Weekend Forecast for December 17-19, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

December 17, 2010

Now on sale at fine toy stores.

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As befitting the paper-thin plots of the cartoon, there's a overarching plot about Jellystone Park being under attack by corporate industries but really it's to showcase wacky anthropomorphic antics and apparently to have a turtle's ass thrust in your face in 3D. Reviews are about as abysmal as they're possible to get, though that hardly matters to the target audience of nine-year-olds. Parents, of course, are duly warned to dump the kids and find something at least marginally palatable.

Cartoon adaptations can be amazingly lucrative – the two recent Chipmunk movies, along with the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo movies show that. While another talking CGI animal would seem to fall right in line with these, Yogi Bear looks a little worse than the average crappy cartoon. Whether we've just gotten wise to how bad these movies can be or that this character is firmly in the second tier, there's far less inevitability about this being a depressingly large hit. Also, it's not the only 3D game in town, and will have to fight for those high value venues. Look for a modest opening weekend of $27 million.

How Do You Know brings James L. Brooks back to the director's chair for his twice-a-decade romantic comedy effort. The man behind Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment and As Good As It Gets (among a few others) has this time gathered Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson for a love triangle film, as Witherspoon starts to question her relationship with Wilson, a philandering professional baseball player. Rudd, who lives in Witherspoon's building, is under Federal investigation for stock fraud and about to hit rock bottom when he bumps into Witherspoon, who has just been cut from the US Women's Softball team. As a plot and set of character traits, it at least has the benefit of not having been used before.


Also starring Jack Nicholson as Rudd's father, How Do You Know seems to focus on providing that sort of fuzzy, agreeable romantic comedy that grabs great groups of family audiences over the Christmas holiday. Of course, that was the idea with Spanglish six years ago too, though no one really wants to see Adam Sandler in a semi-serious role. Wilson, Witherspoon and Rudd are a much better cast – almost a perfect storm of adorableness, with Wilson starting to embrace his natural doucheyness. Reviews, unfortunately, are terrible, with a few lonely dissenters. While that can't help but have an effect, ads for this have been sharp and funny, and will keep it from cratering. Opening at a modest 2,400 venues, How Do You Know should start with around $14 million.

Two major Oscar contenders get big expansions this weekend, with The Fighter moving from three screens to 2,500, and Black Swan going from 90 to close to 1,000. The Fighter is the far more conventional of these two, telling the story of boxer Mickey Ward and his journey from the streets of Lowell, Mass. to a junior welterweight championship. Ward is played by Mark Wahlberg, with Christian Bale playing his troubled half-brother and trainer Dicky Eklund. Rounding out the cast are Amy Adams and Melissa Leo – and all four actors are in serious Oscar contention.

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