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Weekend Forecast for December 19-21, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

December 19, 2008

Beef jerky does give us a reason to smile!

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With nowhere to go but up from last week's Delgo, The Tale of Despereaux arrives in about 3,100 theatres on Friday. Based on a children's book, the animated film, one of Universal's first big entries into the genre, tells the story of a bookworm mouse forced into bravery to help save a medieval kingdom. There's some interaction between humans and the mice and rats, which I'm sure I'd be familiar with if I'd actually read the book this is based on.

While it feels something like a middle ages version of The Secret of NIMH, what makes Despereaux an interesting film is its spectacular look, which feels like a painting brought to life. Voice talent comes from Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson and a few other recognizable names, but no one that'll cause a stampede. It's a cute enough looking film that should at least be tolerable, and perhaps even enjoyable for adults, which is almost the key demographic for animated films these days. I look for a weekend of about $14.

Another cryptic film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, will relinquish the top spot after a $30 million opening weekend. And although that's probably a pretty good take for what looked like a bit of a depressing sci-fi film, it's due to drop pretty heavily this weekend. Reviews were middling at best, with many outright mocking the film and Keanu Reeves' wooden performance (on purpose this time, honest!). Effects can go a long way, but audiences clearly aren't in the mood for gloom. Give it $13 million this weekend.

Four Christmases seems to be the compromise film of choice for this holiday season, as it's performed very strongly in its three weeks of release, maintaining a great holdover through some difficult weekends. There's always going to be a market for inoffensive holiday-themed romantic comedy at this time of year, and while this might not quite fit that bill entirely, it's close enough. It should see a $10 million take this weekend, vaulting it past the $100 million mark.




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Bolt is hoping to do the same thing for family films, although Despereaux complicates things from that perspective. Disney exists in a different realm of animation than other studios so it should be able to fight past that, but the 25% drops of past weekends probably can't be taken for granted. Give it $5 million and hope it hangs on for another week for the big bucks.

Twilight held a little better than I expected last weekend, managing to hit the $150 million mark by earning $8 million. It's kind of the end of the line for this vampire film, though, as it's run out of impressionable teen girls afraid of boys. It should fall to $4 million this weekend, with a good chance it tops out below $175 million total.

Opening in limited release is The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky's film about a washed-up professional wrestler starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, which is getting tremendous Oscar buzz. No really. It's only on four screens for now, but could have a strong impact this weekend, possibly even to about $200,000.


Forecast: Weekend of December 19-21, 2008
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Yes Man 3,434 New 34.7
2 Seven Pounds 2,758 New 22.4
3 The Tale of Despereaux 3,104 New 14.7
4 The Day the Earth Stood Still 3,560 0 13.6
5 Four Christmases 3,515 -25 9.9
6 Bolt 2,968 -165 5.0
7 Twilight 2,991 -658 4.2
8 Australia 2,212 -491 2.7
9 Quantum of Solace 1,874 -761 2.3
10 Slumdog Millionaire 589 +420 2.0

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