Hey, fellow Box Office Junkies! Sorry for the lack of posts this week- life’s been utterly crazy for the past few days, and I haven’t been able to update nearly as much as I’ve wanted to. Luckily for you, though, everything is back on track today with this Weekend Preview. I have to confess, because of the sheer amount of analysis that a certain monster movie has required me to do, I’m only going to be writing about the three new releases this week, but you can see my full Top 12 predictions at the end of the post. Suffice it to say, January 2008 should remain very well ahead of January 2007 in this third weekend of the year. Alright, let’s get started.
Remember way back in 2006 when a little movie called Snakes On A Plane debuted? You know, the one where Samuel L. Jackson yelled the famous line, “I have had it with these mother f***ing snakes on this mother f***ing plane!” Greeted with an absolutely deafening amount of online buzz, from the moment Snakes On A Plane (Whoa- you can abbreviate with SOAP!) debuted its title, it had what seemed to be an endless legion of die-hard online fans who could not wait to see the movie as soon as it came out. It was the first virally promoted film to take full advantage of the tech-savvy blogging community, as almost all the excitement and anticipation for SOAP came from the web. Box office analysts were expecting a huge opening and a great box office total. After all, we’d never seen a movie with this kind of online excitement behind it.
Well, when SOAP finally debuted on August 18, 2006, analysts quickly realized that judging the movie’s potential success based on internet buzz was a mistake. Snakes opened with a disappointing $15.2 million, and then went on to a totally underwhelming $34.5 million. It was one of the biggest letdowns in recent history, based on the gigantic expectations. How is this all relevant, you ask? Well, the reason I bring this up now is that there is another film hitting screens today that has followed a very similar viral-crazed path of promotion: Cloverfield.
The brain child of hotshot producer J.J. Abrams (the creator of the TV series Lost), Cloverfield is a super-secretive monster flick that’s been buzzed about since its very first trailer, which featured that glorious shot of the Statue of Liberty’s head falling onto the street in NYC. Bloggers and fanboys have been raving for months anticipating the film, and awareness for Cloverfield is very high. Judging by the apparent excitement on the web, it would seem that this mystery-monster-movie was poised to open with the kind of numbers that many people expected SOAP to start with. But will it similarly disappoint? I don’t think so, and here’s why:
Cloverfield‘s marketing contains one essential ingredient that SOAP‘s lacked, and that is mystery! People who went to see Snakes on a Plane got exactly what title said they would get: snakes on a plane. Cloverfield, on the other hand, is totally mysterious. What does this monster look like? Is it anything like Godzilla? How tall is it? Does it get killed? Does it destroy all of New York? Why does it decapitate Lady Liberty? Curiosity is going to drive a lot of people into the theaters this weekend, and it helps that Cloverfield is not so clearly a B-movie for geeks only.
is a proven formula with a slight tweak. Special-effects-driven disaster movies have impressed time and time again at the box office (Jurassic Park
, The Day After Tomorrow
, I Am Legend
to name a few), and Cloverfield
‘s slight tweak of a familiar story should keep the crowds coming. Also setting this film apart is its unique photography style. Supposedly captured entirely on the protagonists home video, Cloverfield
takes a page out of The Blair Witch Project
‘s book with a shaky cam style. Some critics hate this, but most are praising the film for the freshness it brings to the table, and it’s getting some very good reviews
. Personally, I think the shaky cam can get a bit annoying (Paul Greengrass, can we just watch Jason Bourne fight sometimes?!), but I appreciate the stylistic chance that Cloverfield
is taking with it. All of this is to say that I think that Cloverfield
‘s opening (and the second weekend drop) is going to be big
. Launching onto 3,411 theaters, Cloverfield
might find about $39 million in three days, and $47 million over the extended weekend (because of MLK Day), easily giving it the #1 spot.
The other big opener this weekend is Fox’s romantic comedy 27 Dresses
, which should do some very solid business with women this weekend. Starring Katherine Heigl, who’s hot off her debut in Knocked Up
, and James Marsden, who actually isn’t the third wheel
here, 27 Dresses
tells the story of a woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times. Just when it looks like her love life is hopeless, she suddenly finds herself falling in love with her own sister’s fiancee. The story is a fresh one, and Fox, which has been pushing this film hard, has done a great job of selling the story. It looks like the massive amounts of advertising should pay off. Heigl, already popular with women because of her role on TV’s Grey’s Anatomy
, proved her comedic chops with Knocked Up
last summer, and while 27 Dresses
is not pulling in anywhere near the kind of reviews
that that movie received, her rising star should help the romantic comedy debut well. James Marsden has never carried a movie as a leading man, so it will be interesting to see how he fares. In March 2006, the Sarah Jessica Parker/Matthew McConaughey feature Failure To Launch
debuted to $24.4 million on its way to a fantastic $88.7 million total, and it looks like 27 Dresses
could surpass that performance. Walking down the aisle in 3,057 theaters, 27 Dresses
should earn about $27 million over the four-day weekend.
And then we have Mad Money
, the female heist film about robbing the Federal Reserve. Proving that Hollywood doesn’t have any roles for older women, Mad Money
stars Diane Keaton as a down-on-her-luck janitor at the Federal Reserve, who pairs up with sassy Queen Latifah and ditzy Katie Holmes to steal a huge load of cash that’s meant to be shredded up and recycled. Critics
are trashing the film (who would’ve thought that Katie Holmes could get an even more negative response for this than her role in Batman Begins
?), calling it unfunny and implausible. The excitement meter is very low for this one, and of the three leading ladies, only Keaton has any real drawing power. The main problem for this film is that 27 Dresses
will be the primary choice for women this weekend. The aforementioned romantic comedy will provide direct competition for Mad Money
, which is the first release for fledgling studio Overture Films. Unfortunately, the young studio will probably be mad at how little money Mad Money
makes. Entering into 2,470 theaters, the female heist comedy might earn a small $8.5 million over the holiday weekend.
Predicted Top Twelve for January 18-21
1. Cloverfield – $47 million
2. 27 Dresses – $27 million
3. The Bucket List – $12.6 million
4. Juno – $11 million
5. First Sunday – $10.3 million
6. Mad Money – $8.5 million
7. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $6.7 million
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $6.5 million
9. Atonement – $5 million
10. I Am Legend – $4.9 million
11. One Missed Call – $2.9 million
12. P.S. I Love You – $2.6 million