December 1, 2006

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: The Rise of Taj, The Nativity Story, Turistas

I hope everyone got their fill of films over the long weekend that has just past. This weekend is all set for the leftovers. Nothing opening this week seems to be on the verge of a breakout, although I am sure the studios are hoping. This will be a good weekend to catch up on what you may have missed, perhaps the excellent new Bond flick, or perhaps try something a bit out of the mainstream with The Fountain. Otherwise, feel free to pick over this week's selections.

National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj. (2006, 95 minutes, R, comedy, trailer) Who would have thought that they would make a sequel to the Ryan Reynolds comedy that failed to make much of a splash during its release? On top of that, who thought they would make a Van Wilder sequel without Van? Here comes the test of Kal Penn as a draw. He was last scene in this past summer's Superman Returns, and probably had his biggest role in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. This could be funny, but I don't expect much.

The Nativity Story. (2006, 101 minutes, PG, drama, trailer) Following on the success of The Passion of the Christ, here is the next shot at a Christian story being taken to a wide audience. This will hopefully be a good film, the story is certainly there for a hit. I have a feeling that it will not have as big an impact based on the decided lack of star power, and zero controversy, both which helped push The Passion for so long. I will be making a trip out to see how it stacks up, and am hoping for the best. It stars Keisha Castle-Hughes who made a splash a few years back in the excellent The Whale Rider. This was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who also helmed Lords of Dogtown and Thirteen.

Turistas. (2006, 92 minutes, R, horror, trailer) Following in the tradition of Saw and Hostel comes this torture flick with a smaller footprint. It is looking to make a name for itself on a smaller media prescence and a familiar presence. Will it be more of the same, or will it offer up something new? I doubt that it will be groundbreaking, but I think it could be fun. Friends on a Brazilian vacation are robbed and led to a supposedly safe house, and that is where the real fun begins. It stars Josh Duhamel, on a break from Las Vegas and tuning up for Transformers, and Melissa George, who I last saw on Alias. John Stockwell is in the director's chair, he last offered up the travelougue of Jessica Alba's bathing suit collection in Into the Blue. This is also the first release from Fox's new Fox Atomic imprint.

For Your Consideration. (2006, 86 minutes, PG-13, comedy, trailer) Christopher Guests satiric turns itself on Hollywood with this send-up. It tells the story of a film that is mentioned online as a potential Oscar contendor. Before anyone knows it, the rumor has spread worldwide and has been picked up by mainstream press giving the filmmakers the hope that it is an actual possibility. This looks quite funny and features Guest regulars Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, and Jane Lynch, plus a guest from across the pond in Ricky Gervais (The Office). This is having a run at the local arthouse.

Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing. (2006, 99 minutes, NR, documentary) This looks like it could be very interesting. I am not a fan of the Dixie Chicks, never have been and never will be, and it has nothing to do with what was said at that concert three years ago. I just don't care for the music. However, the backlash that they received, the boycotts, the death threats, the CD burnings are increduble. The idea that this would happen is crazy to me, but on the other side, they stuck by their beliefs and didn't cave in to the pressure. Who actually came out on top of this?

Also opening this week, but not near me:
  • 10 Items or Less
  • Christmas at Maxwell's
  • Two Weeks

Box Office Predictions

The new competition from this week's three wide releases don't seem to be posing much of a threat to the leaders of the past two weeks. I think the only one that has a shot is The Nativity Story, and that is only because of the volume of theaters it will be playing in. Outside of that, it does not seem to have had much media presence. I am sure that it has had a strong presence through religious outlets, but that seems to be a limited movie-going audience, much like the internet audience. Lots of people, not so much turnout. The other two have had even less media presence, but will probably do decent. I foresee the penguins and Bond duking it out on top one more time.

Here is how I think the top ten field will play out:

RankTitleBox Office
1Happy Feet$25 million
2Casino Royale$18 million
3The Nativity Story$16.5 million
4Deck the Halls$9 million

Deja Vu

$8 million
6National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj$7 million
7Turistas$7 million
8Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause$5 million
9Borat$4 million
10Stranger Than Fiction$2.5 million

What are you seeing this weekend?


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