a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Handicapping the December Releases

Because if I don't do it, who will? Feel free to come back in two months, and tell me how stupid I am (or do it now, if you're brave).

KING KONG. My one reservation about this movie is that it obviously clones every plot beat from the original, so while watching it there won't be any real surprises about where it is going. Still, the visuals look amazing (love Kong jump-swatting the plane), and people will go see it. Estimated gross: $280 million.

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA - THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. This one could be huge, or could tank; they are trying to sell it as another Lord of the Rings experience, and if the movie isn't good, it'll disappear quickly. Even then, the main characters are so young that it comes across as something of a kids' movie. But it looks solid enough; let's call it $165 million, though it could do less, or a lot more.

THE PRODUCERS. Another remake, and though this a musical, it is going to be very review-dependent. I think it'll get okay reviews, and okay box office. $80 million.

THE NEW WORLD. Give Hollywood credit, they are trotting out a lot of movies where if they suck they won't make a dime. Early buzz on this is good, though it still has that historical-epic/history lesson feel that might not serve it all that well. $70 million.

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. See above. One of these movies will get a lot of nominations, and break out and make lots of money. I'm going to be conservative, and predict this one will only do about $57 million.

RUMOR HAS IT. On the upside, it's supposed to be funny. On the downside, the production was troubled (Rob Reiner was brought in at the last minute to take over for the fired writer/director), and the premise is a bit uncomfortable and weird (I'm not sure I want to see Jennifer Aniston involved with Kevin Costner, and the fact that he slept with her mother and grandmother...) . It'll do okay, but probably top out around $50 million.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. This could be the surprise hit. The movie is supposed to be very good, and they came out for The Crying Game. I think it'll have legs, and make $90 million.

AEON FLUX. It'll benefit a little from being the only movie opening this Friday, but the trailer doesn't excite me; this just doesn't look like the movie that will get the female-action-fantasy-hero genre out of its rut. Hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it. $29 million.

FUN WITH DICK AND JANE. Another remake, though since no one remembers the original, it'll do well, as long as it's funny. Then again, Bruce Almighty wasn't all that funny, and it made money anyway. I think this one may hit. $150 million.

MATCH POINT. Though they are selling it as a sexy thriller, I hear it's more of a sexy drama. And it's Woody Allen. Probably do better than most of his recent movies, but still top out around $22 million.

CASANOVA. I think gay Heath will do a lot better than costumed Heath. $24 million.

MUNICH. Another extremely review-dependent film, without a name cast. It'll probably be good, and get a lot of nominations. Call it $75 million.

HOODWINKED. Cartoons are hard to predict, and I haven't heard much of anything about this one, but the kids have to see something. $68 million.

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2. This could be the big family film of Christmas, in the absence of much in the way of alternatives. $125 million.

THE RINGER. Johnny Knoxville, pretending to be retarded so he can compete in the Special OLympics. Would have been fresher if South Park hadn't done it first, but it's getting good buzz, and the Special Olympics are behind the damn thing. Hard to tell. Call it $32 million.

THE FAMILY STONE. Good cast, not much hook, might get lost in the wash. $23 million.

WOLF CREEK. Nothing like opening a horror movie on Christmas. But this one could click. $23 million.


At 11:46 AM, Blogger Fun Joel said...

Dude, I love this! Should be fun to watch, and I never go out on as thin a limb as you did here! ;-)

BTW, I find it interesting that so many people seem to be "rooting" for Aeon to do well, but everyone (myself included) expect it to underperform. Sad and weird.

And re: Narnia, I read for Walden, who produced the film, and the word is that it is a really great film (though I have yet to see it). Of course this is coming from people inside, but they also have no reason to lie to me. :-) So hopefully it will perform well, but yes, it is aimed largely for kids.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger shecanfilmit said...

Early reviews from friends with screening passes... Producers - not as good as hoped, and Geisha - visually stunning but flat story.

I personally saw Fun With Dick and Jane more than a few times. It was one of my favorite childhood films. My mother took me to see it, thinking it was a kids film. I must have been about 8 or 9. On the ride home, she had to explain to me what condoms were and other things... The original was so much fun -- kind of in the same spirit as the Blues Brothers. I hope they get it right.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Not a bad set of guesses. I think Aeon will bomb; it just looks unexciting and visually dead. It'll gross in the 20s.

Kong will make over 400 million. Mark my words; this is gonna be a monster like Titanic. It might even make more.

Fun W/ Dick could get lost, if not it'll do 80.

Narnia could go either way. It might be too much for the kiddies, it's hard to tell with this one so I'll just agree with Scott.

Match Point can do 50 million if it's really good, which is like Titanic money for the woodster.

Brokeback can do 100, but it may take some awards to get it moving and keep its legs.

Wolf Creek might do 50 if people are in the mood for a creepfest around x-mas. It didn't work last year though (wasn't Darkness or something like it trying the same thing on X-mas day?).

Rumor Has It will do $150, I just think people will be in the mood for a romantic comedy starring those peeps.

Ah, but what the hell do I know?

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Dave R said...

I used to do this at my theater all of the time. We used to bet on grosses.

King Kong: 340(people love action, most kids have never seen the original, neither have most adults)

Narnia: 60(but a video smash)

Producers: 70

The New Word: 55(Malick is like Kubrick at the BO)

Memoirs of Geshia: 40

Rumor Has It: 22(no one cares)

Brokeback Mountain: 23

Aeon Flux: 50(it needed a Summer release)

Casanova: 17

Munich: 60(Oscars will push it up there)

Hoodwinked 20(it will get lost in the mix)

The Ringer 50

The Family Stone 25(another monster-in-law/prime)

Wolf Creek: 12

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Oh, I forgot the New World - It'll do 20. Producers might do 80-100, but people may be musicled out after Rent. Geisha will make 40 tops. Munich may surprise and go on to do $120 mil.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Danny Stack said...

I read Hoodwinked, and while it was fun, it was 90 mins of premise, no character or story. Not a classic by any means. If it does well at the box office, the faint cries you hear will be me from across the pond, knowing that my attempts at the genre are much, much better but are yet unproduced.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Joshua said...

I saw a trailer for PRODUCERS and it looked terrible - looked like an extremely unfunny cartoon -

On the other hand, the RUMOR HAS IT trailer looked good (and Mark Ruffalo has as much if not more time in the trailer than Costner, which could help) and I'm more interested in it as a result.

The Geisha trailer looks pretty good and I loved the book, but I am a bit pissed that they cast chinese actors in the leads (I have a Japanese Significant Other) and it strikes me as a bit insulting.

Dick and Jane looks fun, actually. But we never know with comedies. Tea Leoni is a good match for Carrey.

I like reviewing the trailers - I'm convinced the trailer is mostly responsible for Cinderella Man's flop (they showed positively every plot point in the trailer, so who wants to pay twelve bucks to see it now?) -

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Joshua said...

Also, I heard that the original title for THE FAMILY STONE was FUCKING HATE HER.

Love that title - wish they kept it.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I heard that title too. You think they would have at least gone with "Friggin' Hate Her" or "Freaking Hate Her".

When I hear "the Family Stone", all I think of is Sly belting out "Dance to the Music".

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

finally Hollywood is redoing films that did poorly originally (Dick And Jane) or See Jim Cash Huge Check as it is also known

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Fun Joel said...

I gotta say, The Family Stone? Haven't we seen this EXACT movie fifty times already? Is there ANYTHING new about this premise?

And Dick and Jane. Liked, didn't love the original when I saw it as a teen (on vid). But I loves me some Tea, so I gots ta root for it.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger ScriptWeaver said...

No kidding...

Has anyone even chuckled the least bit during the trailer for "The Family Stone?"

Claire Danes is mentioned in the trailer but you see her face only once.

"Sarah Jessica Parker looks like a foot." -- Peter Griffin

At 5:49 AM, Anonymous Jacob Sager Weinstein said...

I've got an advance look at some of these at various BAFTA screenings. My thoughts:

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN Is wonderful and very moving. I think it's going to do really well among gay men, non-homophobic heterosexual women, and serious film lovers of all persuasions and gender. I don't know how big any of those audiences are, but I do hope they're enough to encourage studios to keep funding intelligent and moving films like this one.

MATCH POINT is Woody Allen's best film in years, although it's far from the level of his masterpieces. It's maybe halfway between a masterpiece like HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and a disaster like HOLLYWOOD ENDING, in terms of overall quality. Still, it will bring in Allen's current fans, as well as his former fans who got turned off by his last few movies but heard good things about this one. If it's being sold as a sexy thriller starring Scarlet Johansen, it will probably have a big opening weekend, although I expect that will drop off as word spreads that it's actually a (admittedly sexy) drama about serious issues.

THE FAMILY STONE was pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a loving-but-bickering-family-gets-together-and-wrestles-with-their-differences film, but it has a terrific cast, and is a very polished and professional example of the genre. I'm not the target audience for it, and neither are most of the other commenters here, but I think it's going to do well among people who want a warm, reassuring, and familiar movie experience over the holidays.

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Shawna said...

Narnia will do $220.
Kong, $375
Producers, $67
Geisha, good open (maybe $25-30, drops like a rock)
Brokeback will do $100m, really surprise Hollywood that Red States see it.

I have no idea on the others...

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"BTW, I find it interesting that so many people seem to be "rooting" for Aeon to do well, but everyone (myself included) expect it to underperform. Sad and weird."

Bummer, I was kind of hoping that there could be another female action director mentioned (in Kusyama) instead of Kathryn Bigelow. Hey, anybody else feeling kind of odd about that "King Kong" poster where Kong forms a heart with his nose?

I can't speak for anyone else but I wouldn't see any of these in the first two weeks, Narnia being the exception because Procrastinator Jr. is geeked up about it. To me this is the worst cinematic year ever.

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Emily Blake said...

Saw an advanced screening of Geisha this week. Rarely have I seen such an accurate adaptation that turned out so good. Brilliant film.

As for the actors, it's actually a mix of actors from all over Asia. They chose the best actors for the roles and didn't get hung up on what country they were from.

I hope it does well enough to restore Hollywood's faith in the period peice.

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Joshua said...

The female leads in geisha are all chinese, so it's not really a mix - the three biggest parts are chinese -

IF the last emperor had been played by a Japanese actor, what do you think the response would have been?

I think they took the actors from the one chinese language hit we've had here (crouching tiger) and cast them without thought to the source material, and it turns me off.

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Emily Blake said...

At the risk of turning this into an annoying debate, Michelle Yeoh is Malaysian and Youki Kudoh and Ken Watanabe are Japanese.

But that's irrelevant anyway. Al Pacino's not Cuban. He's not even Hispanic, but ask any Latino boy what his favorite movie is and he'll say Scarface.

Andy Garcia actually is Cuban, but that didn't stop him from playing an Italian in The Godfather. Antonia Banderes is Spanish, not "the biggest Mexican I've ever seen". Catherine Zeta Jones is Welsh, but there she was in Zorro, playing a Spanish beauty.

It's about finding the best actor for the part. That should be the priority.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

If King Kong is basically the same, beat for beat, so much for me going to see it! It's a long story, but it ends with me being four years old and wetting the bed. I fear few things. King Kong is at the top of the short list.

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Joshua said...

RE Geisha -

It's relative to the story, isn't it? Banderous certainly isn't mexican, but Spain and Mexico are a bit closer than China and Japan (who have warred for centuries) and share a common language (Malaysia certainly shares more culture ties with china than it does with Japan)

But I agree that the best actor for the part should be found, but I don't think that's the case in most films - they go with what's considered the most marketable, not with who's right or the best. Michele Yeoh and Zhang Zi were chosen because of Crouching Tiger, the Jackie Chan flicks and Hero - not because they were right for the part (point, I am a fan of both actors) - but because they've been in films with "numbers". Let's not pretend they're in it for any other reason, come on. It's not to say they won't be good, as Renee was in Bridget Jones, I'm just saying it bothers me and will be one reason I won't see it.

Geisha is a uniquely Japanese story, the culture of Japan and it's history in WWII is pivotal to the plot and it seems a bit, I dunno, weird that Chinese actors are in it (Gong Li is another actor) -

It may seem harmless, but remember forty years ago Italians were playing Native Americans and no one thought anything of it - but today, what would happen if you cast Al Pacino as Geronimo? Would it work?

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Again, Kong will do 400+. You'll see! I'd like Aeon Flux to be better, I like the Charlize, but it's not gonna happen.

Hey, what about the Matador?? $50 million? $25 million? 5? Ok, probably 10ish, no one will go see it, although Kinnear and Pierce look like they're having fun in it.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I was working from the holiday issue of Entertainment Weekly, which doesn't have The Matador listed. Maybe they pushed it back.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous emily blake said...

So to sum up, you like the actors in Geisha, you like the story, and you think the trailer makes the film look good. And I'm telling you, as someone who's both read the book and seen the film, that it is fantastic.

But you're not going to see the movie because the actors are not all Japanese and have been in other successful films?

That's your choice, I suppose. I just find it an odd way to measure a film's worth.

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Joshua said...

Re: Geisha,

Actually, I'm not seeing the film because I find the casting a wee bit insulting - I thought that was pretty clear . . . they could have cast Japanese actress in the two leads and they didn't . . . and the two heroines, that we root for, are not Japanese but chinese and malayasian - again, big difference between japanese and chinese, a much bigger difference than malay and chinese . . .

I think the leads were cast strictly because of the numbers, as I said - I'll be clear, it's my issue (my significant other is Japanese so I'm a bit more sensitive to it) but times are changing - quite a few of the samples you cited are from years back (scarface is over twenty years old now) - and ask yourself, would you go see a film about Lakota Sioux tribe in which all the sympethtic parts are cast with non-native american actors? Specifically, cast it with actors from a culture hostile to the one portrayed? Perhaps some would, but I prefer to let my dollars go elsewhere -

It's my choice, I'm not forcing it on anyone. Times are changing, and it's a good thing - there was a time when no one but Bruce Lee and Mako could get a job in American films . . . they would cast Mickey Rooney or David Carradine because they had better numbers and recognition -

Put the right actors in the right parts.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of you guys ain't living in the real world. Brokeback Mountain won't break 50 million no matter how good it is.

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Wanna bet?

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Phillip said...

Sure. Bet you a beer. Pay up at the next wordplayer party?

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...


At 7:20 PM, Blogger Phillip said...

Done. I like my Coronas with two limes.

At 11:38 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Corona it is. But only one lime for me ;-)


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