December 21, 2007

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Charlie Wilson's War, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, PS I Love You, Sweeney Todd, Walk Hard, Juno

This weekend is easily the busiest since the extended Thanksgiving weekend, for more reasons than one. There is the obvious last minute holiday shopping reason combined with those who choose to do their holiday shopping at the last minute, not out of necessity but tradition. There is one reason that is more important than that, being there are 5 new films hitting theaters nationwide, and one more expanding into my area. That translates to a lot of business at the cineplex, at least for me. I actually want to see all said films, and will do my best to squeeze in as many as possible. To help you plan out your weekend vieweing, here are the choices:

Charlie Wilson's War. (2007, 97 minutes, R, drama, trailer) This could prove to be an interesting, if heavy, holiday viewing. It is the story of a Texas Congressman who persuaded the CIA to aid Afghan rebels in a fight against the invading Soviet Union in the 1980s. It was an event that led to the fall of the Soviet Union and the empowerment of the Taliban regime. The trailers seem to play it up as a lighthearted dramedy, but there is some heavy lifting required when looking at this period. I do not claim any great knowledge, but I believe there is more here than meets the eye. Stars include Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets. (2007, 124 minutes, PG, action/adventure, trailer) Back in 2004, there was an attempt to deliver a new Indiana Jones type adventure hero. The movie starred Nicolas Cage and proved to be a big hit. It was only a matter of time before a sequel was made. That time is now, Cage returns as Ben Gates. This time out there is a revelation that Gates ancestors were involved in the Abraham Lincoln assassination plot. Gates sets out to clear his family name. Joining Cage for returning director Jon Turtletaub, is an all star cast including Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Harvey Keitel, and Ed Harris.

P.S. I Love You. (2007, 126 minutes, PG-13, romance, trailer) Gerard Butler puts down his sword and shield long enough to romance Hilary Swank, set up an elaborate mail delivery system and die, leaving Swank to pick up the pieces and learn to live again, with the help of his letters. This would seem to be a perfect pre-holiday date movie, who doesn't need a little romantic sentimentality? Actually, I think it looks pretty good, if just a stretch on the believability scale. Richard Lagravanese (Freedom Writers) directs and co-wrote the script with Steve Rogers from a novel by Cecelia Ahern.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. (2007, 117 minutes, R, musical, trailer) I have been dying to see this. I truly hope that I am not setting myself up for a fall. This is a film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical brought to gothic and bloody heights by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) who is wrongfully imprisoned. Once released he vows revenge for his fate and that of his wife and daughter. To this end, he becomes Sweeney Todd and opens a murderous barbershop where he partners with a woman famous for her meat pies. Joining Depp are Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen. I am so hoping this is a great film.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. (2007, 96 minutes, R, comedy, trailer) Judd Apatow goes for the trifecta with this new film. There are hopes that will join his two other productions this year, Knocked Up and Superbad, as a comedic hit. Lately it is seems he con do no wrong, whether he be directing or in a producer capacity. He is in the latter her, with Jake Kasdan (The TV Set) at the helm. Apatow did co-write the movie with Kasdan. Even before it's wide release it is getting some buzz, with John C. Reilly getting a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Cox. It is a comedic parody targeting the music biopic (mos obviously Walk the Line). This looks to be a winner.

Juno. (2007, 96 minutes, PG-13, comedy/drama, trailer) Here is another movie I have been looking forward too. Ever since I saw the first trailer, I knew this was going to be a good one. Juno appears to be funny, smart, and engaging, meaning I will probably like it. Anyway, it is the story of Juno (Hard Candy's Ellen Page) and her unplanned pregnancy. This forces her to mature faster than she should, and also finds her deciding to find a couple to adopt the child. Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) directs and joining Page are Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad), Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, JK Simmons, and Allison Janney.

Also opening this week, but not near me:
  • Flakes
  • Steep
  • Taare Zameen Par
  • Good Bye Bafana
  • The Kite Runner
  • Nanking
  • Youth Without Youth

Box Office Predictions
I Am Legend blew away all of its competition, easily winning last weekend and setting a new December opening mark. Will it continue this weekend? Does it have the legs to take two weekends in a row? I am going to say no. It will likely do well, but I suspect that it will fall to second place in the face of new competition. There are, after all, five new movies opening in wide release this weekend, including one highly anticipated sequal. All of these movies will be looking to segment the market and grab their share. The top film is going to be National Treasure: Book of Secrets. The movie comes with a built in sense of fun and adventure from the first one, as well as carrying a PG rating ensuring a wide reach. We shall see.

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

RankTitleBox Office
1National Treasure: Book of Secrets$46 million
2I Am Legend$37 million
3Alvin and the Chipmunks$22 million
4Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story$18 million
5Charlie Wilson's War$16 million
6Sweeney Todd$15 million
7PS I Love You$9 million
8Juno$3.5 million
9Enchanted$3 million
10The Golden Compass$2.5 million


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