Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as Tim Burton’s deliciously gory operetta-turned-film spectacle comes to DVD, the critical superior to the CGI/live-action
Alvin and the Chipmunks
and Jake Paltrow’s dark romantic comedy

The Good Night
, starring sister Gwyneth, Martin Freeman, and Penelope Cruz.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


Tomatometer:
86%

Tim Burton turns his delightfully macabre sensibilities to the tale of Sweeney Todd, the bloodthirsty London barber with the sharpest straight razor in town. Adapting Steven Sondheim’s Broadway play into an epic horror-musical feature film, Burton cast frequent collaborator Johnny Depp as the vengeful madman and his own baby mama, Helena Bonham Carter, as his meat-pie baking accomplice. Critics hailed the film as a lush, bloody affair true to both Burton’s flair for the gruesome and Sondheim’s original vision — just don’t expect perfectly polished vocals from its untrained leads. Pick up the 2-disc release for nine behind-the-scenes and filmmaker featurettes, a Moviefone Unscripted video with Burton and the Oscar-nominated Depp, and more.


Alvin and the Chipmunks


Tomatometer: 24%

The antics of lovable chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore have delighted generations of kids since their debut as a chart-topping gimmick group in 1958; now, critics say, the time for chipmunk love is no more. Updated as a family adventure blending live-action and CGI, the new pic finds the pop-singing trio helping a desperate jingle writer (Jason Lee) find a hit for the American Idol set – dismal stuff for grown-ups, especially those who look back with fondness on classic-era Alvin and the Chipmunks. Special features include an inside peek at Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, a conspicuous reminder that there are far better animated experiences out there than allowing oneself to get “Munk’d.”




The Good Night


Tomatometer: 24%

A former pop star-turned-has been Gary (Martin Freeman) finds more happiness with his ideal woman in his dreams (Penelope Cruz) than he does with his sourpuss girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) in this dark romantic comedy. As his dreams increasingly blur with reality, Gary must choose which life he’d rather have. Gwyneth’s brother Jake makes his directorial debut with this Sundance entry, which the scribes say has plenty of interesting ideas unfortunately cobbled into somewhat of a snoozer. Eternal Sunshine fans may still find use of it; director Paltrow’s audio commentary is the disc’s lone extra feature.


The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream



Tomatometer: N/A

If you loved 1991’s The Cutting Edge, and you watched ABC Family’s 2005 sequel The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold, then you’ll be interested to hear of this year’s third installment, The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream. The cable-debuted trequel naturally follows the franchise formula of pairing a prim figure skater with a rough-and-tumble hockey player, but get this: the gender roles have been reversed, as a veteran male pairs skater (Matt Lanter) begrudgingly takes on a female Gretsky (Francia Raisa) to go for championship gold! Will the unlikely pair resolve their differences on and off the ice? Could — gasp! — romance bloom betwixt the two by movie’s end? Pick up The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream to find out!


That ’70s Show Season 8



Tomatometer: N/A

Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher may have left the show that made their careers in its eighth and final season, but the rest of that ’70s crew stuck around to wrap up the hit series. Back in Season One could we have guessed that Donna (Laura Prepon) and Eric (Grace) wouldn’t be together, that Jackie (Mila Kunis) would go for Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), or that disco would ever die? Twenty-two episodes, a handful of episode commentaries, a Season 8 in 8 Minutes featurette and plenty more extras comprise the four-disc release.

‘Til next week, Ave atque vale.

Three new releases roll into multiplexes across North America – one the size of an elephant, the others like specks of dust. Fox aims to deliver the largest opening weekend of the year so far with its animated family event film Horton Hears A Who which could very well triple the gross of its nearest competitor. Summit counters with its action title Never Back Down while Universal also targets young men with its horror flick Doomsday. Overall, the marketplace looks to bounce back and even stands a chance of beating year-ago figures for the first time in a month.

Almighty pals Jim Carrey and Steve Carell play nice this time in the first-ever animated feature version of a Dr. Seuss tale in Horton Hears A Who which goes into
saturation release on Friday. The G-rated pic tells of a playful elephant that discovers an entire city living on a tiny speck on a flower, but can’t convince others of its
existence. Fox has a mighty big hit on its hands for a number of reasons. The property is from an author that all generations are familiar with so parents and kids
alike can relate. The marketplace has very few viable options for children at the moment. Plus starpower from the two leads makes this a comedy juggernaut that
will allow the film to go beyond its core family audience and tap into business from teens and young adults too.

With one of the sharpest marketing departments around, Fox has the means to mine riches from this surefire spring blockbuster. Who else could propel lame
kidpics like Night at the Museum and Alvin and the Chipmunks to $200M+ megahit status over consecutive holiday seasons? The studio has used March as a
launching pad for its animated offerings from Blue Sky Studios allowing the films to steer clear of summer and holiday hits from Pixar and DreamWorks. In 2002,
Ice Age surprised everyone with its $46.3M debut. Three years later its Robots opened to $36M while the 2006 sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown bowed to a
mammoth $68M. Forgotten are the days of Titan A.E. Horton Hears A Who is destined to join its March brothers on the hit list.

The key to grosses skyrocketing lies in the interest of teens. Will they look at this as a Carrey-Carell dream team laugh-a-thon and line up? Chances are many will,
especially with no other major comedies doing substantial business. Appeal is broad with males and females of all ages opening their wallets. Sure it’s not as funny
as you’d hope given the two big C’s involved, but moviegoers will eat it up nonetheless. Plus with Good Friday and Easter helping the second weekend, long-term
prospects seem rosy too. Debuting ultrawide in over 3,900 theaters, Horton Hears A Who could collect about $50M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.


Seth Rogen and Jim Carrey (voices, that is) in Horton Hears a Who

Rookie distrib Summit Entertainment kicks into high gear with its fighting extravaganza Never Back Down which hopes to connect with the Mountain Dew crowd
looking for extreme action. The PG-13 flick stars relative unknowns Sean Faris and Amber Heard with Djimon Hounsou cast as the only star name. Action comes
from a high schooler’s discovery of the world of Mixed Martial Arts with the film playing as a hybrid of Fight Club and The Karate Kid. With little starpower and
a generic premise, Never will struggle to post strong box office numbers on opening weekend. Plus Doomsday will be stealing away some of the target audience
of young males. The two films really should not be opening head to head since neither is strong enough to stand on its own two feet in the first place. Summit gets
credit for at least trying with a marketing push that goes beyond what a pic with such little star wattage deserves. Never Back Down punches its way into 2,729
locations on Friday and could bag around $6M over three days.


Sean Faris in Never Back Down

Another killer virus film attacks the multiplexes, this time the British thriller Doomsday from Universal. The R-rated fright flick marks one of the studio’s few films to
not be screened for the press ahead of time and instead will rely on marketing to find its audience. Young men and genre aficionados should make up the primary
crowd here and they won’t be easy to reach. Besides the debut of Never Back Down, 10,000 BC is also in the marketplace playing to a good chunk of this
audience. Overall, the promotional push has not been too strong and awareness levels are not high, especially outside of the target demo. Infecting 1,935 theaters,
Doomsday looks to debut with about $5M this weekend before making a swift jump to that shiny disc.


The riotous revelry of Doomsday

After a sturdy debut, the prehistoric adventure 10,000 BC should suffer a sizable drop thanks to negative word-of-mouth. Direct competition from new releases
won’t be too much of a factor, but bad buzz will scare away prospective second weekend patrons. Look for a 55% decline which would give Warner Bros. about
$16M for the frame and $61M in ten days. The caveman pic will continue to dominate the overseas box office thanks to debuts this weekend in lucrative markets
like France, Italy, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Disney’s College Road Trip will take a direct hit from Horton this weekend as the family crowd will have a much bigger film to rally behind. A 40% drop would
put the Martin LawrenceRaven-Symone comedy at $8M for a ten-day cume of $25M.

Audiences have been receptive to the presidential assassination storyline of Vantage Point which could drop another 40% to $4.5M this weekend for a cume of
$58M for Sony. Lionsgate’s The Bank Job probably saw the bulk of Jason Statham fans rush out on opening weekend so a 45% fall would give the heist thriller
$3M and $11M in ten days.

LAST YEAR: New releases were no match for the top two films in North America which remained on top of the charts. The mammoth Spartan smash 300 tumbled 54% in its second weekend but still posted a hefty $32.9M sophomore tally. The Disney comedy Wild Hogs showed good legs dipping 31% and ranked second with $19.1M in its third lap. Faring best among the freshmen, Sandra Bullock‘s supernatural thriller Premonition opened in third with $17.6M for Sony on its way to a solid $47.9M. Rounding out the top five were fellow newcomers Dead Silence with a moderate $7.8M and Chris Rock‘s I Think I Love My Wife with a disappointing $5.7M. Final grosses reached $16.8M for the Universal pic and $12.6M for the Fox Searchlight laugher.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The annual convergence of the Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day holidays has lead to a unique situation this year as studios are all releasing their wide openers on Thursday hoping for strong five-day starts for their pictures. The two effects-filled movies heading up the charge are Fox’s science fiction actioner Jumper and Paramount’s fantasy adventure The Spiderwick Chronicles attacking over 3,400 theaters each. Buena Vista counters with its dance saga Step Up 2 The Streets while Universal offers the romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe.

With something for everyone, and the two holidays giving a boost to overall moviegoing activity, the North American box office should be robust this weekend although it may not be able to match the record-shattering frame from a year ago. The last time Valentine’s Day fell on a Thursday was in 2002 but all five wide releases that year had traditional Friday bows. This time studios felt no need to leave business on the table on the typically strong love holiday so openings were scheduled a day earlier.

Fox has a savvy way of taking subpar films not loved by critics and selling them successfully to the ticket buying audience. The success of recent films like Alvin and the Chipmunks, 27 Dresses and Meet the Spartans is proof. The studio is hoping to make the magic work again with the new actioner Jumper which tells of teleporting men who face off against an elite group set to destroy them. Former Jedis Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson star in the PG-13 pic directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Teens and young adults are the target audience here with males likely to slightly outnumber the gals.

The Presidents’ Day frame is often used by studios to launch effects-driven sci-fi films and audiences always turn out. Last year saw Ghost Rider bow to $52M over four days, Constantine opened to $33.6M in 2005, and Daredevil debuted to $45M in 2003. Jumper will play to most of the same people, however it boasts less starpower and its literary source is not as famous. Plus it faces more competition for the action audience with Spiderwick taking away some of the younger crowd and Fool’s Gold stealing away some women and adult couples.

Jumper lacks the goods people expect from a solid sci-fi flick and Christensen proves once again that he’s no leading man so lukewarm buzz from first-day audiences on Thursday may water down some of the weekend rush. But a strong marketing campaign will get the upfront audience to show up this weekend before the large declines set in. Invading 3,402 theaters, Jumper could open to around $30M over four days and $35M over five days.


Hayden Christensen in Jumper

With virtually no other options for the family audience this weekend, Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies hope to have a clear shot at reaching their target audience with the PG-rated fantasy pic The Spiderwick Chronicles. Based on the best-selling books, the effects-driven film aims to connect with kids over a weekend that is typically a good one for that crowd. Don’t expect Harry Potter numbers here, but Spiderwick could appeal to the same people who powered Disney’s Bridge to Terabithia to a $28.5M launch a year ago over the four-day holiday session.

The studio has given an extended marketing push to the film and fans of the books are likely to be curious as to how the leap to the big screen was made. Reviews have been generally positive so that should help persuade parents to give a green light to a trip to the multiplex this weekend. Enjoying the widest release of all new flicks with 3,847 theaters, The Spiderwick Chronicles might premiere with roughly $24M over four days and a five-day haul of $27M.


Freddie Highmore and friend in The Spiderwick Chronicles

In the summer of 2006, Buena Vista scored a surprise hit with its low-budget teen dance drama Step Up which grossed a hefty $65.3M after its $20.7M debut. So no one is surprised that the sequel bug hit this pic resulting in Step Up 2 The Streets which will aim for the same teenage and young adult crowd. Rated PG-13, the new installment will have a built-in audience to tap into which will help it at the box office this weekend. Add in that virtually all students have a long weekend away from school and the potential becomes big. However Streets is not surrounded by the excitement that the first film brought with it for the target audience. For these types of films nowadays, lightning strikes once at the box office and future revenue comes from direct-to-DVD sequels. Plus Channing Tatum who became a big star with teen girls thanks to the first film, is not starring this time. Disney is trying a theatrical approach and is using today’s hottest urban music to keep the franchise relevant and hip. Ethnic youth may contribute some solid numbers. Step Up 2 The Streets will break into 2,470 locations and may gross around $15M over the Friday-to-Monday period and $18M over five days.


Step Up 2 the Streets

Van Wilder himself Ryan Reynolds stars with a little miss full of sunshine Abigail Breslin in the new dramedy Definitely, Maybe which will target female audiences over the long weekend. The PG-13 film finds the actors playing a father-daughter pair examining the dad’s love options with various women. Universal’s Valentine’s Day offering lacks the starpower to become a big hit and competition will be quite tough given all the other options already out there for adult women. Reynolds is more known for male-skewing comedies so selling him in a chick flick could be a stretch. Debuting in 2,203 theaters, Definitely, Maybe might take in about $8M over four days and $10M over five days.


Abigail Breslin and Ryan Reynolds in Definitely, Maybe

Last weekend’s top choice Fool’s Gold should see a sizable drop thanks to not-so-great word-of-mouth and ample competition from new releases. But the holiday frame will help cushion the blow. Look for the four-day tally to drop by about 30% from the three-day opening weekend figure to about $15M. That would give the Warner Bros. adventure flick $42M after 11 days.

Martin Lawrence‘s comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins could see a similar decline due to similar reasons. Both sophomore comedies have earned a troubling C+ average grade from over 1,000 users of Yahoo Movies. Universal’s family reunion pic may drop by 30% and grab about $11.5M over the Friday-to-Monday session boosting the 11-day total to $31M.

Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus should continue dropping fast at the box office but with all the loot it has already taken in, future grosses are just Disney gravy. The 3D concert pic may tumble by 50% to roughly $5M across four days and lift the stellar cume to $60M. After the third week, the numbers should shrink as U23D expands into many of the same Hannah auditoriums on February 22.

LAST YEAR: The Presidents’ Day holiday weekend box office was on fire as five new releases injected a stunning $122M in business into the marketplace over the four-day span. Nicolas Cage led the way with the comic book flick Ghost Rider which bowed to $52M over the long weekend for Sony on its way to $115.8M. Disney posted muscular results in second with its new fantasy pic Bridge to Terabithia which opened to $28.5M over the Friday-to-Monday session leading to a $82.3M final. Eddie Murphy‘s comedy Norbit dropped from first to third with $19.9M. Debuting behind it were the romantic comedy Music and Lyrics with $15.9M and the Tyler Perry pic Daddy’s Little Girls with $13.1M. Final grosses reached $50.6M and $31.4M, respectively. Bowing in sixth was the thriller Breach with $12.3M on its way to $33.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com



For the first time in three weeks, studios will pack a Friday with plenty of new releases as four films open or expand nationwide giving the box office chart a major shakeup. Leading in the polls and getting the widest release is The Bucket List starring Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Challenging Hollywood’s old guard are three younger agents of change. Ice Cube campaigns for a spot in the top five with the comedy First Sunday, Jason Statham heads up the adventure tale In the Name of the King, and some cartoon vegetables headline the kidpic The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. Hoping to play the spoiler is the indie smash Juno which once again expands into wider release. The films should each play to different audiences which will help the overall marketplace expand.

After spending the last decade directing flops, Rob Reiner hopes to score his first number one hit in over fifteen years with The Bucket List which features the Academy Award-winning actors Nicholson and Freeman on screen together for the first time. The PG-13 pic tells the story of two dying old men who set out to fulfill their last wishes before taking the big trip upstairs. Financing a major film anchored by two men who celebrated their 70th birthdays last year is not something Hollywood studios typically do. It’s usually seen as a risky endeavor. But Warner Bros. is counting on mature adults, men and women alike, to take interest and come out to see two legends on the big screen together.

Hurting Bucket‘s chances are the mixed reviews it’s been getting from critics. The target audience for this particular movie will definitely be affected by what reviewers have to say. Also, the picture has come up almost empty-handed during awards seasons so it has less marketing tools in its arsenal than the handful of acclaimed adult dramas touting their awards and nominations. In limited release, Bucket scored muscular per-theater numbers over the last two frames averaging $20,989 and $20,424 from only 16 locations. Co-star drawing power will not shoot this film up to the opening weekend levels of recent Jack flicks like The Departed or Anger Management. But even his less flashy films generate solid debut numbers due to his loyal fan following. Kicking its way into 2,911 theaters, The Bucket List could debut with about $15M.


Nicholson and Freeman in The Bucket List

Two petty criminals plot to rob their neighborhood church in the new comedy First Sunday. The PG-13 film stars Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, and Katt Williams and will find a large portion of its ticket sales coming from African American moviegoers. Cube has seen much success in the past with early-year comedies like Next Friday which opened to $14.5M in January 2000 and Barbershop 2 which debuted to $24.2M in February 2004. But both of those were sequels that took advantage of built-in audiences that wanted to see popular characters return to the big screen for new shenanigans. The rapper-actor is back with another laugher at the start of a presidential election season, but this time winning the job of commander-in-chief of the box office will probably be out of his reach.

First Sunday comes a week before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame which historically has been a good time for films led by black casts. Cube’s pictures usually are dependable when it comes to drawing a crowd. However his last two releases, the Sony sequels Are We Done Yet? and XXX: State of the Union, were not exactly major hits. Plus the story of stealing from church may not go down well with some folks. Breaking into roughly 2,000 theaters, First Sunday might open with around $12M.


First Sunday

Targeting young males (and older dudes who spent their childhoods playing Dungeons & Dragons), Freestyle Releasing offers up Jason Statham in the adventure tale In the Name of the King. The PG-13 actioner will try to play to the fantasy crowd although most will probably wait for this one on DVD. The distributor tried to make this genre work in the fall with Dragon Wars. which bowed to just $5M and a poor $2,214 average. Fox also failed with its fantasy clunker The Seeker the following month which opened to only $3.7M and an embarrassing $1,192 average. Though aging, heavyweight holdovers National Treasure: Book of Secrets and I Am Legend are set to steal a combined $20M this weekend from the same audience that might be interested in Statham flicks so there will be distractions for younger guys. Of course the NFL playoffs on both Saturday and Sunday will be factors too. Debuting in an estimated 2,500 locations, In the Name of the King may collect about $6M this weekend.


In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale


The year’s first new toon comes in the form of The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything from the VeggieTales franchise. Universal’s G-rated pic about a squash, cucumber, and grape that go on high seas adventures will play to younger tots and their parents. The 2002 film Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie enjoyed a solid bow opening to $6.2M and a $6,597 average during an October weekend when all other films in the top ten were catering to adults. Those kids are all five years older and have probably outgrown the produce-based characters so it will be a new generation taking interest this time. Plus Pirates will face more competition since Alvin and the Chipmunks continues to do killer biz from the family audience and even National Treasure and The Water Horse are pulling dollars from that sector. The studio’s marketing efforts have been aimed at its target audience only so crossover business is not likely. Opening in 1,336 theaters, look for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything to gross about $5M this weekend.


Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything

Holdovers will finally get some competition to deal with which will certainly shake up the chart rankings. Fox Searchlight’s Juno has been patiently building up buzz and momentum and was rewarded on Monday and Tuesday by seizing control of the number one spot at the North American box office. The distributor will add another 500 theaters to the run climbing to 2,447 playdates which will lead to a solid hold.in its sixth frame. The pregnant teen will duke it out with a pair of grumpy old men for the top spot. It’s girl vs. geezers. Making the contest even more interesting is Juno‘s new televisions spot which features a clip of star Ellen Page mentioning Morgan Freeman by name in one of the film’s more memorable jokes. A scant dip would give Juno about $15M for the weekend and boost the cume up to a remarkable $72M.

After enjoying the second three-week box office reign of his career (the first being his other turn as Ben Gates), Nicolas Cage will see National Treasure: Book of Secrets drop down a couple of spots in the standings. The Buena Vista smash could fall by 40% to about $12M boosting the overall total to $187M which would make it one of the top ten blockbusters of 2007. Also hopping into that list will be fellow PG-rated holiday hit Alvin and the Chipmunks. Fox’s family comedy looks to slide by 35% this weekend to roughly $10M giving the singing chipmunks a robust $189M to date.

Scary movies from last weekend’s top five should witness larger declines. Will Smith‘s I Am Legend which is the highest grossing zombie movie of all-time may fall by 45% to about $8.5M for a $240M cume. The supernatural thriller One Missed Call should depreciate faster and fall 50% to around $6M giving Warner Bros. a respectable $21M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend was ruled by the urban dance drama Stomp the Yard which generated a powerful $25.9M debut over the four-day extended frame. The Sony hit went on to finish with a solid $61.4M. Holdovers filled up the rest of the top five led by three-time champ Night at the Museum with $21.8M over the long weekend. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness followed with $10.7M with Dreamgirls in fourth with $10.3M and Hilary Swank‘s Freedom Writers ranking fifth with $8.8M over four days. Three new releases opened lower on the charts. Universal’s action drama Alpha Dog bowed to $7.4M on its way to $15.2M. Debuting in more theaters but with smaller grosses were Buena Vista’s horror pic Primeval with $6M and MGM’s kidpic Arthur and the Invisibles with $5.7M. Final grosses reached $10.6M and $15.1M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Critics, bloggers, movie website readers — pretty much
anybody who knows their way around a keyboard have voiced their "concern" for
Alvin
and the Chipmunks
. (Though with $150 million in the bank after only
three weeks, the rodents are doing well with the average man on the street and
his family.) But enough is enough, says
David
Cross
, and he’s countering with a lengthy tirade of his own.

Cross, who plays a sleazeball record exec in the movie,
writes on the Bob and David site:

"I am not stupid nor unobservant. I knew going into this
movie that I would be eating a lot of delicious s–t for it. Usually I wouldn’t
give a s–t about what everyone’s feelings are about it, but I wasn’t prepared
for the level, or amount I should say, of vitriol that’s been flung about like
so much monkey poo."

Goaded into action after remarks from fellow comedian
Patton
Oswalt
, Cross presents four-and-a-half reasons why he took the role and why
some criticisms are out of place:

Mitigating Factor #1: The movie wasn’t made for adults.
"I have not seen the movie so I can’t really comment to whether it’s an
‘evil’ or ‘dangerous’ ‘piece of s–t’ or not. The reason I haven’t seen the
movie is because I am not eight years old. I am an adult and don’t see
children’s movies."

#2: This is much ado about nothing. "It’s a waste of
time and energy. I choose to care about other things that I believe are worth
the investment of that kind of outrage, disappointment, and sense of urgency."

#3: Work time is fun time. "Up to working on ‘Alvin’
I had not worked in six (SIX!) months. That is an eternity if you’re an actor.
Think about not working for two months with no hope of anything on the horizon.
Now triple that."

#4: Stuff requires money. "If I wanted that cottage
I would have to pay him money. Sigh. So I used my ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’
money to pay for the down payment. Seriously, I totally did."

And just when you think this might be only studio
sycophancy, Cross brings the pain:

#4a. He did the most he could with the part. "They
could have offered the part to
Anthony
Clark
or
Jim Breuer
or
Dat
Phan
, but then they wouldn’t be able to balance out the empty void that
Jason Lee
brings to the film.”

Source: Bob and
David

With the holidays making every day a Saturday at the multiplexes, studios are
enjoying brisk business at the box office with the marketplace getting even more
competitive thanks to three new releases that opened wide on Tuesday, Christmas
Day. Action fans get the sci-fi sequel Alien vs Predator: Requiem,
those looking for drama have Denzel Washington‘s
The Great Debaters,
and family audiences in the mood for fantasy adventure get
The Water Horse
. Overall, the final weekend of 2007 should be a busy
one thanks to an abundance of product.

Three and a half years after the first monster battle grossed $80.3M, Fox brings
back the sci-fi action with Alien vs Predator: Requiem.
Some changes have been made with this release, though. Upping the violence, the
PG-13 rating of the first has been replaced by an R. The summer launch has been
changed to a Christmas Day opening and the sequel blasted off in 832 fewer
theaters. Requiem tapped into its built-in audience of genre fans by
generating a strong $9.5M gross and $3,707 average in its first day of release
on Tuesday. It should be a downhill road from there as most fans will want to
see the flick sooner rather than later. The studio is targeting the marketing at
its core audience of older teen and young adult males. Crossover appeal to new
fans is unlikely. With most other films playing to younger kids or to more
mature adults, AVPR does have an opportunity to score some bucks, though
it will be a short-lived run. Playing in 2,563 locations, Aliens vs.
Predator: Requiem
could go on to gross $13M over the Friday-to-Sunday
period.


Those who want their battles done verbally in a language indigenous to Earth
will get to see Denzel Washington‘s
latest film
The Great Debaters
in which the star acts and directs. Produced by The Weinstein Company and
distributed by MGM, the PG-13 film about a 1930s college debate team in the
segregated South bowed on Tuesday with a solid $3.6M from only 1,164 locations
for a sturdy $3,096 per theater. Add in Oscar winner
Forest
Whitaker
and producer
Oprah Winfrey
and Debaters boasts a good amount of starpower to help market the period
film. African American audiences are the driving factor here as evidenced by
studio research that shows 60% of the opening day crowd coming from this
powerful group. The marketplace can certainly use a pic like Debaters
right now as most of the films in the top ten boast all-white casts.


Washington has been doing his fair share of press to promote Debaters
including a one-hour plug on Oprah’s chatfest. Reviews have been good and the
film even nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Drama. Denzel’s
second-ever directorial effort should hold up well as it rides into the weekend
period when more of its target audience will be available. Plus this is a great
time of year for feel-good and uplifting films. And the true civil rights story
should remain relevant through the Martin Luther King holiday frame in
mid-January. The moderate release, however, will hold back potential but keep
the average strong. For this weekend, The Great Debaters might collect
about $9M over three days.


Adding to the Christmas week feast is Sony with its Loch Ness Monster fantasy
The Water Horse
which will aim for family audiences. The PG-rated
film falls into the boy-and-his-pet genre and is being marketed as a spectacle
from the creators of

The Chronicles of Narnia
(Walden Media). Grosses are already in a much
smaller league as the film’s Christmas Day opening resulted in a lukewarm $2.4M
bow from 2,772 theaters for a mild $861 average. The marketplace has had a
shortage of family films this month, but Water Horse just isn’t strong
enough of a title to take advantage of these conditions. Most parents will be
taking their kids to see the PG flicks
National Treasure

and
Alvin
and the Chipmunks
so the seas will be rough. Water also has no starpower
and is based on subject matter that American children have never been too
excited about. A three-day weekend take of roughly $8M may result.


Three big films dominated last weekend’s box office and are likely to post
another session of solid sales. The New Year’s frame can often see grosses go up
versus the prior weekend while for some films the declines can be smaller than
normal.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
will attempt to close out the
year on top which is appropriate given how sequels propelled the marketplace to
some major records this year. Midweek numbers have been exceptionally strong
with Monday delivering a cool $7M while Tuesday’s Christmas Day business brought
in an additional $13.7M for a five-day holiday launch of $65.4M for Disney. A
20% slide may result giving the
Nicolas Cage
adventure about $36M for the weekend and a stunning $124M in ten days.


Will Smith‘s
I Am Legend
has been powering its way up the actor’s all-time chart of blockbusters and
smashed the $150M mark on Tuesday in only its 12th day in theaters. Christmas
Eve saw $4.4M worth of stubs while the yuletide holiday more than doubled that
sum with a powerful $9.8M. The Warner Bros. smash may fall by 15% this weekend
and take in about $28M which would boost the total to a staggering $196M in 17
days. That could put Legend on course to join the $200M club on the first
day of the new year.



Alvin
and the Chipmunks
has been a surprise smash for Fox and the holiday
break has been very kind to the family comedy. The kidpic grossed $4.4M on
Monday plus $6M on Tuesday. The Water Horse should be the only new
competitor and that film is not likely to put too much of a dent into business.
A slim 10% dip could be in order for this weekend. That would give Alvin roughly
$25M for the frame and lift the 17-day cume to a spectacular $133M.


LAST YEAR: The final weekend of the year saw mostly the same faces from
Christmas fill up the charts.
Night at the
Museum
was tops again with $48.2M over four days pushing the 11-day cume
to a stunning $127.3M which would represent about half of its eventual total.
Will Smith’s
The Pursuit of Happyness
remained in second with $25.5M over four days.
The musical Dreamgirls
jumped up to third with $18.4M in its first full weekend of wide release and was
followed by the kidpic  Charlotte’s
Web
and CIA drama
The Good Shepherd

with $14.9M and $14.2M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,
www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Moviegoers are in for a feast as studios will unleash a wide menu of new options on Friday trying to reach holiday patrons on the weekend before Santa comes to town. Disney leads the way with its adventure sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets which is getting the widest launch by far of the five new films. The Nicolas Cage actioner will face off against other star-driven movies like Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and Johnny Depp‘s Sweeney Todd. Comedy comes in the form of Walk Hard while romance pops up in P.S. I Love You. With so many choices, there should be something for everyone allowing the overall box office to remain healthy. Plus with Christmas Eve falling on a Monday, Sunday sales will be stronger than usual giving the weekend numbers an added boost.

Nicolas Cage hit a career high in 2004 with National Treasure which bowed to $35.1M on its way to $173M, his highest gross ever. Now Disney and superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer reteam for the PG-rated sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets which aims to target the same broad audience that made the first such a big hit. The rating and the studio’s name help to attract families and younger kids while Cage and the action element bring in teens and young adults. Competition from I Am Legend‘s second weekend will cut into some of the action business, but history has shown that two high-profile action movies can indeed survive at the same time. Secrets delivers the entertainment that the target audience is looking for and the marketing push has been strong. The built-in fan base knows what it’s getting so expect a big opening. Reviews will be mostly irrelevant. Invading over 3,500 theaters, National Treasure: Book of Secrets might take in about $44M this weekend.


Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Capping off a landmark year that saw his films Knocked Up and Superbad gross a combined $270M, Judd Apatow ends 2007 by waving his producing and writing wands around Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Like the two previous hits, this Sony title carries the R rating thanks to envelope-pushing humor that audiences crave. John C. Reilly headlines the pic as a rock star who lives an up and down life. Normally a Reilly-led film would fail miserably at the box office since he has no track record of anchoring successful films. However, it is the Apatow name that provides the starpower here and so older teens and young adults should come out in solid numbers. There are no other comedies for that demographic right now plus a trim running time of 96 minutes will ensure plenty of showtimes.
Positive reviews will help too. Some may find the film through word-of-mouth so a prolonged run looks to be in order. Opening in over 2,500 theaters, Walk Hard may gross around $15M this weekend.


John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer in Walk Hard

Universal will find out this weekend what means more at the box office, starpower or subject matter. The studio opens Charlie Wilson’s War, a new comedy-drama starring Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman about a covert U.S. operation that supplied weapons and training to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. The topic is just about the last thing audiences want to pay to see on the big screen right now as evidenced by the horrendous grosses for other politically-themed dramas dealing with the Middle East.

To find success, the studio is using two tactics. It is pushing the comedy element to show ticket buyers that they will not be in for a serious lecture, and it is promoting the A-list stars heavily. Hanks and Roberts have sold billions of dollars worth of tickets worldwide and this is their first pairing. The R-rated film will appeal mostly to older adults which means there will still be plenty of potential over the next two weeks. The final gross will not rely entirely on the opening weekend results. With Roberts delivering a very flattering line about the Golden Globes in the film, it was no surprise that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association returned the favor by honoring War with five Globe nods including Best Picture – Comedy or Musical. Those nominations have become a key element in the marketing. Reviews have been strong too. Launching in roughly 2,500 theaters, Charlie Wilson’s War could collect about $14M over the weekend.


Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War

Setting a new record for most throats sliced open in a Hollywood musical, Paramount and DreamWorks give a moderate national roll-out to Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Directed by Tim Burton, the R-rated film stars Johnny Depp in the title role along with new mom Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Musicals are often tough sells at the box office but Depp-Burton concoctions almost always score big bucks. Like most song-and-dance pics, Sweeney Todd should skew slightly more female but appeal seems broader across many age groups.

Although Paramount is marketing the revenge flick like a 3,000-theater bow, it is only going into about 1,000 locations this weekend. That should lead to sold out
shows and a very high average. Plus with so many other films releasing at the same time, getting second and third screens within multiplexes will be difficult. The gruesome pic should bring out hard-core fans first and then reach a more mainstream crowd after Christmas when seeing blood and gore will not be as bad of a thing. Positive reviews and four Globe nominations will also help to convince audiences, but the starpower of Depp and Burton is the film’s biggest asset. Look for a debut of around $10M this weekend followed by good legs in the coming weeks.


Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd

Following his career-making turn in one of the year’s most memorable hits 300, Gerard Butler turns to the world of flimsy grosses in the romantic drama P.S. I Love You starring opposite two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. The weekend’s only new PG-13 film will play to an adult female audience which may be a bit tough to reach this weekend. Holiday activities will provide a distraction as will Tom, Julia, and Johnny who will steal away much of the potential of P.S. Negative reviews will only help keep ticket buyers away. Overall excitement is not too high and starpower is certainly low. Most fans who bought tickets for the Spartan actioner will be elsewhere this weekend. P.S. I Love You opens in about 2,200 locations and could gross about $5M this weekend.


Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You

Will Smith has dominated the box office since last Friday’s explosive launch for his sci-fi thriller I Am Legend. However, the sophomore frame is likely to see a steep fall for a number of reasons. Competition will be a big factor with the freshman class stealing away different audience segments. The Batman factor will also be gone since fans of the Caped Crusader either have already seen the trailer for The Dark Knight with Legend last week, or are watching it online whenever they want. Plus sci-fi films typically attract the bulk of the business upfront leading to a large sophomore drop. A 60% tumble for I Am Legend could result giving the Warner Bros. pic about $31M for the weekend and $133M after ten days.

Alvin and the Chipmunks is in a much better position since all kids will be out of school for the rest of the year. Business this week, all next week, and the session before New Year’s will be sizzling. National Treasure will take away some ticket sales, but with so many R-rated films filling up screens, parents will keep looking at the Chipmunks as the only game in town for small children. Alvin and the Chipmunks could decline by 40% and collect around $27M over the weekend pushing the ten-day total to a sensational $80M.

LAST YEAR: Ben Stiller and Robin Williams rocked the box office with the action comedy Night at the Museum which debuted powerfully in first place with $42.2M over the four-day holiday frame with Christmas Day falling on a Monday. Fox found itself with a megahit as the effects-driven pic topped the charts for
three straight weeks, ended up with a mammoth $250.9M domestically, and even conquered overseas multiplexes with an eye-popping $574M worldwide haul. Will Smith‘s uplifting drama The Pursuit of Happyness dropped a spot to second with a strong $22.6M over four days. Opening with muscle in third was Sylvester Stallone‘s Rocky Balboa with $17M over the four-day weekend and a potent $26.7M across its six-day debut period. The MGM release became a solid hit for the franchise earning great reviews plus an impressive $70.3M. Universal followed with its new CIA thriller The Good Shepherd starring Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and Robert De Niro which launched with $14.1M on its way to $59.9M. The kidpic Charlotte’s Web ranked fifth with $9.6M in its sophomore session. Opening in eighth place with mild results was the football drama We Are Marshall with $8.6M over four days for Warner Bros. The Matthew McConaughey flick ended up scoring $43.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Will Smith
cemented his standing as the number one box office draw in Hollywood with his
latest action thriller
I Am Legend
which
soared past lofty expectations to open on top and drive the overall marketplace
to an explosive weekend ending the recent slump. Also debuting much bigger than
expected and playing to a different audience was the family comedy
Alvin
and the Chipmunks
which scored a red hot bow. Together the dynamic duo
generated a jaw-dropping $121M in ticket sales and accounted for a whopping 75%
of the entire box office. Audiences starving for entertainment returned to the
multiplexes in droves thanks to two high-profile films that delivered exactly
what moviegoers were looking for driving the box office to its highest level
ever for a non-holiday weekend in December.

Scoring his eleventh career number one opening and seventh in a row,
Will Smith
ruled the box office with ease with the new sci-fi smash
I Am Legend

which commanded an estimated $76.5M on its first weekend to rank as the
superstar’s biggest debut ever by a wide margin. Averaging a sensational $21,224
from 3,606 theaters, the PG-13 film also broke the record for the biggest
December bow in history edging past the $72.6M of 2003’s

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
. Also impressive was the
fact that Legend delivered the fifth best non-summer debut ever behind a
trio of Harry Potter films which all wee November launches and
The Passion of
the Christ
which was a February release. At this time of year, movie
openings don’t get much bigger than this.


I Am Legend was backed by a massive marketing campaign from Warner
Bros. which excited the core audience of sci-fi and action fans, but a broader
showing of ticket buyers also hit the cinemas. The big-budget film was also
released in 77 IMAX theaters where patrons were given the additional treat of
seeing the six-minute IMAX prologue for next summer’s much-anticipated Batman
film
The
Dark Knight
. That helped to make Legend a hot ticket for hard
core comic book fans and assisted in fueling the grosses as tickets on the large
format screen ran as high as $16 each.


In just three days, Legend grossed as much as last weekend’s top
fifteen films combined and helped to power this weekend’s top ten to its best
performance since early August. With no co-stars, no well-known director, and no
other bells and whistles, I Am Legend‘s success relied completely on Will
Smith’s shoulders and the superstar proved how bankable he really is by blasting
past even the highest industry expectations this weekend. The former Fresh
Prince is well on his way to enjoying his seventh consecutive $250M+ global
grosser. No other star comes close to this achievement.


Warner Bros. launched I Am Legend in eight Asian territories over the
weekend and grabbed an additional $20M in business from key markets like Japan
and South Korea which kicked in more than $6M each. The sci-fi pic bowed at
number one in all markets except Hong Kong where it was the runnerup behind the
local film Warlords. Numerous European markets will open Legend
this coming weekend.


Setting off its own fireworks in second place was Fox’s family comedy

Alvin and the Chipmunks
with a stunning estimate of $45M in its
first weekend. That was good enough to be the second largest December opening in
history for a PG-rated film behind only

The Chronicles of Narnia
which debuted to $65.6M two years ago. The
gross doubled the studio’s expectations going into the frame and is now
well-positioned to be a monster hit with families once children begin their
winter breaks in the coming week. The Chipmunks also scored the third
largest opening of the year for a G or PG film trailing just
Shrek the Third
‘s
$121.6M and
Ratatouille
‘s $47M.


Alvin also took advantage of a marketplace that was lacking options
for young kids. Studios typically have an abundance of titles for children in
December but this year’s menu is surprisingly light. Competition in the weeks
ahead will come primarily from

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
opening on Friday and
The Water Horse

bowing next Tuesday, Christmas Day. Both carry PG ratings. Alvin‘s solid
A grade from CinemaScore also hints at a prolonged run ahead.


With big Will pulling in all ticket buyers looking for an action
extravaganza, last weekend’s top film

The Golden Compass
saw its sales sink a troubling 65% to an
estimated $9M. The New Line release has grossed only $41M in its first ten days
and looks headed for a final domestic tally in the neighborhood of $60M.
Compass
carries a production budget of more than $180M.
 



Two-time chart-topper Enchanted
fell a reasonable 44% to an estimated $6M in its fourth round boosting Disney’s
total to a solid $92.3M. Inching up one spot to fifth was the Coen brothers hit
No Country for
Old Men
which took in an estimated $3M, down 27%, for a $33.6M cume.
The Miramax release earned four major Golden Globe nominations on Thursday
including Best Picture – Drama and enjoyed the smallest decline of any wide
release.



Opening poorly in sixth was the romantic comedy
The Perfect
Holiday
which grossed an estimated $3M from 1,307 locations.
Averaging a dismal $2,269, the PG-rated film starring
Queen Latifah,
Terrence
Howard
,
Gabrielle Union
, and
Morris
Chestnut
appealed mostly to the African American audience which was
unavailable thanks to the drawing power of Will Smith. Holiday‘s total
since its Wednesday bow is $3.6M.


A pair of Christmas comedies followed with an estimated $2.3M each.
Vince Vaughn‘s Fred
Claus
dropped 50% and boosted its total to $69M for Warner Bros.
Sony’s
This Christmas
fell 54% and has banked an impressive $46M thus far which is more than triple
its production cost.
 



The historical romance
Atonement
led
all films with seven Golden Globe nominations and expanded into more theaters
allowing it to pop into the top ten at number nine. Focus collected an estimated
$1.9M for the
Keira
Knightley
pic from just 117 sites for a potent $15,838 per theater. Cume
sits at $3M and more markets will be added each week throughout the holiday
season. Rounding out the top ten was
August Rush

with an estimated $1.8M, off 49%, for a $28.1M sum for Warner Bros.



Getting off to a solid start in limited release was the DreamWorks production
The
Kite Runner
which Paramount Classics opened to an estimated $451,000
from 35 theaters for a strong $12,884 average. The controversial film was based
on the best-selling novel of the same name and garnered two Golden Globe
nominations including one for Best Foreign Language Film. Reviews were good but
not spectacular, however audience reactions were very positive with 90% of those
polled calling the film "excellent" or "very good." That could bode well for the
expansion this Friday when The Kite Runner widens to 350 runs.



Fox Searchlight continued to see healthy results from its two arthouse
offerings. The teen pregnancy comedy
Juno
expanded from
seven to 40 sites and grossed an estimated $1.4M putting the quirky pic at
number eleven nationwide despite its very limited play. The PG-13 film scored a
trio of Globe nods for picture, actress, and screenplay and posted a sensational
$36,000 average. The performance was similar to that of the distributor’s
dysfunctional family comedy
Little Miss
Sunshine
which in its second weekend of limited release grossed $1.5M
from 58 sites for a $25,521 average. A year ago, that film also earned Globe
nods in the Comedy category for picture and actress before going on to become a
major Oscar contender. Juno will expand to more than 200 theaters on Friday,
then to over 850 runs on Christmas Day, and will reach 1,500+ playdates on
January 4.


Three one-word-titled films tumbled out of the top ten over the weekend.
Paramount’s animated adventure
Beowulf
lost 70%
of its audience and grossed an estimated $1.4M. With an impressive $79.2M from
North America, the $150M production should go on to finish its domestic run with
$80-82M. Overseas where Warner Bros. is releasing the epic tale, Beowulf
smashed through the $100M mark boosting the global tally to $180M and counting.



Fox’s stylish assassin pic Hitman
also crumbled by 70% and took in an estimated $1M for a total to date of $38.2M.
A decent final of about $40M seems likely. MGM’s suspense thriller
Awake
grossed an
estimated $1.1M, down 66%, leaving the pic with a dismal $13M cume. Look for a
final of $14-15M.



The top ten films surged to an estimated $150.8M which was up a stunning 47%
from last year when
The Pursuit of
Happyness
opened at number one with $26.5M; and up a solid 26% from 2005
when King Kong
debuted on top with $50.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got the last man on earth
(I Am Legend, starring
Will Smith), Alvin, Simon,
and Theodore (Alvin and the Chipmunks, starring
Jason Lee),
and mommy kissing Santa Claus (The Perfect Holiday, starring
Gabrielle
Union
and Morris Chestnut). What do the critics have to say?

The hotly-anticipated
I Am Legend
stars box office champ
Will Smith as
a man who finds he’s the last of the human race. It’s an intriguing premise, but
critics say the film is something of a mixed bag. Smith plays scientist Robert
Neville, the only survivor of a worldwide plague. As he roams the abandoned
streets of New York City, he slowly comes to the realization that he’s not
alone: a band of bloodthirsty quasi-humans have been watching him. Critics say
the film features outstanding work from Will Smith; they also
note the film’s excellent production design and interesting philosophical
questions about the nature of humanity. But there’s also the feeling from many
pundits that while the movie starts out contemplative and intriguing, it heads
into schlocky B-movie territory as it goes along, jettisoning the elements that
made the setup so intriguing. At 57 percent on the Tomatometer, this one isn’t
quite legendary. (Check
here for
our Total Recall feature on I Am Legend author Richard Matheson.)




"You guys don’t super size meals anymore?"

It appears the big-screen version of
Alvin and the Chipmunks
gives lie to the theme song of the group’s Saturday
morning incarnation, which said Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were "coming on
stronger than ever before." In fact, critics say this may be the weakest
vehicle for the helium-voiced rodents yet.
Jason Lee stars as David Seville,
the impresario behind the famed band of singing, anthropomorphic woodland
creatures, who run afoul of the record industry. The pundits say despite a few laughs, this is pretty bland stuff: dated, weakly constructed, and lacking in three-dimensional characters of the human or CGI variety. Kids, sing along!
"Twenty-eight-percent Tomatometer-time is here/time for toys, and time for
cheer…."




The Chipmunks rehearsing their cover of "Pink Moon."

Another week, another ribald-but-sentimental
holiday comedy. The latest entry in the subgenre is
The Perfect Holiday
, a film critics say is inaccurately
titled. Holiday tells the story of a single parent (Gabrielle
Union
) who takes her kids to see Santa (Morris Chestnut) at the local mall, and
starts thinking she might like to be Mrs. Claus. The critics say the film
squanders an excellent cast that also includes the likes of
Queen Latifah,
Terrance
Howard
, and
Charlie Murphy (oops, I mean "Chaaahhlllie
Murphaaaay") on a shopworn script that delivers few laughs and less cheer.
At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, you may want to skip this
Holiday.




Queen Latifah ignores the elephant in the room.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Nanking, a documentary about the Japanese invasion of China
    in the early days of World War II, is at 95 percent on the Tomatometer.

  • The
    Kurdish drama Half Moon, about a family band journeying to
    Iraq to play a concert celebrating Saddam’s fall, is at 100 percent.

  • The Kite Runner, which
    tells the story of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan from the perspective
    of a family, is at 63 percent. (Click
    here for
    our interview with writer David Benioff,
    here for
    author Khaled Hosseini, or maybe even
    here for our
    chat with Khalid Abdalla.)

  • Look, a drama shot on security cameras that ties together
    several storylines, is at 58 percent.

  • Goodbye
    Bafana
    , a drama about a prison guard who befriends Nelson Mandella,
    is at 44 percent.

  • Francis Ford Coppola‘s
    Youth Without
    Youth
    , starring
    Tim Roth as a writer who ages in reverse after being
    struck by lightning, is at 34 percent. (Check out our interview with editor
    Walter Murch
    here.)




    Tim Roth doing his best Lady from Shanghai impression.

Recent Will Smith Movies:
———————————
66% — The Pursuit of Happyness
(2006)
69% — Hitch (2005)
34% — Shark Tale (2004)
59% — I, Robot (2004)
24% — Bad Boys II (2003)

Recent Queen Latifah Movies:
————————————-
93% — Hairspray (2007)
61% — Arctic Tale (2007)
73% — Stranger than Fiction
(2006)
55% — Last Holiday (2006)
56% — Ice Age: The Meltdown
(2006)

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

The nominations for the 80th Academy Awards won’t be announced until January 22, but the names of the films being submitted for consideration are starting to trickle in.

Variety reports that in the animated feature film category, the Academy will have 12 movies to consider — and whittle down to three nominees. From the article:

Submitted features are: “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters,” “Bee Movie,” “Beowulf,” “Meet the Robinsons,” “Persepolis,” “Ratatouille,” “Shrek the Third,” “The Simpsons Movie,” “Surf’s Up,” “Tekkonkinkreet” and “TMNT.”

Yes, you read that right. Alvin and the Chipmunks. Think the voters will have problems narrowing down this list?

Source: Variety

Tag Cloud

cops Turner indie Lifetime Christmas movies sopranos WGN golden globes marvel comics sequels HFPA police drama free movies TCA Winter 2020 Travel Channel Nickelodeon toronto USA Network casting Box Office ViacomCBS book adaptation Women's History Month Avengers HBO Go award winner Epix comedies dramedy psycho IFC YouTube Red black ABC spain james bond Disney+ Disney Plus comic blockbuster cancelled TV series name the review Acorn TV Year in Review Heroines royal family dragons anthology Polls and Games razzies Black Mirror Sneak Peek streaming Interview Anna Paquin australia 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2018 Marathons reboot Rocketman international Spike Cartoon Network stop motion PaleyFest black comedy Podcast movie talk show strong female leads franchise Amazon Prime Video Paramount Plus lord of the rings doctor who dogs FXX Film Festival Film Awards BBC Disney renewed TV shows Sundance discovery archives Rom-Com space Winners Disney Channel mockumentary Rocky latino revenge cancelled OWN pirates of the caribbean Creative Arts Emmys indiana jones GoT Apple TV+ target FOX new star wars movies DC Comics 1990s thriller game of thrones reviews Holidays superman Drama Warner Bros. adenture Action Reality critics hidden camera Shondaland Vudu scene in color 4/20 Classic Film documentary Infographic blaxploitation witnail genre Holiday CMT Britbox Tomatazos superhero Trailer comic book movie hispanic heritage month richard e. Grant Hear Us Out Logo Instagram Live Arrowverse Sci-Fi Star Wars Paramount IMDb TV christmas movies halloween E! Universal Pictures Chilling Adventures of Sabrina scary hist theme song VH1 BET TBS Amazon National Geographic kong sequel LGBT Comics on TV Bravo Broadway YouTube Premium festivals technology know your critic romantic comedy Winter TV video politics Alien Marvel rom-coms Quiz boxoffice hispanic Mystery GLAAD Musical Tumblr Prime Video BBC One feel good blockbusters fast and furious golden globe awards Paramount Network classics Tokyo Olympics Crunchyroll gangster monster movies Mary Tyler Moore 72 Emmy Awards mcc A24 french laika travel American Society of Cinematographers Netflix Christmas movies fresh Black History Month YA green book Masterpiece 20th Century Fox chucky teaser miniseries Dark Horse Comics Western tv talk Country The Arrangement asian-american Summer ghosts scary movies godzilla stand-up comedy remakes El Rey 90s elevated horror Extras Pride Month die hard See It Skip It Peacock zero dark thirty disaster NYCC worst Pixar children's TV south america 007 CBS Lifetime TIFF 45 Set visit Cannes HBO Max zombie SXSW video on demand DirecTV RT21 LGBTQ Funimation E3 The Walking Dead docudrama Turner Classic Movies APB DC streaming service animated MTV prank ESPN scorecard Ellie Kemper live event Lucasfilm mob Comedy Central Music 2021 ID japan jamie lee curtis cars book films facebook football canceled Fantasy TCA Awards based on movie hollywood period drama IFC Films king arthur worst movies Mindy Kaling nature Ovation History series Sundance TV Superheroes a nightmare on elm street diversity New York Comic Con satire Opinion spider-verse Video Games universal monsters legend docuseries Image Comics HBO Television Academy high school Emmys President cartoon art house Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt crime Comic Book streaming movies festival MCU Nominations Red Carpet adventure binge Musicals comic books Mudbound Spring TV AMC Plus PlayStation PBS Nat Geo action-comedy spinoff spanish women AMC supernatural 24 frames CBS All Access spider-man Lionsgate harry potter Disney Plus batman aliens trailers aapi Columbia Pictures Sundance Now canceled TV shows Universal Schedule Star Trek dark Rock ITV Countdown dexter The Witch The Academy movies dreamworks spanish language rt archives deadpool concert comic book movies The Walt Disney Company cancelled TV shows anime screen actors guild Starz japanese composers emmy awards Apple TV Plus cats NBC debate wonder woman Baby Yoda DC Universe cooking Best and Worst young adult sitcom slasher Pop TV Marvel Studios Esquire Reality Competition rotten movies we love documentaries Hollywood Foreign Press Association San Diego Comic-Con TCA Marvel Television Tarantino foreign Shudder halloween tv transformers biopic what to watch First Look Showtime cults new york Calendar OneApp Fox Searchlight robots Premiere Dates USA nfl Certified Fresh Martial Arts Crackle cancelled television TV renewals medical drama X-Men The CW leaderboard 2017 sag awards BET Awards rt labs critics edition crime drama posters RT History Christmas Amazon Prime VOD Adult Swim singing competition Spectrum Originals SDCC TruTV Trophy Talk nbcuniversal Discovery Channel 93rd Oscars Writers Guild of America Endgame rotten comiccon Oscars Grammys joker Biopics zombies spy thriller Pet Sematary Food Network Fargo Amazon Studios toy story rt labs Animation historical drama biography political drama Character Guide DGA Valentine's Day suspense WarnerMedia Chernobyl Super Bowl popular Fox News YouTube critic resources 2016 dceu Emmy Nominations breaking bad quibi 2019 Netflix italian directors mission: impossible The Purge TV One psychological thriller Pacific Islander 99% NBA criterion Pirates CW Seed SundanceTV versus Sony Pictures Fall TV Apple TV ABC Signature heist movie Photos Captain marvel TV movies justice league Wes Anderson 79th Golden Globes Awards Watching Series Superheroe Stephen King Mary poppins 21st Century Fox king kong Pop parents Syfy television Ghostbusters Television Critics Association jurassic park trophy marvel cinematic universe Family Binge Guide all-time Brie Larson game show vampires true crime Trivia vs. VICE live action Awards Tour crossover 2015 unscripted boxing ABC Family Comic-Con@Home 2021 CNN TLC cinemax finale sports Exclusive Video BAFTA Cosplay screenings Elton John TCM FX Tags: Comedy kaiju ratings saw Hulu Horror Hallmark Christmas movies Academy Awards TV Land Song of Ice and Fire social media venice Neflix Election basketball Freeform serial killer MSNBC romance stoner Comedy olympics natural history werewolf obituary Teen crime thriller FX on Hulu TCA 2017 kids science fiction A&E adaptation GIFs Hallmark Tubi 71st Emmy Awards Mary Poppins Returns telelvision 73rd Emmy Awards twilight child's play 2020 new zealand news First Reviews slashers war TNT mutant best dc Toys Legendary Thanksgiving Walt Disney Pictures independent comics Disney streaming service BBC America Kids & Family