November 16, 2007

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Beowulf, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Last week saw the arrival of the first holiday themed film with Fred Claus. I enjoyed the film, but it clearly did not live up to expectations and seems unlikely to demonstrate strong legs as we steam towards Thanksgiving. For that matter, the other two wide releases failed to make much of a mark either, those being the Robert Redford helmed Lions for Lambs and the gritty thriller P2. Hopefully this week will get everyone back in the mood. This week features a highly anticipated animated epic and a family-oriented fantasy that seeks to inject some magical wonder into the hearts of its viewers. Sound interesting to you? I know I am interested.

Beowulf. (2007, 113 minutes, PG-13, action/adventure, trailer) Marketed as being the the future of cinema, Beowulf will become, I believe, the widest digital 3D release so far. Now, I have not yet seen the film, but I have seen this type of 3D and this will be the only way to truly see this movie. As you read this I am en route to see this (in 3D, of course) in the gigantic screen of an IMAX theater. I can only hope that this motion capture animated feature does justice to the ancient story. Beowulf is based on one of the oldest surviving works of Anglo-Saxon literature, an epic poem of good versus evil. It has been adapted to the screen a number of times, most recently as Beowulf & Grendel, starring 300's Gerard Butler in the Beowulf role. This version stars Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins and Robin Wright. It is directed by Robert Zemeckis working from a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. (2007, 93 minutes, G, fantasy, trailer) I have high hopes for this family-oriented fantasy. It stars Dustin Hoffman as the mysterious Mr. Magorium, the proprietor of the most magical toy store in the world. Mr. Magorium is readying his retirement and hands the reigns over to his assistant, played by Natalie Portman. This is when things begin to change and Portman is charged with saving the store. The cast also includes Jason Bateman. The movie has a sense of magical wonder, not unlike the original filming of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I can only hope that the movie lives up to the hopes the trailer has inspired. Could this be the family holiday film to bring the families to the cinema? Fred Claus certainly did not fill the bill. This movie also marks Zach Helm's directorial debut. He came to prominence last year with his excellent script for the Will Ferrell movie Stranger than Fiction.

Also opening this week, but not near me:
  • Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Eleven Men Out
  • Margot at the Wedding
  • Redacted
  • Smiley Face
  • Southland Tales

Box Office Predictions
Will I go three for three? The past two weeks found my predictions to be way off for the top spot. I have a good feeling that this week will I will be able to stop that trend, if only temporarily. Does anyone have any doubt that Beowulf will top the charts? Seriously, the advertising is everywhere, and there is a lot of positive buzz swirling around it. I know I will be heading out nice and early to catch some 3D goodness. What about Mr. Magorium? This one is a bigger question mark. I would like to say it is going to be good and that the people will react, but I have a feeling that it will get off to a bit of a slower start, and presupposing quality, will show strong legs to carry it through the holiday season. As for the rest of the roundup, it is going to be a race to the finish. All of these films will be looking to pull down as much as they can, with Thanksgiving next week there is a lot of competition on the horizon.

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

RankTitleBox Office
1Beowulf$34 million
2Bee Movie$17.5 million
3American Gangster$16 million
4Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium$15.5 million
5Fred Claus$11 million
6Dan in Real Life$4 million
7Lions for Lambs$3.5 million
8Saw IV$3 million
9Love in the Time of Cholera$2.5 million
10The Game Plan$2 million

What are you seeing this weekend?


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