By Joshua Rich
Updated December 05, 2008 at 12:00 PM EST

The first full weekend in December is always pretty slow at the box office, which is surprising given that it falls right in the heart of the big holiday movie season. What gives? Maybe it has something to do with post-Thanksgiving fatigue. Maybe people are too busy shopping and spending money elsewhere to hit the multiplex. The point is that this trend does not bode well for the main freshman flicks this weekend, Punisher: War Zone and the smaller releases Cadillac Records and Nobel Son. But it could spell fresh success for Bolt, which has been bubbling under the top spot for two weeks now. Here’s how I see this quiet weekend at the box office panning out.

1. Bolt — $17 million
After two weeks in theaters, Disney’s animated flick has a good chance of ascending to the No. 1 spot, especially after its audience actually increased by 1.4 percent over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s very rare, ya know. A 35 percent drop should keep it in the race for the top.

2. Four Christmases — $15 million
How impressed was I by the holiday comedy’s big bow last time around? Very. What are the chances that this result will restore my belief in Reese Witherspoon’s box office power? Uh, ask me on Sunday.

3. Twilight — $12 million
The message boards tell me that some people are getting tired of reading about this movie. And yet…it continues to clean up at the box office. Go figure.

4. Quantum of Solace — $10 million
With more than $145 mil already filling its domestic coffers, Daniel Craig’s 007 sequel is slowly creeping up on Casino Royale‘s $167.4 mil Stateside sum. So, yeah, it’ll probably get there. Slowly. Meanwhile, on a worldwide scale, the film, which has banked more than $485 mil to date, still has a ways to go before it reaches its predecessor’s $594.2 mil final tally.

5. Punisher: War Zone — $7 million
Here we have a reboot of the Marvel Comics franchise, starring Rome veteran Ray Stevenson in the Frank Castle role — which is funny, because wasn’t Thomas Jane’s 2004 dud The Punisher itself a reboot of the 1989 Dolph Lundgren movie of the same title? So confusing! One thing that I’m pretty clear about, however, is that this flick won’t be doing much damage at the box office. People didn’t seem to care about the Punisher four years ago (the last movie banked just $33.8 mil), so they’re not going to care about the franchise any more when this less-star-studded incarnation premieres.


Cadillac Records — $3 million
To be exact, Cadillac Records isn’t really opening wide: It’s only playing in few hundred theaters this weekend. Still, this boldface-name-filled studio biopic about Chess Records founder Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) deserves a mention — partly because any movie starring Mos Def, Jeffrey Wright, and Beyonce is always worth noting, and partly because it could actually beat the Punisher sequel, er, reboot. Or at least Australia.

Nobel Son — $1 million
This indie featuring Alan Rickman as the head of a dysfunctional family also bows in fewer than 1,000 locations. But it might get enough attention to make a mil or so.

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