There are definitely some major players out this month as the 2003 holiday season gets underway. And surprisingly, only one is really a sequel. But the studios weren't willing to go totally away from their tried and true franchises. Let's get to the top ten.1. The Matrix Revolutions
This film is the only true sequel of the bunch and the number one opener for the month. The marketing juggernaut has been working overtime on this one, as the perfect release of the second movie's DVD was timed brilliantly. There were many added features on the disc that got you remembering why you love the series. They also teased those of us who hadn't seen either The Animatrix or played the video game. This month, everyone is frothing at the mouth to see how it all ends.
2. Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat
Like I said, we also have proven franchise films. Jim Carrey took his portrayal of The Grinch to box office success. The studio is hoping that Mike Meyers can do the same for Cat in the Hat. Just like The Grinch, this film has a built-in audience. Most people either read or had Cat in the Hat read to them as a child. Once again, the sets look like they stepped right out of the book and the make-up for the title character is inspired. This should add up to big numbers at theaters for opening weekend.
3. The Haunted Mansion
Disney is hoping to cash in on the huge success of Pirates of the Carribean with its latest theme park ride-inspired movie. Eddie Murphy has revitalized his career with roles in family-friendly films such as Shrek, Daddy Day Care, and the two Dr. Dolittles. This movie also looks promising because of the work of the special effects geniuses. I think we have a lot of parts to a successful equation with this release. Hopefully, it will also be able to hang around at the box office for a while as well.
Halle Berry is locked away in a mental institution accused of murdering her husband. But she has no recollection of the events of the night it supposedly happened. The film was delayed for one month to get it away from all the typical suspense/horror offerings we see during October. I think the studio made a good decision. It is opening against Cat in the Hat, but I think it'll still hold its own. You'll probably have a lot of people making it a double feature weekend.
I don't know how well this film is being received. They seem to keep changing the commercials to bring up new and funny clips. The film didn't seem to have any competition during its release weekend, but there has been a big push for Love Actually. That film is definitely going to take away some punch from this one, but I think it should still finish fairly decent in the ten.
6. Looney Tunes: Back in Action
I'm probably placing this one a bit too high, but I'm staying optimistic that Bugs Bunny and his friends are still able to bring in audiences. They've assembled quite a live all-star cast including Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, and Heather Locklear. But I'm worried about how they mix the live and animated characters. Plus, the Steve Martin bad guy character just looks bad. This one is real iffy for me. It doesn't have any direct family film competition, but there should still be an effect from Cat in the Hat. I could easily see this one going down the tubes.
7. Love Actually
I think this one's really going to surprise some people. It seemed to come out of nowhere as far as marketing. There's quite a bit of star power behind this one. Plus, there's a huge audience for romantic films or "chick flicks" -- even those of us guys that like them, but won't admit it. I think there will be enough opening power, but I also see this film having terrific legs. It should also be very popular when it finally makes its way to the home video market.
8. Master and Commander
This looks like another one of those big blockbuster films, but I think it's going to be a disappointment. Yes, you have Russell Crowe. Yes, you have tall ships. Yes, there's a lot of action. But I don't think it's going to add up to box office success. The commercials show a lot of shooting between the ships. Lots of action to be sure. But there's something about it that bugs me and I can't place my finger on it. I think the Looney Tunes is going to overpower this one on opening weekend.
9. Bad Santa
While the title sounds like it could be a classic holiday film, the R rating is going to keep it from going that route. That being said, I think people will see it as an alternative to the typical holiday fare. I know that Box Office Prophets' own David Parker wrote an article about this very topic in Box Office Fallacies, but I think this film's R rating will definitely hurt it on opening weekend.
10. Tupac: Resurrection
Sneaking in at the bottom of the top ten is this film. While documentaries or biographies typically don't do well at the box office, I think this one will get enough interest to get into the November top ten. Usually, these types of films are pushed into the film festival circuit and show up on home video with no press. However, Tupac was such an influential artist during his short life that I think there's still a great deal of interest surrounding him, which should show in the box office numbers.