End of Year Movie Preview

The nights are getting longer and the temperatures are dipping. I’ve broken out my hoodies and pajama pants. Autumn is all but here. Unfortunately, fall does tend to be a weak season for movies, at least at first. Things start picking back up in October before the  holiday season swings in around early to mid November and continues until past New Year’s. With that said, let’s dissect the major releases coming up and try to wager guesses regarding their success, or lack thereof.

September 21

Dredd

My Thoughts: Based on the popular comic book (although Judge Dredd is a far, far cry from the popularity of other films based on comic books that we’ve seen this year), and probably trying to distance itself as much as it can from the Sylvester Stallone version, Dredd comes to theatres looking to please diehard comic fans and the average action fan. In a dystopian future, Dredd comes to a corrupt city controlled by one woman…. and precedes to kill a bunch of people. Judging from the trailer, the film looks like it’s going to be at least slightly self aware and come with a good deal of cheesy, throwback one-liners.

My prediction: Ordinarily, something like this wouldn’t open huge, but given how audiences are likely to be starved for entertainment in a weak movie going season, Dredd might manage a decent opening weekend and total gross, particularly with the extra 3-D cost helping it out.

Opening Weekend: 17 million

Total Gross: 58 million

End of Watch

My Thoughts: Jake Gyllenhaal stars in a police drama alongside Michael Pena. Now, I like Gyllenhaal, even if he does sometimes make questionable choices for his acting projects. I also think he’s a better actor than people give him credit for. Still, I don’t see anything that’s terribly unique or different about this film. Gyllenhaal and Pena confiscate money and guns from a cartel and get pursued as a result. That’s the movie.

My prediction: With four new films opening, this is a pretty packed weekend. One movie usually suffers when the box office is crowded, and I think it will be this one. It doesn’t seem terribly original, so I think America will just give End of Watch a collective shrug.

Opening Weekend: 7 million

Total Gross: 30 million

House at the End of the Street

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My Thoughts: Every young actor or actress seemingly has to get the urge to be in a crappy, unremarkable horror movie out of their system. This is Jennifer Lawrence’s turn. This was filmed before The Hunger Games, but as studios often do, they withheld the release so that they could market better after Lawrence has become a household name. “Starring The Hunger Games’s Jennifer Lawrence” sounds a lot better than “starring nobody you’ve ever heard of.” Now, I still think J-Law (I’m totally patenting that nickname) is a wonderful young actress, so I won’t count this endeavor into horror against her.

My prediction: As popular as J-Law has become lately, there’s really no reason this should break out. It will probably do roughly standard horror movie numbers, with maybe J-Law’s current it girl status boosting it an extra million or two.

Opening Weekend: 12 million

Total Gross: 33 million

Trouble with the Curve

My Thoughts: I don’t exactly make it a secret that I don’t care for the game of baseball and I will never understand why it’s so popular, particularly with women. That said, I oddly enough often enjoy baseball movies. The Sandlot is an all time classic, though Field of Dreams did not impress me. Anyway, Eastwood is still popular as a director, though I think he’s faded off a bit recently, especially with lackluster performances like Invictus and Hereafter. And then there that was that whole weird talking-to-an-empty-chair thing at the Republican National Convention. But, hey, Amy Adams! I love me some Amy Adams. Aside from being gorgeous, she’s a better actress than people give her credit for. Adams deserved an Oscar a hell of a lot more than Melissa Leo did for The Fighter, though they both should’ve lost to Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. My apologies for rambling.

My prediction: As mentioned, Eastwood’s more recent directorial efforts haven’t done particularly well, but those were much more dramatic projects. A more light-hearted, feel food movie might be just what he needed.

Opening Weekend: 13 million

Total Gross: 50 million

September 28

Hotel Transylvania

My Thoughts: This could potentially be a nice rebound for Adam Sandler. An animated turn as Dracula might be just what his career needs, as odd as that might sound. A hotel for all sorts of mythological and horror creatures to rest away from humans is actually a pretty novel concept and late September is a good time for a release, with Halloween starting to enter people’s minds.

My prediction: The best, although still tenuous, connection might be another late September animated release, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which opened to about 30 million three years ago. Hotel Transylvania should probably do fairly similar business.

Opening Weekend: 27 million

Total Gross: 92 million

Won’t Back Down

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My Thoughts: I gotta be honest. I had no idea what this movie was. I kept figuring it was some kind of fighting or action movie. When I watched the trailer, boy, was I ever wrong. Won’t Back Down is about women who try to change how classes are taught so that it will benefit their children. Seems pretty generic to me.

My predictions: I’ll go ahead and use Freedom Writers as a comparison, because I really don’t know what else to use. Stand and Deliver is way too old for a fair comparison, but admittedly that’s kind of a tenuous connection anyway. So, yeah, I’ll base these numbers off Freedom Writers.

Opening Weekend: 9 million

Total Gross: 35 million

Looper

My Thoughts: Joseph Gordon-Levitt could use a bounce back after the disaster that was Premium Rush. This might be just the film to do it, although I don’t expect a big breakout. It will have to compete with Dredd’s second weekend, but that’s not exactly much competition since Dredd could easily be making under ten million this weekend. Bruce Willis always helps any action movie, although even he couldn’t salvage the incredible flop that was The Cold Light of Day.

My prediction: Gordon-Levitt and Willis, even with occasional missteps, are still fairly popular. Putting them together in a stylish action film with an original concept could prove a recipe for success.

Opening Weekend: 21 million

Total Gross: 60 million

October 5

Frankenweenie

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My Thoughts: Well, Tim Burton is at it again. I make my distaste for most of what Burton has done since Edward Scissorhands no secret. The horrifying images of the the Alice in Wonderland trailer still crop up in my nightmares, my terror of them only exceeded by the disquieting horror that that film made over one billion dollars. I will NEVER understand why that movie successful. I do not know any people who saw the trailer for that movie and said to themselves, “Gee, that sure looks like a good film!” and honestly, I don’t want to know any of those people. Unfortunately, given the film’s impossible success, there are a whole lot of such people. Anyway… somehow Frankenweenie actually looks less creepy than Alice in Wonderland. I don’t really have any interest, but it’s quintessential Burton.

My Predictions: This is the pretty standard weirdly-creepy-yet-somehow-cute fare that Burton churns out. Despite the misfire of Dark Shadows, I think this will be a solid rebound for Burton, and it wouldn’t really surprise me if it broke out.

Opening Weekend: 23 million

Total Gross: 70 million

Taken 2

My Thoughts: What by all rights should be the number one choice this weekend might well lose to Frankenweenie, but I long ago accepted that there is no justice or logic in the box office world. That said, I’m pretty pumped for this flick, but I can’t see how it could live up to the awesomeness of the first one. Even the trailer seemed redundant. But never doubt the skills of Liam Neeson.

My Prediction: The original Taken opened on Super Bowl weekend back in 2009, so its Sunday was seriously handicapped by the big game. It opened to 24.7 million, but probably would’ve made more like 28 million without the Super Bowl dominating the lives of Americans. It then went on to have fantastic stamina, pulling in 145 million. I’m thinking the sequel will open higher, but fade much more quickly.

Opening Weekend: 30 million

Total Gross: 101 million

October 12

Argo

My Thoughts: I actually have a lot of faith in Matt Damon these days. After flirting with fading into obscurity, he managed to revive his image and regain public faith through strong directorial efforts in Gone Baby Gone and The Town, both of which were very good films. Argo, about the making of a fake movie in an effort to rescue hostages,is an interesting concept, something that’s increasingly harder to come by in Hollywood these days.

My Predictions: This is a tough one. America tends to turn up its collective nose at high-concept, intelligent films. Although, we don’t know if Argo is even all that smart yet. I’ll just go with conservative estimates.

Opening Weekend: 13 million

Total Gross: 54 million

Here Comes the Boom

My Thoughts: I don’t particularly dislike Kevin James and I think he’s somewhat charismatic, but I just don’t think he chooses his projects particularly well. The concept of Here Comes the Boom is intriguing, a high school teacher takes up mixed martial arts to raise money–well, it would be intriguing if it wasn’t a completely shameless rip-off of Warrior, which came out just one year ago.

My Predictions: Despite the fact that Here Comes the Boom stands almost no chance of even coming close to the quality of the severely underrated Warrior, it’s almost guaranteed to outgross it, and probably by a lot, which goes back to what I said earlier about there being no justice in the box office world.

Opening Weekend: 12 million

Total Gross: 42 million

Seven Psychopaths

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My Thoughts/Predictions: Well, this is certainly another interesting concept. An ensemble….uh, what genre is this exactly? The trailer seems to present it mostly as a dark comedy with action elements. So, sure, let’s go with that. I enjoyed how self-aware and quirky the trailer was, but I don’t think those qualities are what most people are looking for.

Opening Weekend: 8 million

Total Gross: 28 million

Sinister

Wait, this isn’t the right Sinister?

My Thoughts/Predictions: Pretty generic horror movie stuff here. Family moves into new house. It’s haunted. No way. Anyway, I didn’t find the trailer too creepy and the ending actually made me laugh. The studio is obviously pushing the connections to Paranormal Activity and the very similar Insidious, but I don’t think Sinister will come anywhere close to what those films have pulled in.

Opening Weekend: 9 million

Total Gross: 26 million

October 19

Alex Cross

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My Thoughts: Based on the popular books by prolific author James Patterson, Alex Cross gets the movie treatment with an…interesting casting choice to the lead role in Tyler Perry. In all fairness, despite how much I loathe his films and television series, I have no idea if Perry himself can actually, you know, act. He was fine in his extremely small part in Star Trek (2009), so I’m willing to give him a chance.

My Prediction: There’s obviously the built in fanbase from fans of the book, but something like the Alex Cross series tends to skew more toward older viewers. Lacking rabid Potterheads or Twihards, Alex Cross won’t have a big opening, but if it delivers the goods in the form of a smart, cerebral adventure, it could coast right through October. However, Perry does one important thing, and even though this film is far from his usual fare, he could still bring out a significant portion of the black audience.

Opening Weekend: 16 million

Total Gross: 73 million

Paranormal Activity 4

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My Thoughts: The franchise has garnered bigger and bigger opening weekends with each entry, but I think it maxed out with Paranormal Activity 3’s 52 million opening. It feels like the interest has waned a bit, though I’m sure people looking for late October spooks will still turn out in droves. Also on the plus side, after two prequels in a row, they are finally actually moving the story forward.

My Predictions:  Though it would be extremely difficult to match its immediate predecessor’s opening, this franchise still has a tight grip on the Halloween time frame, though it is opening a bit earlier than usual, as it will have two full weekends before Halloween hits. This movie could potentially soften its second week drop a little.

Opening Weekend: 43 million

Total Gross: 87 million

October 26

Chasing Mavericks

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My Thoughts/Predictions: Count me among the fans of Gerard Butler, who unfortunately hasn’t really picked too many lucrative projects since his breaking out party in 300. Unfortunately, I don’t see Chasing Mavericks reversing that trend. It’s interesting to see Butler in a feel-good movie about surfing and family, but I get the feeling people really just want to see him kicking ass.

Opening Weekend: 8 million

Total Gross: 35 million

Cloud Atlas

My Thoughts/Predictions: I have literally no idea what to say about film. Just… watch the trailer. It’s…. confusing. But I’m certainly intrigued. However, getting the general public behind a film like this is usually quite difficult. Just look at another film that tried to branch together different stories across time periods, The Fountain. It was a commercial failure. However, Cloud Atlas is packing some solid star power. Even still, I’ll admit I have no clue what to predict for this one.

Opening Weekend: 15 million

Total Gross: 50 million

Fun Size

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My Thoughts/Predictions: Well, Victoria Justice is coming to the big screen in her first Nickelodeon movie. Judging from the trailer, it seems a bit more “adult” than most Nick fare, though by adult I mean it appeals to 14 year olds instead of 11 year olds like most of Nick’s stuff. So, branching ever so slightly outside their comfort zone, but none of Nick’s live action films have done good business.

Opening Weekend: 4 million

Total Gross: 14 million

Silent Hill Revelation

Well…this is disturbing.

My thoughts/Predictions: The first Silent Hill movie opened to 20 million in 2006. Add in 3D and six years of ticket price inflation and the sequel might be able to achieve a similar mark. I’ve never seen the original, so I can’t speak for its quality, or lack thereof, but I’m sure the horror fans will turn out on Halloweekend (see what I did there?) anyway, even if there’s direct competition from Paranormal Activity 4.

Opening Weekend: 17 million

Total Gross: 36 million

November 2

Flight

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My Thoughts: Denzel Washington is a popular, bankable actor, but even he misfires sometimes with projects like, The Taking of Pelham 123. After that, he rebounded with the successes of Unstoppable The Book of Eli, and particularly Safe House, released earlier this year, which was his most successful film aside from American Gangster. Anyway, Flight seems right up Denzel’s alley, playing a pilot caught up in an investigation after he miraculously landed a plane and saved dozens of lives doing so.

My Predictions: As I said, this is right up Denzel’s alley and I think this is the type of role people enjoy seeing him play. Confident but not cocky, you know? It’s not like it’ll have much competition, aside from Cloud Atlas (maybe?), so I think it should do solid numbers.

Opening Weekend: 19 million

Total Gross: 60 million

The Man with the Iron Fists

My Thoughts: This might seem like another Ninja Assassin or The Warrior’s Way at first, until looking at the pedigree of those involved here. Tarantino, Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds), Lucy Liu, Russell Crowe and it’s all directed by Rza of the Wu-Tang Clang? Plus the trailer is nothing but stylized violence and one-liners mixed with sexy Asian women? Count me in! Tarantino’s involvement here leads me to believe there will be enough subversive wit and self-awareness to make this a truly enjoyable ride.

My Predictions: Now the hard part. I’m tempted to jump to Sucker Punch for a comparison, and you know what, I will. It seems more apt than Ninja Assassin, although, funnily enough, Ninja Assassin did actually outgross Sucker Punch even though the Zac Snyder pet project opened about 50% higher. Anyway, I’m thinking similar numbers to Sucker Punch, but better stamina.

Opening Weekend: 16 million

Total Gross: 45 million

Wreck-It Ralph

My Thoughts: First off, let me say that I love the concept of this film. It’s about damn time that video games got some real, high profile respect in the film industry. This one is clearly going to be loaded with video game references, though I worry that all the iconic characters seen in the trailer will have nothing more than glorified cameos.

My Predictions: This should handily win the weekend and Disney fans will join forces with gamers (some of them, anyway) to push this to the highest opening weekend since the summer. And, naturally, it’s in 3D, so that will drive up grosses. Plus, this will be the first movie directed at families and younger audiences in weeks. I think everything is lined up for Wreck-It Ralph to be a huge success. Much of that depends, however, on whether or not the film is actually any good.

Opening Weekend: 65 million

Total Gross: 230 million

November 9

Skyfall

My Thoughts: Well, I’ve been waiting for Naomie Harris (in the poster) to get into another film where she can kick some ass ever since 28 Days Later nine years ago (ten years ago for you Britons out there). After I was a little disappointed with Quantum of Solace, I think Skyfall seems to have everything going for it. Daniel Craig looks great, we’ve got hot girls, exotic locations, big actions scenes. I’m pumped.

My predictions: Casino Royale opened to a solid 40 million back in 2006 and went on to have good legs en route to a 167 million total. Two years later, Quantum of Solace debuted to a much higher 67 million, but only managed one million more than its predecessor in total. I’m thinking Skyfall should fall somewhere right in the middle.

Opening Weekend: 53 million

Total Gross: 140 million

November 16

Breaking Dawn Part 2

My thoughts: Well, here we are at the end of the an era. With this entry, the Twilight epoch officially ends and we hand pass the torch to the much better Hunger Games series. I enjoy watching Twilight films in the same way that drivers stop to look at gruesome highway crashes. You know it’s bad, but you can’t look at away. And at this point, I’ve invested enough hours that I have to see how it ends. I only hope the film-makers were merciful enough to put in a cool battle scene at the end because I’ll admit that the fights in Eclipse were actually pretty cool.

My predictions: A year ago, part one opened to 138 million, and I’d be shocked if part two opened lower than that. The second part of Deathly Hallows opened 44 million higher than the first; however, that was also buoyed by 3D, a benefit Breaking Dawn will not have. There’s also the fact that only the same people ever go see Twilight movies; the audience doesn’t really grow, whereas I think some people were genuinely curious to see how the Harry Potter tale ended. That was a roundabout way of saying I think part two will open higher, but not by much.

Opening Weekend: 150 million

Total Gross: 308 million

November 23

Life of Pi

My Thoughts/Predictions: I’ve owned the book Life of Pi for years now, but have never gotten around to reading it. I know it gets rather philosophical, and I read that it took a harsh view on agnostics. I got the book as a gift right during the period of my life that I called myself agnostic, so that one little thing turned me off reading it, which is really very shamefully childish, but that’s what I was like when I was about 16 years old. Anyway, the whole concept still seems interesting to me, and there will be that built in fanbase, but I can’t help but feel this adaptation is coming a few years too late.

Opening Weekend: 19 million

Total Gross: 90 million

Red Dawn

My Thoughts/Predictions: I will see anything with Chris Hemsworth in it. He is quite possibly the single sexiest man alive. That said, Red Dawn just doesn’t look like a particularly original or interesting film. But, hey, Josh Peck is still kicking! He looks pretty good too. And he gets to make out with Isabel Lucas? Kid’s come a long way. Good for him. Plus, you gotta factor in Josh Hutcherson is still pretty hot coming off The Hunger Games.

Opening Weekend: 14 million

Total Gross: 45 million

Rise of the Guardians

My Thoughts: Well, this is another interesting concept. Much like Hotel Transylvania, this film is taking an interesting new slant on some well-known tales. It’s got a nice, fluid animation style and advertising the connections to How to Train Your Dragon is definitely smart. Plus, it’s got a decidedly winter/Christmas feel to it, and Thanksgiving (oddly) is always a good time to release Christmas movies.

My Predictions: I’m tempted to compare this to the aforementioned How to Train Your Dragon, but I think it has the potential to open higher. The dragons films opened to a “disappointing” 43 million but had great legs en route to a 217 million. The holiday season is fantastic for improving films’ stamina, so this one’s got some real potential. Plus, Wreck-It Ralph will be three weeks old, so it won’t be much competition anymore.

Opening Weekend: 48 million

Total Gross: 202 million

The Silver Lining’s Playbook

When you can’t find a poster, sexy pictures always work. Actually, you know what, they’re way better than posters.

My Thoughts/Predictions: Another reason I like J-Law is that she isn’t afraid to take risks. Staring in a small, kinda indie project where she plays a girl with some slight mental problems is refreshing to see after delving into horror. Sadly, I just can’t see this being a hit, as the string of misses will continue for Bradley Cooper.

Opening Weekend: 6 million

Total Gross: 20 million

November 30

Killing Them Softly

My Thoughts/Predictions: The weekend after Thanksgiving is usually pretty bad. Often times, not a single movie even opens. This year, Killing Them Softly is going to try to defy the odds, but at least the crime film has Brad Pitt in its corner. Even still, the weekend after Thanksgiving is practically a weekend off but before things pick back up again as we get closer to Christmas.

Opening Weekend: 6 million

Total Gross: 22 million

December 7

Playing for Keeps

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My Thoughts/Predictions: Okay, make that two weekends in a row that the box office is essentially just taking off. In this flick, Gerard Butler plays a former pro athlete who now coaches his son’s soccer team only to be distracted by the soccer moms. So, uh, yeah, there is no reason for this break out, other than maybe the weak state of the box office for two weeks here.

Opening Weekend: 8 million

Total Gross: 39 million

December 14

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

My Thoughts: It’s been nine long years since we last journeyed to Middle Earth and I for one am most certainly ready to go back. The Lord of the Rings films were a spectacle unlike anything we’ve before or since. It was only natural that one we’d go back to where it started with The Hobbit. And, plus, well, there’s a lot of money to be made in doing so. The trailer evoked the memories of the original trilogy very well and the presence of Gandalf really helps bridge the gap and make this seem like one, cohesive world.

My Predictions: There’s not really any way for this not to be a success. The original trilogy was so extraordinary that pretty much anyone who saw them will be up for at least one more dose of Middle Earth. Still, this story isn’t quite as popular or well known as the War of the Ring, but throw in 3D and nearly a decade of ticket price inflation, and The Hobbit could quite possibly do very similar numbers to the original trilogy. Plus, the box office will be dead for two whole weeks prior to this and it’s got the whole weekend to itself. The ingredients are there for a new December opening weekend record.

Opening Weekend: 82 million

Total Gross: 355 million

December 21

Jack Reacher

My Thought/Predictions: Tom Cruise stars as literary character Jack Reacher, but from what I can tell online, this looks like quite the unfaithful adaptation, to the point where fans of the novels are very turned off. Cruise isn’t the draw he once was, though he’s gotten a lot of goodwill back in recent years. Still, I don’t think even he can save this project.

Opening Weekend: 8 million

Total Gross: 40 million

Monsters, Inc (3D)

My Thoughts/Predictions: Well, here Disney goes again. At least they had original film Wreck-It Ralph sandwiched between their 3D rereleases of Finding Nemo and, now, Monsters Inc. Anyway, Finding Nemo disappointed a little, but I think Sully and friends should do better numbers given the holiday season.

Opening Weekend: 22 million

Total Gross: 105 million

This is 40

My Thoughts/Predictions: I like Judd Apatow and think he’s a very smart guy. Advertising this as the “sort-of” sequel to Knocked Up is smart because it ties back to a popular film but still allows it to be its own independent thing. However, has Paul Rudd ever really carried a film on his own? And given the subject matter, this is likely to skew to older audiences, but are they even interested in Apatow’s style of humor?

Opening Weekend: 16 million

Total Gross: 73 million

Zero Dark Thirty

My Thoughts/Predictions: Kathryn Bigelow, of The Hurt Locker fame, returns with another military flick, this time one covering the hunt and ultimate murder of Osama Bin Laden. Seems right up Bigelow’s alley. It’s opening on Wednesday so that will dilute its opening weekend proper, but it should still do decent numbers.

Opening Weekend: 9 million

Total Gross: 60 million

December 21

The weird thing about the Christmas season is that it often results in films opening on some odd days of the week. All the films for the last week of the year are opening on Tuesday, one of the most unusual days for an opening. In light of that, I’m not going to bother with box office predictions for these last four films.

Django Unchained

Now this is vintage Tarantino. It’s good to see Christopher Waltz again, as he didn’t really seem to do much after his star-making turn in Inglourious Basterds. No, Water for Elephants doesn’t even count. Christmas seems like an odd time to release this one, but whatever, it’s Tarantino. Jamie Foxx stars at the titular Django, a slave bought by a bounty hunter played by Waltz who recruits him to join him in bounty hunting and promises his freedom in return. Plus, it’s got Leonardo Dicaprio, who really looks like he’s having a lot of fun in his role.

The Guilt Trip

MECHA STREISAND!

Seth Rogen teams up with Barbara Streisand of all people to star in a comedy about an “inventor (Rogen) who invites his mother (Streisand) on a cross-country trip as he tries to sell his new product while also reuniting her with a lost love.” Don’t sue me, Wikipedia! Anyway, I was impressed with Streisand’s comedic chops in Meet the Fockers, but I don’t know how she’ll work alongside Rogen. I’m definitely a bit skeptical about this project.

Les Miserables

I’ll readily admit that I’m not a big musical guy. The best musical I’ve ever seen was probably either a Disney movie or South Park: Bigger, Badder and Uncut. That said, I dare not deny the popularity or influence of Les Miserables. Plus, I do love me some Hugh Jackman. And I actually have no idea what the story is about, so I’m curious. Perhaps I’ll actually give this one a shot.

And with that, we wrap up the end of the year box office preview. I’m sure at least one unpredictable sleeper hit will come along. One always does. And there’s also some seriously huge box office potential from films like Breaking Dawn, The Hobbit, and Wreck-It Ralph. The last few months of the year should definitely be interesting and I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to them.

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