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2006 Preview: January

January 2nd, 2006

It's the beginning of a new year, January 1st, 2006 (or at least it was when I wrote this). The good news is 2005 is finally over. The bad news is 2006 again starts with the month of January, which is always a really slow way to start the year. This is a real dead month when it comes to new releases, in fact, of the 10 new releases coming out this month, I'm excited about seeing... none. (There are a few movies that could be popular among their target demographic, but I'm just not in those groups.) But at least there are a few Oscar contenders that opened in limited release last month that are looking to go wide sometime during the month and that is the only real saving grace.

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Name: Annapolis
Studio: Disney
Official Site: Annapolis.movies.com
Release Date: January 27th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sexual content and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Military Life, New Guy in School, and Boxing
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $45 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: I definitely see potential in this movie as the director and many of the cast members are up and comers, but that release date just worries me. Also, the last Military Life movie didn't do nearly as well as most analysts had predicted and it might just be a genre that that moviegoers are not interested in seeing at the moment. On the plus side, of the three movies opening wide that week, it does look like the strongest.

Name: Big Momma's House 2
Studio: Fox
Official Site: BigMomma'sHouse2.com
Release Date: January 27th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual humor and a humorous drug reference.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Cross-Dressing and Undercover
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $35 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: The term unnecessary sequel was the first thing that popped into my head when I first heard the movie was given the go-ahead. One strike against the film is Martin Lawrence, who's never really become a box office star. Granted, the original was a surprise hit when it first came out, but it is still the only hit he's ever headlined. (Let's face it, he wasn't the reason people went to see Bad Boys II, which is his only other $100 million movie.) I don't think this film will do particularly well at the box office and it could become one of those rare sequels that earns less during its entire run than the original earned during its opening weekend.

Name: Bloodrayne
Studio: Romar
Official Site: Bloodrayne-TheMovie.com
Release Date: January 6th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity.
Source: Based on a Video Game
Major Genre: Fantasy
Genres: Vampire
Production Budget: $47 million
Box Office Potential: $10.00 (One person will buy a ticket by mistake.)
Notes: The competition for Worst Movie of the Year gets off to a fast start with Bloodrayne opening on January 6th. Uwe Boll is obviously blackmailing someone, because that's the only way to explain why he keeps getting bigger and bigger budgets to make these horrible video game adaptations. House of the Dead cost about $12 million to make and earned about $10 million back and was considered one of the worst movies of the year. Alone in the Dark cost $20 million and earned back just $5m, and earned even worse reviews. At this pace, this film will pull in a negative box office and will be so bad it will cause brain hemorrhages in viewers. One last note, this film's budget was increased for $25 million to $47 million and his next film has a budget of $60 million.

Name: Glory Road
Studio: Dinsey
Official Site: Disney.Go.com
Release Date: January 13, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG for racial issues including violence and epithets, and mild language
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Basketball and Biography
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: It seems like every year one of these Inspirational Coach movies comes out, and they all seem to be based on a true story. Well, they keep making money so it's a smart plan, just as long as they don't overload the market with them. This movie tells the story of Don Haskins, the NCAA coach who not only was the first to field an all black team, but also revolutionized the game and turned it into the more run and gun style we see today. This film should be a steady performer and earn enough to show a profit during its home market push, but don't look for it to be a major hit or make any noise internationally.

Name: Grandma's Boy
Studio: Fox
Official Site: Grandma'sBoyMovie.com
Release Date: January 6th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for drug use and language throughout, strong crude and sexual humor, and nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Video Games and Gratuitous Cameos
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $20 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: Another worst movie of the year contender, this is an R-Rated sex comedy with almost nothing going for it. None of the jokes work in the trailer, none of the cast have carried a movie, and its opening during one of the slowest weekends of the year. Maybe if they can hype Adam Sandler's weak connection to the movie they can bring in a few bodies, but even a best case scenario has this film struggling.

Name: Hoodwinked
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: HoodwinkedTheMovie.com
Release Date: January 13th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and thematic elements.
Source: Based on a Fairytale
Major Genre: Animated
Genres: Digital Animation
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: A tale about Little Red Riding Hood that has more in common with Rashomon than it does with the original fairytale. Unfortunately the first trailer killed any hope I had for the movie, as almost nothing seemed to work. The jokes were bad, the animation looked cheap, etc. Even something as basic as the characters seemed out of place. Update: The film went from the December releases to a January release, and its box office potential has dropped accordingly. I don't think this film will do as poorly as Valiant, but it could be close.

Name: Hostel
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: HostelFilm.com
Release Date: January 6th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Teenage Slasher
Production Budget: $4.5 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: The latest is a string of sadistic horror films. Written and directed by the same guy who make Cabin Fever, this film has Quentin Tarantino backing it, which should help its box office. However, the subject matter is just too extreme for it to earn mainstream appeal. In short, fans of the genre will probably love it, nobody else should go near it.

Name: Last Holiday
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: LastHolidayMovie.com
Release Date: January 13, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Surprise Twist?
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: After starring in three $100 million movies in a row, Queen Latifah's been in a bit of a slump. And given this film's January release date, and the slump remakes have been in for the past year, it is unlikely that she'll break it with this film. However, she has the charm and star power to draw in enough people to make the movie a success. One last note, the original starred Alec Guinness and had an effective surprise twist and much more caustic feel to it; it was more social commentary than escapist humor. But it seems likely that this film will be more of the latter than the former and the original ending was likely sacrificed to maintain that vibe.

Name: The Matador
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: MatadorTheMovie.com
Release Date: Expands wide January 20th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Genres: Hitmen
Production Budget: $12.5 million
Box Office Potential: $17.5 million
Notes: As I noted on Friday, Pierce Brosnan has earned more critical praise for his performance in this movie than he has seen in a long time, although overall the reviews have fallen off a bit. Also, it didn't open quite as well as I was expecting with about $70,000 in 4 theatres. That's a very similar opening to The Upside of Anger, which would give the film about $18 million at the box office. That's not a hit in the traditional sense of the word, but given the film's production budget, it should be enough to make the studio happy.

Name: Match Point
Studio: Dreamworks
Official Site: Dreamworks.com
Release Date: Expands wide on January 20th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Genres: Cross Class Romance
Production Budget: $15 million
Box Office Potential: $27.5 million
Notes: The most anticipated film opening wide in January, although that doesn't mean it will be the biggest hit at the box office. It is also Woody Allen's most anticipated film in the better part of a decade and could earn his best box office since Hannah and Her Sisters. (Assuming the film can maintain its early momentum and maybe pick up a couple of Oscar nods as well.) One of the reasons so many people want to see it is because it is such a departure from Woody Allen's usual movies; it's not a comedy but a thriller, some have even gone so far as to call it Hitchcockian. That might be overstating things a bit, but it still should be something to watch.

Name: Munich
Studio: Universal
Official Site: MunichMovie.com
Release Date: Expands wide on January 6, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence, some sexual content, nudity and language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Assassination and Terrorism
Production Budget: $75 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: Didn't get off to as fast of a start as I was expecting, nor is it generating the amount of controversy needed to overcome its low-key ad campaign. Additionally, it had one of the worst New Year's bounces in the top ten. This is a film that's going to need a lot of help (read: Oscars nominations), to come close to covering its production budget. And I just don't think that's on the cards.

Name: Nanny McPhee
Studio: Universal
Official Site: NannyMcPhee.com
Release Date: January 27th, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements, some rude humor and brief language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Comedy or Fantasy
Genres: Secret Magic
Production Budget: $34 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: This film was a pretty big hit in its native U.K. earning nearly $30 million there, which is equivalent to earning about $120 million here. However, like Valiant, the film won't be able to translate it success at home to here. Using that movie as a guide, Nanny McPhee should earn about $40 million, but anywhere from $20 million to $60 million wouldn't be too much of a shock. One last note: not only is Emma Thompson starring in the movie, she also adapted the screenplay; the last time she did that, she won an Oscar.

Name: The New World
Studio: New Line
Official Site: TheNewWorldMovie.com
Release Date: Expands wide on January 13th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense battle sequences.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action/Adventure
Genres: Medieval?
Production Budget: $30 million
Box Office Potential: $27.5 million
Notes: The film has been in limited release for two weeks now, but it hasn't exactly been a box office smash, certainly not compared to director Terrence Malick's last film. Speaking of whom, writer / director Terrence Malick hasn't made a lot of movies in his more than 30 year career, but the ones he has made have earned him a loyal following. However, the reviews it earned during its limited releases were less than impressive and are the worst of his career so far. On the plus side, it is an epic looking film considering it only cost $30 million to make, and it should earn enough to show a profit by its initial push into the home market.

Name: Underworld: Evolution
Studio: Sony
Official Site: EnterTheUnderworld.com
Release Date: January 20, 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - aiming for an R rating
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Action/Adventure
Genres: Monster - Vampire and Werewolf
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at more than $30 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million
Notes: The original was a bit of a hit back in 2003 earning more than $50 million on a budget of just $23 million. But it also had poor legs and weak reviews, which usually means the sequel won't do as well. Also hurting the film's chances is its release date, which moved from a late November / early December release to a mid-January release. Never a good sign.

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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Big Momma's House 2, Underworld: Evolution, Munich, Nanny McPhee, Glory Road, Last Holiday, Match Point, Annapolis, The New World, The Matador, BloodRayne