would push the sum up to $93M. Sony’s This Christmas will face direct competition from The Perfect Holiday so a 40% dip may result giving the pic $3M and $47M to date.

LAST YEAR: The man in black beat out some tough competition to conquer the box office. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness led a wave of new releases with its top spot debut grossing $26.5M for Sony. The feel-good smash played well over the holiday season surging to $162.6M domestically and $294M worldwide – an impressive sum for a Smith vehicle not driven by guns or special effects. Fox’s fantasy actioner Eragon bowed close behind in second with $23.2M on its way to $75M from North America representing only 30% of the global take. Overseas the numbers were much stronger with $175M in ticket sales for a powerful $250M tally worldwide. Third place also featured a new release. Paramount’s family film Charlotte’s Web debuted to the tune of $11.5M but reached a solid $82.6M by the end of the run. Rounding out the top five were the penguin toon Happy Feet with $8.4M and the romantic comedy The Holiday with $8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

New Line hopes to breathe some life into the North American box office with the launch of its pricey adventure film The Golden Compass which stands as the frame’s only new wide release. Directed by Chris Weitz (About a Boy), the PG-13 film aims to capture a large crowd including the family audience and fans of sci-fi and fantasy. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, who proved in the summer flop The Invasion that their names only carry so much commercial weight, reunite to star in the effects-heavy film.

Working in its favor is the fact that all other studios have avoided programming their major offerings onto this weekend’s schedule. In fact it is quite rare to see two consecutive frames with only one national opener each. Media attention is concentrated on it this week and with multiplexes dumping their aging November flops, Compass will secure extra screens. The studio’s marketing push has been powerful and awareness is high which makes sense as New Line is hoping for a new fantasy franchise that can keep the cash rolling in for years to come. Teens and young adults who frequent the multiplexes the most should come out in solid numbers since they’ve seen every other worthy film already. Older adults will be a little harder to reach since holiday shopping is a major distraction on weekends right now plus reviews for Compass have not exactly been stellar.

Although the property will target many of the same folks who have dropped billions on fantasy smashes like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia, the source material is not as popular plus there is already backlash from some in the religious community for the anti-Christian material in the Philip Pullman books. Reaching the $65.6M opening of Narnia from this very weekend two years ago will be impossible. Instead, a debut closer to the $27.5M of Beowulf last month could be in order since there may be much overlap. Compass has more appeal for younger kids and females so a bigger bow should result. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, The Golden Compass might premiere to the tune of $33M this weekend.


Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass

With most of the big boys taking the weekend off from releasing films wide, indie distribs will once again seize the opportunity to platform their end-of-year pics and begin limited runs for possible kudos contenders. By law, you can’t have an awards season without at least one costume drama so Focus Features joins forces with Keira Knightley with Atonement which bows on Friday in 26 sites. The R-rated period piece also stars James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave and has already grossed $31M overseas with over two-thirds of that total coming from the U.K. since its launch there in early September.


James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in Atonement

Fox Searchlight counters in seven theaters with its teen pregnancy comedy Juno starring Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, and Ellen Page in the title role. The PG-13 coming-of-age pic opened on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and is director Jason Reitman‘s follow-up to Thank You For Smoking which grossed $24.8M for Fox Searchlight in the spring of 2006. Reviews have been strong across the board for both Juno and Atonement.


Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby in Juno

After back to back stints of wearing the box office crown, the princess comedy Enchanted is now preparing to take a step back this weekend thanks to the arrival of Queen Kidman. The Disney hit will see some formidable competition for kids, but the overall drop should not be too large. A 35% slide to around $10.5M could result. That would give Enchanted a charming $83M after 19 days of play.

With girls lining up for Giselle and company, their brothers have been taking a historical adventure with the computer-animated action pic Beowulf which has been holding its own since its debut. Golden Compass will also be a threat since there is much audience overlap. But Beowulf‘s good legs suggest that a drop of 35% could be in order here as well. That would leave the Paramount project with about $5M pushing the cume up to $76M.

Sony’s holiday reunion film This Christmas and Fox’s assassin thriller Hitman both witnessed larger sophomore declines so a fall of 40% each should occur this weekend. Christmas would take in just under $5M for a $42M total while Hitman should bank $3.5M for a $36M sum.

LAST YEAR: Mel Gibson scored his second straight number one opening for a historical foreign language film he directed with Apocalypto which debuted on top with $15M. The Buena Vista release went on to capture a solid $50.9M. Three-time champ Happy Feet was bumped down to second with $12.9M in its fourth frame. Sony’s romantic comedy The Holiday bowed in third with $12.8M for Sony. The Cameron DiazKate Winslet pic went on to gross $63.2M domestically and a stunning $200M worldwide. Studio stablemate Casino Royale slipped to fourth with $8.9M. Warner Bros. launched its action thriller Blood Diamond in fifth with a mediocre $8.6M on its way to $57.4M from North America and $171M globally. Opening in seventh was the studio’s other new wide release of the frame, the family comedy Unaccompanied Minors, with only $5.8M leading to a weak $16.6M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Ben Stiller ruled Christmas weekend for the second time in two years with his new effects-driven comedy "Night at the Museum" which opened at number one with an estimated $30.8M, according to figures released by Fox.

The PG-rated pic averaged a muscular $8,358 from an ultrawide release in 3,685 theaters including Imax venues. Two years ago, Stiller topped this same holiday weekend with "Meet the Fockers" which bowed to $46.1M in three days and $70.5M over five days.

Fox did not report a four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday gross for "Museum," but the comedy should be able to collect more than $40M over that period. According to official studio figures, Friday bowed to $12.4M, Saturday saw a slight 3% increase to $12.8M, and Sunday is projected to tumble 56% to $5.6M. The overall box office always falls sharply on Christmas Eve, but enjoys a vibrant rebound on Christmas Day when moviegoers have more time to visit their local multiplex.

Most studios reported three-day estimates and many will also report four-day estimates on Monday, Christmas Day.

Sony saw its Will Smith drama "The Pursuit of Happyness" fall one notch to second place with an estimated $15M over three days. The true-life tale dropped 44% from its opening weekend and raised its ten-day cume to $53.3M.

Opening in third place was Sylvester Stallone‘s "Rocky Balboa" with an estimated $12.5M in three days and $22.2M over the five days since its Wednesday debut. The MGM pic averaged a respectable $4,143 over the Friday-to-Sunday period from 3,017 locations.

Oscar winners Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie saw their new CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" bow in fourth place with an estimated $10M from 2,215 theaters for a good $4,505 average over three days. Directed by Robert De Niro, the frame’s only new R-rated pic played to an adult audience with studio data showing that the audience was 73% over the age of 30 and 53% male. Universal projected that the four-day tally will reach $13.9M.

In fifth place was Paramount’s family film "Charlotte’s Web" with an estimated $8M over three days, off 30%, for a cume of $26.8M after ten days. Fox’s fantasy adventure "Eragon" followed stumbling 69% in its second weekend to an estimated $7.2M. The dragon tale has taken in $37.6M in ten days.

The football drama "We Are Marshall" opened in seventh place with an estimated $6.6M from 2,606 venues for a lukewarm $2,548 average for Warner Bros. The studio’s penguin film "Happy Feet" followed in eighth with an estimated $5.1M, down 39%, for a $159.1M sum.

Sony’s "The Holiday" dropped 38% to an estimated $5M giving the Cameron DiazKate Winslet film $35.1M to date. New Line rounded out the top ten with "The Nativity Story" which climbed up 1% to an estimated $4.7M raising its total to $31.4M.

In limited release, Warner Independent opened "The Painted Veil" in four theaters and grossed an estimated $47,000 in three days for a strong $11,750 average. Since its Wednesday launch, the Edward Norton period pic has collected $68,000 and on Friday the distributor will expand to 37 locations.

Miramax’s Peter O’Toole pic "Venus" bowed to an estimated $36,000 from three venues for a promising $12,079 average. Cume since Wednesday stands at $42,000.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Moviegoers will have plenty to choose from over the long Christmas holiday weekend as four new star-driven wide releases hit the marketplace adding to an already crowded marquee.

The Ben Stiller fantasy pic "Night at the Museum" leads the way as the frame’s only new comedy while the Matthew McConaughey football drama "We Are Marshall" offers an inspirational story based on true events. Meanwhile, a pair of Italian Stallions hop into the director’s chair as Sylvester Stallone‘s boxing drama "Rocky Balboa" and Robert De Niro‘s espionage thriller "The Good Shepherd" offer even more choices to holiday moviegoers. As is typical of this time of year, Christmas Eve will hurt the box office on Sunday as last-minute shopping and early theater closings will take their toll. But the Monday holiday will see a major recovery since Christmas Day brings forth a surge in traffic to the multiplexes.

Blasting into nearly 3,700 theaters including 72 Imax venues is the comedy "Night at the Museum" which finds Ben Stiller playing the new night watchman at New York’s Museum of Natural History where all the artifacts and statues come to life each night. Director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "The Pink Panther") leaves behind Steve Martin to work with a younger funnyman and more special effects. The PG-rated film is aiming for broad audiences hoping to bring in entire families looking for a fun time this holiday season. "Museum" also plans to score with teens and young adults as the only major comedy option for them. With "The Holiday" being the only other laugher in the top ten to register with that lucrative group, look for a solid response.

Stiller brings considerable starpower to the film but he also gets backup from comedians like Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke. Plus with the prestigious ‘and’ credit already claimed by Williams, Owen Wilson takes a sizable supporting role but is so cool that he is nowhere to be found in the credits at all. Audiences want happy and funny films during the Christmas holidays and "Night at the Museum" should post muscular numbers thanks to its starpower, lack of comedy competition, mild rating, and formidable marketing and distribution push. Fox looks to close up the books on 2006 by taking over the number one spot this weekend. Attacking 3,688 locations, "Night at the Museum" could debut to about $34M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday period.

Ben Stiller in "Night at the Museum."

Sylvester Stallone brings the eye of the tiger back to the multiplexes one last time in "Rocky Balboa" which got a jumpstart on the holiday weekend with its Wednesday launch. The MGM release brings the iconic boxer back to the screen in what is supposedly the end of the franchise with Stallone back in the saddle as writer and director. In this tale, Rocky is brought back into the ring when media hype prompts fans to wonder who the best boxer is of all time. The underdog story on screen mirrored the one within industry circles. How could a franchise that died 16 years ago with the poorly-received "Rocky V" find its way back into the hearts of today’s moviegoers. MGM and the "Judge Dredd" star moved forward. Today, they proudly claim one of the best reviewed films of the Christmas season and the Wednesday bow is being counted on to get die-hard fans out early so they can spread positive buzz at work and in school going into the lucrative yet overcrowded weekend period.

With so many other films in the marketplace, and plenty with PG or G ratings aimed at luring in full families, "Rocky Balboa" will have to take its time at the box office as many moviegoers may need some convincing before spending money on the followup to the Tommy Gunn flick. Older adults are the ones who remember the excitement of the franchise, but the studio is hoping they could bring their kids with them for an uplifting tale that makes you feel good inside. "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "We Are Marshall" will be direct competitors in the feel-good genre and the latter will steal away many sports fans too. "Balboa" will have to rely on nostalgia and good word-of-mouth to carry it through round after round. Already playing in 2,752 theaters and adding more locations on Friday, "Rocky Balboa" may gross about $16M over four days and around $21M over six days.


Stallone is back for one more round in "Rocky Balboa."

For football fans this holiday weekend, Warner Bros. trots out another pigskin drama with "We Are Marshall" starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, and David Strathairn. The PG-rated film tells the true story of the football program at Marshall University in West Virginia which had to be rebuilt from scratch after a plane crash killed most of the players and coaches. Hollywood seems to have an endless line-up of sports dramas these days and since most of them become commercial successes, it’s no wonder that they keep getting churned out. Just a few months ago, moviegoers powered the football flicks "Invincible" and "Gridiron Gang" to the number one spot with bows of $17M and $14.4M, respectively. "Marshall" should play to much of the same audience and with its underdog feel-good story, the time of year will help since people are in the mood for that type of emotion.

Reviews have not been too good, but that should not matter much. "We Are Marshall" is meant for sports fans and those who love stories about overcoming adversity, regardless of how predictable they may be. Sales from the heartland should be solid and with the tame rating, entire families can come out together. Plus McConaughey is a reliable draw at the box office and is believable as a quirky football coach. Still, competition will be strong and coming from all directions so a blowout will not be possible. Opening in 2,606 theaters, "We Are Marshall" could score about $14M over the Friday-to-Monday frame.


They are Marshall.

Countering the parade of PG flicks is the R-rated CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" directed by Robert De Niro. The Universal release stars Matt Damon as Edward Wilson, a loyal government agent who helped to create the agency during the Cold War. Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, John Turturro, and De Niro also star. "Shepherd" boasts solid starpower which could help the film have broad appeal. The subject matter appeals to the 30+ crowd, but Damon and Jolie should help to pull in twentysomethings. Teens and ethnic audiences will have minimal interest. Critics have been mixed on the film which could impact the overall turnout.

The last few months have not been kind to star-driven period dramas aimed at adult audiences. Pictures like "Hollywoodland," "All the King’s Men," and "Bobby" have all struggled to find paying audiences with none reaching the $15M mark in total sales. "Shepherd’s" cast is what will allow it to rise above those failures. But the fight for the attention and time of mature adults will be fierce and a running time of nearly three hours will allow for one less showtime per day on every screen further cutting into its commercial potential. Infiltrating 2,217 locations, "The Good Shepherd" might capture around $13M over four days.


Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin in "The Good Shepherd."

With the calendar year coming to a close, things continue to get crowded in the specialty arena this weekend. Clint Eastwood‘s award-winning war drama "Letters From Iwo Jima" debuted on Wednesday in limited release ahead of a January expansion similar to what Warner Bros. did two years ago with the director’s "Million Dollar Baby" which went on to reign at the Oscars. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts star in the period romance "The Painted Veil" from Warner Independent which also platformed on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. Thursday brings the limited launches of Miramax’s "Venus" starring Golden Globe nominee Peter O’Toole and the Chinese period drama "Curse of the Golden Flower" from Sony Classics which stars Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat.


Zhang Yimou’s "Curse of the Golden Flower."

Last weekend, Will Smith scored a number one hit with "The Pursuit of Happyness" which continues to please audiences. Overall moviegoing should increase over the holiday weekend, but more choices for adult audiences will give Sony some competition. "Pursuit’s" four-day take could drop 25% from its three-day debut gross giving the film about $20M and a cume of $58M after 11 days.

As a sci-fi actioner, Fox’s "Eragon" is likely to see one of the largest drops in the top ten. The dragon adventure might fall by 35% to around $15M over the four-day session leaving the studio with $46M.

Kidpics score big points over Christmas so "Charlotte’s Web" might see many of those fans who skipped out last weekend actually show up this time. The Paramount release’s four-day tally may slip 10% from its three-day bow and bring in roughly $10M. That would give the family film a total of $27M after 11 days.

LAST YEAR: With Christmas falling on a Sunday, the observed holiday on Monday gave the box office an expanded four-day holiday frame allowing the mega holdovers to repeat atop the charts. "King Kong" spent its second weekend at number one and grossed $33.3M over four days and was closely followed by "The Chronicles of Narnia" with $31.7M in its third adventure. The combined haul for the pair soared to $285M with much more still to come. Newcomers rounded out the top five with Jim Carrey defeating Steve Martin in the battle of the comedies. Sony’s "Fun With Dick and Jane" opened in third with $21.5M over four days while Fox’s sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" settled for fourth with $15.3M. Final tallies reached $110.3M and $82.6M, respectively. Sony also claimed fifth with "Memoirs of a Geisha" which expanded nationally and took in $10.2M over the long weekend. Also opening were Fox Searchlight’s Johnny Knoxville comedy "The Ringer" with $7.7M over four days, the Jennifer Aniston pic "Rumor Has It" with $7.5M in two days for Warner Bros., and Universal’s "Munich" with $6M in four days. The films went on to reach $35.4M, $43M, and $47.4M respectively. The debuting horror pic "Wolf Creek" opened outside the top ten with $4.9M in two days on its way to $16.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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