The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

Release Date: December 25, 2007
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Movie of the Day for Wednesday, December 5, 2007
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On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
12/33 John Seal Utterly charming; best live action 'family film' of the year
123/214 Max Braden Wow, cheese overload. Free Willy is probably a little better, a little less scary for kids.

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The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep is probably a good family movie, perhaps even a great family movie, but I’m not convinced families will give it a chance in theaters. Like other well-reviewed family pictures of recent years (Zathura, Charlotte’s Web), Water Horse seems destined to find its main audience on DVD, which isn’t particularly good news for the studio since the film needs a strong theatrical run to recoup its hefty price tag.

Sony is marketing it as something along the lines of E.T. and Free Willy, hoping to cash in on the age-old yet lucrative story about a boy and his pet, in this case the legendary Loch Ness monster. The young boy (played by Alex Etel from Millions) lives in Scotland and finds a mysterious egg, which hatches into a dinosaur-type creature. He names it Crusoe and the story follows their friendship until the boy must set the creature free in Loch Ness.

Unlike E.T., which grossed an unheard of $399 million during its yearlong release from 1982 to '83, The Water Horse comes at a time when movies like it are all too common and competition is much fiercer. That’s not to say The Water Horse, based on the book by Dick King-Smith, can’t succeed as a story, but it will draw inevitable comparisons to the alien classic as well as newer children’s fantasy films like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, which it blatantly refers to in its advertisements (Walden Media is the production company behind both films).

The question is whether audiences already swayed by Potter and Narnia will even give Water Horse the time of day? After all, the source book isn’t as popular and the premise doesn’t have the usual magic powers and violent battles to hold audiences' attention. Plus it will have its work cut out for it as it tries to fight for the same audience as The Golden Compass, which opens two weeks prior, as well as Alvin and the Chipmunks, which plays the pop-culture reference card to hook younger audiences in.

But a PG rating and better reviews may allow Water Horse to stick around longer, perhaps even throughout the first month of 2008, and reaffirm faith in the idea that family movies of lesser known origins can still be formidable competitors at the box office. (Matthew Huntley/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
Main Cast Emily Watson, Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin
Supporting Cast David Morrissey, Brian Cox
Director Jay Russell
Screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs
Distributor Columbia Pictures/Sony
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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