February 2011 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
February 4, 2011

Justin so gangsta.

After the confusingly slow January, we enter a veritable smorgasbord of content in 2/11. On display, there's something for everyone, with B-movies, comedies, CGI, tawdry thrillers, would-be tawdry thrillers, and some real star power, at last... Justin Bieber, of course. Who do you think I meant? There may also be a lot of 3D around, but having seen so many 3D movies, the whole world looks 3D to me now.

1. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (February 11th)

Gut feelings are real unpleasant things sometimes. Sure, the brain helpfully informs me, Miley Cyrus' big 3D concert movie finished at a paltry $65 million, didn't it? (pocket change). Sure, the esteemed if not all that lucrative Jonas Brothers lived up to that latter label, and even Michael Jackson just passed $70 million. But then you take a look at this fella, Justin Bieber, from a small town just like your own, see, and you kinda notice that he is, like, really, really, really, famous, and sure has got a whole of fans out there, doesn't he? And then the gut overwhelms the brain: Justin Bieber! 3D! Tweens! Jon Chu, of last year's flashy Step Up 3D, sounds like a good choice for director, by the way. How could this film possibly not be massive, if only for a day or two? Many may not enjoy the reality of this prediction, but I suspect that reality is the right word.

Opening weekend: $49 million / Total gross: $116 million

2. Just Go With It (February 11th)
Having endured the box office returns assigned to Funny People, Adam Sandler has been clamoring to come back to form (such as it was), first with Grown Ups, and now this. Sandler's regular rogues gallery are all here (Happy Madison Productions, director Dennis Dugan, along with bit parts by Nick Swardson, Dave Matthews, Kevin Nealon, and so on). The plot would appear to be invariably predictable, with perpetually unlucky supermodel Brooklyn Decker clearly fated to find herself single at film's end (...shame). More to the point, it's Valentine's Day, No Strings Attached wasn't as big as I thought, and my goodness, it's Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in the same movie, and It's got romantic comedy and slapstick and supermodels! Sandler is, after all, America's most consistent comedy star, and if his fans like him, who am I to besmirch their enjoyment? Only a fool would predict any less than a $100 million tally for this one.

Opening weekend: $38 million / Total gross: $92 million

3. Gnomeo & Juliet (February 11th)
Once more into the quirky world of CGI animation we go, a journey adorned as always with the speechless inanimate figures in our lives at last given voice (this time, lawn gnomes). No, said inanimates never have any great revelations to make. It's nice to see Jason Statham billed alongside Patrick Stewart, Emily Blunt, and Michael Caine ("...for what perhaps will be the last time", I should add), but to me, the novelty would appear to end there. Because surely this won't make $100 million? I know, I know, it's February, and there's been a dearth of these cute (?) little kids movies, but really, it's not actually conceivable that this film will spend the next decade being introduced in cocktail parties as "Gnomeo & Juliet, 100 million dollar grosser"? Now, I know I tried this type of Freudian reverse psychology (for that is surely what this is) on last November's Tangled, and it didn't work, judging by the scary number staring back at me from the box office chart on that one. But surely this time... surely... surely.... surely...

Opening weekend: $27 million / Total gross: $75 million

4. I Am Number Four (February 18th)
This one is February's big teen adventure extravaganza, following on the heels of slightly younger cousin The Spiderwick Chronicles and slightly older relative Jumper. What I Am Number Four really is, though, is another chance for director D.J. Caruso to craft a teen-aimed hit in the vein of his own Disturbia, with a sci-fi twist, this time, and another actor, Alex Pettyfer, who's being ominously "groomed" for some higher purpose (just ask Shia LaBeouf). Disturbia worked the box office based on good reviews and a lack of competition. If equally well received critically, this one could do the same, even if there's no super-popular source material to prop it up, and the premise is of course as familiar as any mysterious New Guy in School who introduces himself to the school beauty as "John Smith." Film critics of America, the ball's in your court now.

Opening weekend: $26 million / Total gross: $74 million

5. Unknown (February 18th)
A big question mark, this, the undeniable follow-up to Taken, the film that launched - didn't it? - Liam Neeson as a star of action pictures, instead of just an impeccably-accented supporting player in them (but he can still do that too). And the elements composed here are more than a little similar: there's a crafty European setting, not one but two attractive blonde women in jeopardy (Diane Kruger and January Jones!), and, perhaps most important than them all, a hero whose plight is advertised on the poster with the adage "Take back your life!" Do what to your life? To be fair, the premise is undeniably intriguing and the trailers are certainly effective. Still, the wonderdrug that enchanted (some may say bewitched) audiences not too long ago to attend Taken, Gran Torino, and Paul Blart en masse, all at the same time, may not be on the scene still. As Kevin James learned just last month, January 2009 was a long time ago.

Opening weekend: $29 million / Total gross: $68 million

6. Hall Pass (February 25th)
Another domestic dysfunction comedy rolls down the block, and the Farrelly Brothers strike again. It's got Owen Wilson, hearty on the comeback tour, teaming up with Jason Sudeikis, stepping out into what looks like leading roles after a few years in the supporting leagues. Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate are the TV-imported love interests. Now, is it just me, or is the idea for this movie... well... a little creepy, isn't it? Even if the Farrellys have mastered turning unpleasantness into watchability before, something tells me the film's premise of permissible infidelity won't be fully consummated. There's even a feeling here that reminds one a little of The Dilemma, with that buddy movie comedy casting, and the wives waiting in the wings while the husbands misadventure. On the plus side, there are a few fun cameos, like my favorite actor, Richard Jenkins, in what looks like a change of pace. But if The Dilemma couldn't do it...

Opening weekend: $18 million / Total gross: $57 million

7. Drive Angry (February 25th)
From the director of the luridly campy My Bloody Valentine '09, this one mixes action, fantasy, and maybe a little horror here and there, and thus it's no coincidence that it sounds more than a little like Nicolas Cage's own Ghost Rider escapades. Indeed, the B-movie credentials on this one are impeccable, with Cage looking like he's having fun, Amber Heard more than apt as the female lead, villainy courtesy of William Fichtner, in full cynical teeth-nashing mode, and an outrageous premise for a revenge thriller. 3D is becoming increasingly less of a box office factor, so it's real tough to puzzle out how high this can go. But as far as Friday nights at the movies go, it looks like it might deliver.

Opening weekend: $21 million / Total gross: $55 million

8. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (February 18th)
Tyler Perry would blush. Was this film inevitable? Well, I don't know, they never did make Problem Child 3, at least not for the silver screen. But here comes Big Momma again, teamed with frequent comic relief upstart Brandon T. Jackson, recruited to join the force here in an attempt to appeal to the younger demographic (funny, I don't feel appealed to). I think it might've been children who propelled the first sequel to such a nifty number ($70 mil!). Yes, there are still children out there today in America, if in much more limited numbers, but I think the shine's worn off this particular titan. Prove me wrong, momma.

Opening weekend: $22 million / Total gross: $48 million

9. The Roommate (February 4th)
Nostalgia, I welcome thee. See, The Roommate takes me back to the good old days, when the studios would pluck out WB Network actors and get them to tussle around in a tawdry thriller, preferably one screenwritten by Kevin Williamson. There's also the inevitable comparison to that one movie with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda. It looks like Leighton Meester's really beginning her stepping out into film, and is thus as of yet untested, but the film would appear to be pleasantly generic enough to appeal to its target demographic. No big breakout scheduled to happen here, I think, but PG-13 thrillers keep getting made for a reason. After all, The Roommate is from Screen Gems, a studio unshy about keeping said tradition alive.

Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $37 million

10. Sanctum (February 4th)
We rejoin the hallowed world of 3D, where, this time, a plucky group of deep sea divers are up to no good in the depths of the Australian undertow. Exciting? I don't know. There's no villain, not even a giant carnivorous sea monster with designs on global geo-political domination. Yes, I know James Cameron's name is plastered all over the advertising, but I sense an enthusiasm lack that extends beyond just me, this time. Some knee-jerk interest may help the opening weekend, but it's all downhill from there.

Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $32 million

11. Shelter (February 25th)
The trailer for this horror-thriller is kind of interesting, and I like Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers just fine. More than that, I do not know, and when it comes to this year's fright film sweepstakes, at least thus far, I think it's a safe bet that Shelter is going to come in third, at least at the box office.

Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $31 million

12. The Eagle (February 11th)
Back we go into ancient Rome, with a gaggle of British character actors in tow, as always, and the perhaps decidedly un-British Channing Tatum leading the way. Tatum would appear to have amassed some star power, at least as far as high-profile romance and action is concerned, but this one seems to be flying a little under the radar. Comparisons to last month's Season of the Witch or perhaps even the unlucky The Last Legion come immediately to mind (that is, if your mind is full of useless information about movie box office). Mark Strong's here too, and to explain that he plays the villain yet again would be insulting to the fine art of redundancy. I haven't seen many trailers for this one, and unless critics love it, the movie will probably be gnawed over by Bieber.

Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $29 million