''Cast Away'' could dominate the Christmas box office | EW.com


''Cast Away'' could dominate the Christmas box office

Audiences have many films to choose from this holiday weekend

Tom Hanks, Cast Away

While there’s no shortage of movies to choose from this weekend, it’s a safe bet that many Americans will be longing for an escape at some point over the holidays – from home, the cold weather, the interminable familial conversations about the weather – and Twentieth Century Fox has just the remedy.

The Tom Hanks man vs. nature vs. a volleyball flick ”Cast Away” is likely to dominate the Yuletide box office. ”It’s a great Christmas film and everybody’s going to want to see it,” Robert Bucksbaum of tracking firm Reel Source tells EW.com. ”It’s not just Tom Hanks. It’s on the same lines as why people went to see ‘Perfect Storm’ and ‘Titanic’ and even ‘Vertical Limit.’ It’s a form of escapism and people are going to want to see it for the same the reason ‘Survivor’ was so successful.”

Even so, last week’s No. 1 film ”What Women Want” remains a strong contender though it’s likely that the ticket lines for the film starring Golden Globe nominee Mel Gibson won’t be quite as long. ”Women” will play on 3,012 screens nationwide, while ”Cast Away” appears on 2,766. The Nic Cage comedy ”The Family Man” also debuts Friday after having its released pushed back one week to avoid opening against Mel.

”Women” will also have strong competition for the female market from another newcomer, Sandra Bullock’s ”Miss Congeniality.” As vapid as the Pygmalion plot line might seem, distributor Warner Bros./Castle Rock is confident that the movie is due its fair share of holiday dough. In sneak preview exit polls, some 93 percent of women surveyed rated the film very good or excellent, while another 88 percent said they would definitely recommend it to friends.

Meanwhile, Wes Craven’s ”Dracula 2000” is likely to drain off the remaining audiences who aren’t in the mood for a bubbly Bullock or a harried Hanks.

Not to mention there’s also a whole new slate of films opening this weekend in limited release, in last ditch bid for Oscar consideration before Jan. 1, 2001. The Coen Brothers’ latest offering, ”O Brother, Where Art Thou?” – featuring Golden Globe nominee George Clooney – opens along with the David Mamet Hollywood is hell flick ”State and Main”.

The Sam Raimi directed thriller ”The Gift” and the Gus Van Sant helmed mentor odyssey ”Finding Forrester” will also contend for the attentions of the art house crowd. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics will make its first attempt to take its Ang Lee martial arts romance ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” to the mainstream, by expanding the film to 140 theaters nationwide. Good luck.