December 2008 Forecast
By David Mumpower
December 5, 2008
3) The Day The Earth Stood Still
I feel like I'm really out on a limb with this one, but hear me out. Keanu Reeves has a strong cachet in certain sorts of movies. Generally, these are action films wherein he acts confused and/or mysterious throughout. Obviously, there is The Matrix franchise as the blueprint example of this, but Constantine demonstrates that his reach is not confined to Neo. He also is a relatively solid box office draw. Garbage like The Lake House and Hardball should have been nothing projects rather than two films with combined box office approaching $100 million. People are naturally inclined to like Keanu Reeves for whatever reason. His anchoring the only real action blockbuster on the December schedule (sorry, Punisher: War Zone) should be enough for this re-make to carve out a nice share of seasonal box office. I fully expect an opening in the $40 million range, which is wonderful for this month, followed by good enough legs to get the title in the $125-$140 million range.
4) Seven Pounds
The numbers are astonishing. Sure, I mention them each time Smith has a new title released, but the reason for it is simple. These numbers matter. Will Smith's last eight films have all earned over $100 million domestically. In point of fact, they have all earned $138.5 million. This run of success is historically unprecedented in the industry in that none of the last six titles has been a sequel. One of the other two was a sequel to a $65.6 million earner. Only the Men in Black follow-up was a certain success, which is amusing since that's probably the most disappointing performer of the bunch.
Stating the obvious, Will Smith is the most consistent box office draw in the industry today. I've been saying this since Hitch and any questions about the point were answered when The Pursuit of Happyness somehow managed to make $162.6 million in North America. Smith's most recent films are his most successful ones since the original Men in Black's release in 1997. Hancock and I Am Legend accrued $227.9 million and $256.4 million, respectively. He's on the hot streak of his career, which leads to the logical question you are probably wondering right about now. Why is this ranked no higher than third on my list? This is a completely valid question, and I may offer you nothing better than the truth in reply.
I have a hunch here. The Seven Pounds commercials are inscrutable enough to hide the film's premise, but I think that this one is not going to be as well received as his recent spate of titles have been. I believe this is Smith's least engaging film since Bad Boys II, and I expect its box office to be negatively impacted by that. I believe that holiday legs will carry the film to another $100 million, but I don't see it doing quite as well over the duration of its run as the two films above it.