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SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

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SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

Postby Shrykespeare » February 7th, 2010, 3:52 pm

Well, THAT was a surprise. I was almost sure that Avatar’s time on top wouldn’t end until Valentine’s weekend, but along comes Dear John and upsets the apple-cart. I mean, I know it had to drop from that #1 spot eventually, but I sure didn’t think this was the movie that would do it. (Just like I’m sure most people didn’t think Titanic’s 16-week run at the top would be ended by the incredibly lame Lost in Space.) Kudos to those players who chose it for the slates, and even bigger ones to those guys who had to sit through it. (I didn’t see it, but to paraphrase Lisa Simpson, I heard it was so sappy, you needed to blow your nose with a pancake afterwards.)

As you know, Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend coming up, and if you look at the crop of movies that are coming out on Friday, you’ll get the impression that the appetizers of January are over, and we are finally getting into the entrées that early 2010 has to offer. Case in point: only three films (Tooth Fairy, Edge of Darkness, Avatar) were shown in 3,000 or more theaters this past weekend, but look for all three to drop below that number come Friday. ALL THREE of this weekend’s new films will be bowing in over 3,000 locations (according to Box Office Mojo), which is something that very rarely happens. Clearly Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal are betting big on these three films. Do they all have blockbuster potential? Yes. Will they all deliver? Well…

Up first we have a film totally appropriate for its release date, that being Valentine’s Day, this year’s obligatory multi-talented, multi-story-arc rom-com, very much like He’s Just Not That Into You did one year ago, soaring to $93 million in domestic revenues despite so-so reviews. Set to bow in roughly 3,600 locations, Valentine’s Day is directed by veteran Hollywood helmer Garry Marshall, who was in the big chair for such romantic fare as Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and both Princess Diaries movies. He looks to improve – by an order of magnitude – over his last outing, the shrill Georgia Rule.

Not only that, his Valentine’s cast is a leaps-and-bounds improvement over Lindsay Lohan and Jane Fonda. Check this out: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Anna Hathaway, Shirley MacLaine, Jennifer Garner, Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane, Emma Roberts, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Joe Jonas, Queen Latifah, Topher Grace, Kathy Bates, Hector Elizondo and George Lopez. I mean, wow. Jacob Black, The cute guy from The Hangover, Dr. McDreamy, Kelso AND Forman, and a Jonas Brother to boot? What girl, from age 12 on, WOULDN’T want to see this tidal wave of hunkiness?

As for what’s it’s about? Well, it’s about “casually intertwining stories of the heart that take place over the course of one Valentine’s Day.” Which means we probably explore every facet of the falling-in- or out-of-love process, with different age groups and generations represented. Seriously, though, given the time of year, the pedigree of the cast and director, and the fact that there really hasn’t been a good romantic comedy since It’s Complicated (sorry, Leap Year), and there won’t be any more offerings in this genre until mid-March, it would seem a foolhardy idea to bet against Valentine’s Day. Dear John may have ended Avatar’s reign of terror, but at the risk of repeating myself, Valentine’s Day will be shown in a lot more theaters. It’s the widest release any 2010 movie has been given so far, in fact.

I predict an opening three-day weekend of $34 million for Valentine’s Day (with a bigger percentage falling on Sunday than most), on its way to twelve Top 5 points, three PTA, a user rating around 6.5 and about $100 million. For $20 in the February Ultimate leagues ($21 in Box Office), it seems like a fairly solid and safe pick.

Up next we have The Wolfman, the latest attempt to remake or reboot a horror classic. In this case, it is actually a remake of the 1941 film starring the immortal Lon Chaney Jr., who many horror historians will tell you is one of the best-remembered films in the glory days of Hollywood. Which means, to do it justice, it’d better have a stellar cast and a director who knows what he’s doing… fortunately, this version of The Wolfman seems to have both.

Though Joe Johnston has mostly done light-hearted fare in the past (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji, The Rocketeer), his last outing, Hidalgo, had a much more serious air. Wolfman is his first foray into horror, but his cast is well-seasoned and well-respected, including two Academy Award-winners in Sir Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro, as well as Hugo Weaving (V for Vendetta) and the up-and-coming Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria).

Set in the 1880’s, the story is centered on Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro), who returns to his ancestral home and reuniting with his father (Hopkins) after his brother has been killed. He clearly has less-than-fond memories of the place, but a plea from his brother’s fiancée Gwen (Blunt) persuades him to return home. He learns that something ferocious has been mauling local villagers, which also prompts a Scotland Yard inspector named Aberline (Weaving) to investigate. But when Lawrence discovers that he is the latest in a familial line that are victims of an ancient curse – one that causes transmorphing into a bestial, snarling werewolf when the moon is full – things take a terrifying turn.

I’m not a big fan of horror, but I find myself not only wanting to see The Wolfman, but hoping that it does well. Unlike last year’s Friday the 13th reboot, I admire the chutzpah it takes to re-tell a classic story in the same way while bringing new life to it. Not that I want a bevy of sequels to follow should this film find success, but rather, just the opposite… as a stand-alone piece of entertainment, I think it would be better served.

R-rated horror often has a hard time finding an audience. But given this cast, I really wouldn’t expect the teen crowd to be lining up for this one anyway. I expect The Wolfman to debut at #2 this weekend, with about $22 million coming in its first three days. For $17 (in both leagues), you can expect about eight or nine Top 5 points, a few PTA, about $75 million and an outstanding User Rating - it currently sits at an unbelievable 8.9 on IMDb with over 400 votes. It will certainly drop after it is release, but it probably won’t go much below 8.1. The only review I could find was on IMDb as well, and it said (for what it’s worth) that the acting was superb, but that it dragged in places and included a few unnecessary sub-plots.)

So it really is up to you decide what you need more: if you’d rather get slightly more money and Top 5 points, go with Valentine’s Day. If you’d rather punch up your User Rating, go with The Wolfman.

With three big films coming out in the same weekend, all of them bowing in over 3,000 locations, one of them has to end up on the short end of the stick, and I’m betting that one will be Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Not because I think it’s a bad film, but because it lacks the oomph of the other two.

As you know, the Harry Potter series will be wrapping up soon. The Chronicles of Narnia's third chapter will be coming this winter, and it seems unlikely that any more of C.S. Lewis’s beloved novels will be adapted into films any time soon. So what is there in the teen-fantasy genre that has the stones to take the place of the boy wizard? Well, The Golden Compass failed utterly a couple of years ago, but maybe Percy Jackson can fill the bill, at least marginally.

One thing’s for sure: they’re really plugging the film as Harry’s successor, especially given that Percy is being directed by Chris Columbus, who got the Harry Potter series out of the gate in a big way, leading The Sorcerer’s Stone to a domestic take of $317 million and The Chamber of Secrets to $262 million. And while Rick Riordan’s series of books doesn’t hold a candle to J.K. Rowling’s gazillion-copies-sold epic, its adaptation is going to give it the old college try.

The titular character, Percy Jackson (Gamer’s Logan Lerman), is a teenager who discovers that he is the demigod son of the Greek god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), a role that includes a lot of really cool superhuman abilities, including harnessing the power of lightning. Along with his friends Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario) – who is a daughter of Athena – and a satyr named Grover Underwood (Brandon Jackson), Percy must try to save his mother (Catherine Keener), recover the lightning bolt stolen from Zeus (Sean Bean), and prevent a war between the gods. (No pressure, kid.) Pierce Brosnan, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan and Uma Thurman also co-star.

Well, what can I say about this? I’m not a teenager, and I haven't read the books, so I really have no way to gauge just how popular this story is, or might be, for the teenage set. There’s no way in hell that it will come close to the popularity of Harry Potter, but it’s entirely possible that it may set itself up as a worthy, if lesser, successor. (Hey! That rhymes!)

Both reviews over at RT are positive, and its decent ad campaign and 3,300-theater release platform should be a recipe for success. But I remain unconvinced. I will probably be watching this film at some point, and it looks entertaining, but then, so did From Paris With Love. Not that I’m comparing the two films, I’m just saying. I may be way off, but I’ll predict an opening three-day weekend of $20 million, good enough for #3 (just ahead of Dear John, which I expect to lose about 50% of its audience, and Avatar, which finally has some worthy competition).

Like Wolfman, it too costs $17 in both leagues. But I foresee only six Top 5 points, a couple of PTA, about $55 million and a decent User Rating. In an incredibly crowded weekend, I am betting this one will end up with the least impressive numbers when all is said and done.

I’m not sure whether it will be added in time, but just in case it is, I’ll say a few words about My Name is Khan, this week’s only (cursory) limited release. If it’s up by Friday, it will be worth $4 in the February Ultimate leagues. It is a Bollywood film, and it tells the story of Rizwan Khan (Shahrukh Khan), an Indian Muslim with Asperger syndrome. Growing up in Mumbai and later moving to San Francisco, Khan eventually falls in love with a woman named Mandira (Kajol). But Khan’s seemingly perfect life is shattered after the events of 9/11, after which all Muslims were treated as potential threats. After a series of brutal encounters, he embarks on a journey to Washington D.C. for a word with the Commander-in-Chief himself.

Box Office Mojo has My Name is Khan coming out in 120 theaters, which seems to me to be rather too many to make it a viable PTA choice. So, if it’s there, my advice is: don’t take it.


My predictions for the weekend of February 12-15/16, 2010:

1. Valentine’s Day – $34 million ($43 million 4-day)
2. The Wolfman – $22 million ($28 million 4-day)
3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – $20 million ($27 million 4-day)
4. Dear John – $18 million ($22 million 4-day)
5. Avatar – $16 million ($21 million 4-day)


Well, that will do it for me for another week. Next week, I’ll have very little to write about, as it looks like there will only be two films that will possibly be included in the February leagues, those being: Shutter Island, the Martin Scorsese-led horror/thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio that was supposed to have been release last October; and The Ghost Writer, a political thriller starring Pierce Brosnan as a former British Prime Minister and Ewan McGregor as the ghost-writer hired to complete his memoirs, and who uncovers secrets in the P.M.’s life that may put his own in jeopardy.

Later!





Happy 50th birthday Hugh Jackman! (10/12/18)
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

Postby BanksIsDaFuture » February 7th, 2010, 7:12 pm

I don't know everyone is getting these big numbers for The Wolfman. It has a very limited audience, mostly older men - who didn't turn out for Edge of Darkness earlier this year. I doubt most people care about a low-concept werewolf movie set in 17th century England...can't see it doing more than 15/40.

Percy Jackson is the wildcard here, it can go anywhere.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

Postby numbersix » February 7th, 2010, 7:27 pm

Tracking at the moment is about 30 Mil of its opening weekend (4 day). Of course, that can all change. Totally agree about Percy Jackson being the wildcard. I've no idea which way it'l go, and it could open anywhere from 8 mil to 35 mil!
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

Postby Buscemi » February 7th, 2010, 7:51 pm

I see Percy Jackson bombing royally. There doesn't seem to be any buzz on the film, no one seems to have read the books that they are based on (I know a grand total of ONE person who reads the books and that person is not the film's target audience), trailer reaction has not been good on it (I saw the trailer before Avatar and general reaction was very negative). Add to the fact that Fox is known to do pretty piss-poor fantasy adaptations (see Eragon and The Seeker) and the fact that the first five (yes, five) books are being combined into one movie, it was not do well. My best guess is between $8-12 million for the three-day and $10-15 million for the four-day.

Meanwhile, Banks is forgetting that The Wolfman is one of the Universal Monsters and has a major following among the horror buffs (Universal even reissued the original in a new special edition DVD to promote the remake). It should have no problem opening well but whether it will hold is another story.

Also, I remember that Lost In Space was supposed to be a big hit and was expected to dethrone Titanic. And it did that before the poor word-of-mouth came around.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

Postby J.I. » February 8th, 2010, 7:00 pm

I'ms starting to feel that The Wolfman will do well. Especially after its good and well-placed Super Bowl ad. Not sure how the word of mouth will be though.

Percy Jackson has been getting crazy amounts of marketing (in fact before November Fox was advertising it more than Avatar it seemed). 3,300 theaters and (hopefully) good reviews will help it.

And Valentine's Day, I don't know. I don't see it marketed much (of course I'm not the target audience), and there's too many stars to the point that most people don't know who's in the movie. I mean, they have really famous people showing in the commercial for maybe two seconds before they go to the next one. They need to focus the marketing more on one or two people (I would have chosen the two Taylors) and then shown the other people as supporting. Nobody really knows what the plot is, since its just an excuse to cram stars into a movie, and Dear John seems to appeal more to the teenage girls since it has a romantic, tear-jerking story. But 3600+ theaters will help.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

Postby Buscemi » February 8th, 2010, 7:41 pm

Warner Bros. is so sure about Valentine's Day that a sequel has already been announced.
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Re: SPEARE'S TIPS - THE FILMS OF 2/12

Postby Shrykespeare » February 15th, 2010, 2:57 am

Shrykespeare wrote:My predictions for the weekend of February 12-15/16, 2010:

1. Valentine’s Day – $34 million ($43 million 4-day)
2. The Wolfman – $22 million ($28 million 4-day)
3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – $20 million ($27 million 4-day)
4. Dear John – $18 million ($22 million 4-day)
5. Avatar – $16 million ($21 million 4-day)


Here are BOM's Sunday Estimates:

1. Valentine's Day - $52.4M
2. Percy Jackson - $31.1M
3. The Wolfman - $30.6M
4. Avatar - $22M
5. Dear John - $15.3M

So Avatar falls only 3% while Dear John falls nearly 50%. Meanwhile, all three new movies really put my predictions to shame.

My Name is Khan WOULD have won the PTA had it been available, but it wasn't, so the PTA shakes out like this:

5 points - Valentine's Day
4 points - Wolfman
3 points - Percy Jackson
2 points - Avatar
1 point - Dear John
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