February 17, 2006

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Featuring Date Movie

This week brings with it three new wide releases, each with a different target audience. The big question, as it is any week, are they any good? Is it really worth your or my time? Each one is a good question. We all know that besides Oscar nominees going wider, or returning to the theaters, the early months of the year tend to be dead zones in terms of quality films. Fortunately, we have had a couple of worthy additions mixed in. Hopefully we will be able to report on good movies this weekend too, but I am not holding my breath.

Date Movie. This would probably have been better off opening prior to Valentine's Day, but here we have a romantic comedy proudly marketed as coming from "2 of the 6 writers of Scary Movie." Now is that something to be proud of? I'm not so sure. Whatever the case, this looks as if it could be a very funny farce, or fall flat on its face with the best jokes in the trailer. Among the movies it lampoons are Hitch, Napoleon Dynamite, The Wedding Planner and Meet the Fokker's. It stars Alyson Hannigan, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, and it was directed by the same two writers of the Scary Movie movies, making their directorial debuts, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. TRAILER

Eight Below. Targeting children and the family crowd comes the latest "inspired by a true story" film from Disney. This one centers on a man and his team of sled dogs. A storm rips through the Antarctic base where they had been stationed, and when the helicopter arrives to lift them out, there is no room for the dogs, and they are left behind. The movie chronicles the dogs survival and their owners efforts to get back and find them. The trailer looks like it could be fun, but it does star Paul Walker who can't act his way out of a wet paper bag. It was directed by Frank Marshall who has been a producer for most of his career, last directing Congo back in 1995. It may also be interesting to note that this is a remake of a Japanese film called Nankyoku monogatari. TRAILER

Freedomland. Bringing a little suspense to the weekend is this film from director Joe Roth (Christmas with the Kranks). Julianne Moore plays Brenda, a woman whose child is kidnapped during a carjacking. Detective Council (Samuel L. Jackson) is brought in to investigate. Along the way he teams with a reporter played by Edie Falco as they search for the accused African American culprit. The trailer looks good, although I had an immediate flash of the awful The Forgotten where Julianne Moore also lost a child. TRAILER

The New World. Director Terrence Malick's historical epic is coming to the local arthouse to begin at least one week of screenings. This is the legend of John Smith and Pocahantas, brought to life by Colin Farrell and Q’orianka Kilcher. I have heard very good things about this, although I am not sure which version this is, I am assuming it is the newer cut. Shortly after it's limited release, at the end of December, Malick recalled it and took it back to the editing room. He then went on to trim 17 minutes from it. In any case, I hope to get a look at this before it leaves. TRAILER

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. I have no idea what the story is, but it had previously been deemed unfilmable, until Michael Winterbottom got his hands on it. I have seen some good word on it, although the description doesn't give much of an idea of what will end up onscreen. Steve Coogan stars, playing three roles, including himself, in a film within a film. It blends fiction and reality as it goes through an examination of the mind. I may just see this to say I've seen it. TRAILER

Also opening, but not near me:
  • Battle in Heaven
  • Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)
  • The Second Chance
  • Winter Passing

Box Office Predictions.

  1. Date Movie. Stupid comedy sells, and this PG-13 stab in the dark could fill the bill and come out on top.
  2. Freedomland. I have a feeling that this will do well, it looks to be the best of this weeks new crop.
  3. Eight Below. This looks to have enough charm to pull in decent numbers.
  4. Final Destination 3. This should bring out those looking for a little blood with their movie.
  5. Firewall. Not a terribly good film, but people like Harrison, even if he is getting a bit old for this type of role.
  6. Curious George. I think the monkey will suffer only a modest drop.
  7. Brokeback Mountain. Continuing it's presence on the list, at least through the Oscars.
  8. Pink Panther. This may have been at number 1 last week, but it will drop like a stone.
  9. Big Momma's House 2. Making its last appearance in the Top Ten....
  10. When a Stranger Calls. See above.

What are you seeing this weekend?


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