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Weekend Forecast for January 16-19, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

January 16, 2009

We seem to have caught them in an awkward moment.

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Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia) and Jake T. Austin star as two orphans (perhaps rising to the level of ragamuffins) who discover an abandoned hotel and decide to take in stray dogs, staying one step ahead of animal control and their social worker (Don Cheadle, who obviously needed a beach house). Caring for hundreds of dogs becomes a lot of work, so Austin automates the hotel (perhaps proving his real father was one Rube Goldberg).

Animal films are going through another renaissance of late, what with the surprising success of Marley & Me over the holidays, and this should continue that trend on a smaller scale. It's a largely inoffensive, if adult-off-putting film, and should start with a weekend of around $13 million.

Defiance and Last Chance Harvey are two films that expand into wide release after varying limited runs, and as very different types of films. The former stars Daniel Craig as a Byelorussian Jew during WWII who moves an entire community into hiding after the advance of the Nazis. More than just hiding, they thrive against all odds and mount a resistance against the German invaders. The complexities of war raise their head and Craig and his brothers must maintain their humanity against the horrors around them.




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While not quite Craig's first non-Bond lead role, it's the first film since his coming to stardom that has relied so heavily on his presence. Obviously no one should expect Bond numbers out of this, and the story is one that people aren't very familiar with. Mostly it feels like "generic peasant film with guns", which doesn't make for great marketing. On about 1,800 screens, watch for an $8 million weekend for Defiance.

The latter of those two expanding films stars Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson in a, well... September/October romance. Hoffman, playing a bit of a, well, loser is too harsh, but not a man who's dynamic and happy with his life. In London for his daughter's wedding, he meets up with Thompson, who's similarly out of place in her life, and the two start a tentative romance. Unremarkable but inoffensively so, this film may hit the target for romantic comedies, but will definitely skew a fair bit older than the typical rom-com. Both leads were nominated for Golden Globes, which may help, but probably not too much considering they didn't win. Opening on about 1,000 screens, it should be due for around $4 million.

Clint Eastwood shocked pretty much everyone with the opening of Gran Torino last weekend, to just shy of $30 million, his best opening weekend ever by a pretty fair margin (though to be fair, Dirty Harry never got to open on 3,000 screens). A strong contender for an acting Oscar (but a big long shot for Best Pic) Torino is already a big winner in most aspect of the word. Look for it to come in with about $21 million over the four-day period.

Bride Wars and The Unborn, horror films from different perspectives, came in at numbers two and three. The Unborn faces pretty direct competition and is of a one-and-done genre and should nearly fall off the face of the Earth here. Bride Wars, on the other hand, could scare us by showing some legs as a female-targeted film. But really, Anne Hathaway has to be careful she doesn't pull a Norbit and earn her way out of an Oscar. Bride Wars should come in with about $14 million while The Unborn ought to collapse all the way to $9 million or less.


Forecast: Weekend of January 16-19, 2008
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Notorious 1,637 New 23.4
2 Gran Torino 2,972 +164 21.6
3 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 3,144 New 16.2
4 My Bloody Valentine 3-D 2,534 New 15.9
5 Bride Wars 3,228 +2 14.3
6 Hotel for Dogs 3,271 New 13.7
7 Defiance 1,789 +1.787 8.5
8 The Unborn 2,359 +2 8.4
9 Marley & Me 2,952 -526 7.1
10 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 2,223 -724 5.7

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