February 2009 Forecast
By David Mumpower
February 6, 2009
The February slate is one of the most befuddling in recent memory in that there is no clear cut frontrunner. Before you say that no one had pegged Paul Blart Mall Cop as a heavyweight (which is true), the reality of the current box office landscape is that it's rare for a month not to have a favorite to win the month. Just look at the next three months of releases and Watchmen, Hannah Montana and X-Men Origins: Wolverine all jump off the page. There is no such champion among the 11 titles due for release in February. In fact, I struggle with the notion of which of these to eliminate from the top ten. I had originally planned to leave Fired Up off the list but after some serious consideration, I came to realize that Push is the film that seems to have the least studio support. It also has the added problems that the trailers for the feature film are so vague that more had to be made that explicitly stated this is not a television show. I've heard members of the production staff assert that this movie is going to get a sequel but while I admire their confidence, I think Push is the box office loser of the month. I see it finishing 11th in an 11 horse race. As for the winner, I guess it's going to be a chick flick or Steve Martin.
1) He's Just Not That Into You
The story of the past 13 months has been women flexing their newfound box office muscle, starting with the record-setting debut of 27 Dresses last January. Since then, titles such as Mamma Mia!, Sex and the City, and Twilight have been unqualified blockbusters. 2009 has already seen Bride Wars become the second most successful film of the year to date, with a total north of $50 million. February sees two titles attempt to replicate its success. The better of them appears to be He's Just Not That Into You, a film whose cast and composition is Robert Altman-esque. The adjoining story arcs featuring established talents such as Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, and Jennifer Aniston seem uniquely complex for a romantic comedy. Even so, the marketing for this title has been spot on and the name of the movie will provide jokes for the rest of us for many years to come. He's Just Not That Into You is win/win for everyone. Rub it in the face of all of your recently dumped friends.
2) Pink Panther 2
The surprise success of the original has unsurprisingly led to a sequel, but this outing may have rested on its laurels a bit too much. The first Pink Panther movie's $82.2 million domestically and $158.9 million both seem way out of range here. Even 70% of that domestic total strikes me as ambitious. Okay, this argument made a bit more sense prior to Paul Blart (Kevin James' success continues to haunt me), but The Pink Panther 2 is currently 6% (!) fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. Surely to God, word-of-mouth is going to hurt its legs some. Right? RIGHT? Stupid Paul Blart and his god-accursed Segway.