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Weekend Forecast for January 4-6, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

January 4, 2008

Hello? Can you tell me what happened to my once promising career?

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For the first weekend of 2008, the lineup at the box office will look very similar to the last two weekends of 2007, as most studios are waiting at least one more week to test out their new films. There is one new movie, but the weekend will belong to returning and expanding films.

It's becoming a bit of a tradition to plunk a horror film down in early January in the past few years, hoping to capture mindspace in that lull. One Missed Call is that movie in 2008, and the sole new wide release.

A remake of a film by legendary Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike (though one of his more mainstream ones), One Missed Call is definitely within the Japanese tradition of technology-horror, a la The Ring and Pulse. Also reminiscent of Final Destination, in the movie, a group of friends starts to receive mysterious calls on their cellphones... from themselves. The calls appear to be from the future and contain details about their imminent deaths. It's something you could laugh off as a goofy prank – until the deaths start happening.

One Missed Call stars Shannyn Sossamon, Ed Burns, and a bunch of 20-something actors you've probably seen in some miscellaneous TV appearances. Sossamon was on the cusp of being the next big thing a few years ago after 40 Days and 40 Nights, but that obviously didn't take. The relatively anonymous cast of the film doesn't necessarily hurt the film's chances, but it certainly doesn't help. It just means that it needs to live and die on how effective the ads are.




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But really, the scariest thing about this film is the poster, which doesn't bode too well. It's got a good hook, and the importance of cell phones to kids makes it very relatable, but the ads don't really inspire much in the way of chills, and it falls a bit into that "generic horror" category. Look for a weekend of about $7 million.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets was the big winner of the Holiday period, moving its total box office to almost $150 million, and closing in on the total earned by the first film in this series, which managed $175 million total. The Nicolas Cage adventure thriller actually had the highest drop of any film in the top ten films (tied with I Am Legend) last weekend (most films saw increases), but it's still working from a massive number. It's probably in the best position for January, a la Night at the Museum, though reviews have not been as kind to it. It should win a third consecutive weekend with about $22 million.

Family films typically have a steep fall off the cliff following the holidays as their target audience heads back to school or gets distracted by other things. That has a direct impact on the chances for Alvin and the Chipmunks over the next few weekends, but with over $150 million in the bank already, I'm sure its producers couldn't be bothered to care. Although I remain stunned that this stale idea for a movie could still have enough cultural cachet to bring in this many families, it's one of those "Okay, this is our reality now" moments that you just have to deal with or go mad, purple monkey dishwasher. Look for about $15 million more for Alvin and friends this weekend.


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