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2006 Preview: February

February 1st, 2006

Looking at the new crop of movies coming out this month, one has to wonder if January's dumping ground wasn't extended a month. Of the roughly dozen movies on this list, none look like they have what it takes to be a major hit, although there should be a few midlevel ones. There are also a couple of interesting stories to keep track of. For instance, will Firewall be Harrison Ford's triumphant return to the top of the box office charts? Will Night Watch earn a wide release? Just how bad will The Pink Panther be?

Interested in discussing these predictions? The join us in the forums.

Name: 8 Below
Studio: Disney
Official Site: 8BelowMovie.com
Release Date: February 17th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG for some peril and brief mild language.
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Action/Adventure
Genres: Animal Lead, Marooned, and Rescue
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: Paul Walker has as much charisma in his whole body as most people have in their pinky. He just doesn't have what it takes to carry a movie and nothing he stars in seems to live up to expectations. The only exception seems to be the Fast and the Furious franchise, but let's face it, the cars are the real stars of those movies. A couple of interesting notes, firstly, the film is a remake of a Japanese film that was based on a true story. Secondly, this film was nearly axed when Disney ran into problems 2003-2004, (there was a stretch of about 20 films without a major breakout hit). In the end, they lowered the production budget and used lesser-named talent both in front of and behind the camera. We'll find out soon if they should have just scrapped the project entirely instead.

Name: Curious George
Studio: Universal
Official Site: CuriousGeorgeMovie.com
Release Date: February 10th, 2006
MPAA Rating: G for General Admission.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Animated
Genres:
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: Didn't anyone tell these people that 2-D animation is dead? And if they were thinking about reviving the genre, they needed a better movie than this to do it with. The animation really looks cheap and dated, even when compared to other 2-D works, and it has a very direct-to-DVD feel to it. In a couple of weeks we'll know whether or not the studio should have taken that route, but I have a feeling they will be treating its theatrical release as a 80 minute commercial for the DVD. A couple of additional notes, first of all the film has been in development hell for about 10 years now with plans to do the film as cell animation, as an animated character in a live-action world, totally digitally animated, etc. In fact, I swear I saw a live action trailer for the movie, but I have been taking a lot of NyQuil recently so that might just be part of a Fevered Dream. Secondly, the film has bounced around a lot of release dates, some of which were very good, (early November), others that were very bad, (mid-September).

Name: Date Movie
Studio: Fox
Official Site: DateMovieTheMovie.com
Release Date: February 17th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for continuous crude and sexual humor, including language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Spoof
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: I'm a big fan of Alyson Hannigan ever since I first saw her in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I really wanted to enjoy this movie, but nothing in the trailer worked for me. Romantic Comedies are usually very formulaic, which means they should also be perfect for spoofing, but either the marketing is really bad, or the writers were just very lazy and put in a bunch of pop-culture references in place of actual parody. As for the film's chances at the box office, the filmmakers are obviously shooting for Scary Movie like numbers, but this spoof will probably perform more in line with Not Another Teen Movie, which is still enough to make the studio happy.

Name: Final Destination 3
Studio: New Line
Official Site: FD3Movie.com
Release Date: February 10th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some nudity.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Teenage Slasher
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: Whenever I see this title I am reminded of The Princess Bride, specifically Inigo Montoya when he says, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Hopefully this truly will be the final film in the franchise since it has quickly warn out its welcome. It's going to take a really creative team of filmmakers to do something we haven't seen before, especially with two previous releases and another franchise that features over elaborately staged deaths. Quite frankly, I don't think it will be able to do it. However, while it won't please the critics, it should do well enough at the box office to earn another sequel, but this time it will be a direct-to-DVD affair.

Name: Firewall
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: FireWallMovie.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: February 10th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Kidnapping, Heist, and Revenge
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $55 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million
Notes: This is Harrison Ford's first role in nearly three years and the first role since Samuel L. Jackson overtook him on the All Time Charts. (On the other hand, Samuel L. Jackson has been in five movies, six if you count the upcoming Freedomland.) This is one of the movies that many people will be interested in, but not because it looks particularly good or should be a major hit. Chances are it will do reasonably well with the critics and earn enough to show a profit, eventually, but the real question is whether it can help Harrison Ford make a comeback as box office champ or will he have to wait for another film for that to happen.

Name: Freedomland
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: February 17th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for language and some violent content
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Surprise Twist
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: The first of an estimated 400 films coming out this year with Samuel L. Jackson in it. This is also the third 'missing child' movie in just over a year and the second starring for Julianne Moore. Granted, the other such movies have done very well given the time of year they were released, but how many can there be before the moviegoers just stop going to see them? Add in some hot button issues, and this has all the makings of a midlevel hit, but I can't help shake the feeling that it's going to be lost in the crowd.

Name: Madea's Family Reunion
Studio: Lionsgate
Official Site: MadeasFamilyReunionMovie.com/
Release Date: February 24th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, domestic violence, sex and drug references
Source: Sequel and Based on a Play
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Cross Dressing
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million
Notes: The first film surprised nearly every analyst, but that won't happen this time. This time I expect it to open wider and stronger, but it won't have the same legs as the first one did. There are a couple of signs that might indicate the film will struggle at the box office, the first of which is the short time to the sequel. Having a sequel open just a year after the first film usually means there will be trouble, although there have been exceptions. Also, the first movie earned very poor reviews so those who were not already fans of Tyler Perry's work were probably not converted and won't show up this time. However, even the worst case scenario still has the film earning a profit and making the studio very happy.

Name: Night Watch
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Official Site: FoxSearchlight.com/NWND
Release Date: February 17th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, disturbing images and language
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Action/Adventure
Genres: Monster - Vampire and Secret Magic
Production Budget: $4.2 million
Box Office Potential: $5 million
Notes: When this movie was first released in its native Russia, it became the highest grossing movie there of all time. (On a side note, that record has been broken twice since then, including by this film's sequel.) The movie tells the age-old story of the battle between good and evil and how one event could shatter the uneasy peace that has held for centuries. Out of all the films opening this month, this is the only one I'm truly excited about. One last note, the reason for the small box office potential is that the film will likely not get a wide release and even if it does, I have a feeling the studio will bungle the marketing.

Name: The Pink Panther
Studio: MGM
Official Site: PinkPantherTheMovie.com
Release Date: February 10th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG for occasional crude and suggestive humor and language.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Heist
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: This one's got train-wreck written all over it. It was originally scheduled for an August release but was pushed back several times after test screenings were a disaster finally landing in February. When it was first given the go-ahead, it seemed like a can't miss project. The Pink Panther franchise was very funny in the beginning, Ivan Reitman was a proven comedy director, Steve Martin seemed like a natural to take over from Peter Sellers, etc. But something failed to work. On a side note, Shawn Levy took over directing for Ivan Reitman when he had to drop out, but one could hardly blamed him for the whole mess. This was supposed to be the movie that could have revived the Pink Panther Franchise, but it will likely kill it for good.

Name: Running Scared
Studio: New Line
Official Site: RunningScaredTheMovie.com
Release Date: February 24th, 2006
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong brutal violence and language, sexuality and drug content
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Organized Crime
Production Budget: $39.8 million or $17 million reports vary
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: The second Paul Walker movie of the month and it opens just a week after the first. I assume this is punishment from the Movie Gods for something we as moviegoers did, but I can't figure out what. Like I stated before, Paul Walker just doesn't have what it take to carry a big movie, and this time it's for a studio that less able to market a stinker to success. So look for a slightly weaker run, but still enough to ensure he keeps getting work.

Name: Something New
Studio: Focus Features
Official Site: SomethingNewMovie.net
Release Date: February 3rd, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Genres: Cross Culture Romance
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at under $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: First time director, Sanaa Hamri, teams up with first time screenwriter, Kriss Turner, and turn out a film that most are describing as lightweight. It's not that it is a bad movie, it just has a real sitcom feel. Add in a cast that is not known enough to be a box office draw and you have a movie that will likely struggle to become even a midlevel hit. On the other hand, it was probably inexpensive enough to make that it will still show a profit sometime during its home market run.

Name: Ultraviolet
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: February 24th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violent action throughout, partial nudity and language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action/Adventure
Genres: Vampire
Production Budget: $30 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million
Notes: This movie was written specifically for Mila Jovovich after the screenwriter saw her in Resident Evil. Unfortunately, the movie seems to give of a seriously unoriginal vibe. A pinch of Resident Evil, a dash of Aeon Flux, mix well and serve hot. One last note, while the movie falls under the Vampire genre, it doesn't deal with the classical, mythological vampires but a vampire like disease called Hemophagia.

Name: When a Stranger Calls
Studio: Sony
Official Site: HaveYouCheckedtheChildren.com
Release Date: February 3rd, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense terror, violence and some language.
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Surprise Twist
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: The first remake of the year, and certainly not the last. I was originally expecting the film to open first and disappear quickly, however, with the massive opening of Big Momma's House 2, this film will likely have to settle for second place before disappearing quickly. However, if the film has a comparable budget to other 70s remakes, it should still do well enough to make the studio happy.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Pink Panther, Eight Below, Madea's Family Reunion, Curious George, Final Destination 3, Firewall, Date Movie, When a Stranger Calls, Ultraviolet, Freedomland, Something New, Running Scared, Nochnoy dozor