Weekend Forecast for November 6-8, 2009

By Reagen Sulewski

November 6, 2009

That's the creepiest Tiny Tim I've ever seen.

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Playing a bit like a lost Coen Brothers film (or maybe a less serious version of Syriana), it's a rather loopy looking comedy with some weird tone elements that might put off mass audiences like, well, Burn After Reading, Intolerable Cruelty and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Standout reviews might have helped here, but they've been rather mixed which might doom this film to mediocrity at the box office. An opening slate of just over 2,400 screens doesn't inspire confidence either, and I suspect we're looking at an opening weekend of just over $11 million.

There's a double dose of horror-thrillers opening this weekend, climbing into a marketplace that's been rather saturated with them lately. The Fourth Kind arrives perhaps perfectly timed to seize on the recent popularity of verité-horror, such as Paranormal Activity. Starring Milla Jovovich, it purports to tell the story of a series of disappearances in Nome, Alaska,

Shot as a recreation of documentary footage, it follows Jovovich's character as she psychoanalyzes a series of disturbed individuals that seem to share the same delusion. As she gets to the bottom of the issue, there's just one plausible explanation: alien abduction (I mean, obviously), which is where the film gets its title from, referring to the step beyond Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters. These aliens aren't quite so friendly as that, and most of the patients come back catatonic or barely functional.

In some sense Paranormal Activity may have paved the way for this film to be more accepted, but in other ways it could feel like a ripoff (even though it was obviously filmed well before Paranormal was released). It certainly lacks that film's organic buzz and seems more like an extended episode of In Search Of... than a real feature. I don't think this is going to hit in nearly the same way as other recent horror films, and should open to just $9 million.


Meanwhile, The Box is quite literally an extended TV episode, finding its origin in a Richard Matheson-penned Twilight Zone. The premise is as simple as it is ludicrous – a mysterious stranger presents a couple with a box containing just one button. If they press it, they'll be given $1 million, but if they do, someone in the world will die. The film examines that ethical question, but since it needs to fill two hours, throws in some car crashes and stuff.

Cameron Diaz and James Marsden star as the couple presented with this dilemma, with Frank Langella as the disfigured stranger. Director Richard Kelly (of Donnie Darko fame) is no stranger to these kind of convoluted films, but this feels rather ho-hum, and not that worthy of the big screen. This one will have a tiny impact at the box office, with just $5 million.

Michael Jackson's swan song, This Is It, wildly underperformed compared to studio hype with an opening weekend of $23 million, though it's an exceptional figure by concert film standards. Their notoriously short life-spans don't lend much hope to the idea that it can perform like a normal film, as the die-hards already went out to see it. It's hard to imagine too many people that were fanatic Michael Jackson fans but didn't want to see this immediately. Watch for an astonishing drop to around $8 million for the last weekend of its planned two-week run.

Paranormal Activity continues to add a handful of screens each week and although it's not going to hit #1 again, it's all set to cross $100 million this weekend. It's shown remarkable stickiness as a phenomenon, and with these new screens should be able to hold off the challenge from The Fourth Kind. Give it $11 million for the weekend.

Nothing else should manage $5 million this weekend, though Couples Retreat has shown a remarkable resiliency and will eventually hit the $100 million plateau, if not go much past it.

Forecast: Weekend of Nov. 6-8, 2009
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 A Christmas Carol 3,683 New 50.4
2 The Men Who Stare At Goats 2,443 New 11.3
3 Paranormal Activity 2,558 +154 11.0
4 The Fourth Kind 2,529 New 9.6
5 This Is It 3,481 0 8.5
6 The Box 2,635 New 5.2
7 Law Abiding Citizen 2,474 -290 4.7
8 Couples Retreat 2,486 -180 4.1
9 Where the Wild Things Are 2,756 -889 3.3
10 Saw VI 2,091 -945 2.5

Continued:       1       2



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