Holiday Movie Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

November 19, 2010

All I want for Christmas is not you. It's this bike.

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This is a big, expensive winter we're heading into, with younger audiences especially getting a handful of high-profile releases in their name, and the little movies mostly festering underground, looking for a chance to break through into the light. But the big question will be resolved on a much higher plane of existence: namely, can Tron take the winter crown from yet another Harry Potter sequel?

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 (November 19th)

Part 7... another one of these?! When will they ever stop? It should have been the last, nine years after the first. But just like any number of horror movie serial killers (though considerably less gracefully), Harry Potter just keeps on ticking, bringing with him entry after entry of his decidedly never-ending series of misadventures. It does appear that the Harry Potter series could possibly - just maybe - still have some fans, somewhere, and that minuscule handful of devotees may well translate to another $300 million+ on the tab, as has happened once in a while. Winter legs will help. And depending on what Tron ends up with, Potter the Seventh could be the biggest movie of the season. Matter of fact... count on it.

Opening weekend: $115 million / Total gross: $316 million

2. Tron: Legacy (December 17th)

This is the big 3D science fiction movie of the month, and coming in just 364 days after the release of that other 3D extravaganza - the one that forever changed the face of cinema (or at least I think it did). Indeed, Tron: Legacy is so clearly poised to be this year's Avatar that it seems annoying if obligatory to want to ask the usual questions - like, for one, will mainstream audiences be interested in the sequel to a film released a few years before its lead actors were even born? Does the trailer fail to present a clear story, lacking an easily-explainable plot, conflict, and villain? Has the 3D wave been muted some and, do the special effects, while attractive, really guarantee a monster hit? And don't these questions sound awfully similar to the complaints and dismissals hurled Avatar's way just a few weeks before its release? That cryptic note aside, this would be the film I'd safely peg as at least the fall's second biggest, if not for a certain comedic transplant from July that's going to roll into town by Christmas Day (more on this later). But, December's biggest or not, Tron is sure to rake in $200 mil at the mildest, not to mention make stars out of Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde, and annoit Jeff Bridges indubitably as the master of ceremonies of December 2010. Glad to see it.

Opening weekend: $59 million / Total gross: $225 million


3. Little Fockers (December 22nd)

Here's a film that was forcibly dragged off from its original July 30th date and ejected smack dab into the Twelve Days, a move that frankly may have added as much as an extra $100 million dollars to the box office total! Yes, it's another high-concept comedic extravaganza sequel, and original cast-wise, the gang's all here (yay...). Bottom line: obliterating all predictions, projections, forecasts, and tea card readings, 2004's Meet the Fockers grossed a jaw-dropping, if not particularly knee-slapping, $279 million (please do not ask how much that adjusts to). If tasked to comprise a list of reasons why Little Fockers will, in fact, not repeat its predecessor's uncanny box office bombardment, I would come up severely short of anything but the expected "well, gee, it's been six years, so, really..." Yes, my friends, it has been six years. But even if times change, big-star family comedies with a recognizable brand name stay the same forever. Just be glad it's not called Meat the Fockers.

Opening weekend: $97 million (5-day) / Total gross: $216 million

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