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SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

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SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby Shrykespeare » January 11th, 2010, 2:39 am

Avatar, Avatar, Avatar. When will it stop? As of Sunday, this behemoth has passed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as the highest-grossing film of 2009, and shattered Titanic’s all-time record for the highest-grossing 4th weekend in history (by almost $20 million). It is now the 7th-biggest film of all time domestically, and will probably be #3 by this time next week, trailing only The Dark Knight and Titanic on the all-time list. Wow. Just… wow.

Avatar even seems immune from the normal post-holiday swoons that most December films suffer once the calendar turns. Suffering only a 29% drop this past weekend, it seems clear that a fifth straight week at the top seems likely. While all other comers fall by the wayside, James Cameron has proved once again that he is the master of all he surveys.

However, there are always new movies to talk about, and that is why I’m here. There are several new films to talk about this week, and the biggest contender is undoubtedly The Book of Eli, the latest outing from Warner Bros. Scheduled to be released in over 3,000 theaters (a fair amount for January), this action film is being directed by another set of brothers, Albert and Allen Hughes, who you may remember from past projects like Menace II Society, Dead Presidents and From Hell.

Eli stars Denzel Washington as the titular character. Denzel, who just turned 55 years young, appears to be going back into full-on badass mode, something we haven’t seen him do much in this decade, save perhaps Man on Fire and, of course, Training Day. It is the year 2043, and Eli wanders through a post-apocalyptic world some 30 years after cataclysm. He is in possession of a book (duh) that could very well be the last Bible in existence, a book fanatically coveted by the autocratic ruler of a local town (Gary Oldman, back in his wheelhouse playing the villain again).

Trailers and commercials for The Book of Eli have been EVERYWHERE in the past month (particularly during the NFL playoff games), and this film could easily become the first success story of 2010. As I said, it has been given a respectable theater count, and despite its R rating, I firmly believe Eli could give action film buffs their first fix of the year (assuming they’d rather see something new than sit through Avatar for the tenth time), and that will be reflected in its opening weekend numbers.

My yardstick for choosing a movie based on Box Office numbers alone is this: If I can reasonably expect it to earn $1.5 million for every dollar I spend on it, then it’s worth it. In January Box Office leagues, it will run you $15, and I think Eli will pull about $23 million in its first three days, en route to a final total of roughly $60 million. It may not beat Avatar for #1, but I think it will do well enough to pick up seven Top 5 points, five PTA (under the new rule), and have a very respectable User Rating (say, around 7.2). Whether those stats are enough for you to fork over $19, however, is a tough call. There are no surefire hits in January, and Eli is probably the closest thing you have to one. There are probably better prospects in February and March, but you just never know.

Remember The Pacifier? It was a fairly lame 2005 Disney family comedy starring Vin Diesel (legendary for his comedic talent, snark) as a former Navy SEAL forced to become a nanny-slash-bodyguard to the five children of a kidnapped scientist. Despite its lameness, however, it cruised to over $113 million.

Four years later, the formula is being re-tested in another movie, entitled The Spy Next Door. Jackie Chan plays former CIA spy Bob Ho (no, really), who must look after his girlfriend Gillian’s (Amber Valletta) three kids while she’s away. Of course, they don’t like him much, so they proceed to make his life hell… that is, until one of the kids accidentally downloads a top-secret formula, causing one of Bob’s longtime enemies, a Russian terrorist named Poldark (Magnus Sheving) to pay him a visit (don’tcha just hate when that happens?).

Chan (now 55, ironically the same age as Denzel), is still in very good shape, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of his trademark martial arts moves, beating up bad guys with a flurry of arms, legs and inanimate objects. And I’m sure anyone who likes Chan, or movies like The Pacifier, will probably enjoy The Spy Next Door. However, this is NOT Disney (it’s Lionsgate), it’s not spring (it’s January), and it’s... been… done… before. And it co-stars… Billy Ray Cyrus and George Lopez (uh-oh…).

Between this and next week’s equally cutesy-poo family comedy Tooth Fairy, I’ll probably side with the latter in terms of prospects. Tooth Fairy has a better studio (Fox), a more popular lead actor (Dwayne Johnson), and a better ad campaign. I think Spy Next Door will have one fair-to-decent weekend, and then be quickly forgotten. Hell, it’ll probably be out on DVD in May.

For $12 in Ultimate, I would not pick this film, as I think it will give you no more than four Top 5 points, two or three PTA, and about $35 million. It’s User Rating will likely be terrible (say, around 5.0, and that’s being generous), so there’s that. $10 in Box Office is more feasible, but not enough for me to recommend it.

And now, a few words about the two limited-release films debuting this week. Neither of these films are in the January leagues, but they ARE available in the December leagues, so it’s not too late to pick these up if you still want them):

Fish Tank ($3 in Dec. Ult.) – Easily my PTA pick of the week. It’s only bowing in two theaters, which is optimum for PTA points. It’s got great scores everywhere you look (7.7/1,411 votes on IMDB, 92% Fresh on 33/36 review at RT), and it’s dirt cheap. It’s gotten rave reviews from some of the most respected critics in the biz. Really, what more could you want?

Newcomer Katie Jarvis plays Mia, a 15-year-old who lives in Essex, England with her single mother and younger sister. Mia is a troublemaker who has been kicked out of school and prefers to spend her time practicing urban dancing in a deserted area of her mother’s estate. However, trouble brews when Katie’s mum brings home a man named Connor (300’s Michael Fassbender), and early flirtations turn into a full-blown affair behind mum’s back (ooh, that can’t be good).

This film won the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, no mean feat. Really, there isn’t anything more that I can say to recommend it. It really is a shame that it was added to Box Office Mojo’s lineup too late to include in the January leagues, as it really is a steal.

The Last Station ($5 in Dec. Ult.) – This is a German biographical film about War And Peace author Leo Tolstoy, starring Christopher Plummer as the prolific writer and Helen Mirren as his wife, Sofya. The film also stars James McAvoy and Paul Giamatti, rounding out a truly impressive cast.

It may interest you to know that Mirren won the Best Actress Award at the 2009 Rome Film Festival for this movie, and both she and Plummer are nominated for Golden Globes. It is destined for limited release in both New York and Los Angeles, which means that it could easily pick up a few cheap PTA points itself. Its scores are very good (7.4/188 votes on IMDB, 68% Fresh on RT), but I just can’t recommend it over Fish Tank. Any other weekend I probably would, so there’s that.


My predictions for the weekend of January 15-17, 2010:

1. Avatar - $31 million
2. The Book of Eli - $23 million
3. The Spy Next Door - $14 million
4. Sherlock Holmes - $8 million
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel - $8 million

Well, that will do it for me for another week. Next week, three more big films hit theaters, including: Legion, a horror/thriller about an army of angels sent from heaven to destroy mankind, with only Paul Bettany to fight them; Tooth Fairy, a silly-looking family comedy starring Dwayne Johnson as a rough-and-tumble hockey player who is sentenced to don wings and tights and stick money under kids’ pillows; and Extraordinary Measures, a true story starring Brendan Fraser as a father desperate to save his terminally-ill kids and Harrison Ford as the researcher who may have stumbled onto a possible cure.

Later!
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby Buscemi » January 11th, 2010, 3:03 am

Don't forget another sign that The Spy Next Door will suck: two of the film's writers wrote Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector and the other one was the writer/director of Tomcats.

And Brian "Flinstones In Viva Rock Vegas/Are We There Yet/Jingle All The Way" Levant directed it. I thought we were rid of this guy after he did the Scooby-Doo prequel for Cartoon Network.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby BanksIsDaFuture » January 11th, 2010, 5:06 am

Nothing about The Lovely Bones?
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby Buscemi » January 11th, 2010, 5:10 am

It was covered in the December 11th edition.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby Shrykespeare » January 11th, 2010, 7:48 pm

But you know, you're absolutely right, I should have factored that into my Top 5. Good catch. My new Top 5:

1. Avatar - $31 million
2. The Book of Eli - $23 million
3. The Lovely Bones - $15 million
4. The Spy Next Door - $14 million
5. Sherlock Holmes - $8 million
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby BanksIsDaFuture » January 11th, 2010, 9:11 pm

No way Spy Next Door gets above $8M, and even that's being nice.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby numbersix » January 12th, 2010, 4:55 am

Both RS and MTC tracking has The Spy Next Door at 20-25 mil opening weekend (4 day)
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby W » January 12th, 2010, 4:42 pm

I'm holding Spy as I think it'll be the dumbed down family quasi-action flick that Blart was last year. I could be wrong, though considering Tooth Fairy comes out right after. But, Spy--although awful looking--has easily had much better marketing.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby Buscemi » January 12th, 2010, 8:46 pm

I finally saw a TV ad for Tooth Fairy. On ESPN, believe it or not.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby BanksIsDaFuture » January 12th, 2010, 10:50 pm

You'd think FOX would be promoting Tooth Fairy like crazy during AI, but so far I've seen two for Spy Next Door and none for Tooth Fairy?
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby J.I. » January 12th, 2010, 11:46 pm

BanksIsDaFuture wrote:No way Spy Next Door gets above $8M, and even that's being nice.
Last year not only had Paul Blart break out but also had Hotel for Dogs come out which grossed over $70 million. Kids go to the movies over MLK weekend, and this is all that's out there other than Alvin 2 in its fourth week.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby Shrykespeare » January 13th, 2010, 1:36 am

I've seen TONS of commercials for Tooth Fairy, almost none for Spy Next Door. Weird.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby W » January 13th, 2010, 2:17 am

Seems like you live in either the Twilight Zone or some parallel dimension because you've been saying stuff like this lately.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby silversurfer19 » January 13th, 2010, 3:31 am

When at the cinema I've seen a fair amount of trailers for Tooth Fairy, none for Spy. But having said that Spy isn't due for release for a little qwhile yet...
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 1/15

Postby Buscemi » January 13th, 2010, 4:34 am

Surfer, it probably helps that Tooth Fairy has a major distributor (Fox) in foreign territories. The Spy Next Door is a foreign pickup title (I imagine Roadshow picked it up for Australia and New Zealand).
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