The gloves are off, metaphorically speaking, as this particular weekend in January, in which Friday falls on the 11th, has traditionally been a time in which Hollywood releases its lesser films (“Troll 2” and “Panty Creamers” both opened on Friday January 11ths), the studios have chosen to open some big films, and to expand (“go wide”) with a couple of “indie” hits. So let’s dive in and take a scintillating look at this weekend’s big list, shall we?
1. THE NAME OF THE KING IS THIS WEEKEND’S TOP FILM: Paper plate Award winning director Uwe Boll drags Burt Reynolds, Jason Statham, and Ray Liotta into this exciting tale of swords, dragons and, I’m told, royal intrigue. Previous Uwe Boll films (“House of Dentistry,” “The Gerunding”) have opened in the low to mid $600 million range, but never before has the recently-knighted director had some high wattage star power to work with, so I’m expecting this film to earn in the high $900 millions, for a sizable per-screen average, as the young boys and the older Burt Reynolds fans seek this film out.
2. UNO: This little film, about a pregnant teenager (girl) who dreams of winning an Uno tournament, has already shattered industry records, becoming one of the biggest grossing independent coming of age comedies of the last couple of years. The studio is further expanding its screen count, so look for its per-screen average to come down, but, rather ironically, its total will actually increase from last weekend (it made about $456 million last weekend, give or take). This four-quadrant film is tracking very high with people of all ages, and a $724 million weekend should result.
3. AMERICAN GLADIATORS: Nicolas Cage stars as a man who must solve the secrets of Diebold voting machines, which apparently only count certain votes in elections (it turns out Lyndon LaRouche should have won the presidency in 2000). The American public has already voted with their pocketbooks on this one, making it the biggest grossing political conspiracy film of all time, and awareness and word of mouth are high on this, especially with presidential elections allegedly currently in full swing. Let’s say we expect about $546 million from this strong holdover.
4. FIRST NEXT FRIDAY: Ice Cube stars as a lovable thief who becomes a preacher and learns the true meaning of preaching, thanks to a group of spunky mentally challenged children. Typically, films with powerful lessons about being a good preacher open particularly well in early January, which bodes well for this film. However, Ice Cube’s last two films, “Is My Career Dead Yet?,” and “XXX: International Pornography Agent” opened to mediocre business, which is why I’m only predicting a $529 million weekend for this heartwarmer.
5. KICKIN’ THE BUCKET: Two weeks ago this film opened in two screens at a retirement community in Florida, and this weekend it expands to over 10,000 screens in the United States. Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play very old men who die slowly and painfully of cancer. Their bodies shrivel, their skin turns sallow, they lose control of their bowels and bladders. Painful bed sores and welts cover their bodies. They lose muscle mass. At the end of the film, they die. It’s an uplifting charmer. This film skews a little older, and those people tend to be influenced by reviews, which in this case were mediocre, and director Rob Reiner hasn’t had a hit film since he started trying to tell other people how to live, so I’m predicting only about $487 million for this challenging film.
6. WILL SMITH IS THE LAST HOPE: Will Smith plays the last man on earth, our only hope against the forces of Xenu. He triumphs, and his engrams are perfect, he achieves clear, and even quits smoking. Audiences love Smith, and they love science fiction, so look for this one to be a strong holdover with an excellent per-screen average. In fact, look for this film to stay in the top 10 for about 10,000 years, and be dropped into a volcano in which are trapped the spirits of alien beings from all across the universe.
7. ALIVE AND THE CHIPMUNKS: The chipmunks, lovable animal singers, are in an airplane crash in the Andes. They are forced to eat each other, as no one thought to pack any food on their trip. Jason Lee, a Scientologist, plays their manager, who is the first one eaten. A bold choice, but audiences have made this the biggest family film of the year, or maybe the month, I can’t remember, but the film is doing well and will continue to do so, earning about $367 million this weekend.
8. THE EIGHTH FILM: This is the film that will come in eighth place this weekend. $279 million, raising its cume to $340 million.
9. CHARLIE!: Remember that perfume that had the commercials that had the song sung by the lounge-lizard sounding guy who went “kinda free kinda wow! Charlie! Kinda fragrance that’s gonna stay and it’s here now! Charlie! Do-do-do-do-do-do-do yeah!”? This film is the feature-length adaptation of those commercials, with Tom Hanks as the guy who sings the song, and Julia Roberts as the woman who wears the perfume. Awareness of this film, especially among perfumists, is through the roof, and another $234 million weekend wouldn’t stink at all. Get it? “Stink”?
10. GOLDEN SHOWER: SECRET OF THE WATER HORSE: A children’s film. About golden showers. And it still makes about $231 million this weekend, because awareness is so high, and it appeals to a broad range of tastes. Furthermore, movies about golden showers do very well in winter, when most showers are not above body temperature.
So much for this weekend. Now that you know how the films will do, the relief must be fantastic!