December 25, 2008

New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Marley & Me, The Spirit, Valkyrie, Doubt

First, let me start by saying Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Why not celebrate with a movie? Unfortunately that is not my family's tradition, perhaps one day I will be able to convince them to spend their Christmas watching a tale of someone elses design on the holiday. Probably not, we still have a great time even without the cinema. I know it can be tough not spending a day off from work at the cineplex, but we all make do. This Christmas sees five new movies hitting wide release with another one widening its theater spread.

Bedtime Stories. (2008, 95 minutes, PG, family comedy, trailer) Looking to take over the family market, the new Adam Sandler movie looks like it could be somewhat enjoyable. Sandler plays a handyman who spins tall tale bedtime stories for his niece and nephew. However, he discovers these stories are springing to life so he seeks to take advantage of this magical mystery. Like Jim Carrey's Yes Man, Bedtime Stories looks like broad comedy, which should result in an entertaining if forgettable time. Adam Shankman of Hairspray fame handled the directorial duties.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (2008, 167 minutes, PG-13, drama, trailer) Here is a movie that I find endlessly intriguing. Having not read the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel upon which this is based I am quite curious to see how this will play out. It stars Brad Pitt as the title character who is born as a man in his 80's (baby-sized of course) and ages backwards. We follow him though WWI and through his life, meeting who he meets and seeing life experiences from a different perspective. It certainly is a long one but director David Fincher is not known for being indulgent and always makes compelling films, so I am sure it will be a fascinating experience.

Marley & Me. (2008, 120 minutes, PG, family comedy, trailer) Based on the novel of the same name, this is the story of a couple (played by Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson) who adopt a puppy named Marley. Marley turns out to be an incredibly active pup that manages to destroy just about anything in its path. My mother really enjoyed the novel and is looking forward to seeing the movie (although that may not be until DVD).

The Spirit. (2008, 103 minutes, PG-13, action, trailer) Early word on Frank Miller's solo directorial debut has not been positive. In some cases it has been downright awful. Despite the swirling negativity I am really looking forward to seeing the Sin City-esque take on Will Eisner's heroic creation. Gabriel Macht stars as the titular hero who does battle with Samuel L. Jackson's The Octopus. In addition to these two, the cast includes the likes of Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, and Jamie King.

Valkyrie. (2008, 120 minutes, PG-13, drama, trailer) Tom Cruise's return to big screen drama has had a rough ride. It was originally slated for a summer 2008 release, but poor test screenings prompted it to be moved to February 2009. Then Tropic Thunder happened, featuring a well received extended cameo by Cruise that seemed to show that people could like him again. After this, the movie was bumped to a Christmas release. The last bit about Tropic Thunder is guessing on my part, but feels like a plausible story; however you want to cut it, it has been an interesting journey to the screen. Valkyrie tells the story of a Nazi soldier who serves his country, loves his country, but does not believe in his leader. He joins the resistance and is charged with assassinating Adolf Hitler.

Doubt. (2008, 104 minutes, PG-13, drama, trailer) Here is a film that could prove to be quite powerful. It is set in a Catholic school in 1964. Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is a charismatic new priest at the school who is trying to change some to the strict and longstanding tradition of the school, he is opposed by Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep). Their battle of wills escalates when the Flynn is seen taking too much interest in a new student. I am keenly interested in this one. Amy Adams co-stars. John Patrick Shanley is the writer/director behind the film based on his own play. It is his first directing effort since 1990's Joe vs. the Volcano, I have to say it is an interesting pair of films for a single director.

Also opening this week, but not near me:

  • Last Chance Harvey
  • Revolutionary Road
  • The Secret of the Grain
  • Waltz with Bashir

Box Office Predictions
This weekend will be dominated by all of the new films dropping on Christmas day with the top two being broad appeal, feel-good type films. However, the months box office has not been al that great and I do not see that changing as we head into the home stretch. Still, there are enough interesting seeming films that if you want to go, I am sure will find something to enjoy.

Here is how I think the top ten field will play out for the three-day weekend (12/26-12/28):

RankTitleBox Office
1Bedtime Stories$28 million
2Marley & Me$21 million
3The Curious Case of Benjamin Button$18 million
4Valkyrie$14.5 million
5The Spirit$11 million

Yes Man

$9 million
7Seven Pounds$7 million
8The Tale of Despereaux$6 million
9Doubt$3 million
10The Day the Earth Stood Still$3 million


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