Welcome to this special early edition of the Box Office Preview, turkeys! Today we give thanks for all the stuffing and cranberry sauce that will fill our bellies — and for all the movies that Hollywood is stuffing into theaters over the long weekend. The industry’s annual festival of holiday gluttony truly begins here, with a whopping five major fresh releases (Enchanted, The Mist, Hitman, This Christmas, and August Rush) opening against several strong holdovers (Beowulf, Bee Movie, and American Gangster) and high-profile indies (the expanding hit No Country for Old Men and the new Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There). Complicating matters is the fact that the weekend starts on Wednesday, making for a competitive five-day frame. Gobble, gobble!
Not that I’m making any excuses for my forthcoming predictions. I’m just saying that…well, I’m just sayin’. That said, if you think you can do better than I can, just click on over to EW.com’s Fall Box Office Challenge to register your picks. Oh, and, hey, would you pass the gravy?
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Walt Disney · PG · 3,730 theaters · NEW
The concept is cute, but there’s nothing very original about this fish-out-of-water flick having to do with a fairy tale naïf (Amy Adams) in present-day New York — since, you know, back when the princess was played by an Australian bloke, the movie was called Crocodile Dundee. Not that that’ll deter folks of all ages from checking out this well-reviewed fable (also starring Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden), which has ”holiday fun for the whole family” written all over it. The innocent-in-the-big-city genre is often quite successful, considering hits like the aforementioned Dundee and Star Trek IV and, oh, Midnight Cowboy. So, too, is that little TV show Dempsey stars on, which should help attract plenty of grown-up damsels.
Five-day weekend prediction: $44 million
Paramount · PG-13 · 3,218 theaters · 2nd weekend
You have to believe that it’s only a matter of time before Robert Zemeckis’ trippy motion-capture adventure (which banked $27.5 mil in its opening last weekend and added a healthy $2.5 mil on Monday) becomes the next great unwitting cult classic for the inebriated set. Anybody got a spare copy of Dark Side of the Moon handy?
Five-day weekend prediction: $31 million
MGM/Dimension · R · 2,423 theaters · NEW
Stephen King‘s 1980 novella about a mysterious and deadly fog that enshrouds a supermarket where a bunch of people are holed up is truly one of the creepiest stories ever. Which makes this long-awaited film version (starring Thomas Jane, still not a big star for some reason) particularly appealing to fans of the horror genre. Also key: the cult of The Mist‘s director, Frank Darabont, who hasn’t made a movie in years but previously polished the King-penned fables The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption (a.k.a. film geeks’ choice for the second-best movie ever).
Five-day weekend prediction: $16 million
Fox · R · 2,457 theaters · NEW
The kinda-comical baddie he played in Live Free or Die Hard was just a prelude, it turns out, to the bald naughty boy that wry actor Timothy Olyphant embodies in this violent videogame adaptation.
Five-day weekend prediction: $14 million
Paramount · PG · 3,507 theaters · 4th weekend
It’s been a bit of a struggle — especially now that those ”TV Juniors” shorts have stopped airing and the buzz has moved elsewhere — but Jerry Seinfeld’s animated adventure will pass the $100 million mark this weekend.
Five-day weekend prediction: $13 million
THE OTHER NEW RELEASES
Screen Gems · PG-13 · 1,858 theaters · NEW
Delroy Lindo fronts an all-star cast (including Chris Brown and Ray‘s always awesome Regina King) in this African-American take on the wacky family holiday dramedy. Sounds very promising. But, um, about that ultra-generic title…
Five-day weekend prediction: $10 million
Warner Bros. · PG · 2,310 theaters · NEW
More fun with movie titles! This feel-good musical drama — which revolves around lonely hearts and guitar players and abandoned babies in New York, and stars Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Freddie Highmore, Robin Williams, and Terrence Howard — is a study in opposites. Despite its sunshine-y name, the film is coming out in the chilly season, and due to lukewarm reviews and competition both at the multiplex and in the kitchen at home, nobody will be rushing to see it.
Five-day weekend prediction: $8 million