Image Credit: Wilson Webb; Glen WilsonAfter a few relatively soft box-office weekends, Hollywood is clearly dreaming of a green Christmas. This holiday week sees the one-two punch of prestigious Oscar contenders and not-so-prestigious, but perennially popular, family entertainment. The Coen Brothers’ single-handed Western revival True Grit rides into wide release today, but will face stiff competition from Little Fockers, the Meet the Parents threequel. The Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro comedy probably won’t let bad reviews slow it down on its way to taking the top spot, letting perfectly innocuous holiday viewing win out over the revenge-based oater. But the Coens might also find they’ve run their horses into the light-bike trail left behind by TRON: Legacy’s residual success in its second week — the long-in-the-making sequel pulled in a respectable, if not mind-blowing, $43.6 million last weekend. This would of course mean that it will pit Jeff Bridges against Jeff Bridges (against CGI young Jeff Bridges).
Black Swan will be expanding into over 1,400 theaters today, as well, and it remains to be seen whether Natalie Portman’s psycho-sexual ballet film will be able to maintain the tremendous per-screen averages it has seen in past weeks. The King’s Speech will also be experiencing its first major expansion after a few weekends of limited-theater stutters. Jack Black’s 3-D version of Gulliver’s Travels hits theaters on Christmas, but its impact will likely be more on the Lilliputian side than the Brobdingnagian. The fantasy-comedy is opening in fewer theaters than either of this week’s other two major releases, but Black’s antics might still pull in a healthy kid audience.
Opening in limited release this week is Sofia Coppola’s fourth feature, Somewhere, and the animated film The Illusionist. Gwyneth Paltrow’s twangy Country Strong opens in Nashville and will have its awards-qualifying run on one screen in Los Angeles starting today, before opening wide on Jan. 7.