Still stuffed from Thanksgiving and the glut of films that flooded the box office last weekend? You’re in luck! Hollywood is going on a movie diet this time around. Just one major new release is hitting theaters this week — the Jessica Alba-Hayden Christensen medical-horror flick Awake — which means that you’ll have plenty of time to clear your system of all the leftovers that are still filling up the multiplex.
But before you do that, please read on for my picks and then head over to EW.com’s Fall Box Office Challenge to register your selections for the weekend’s top finishers. Victory in our game could be yours — and it’s sure to taste as sweet as pumpkin pie.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Walt Disney · PG · 3,730 theaters · 2nd weekend
No poison apple here. Audiences are so charmed by Amy Adams’ fairy tale/romance/adventure/comedy hybrid that it figures to be the first repeat champ at the box office since The Game Plan (another Disney release) a few months back. The film has been earning oodles (about $1 mil per day) since its big $34.4 million three-day debut. So a strong hold is in store for this weekend — and further movie stardom for Adams and her costar Patrick Dempsey (well, in his case, a return to movie stardom) is in the offing. Which certainly would be a mcdream come true for many.
Weekend prediction: $20 million
Screen Gems · PG-13 · 1,858 theaters · 2nd weekend
These things usually make sense in hindsight, but it’s okay to still be surprised by the African-American domestic dramedy’s big, out-of-nowhere, $18 mil three-day opening over Thanksgiving. Who knew that This Christmas, with merely decent reviews, a strong but less-than-A-list cast, and a generic title could pull it off? Looking back, however, those reviews were pretty good in actual fact, the film (from Crossover director Preston A. Whitmore II) had little direct competition, and of course, its general concept always seems to work for Tyler Perry.
Weekend prediction: $11 million
Paramount · PG-13 · 3,249 theaters · 3rd weekend
Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture event has been doing pretty well (it has grossed about $60 mil domestically so far), though probably not as strongly as the folks at Paramount had hoped. Oh well. At least the bucks keep rolling in from all those IMAX and 3-D screens. (And be warned: The Polar Express was a slow builder, too.)
Weekend prediction: $9 million
MGM/Dimension · R · 2,002 theaters · NEW
The thriller’s Twilight Zone-ish plot finds Christensen as a lovelorn man (Alba is the object of his desires, duh) who has an out-of-body experience of sorts while undergoing a heart transplant during which he never seems to go to sleep. Spooky! The horror genre has had an up-and-down year, with most of the money going to franchise flicks like Halloween and Saw IV… and most everything else underperforming or getting killed outright. The latter result looks to be the case here, considering Awake‘s moderate screen count and a lack of star power. No, really, I mean it. There’s no evidence that either actor is a significant box office draw on his or her own, even though both have fronted major ensemble blockbusters in the past. Fantastic Four and Sin City vet Alba’s best non-franchise release was Good Luck Chuck, which disappointed earlier this year with $35 mil. And Christensen is still just a young padawan in box office terms: He hasn’t had a non-Star Wars release gross more than Life as a House‘s $15.7 mil.
Weekend prediction: $8 million
Paramount/DreamWorks Animation · PG · 3,150 theaters · 5th weekend
Jerry Seinfeld’s animated adventure keeps buzzing along in theaters, where it’s now the 22nd top domestic grosser of the year, with about $113 mil in the bank. Considering its long legs, er, wings (er, stinger?), the family flick should wind up passing the movie that has been its closest rival, American Gangster (more than $116 mil at present), when all the honey stops flowing.
Weekend prediction: $7 million