Weekend Movie Preview (11.19.10)

Can you hear those sleigh bells? Almost. We arrive at that historical weekend every year when that huge blockbuster sequel (either a “Potter” film as we have this weekend, a “Twilight” film as we had the last two years, an animated film or a “Bond” film as we’ve had in the past) comes to town. Not only is it old ‘arry this year, but it’s the beginning of the end for the mammoth franchise. And there are still some great November and October holdovers around.

Now Playing

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1

Directed by David Yates
Written by Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling (book)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint

The Word: The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has been adapted into two films, the second of which will come out this summer, so it’s not totally goodbye. This film will feel very different as Hogwarts is not part of the mix and Harry and friends are very much on the run the whole time. Yates directs his third of what have been rather dark installments and “Hallows” will certainly be the darkest yet. Bill Nighy as Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour and Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood are the most significant British thespian additions to the cast.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81% (great)

My Thoughts: It appears Harry will be getting a heck of a grand finale based on the looks of things. I suppose if you had kids that were young and went to see the original than they’re already 9 years older so they can probably handle the darker themes. Isn’t that simply amazing? It will be 8 films in less than 10 years and all of them have maintained a certain standard of quality. You might not see it now, but when no one accomplishes this feat again for quite some time, you’ll realize how you’ve lived through movie history.

Recommendation: I suppose you’re either a “Potter” fan or you aren’t. Though I’m sure even the middle-ground fans will enjoy this one.

The Next Three Days

Directed by Paul Haggis
Written by Paul Haggis, Fred Cavayé and Guillame Lemans (screenplay “Pour Elle”)
Starring: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson

The Word: After his film “Crash” won Best Picture on the heels of his screenplay producing the previous Best Picture winner, “Million Dollar Baby,” Paul Haggis became pretty respected. Now he gets Russell Crowe and Liam Neeson — two highly respected talents who jump between drama, action and thrillers quite often, — for “The Next Three Days,” which is about a father who decides to break his life-imprisoned wife out of the slammer.

Rotten Tomatoes: 45% (not good)

My Thoughts: It’s hard to get excited about something you feel you’ve seen before. The desperate patriarch is a typical motif, but admittedly one trying to bust his wife (who was accused of murder) out of prison is a tad different. Going up against “Harry Potter” and being challenged next week by “Faster,” it might not make many waves.

Recommendation: Hard to argue against Crowe, Neeson and Haggis (and Banks to be perfectly honest), so keep an eye out even if just for the DVD.

Box Office Predictions

On big weekends like these (weekend before Thanksgiving, the first weekend of May, a week before Christmas), it’s not usually a question of who but how much. Clearly, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Pt. 1 will be our winner. So how much? The last two films have both opened with $77 million. They also opened the second Friday in July. “Harry” returns to Thanksgiving for the first time since “Goblet of Fire” (the biggest opener of the series), plus, this is the finale. I will say $90 million as a moderate figure.

Family films always fair well the weekend before Thanksgiving, so expect smaller declines than normal for Megamind, but only because it has no family competition. You can bet parents will not be taking little ones to see “Deathly Hallows” even though the first few Potter films catered more to families.

We’ve also seen big openings from new releases paired up with these behemoth sequels before. Even just last year, “The Blind Side” opened with $34.1 million beneath “New Moon.” But don’t expect that from The Next Three Days. I have it just winning third place ahead of Unstoppable. We’re talking $15 million vs. $12 million in my estimation.

That leaves us with Due Date, which should slide into fifth with about $7-8 million.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
  2. Megamind
  3. The Next Three Days
  4. Unstoppable
  5. Due Date


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