February 2010 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

February 5, 2010

She'll teach that Valentine's Day to keep hanging around year after year!

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By some happenstance of scheduling, February 2010's gathered up just eight wide new releases. Not that I'm complaining. We could all use a break from filmgoing, especially after that whole Avatar thing.

1. Valentine's Day (February 12th)

Here's a movie that headlines so many name actors that it almost plays like a parody of last year's He's Just Not That Into You, a film this one is trying to emulate in classic Cannonball Run-style. The veritable thespianic army assembled herein includes rising stars (Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway), A-listers who may have peaked (Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx), alumni of That 70's Show (Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace), survivors of the Great Depression (Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo), prime subjects of teen adulation (Taylors Swift and Lautner), teens who are less known if no less qualified (Carter Jenkins, Emma Roberts), Hollywood royalty (Julia Roberts, Queen Latifah), starlets named Jessica (Mlles. Biel and Alba), TV doctors (Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane?!?), and miscellanea (sorry, George Lopez and Kathy Bates). And hey, I've just gone and named them all, and yep, they've all been carefully selected to appeal to just about any demographic you can shake a stick at. It's all presided over by the old romantic comedy master himself, Gary Marshall, back again in his natural habitat. Now, any box office analyst with a brain would take one look at this one and immediately put it down for $100 million, plus tip; but I am a box office analyst with heart, you see, and so I can't help but surmise that Valentine's Day will be that rare mid-February romantic comedy to open big, but then drop off in classically front-loaded style. After all, remember how good those Cannonball Run movies were?

Opening weekend: $42 million (four-day) / Total gross: $89 million


2. Shutter Island (February 19th)

Welcome to Scorsese-DiCaprio '10. This one's a high profile Oscar contender pushed back from a plump October date that could have guaranteed it $100 million, and that makes it an interesting choice for the late February slot (usually occupied by Tyler Perry). But here's where the really weird part comes in: despite fleeing from potential Oscar voters, Shutter Island is actually getting pretty good early reviews! The forecast seems generally positive to me, with reservations: that star/director combo has certainly delivered at the box office before, though always with the benefit of awards-season legs, and it's a little hard for this type of movie to really break out in the Oscar off-season (though the obvious thriller elements and name recognition certainly won't hurt). That said, this one could still turn into an adult-driven box office hit with some real longevity, perhaps recalling the February '91 double-bill of The Silence of the Lambs and Sleeping with the Enemy. Perhaps.

Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $77 million

3. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (February 12th)

We're going to see a lot of mythological beasties duking it out at the movies this year, and it all starts here. Now, I'm a little confused as to the box office potential of Percy Jackson: other children's book series have been getting big-screen treatments right and left lately, with box office results as admirable as those accorded to The Spiderwick Chronicles ($71 million), or as disheartening as the ones dug up by The Seeker ($8 million) and Cirque du Freak ($13 million). Percy Jackson's certainly got impeccable genre credentials, with Harry Potter veteran Chris Columbus at the helm and a recognizable supporting cast (Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Rosario Dawson) buffering up the younger leads. So the question is - just how big are the Percy Jackson books among their readership, anyway? And how much of an audience will the film nab outside its base?

Opening weekend: $26 million (four-day) / Total gross: $68 million

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