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December 2006 Forecast

By Michael Bentley

December 1, 2006

Is this another one of those Geico insurance commercials?

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Opening weekend: $22 million.

5) Rocky Balboa

It seems like a joke, but it's not. It is very real. You never thought it would happen after the total failure that was Rocky V, but Sylvester Stallone and crew are back for the sixth Rocky movie, simply titled Rocky Balboa. One day the aging former champ (now a widower) watches a computer simulation that shows the younger Rocky beating the current champion (played by real-life boxing star Antonio Tarver). This inspires him to get back in the ring (for better or worse).

"It's the eye of the tiger, it's the cream of the fight,
Rising up to the challenge of our rival,
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night,
And he's watching us all in the eye... of the tiger."

Opening weekend: $21 million.

6) The Holiday

This month's "chick flick" is The Holiday. The rather high-concept plot involves two women (Cameron Diaz in LA, and Kate Winslet in the UK) swapping homes for the holiday. Each of them is fed up with their love lives, so they want a fresh break. And surprise, surprise, each of them meets someone on their vacations (Jude Law and Jack Black). Should be able to perform similarly to 2003's Something's Gotta Give, also from director Nancy Meyers, which opened to $16 million in December of that year.

Opening weekend: $18 million.

7) Blood Diamond

Fresh off the (ongoing) success of The Departed (for which Marty Scorsese hopes he will finally be rewarded, but that's another story entirely...), former heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio stars in his second Oscar-baiting film of the season, Blood Diamond. The thrilling expose on the South African diamond industry is already earning some controversy and rebuttals from the big gem conglomerates like De Beers.

Leo's now had three $100+ million hits in a row. But can he do it without Scorsese or Spielberg?

Opening weekend: $15 million.

8) The Good Shepherd

Acclaimed veteran actor Robert De Niro's second directorial effort is The Good Shepherd, coming some 13 years after A Bronx Tale. It is an intriguing story about the early years of the CIA, through the eyes of one man (Matt Damon). Others in the cast include De Niro, Angelina Jolie, and even Joe Pesci - who apparently came out of his secret hiding place (possibly the same bunker as Dick Cheney?) to work with his old pal. The film has been increasingly getting favorable awards buzz and, combined with the type of story that mature adults often crave, this has all the makings of being a solid Winter hit.




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Opening weekend: $14 million.

9) The Nativity Story

No doubt inspired by the mega-success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, New Line is releasing The Nativity Story, a big-screen version of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus. In 2004, The Passion rode that rare wave of grassroots support (with a small dose of helpful controversy) to an eye-popping $84 million opening and well over $300 million in total domestic grosses. As with its predecessor, which was sparked by massive turnout from churchgoers, The Nativity Story is also eyeing church support. But how much support can it expect beyond that?

This is the elephant in the room. Catherine Hardwicke (director of the vastly different Lords of Dogtown and Thirteen) is no Mel Gibson, and star Keisha Castle-Hughes isn't exactly a household name either. And on top of that, The Passion was released prior to Easter in an otherwise lackluster box office climate. One difference is that the former was handed a strong R rating, while this got a family-friendly G. Expect a moderate opening in the low teens, with healthy legs throughout the holiday season. But I sure wouldn't be shocked if it doubles that amount.


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