Weekend Forecast for November 26-30, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

November 26, 2008

Stop trying to look up my skirt! My mom is sitting right there!

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The hypercharged November box office has seen three straight weekends where the number one film at the box office earned more than the previous week's, and earned over $60 million. Will Thanksgiving continue that trend? Eh, not so much.

In movie world, Thanksgiving weekend, if not earlier in the month, is the ideal time to bring out Christmas movies. For some strange reason, this works more often than not, and they're generally foolproof in terms of the box office, unless you do something dumb like pay Arnold Schwartzenegger $20 million to be in it.

This year's model is Four Christmases. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon star as a non-committal couple that are both children of divorce, who visit all four of their parents on Christmas Day with hilarious and wacky results for all. The encounters range from the redneck (Vaughn's father Robert Duvall and his psychotic brothers Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw) to the uncomfortable (from Witherspoon's mother Mary Steenburgen, as a born-again Christian).

This is the second straight one of these films for Vaughn, who last year played a similar kind of black sheep role in Fred Claus to moderate success. Witherspoon doesn't have anything quite the same in her repertoire as a lead, but Sweet Home Alabama isn't worlds away. Importantly, they seem to have a decent chemistry (recent rumors notwithstanding), though the film seems to built largely around setpieces, Meet the Parents-style. Some of them seem like they work (Favreau beating up on Vaughn, for instance) and some don't (the projectile vomiting baby), but the whole package seems blandly inoffensive enough to work. Opening at 3,200 venues this weekend, it should be the top new film with $27 million over three days and about $40 million over five.


Arriving without a lot of fanfare is The Transporter 3, a sequel that I'm not sure anyone was really chomping at the bit for. Jason Statham returns as the deliveryman/hitman who always ends up in the middle of a gunfight to protect his "parcel", typically a beautiful woman who he inevitably falls in love with.

The Transporter series, as created by mad French genius Luc Besson, is known for its outlandish stunt work that includes things like hang gliding onto trains and jumping cars from one parking garage to another. It seems that Statham is kind of outgrowing this kind of film after this year's The Bank Job (and yet – Crank 2 is coming) but it's hard to give up ridiculous action films after they become your thing. Transporter 2 opened to a slightly shocking $20 million in September of 2005, but this arrives in the middle of a busy season with a Bond film to go up against. I don't count on it repeating those numbers, but $15 million in three days and $22 million in five days wouldn't shock me.

Baz Lurhmann's Australia arrives to fill the big messy romantic historical epic film category that's largely been missing from theatres, since, oh let's say Pearl Harbor. Covering some of the same time period, Lurhmann's tribute to his homeland stars Nicole Kidman as an English heiress and Hugh Jackman as a rough and tumble backwoodsman in Northern Australia who find unlikely romance.

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