Weekend Preview (11.20.09)

This is one of those weekends where you avoid movie times after 5 and before 9 pm. Unless you are an adolescent girl or you like being around crowds of them (if the latter applies to you, I hope to God you’re an adolescent boy), pick your showtimes wisely.

The first blockbuster of the season, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, hit theaters at midnight. The film adaptation of the second book in Stephenie Meyer’s series of vampire romance novels had record-breaking pre-sales and is surely poised to outdo its predecessor, a film that made about $70 million in its opening weekend.

So I reiterate: vampire romance. That’s all you need to hear to know what the crowds will be like in theaters all over the country.

For those of you non-fans wondering if it will be worth swimming through seas of Twi-hards to learn if New Moon will be better than the last film that you took a chance on, don’t count on it. Early reviews have said this is fan-fare only and that the believability doesn’t get any better from Twilight. With Chris Weitz at the helm I thought this would at least be more entertaining, but it looks to be another cash-earning clunker for the series.

There’s not much else to get excited about this weekend. Sony tries to take the family audience from A Christmas Carolwith its alien invasion role-reversal comedy Planet 51, the studio’s first major attempt at computer animation feature films which will likely fall short.

The other contender is inspirational football drama The Blind Side based on the true story of Baltimore Ravens rookie tackle Michael Oher. It’s the only film drawing positive early reviews (60% on Rotten Tomatoes), yet one I flagged in my preview because of my dislike for Sandra Bullock and tired sports movies. As a sports fan, however, I’m impressed that they used the real college coaches that recruited Oher in the movie. Other than that, not interested.


My Endorsement: By now, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire has probably reached a theater near you. With no must-sees coming out (unless you’re a Twilight fan), it might finally be time to see that first difficult but award-worthy drama of the season.

Red Flag: Because of the poor early reviews, The Twilight Saga: New Moon becomes my film to be wary of (once again, not including the books’ fans). This is one of those movies that fans are going to try and drag their non-fan friends to because they have to see it, and you might be that non-fan friend, so I’m arming you with things to say when you’re being roped.

Box Office Prediction: There’s an old saying in the world of box-office predictions and by old I mean circa 2008: don’t bet against Edward and Bella. The Twilight Saga: New Moon will be the second poorly reviewed movie in a row to dominate the box office and it will do so with ease. With last year’s film making $70 M, I predict at least that much if not more. This film will not take a step back, that’s for sure. For all the people that won’t be fooled twice, the Twi-hard army has gained twice as many new followers.

None of the other movies have enough to compete with last week’s champion, 2012, so expect another good weekend for the disaster flick at about $25-30 million. No. 3 will belong to A Christmas Carol. At this point, the closer it gets to Christmas, the stronger the legs will get for the animated film. It only dropped 25 percent in its second weekend, which is very little. Look for $15-20 million there.

Next should be new release The Blind Side. With decent reviews, real-world sports ties and Sandra Bullock, $15 M should be possible at the least. If I had to pick a dark horse to come up and surprise, this could be it, but it seems doubtful that it could upset “Carol.”

Finally, as mediocre as Planet 51 might be, the positioning is ideal with the weekend before Thanksgiving and kids have school off as early as Monday in some cases. Even if Precious expands fairly wide, it doesn’t seem likely to outdo it. I’m going to downplay this one, however, and predict it for $8-10 M. With “Carol” as competition and the fact that space-based animation films don’t do all that well unless they’re named WALL*E (take last month’s Astro Boy for instance and previous flops Fly Me to the Moon and Space Chimps.)

  1. Twilight Saga: New Moon
  2. 2012
  3. A Christmas Carol
  4. The Blind Side
  5. Planet 51


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