Happy new year, box office fans! Sorry to interrupt all the plans that you’re busy making to Jazzercise or be nice to old ladies or whatever else it was that you resolved to do in 2008. But, you know, I have to spend some time here making my resolution — to correctly predict the box office, naturally — come true, too. It’s a promise that I hope to make last. For this week, at least.
Fortunately, I think the movie gods made it easy for me to stay true to my word this time around, as there’s only one major new release — the horror remake One Missed Call — which won’t come close to threatening the dominance of our many strong holdovers. What’s more, history shows that grosses on the first weekend of the year tend to remain pretty robust, as awards-season favorites continue to roll out and studios have yet to start packing theaters with crap that they want to be absolutely certain viewers and voters will have forgotten about come next Oscar time.
In other words, it’s a rosy outlook for the weekend. And between that and the fact that I actually did hit the gym this morning…well, hey, it seems as if I’ll be starting out the year two-for-two!
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Walt Disney · PG · 3,762 theaters · 3rd weekend
Needless to say, with more than $150 million in its chest of riches after just two weeks of release, the blockbuster sequel is now the top grosser of Dame Helen Mirren’s career.
Weekend prediction: $23 million
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Fox · PG · 3,462 theaters · 4th weekend
The shocking $160 mil-to-date-grossing kiddie flick is within about $20 mil of passing The Simpsons Movie‘s $183.1 mil domestic take and about $40 mil away from Ratatouille‘s $206.4 mil. Which would put it in the 2007 top 10. Parents, get ready for more Alvin!
Weekend prediction: $19 million
I Am Legend
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 3,648 theaters · 4th weekend
Iowa, schmiowa. With I Am Legend having raised $210 mil-plus while eschewing soft money and special interests, it’s still not too late for the Most Beloved Man on the Planet, Will Smith, to run for president, don’tchathink?
Weekend prediction: $16 million
Fox Searchlight · PG-13 · 1,925 theaters · 5th weekend
It took until late December, but finally we have found 2007’s Little Miss Sunshine/Crash/My Big Fat Greek Wedding/runaway independent sensation. Screenwriter Diablo Cody‘s charming teen-pregnancy comedy has already grossed a tremendous $33.7 mil, and it continues to bring in more than $2 mil per day. And all that’s before it doubles its theater count this weekend.
Weekend prediction: $14 million
Charlie Wilson’s War
Universal · R · 2,594 theaters · 3rd weekend
Another quiet winner, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts’ quirky historical dramedy is a tough sell at a time when war movies haven’t been popular (and, with $43.1 mil so far, it’s certainly not going to wind up very high on either of its stars’ all-time box office résumés), but it is about to pass The Kingdom (which earned $47.5 mil) as 2007’s top global-politics-themed release.
Weekend prediction: $9 million
THE ONLY MAJOR NEW RELEASE
One Missed Call
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 2,240 theaters · NEW
Don’t know about you, but I’m afraid of seeing this latest Americanized version of an Asian thriller (man, it’s been a while since one of those worked!) — although not because of its PG-13 storyline about a woman (purdy Shannyn Sossamon, who, like her 40 Days and 40 Nights costar Josh Hartnett, never did become the next big thing) who gets a spooky voicemail. No, I’m just not sure I can bear to watch sometime indie auteur/one-time Saving Private Ryan grunt Edward Burns cashing out as a cop on the case.
Weekend prediction: $6 million