Weekend Forecast for December 24-26, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
December 22, 2010
So here we are, the final weekend of the year with new releases of 2010, and a year that's been dominated by family releases gets a little more family content. Thanks, Ben Stiller, for ruining yet another Christmas!
Six of the top ten films of 2010 carry PG ratings, which, if it holds up, would be the most since 1985 and the invention of the PG-13 rating. Clearly family movies are hitting the mark this year. While Little Fockers may not technically qualify as a family movie with its PG-13 rating, its subject matter makes it “family-adjacent." Following 2000's Meet the Parents and 2004's Meet the Fockers, Little Fockers tests the boundaries of quasi-profanity-based comedy and makes us all weep for the remains of Robert DeNiro's career.
This third film is all about the kids and the passing of the torch of the patriarchy from DeNiro's character to Stiller's, though really it's all an excuse to hang together a bunch of contrived slapstick gags based on misunderstandings that Three's Company would have been embarrassed to exploit. There's just about every hacky joke in the book in this one – from boner jokes, to turkey carving accidents to rehashed catch phrases. If what you want out of Little Fockers is Meet the Parents stripped of its parts like a stolen Dodge Charger and then presented as a shadow of itself, then you're in luck.
As it happens, that's what most people do want out of Little Fockers, because, dammit, they've already seen Harry Potter and Grandpa doesn't want to see Tron. The continued success of Two and a Half Men proves that pandering works in entertainment. This series seems to be following an augmented Austin Powers model in both box office and progression of quality, with the first film opening to $28 million and winding up with $166 million, and Parents opening to $46 million and ending up with $279 million.
Just by happenstance, we have a nice comparison for the last time the calendar configured this way for Christmas. In 2004, Christmas Eve also fell on a Friday, and the lead film of that weekend was...Meet the Fockers, which opened on a Wednesday to $70 million over five days. Weekend openings have slowed their growth for mid-tier films so I don't expect a huge increase over that figure here, though some increase is warranted just for six years of inflation. Look for a three-day figure of $52 million and a five-day total of $79 million.
Week Two of Jeff Bridges: Box Office King arrives with True Grit, the Coens' remake of the 1969 John Wayne western. Bridges takes on the iconic role of the one-eyed U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, who's hired by a young girl to track down her father's killer, with the aid of a Texas Ranger. Wayne won the Oscar for his portrayal – though I doubt Bridges makes it two for two here.
Josh Brolin plays the villainous Tom Chaney, while Matt Damon takes over the Glen Campbell role of the Ranger LaBeouf (so there's at least one improvement over the original), while newcomer Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross in what appears to be a breakthrough role. It's unusual to have a remake of such a definitive classic, especially in a genre that's been mostly abandoned by Hollywood. It's even more unusual for filmmakers with as distinct a voice and vision as the Coens to take on a remake project, but it also makes for reassurance that it's not just going to be a cheap cash-in. Indeed, reviews are near rapturous, giving Brolin the chance to star in both the best and worst films of the year.