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2010 Preview: February

February 1st, 2010

2010 started in record-breaking fashion with the most lucrative January of all time, and only the second time that the box office reached $1 billion before the end of the month. The first year to do that was 2009. There were two problems preventing real celebration, however. Firstly, roughly 30% of the total box office for the month came from one film, Avatar, which was a holdover. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, most films that were released / expanded wide in January missed expectations. Because of this, February starts on a bit of a down note. Compared to last year, the top of the list is about as strong with a couple of films aiming for $100 million, while there are fewer films that seem like they will bomb at the box office.

Weekend of February 5th, 2010

The month starts with a couple of films that have very little in the way of crossover between their respective target demographics. This could help them both maximize box office potential, but even so, it might be tough to keep up with last year's crop of new releases.

Dear John

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DearJohn-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony/Screen Gems
Release Date: February 5, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sensuality and violence
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance. Long Distance Relationship, Military Life, etc.
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $40 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

A movie based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, who wrote the novels that were turned into The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, etc., as well as the upcoming The Last Song. He has a solid fanbase, but generally not a large enough one to lift a movie above a mid-level hit in theaters. It is opening just a couple of weeks before Valentine's Day, which should help boost ticket sales. It is also a major test for Amanda Seyfried, who left Big Love to concentrate on her movie career. Meanwhile, Channing Tatum is also on the rise as far as box office drawing power goes and this movie could help him become a legitimate leading man. It could become a relatively large hit for the genre, but until I see more reviews I'm unwilling to predict anything more than a mid-level run. It doesn't have to be a critical darling to be a big hit, but anything less than 30% positive could be a bad sign.

From Paris With Love

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FromParisWithLoveFilm.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 5, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, drug content, pervasive language and brief sexuality
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Terrorism
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $55 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

Directed by Pierre Morel, who made Taken, which was released around the same time last year. There are other similarities, including a leading man, John Travolta, who doesn't quite fit the action hero mold, or at least doesn't any more. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 had a prime release date and it struggled at the box office, and he hasn't starred in an action movie that was a big hit since Face/Off. Even if you stretch the definition of hit and include Swordfish, you are still going back more than eight years. On the other hand, Morel had massive success with Taken last year, and the film is written and produced by Luc Besson, who knows the genre better than most. Perhaps it can become the first $100 million hit of the year, but it will have to overcome some obstacles, including that scarf John Travolta is wearing in the trailer.

Weekend of February 12th, 2010

This time last year we had one of the biggest pump and dumps of all time when Friday the 13th made more than half its box office total in just two days. It could be hard for any of the three wide releases this week to match that film's opening, but hopefully all three will have much, much better legs.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PercyJacksonTheMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: February 12, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Gods, Good vs. Evil, Visual Effects, and likely a lot more
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $80 million to $100 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Yet another Harry Potter wannabe. Okay, that might be an unfair assessment, but it is certainly generating a lot of comparisons to that mega-franchise. There have been a lot of other films with a similar look and feel, including but not limited to Eragon, Seeker, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Inkheart, Narnia, The Golden Compass and Stardust. This is a large, large list, and most films struggled to be anything more than mid-level hits. This is especially troubling, since these movies do not have mid-level budgets and this film could have easily cost more than $100 million to make. Its release date is not the best, but it isn't terrible either. It might be able to get family business that could be boosted by President's Day, as going to the movies and having a nice dinner is a good night out for a family on any holiday. That said, I think it will become a mid-level hit at best and with a production budget that is likely higher than that, I can't see Fox turning it into a franchise.

Valentine's Day

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ValentinesDayMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 12, 2010
MPAA Rating:
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Romance, Ensemble, and almost an Anthology
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million

Aiming to be this year's He's Just Not That Into You, which is aiming pretty high, as that film made nearly $100 million domestically and more than $175 million worldwide. There are a lot of similarities, including a massive cast, the release date, and of course the romance. I'm hoping this film will earn better reviews and it does have Garry Marshall behind the camera, who has made some of the biggest hits in the genre and it could be the first $100 million earner of the year. Opening on Valentine's Day weekend should help it early on, but it could also result in shorter than average legs, at least shorter than average for the genre. Even if it fails to reach $100 million, and it probably will, it should still earn enough to make Warner Bros. happy.

The Wolf Man

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheWolfManMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 12, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for bloody horror violence and gore
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Werewolf
Production Budget: Unknown - reported at $85 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

This movie was originally announced back in 2006 and started with a November 2008 target release date. However, it was pushed back again and again and there were reshoots and complaints about the final product. Now it is coming out the weekend of Valentine's Day, which is a terrible time to release a horror film. It does have an impressive cast, including Oscar winners Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, but there are too many bad omens that suggest it will struggle with critics and moviegoers alike. That said, it was an expensive movie to make and Universal will support it with a saturation level ad campaign, so it should at least become a mid-level hit, even if that's a phyrric victory.

Weekend of February 19th, 2010

Only one wide release this weekend, just like there was this time last year (if you don't count Fired Up, which opened semi-wide, although it managed a spot in the top ten). That film, Madea Goes to Jail opened huge, but fell fast. So while we might not have a $40 million film this weekend, it should be better in the long run.

Shutter Island

Official Site: ShutterIsland.com
Trailer: Click to Play
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: February 19, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, language and some nudity
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: Mental Illness, Hospital, Serial Killer, Surprise Twist, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $80 million to $100 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

This is the fourth time Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have teamed up and their previous three films (Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Departed) combined for 26 Oscar nominations and 9 wins. It's obvious that this film has a lot of buzz going in because of its pedigree; however, if Paramount thought they had an award-winner, why are they releasing it now? In fact, the film was originally set to come out in October of last year, which is just when Awards Season is starting to warm up. Early reviews are excellent and I'm hoping this will be the best movie of the year so far, both in terms of critical response and box office performance, but that change in release date is still troubling. On the other hand, having the weekend to itself should help out and $100 million is definitely within reach.

Weekend of February 26th, 2010

February 2009 ended on a really low note with the biggest release of the week missing expectations by a huge margin and the only other new film barely making the top ten. This time around we have two wide releases, neither of which are expected to be massive hits, but they should both do better than Jonas Brothers did.

Cop Out

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: CopOutMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 26, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Buddy Cop, Organized Crime, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Originally titled A Couple of Dicks, the film was changed to the incredibly boring A Couple of Cops and then to the current title, Cop Out, which sounds a lot better, and is self-referential. This movie is noteworthy as the first film Kevin Smith is directing but didn't write. It stars Bruce Willis, who has played a cop more than a few times in his career, and Tracy Morgan, from 30 Rock, in his biggest movie role to date. Despite these three being involved, the reaction to the trailer has been mostly negative. Also, Willis's last movie struggled at the box office, Morgan is an unproven box office commodity, and Smith's biggest hit only made just over $30 million. This leads me to believe this will be no more than a mid-level hit, and it might not make it that far.

The Crazies

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheCrazies-Movie.com
Distributor: Overture Films
Release Date: February 26, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence and language
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Pseudo-Zombie, Outbreak, and more
Production Budget: $12 million to $20 million - Reports vary
Box Office Potential: $25 million

A remake of a George A. Romero film from the 1970s. That should generate some interest among genre fans, while the effective trailer should also help the film along the way. On the downside, horror remakes don't have a reputation for being massive box office powerhouses, while Overture only has one true hit so far. A low production budget means the movie won't have to make a whole lot of money to show a profit, which is good, because even $50 million might be out of the question.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Cop Out, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shutter Island, The Crazies, The Wolfman, Valentine's Day, From Paris With Love, Dear John