Weekend Forecast for December 21-23, 2007 Part 1
By Reagen Sulewski
December 21, 2006
Seemingly fed up at movie goers ignoring virtually every release from September to just a couple of weeks ago, Hollywood has decided to throw the whole shebang at multiplex audiences, with an astounding nine films opening or expanding into wide release between this weekend and New Year's. Shrug off these films, jerks!
By far the highest profile of these films is National Treasure: Books of Secrets, which commandeers screens in an incredible 3,832 venues this weekend. This low rent Indiana Jones knock-off/Da-Vinci-Code-with-better-hair starring Nicolas Cage was a sleeper hit in the fall of 2004, opening to $35 million and collecting $175 million in total. The sequel brings back his treasure hunter character after evidence implicating his great-grandfather in the assassination plot of Abe Lincoln is discovered.
This leads to a globetrotting adventure to clear his ancestor's name, which includes breaking into Buckingham Palace and the White House and kidnapping the President as crucial parts. ...could work.
The trailer doesn't feature anything quite so gobsmacking ridiculous as "We have to steal the Declaration of Independence", but I dare say the above plot is a decent try. National Treasure 2 also brings back most of the major players from the first one, including Diane Kruger, Harvey Keitel and Jon Voight, adding in Ed Harris, Helen Mirren and Bruce Greenwood. I think this series is due for a bit of a bump based on how leggy it was last time around, and should see an opening weekend of about $53 million.
No one is hotter in comedy right now than Judd Apatow, and it's not even worth arguing about; everything the man touches turns to gold, be it as a producer, director or writer (we'll just ignore Kicking & Screaming for a little while longer, thanks). Walk Hard: The Legend of Dewey Cox is his latest effort to drain every single comedy dollar out of the marketplace and claim it for his own. Apatow produced and wrote this one, leaving the directing to Jake Kasdan, whose 1998 debut film Zero Effect is a minor masterpiece. I feel like I'm forgetting something here... what is it... oh, right!
John C. Reilly, who you probably remember as Will Ferrell's sidekick in Talladega Nights (though the man has an Oscar nomination - you could at least remember that!) as fictional music legend Dewey Cox, whose career passes Forrest Gump-like through all the major events in pop culture in the last 50 years. More a parody of Walk the Line than anything, Walk Hard seems content to tweak every convention of the musician biopic/hagiography craze that's come into vogue in the last few years, to absurdist effect.
Although I wasn't too keen on the initial trailer, it maybe just took me a little time to warm up to the concept, and this looks like another winner for Apatow. Although Reilly isn't someone who you might think of to carry a comedy as a lead, he's got unquestioned comedy skills, and importantly for this film, can actually sing, which I think will make more of a difference to the box office than you might expect. If an Apatow production can make Michael Cera and Jonah Hill into $30 million plus movie stars, there's no reason Reilly couldn't become one as well. Add in the surprisingly positive reviews - where so many other parodies are stupid and obvious, this one appears to have bite - and we've got the makings of a surprise smash. Look for a debut take of about $21 million.