March 2006 Forecast

By Michael Bentley

March 3, 2006

Bentley felt undue pressure to vote for Ice Age 2.

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1) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

The CGI animation revolution continues with the sequel to Ice Age, where the gang of loveable prehistoric animals must deal with the coming end to the Ice Age. While the original Ice Age wasn't exactly a critical smash, and definitely not as beloved as either Shrek or most of the Pixar movies, it was a hit (opening to a very impressive $46 million in mid-March four years ago) and has also done extremely well on home video. All the big voice talent (headed by Everybody Loves Ray Romano) is back. But since it's a sequel things have to be BIGGER so several others join the party, including Queen Latifah. The only question is exactly how high will it go?

Opening weekend prediction: $55 million.

2) V for Vendetta

The 2006 Summer movie season unofficially kicks off this year with V for Vendetta, the long-awaited (and delayed) adaptation of the groundbreaking 1980s comic book miniseries from writer Alan Moore. Although the reclusive Moore has distanced himself from the movie, there is a lot of buzz and anticipation for this film, no doubt helped by a great-looking ad during the Super Bowl. The basic plot of the story is about a mysterious man (V) who uses terroristic tactics to fight against the rigid totalitarian government.

The bar has been set rather high by the filmmakers - James McTeigue is officially credited as the director, but the Wachowski brothers (of The Matrix fame) were the producers. Expect many similarities to in both substance and style, though I strongly doubt that the movie will feature any special effects that are even remotely close to those in The Matrix. But it does have Natalie Portman. With a shaved head. Throw in the timely and relevant story (much debate exists about whether or not the movie was delayed from last fall due to the London bombings) and V for Vendetta is sure to be one of the hottest tickets this month. Word-of-mouth (as well as the possibility of repeat viewings) will determine its fate in the long run.

Opening weekend: $37 million.

3) 16 Blocks

Bruce Willis returns to the action genre that made him a megastar in 16 Blocks. It is a rather simple, but intriguing idea as Willis is a New York City police officer who is assigned the trivial task of escorting a witness (Mos Def) just 16 blocks to the courthouse. Unfortunately for them, there are plenty of people who don't want that to happen, so their would-be short car ride turns into an adventure. Sounds like pure Saturday afternoon fun. From director Richard Donner (of Lethal Weapon), this has breakout hit written all over it.

Opening weekend: $26 million.

4) Inside Man

Okay, you are a producer and you have the rights to an action-packed heist movie. It is a good, fun script that, with the right talents, should easily cross the $100 million threshold domestically. And then things look even brighter when you hit the bullseye with your top actors:

Denzel Washington? Check.
Jodie Foster? Check.
Clive Owen? Check.

Now you just need a director:

Spike Lee? Um... check.

Make no mistake, Spike Lee is a fine director. He has been behind the camera for several excellent movies, including Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and He Got Game. And he has worked with Denzel before, too (in Malcolm X). But given his recent box office history, and his tendency towards more incendiary films (such as Bamboozled and She Hate Me), was he really the best choice? Well, if he delivers a good, fun movie it will be a moot point. With this cast of actors, Inside Man is bound to score a sizeable opening regardless of the director. But I can't help but wonder if the fact that it is a Spike Lee joint will scare a few people away.

Opening weekend: $24 million.

5) The Shaggy Dog

For the love of Spaghetti Monster, isn't anything sacred anymore!?!?

Opening weekend: $19 million.

6) The Hills Have Eyes

With the Obligatory Horror Remake of the Month is The Hills Have Eyes, a reissue of the 1977 Wes Craven thriller about a family stranded in the middle of nowhere who are stalked by a group of savages. In this update, the unfortunate souls are instead attacked by a group of some sort of vicious atomic mutants. Expect plenty of violence and gore, and an audience that skews towards young males. It should fit comfortably in the $15-$20 million range that has been set by many other interchangeable horror movies in the last couple years.

Opening weekend: $17 million.


7) Failure to Launch

In this month's romantic comedy, Failure to Launch stars stoner Matthew McConaughey as a 30-something man still living in his parents' house. But he soon meets the woman he thinks is the girl of his dreams (Sarah Jessica Parker) ...or is she? Did his parents hire her, so that he would finally move out of their house? It's certainly a novel approach, and sounds like it might be pretty good. Failure to Launch also stars Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel, and even Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw. The only problem is that McConaughey and SJP aren't exactly box office stalwarts. Figure on a moderate opening, and pretty good legs if the reviews are positive.

Opening weekend: $15 million.

8) Slither

You might have seen the trailer for Slither, which was voted one of the top ten best trailers of last year by BOP in our annual Calvin Awards. In it, an alien plague takes over a small town and turns its citizens into zombies and monsters. It stars Nathian Fillon (of Calvin Best Picture winner Serenity) and is led by James Gunn, who admirably wrote the recent Dawn of the Dead remake. Slither looks like it could be a breath of fresh air to the overloaded horror and thriller genre, the only question is how many people were sold on that trailer?

Opening weekend: $12 million.

9) She's the Man

Aiming for the very under-served but hard to predict young teen girl demographic is She's the Man starring Amanda Bynes. She stars as a young teenager who is dismayed when her school drops its soccer team. But she loves soccer so much that she is willing to do pretty much anything, so naturally she impersonates her twin brother at his boarding school. It's not hard to predict all sorts of tomfoolery that soon follows: her falling for some boy in the school, and some girl falling for her. Misunderstandings lead to further complications, but things work out in the end. Cue: audience applause.

Opening weekend: $11 million.

10) Dave Chappelle's Block Party

From director Michel Gondry (helmer of the popular Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Dave Chappelle's Block Party is a documentary about the popular but mysterious comedian and his effort to throw a secret music concert in New York. Among those appearing include Kanye West and Erykah Badu. It has been compared to other famous acclaimed concert movies like Wattstax and Richard Pryor: Live in Concert.

The X-factor is whether or not Chappelle's star status has been hurt at all by his now infamous departure from his lucrative show on Comedy Central, wherein he suddenly walked away from it all and left for Africa (temporarily, as it turned out). Many in the entertainment industry wondered whether he had lost his mind. So has he lost any fans as well? But given how well the first and second season DVDs of his show have sold, the fanbase is clearly a large one. This will end up being pretty much all profit.

Opening weekend: $10 million.

Just Under the Radar

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction

Okay, I cannot read the title to this movie without thinking that it is somehow about someone who is addicting to playing the game of world domination. I've heard about people who lose their tempers and kill someone over a parking space, but over a board game? That's crazy. In any case, Sharon Stone returns to spread her legs again in another far-fetched murder mystery.

Find Me Guilty

"Vin Diesel is a mobster who defends himself in court" sounds like something straight out of the Vin Diesel Fact Generator. But, this time it's true. He tries for some indie cred in this film from director Sidney Lumet.

Thank You for Smoking

Aaron Eckhart plays a tobacco industry lobbyist in this very funny-looking satire. The large and impressive cast also includes Katie Holmes, William H. Macy, and Maria Bello.

* Please note that all opening weekend estimates are preliminary and do not account for final screen counts.



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