Attractions: Swing Your Partner! (to the Tune of $100 Million)
Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or squeal-icious at the movies. This week, New Moon picks America's pockets, Sandra Bullock surprises and a few distinguished indies fight it out at the art house. Busy busy! Get your datebook out and read on.
WHAT'S NEW: So The Twilight Saga: New Moon is going to be kind of big. OK, really big. Like run-for-your-life, Emmerichian-apocalypse big. But really, there is no escaping. Even conservative estimates have the swoony, cockblocky bloodsucker/lycanthrope teen melodrama cracking $90 million in three days, and at this point I'm prepared to call it for a square $100 million by Sunday. We'll know a lot more this morning as midnight numbers trickle in. That is all.
Either way, New Moon will trounce the counterprogramming options available. Still, I do think The Blind Side could do some damage; Sandra Bullock is having a good year, and the true story of a homeless black kid adopted by an affluent white family that helped him graduate high school and become a football star has "sleeper" written all over it. Christians will come out for it, college and NFL football fans will come out for it, Bullock's own fan base will come out for it (and she's excellent, by the way; a full review is forthcoming later today), and even Tim McGraw devotees will have his starring role to get excited about. Even if it only does $22 million this weekend, its Thanksgiving legs and word-of-mouth might make it a major hit if Warner Bros. just keeps it in front of the right constituencies. I mean, if Kirk Cameron could do $33 million on 900 screens with Fireproof, then Bullock and the studio should be able to drag this out to $100 million by Christmas. But hey -- best laid plans, etc.
Also opening are the batshit Werner Herzog/Nicolas Cage tryst Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, John Woo's Chinese megaspectacle Red Cliff, the Olivia Wilde thriller Fix, Lukas Moodysson's class-consciousness bludgeon Mammoth, and Pedro Almodovar's slight Broken Embraces (NYC only). Also, Precious finds its way to another 500 theaters, which likely means at least another $10 million.
THE BIG LOSER: I don't even know what the hell Planet 51 is. Ah, here we are: PG-rated animation featuring Dwayne Johnson as an astronaut arriving on a planet where he's presumed to be a dangerous alien. Hmm. Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman and Justin Long also contribute voice work for the Sony import, which originated in Spain. Trouble! This won't have the sturdy, bankable creds of the studio's own accomplished animation wing, which killed with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs -- not that parents or kids care. But if the studio can't be bothered to prod this out of the gate on its way to 3,000 screens, then the resulting $11 million gross and quick exit to DVD probably shouldn't shock anyone.
THE UNDERDOG: I don't often (if ever) do this, but I believe in That Evening Sun enough to make it the Attractions Underdog for the second time in three weeks as it expands to Los Angeles. Movieline will navigate the Hal Holbrook Oscar bandwagon until either he wins or the wheels come off, whichever happens first. And last I checked, the wheels are on tight. Familiarize yourself by checking out the initial recommendation, and then have a read through Holbrook's stirring Movieline Interview. Then get thee to the theater, and then hop aboard the bandwagon. There's plenty of room, and we leave today.
FOR SHUT-INS: New DVD releases this week include Star Trek, Bruno, the Cameron Diaz weepie My Sister's Keeper, the surly Jim Jarmusch hit-man drama The Limits of Control, the nasty Park Chan-wook thriller Thirst, the complete series set of Rome and finally, thank you Lord, the first season of The Smurfs.