December 2004 Forecast
By Marty Doskins
The holiday season continues at the box office this month, as well as the last-minute Oscar push. In my opinion, we’ve got three clear leaders at the top of the top ten for this month; however, I had a difficult time figuring which order to place those top three films. Each has its own unique audience and we’ll see which one has the bigger draw.
And now, on to my top ten for December.
1. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
If you don’t have elementary school age children, you may not be familiar with this movie. The Series of Unfortunate Events is a collection of 11 (so far) books written by an author using the pen name Lemony Snicket. The three main characters, who are siblings, have everything go wrong with their lives and this happens over and over throughout the series. You might think that this would be too dreary for kids to read, but you’d be dead wrong. The books are wildly popular. Plus, casting Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf was a brilliant move. I’ve heard a lot of kids mention that he’s exactly like they pictured Olaf. I expect this combination of popularity and star power to translate into big box office numbers the weekend before Christmas.
2. Blade: Trinity
The third film in this vampire hunter series is finally being released. The first two films were successful during their runs and their popularity has grown even more through their home video releases. The studio was also able to persuade Wesley Snipes to continue on with the series, which doesn’t seem to happen too much with third films. Many times stars are replaced just so the studio can cash in on the name recognition of the first two films. Not this time. Expect to see this one open big.
3. Ocean’s Twelve
This sequel to the remake of the 1960s film has something in common with our number two film - the stars were re-signed for the sequel. While this is only the second film for this new franchise, it becomes even more impressive when you look at the cast members – Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, just to name a few. Plus, there’s the addition of Catherine Zeta-Jones. There are some big bucks being thrown at this venture in terms of salaries and I think the gamble will pay off for the studio.
4. Fat Albert
Bill Cosby has wanted to release this film for quite a while and not that long ago it looked like it might even be a dead project. However, it was finally revived with a smart, young comedian in the title role – Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson. On SNL, Thompson has quickly made a name for himself and I think he was a good choice for the movie. But if this film doesn’t stack up well to the original cartoon series, I think it’s going to drop off severely in a matter of a few short weeks.
5. The Aviator
Oh, Leo! *swoon* Although he doesn’t churn out the films, Leonardo DiCaprio stays in the minds and hearts of women everywhere. This film has him portraying billionaire Howard Hughes. He’s also been teamed with two wonderful leading ladies, Kate Beckinsale and Cate Blanchett. I think there’s enough of a draw here from Leo. A lot of guys are going to be dragged into this one by their significant others. Double the ticket sales = $$$ for the studio.
6. The Flight of the Phoenix
The commercials for this one have looked pretty intense and very intriguing. I think the advertising dollars spent by the studio will be enough to bring in audiences at a fairly decent rate opening weekend.
7. Meet the Fockers
I think the studio waited a bit too long to release this sequel to the funny 2000 film Meet the Parents. And it’s going to show in terms of box office receipts. The original cast, including Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, and Robert DeNiro, are appearing once again with the addition of Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman as Ben’s parents. But even with all of that going for the movie, that delay’s going to be a killer.
8. The Darkness
There are some things this film has going for it. First, it’s a horror film. And second, Anna Paquin. However, I think there are too many forces trying to keep this one down. 1) It’s being released at Christmas, which will probably mean it has limited screen availability. 2) This film was going to be straight-to-video just a few short months ago, but the studio changed its mind. That doesn’t bode well for the movie. 3) It opens against Fat Albert. Overall, I think the minuses outweigh the pluses in this case.
9. Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood is directing once again, which should help out this film. However, Eastwood’s demographic isn’t the one that spends the most money at the theaters. They’d rather wait for his films to be released on home video. I think that’s going to continue to be the case with Eastwood films in the future and this will certainly not be the exception.
Somehow, Adam Sandler seems to bring in audiences to his films. I loved him on Saturday Night Live, but I’ve been less than impressed with his film script choices. There are bright moments, like 50 First Dates and The Waterboy, but they don’t show up that often for me. But I still think this one’s not going to do very well at release time. The commercials and trailers aren’t that interesting, but I’m never sure with Sandler in the cast.
Tim Briody's December Forecast
John Seal's December Forecast