January 5, 2007

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Children of Men, Codename: Cleaner, Freedom Writers, Happily N'Ever After

2007 is upon us, it is once again time greatness to rub elbows with the dregs that Hollywood has to offer. The early months of each new year are filled with the films that the studio has little faith in, the films that could not find a slot in the higher profile months, or are just leftovers that studios hope will make a little money. It is also the time of year when the limited releases from December begin to role out to the rest of the country while the build up to the Oscars begins to ramp up. This premiere weekend features a film that I have been highly anticipating, one that I have a little interest in seeing, one that I have little interest in seeing, and finally a film that I have this feeling I have seen before, a few times at that.

Children of Men. (2006, 116 minutes, R, science fiction, trailer) Seeing this pop up on the schedule for the local cineplex has made me absolutely giddy! Ever since I first saw a trailer for this, I could not wait for it to come to my area. Seeing it pop up on people's best of the year lists offers me a little validation in my fanboy-like excitement. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, this film is offering up a bleak look of the near future, with the slightest glimmer of hope. This future has the end of civilation laid out in front of it, woman have become infertile and the world is losing hope. A young woman is found, pregnant. She must be smuggled out of the country to the Human Project, a collection of minds working to find the cause of the infertility. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Chiwetel Ejiofor star.

Codename: Cleaner. (2007, 84 minutes, PG-13, comedy, trailer) Quite frankly, this looks ridiculous. Sure, there are a couple of funny moments in the trailer, but nothing that I find terribly alluring in a "gotta see it" way. The story centers on Cedric the Entertainer, a cleaningman who gets knocked on the head and forgets who he is. He winds up thinking that he is a government agent, soon enough the villains of the film think he holds some big secret. I think I can safely skip this one and not feel like I missed anything. Cedric co-stars with Lucy Liu and Nicolette Sheridan. It was directed by Les Mayfield who last helmed the film pairing Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy, The Man.

Freedom Writers. (2007, 131 minutes, PG-13, drama, trailer) Haven't I seen this before? Wait, let me back up a bit. I wasn't even aware of this movie until a few days ago when I first saw a commercial for it. I can completely understand the lack of backing for this, honestly, it looks like every other inspirational teacher movie I've seen. Let me give you this description (from ticketmaker.com), I think it is a generic one for this type of movie: A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school. Yup, been there, done that. It stares Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, and Scott Glenn. This one I am certain can be skipped.

Happily N'Ever After. (2007, 75 minutes, PG, animated comedy, trailer) In the tradition of the Shrek series and Hoodwinked comes a new fractured fairy tale. If it is half as good as Hoodwinked, I think I will enjoy it a great deal. This movie takes on the Cinderella tale, as well as bits of others, as the Wicked Stepmother sets out to put an end to "Happily Ever Afters." Cinderella finds herself spearheading the attempts to set everything right. You know, this looks good. Sure, it is probably at the lower end of the CG feature budget pool, but it looks like it picks up the slack with its energy and exuberance. There is an all star cast featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar (hopefully washing the taste of The Return away), Freddie Prinze Jr., Sigourney Weaver, Patrick Warburton, Andy Dick, Wallace Shawn, and George Carlin.

Also opening this week, but not near me:

  • Thr3e
Box Office Predictions

This is a tough call. Will the reigning films hold strong this week, or will the debuting upstarts pose a threat? Taking a look at the new releases, I have a hard time believing any of them will make all that much of a splash, outside of Children of Men which opened on Christmas, and now getting a wider release. It also benefits from the best marketing of the new class.

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

RankTitleBox Office
1Night at the Museum$18 million
2Dreamgirls$16 million
3Children of Men$15 million
4Pursuit of Happyness$13 million

Happily N'Ever After

$10.5 million
6Freedom Writers$7.75 million

Charlotte's Web

$6 million

Codename: Cleaner

$5.75 million
9Rocky Balboa$5.25 million
10The Good Shepherd$4 million

What are you seeing this weekend?


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