November 30, 2007

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Awake and a Bunch of Holdovers

From last week's Thanksgiving feast to the post holiday famine, this final day of November brings us one new film entering wide release. That's right, just a single film will be added to the local cineplex. Last week brought five. Not to mention, this lonely new release seems to be of limited appeal, so I would not expect it to be much of a box office burner. That said, this week is likely to prove rather thin and will not help the trend of down weekends, compared to last year.

Awake. (2007, 84 minutes, R, thriller, trailer) This could be an intense thriller, or it could be a complete disaster. It is a thriller starring Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba, neither terribly well known for being good actors. The duo star for writer/director Joby Harrold who is making his big screen writing and directing debut. Awake is the story of a man (Christensen) who suffers from "Anesthetic Awareness," a condition where the subject retains consciousness while being paralyzed. This happens during heart surgery. While he is unable to communicate the condition, his wife (Alba) is dealing with issues of her own. If nothing else, the idea of this condition is absolutely terrifying. I have seen two run times listed and am unsure which is accurate, some places say 84 minutes, while others list 78 minutes.

Now, if Awake is not your cup of tea, it is not your only option. It is only your new option. The December weeks leading up to Christmas are increasingly stacked with highly anticipated new releases with much higher expectations than Awake, making this thin weekend the perfect opportunity to catch up with missed movies from the past weeks.

For starters, need go back no further than last weekend. The holiday weekend delivered The Mist, a horror film the hits like a quick punch to the gut. Not exactly family friendly fare, but definitely worth checking out if you like creature features. If you want something that swings the other direction, you could choose the super-sentimental, and really good, August Rush. If neither of those float your boat, there is the top film from the weekend, Disney's Enchanted, which is downright enchanting.

Those aren't your only choices. The motion capture-animated Beowulf remains in theaters and is spectacular in 3D. Dustin Hoffman stars in the Willy Wonka-esque Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, a visual delight for kids of all ages. Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie is also still in a large number of theaters, I may not be a fan of the conformist message, but I cannot deny the enjoyment I had when I watched it.

For the Oscar handicapper, you could catch up with Ridley Scott's American Gangster. It is a film that did not impress me a great deal, but would not be surprised to see Oscar nods heaped upon it.

Now, there are a few that may take a little searching but if you have not seen them and you find them in the area, they are well worth the time. First and foremost among them is No Country for Old Men, a film that I don't believe has finished its roll out. Simply put, it is one of the best movies of the year. Others that are worth your eyeballs include Michael Clayton, Lars and the Real Girl, Gone Baby Gone, and to a lesser extent The Darjeeling Limited. Finally, the one I have not yet seen, I'm Not There, the Bob Dylan biopic, is playing on a few screens and is reportedly very good.

As you can see, there is no shortage of movies to check out despite the lack of new titles this weekend. Some are more worthy than others, but whatever you choose will be sure to give you something to talk about.

As for the upcoming weeks the cineplex will become increasingly crowded with titles such as The Golden Compass, I Am Legend, Sweeney Todd, Walk Hard, PS I Love You, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Not to mention smaller titles that I am looking forward to such as Juno, Grace is Gone, Atonement, and The Kite Runner. This doesn't even touch upon the movies arriving with your Christmas gifts.

Also opening this week, but not near me:
  • Aaja Nachle
  • Chronicle of an Escape
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • The Protagonist
  • The Rocket
  • The Savages
  • I'm Not There
  • Nina's Heavenly Delights
  • Starting Out in the Evening (on Friday)

Box Office Predictions
With the long holiday weekend out of the way, I am free to once again unleash my awful box office predictions upon the unsuspecting reader. I am pretty sure that the top ten will be very similar to last week, with Enchanted remaining in the top spot. The live action Disney flick is a lot of fun and will sail back to the top with its excellent word of mouth. The only shake-up will be Awake, it will do decently, but will not disturb the top films all that much.

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

RankTitleBox Office
1Enchanted$23 million
2This Christmas$9 million
3Beowulf$8.5 million
4Awake$7.5 million
5Hitman$6 million
6Bee Movie$5.5 million
7Fred Claus$5 million
8No Country for Old Men$4.5 million
9August Rush$4 million
10The Mist$3.5 million


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