December 2008 Forecast
By David Mumpower
December 5, 2008
1) Yes Man
Way back in 1997, Liar Liar was an epic blockbuster by the standards of the day. The film earned $181.4 million, making it the number three film of the year. The only titles that offered stronger domestic performances were Men in Black and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Liar Liar's box office inflation adjusts to $281.4 million, meaning that in 2008 dollars, it would be the #4 performer of the year behind The Dark Knight, Iron Man and Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Given this context, you should easily understand why I am so bullish on the prospects of Yes Man, a de facto sequel.
Since most Jim Carrey sequels don't star Jim Carrey (Evan Almighty, Son of the Mask, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd), this is a rare opportunity for instant box office credibility. The concern is that Carrey's career has been scattershot in recent years. The Number 23 was a disaster and Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events was a disappointment relative to expectations. We have to go back five years to find the last Carrey film that was a monster hit, but I still feel that the holiday season is a time for comedy. This was perhaps best demonstrated recently by the $250.8 million success of Night at the Museum. I don't think Yes Man is going to match that type of box office, but I do believe that this is a $150 million earner. In a pretty lousy December, that should be good enough for first place.
2) Bedtime Stories
Adam Sandler's most recent comedy, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, is what passes for unsuccessful for the SNL graduate who will always be The Stud Boy to me. The film barely and I mean *barely* crossed the $100 million with only $18,000 left to spare. It was the first true Sandler comedy since 2000's Little Nicky to struggle to make that mark. What we learned from this is that if the funniest gag is, "Was that your foot?", you haven't sufficiently brought the funny. Bedtime Stories is not going to have that problem. It's much more in the Jumanji family of slapstick humor, and it even has a splash of The Princess Bride thrown in for good measure. Sandler's character reads out stories to some children only to discover that what they are saying immediately comes true. Just from that sentence, you should have a good feel for why this is going to be one of the biggest hits of the season. The fact that Sandler is involved steals the deal. I vacillated back and forth between this and Yes Man for the number one position. In the end, I settled upon Yes Man because Carrey's films tend to break out much more than Sandler's. Stud Boy has never had a film do more than $165 million domestically. He's big but he's never been Carrey big. I think this one could put him over the top, but I cannot bet against the two funny men's track records to date.