Box Office Briefs: A Fockin’ Great Christmas Weekend?

Box Office Briefs: A Fockin’ Great Christmas Weekend?

Dec 22, 2010

In terms of son/father-in-law interplay, I’m not sure what comes next – Movin’ In with the Fockers?

Universal, which is getting ready for a run to the bank after the Wednesday premiere of its third Meet the Parents movie, Little Fockers, will worry about that later.

Make no mistake -- this weekend will be Fockin’ huge for Universal at the box office, with the Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro ensemble comedy set to bring in as much as $70 million in its first five days of release, and over $40 million for the standard Friday-Sunday weekend.

The movie -- reviled by critics, who have given it a 7% “fresh” Rotten Tomatoes score -- will debut in 3,536 theaters across the U.S. and Canada.

But the reviews probably won’t matter – the Christmas holiday weekend is always good at the box office, and Fockers and Disney holdover Tron: Legacy will probably be the biggest winners.

Also debuting Wednesday will be the Coen Bros. Western remake True Grit, which stars Jeff Bridges as a whiskey-sodden U.S. Marshal, Matt Damon as a frumpy Texas Ranger and 13-year-old revelation Hailee Steinfeld as a young woman bent on avenging her father’s death. (Steinfeld is getting even more Oscar cred for her performance than previous Best Actor winner Bridges.)

A friend hooked me up with a screener the other night … and it is a darned fine Western. It helped get that Jeff Bridges Tron aftertaste out of my psyche from the day before (sorry, didn’t dig that movie).

Problem is, Westerns just haven’t been playing all that well lately. Quirky ones like Warrior’s Way and Jonah Hex have died fiery deaths at the box office this year.

Stylistically, probably the closest modern comparison to True Grit was HBO’s groundbreaking David Milch series Deadwood, which was prolly the best show on television from 2004-2006, but got canceled anyway.

Dirty guys hangin’ out with horses and talkin’ funny – not a powerful combination for commercial success, I guess.

True Grit, which isn’t an expensive movie by Hollywood standards, costing only about $38 million to make, should recoup over $20 million at the box office from Wednesday through Sunday.

While you’re celebrating the holidays, take a minute to pour a sip of eggnog on the cold, dead ground in memory of the movie career of comic actor Jack Black.

After his latest movie, Fox’s Gulliver’s Travels, debuts on Saturday, his career really could be going bye-bye.

Don’t take it from me.

Take it from studio officials, who say their money loss on Gulliver’s “won’t be as bad” as what was experienced last weekend by Sony, when the $100 million-plus James L. Brooks comedy How Do You Know cratered to a $7.5 million opening.

Not as bad? That’s like the pilot announcing that your flight won’t be as bumpy as the Hindenburg's.

I actually like Black -- and based on the success of DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda franchise alone, he won’t be really going away after this.

But it's not going to help his career.

According to movie-research firm NRG, about three-fourths of all regular moviegoers know Gulliver’s Travels is coming to theaters this weekend (that’s not great, considering the average Harry Potter movie scores in the 90s). Out of that pool, only about 25% want to see it.

It’s not good when only a quarter of the people who know about your movie want to see it … and not that many people know about your movie to begin with.

Costing at least $115 million to make, Gulliver’s Travels will be lucky to crack the $10 million mark this weekend.

Among limited openings of awards-striving adult dramas, Focus will release Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere in seven big-city theaters on Wednesday.

Also, The Weinstein Company will expand Oscar favorite The King’s Speech to around 600 theaters on Christmas Day.

Here are our predictions for the three-day holiday weekend:

Daniel’s Crystal Ball Says…

Little Fockers We say: $40M
Tron Legacy We say: $20M
True Grit We say: $16M
Gulliver’s Travels We say: $10M
Yogi Bear We say: $10M
Black Swan We say: $8M
Chronicles of Narnia 3 We say: $8M
Tangled We say: $7M
The Fighter We say: $7M
The King’s Speech We say: $4M

Stay tuned for Monday's results.

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