Weekend Forecast for Dec. 25-28, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

December 24, 2008

Now do I look like Felicity?

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With the last proper weekend of 2008, Christmas hurls an overstuffed stocking full of new releases at us, for what should prove to be one of the most lucrative eight days of the year.

With kids out of school and families coming together for the holidays, the week between Christmas and New Year's sees movie-going behavior change drastically from the other 51 weeks of the year, with a rising tide lifting all boats dramatically. Combine that with the rush to get films out for Oscar contention and we have our six new films in wide release, plus several more in limited runs. The fun part – there's probably room for all of them, even with the old films already out there. Most films open on Thursday, Christmas Day, which in this calendar configuration, will be the best earning day for many films over the next week.

Family films lead the way, with Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories looking like the clear winner. While the general concept of that seems a tad frightening on first glance, it's Sandler working with Disney, so they've hopefully got him somewhat in check.

The concept of the film is pretty simple, but novel, with Sandler starring as a hotel handyman who finds that the stories he tells his niece and nephew come to life, no matter how outlandish. As his stories become crazier, he starts to realize how he can use this newfound power to make his own dreams of becoming the manager of the hotel come true. Live large, dude, live large.


Sandler survived the battle of the unfunny summer comedies this year with You Don't Mess With the Zohan, which squeaked over $100 million domestic. Obviously that proves something about Sandler's star power (and movie-goers' tastes, though that one's not such a positive lesson), and the timing of Bedtime Stories probably couldn't be better. The PG-rated fantasies, complete with outlandish effects (as Bolt proved, hamsters with big eyes are a go-to cute animal). Opening at over 3,500 theaters, Bedtime Stories should prove to be a big winner for families a la Night at the Museum, and should open around $50 million over four days.

More competition in this regard comes from Marley and Me, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. Adapted from the popular book, the movie centers around Marley, a golden lab and "worst dog in the world", and its owners, played by the two leads mentioned above. As Marley misbehaves in ever increasingly bizarre ways, he only serves to bring his owners closer together.

This isn't a complicated movie by any stretch and lives and dies on its ability to tug at heartstrings. This also makes it kind of an odd candidate for a blockbuster, but given the season and the popularity of the book, it just might have a chance. This is Aniston's first film since 2006's The Break-Up, so it's difficult to gauge her star power, though she's not been short of unrelated publicity lately. Something about some ex of hers, I think. Wilson has been a little more active lately, but not to any great success (Drillbit Taylor anyone? No? Anybody?). I think we're looking at a solid four-day total of $24 million.

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