President's Day Weekend and Valentine's Day team up to provide us with a positively loaded February weekend, although we appear to have an inverse relationship between box office potential and quality.
Weekend Forecast for February 13-16, 2009
By Reagen Sulewski
February 12, 2009
Friday the 13th is the latest horror franchise to go through the revamping process, opening this Friday...wait a minute...the 13th. Aha. I see what you did there. The granddaddy of '80s slasher horror, spawning ten sequels (two of which promised to be series-enders), it's gone through waxes and wanes in the 29 years since the first movie was released, changing from a relatively serious attempts at horror, devolving into shlock and ultimately being played for laughs.
We're back to somewhere between serious horror and shlock for this remake, which has a somewhat notable cast (most significantly Jared Padalecki and Amanda Righetti) and a return to the original setting of Crystal Lake for the murderous rampage of Jason Voorhees (purists will of course note that this changes the identity of the original killer, but whaddyagonnado?). Actual plot doesn't matter for these films, so that's as far as I go with that.
Where Jason stands as a cultural artefact is kind of a mixed bag. The last standalone film, Jason X, was a bomb in ways mere words can't describe. Freddy vs. Jason, however, opened to a massive $36 million in 2003, proving there was still some life (ha! I kill me) in the character. Director Marcus Nipsel helped restart this horror trend in that same year with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which earned $28 million of its own for its opening. These revamps have faded a bit since then, though Friday the 13th is a big gun to pull out. Over four days, I see this bringing in about $36 million.
Confessions of a Shopaholic is a film that has recently had to undergo, somewhat appropriately, an image makeover. The adaptation of the novel by Sophie Kinsella started being sold as a crazy, Sex in the City-esque romp starring Isla Fisher. Almost overnight, these ads disappeared, to be replaced by more of a Working Girl/Devil Wears Prada-esque romantic comedy, probably in an attempt to make sure their opening weekend audience wasn't entirely women.
Opening it on Valentine's Day weekend doesn't hurt, either, as it's going to catch a lot of the date crowd. A lot is riding here on Fisher's star power in her first big lead role. Since out and out stealing Wedding Crashers, she's been something of an It Girl, playing the ingénue or pixie-type character in a number of films. This is essentially that character bumped up to a top-billed role. Reviews are kind of awful, but the film looks like a big candy-coated fashion show, which will probably be catnip for the 20-35 female set. Whether they can get their significant others into the theater is another story entirely, though Saturday looks to be its ace in the hole. Over the long weekend, I look for this to pull in about $24 million.
Thirdly we have The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. Owen plays an Interpol agent who uncovers a conspiracy in a major international bank to fund arms sales, with the bank also acting as a cover for actions against governments and other assorted criminality. Teaming up with Watts's character, a lawyer for the Justice Department, Owen's agent pursues the investigation around the globe, encountering stiff resistance (i.e. bullets) from the bank's representatives.
After being passed over for James Bond, Owen seems bound and determined to get his international thriller film on. This is probably the closest thing to it, though leaving out the ‘dashing rogue' part. It's a well-advertised thriller and the direction, from Run Lola Run's Tom Twyker, looks sharp, not to mention that banks make a great villain in the current economic climate. However, the whole thing looks bland in a way I can't quite put my finger on, and this simply doesn't yell event film. It should do decently to start, with around $15 million over the long weekend, but huge success will probably evade The International.
Last week's number one, He's Just Not That Into You, will compete strongly with Confessions for date movie money, and I suspect it'll probably win a lot of that battle, as it looks slightly more tolerable for men. After a $27 million opening, I see a strong carryover of about $22 million over four days.
Taken had an incredibly strong carryover from its opening weekend, dropping just 16% to $20 million. Much of this may have been due to the Super Bowl stealing some of its audience, but those numbers are hard to get without some kind of positive word-of-mouth. Another $15 million over the next four days looks likely, pushing it close to the $75 million mark.
Coraline leads the way for kids' films, after opening to a surprising $16 million last weekend. The 3-D fable, directed by Henry Selick of Nightmare Before Christmas fame and based on a book by Neil Gaiman, is one of the more visually inventive family films in some time, not made by Pixar. I expect word-of-mouth to spread pretty rapidly on this one, and long weekends are ideal for family films, so let's say about $14 million over four days.
The rest of this weekend's returning films are kind of a mixed bag, with failed comedy sequels, abortive sci-fi franchises, dumb comedies and Oscar nominees. It's this latter category that should fare best, with Slumdog Millionaire still racking up the bucks. Give it about $6 million over the holiday, and with the run it's had since its nomination, it's almost to the point where there'll be riots if it doesn't win Best Picture.