Weekend Preview (12.4.09)

There’s always a one-week burnout period in this second weekend after Thanksgiving. We all sort of hit this wall when we realize Christmas isn’t actually for another three weeks and that we have to work and shop. The novelty wears off briefly but then maybe there’s a little snowfall and you hear some Christmas music and suddenly you get the spirit back.

The box office experiences that same kind of lull. Although last year we had the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still at this time of year, the big budget blockbusters usually hold out until at least the second (I Am Legend) or third (The Lord of the Rings) weekends in December. Naturally, the anticipated Avatar comes to us in another couple of weeks.


Instead, we’ve got uncertain hodgepodge this weekend. The widest release is Robert De Niro feel-good Christmas movie Everybody’s Fine going to 2,133 theaters nationwide, followed by Brothers, the domestic drama/thriller with Queen Amidala, Donnie Darko and Spider-Man. In about 1,900 theaters is Armored, the crime action flick starring Matt Dillon and up-and-comer Columbus Short.

My Endorsement: Is it too early to plug Up in the Air yet (released in 15 theaters)? I guess so. My recommendation is for leftovers. The Blind Side has been getting solid marks from just about everyone and there are still quality indies such as Precious, A Serious Man and An Education out there. I’d like to hype Brothers but early reviews are mixed and I was never all that sold on it to begin with.

Red Flag: Everybody’s Fine and you’ll be too if you go see this movie, but don’t expect a whole lot more than that. I flagged this movie in my preview because I’m still convinced nothing actually happens in this movie other than De Niro playing with little kids and lots of dialogue working out family issues. If you still want to see it, however, don’t go before dinner or you’ll be sure to be trampled by senior citizens hitting up the early bird.

Box Office Prediction: Weekends like this are tough with a trio of lame duck new releases (in that they’re not hyped, they’re in genres that don’t make a lot of money and they’re not being released in that many theaters). Everybody’s Fine has the best chance of any of them to take first place, but if so, it won’t be by much. I just don’t see it making more than $20 million, which isn’t good enough for first based on what New Moon and The Blind Side have been doing.

All that figured out, I’m going to be daring and choose the best-reviewed wide release film of the holiday season to hang around for No. 1, and that’s The Blind Side. Call me crazy for picking a film in its third week, but I don’t see this film falling more than 45 percent, so I’m picking it to win with $25 million.

Second, I’m scared to bet against the tweenies that want extra helpings of Taylor Lautner’s 8-pack on the big screen. I expect a near 50 percent cut for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, but good enough for second place with $21 million or thereabouts.

Third is my reasonable place to slot Everybody’s Fine considering its limited release. I think most people are going to overestimate this film and I don’t want to be the one to do it. I’m projecting $18 million.

This is where it gets tough. New releases with not that many theaters all things considered versus the box office winners from early November on their way down. I’m projecting 10-12 million for a few different films, so I’m going to have to take stabs. 2012 has done fairly well and has no new competition genre-wise, so I’m guessing $12 million.

Last, I’m going to take a chance with Armored at $10 million, which I also think is where A Christmas Carol will end up and Brothers just below that with $7-9 M, which is also where I expect Old Dogs to fall given its bad opening and probably Ninja Assassin as well. It’s going to be really scrunched in the bottom half of the Top 10 for sure.

  1. The Blind Side
  2. New Moon
  3. Everybody’s Fine
  4. 2012
  5. Armored


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