October 2005 Forecast
By Michael Bentley
I say this without a drip of sarcasm and nary a hint of cynicism: they honestly and truly will make a movie of anything. Doom, based on the extremely popular video game of the same name, stars The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) as part of a team of special operatives sent to a research station on Mars to crush, kill, and destroy a bunch of alien monsters killing people. You can safely bet on at least three things with Doom. 1) There will be an abundance of cheesy lines in between violence galore. 2) Critics will hate it. 3) It will make millions and audiences will love it.
...Now if only my plan to adapt Katamari Damacy for the big screen could get off the ground. Starring Emmanuel Lewis as the Prince.
Opening weekend prediction: $25 million.
2) Saw II
October, of course, is the ideal time of year for studios to release their horror and serial killer lineups. Just last year we got Saw, a creepy, dark thriller about a deranged serial killer who used ...some unusual methods. It was ultimately disappointing from a critical perspective, but was a mild hit with horror fans and found an even bigger audience on video. Sure to be no different, Saw II again focuses on Jigsaw. This time, a police detective tries to solve his latest deadly puzzle.
Opening weekend: $24 million.
3) The Legend of Zorro
Antonio Banderas reprises his title role from the Mask of Zorro, which was a moderate success back in 1998. "Mask" opened to nearly $23 million dollars before trekking its way close to the century mark. The difference is, that was during the lucrative summer season and this one arrives during a relatively competitive fall. It's taken a while to get the sequel off the ground. Will it be worth it?
Opening weekend: $21 million.
4) Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Wallace and Gromit, two very popular characters in the world of stop-motion clay animation, are on their way to the big screen for their first full-length feature. In this adventure, Wallace and his lovable dog Gromit set out to solve the mystery that plagues the annual vegetable growing contest. W&G was made by the same company behind 2000's Chicken Run and, although the latter had the benefit of Mel Gibson star power behind it, is probably a reasonable comparison. People are talking about Wallace and Gromit's stunning animation and friendly story, which reportedly took over five years to complete. The Were-Rabbit is sure to entrance the many dedicated fans of the pair. But how much will it appeal to other families and children?
Opening weekend: $19 million.
Here we have a very intriguing concept. Keira Knightley is Domino Harvey, a glamorous fashion model who decided to quit her day job and become a bounty hunter. That's right, just like Boba Fett. Except that this is based on real-life events.
Tony Scott, who has a relatively long and financially successful career with action hits including Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and Spy Game, directs this unusual story. To make the idea even more interesting, Domino is told in a non-linear fashion and even includes some wacky concepts like using actors from Beverly Hills 90210. Now, if Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering aren't a guarantee of success, then I don't know what is.
Opening weekend: $17 million.
I can't watch the trailer for Elizabethtown anymore without thinking of the brilliantly re-edited trailer for The Shining. (If you don't know what I'm talking about just google "shining redux.") The saccharine-infested Elizabethtown is Cameron Crowe's attempt to win back the hearts and minds of his fans after the dreadfully disappointing Vanilla Sky. After all, there are so many wonderful moments and characters from Crowe films, from Jeff Spicoli to Lloyd Dobler and his boombox, to his underrated take on the grunge area in Singles, to "Show Me the Money" and "Tiny Dancer."
Unfortunately, an unfinished cut of Elizabethtown got lambasted at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. The story is about a downtrodden man who comes home to his small town in Kentucky for his father's funeral, falls for a nice girl, and his life is reenergized. It is sure to call to mind any number of vaguely similar films from over the years (Garden State leaped immediately to my mind when I first saw the trailer). But with a very solid cast headlined by Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, and Crowe's eye and ears for generally audience-friendly stories, this is sure to be a contender at the multiplexes.
Opening weekend: $16 million.
7) Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story
With each movie that Dakota Fanning stars in, the "when will she go off the deep end and become a pencil-thin crack addict whore like Lindsay, Britney, ad infinitum..." questions become louder and louder. I'm not sure that's fair; after all she is still a very young 11-years-old. But given her age, that just makes her performances to date that much more impressive. She seems so natural and confident in her roles that it's quite possible she'll be a leading actress for years to come. Now with Dreamer she gets closer to leading lady status as the daughter of a thoroughbred horse trainer, who helps to nurse an injured horse back. The trailer was effective so Dreamer will certainly be a consideration for families looking to see a movie this time of year.
Opening weekend: $14 million.
8) The Fog
I swear this movie already came out. Oh, I don't know, maybe 25 years ago or so. The Fog easily takes the cake for the Pointless Remake of the Month award. Coincidentally, John Carpenter also takes home the honors for Sellout of the Month.
Opening weekend: $14 million.
9) In Her Shoes
Curtis Hanson, the artisan behind the near-masterpiece L.A. Confidential as well as that Eminem movie, delves into yet another genre with In Her Shoes. Starring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette (she was the mom in both The Sixth Sense and About a Boy), it is about the relationship between two sisters. One is the beautiful party girl and one is the successful straight shooter.
To say that this type of movie doesn't exactly appeal to a wide spectrum of moviegoers would probably be a mild understatement. And, for most people, Hanson isn't exactly one of the first names that spring to mind when it comes to director recognition. But it is based on a popular novel and could well end up being a good date movie. Depending how it fares with audiences, we could be hearing about this come awards season.
Opening weekend: $10 million.
Described by some as sort of an Office Space for the restaurant world, the aptly named Waiting focuses on the lives of a group of waiters and waitresses. With a large cast including Busta Rhymes, Ryan Reynolds, Luis Guizman, and up-and-coming comedian Dane Cook, this is sure to appeal to young crowds. This could prove to be a formidable hit, but may be held back by its relatively smaller theater count.
Opening weekend: $9 million.
Just Under the Radar
Good Night, and Good Luck
George Clooney's second foray behind the director's chair is the critically buzzed-about Good Night and Good Luck. This black and white film focuses on legendary news anchor Edward Morrow and his faceoffs in 1954 with infamous Communist witch hunter, Senator Joseph McCarthy. The movie is said to draw some not-too-subtle parallels with the recent political climate.
No, North Country is not a manifesto detailing Canada's attempt to infiltrate and overthrow the government of the United States. It is actually based on the true story of the first successful sexual harassment lawsuit in the U.S. The courtroom drama stars former Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand as well as Woody Harrelson.
Forget the plot of Shopgirl, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that Steve Martin wrote a novel. That Steve Martin? Yep, the book was actually fairly well-received, and this movie is his baby. And in it, Claire Danes stars as a woman who works in a department store selling gloves and she is pursued by two men: one a promising but poor younger man, and the second a rich but older gentleman.
* Please note that all opening weekend estimates are preliminary and do not account for final screen counts.
Dan Krovich's October Indie Forecast
John Seal's October Forecast