Thanksgiving Movie Preview (11.24.10)

Who wants to duel with “Harry Potter” this Thanksgiving weekend? Step right up! Four films will give it a try, each is fairly unique, but none appear to have enough muscle to shake up the box office, which will surely be Potter’s to lose.

We start with the widest release, Disney’s version of the Rapunzel story, entitled “Tangled.” A true Disney fairy tale musical, yes, but a little more comical and action-oriented I’m sure. Next is the “adult” musical “Burlesque,” marking the debut of Christina Aguilera. The two smaller films are the revenge actioner “Faster” and the romantic comedy “Love and Other Drugs.”

New This Week


Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Written by Dan Fogelman, The Brothers Grimm (story)
Starring: (voices) Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi

The Word: Disney’s modern take on the Rapunzel story. Last year, Disney returned to hand-drawn animation with “The Princess and the Frog.” At the time, a CGI film “Rapunzel” was in the works. Despite a big total for “Frog,” Disney feared alienating young boys and changed the name of this film to “Tangled” and more prominently featured Flynn (Levi), the lead male along with more action. There is still music, however.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89% (great)

My Thoughts: I normally revert to man-child when it comes to Disney films, but Disney’s odd marketing choices for “Tangled” tempered that somewhat considering I’m a Disney traditionalist. However, Levi could make this more amusing, or this could just be really typical stuff. (Pet animal sidekicks and whatnot). Disney doesn’t misfire that often, however, especially lately.

Recommendation: The most family-friendly film out there. Perfect for T-giving break.


Written and Directed by Steve Antin
Starring: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci

The Word: It’s a bit later than you might’ve expected, but Christina Aguilera finally makes the jump to the big screen in this typical tale of a naive singer/dancer who gets her big break on the burlesque stage thanks to her diva mentor, played by Cher.

Rotten Tomatoes: 43% (not good)

My Thoughts: As much as I hate to admit it, however, these basic plots for these kinds of films usually work in the way of entertainment. Regardless, this film will need to be full of showstoppers to win over Thanksgiving audiences and I’m not sure it “has what it takes” although I’m sure the protagonist has to prove she does and that line of dialogue will guaranteed be used twice.

Recommendation: If you love the dazzling lights of show business and don’t need much in the way of plot (or at least non-recycled plot) to suit your fancy, “Burlesque” offers the only musical entertainment of the holidays.


Directed by George Tillman Jr.
Written by Tony and Joe Gayton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace

The Word: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returns to action having finally untied himself from Disney’s checkbook and consequently many “Brendan Fraser-type roles” — adult star in kiddie films (such as “The Game Plan,” “Race to Witch Mountain” and “The Tooth Fairy”). Now, in Faster, he’s straight up killing dudes. In the film, his brother is killed and he’s all about not just taking revenge, but swift revenge.

Rotten Tomatoes: 63% (good)

My Thoughts: The film looks the most promising box-office-wise for slow starter CBS Films – a revenge plot is always a safe bet. Johnson, in my opinion, has the chops to become a seriously bankable action star. He’s got the tough-guy look, he’s got a sense of humor and he’s game for stuntwork. Now, he has to prove himself as he is the marketing for this film.

Recommendation: Revenge plots are the comfort food of action movies. You’re likely not to be disappointed by going out to see this film, but what would you really be missing?

Love and Other Drugs

Directed by Edward Zwick
Written by Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, James Reidy (book)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Josh Gad

The Word: In a surprising change of genre, Edward Zwick (“The Last Samurai,” “The Blood Diamond”) directs this story about a ladies man/pharmaceutical rep (Gyllenhaal) who starts to push a new erectile dysfunction drug called “Viagra.” Meanwhile, a free-spirited woman (Hathaway) begins to change his life as their fling turns into something more.

Rotten Tomatoes: 35% (bad)

My Thoughts: I like these two stars a lot, which makes this traditional rom-com premise seem like the best option the genre has had in awhile. Early reviews indicate a not-so-favorable response, however.

Recommendation: I’m going to go with my gut and say this will still be among the better rom-coms of the year.

Box Office Predictions

While you can attribute the “final chapter” being the chief reason Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 had the biggest opening of the series thus far, I attribute a lot of it to the November release. “Harry” has historically done better as indicated by “The Goblet of Fire” being the last film to have a huge opening and not so coincidentally coming out in November. As such, I’m not predicting as monstrous of a drop as the huge opening weekend films tend to have. I’m going to say $60 million for week No. 2, easily enough for first. Keep in mind that I’m still predicting 3-day totals (Fri – Sun), not the 5-day weekend.

After a film of “Harry Potter”-magnitude comes out the weekend before Thanksgiving, few films truly compete the next week, so I’ve got some small totals predicted for the other films.

I do, however, reserve my only optimism of the weekend for Tangled. The Disney film should probably be good for at least $30 million, but I might even say closer to $40 M given the holiday. Family films do very well, as you’d imagine, when there’s no school and a holiday. That said, it should come as no surprise that I think Megamind will come in third, barely dropping. I think $12 million makes sense.

That’s about the number I have for Burlesque. I had the musical pegged for at just $10 million initially, but a release in more than 3,000 theaters has me thinking closer to $15 million.

Last, I’m going to give the fifth place prize to Faster. The R-rating and low profile of CBS Films, however, should keep that flick from making serious noise. I’ve got $10-12 million. Any higher and you can thank The Rock.  It should fend off “Unstoppable” and “Due Date” easily. As for “Love and Other Drugs,” I’ve got it below $10 million, but I’m not sure where exactly it will finish. Outside of the top five, however, is likely.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
  2. Tangled
  3. Megamind
  4. Burlesque
  5. Faster


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