Archive for the ‘Jim Carrey’ Category

8 Legitimate Box Office Draws

November 25, 2009

When I was editing my Weekend Fix video, cutting out clips and fast forwarding through parts of it to keep the time down, I cringed a little bit when I had to cut out the bit about Sandra Bullock being one of the few remaining box office draws.  Indeed, gone are the days when nothing more than an actor’s name could draw audiences to the box office in droves.  Very few movie stars actually exhibit consistent drawing power.  Unlike the Old Hollywood Era of yesteryear, these days, big box office grosses have more to do with spectacle, story, or popular franchises than they have to do with the actors’ popularity. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few names that can truly mobilize the masses and get people into the theaters.  Therefore, since I didn’t get to say my piece in my video, and it is List Wednesday, I present to you (in no particular order) these eight legitimate box office draws:

Sandra Bullock

The fantastic $34.1 million debut of The Blind Side inspired this list, and Sandra Bullock has proven time and time again that she can open movies.  Beautiful, hilarious, and yet somehow down-to-earth and relatable, Bullock comes across as funny and appealing to guys, and appealing as an everyday woman to her fellow females.  While her main audience is certainly females, and most of her big box office hits are romantic comedies (Miss Congeniality – $106 million, Two Weeks Notice – $93 million, The Proposal – $163 million), she’s proven a few times that she’s more versatile than that.  Look no further than Speed, with its $121 million gross, or The Blind Side‘s current box office performance- she’s a true-blue box office star.

Adam Sandler

I wrote about Sandler’s box office viability extensively a while ago.  You can read that post here.  All you have to know, is that this man is one of the smartest decision makers in Hollywood.  He knows his target audience, and he constantly releases films that they want to see.  Voila!  You’ve got a formula for great box office results.

Jim Carrey

The go-to man for comedy.  Jim Carrey, more than any other funnyman in the last 20 years, has established himself as the most popular comedian at the box office.  Audiences love his brand of absurd facial expressions and heartfelt sincerity.  He’s been trying to branch out lately, but when he sticks to high profile, big budget releases like Fun With Dick And Jane ($110 million), Bruce Almighty ($242 million), How The Grinch Stole Christmas ($260 million), Liar Liar ($181 million), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($108 million) features, he really hits his stride and rakes in the dollars.  I personally love it when Carrey mixes his comedy persona with some more serious roles, like in The Truman Show, which resulted in great reviews great box office ($125 million).

Jennifer Aniston

People love to tear down Jennifer Aniston, saying she hasn’t been successful as a movie star and that she should have stuck to TV.  I beg to differ.  When Aniston sticks to the breezy romantic comedy genre, she’s remarkably popular.  She’s found big success with films like Along Came Polly ($88 million), The Break Up ($118 million), Marley And Me ($143 million), He’s Just Not That Into You ($93 million).  By my calculations, that makes someone a movie star.

Will Smith

Like Sandler above, way back in the day, I dedicated a whole post to Will Smith’s box office success.  I don’t need to tell you how famous he is… Just read the old post and add 2008’s $227 million gross for Hancock to the mix.

Brad Pitt

The godfather of all celebrities has really established himself as a major box office force in the 2000s.  He doesn’t have as much of a defined genre as some of the other people on this list, but he typically plays cocky, comedic characters, though he has done his fair share of dramas as well.  In the last decade, he’s found success with Oceans Eleven ($183 million), Troy ($123 million), Oceans Twelve ($125 million), Mr. And Mrs. Smith ($186 million), Oceans Thirteen ($117 million), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button ($127 million), and Inglorious Basterds ($120 million).

Katherine Heigl

Heigl is certainly the youngest and least proven actor on this list, but in the last three years, since che burst onto the scene in TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, she has chosen her film roles wisely, and I have my eye on her as the young box office star with the most potential drawing power.  She already has figured out that her bread and butter is in the romantic comedy genre.  In 2007, she starred in Knocked Up, which grossed $146 million.  In 2008, she took 27 Dresses to $76 million.  And in 2009, she helped The Ugly Truth to $88 million.  If she continues to pick strong roles within her genre, she’ll keep seeing strong returns.

Advertisements

Weekend Preview: Scrooge, Aliens, Men, Goats, And A Magic Box

November 6, 2009

This weekend is the first full weekend in November, and as the weather’s getting colder, the box office is getting hotter.  Four new wide releases hit screens today, and the box office should see some solid depth over the next few days.  Disney, as part of its crusade to turn Christmas into a two-month-long event, is releasing A Christmas Carol, and it will certainly win the weekend.  I don’t talk about it too much in the video because I wrote a rather epic analysis of it yesterday.  Read it here.  Also entering theaters this weekend is Universal’s alien abduction film, The Fourth Kind, Overture’s war satire, The Men Who Stare At Goats, and Warner Brothers’ psychological mind-bender, The Box.  Watch the video above to get my take on their box office prospects, and then check the chart below for my full box office predictions.  Let me know what your predictions are in the comments!

Box Office Predictions for November 6-8, 2009
Rank Movie Theaters Predicted Gross
1 A Christmas Carol 3,683 $40 million
2 The Fourth Kind 2,529 $13 million
3 This Is It 3,481 $12 million
4 Paranormal Activity 2,558 $9.5 million
5 The Box 2,635 $9 million
6 The Men Who Stare At Goats 2,443 $7 million
7 Law Abiding Citizen 2,474 $4.5 million
8 Couples Retreat 2,846 $4 million
9 Where The Wild Things Are 2,756 $2.9 million
10 Saw VI 2,091 $2.5 million

Are We Supposed To Be Excited For A Christmas Carol? Well I Say, "Bah-Humbug!"

November 5, 2009

This weekend Disney is releasing A Christmas Carol, the much-buzzed-about Robert Zemeckis adaptation of Charles Dickens’ famous tale.  Thanks to Disney’s marketing machine, awareness of the holiday feature is absolutely huge, and more and more, it’s looking like A Christmas Carol could be a major blockbuster.  Jim Carrey, who turned How The Grinch Stole Christmas into a $260 million hit in 2000, has been promoting the film nonstop, and Disney has gone so far as to send a train all over the US for months just to promote the picture. Despite all the hype, though, I’m not whipping out my jingle bells just yet. (That sounds dirtier than I intended…)  In my book, there are a few things working against A Christmas Carol which may negatively affect its box office performance.

It’s Too Early

It’s been frustrating enough that since mid-September, every time I walk into a Wal-Mart, I’ve had to look at inflatable Santa Clauses and holly wreaths, but come on, Hollywood!  Can’t we please save the Christmas movies until after Thanksgiving?  The typical American consumer side of me is just annoyed that the media seems to be trying to turn the holiday season into a three month affair.  But the box office analyst side of me questions whether this release date is a good business decision on Disney’s part.  To explain, allow me to take you on a little visit to the ghost of Christmas movies past…

On November 10, 2004, Warner Brothers released The Polar Express, another Robert Zemeckis creation.  Based on the popular book by Chris Van Alsburg, expectations were riding high for the film.  Indeed, The Polar Express looked like a box office freight train.  However, upon opening, the film was only able to gross $30.6 million in its first five days, which was well below expectations.  The Polar Express completed its original domestic box office run with a relatively disappointing $162 million.  Fortunately for Warner Brothers, yearly re-releases, international grosses, IMAX receipts, DVD sales, and TV rights have since made up for its initially poor showing, but I’ve always wondered: If The Polar Express had come out two weeks later, would it have earned more at the box office?

Now, some of you probably think that I’m crazy.  Clearly, the longer the film is in theaters before Christmas, the more time it will have to make money, and therefore the more money it will earn, right?  I’m not so sure.  Timing is important at the box office.  Timing helped The Omen earn $12.6 million on a Tuesday that happened to be dated 06/06/06.  Timing helped Independence Day open to $50 million on the July 4th weekend of 1996.  And timing, I believe, is what negatively affected The Polar Express‘ box office in 2004.  What if Warner Brothers had waited one or two more weeks to release their tentpole production?  Sure, that’s one or two fewer weeks of box office revenue before Christmas day, but imagine how much higher the opening weekend could have been had audiences actually been in the Christmas spirit!  The combination of a huge opening weekend, good word-of-mouth, parents off of work, and kids out of school is more than enough to carry a film to enormous grosses in five or six weeks, and I think with a stronger start, The Polar Express could have easily outpaced its $162 million run.  Need another example?  Look at the heavily promoted Fred Claus, which debuted on November 9, 2007, to $18 million on its way to a $72 million total.  Again, with the amount of excitement that originally surrounded this movie, this was a disappointing result.  If Warner Brothers had held off just a little while longer, I think Vince Vaughn’s Christmas comedy could have been much bigger.  I worry that A Christmas Carol is falling into a similar trap.

It’s Too Expensive

If the aforementioned trend of underwhelming grosses takes place with A Christmas Carol, Disney is not going to be too happy, especially because they reportedly shelled out $175 million to produce this film, a figure that does not include the massive amounts they’ve clearly spent on marketing.  The Polar Express‘ biggest flaw was its huge negative cost.  It took The Polar Express a long time to make back its $170 million production budget and $60 million marketing budget, and that is a hurdle that A Christmas Carol will have to clear as well.  Add in the fact that Christmas movies aren’t necessarily an easy international sell outside of Europe, and it will certainly prove difficult for Disney to quickly earn back all it has spent on this.  The bottom line is that Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture animated movies are very, very expensive to make.

Creepy Animation

But are they really worth the investment?  Critics and audiences alike complained that, despite their incredibly lifelike movements, the characters in The Polar Express had somewhat eerie dispositions, due to the limitations of the motion capture technology, which rendered the actors with porcelain faces and dead eyes.  While early reviews suggest that Zemeckis has come a long way with his groundbreaking visual style, the problem apparently still persists in A Christmas Carol, and according to MSNBC’s Alonso Duralde, “…most of the film’s cast look like they just sauntered out of Madame Tussauds.”  Considering the vivid facial expressions we all know Jim Carrey is capable of producing, it seems like a shame that the technology is limiting them.  The beauty of animation is that it can create a visually exaggerated world that cameras simply couldn’t capture, and I’m not sure why Zemeckis is so insistent on portraying animated humans realistically on the screen. I mean, if you’re going to make an animated movie, wouldn’t you want you characters to look, I don’t know, animated?!  While this film will certainly score points for its bold visual style, I’m willing to bet that the traditional animation methods in Disney’s The Princess And The Frog, which comes out a month later, will generate more emotion from audiences, and emotional response is key.  The recession has taken its toll on Americans, and the weather outside is chilly enough, so if the characters in A Christmas Carol feel at all cold to audiences, it could spell trouble for its box office.

3D? Again?!

Alright, I’ll be honest: the 3D factor is only going to help A Christmas Carol at the box office, especially in conjunction with the IMAX release.  But seriously, am I the only one tired of the 3D gimmick?  I know I harp on it a lot, but it’s just not worth the extra $3 to me to wear sunglasses while watching a movie.

In conclusion, let me say this: A Christmas Carol does have a lot going for it.  Jim Carrey is a proven box office draw.  Disney certainly knows how to market a film.  People are genuinely drawn into theaters to see 3D movies.  Charles Dickens’ book is one of the most well known titles in all of literature.  All these things are major positives, and the film will not fail in any sort of devastating way.  Still, with a massive production budget and one of the most expensive advertising campaigns I’ve ever seen (I would guess it cost about $75-100 million), A Christmas Carol needs to perform brilliantly at the box office to make up for Disney’s huge expenditures.  My final prediction: A Christmas Carol will not recoup its costs at the domestic box office, and it will take quite a while for Disney to see positive returns on its investment.  I’m sure Disney will re-release A Christmas Carol in theaters each year and slowly rack up annual profits.  They will play it on ABC during the holiday season, sell tons of DVDs, prematurely claim that its a Christmas classic, and a few years from now, they’ll be happy to have it in their catalog.

Image Credit: BoxOfficeMojo

The New And The News: The Box Office Is About To Get VERY Cluttered

November 2, 2009

Welcome to the new Monday column: The New And The News!  With the official introduction of this column, I now have exactly seven features: one for each day of the week.  I’ll try to put together an official schedule and place it in the sidebar.  Let me give you an idea of what The New And The News will look like.  Each Monday, I will quickly overview each of the week’s new releases, summarizing each film and giving some very early box office thoughts about them.  After that, I will post a few interesting links to news articles that caught my eye.  Let’s get started!

New This Week:

A Christmas Carol (Disney) – 3,500 theaters – Reviews
A few things bother me about this movie.  First, it’s a Christmas movie coming out on November 6th.  Not only is this just too early for my taste (do we really have to spend 1/6 of our year getting excited for one morning of presents?), but like Fred Claus last year, I think that releasing a Christmas feature this early is actually hurting its box office potential more than its helping it.  Second, Robert Zemeckis is using the same, creepy motion-capture technology that nobody liked in The Polar Express.  Third, it’s in 3D, which, in case you haven’t already gathered, I’m not a huge fan of.  Still, with Disney’s marketing and Jim Carrey’s drawing power, this will end up the biggest hit of all the releases this week.

The Box (Warner Brothers) – 2,500 theaters – Reviews
I don’t care what haters may say, I think this movie looks awesome!  I love james Marsden, I love Cameron Diaz, and I’m intrigued by the plot of this.  There’s a box that contains a button, which, if pushed, will simultaneously provide you with $1 million and kill someone you don’t know.  What would you do? It’s a psychological thriller with a creative plot, and I hope it can pull it off.  Early reviews aren’t half bad, and the ads have explained the story pretty well, so I’d love to see this succeed.

The Men Who Stare At Goats – 2,200 theaters – Reviews

Sometimes people accuse me of being a movie snob.  Now, if I were a movie snob, I would be sitting here gushing about how amazing this movie, which features George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges, is going to be. I would praise it for having a quirky title and taking a critical stance toward our military.  I would say its clearly going to win Oscars.  But I’m not a film snob, and frankly, I’m not that excited.  This movie looks confusing, and the ads have given absolutely no clue as to what its about.  Not that the official description is much more helpful… ” A reporter (Ewan McGregor) delves into the world of psychic military regiments during the Iraq War in this adaptation of the Jon Ronson book THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.”  Basically, I don’t think this is going to be a very successful endeavor.  It’s the Era Of Easy Entertainment… people don’t want to see a satire about war.

The Fourth Kind (Universal) – 2,450 theaters – Reviews
I don’t know how much new stuff there really is to say about this one… it’s got all the standard sci-fi motifs: alien abductions, creepy music, Milla Jovovich, etc.  Advertising has tried to make this one look exactly like Paranormal Activity, complete with the handheld video camera with a time lapse counter in the corner.  We’ll see how effective that strategy is, because in a cluttered weekend like this one, a film really needs to stand out, and I don’t know how unique and exciting this is looking.

Precious (Lionsgate) – Limited – Reviews
Mark my words, this is going to be a dark horse performer at the box office.  It might not be huge this weekend, due to its limited run,  but this has a lot going for it.  First off, it’s targeting black urban audiences, which is an under-represented group at the box office.  Second, some very influential people are supporting this.  Mo’nique stars in it, and Oprah and Tyler Perry have both been talking it up.  Third, reviews are fantastic so far, so word of mouth should be solid.  Fourth, this is based on a popular novel: Push by Sapphire.  This assures some sort of built-in audience.  Fifth and finally, this features a brand new, up-and-coming actress named Gabourey “Gabbie” Sidibe, and the media loves to dote upon a new star, especially if she’s playing the underdog and is a bit bigger than the other girls.  (Think Jennifer Hudson or Nikki Blonsky.)  If Precious succeeds this week, look for Lionsgate to roll it out into more and more theaters.  I could see this getting major Oscar attention and being huge.

News This Week:

Paranormal Activity’s Alternate Endings

EW talked to writer-director Oren Peli about Paranormal Activity’s three alternate endings that were considered for the movie.  It’s very interesting, but I’m glad they stuck with the one that played in theaters.

Knightley To Star In My Fair Lady Remake

According to The Times, Keira Knightley beat out Scarlett Johansson for the role of Eliza Doolittle the remake of My Fair Lady, which is being written by Emma Thompson.  No matter who gets the role, it’s going to be tough to break out of Audrey Hepburn’s shadow.  I mean, she’s just iconic in this part.

Run Your Own Theater With FlickPicks

Ok, so this isn’t really news, but it’s cool anyway.  FlickPicks is an online game that let’s you predict the box office and run your own theater.  It’s like fantasy football for movie buffs!  I love it!  I signed up, and if it’s something you’re interested in (which it probably is, since you’re reading this blog), then you should sign up too!

Weekend Fix: Audiences Say "Eh" Instead of "Yes" To New Releases

December 21, 2008

In the final frame before Christmas this year, the box office was in sorry shape. With a lackluster slate of new releases that failed to take full advantage of the holiday, and snow storms across the Northeast, the Top 12 raked in just $82 million, down a whopping 45% from the same weekend a year ago. Yes Man topped the charts, with Seven Pounds and The Tale Of Despereaux following in second and third, but all three of the new releases failed to really break out.

Jim Carrey’s antic-laden comedy, Yes Man, earned $18 million this weekend at the multiplex. Considering 2007 saw National Treasure: Book of Secrets debut to $44 million during the same weekend last December, this is not a great result. With poor reviews and a tired concept, Yes Man failed to provide audiences with something new, and it paid the price. Yes Man looked like a 1990’s comedy, and with its underwhelming debut, people made it very clear that they currently prefer the Apatow-style of comedy, which is fast-paced and raunchy, but soulful. The Warner Brothers release had a $5,288 per theater average, which is mediocre for a new release, but all is not lost for Yes Man. The silver lining here is that we are in late December, where every day acts like a weekend day, so the comedy should be leggier than most, but this still has to be a disappointment for both the studio and Carrey, who needs to pursue more dramatic roles, like in The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind. Personally, I’m excited for his role in 2010’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

Seven Pounds, the Sony-produced Will Smith drama, sputtered out of the gates, earning just $16 million in its first three days. Earning an alright $5,801 per theater, Seven Pounds actually had the highest venue average in the Top 12, which shows how weak the frame was overall. The big problem here was in the advertising. From the trailer and commercials, it was almost impossible to figure out what this movie was about, which is never a good strategy for promoting a film. The bad reviews didn’t help things, either. The real loser in this equation, though, has got to be Will Smith, who was hoping for his 9th $100 million earner with Seven Pounds. Up until this point, Smith was untouchable among stars. Unfortunately, with a $16 million dollar opening, this probably won’t stick around nearly as long as December 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness ($163 million finish) or December 2007’s I Am Legend ($256 million finish). It could be that Smith’s recent donations to the Church of Scientology (oxymoron?) are having a Tom Cruise Effect on his career. All I have to say is, “Don’t become crazy, Will!”

The final new release this weekend was The Tale Of Despereaux, which opened to $10.5 million. The Universal film about a gallant mouse got middling reviews, and proved for the umpteenth time that releasing an animated movie is a task best left to Dreamworks or Disney. It seems like whenever a studio (that is not Pixar) tries to release a detailed, realistic-looking animated film, it doesn’t work out at the box office. Films like Ice Age, Madagascar, or Open Season, which have zanier, exaggerated animation, tend to do better. Despereaux had a disappointing per theater average of $3,810, and I fully expect it to get left in the dust when Disney’s Bedtime Stories debuts on Christmas Day.

Among holdovers, drops were a bit steeper than expected, mostly due to the snow storms across the Northeast (and as someone who was in Connecticut during the snow storms, I can attest: there was a lot of snow). Fox’s sci-fi actioner, The Day The Earth Stood Still, nosedived 67% this weekend, earning $10 million for a $48.6 million total. This is yet another case of The Fanboy Effect. Warner Brothers’ well-performing Four Christmases fell 41% to $7.7 million as it crossed the $100 million mark, while Summit’s Twilight continued to show it’s resilience, as it’s 34% drop was the smallest in the Top 12. It earned an additional $5.2 million for a fantastic $158.4 million total.

Disney’s Bolt fell 43% to $4.3 million, as it inches its way closer to the $100 million plateau. The animated dog feature has performed admirably over the past few weeks, and it currently sits with $95 million. Not so lucky was Fox’s Australia, the overblown epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Down 44% to $2.3 million, the insanely expensive Baz Luhrmann film has a disappointing total of just $41 million. At the bottom tier of the Top 12, Quantum of Solace fell 42% to $2.1 million, Milk dropped 37% to $1.6 million, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa declined 53% to $1.5 million. Totals are $161.3 million, $10.3 million, and $172.3 million, respectively.

Up above, I skipped over the one real bright spot of the weekend: Slumdog Millionaire. The Fox Searchlight feature, which audiences and critics are loving, expanded into 589 theaters and earned $3.2 million over the weekend. This was good for a venue average of $5,388, the second-best in the Top 12. The most palatable of this year’s Oscar bait, Slumdog Millionaire has already earned $12 million, and with many awards on the way, look for the Danny Boyle film to keep chugging right along for the next few weeks.

Next weekend brings us seven new wide releases: Amusement, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Marley and Me, Revolutionary Road, Spirit, and Valkyrie. These releases should bring a much-needed dose of flavor to the movies, which will hopefully redeem the performances this weekend. Regardless, with that many new films, things should be interesting… Here’s the chart:

Top 12 for December 19-21

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 Yes Man $18,160,000 $18,160,000
2 Seven Pounds $16,000,000 $16,000,000
3 The Tale of Despereaux $10,507,040 $10,507,040
4 The Day The Earth Stood Still $10,150,000 $48,626,884
5 Four Christmases $7,745,000 $100,154,000
6 Twilight $5,227,000 $158,460,899
7 Bolt $4,256,000 $95,009,000
8 Slumdog Millionaire $3,150,000 $12,133,750
9 Australia $2,325,000 $41,947,337
10 Quantum Of Solace $2,150,000 $161,290,000
11 Milk $1,641,290 $10,322,173
12 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $1,510,000 $173,332,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

What do you think of this weekend’s box office? What went wrong? Do you think things will pick up next weekend? Write your answers in the comments!

Friday Estimates: I Got It Right(ish)!

December 20, 2008

I’m going to gloat a little bit. I was pretty darn close in my predictions for the weekend (except for Despereaux…), and I’m a little bit proud of myself. Take that Entertainment Weekly! Look’s like my little operation here at The Box Office Junkie was a heck of a lot more accurate than yours! To be fair, though, everyone everywhere overestimated. Bragging aside, it’s looking like Yes Man will take in about $18 million, Seven Pounds may find $16 million, and The Tale of Despereaux $11 million. Here are numbers for Friday:

Friday Estimates for December 19
1. Yes Man – $6.5 million
2. Seven Pounds – $5.3 million
3. The Tale Of Despereaux – $3.5 million
4. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $2.9 million
5. Four Christmases – $2.3 million
6. Twilight – $1.6 million
7. Bolt – $1 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire – $755,000
9. Austrailia – $625,000
10. Quantum Of Solace – $565,000
11. Milk – $425,000
12. Nothing Like The Holidays – $360,000

Weekend Preview: Jim Carrey vs. Will Smith In A Bipolar Box Office Frame

December 18, 2008

This weekend, the holiday season is officially here, and studios are hoping that with kids out of school, and parents off from work, the movies can rake in some serious cash. Timing wise, there’s no better space on the calendar to take advantage of the public’s holiday freedom. Last year, we had National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Enchanted, and I Am Legend all riding very high on their way to profitability So here’s my question: On one of the biggest weekends of the entire year, is this really the best Hollywood could do? Opening this Friday, we have the Jim Carrey screwball comedy, Yes Man, the Will Smith sobfest, Seven Pounds, and another CG animated film, The Tale Of Despereaux. Really, the battle is between Yes Man and Seven Pounds, as this weekend’s main offerings hit the two extremes of mainstream movie tastes. Although both films are headlined by established box office stars, thematically, they couldn’t be more different.

Warner Brothers’ Yes Man sees Jim Carrey in the kind of role that made him famous. That means over-the-top, exaggerated facial gestures, crazy voices, and general absurdity to boot. Yes Man is about a man who only says, “Yes,” and the way that that liberating mentality eventually becomes a hindrance. Sound familiar? Liar, Liar comes to mind… I’m not sure that audiences still love this version of Jim Carrey. His work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show showed he’s a versatile actor, but after straying a bit too far from his own persona in this years awful The Number 23, perhaps Carrey wanted to get back to his initial bread n’ butter. In the last few years, however, comedies have become much more fast-paced, quick-witted affairs, with snappy dialogue and wry humor. I don’t know that Ace Ventura would necessarily work in today’s marketplace, and that’s the problem with Yes Man. It doesn’t seem fresh; it seems like a retread. The reviews aren’t great at all, but it does stand out amongst all the Oscar dreck, and the lighthearted Jim Carrey film should find an audience. Opening in 3,434 theaters, look for Yes Man to pull in $18 million.

On the other side of the spectrum is Sony’s Seven Pounds, a dramatic film starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson that hopes to capture the same success as 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. The subject of this film has been exceedingly difficult to gather from the advertisements, which work hard to sell the film on Will Smith, rather than the convoluted premise. The official synopsis reads: “In the film, Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a fateful secret who embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.” Not giving audiences a clear idea of the story is never a good idea, and I think Seven Pounds will ultimately pay for that. Still, Will Smith is a proven draw at the box office, and I expect that his latest inspirational drama will manage to pull in solid crowds throughout the holiday season. But Seven Pounds is not going over to well with critics, which diminishes much of its long term potential, and the story doesn’t look particularly uplifting- just very dour. I don’t see this matching The Pursuit of Happyness‘ $163 million run, and maybe not even The Bucket List‘s (a similarly-schmaltzy film) $93 million. Will Smith’s name will draw in viewers, though, and from 2,758 theaters, Seven Pounds might earn $17 million as well.

The final new wide release this weekend is Universal’s The Tale Of Despereaux, a computer-generated animated film about a heroic mouse’s adventures. I’m going to be frank. As long as the world is spoiled by the perfection that is Pixar, all other animated films will simply pale in comparison, both in the visuals and in the story. Despereaux doesn’t look to have too much going for it, other than being cute, but very few people know about the source material, and reviews are bad. Debuting in 3,104 theaters, I’m only seeing a $6 million weekend. Let’s just hope it doesn’t pull a Delgo

I know I must sound terribly Scrooge-like today, but I have to wonder how this weekend’s slate ended up at this. None of these films is a surefire, family-friendly tentpole release. I just cant wrap my mind around why Disney didn’t bump Bedtime Stories up to this weekend, or maybe they could have waited to release High School Musical 3 in December, so they could cash in on this lucrative season. I guess it’s no use crying over spilled egg nog, though, so I digress. Holdovers should be relatively soft, though former chart-topper The Day The Earth Stood Still might nonetheless see a 50% drop. Four Christmases should do well, and other family films should have the smallest drops in the Top 12. Also of note, Oscar-lock Slumdog Millionaire expands into 589 theaters this weekend, and it should find some success in doing so. Here are my predictions for the frame:

Predicted Top 12 For December 19-21
1. Yes Man – $18 million
2. Seven Pounds – $17 million
3. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $14 million
4. Four Christmases – $10 million
5. The Tale Of Despereaux – $6 million
6. Bolt – $5.7 million
7. Twilight – $5.5 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire – $3.3 million
9. Australia – $2.8 million
10. Quantum Of Solace – $2.6 million
11. Milk – $2.6 million
12. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $2.1 million

What about you? What are your predictions?