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2008 Preview: January

January 1st, 2008

It's the beginning of a new month, and a new year. This new beginning brings with it a sense of hope and exhilaration for many people, but this does not extend into the movie world. January is dominated by films from last year. Not only are holdovers going to overwhelm new releases at the box office for the next couple weeks, but with the award season heating up, most buzz is about who will win what. In fact, only Cloverfield seems to be able to rise above the award season buzz, but this is not a sure sign that the film will survive at the box office.

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Name: 27 Dresses
Distributor: Fox
Official Site: 27DressesTheMovie.com
Release Date: January 11, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some innuendo and sexuality
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Wedding Party
Production Budget: Unknown estimated between $30 and $40 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: A rather generic romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl and James Marsden in the leads. Since neither of them are known for their ability to carry a film, they will need some unexpected chemistry between them to help this film at the box office. That said, while the genre isn't know for producing too many monster hits, it is a pretty steady performer and even those that earn less than stellar reviews tend to do reasonably well at the box office. I think the studio would be happy with a midlevel hit, which is good news cause that's all they are going to get.

Name: Be Kind Rewind
Distributor: New Line
Official Site: BeKindMovie.com
Release Date: January 25, 2008 - limited
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Movie Business
Production Budget: $20 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: The best time of year to open a limited release is late in the year to take advantage of the Award Season buzz; because of this, there is a glut of limited releases fighting for screens to make a big enough splash to earn nominations. Since it is too late to qualify for the Oscars and the competition is so high, January is arguably the worst time of the year to open a limited release and there are not many limited releases that have a shot even a moderate shot at expanding wide. In fact, Be Kind Rewind is only such movie opening this month. I think the combination of Michel Gondry at the helm and Jack Black and Mo Def in the leads could be a magical combination. I could become a sleeper hit and top Eternal Sunshine as Michel Gondry's biggest hit so far. However, that's at the very high end of the scale, it is more likely that the movie will earn some measure of mainstream success theatrically, but will have to wait till the home market to find an audience.

Name: The Bucket List
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: TheBucketList.net
Release Date: December 21, 2007 (limited)
Release Date: January 11, 2008 (expansion to wide release)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, including a sexual reference
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Medical and Hospitals and Road Trip
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at between $40 and $60 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: So far this film has done extremely well in limited release despite earning reviews that are just mediocre. However, its word-of-mouth might not be hurting, its Oscar chances are dead and without that buzz its box office potential has been cut.

Name: Cloverfield
Distributor: Paramount
Official Site: 1-18-08.com
Release Date: January 18, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Monster
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: Anywhere from $25 million to $125 million
Notes: Cloverfield, or as it might be known at the end of the month, Snakes on a Plane 2: Electric Boogaloo, has been the center of an intense storm of hype and speculation since word first appeared of the movie. There was a lot of speculation, because there were so few details released (the first trailer didn't even have the name in it). However, while this generated a lot of hype, now that more details have come out, there's not as much speculation and the buzz has died down considerably. The film is going to have to rely on strong reviews and positive word of mouth, and even that might not be enough. As a fan of movies, I love this marketing approach. As someone who analyzing box office numbers and tries to come up with predictions, I hate it. There's no way I can really do my job, but if I was to guess, I think this film will fail to capitalize on the advance buzz and will become a midlevel hit at best ($50 million).

Name: First Sunday
Distributor: Sony/Screen Gems
Official Site: CrimeDoesntPray.com
Release Date: January 11, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some sexual humor, and brief drug references
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Heist and Religious
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at under $20 million, possibly under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: Written, produced, and directed by David E. Talbert, who for the past decade has worked almost exclusively in the direct-to-DVD market. There's not much from the trailer that suggests this film shouldn't be relegated to the same fate. Perhaps opening the weekend before Martin Luther King Day long weekend will have with its target demographic and there's always a chance it will surprise, but at most it will be a midlevel hit aided by its low production budget.

Name: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Official Site: InTheNameOfTheKing.com
Release Date: January 11, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense battle sequences
Source: Based on a Game
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Sword & Sorcerer
Production Budget: Unknown, reported at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: Germany fixed its tax code, so this might be one of the last films Uwe Boll directs. One can only assume he raised the $60 million before the changes went into effect as his previous three films made a combined $17.78 million at the box office. There's no way anyone would think this movie could cover a $60 million budget (or even a $40 million budget as some sources say). Uwe Boll is arguably the worst director currently making movies today, possibly of all time. Even Ed Wood had a sense of style and better sense in casting. I think it was on the Déjà Vu audio commentary that Tony Scott said the most important part of directing is casting. Uwe Boll knows nothing about casting; in fact, I've heard he chooses his actors by looking for film projects that were delayed or fell apart and hiring actors based solely on their immediate availability. This makes a lot of sense given the diverse selection of actors found in this movie. That said, I think this movie will be the best Uwe Boll project ever, at the box office and with critics. That's right, I think it will top the 11% positive Blackwood earned with critics and the $10.20 million House of the Dead earned at the box office. It will still be remembered as one of the worse movies of the year and one of the biggest bombs, but it will still be his best movie ever.

Name: How She Move
Distributor: Paramount Classics
Official Site: No Official Site
Release Date: January 25, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some drug content, suggestive material and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Dancing and Coming of Age
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at under $20 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: Movies about dancing, especially Urban dancing, have been extremely popular of late. Even those that have failed to win over critics, like Step Up or You Got Served, have found an audience in theaters. This film has it tougher because it is Canadian and I'm not entirely sure it will get a wide release, at least a truly wide release. If it does open in significantly more than 2000 theaters, it could double, or even triple the above expectations. On the other hand, it could be relegated to the dread select cities, in which case it could exit theaters before it hits $1 million. Given the lack of publicity (there's not even a website), I think the latter is more likely than the former. Hopefully I am wrong.

Name: Mad Money
Distributor: Overture Films
Official Site: MadMoneyMovie.com
Release Date: January 18, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual material and language, and brief drug references
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Heist
Production Budget: Reported at $22 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: The second heist movie coming out this month, this one aimed at female audiences. The film's box office chances depend heavily on the combined drawing power of the three female leads. Diane Keaton's career has been reinvigorated the past few years, but she needs to bounce back from Because I Said So's critically drubbing. Queen Latifah has had five $100 million hits, including Hairspray last summer. While Katie Holmes has had only one major hit in her career, Batman Begins, which represents more than half of her total box office revenue, and she wasn't invited back to be in the upcoming sequel. Combined they have enough drawing power among fans of female empowerment movies to make this film a hit, but the release date suggests it will be just a midlevel hit. That said, if the reported production budget is accurate, a midlevel hit will still result in a serious profit margin by the time it hits the home market.

Name: Meet the Spartans
Distributor: Fox
Official Site: MeetTheSpartans.com
Release Date: January 25, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language and some comic violence
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Spoof and Sword & Sandal
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: Movies like this are the reason Walk Hard bombed at the box office. Throwing a bunch of pop culture references on the screen is not the same as crafting a real parody. Moviegoers know this, and they have stopped going to see all spoofs as a result, even the good ones. I suspect this film will earn a Tomatometer Score in the single-digits and will be remembered as one of the worst movies of the year. And in a few months when Superhero! is released, its performance will be the same.

Name: One Missed Call
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: OneMissedCallMovie.com
Release Date: January 4, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, frightening images, some sexual material and thematic elements
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Premonitions and Hauntings
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: The first weekend of the year is not the best time to open a wide release, in fact in the 2000s only one new release has topped the chart during this particular weekend. (Hostel in 2006.) In addition, the film is a remake of a Japanese horror film, and these films haven't done anything in a long, long time. Combined with weak buzz and poor early reviews and there's little reason to suggest this film will become even a midlevel hit.

Name: The Orphanage
Distributor: Picture House
Official Site: SimonIsMissing.com
Release Date: December 28, 2007 (limited)
Release Date: January 11, 2008 (expansion to wide release)
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Hauntings
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: The film's opening weekend was good, but not great. It should be able to expand, but perhaps not enough to be considered truly wide. This will hinder its box office chances. It should still earn some measure of mainstream success and with the money and do well on the home market. Additionally, will all of the money it has earned internationally it is already a considerable hit.

Name: Persepolis
Distributor: Sony Picture Classics
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: December 25, 2007 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including violent images, sexual references, language and brief drug content
Source: Based on a Graphic Novel
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Coming of Age
Production Budget: $8.1 million
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: The third limited release from December that is expanding wide this month. Like the other two above, this one opened well, but perhaps not well enough to expand by a great deal. I still expect it to earn an Oscar nomination for best animated film despite being overlooked by the Golden Globe nomination committee, but it might be too late for the film's theatrical run by then. However, a win, which is obviously not out of the question, would boost the film's home market numbers.

Name: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie
Distributor: Universal
Official Site: VeggiePirates.com
Release Date: January 11, 2008
MPAA Rating: G for General Admission
Source: Spin-off
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Pirates, Time Travel, Religious, and Food
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: If anyone licks a sparkplug in this movie, I'm going to be quite upset. ... Moving on. Based on one of the recurring bits of VeggieTales, a produce based Christian direct-to-DVD digitally animated franchise that has lasted 15 years so far. Silly Songs with Larry is the part of the show Tales where Larry comes out and sings a silly song. Basically, it was the part of the show where they dropped all pretences of being religious and just goofed off. It goes without saying that it was the most popular part of the show spawning four compilation DVDs. Everyone's got a water buffalo, yours is fast but mine is slow. ... Sorry, but in my defense, they are catchy songs. The first VeggieTales movie earned $25 million at the box office, which is very strong for an independent release. This time around the film has less of a religious angle but should still draw in churchgoers, while having more mainstream appeal. On the other hand, January is not a good month to release a family film with both Happily N'Ever After and Arthur and the Invisibles bombing last year. On the other, other hand, Hoodwinked made more than $50 million, which would be a great run for this film. The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything should earn very close to the middle of those two ends and earn a profit sometime during its home market run. Usta!

Name: Rambo
Distributor: LionsGate
Official Site: Movies.Break.com/Rambo
Release Date: January 25, 2008
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic bloody violence, sexual assaults, grisly images and language.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Rescue
Production Budget: $47.5 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: The second Sylvester Stallone franchise to be revived in roughly a year. With the success of Rocky Balboa, expectations for Rambo climbed dramatically, and the trailer didn't hurt its prospects either. I don't think this film will do as well as Rocky Balboa, either at the box office or with critics, but should so well enough to be considered a midlevel hit, which is all most January releases can hope for. I see it opening with close to the $25 million Rambo: First Blood Part II debuted with while finishing with just over $60 million, which is better than Rambo III managed back in 1988. I don't think this will be enough to justify further films in the franchise, unless it proves to be a highly successful film internationally and / or on the home market.

Name: There Will Be Blood
Distributor: Paramount
Official Site: ParamountVantage.com/Blood
Release Date: December 26, 2007 - Limited
MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Religious and Dysfunctional Family
Production Budget: Reported at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: The final December release that is expanding wide this month. This one did the best of the four on this list; in fact, it earned the best per theater average of any film this year. It also picked up two Golden Globe nominations and one SAG nominations, and Daniel Day-Lewis might be the favorite to win both of his nominations. That said, it is still a tough road to expand and there's a lot of competition from films that pick up even more nominations so far this year. $35 million is a safe prediction, but $75 million isn't out of the question either, and should it earn additional Oscar nominations and more than a few wins, it could cross $100 million before the end of its run.

Name: Untraceable
Distributor: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/Untraceable
Release Date: January 25, 2008
MPAA Rating: R for some prolonged sequences of strong gruesome violence, and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Keywords: Serial Killer, Internet, and Criminal Investigations
Production Budget: Reported at $57 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: There have been a lot of films featuring the FBI tracking a serial killer so you need a particularly strong hook to get moviegoers interested. I don't think this film has one. Here the killer in question is streaming his murders live on the internet and the more people who check out his site, the more violent and bloody the deaths will be. However, the internet is simply not very cinematic. Add in a lead who has made a career of starring in midlevel hits and it is hard to see this film being a break out hit. In fact, given its release date, it is far more likely to struggle and expectations have it failing to match its production budget by a significant margin.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Bucket List, Cloverfield, Rambo, There Will Be Blood, Meet the Spartans, First Sunday, Untraceable, One Missed Call, Mad Money, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, Be Kind Rewind, El orfanato, How She Move, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Persepolis, 27 Dresses