From painful family reunions to sequels no child asked for to multiple Vince Vaughn and Tim Allen vehicles, these are all the Christmas films that scored less than 30% on the Tomatometer. And to make sure these movies landed on enough critics’ naughty lists to be deemed truly universally loathed, every entry had to have at least 20 reviews for inclusion. This leaves the likes of Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas and Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?! out in the cold, but makes plenty of space for Home Alone 3, Christmas With the Kranks, and Deck the Halls. It’s more cinematic coal than you can handle in our guide to the worst Christmas movies ever!
Some Santas want to spread joy to the world…and others just want to watch the world burn. As Christmas approaches, take some time to this week’s special extra 24 Frames gallery, looking at the variations of jolly St. Nick across movie history.
Christmas is just around the corner and you know what that means: holiday mirth, exchanging gifts, eating foods you wouldn’t touch at any other time in the year, and, yes, ugly sweaters! The holiday tradition inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, which looks at some of the most compelling knitted monstrosities from film and TV history.
It’s Friday, there’s a new raft of movies in the UK cinemas this week, but are any of them any good? This week the UK film hacks give us their opinions on Clint Eastwood‘s latest directorial film starring Angelina Jolie, Changeling. Also out this week is Hollywood satire What Just Happened, and an early Christmas present in the shape of a festive flick starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases. So what did the critics think?
Based on a true story, Changeling stars Angelina Jolie as an overworked single mother who fights for the truth following the disappearance of her son, and is ably directed by veteran cowpoke Clint Eastwood. At a – just-below-Fresh – 59% on the Tomatometer, Changeling doesn’t have the pedigree of previous Eastwood outings, but most critics agree that Angelina Jolie’s assured performance has Oscar-bait written all over it. If we were just counting the UK critics responses the film would stand at a much healthier 83% on the Tomatometer, which just goes to show the difference in tastes on either side of the Atlantic.
What Just Happened is a Hollywood satire starring Robert De Niro as an outrageous movie producer, and is based on the real life memoirs of Art Linson, who also adapted his book for the big screen. Most critics agreed that De Niro is on fine form, following the disastrous Righteous Kill (21% on the Tomatometer), who puts in a classic performance as the back stabbing producer. But old Bobby can’t do enough to save What Just Happened from the ignominy of a Rotten 53% rating on the Tomatometer. Critics accuse the film of lacking the necessary satirical bite needed to do the source material justice, with many suggesting that the film has fallen prey to the Hollywood practices and foibles that the film itself seeks to criticise.
Vince Vaughn stars in his second festive holiday vehicle, after the dismal Fred Claus of Christmas 2007 (21% on the Tomatometer), alongside Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases. Helmed by the director of the highly-praised but little-seen documentary King Of Kong (97%), Seth Gordon, hopes were high for Four Christmases, but unfortunately at 26% on the Tomatometer, it’s more of a Turkey than a Christmas pudding. The UK scribes have criticised the lack of Christmas cheer, the miscasting of the two principle actors and the horrific waste of a fine supporting cast. Christmas comes earlier every year, Four Christmases probably shouldn’t have come at all.
Quote Of The Week
” “Hang on lads, I’ve got a great idea…” said Michael Caine at the end of The Italian Job. Presumably he didn’t mean waiting 40 years before pulling off a caper that wouldn’t blow the bloody doors off a rabbit hutch.”
Flawless. Elliot Noble, Sky Movies.
Twelve long months after it first debuted in theaters, Vince Vaughn‘s Fred Claus is finally making its way to DVD. The comedy about Santa’s (Paul Giamatti) ne’er do well brother, Fred (Vaughn) disappointed critics and performed decently last November; by holding its home video release until the 2008 holiday season, will Fred Claus get a second chance at success?
Hard up for cash, the bitter, joyless Fred (Vaughn) joins his little brother, Nicholas — that’s Saint Nick — in the North Pole to work alongside elves in the toy factory one Christmas. As his bad attitude wreaks havoc on Santa’s workshop, a slimy efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) arrives with a plan to shut Santa down for good. Can Fred rise to the occasion to help save Christmas?
The single-disc release includes a feature-length commentary by director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) along with thirteen deleted scenes. The Blu-ray disc is much fuller, including the Race to Save Christmas DVD game, additional featurettes, Vince and Paul’s Fireside Chats, a bit with cameo players (and “other” brothers) Frank Stallone, Stephen Baldwin, and Roger Clinton, and a music video by Ludacris, whose hip hop holiday track appears on the Fred Claus soundtrack (“Fred Claus, y’all”).
Watch an exclusive clip from the Fred Claus DVD below!
In a day and age where superheroes (and their movies) are a dime a dozen, it’s refreshing to see a hero who is much more deeply flawed than the bookish Spider-Man, or the dark and depressed Batman; enter Hancock (Will Smith), a misanthropic, irresponsible, alcoholic superhero who uses his powers for good but leaves a litter of collateral damage in his wake.
Criticized for poor execution despite an intriguing premise, Hancock also stars Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron. The Two-Disc Unrated Special Edition includes both the theatrical cut and an unrated version of the film, a digital copy, and a dozen behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Next: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All
Subtitled “The Greatest Gift of All,” Stephen Colbert’s A Colbert Christmas is indeed one of the greatest gifts of the week. In it, the Comedy Central pundit hosts his first holiday special, which aired on Sunday and is available on DVD this week; special guests Feist, John Legend, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello and Jon Stewart join him to sing songs like “Can I Interest You In Hannukah?” and “There Are Much Worse Things To Believe In” by the fireside. You can also download A Colbert Christmas on iTunes Tuesday!
Holiday bonus: a portion of the proceeds from the DVD and iTunes sales will go to the charity Feeding America, so in helping yourself to a little Colbert, you’re helping others this holiday season.
Next: 24: Redemption
While the Writer’s Strike wreaked havoc with many a television show’s schedule, one surprise side effect of 24‘s year-long hiatus comes to fruition this week: a two-hour “prequel” telefilm that covers the events between 24‘s sixth and seventh season (also known as Day 6 and Day 7)! The prequel, which aired in the U.S. on Sunday November 23 and in the U.K. on Monday Nov. 24, will be available on DVD this week in an extended Director’s Cut that should prepare you for January’s seventh season premiere.
Expect to be reintroduced to anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), who finds himself looking for some peace and quiet in the wrong place — the fictional war-torn African nation of Sangala — the day that the new U.S. President Allison Taylor is to be sworn into office. A commentary track, making-of featurettes, sneak peeks at season seven’s first batch of episodes, and more fan-centric goodies comprise a great bonus menu.
Next: Space Chimps
It started with a premise both simple and to the point: chimpanzees in space. Sadly, this 20th Century Fox animated feature was not destined for Oscar’s Best Animation race; most critics deemed it a weak contender in today’s era of Pixar-dominated excellence. The CG-animated tale follows a trio of NASA monkeys launched into the galaxy who become a tiny planet’s only hope of thwarting an evil alien dictator; Andy Samberg (Hot Rod) leads a voice cast that includes Jeff Daniels, Patrick Warburton, Cheryl Hines, Jane Lynch, and Stanley Tucci. Aside from a single featurette, the DVD shockingly has no additional materials.
Next: Meet Dave
With the exception of the Shrek films and a surprising supporting role in Dreamgirls, the once-great comic Eddie Murphy has been wallowing in cinematic never-never land for years. Last summer’s Meet Dave didn’t change that. A sci-fi comedy about a crew of tiny aliens led by Eddie Murphy piloting a 6-foot-tall spaceship that looks like Eddie Murphy, Meet Dave turned off most critics with its lame gags and poor direction. And we’d expected so much more from the director of Norbit.
Next: Beverly Hills, 90210 — The Sixth Season
Whether or not you’re addicted to the CW’s new reboot of this ’90s teen soap, you have to admit that the original Beverly Hills, 90210 was a classic of its generation. The angst-filled antics of twins Brenda and Brandon Walsh (and their friends Kelly Taylor, Steve Sanders, David Silver, Donna Martin and our favorite, Dylan McKay) brought the most pressing teen issues of the day to primetime television — and gave later shows like spin-off Melrose Place and MySpace-generation clone The O.C. a reason for being.
Season Six of Beverly Hills, 90210 hits shelves this week — you remember it, don’t you? It was the gang’s junior year of college, the season that Donna got out of her abusive relationship with musician Ray, Kelly got hooked on coke, and Dylan married the Noxzema girl (who was immediately blown up by a car bomb meant for him). Sigh. Good stuff, 90210. Good stuff.
Next: Bottle Rocket – Criterion Collection
Filmmaker Wes Anderson made a splash with his indie debut, 1996’s Bottle Rocket; the buddy caper comedy also introduced the world to thespian brothers Luke and Owen Wilson (the latter of whom co-wrote the script with Anderson). This week, after a long period of anticipation, the folks at Criterion are giving Bottle Rocket their signature treatment, releasing a spiffy two-disc remastered edition chock full of goodies and overseen by Anderson himself.
Included in the Criterion package are a feature-length commentary by Anderson and Owen Wilson, a making-of documentary, storyboard and location photos, new featurettes, Anderson’s 1992 short film that inspired Bottle Rocket, and a booklet containing an “appreciation” of the film by Martin Scorsese. Next month, Criterion will release the film as one of their first-ever Blu-ray titles.
Next: Freaks and Geeks The Yearbook Edition (reprinted)
You may already own the Judd Apatow-produced, celebrated (but short-lived) 1999 television series Freaks and Geeks on DVD. But do you own it in its limited edition “yearbook” packaging, originally released in 2004 only via its official site?
If not, you’re in luck; Shout! Factory is re-releasing the special 8-disc set in this special package once more, which features an 80-page color yearbook so vivid and filled with awesome tidbits from production that it’ll have you reminiscing over the good old days at McKinley High School, class of ’81. All 18 episodes are here, with over 20 audio commentaries by everyone ranging from Apatow, creator Paul Feig, and episode directors Jake Kasdan and Ken Kwapis, to cast members Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, and Jason Segel; just about everyone involved in Freaks and Geeks shows up at one point or another. Also find deleted scenes, audition tapes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more.
Next: Superman: Doomsday — Blu-ray
What would happen to the world if Superman died? Last year, we found out when DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation released the direct-to-DVD film Superman: Doomsday (although comics fans already knew from the original Death of Superman storyline published in 1992) in which the Man of Steel fell victim to the genetically-engineered Krypton-born super-villain, Doomsday.
This week you can watch the saga with new eyes as Superman: Doomsday comes to Blu-ray. (A new 2-disc standard DVD also releases this week.) Special features include a filmmaker commentary, four making-of featurettes, a sneak peek at DC’s upcoming direct-to-DVD title Wonder Woman, and more.
Until next week, happy renting!
This weekend For the first time this decade, a new release seems set to take over the number one spot during the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend at the North American box office. Studios are cramming a six-pack of new titles into multiplexes nationwide hoping the recent famine in the marketplace will be replaced by a feast. The films lack major stars, but they do however have clearly-defined audiences which will hopefully allow them to survive and expand the overall pie.
Disney leads the way with the fantasy extravaganza Enchanted for young girls while Fox counters with the much more violent action offering Hitman aimed at young men. MGM goes for a scare with the horror film The Mist, Sony targets African American moviegoers with This Christmas, and August Rush from Warner Bros. will try to tap into family audiences. Meanwhile, Miramax goes after older adults and upscale crowds with its acclaimed thriller No Country For Old Men which widens into national release after two weeks of sold out shows in limited play.
Once upon a time, Disney regularly opened a new family film at number one over Thanksgiving weekend. After a long absence, the Mouse House is now poised to take its rightful place on the turkey throne with its fairy tale adventure pic Enchanted which finds an animated princess thrust upon the real world where people do not live happily ever after. The PG-rated film will appeal to the millions of young girls and mothers who have become devotees of Disney’s lucrative army of princesses. Getting in boys may be a bit tough, but the female following should be more than enough to propel this massive release into the top spot at the holiday box office.
Not since 1999’s Toy Story 2 has Disney, or any other studio for that matter, opened a new film at number one over this holiday frame. Holdovers have consistently ruled since 2000, mostly big guns that debuted on the weekend before the holiday to get an early jump on the cash. But from 1994 through 1999, Disney enjoyed an unprecedented streak ruling the Thanksgiving box office every year with an iron fist. Now that magic is back, thanks in part to a surprisingly weak line-up of November titles coming from Hollywood’s magic factories. With the widest release by far of any new film, no holdovers to stand in its way, and a holiday frame that welcomes family entertainment, Enchanted looks to become the queen bee. Opening in an ultrawide 3,632 theaters, the fantasy film may charm its way to about $30M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $43M during the extended Wednesday-to-Sunday span.
A 25% drop might be in the works for American Gangster which may tap into patient adults that have heard the buzz, but just haven’t made a trip to the theaters yet. Universal could take in about $9.5M over three days and raise its sum to $116M. Christmas films routinely see their three-day grosses climb over the turkey frame when compared to the previous weekend thanks to the cheery holiday mood of ticket buyers. That could come as good news to Warner Bros. which might see its Vince Vaughn offering Fred Claus edge up by 10% to around $13M. Cume would hit $54M.
LAST YEAR Despite five new films opening in wide release over the turkey frame, moviegoers continued to spend their money on the same films as the top two spots remained unchanged. Sophomores Happy Feet and Casino Royale led the session with $37M and $30.8M, respectively, over three days. The penguin toon dipped only 11% while the rejuvenated Bond flick dropped by just 25% giving the pair a towering combined gross of $193M after ten days. Denzel Washington won the bronze with his new sci-fi actioner Deja Vu which bowed to $20.6M while the Christmas comedy Deck the Halls followed in fourth with a debut of $12M. Final grosses reached $64M and $35.1M. Borat rounded out the top five with $10.3M in its fourth weekend. Other new releases stumbled. MGM’s political drama Bobby expanded nationally and took in only $4.9M on its way to a weak $11.2M. Warner Bros. debuted its sci-fi drama The Fountain to the tune of $3.8M and New Line saw just $3.2M for its Jack Black pet project Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The pics ended their runs quickly with a measly $10.1M and $8.3M, respectively.
author: Gitesh Pandya www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
One animated film will bump another from the number one spot at the North American box office. But the new warrior Beowulf is no B movie but an A-list production from an Oscar-winning director offering action audiences something new. Also opening this weekend but likely to see more modest grosses are the family pic Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera. Without a compelling selection of great films, the marketplace should once again fall well below year-ago levels.
Paramount looks to capture the box office crown without the help of DreamWorks this time with Beowulf, a computer-animated action adventure based on the ancient epic poem. The PG-13 film comes from Robert Zemeckis who expands upon the motion capture technology he used in 2004’s The Polar Express. This time around his film is aimed at somewhat older moviegoers as young children will be too frightened by the violence, gore, and yes, nudity. Beowulf aims to pry 14-year-old boys away from their videogame systems and into the multiplexes with a new type of action film that is presented in 3D in selected theaters. Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Angelina Jolie lend their voices and digital likenesses.
The marketing has been terrific on the part of the studio. The core audience of young males is excited and ready to buy tickets and the film might even pull in part of the literary crowd curious to see how this classic tale is adapted to the big screen. The marketplace needs something like this now with hits like American Gangster skewing more adult and kidpics like Bee Movie not offering enough violence. If last December’s Eragon could open to $23.2M, then surely Beowulf can target the same crowd and go higher. Launching in over 2,800 theaters, Beowulf could conquer the box office this weekend with about $32M.
LAST YEAR: In a major pre-holiday showdown, the penguin toon Happy Feet edged out the new James Bond film Casino Royale for the number one spot with a strong opening of $41.5M. The Warner Bros. family hit went on to collect $198M domestically and a stellar $384M worldwide. Sony’s relaunched spy series still posted a muscular debut grossing $40.8M over the weekend on its way to $167M domestically and a sensational $595M globally making the Daniel Craig-starrer the top-grossing 007 flick ever. After two weeks on top, Fox’s Borat slipped to third with $14.6M. Rounding out the top five were Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 with $8.3M and the Sony release Stranger Than Fiction with $6.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Three new releases failed to steal attention away from last weekend’s top two
films which continued to rule the North American box office swapping chart
positions in the process. Jerry Seinfeld’s animated hit
Movie enjoyed the better hold and jumped into first place while the
Crowe crime drama
suffered a moderate decline and claimed the runnerup position. Ticket buyers
have spent nearly $153M on the duo over the past ten days. Among newcomers, the
Vaughn generated respectable results while
suffered his worst opening in twenty-one years with the political drama
Lions for Lambs
which finshed a weak fourth for the frame. The overall marketplace struggled
once again as for the first time in five years, a November top ten failed to
break the $100M mark.
Paramount and DreamWorks missed out on a top spot debut last weekend with their
new toon Bee
Movie, but this time they managed to grab the number one slot. The
PG-rated film slipped 32% and collected an estimated $26M boosting the ten-day
tally to a robust $72.2M. Though a good hold, especially with the opening of
rival family flick Fred Claus, the decline was somewhat larger than the
drops of other recent animated kidpics that bowed on the first weekend of
November. Last year,
Flushed Away dipped by only 12%, 2005’s
slid just 21%, and 2004’s
dropped 29%. The Veterans Day holiday was observed on a Friday last year giving
a large number of school children a day off which helped deliver the sensational
hold of Flushed. This year, the holiday will be observed on Monday when
Bee is still expected to score solid results. Look for the insect pic to reach
the neighborhood of $120M domestically with international prospects also looking
Dropping an understandable 44% to second place was former champ
with an estimated $24.3M in its sophomore frame. After only ten days, Universal
has shot up a remarkable $80.7M and has already surpassed the total grosses of
most of Washington’s previous films. Gangster currently ranks as the
pic ever behind
The Pelican Brief
Tide ($91.4M), and
drama also stands as the fourth highest grossing film in Russell
Crowe‘s career after
Beautiful Mind ($170.7M), and
Master and Commander ($93.9M). At its current pace, American Gangster
should find its way to $130-140M from North America making it the studio’s third
biggest hit of 2007 after
The Bourne Ultimatum
and Knocked Up.
End-of-year awards attention could send it higher though.
Opening in third place was the Christmas comedy
which took in an estimated $19.2M from an ultrawide release in 3,603 locations.
Averaging a mediocre $5,336 per site, the PG-rated flick about Santa’s older
Vince Vaughn and
and played to a family audience. The Warner Bros. release is one of only two
films this year to launch in more than 3,500 theaters and fail to gross at least
$30M on opening weekend. The other was the animated penguin pic
Surf’s Up which
debuted to $17.6M in June. Instead, Fred performed in line with last
November’s yuletide laugher The
Santa Clause 3
which bowed to $19.5M on its way to a $84.5M final.
suffered one of the worst opening weekends of his career with the poor turnout
for his political drama
Lions for Lambs
which stumbled into fourth place with an estimated $6.7M. The R-rated pic
Robert Redford and
Lions averaged a feeble $3,029 from 2,215 theaters and was panned by most
critics. Despite the starpower, bad reviews and the subject matter which dealt
with war in the Middle East helped to repel paying customers.
Magnolia in which Cruise had a supporting role, Lions attracted
the smallest debut for the actor since Ridley Scott’s
opened with just $4.3M in 1986. It also ended the star’s streak of thirteen consecutive number one openings over fifteen years and is guaranteed to stop his industry-leading streak of seven straight years of having $100M+ grossers. The Redford project marked the first film for United Artists which is now run by Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner. Parent company MGM took distribution duties in North America with Fox handling the release in the rest of the world where the film also launched this weekend to mixed results.
The woman-in-peril thriller
P2 debuted poorly in
eighth with an estimated $2.2M from 2,131 locations for a pitiful $1,032
average. The R-rated film about a workaholic stalked by a killer in a parking
garage on Christmas Eve is the first release from Summit Entertainment which was
testing its distribution operation ahead of its real slate of films which will
hit theaters in 2008.
Vampires and martians rounded out the top ten. The horror flick
30 Days of Night
grossed an estimated $2.1M, down 44%, and placed ninth. Cume is $37.4M for Sony.
Child fell a troubling 48% in its second weekend to an estimated
$1.8M. The New Line release has collected only $6M in ten days and should end up
with a weak $9-10M.
Three modestly-budgeted films were bumped out of the top ten this weekend.
Michael Clayton dipped 40% to an estimated $1.7M bringing its cume
to a decent $35.6M. The $22M film should find its way to about $40M for Warner
Bros., but has the chance to go higher if it scores some major award
Miramax generated a sizzling debut for
No Country for
Old Men, the newest film from the Coen Brothers. The R-rated entry
grossed an estimated $1.2M while playing in only 28 theaters for a sensational
average of $42,929 per site. Co-produced by Paramount Vantage, it will expand to
more markets on Friday.
Tyler Perry’s latest hit
Did I Get Married? grossed an estimated $1.6M, off 38%, and boosted
its total to an impressive $53.3M. The profitable $15M Lionsgate title looks to
end with roughly $57M. It’s been a tougher road for Miramax’s crime drama Gone
Baby Gone which took in an estimated $1.5M, down 33%, giving
directorial debut only $17.1M to date. Produced for $19M, the
Freeman drama should end its run with about $22M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $95.6M which was down 10% from last
year when Borat
remained in first place with $28.3M; and down 11% from 2005 when Chicken
Little stayed in the top spot with $31.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandaya,
This week at the movies, we’ve got Santa’s not-so-little helper (Fred
Vince Vaughn and
Paul Giamatti), geopolitics (Lions for
Tom Cruise, and
Meryl Streep), and one scary
parking garage (P2, starring
and Wes Bentley). What do the critics have to
Claus hit theaters two weeks before Thanksgiving, hoping to spread
some early Yuletide cheer. Unfortunately, the critics have made a list, checked
it twice, and determined this one’s a lump of coal.
Vince Vaughn stars as
Santa’s no-good brother, a repo man who’s lived in the shadow of St. Nick (Paul Giamatti); after a run-in with the law, Santa agrees to help his bro on the
condition that he do some hard labor at the North Pole to help with the
seasonal demand for toys. It’s a pretty funny premise, and the cast includes
such able thespians as
Bridges, and Rachel Weisz. But the pundits say Fred never settles on a
workable tone, awkwardly vacillating between wacky slapstick and sappy
sentiment. At 32 percent on the Tomatometer, ’tis not the season for Fred
Fred Claus isn’t the only Christmas-themed movie in theaters this week.
is the story of a woman who’s late to Christmas Eve dinner because she’s tied up
— literally. In order to see what Santa has delivered for her this year, she
must escape the clutches of an evil security guard. Some critics say P2 is
much better than it sounds, a game of cinematic cat and mouse with a dark sense
of humor. However, others say it’s still essentially a genre exercise, and pretty gory to
boot. P2 currently stands at 46 percent on the Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: the documentary
Steal a Pencil for
Me, about a strange love affair during the Holocaust, is at 100 percent on
No Country for
Old Men, a dark, tense crime film from
the Coen Brothers, is at 89 percent (check out our review from Cannes
our feature on the Coens’ filmography
Holly, a drama about child
prostitution in Vietnam, is at 86 percent;
Note By Note, a documentary
detailing the manufacture of a Steinway piano, is at 80 percent;
a doc about a music festival in the midst of war-torn Uganda, is at 67 percent;
and Nightmare Man, a horror flick about a woman being attacked by an evil
spirit, is at 50 percent.
Robert Redford-Directed Movies:
41% — The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
71% — The Horse Whisperer (1998)
96% — Quiz Show (1994)
78% — A River Runs Through It (1992)
58% — The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
89% — Ordinary People (1980)
Vince Vaughn and Tom Cruise go head to head at the North American box office this weekend with their latest releases. The dodgeball champ goes for holiday laughs with Fred Claus while the top gun offers up a serious political tale in Lions For Lambs. For those looking for a scare, the horror flick P2 also attacks the multiplexes. Add in last weekend’s holdover titles and the marketplace should deliver three $20M+ grossers for the first time since mid-July.
Taming down their comedy for a family audience, the Wedding Crashers team of Vince Vaughn and director David Dobkin offer up Christmas cheer with the holiday comedy Fred Claus. The PG-rated pic features the comic actor playing the brother of Santa (Paul Giamatti). Rachel Weisz and Kathy Bates both scored a ‘with’ credit while Kevin Spacey‘s agents landed the coveted ‘and’ credit for their client. Family audiences will make up the bulk of the business but Warner Bros. is hoping to draw teens and young adults with Vaughn’s humor.
Reviews have been sour, but these types of holiday films are sold more on the comedy and the marketing. The studio is giving Claus a big jolly push and there are no major live-action options for parents to take their kids to. Bee Movie‘s second weekend will provide most of the competition, but usually two high-profile star-driven family pics can co-exist at this time of year. Debuting ultrawide in more than 3,400 theaters, Fred Claus may laugh up about $28M this weekend.
In a smart move, Lions has downplayed its political storyline involving the Middle East as most others that have gone down that path have crashed and burned at the box office this fall. Audiences have told Hollywood on numerous occasions that they are not interested in paying top dollar for that kind of entertainment. Instead, the film is being positioned as a dramatic thriller with great acting performances almost the same way Cruise’s A Few Good Men was marketed 15 years ago. Lions will skew older than most other releases in the marketplace and will face intense competition for adults from American Gangster. Plus bad reviews will have a big impact too since the target audience plays close attention to the opinions of critics. This could very well be Tom Cruise’s lowest-grossing film in ages. Landing in 2,200 locations, Lions For Lambs might debut with around $10M.
LAST YEAR: Moviegoers kept annoying friends with their best Kazakh impressions as Borat tripled its theatercount and remained at number one for the second week with $28.3M for Fox. Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 and Paramount’s Flushed Away enjoyed sensational holds and stayed put in their spots as well with $16.9M and $16.6M, respectively. Will Ferrell‘s Stranger Than Fiction bowed in fourth with $13.4M on its way to $40.1M for Sony. Lionsgate rounded out the top five with Saw III with $7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com