December 5, 2008

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Punisher War Zone, Cadillac Records, Nobel Son

Welcome to December. The final month of the years gets off with something of a whimper. None of the three widest releases of the weekend look like they will have a terribly large impact on the box office, although I am sure no one wanted to go against the The Day the Earth Stood Still remake next week. However, I am pretty sure this was originally supposed to be the opening weekend for Twilight, which moved once Harry Potter got pushed back. In any case, are you heading to theaters this weekend?

Punisher: War Zone. (2008, 107 minutes, R, action, trailer) Sequel? Reboot? Does it matter? A few years ago we got a fun Punisher film that was half right in getting the character down. After years of stop and go production on a sequel, Thomas Jane left the project despite really wanting to do it. Now we get virtual unknown Ray Stevenson stepping into the role in a movie that looks like it could be fun, but does not look particularly good. Well, at least it is rated R. In the film Frank Castle sets his sights on a gangster played by Dominic West. The battle leaves the villain scarred, he takes the name Jigsaw and plots revenge. Lexi Alexander, who wrote and directed Green Street Hooligans, handles the directorial duties here.

Cadillac Records. (2008, 108 minutes, R, drama, trailer) Darnell Martin is the writer and director of this story that chronicles Leonard Ches and the rise of Chess Records, the label that helped launch the careers of such luminaries as Etta James, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry. The film looks quite good, based on the trailer, and is sure to contain some great music. The cast includes Adrien Brody, Beyonce Knowles, Jeffrey Wright, Gabrielle Union, Cedric the Entertainer, and Mos Def.

Nobel Son. (2008, 110 minutes, R, thriller, trailer) This looks like it could be good, but I doubt it is going to make much of a dent on the box office. It centers on Barkley Michaelson, a young man in a rut who does not get on well with his father. On the eve of his father's winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Barkley is kidnapped with the ransom being the prize money, which daddy will not pay. This leads to a tale of familial dysfunction, lust, betrayal and ultimately revenge. Sounds like fun. The cast includes Alan Rickman, Bryan Greenberg, Shawn Hatosy, and Eliza Dushku.

Also opening this week, but not near me:
  • The Black Balloon
  • Ciao
  • Extreme Movie
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Hunger

Box Office Predictions
It looks like the weekend will bring a weak slate to bear. The top ten will almost assuredly be dominated by returning titles. The Punisher reboot/sequel will likely be the strongest, but only due to its greater theater count when compared to other new releases, even still it is not likely to ascend to the top of the charts. Its R-rating and questionable audience will conspire to keep it down.

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

RankTitleBox Office
1Four Christmases$17 million
2Bolt$15 million
3Twilight$11 million
4Punisher: War Zone$10.5 million
5Quantum of Solace$9 million

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

$7.5 million
7Australia$6.5 million
8Transporter 3$5.5 million
9Cadillac Records$3.5 million
10Role Models$2.5 million


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